Study Guide

Murder on the Orient Express Part 1, Chapter 3

By Agatha Christie

Part 1, Chapter 3

Poirot Refuses a Case

  • Over lunch the next day, M. Bouc and Poirot observe the interesting people around them. M. Bouc comments that "All around us are people of all classes, of all nationalities, of all ages" (1.3.7). Here they are, all thrown together. Interesting.
  • Poirot wonders aloud if they could all be linked by death. It's a weird thought to have, but it turns out to be prescient. (Alert! Agatha Christie is throwing a major clue your way.)
  • Poirot studies the thirteen people in the dining car:
    • At the table opposite are an Italian man, an Englishman who has the deportment of a servant, and a badly dressed American man.
    • At a small table is an ugly lady with gorgeous clothes and a collar of pearls, who, we learn, is the Russian Princess Dragomiroff. She's super rich and has quite the personality.
    • Then there's Mary Debenham, whom we met before, sitting with a sheep-faced woman with yellow hair and an elderly American women who can't stop talking about her daughter.
    • Colonel Arbuthnot sits at a table alone, staring at Mary. They're not sitting together. Weird.
    • Against the wall sits a woman whom Poirot thinks is probably a German lady's maid.
    • After her, there is a fashionable couple. M. Bouc says are from the Hungarian embassy.
    • Last but not least, Poirot observes Mr. Ratchett and his employee MacQueen.
  • M. Bouc is finished with his meal, so he leaves and invites Poirot to join him later. Poirot continues watching the scene.
  • The elderly American woman complains about money and mentions her daughter again. Mary leaves the table and Arbuthnot follows.
  • Mr. Ratchett gets up to leave. As he does so, he introduces himself to Poirot, whom Mr. Ratchett has heard of.
  • Ratchett asks Poirot if he wants a job, and offers him big money to take on a case. Ratchett has had a threat on his life. He has enemies, apparently.
  • Poirot regrets he cannot take on the assignment, not for any price. (It's not like Poirot needs the money. He's a famous detective, after all.)
  • Mr. Ratchett is a little offended. He asks, why not? Poirot says that he doesn't like Mr. Ratchett's "face" (1.3.85). Zing!

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