Study Guide

Murder on the Orient Express Part 2, Chapter 1

By Agatha Christie

Part 2, Chapter 1

The Evidence of the Wagon Lit Conductor

  • M. Bouc sets up Poirot in the restaurant car with a plan of the coach, passports, tickets, etc. With that, the "Court of Inquiry" begins (2.1.5).
  • First up is Pierre Michel, the conductor who was on duty the night of the murder. M. Bouc tells us that he's a Frenchman and longtime employee of the company. Michel is also not particularly bright.
  • Poirot goes through the routine questions, and then gets to the good stuff. We get the conductor's timeline:
    • Mr. Ratchett went to bed after dinner. The only people who went into the compartment after that were his secretary, MacQueen, and his valet.
    • Ratchett rang his bell at about 12:40 a.m. Ratchett said, in French, that he rang by mistake.
    • Michel then went back to his seat at the end of the corridor. He did go to the Athens coach for a bit to chat about the snow, but he returned when the bells rang.
    • Michel saw the Colonel and MacQueen chatting in MacQueen's compartment no later than 2 a.m.
    • Michel also says he saw a lady going to the toilet, but he doesn't know who it was. He noticed that she wore a "kimono of scarlet with dragons on it" (2.1.60).
    • Also, Michel did not see anything fall against Poirot's door. Perhaps the thumping sound could have come from Ratchett's compartment, next door?
    • He confirms that at the stop at Vincovi he stood on the platform.
    • The forward door is usually fastened, but it is not so now. Michel is surprised.
    • Michel also tells Poirot who it was that summoned him while he was knocking on Ratchett's door: Princess Dragomiroff.
  • Poirot tells him that he hasn't done anything wrong, and lets him go.

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