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"And that is?"
"That in no possible way could Mrs. Inglethorp's death benefit Miss Howard. Now there is no murder without a motive."
"Could not Mrs. Inglethorp have made a will in her favour?" Poirot shook his head.
"But you yourself suggested that possibility to Mr. Wells?"
"That was for a reason. I did not want to mention the name of the person who was actually in my mind. Miss Howard occupied very much the same position, so I used her name instead."
"Still, Mrs. Inglethorp might have done so. Why, that will, made on the afternoon of her death may----"
But Poirot's shake of the head was so energetic that I stopped.
"No, my friend. I have certain little ideas of my own about that will. But I can tell you this much--it was not in Miss Howard's favour."
I accepted his assurance, though I did not really see how he could be so positive about the matter.
"Well," I said, with a sigh, "we will acquit Miss Howard, then. It is partly your fault that I ever came to suspect her. It was what you said about her evidence at the inquest that set me off."
Poirot looked puzzled.
"What did I say about her evidence at the inquest?"
"Don't you remember? When I cited her and John Cavendish as being above suspicion?"
"Oh--ah--yes." He seemed a little confused, but recovered himself. "By the way, Hastings, there is something I want you to do for me."
"Certainly. What is it?"
"Next time you happen to be alone with Lawrence Cavendish, I want you to say this to him. 'I have a message for you, from Poirot. He says: "Find the extra coffee-cup, and you can rest in peace!" ' Nothing more. Nothing less."
" 'Find the extra coffee-cup, and you can rest in peace.' Is that right?" I asked, much mystified.
"But what does it mean?"
"Ah, that I will leave you to find out. You have access to the facts. Just say that to him, and see what he says."
"Very well--but it's all extremely mysterious."
We were running into Tadminster now, and Poirot directed the car to the "Analytical Chemist."
Poirot hopped down briskly, and went inside. In a few minutes he was back again.
"There," he said. "That is all my business."
"What were you doing there?" I asked, in lively curiosity.
"I left something to be analysed."
"Yes, but what?"
"The sample of coco I took from the saucepan in the bedroom."
"But that has already been tested!" I cried, stupefied. "Dr. Bauerstein had it tested, and you yourself laughed at the possibility of there being strychnine in it."
"I know Dr. Bauerstein had it tested," replied Poirot quietly.
"Well, I have a fancy for having it analysed again, that is all."
And not another word on the subject could I drag out of him.
This proceeding of Poirot's, in respect of the coco, puzzled me intensely. I could see neither rhyme nor reason in it. However, my confidence in him, which at one time had rather waned, was fully restored since his belief in Alfred Inglethorp's innocence had been so triumphantly vindicated.
The funeral of Mrs. Inglethorp took place the following day, and on Monday, as I came down to a late breakfast, John drew me aside, and informed me that Mr. Inglethorp was leaving that morning, to take up his quarters at the Stylites Arms until he should have completed his plans.
"And really it's a great relief to think he's going, Hastings," continued my honest friend. "It was bad enough before, when we thought he'd done it, but I'm hanged if it isn't worse now, when we all feel guilty for having been so down on the fellow. The fact is, we've treated him abominably. Of course, things did look black against him. I don't see how anyone could blame us for jumping to the conclusions we did. Still, there it is, we were in the wrong, and now there's a beastly feeling that one ought to make amends; which is difficult, when one doesn't like the fellow a bit better than one did before. The whole thing's damned awkward! And I'm thankful he's had the tact to take himself off. It's a good thing Styles wasn't the mater's to leave to him. Couldn't bear to think of the fellow fording it here. He's welcome to her money."
"You'll be able to keep up the place all right?" I asked.
"Oh, yes. There are the death duties, of course, but half my father's money goes with the place, and Lawrence will stay with us for the present, so there is his share as well. We shall be pinched at first, of course, because, as I once told you, I am in a bit of a hole financially myself. Still, the Johnnies will wait now."
In the general relief at Inglethorp's approaching departure, we had the most genial breakfast we had experienced since the tragedy. Cynthia, whose young spirits were naturally buoyant, was looking quite her pretty self again, and we all, with the exception of Lawrence, who seemed unalterably gloomy and nervous, were quietly cheerful, at the opening of a new and hopeful future.
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The Mysterious Affair at Styles -- by Christie