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Poirot's smile became rather enigmatical.
"Long enough for a gentleman who had once studied medicine to gratify a very natural interest and curiosity."
Our eyes met. Poirot's were pleasantly vague. He got up and hummed a little tune. I watched him suspiciously.
"Poirot," I said, "what was in this particular little bottle?"
Poirot looked out of the window.
"Hydro-chloride of strychnine," he said, over his shoulder, continuing to hum.
"Good heavens!" I said it quite quietly. I was not surprised. I had expected that answer.
"They use the pure hydro-chloride of strychnine very little-- only occasionally for pills. It is the official solution, Liq. Strychnine Hydro-clor. that is used in most medicines. That is why the finger-marks have remained undisturbed since then."
"How did you manage to take this photograph?"
"I dropped my hat from the balcony," explained Poirot simply. "Visitors were not permitted below at that hour, so, in spite of my many apologies, Mademoiselle Cynthia's colleague had to go down and fetch it for me."
"Then you knew what you were going to find?"
"No, not at all. I merely realized that it was possible, from your story, for Monsieur Lawrence to go to the poison cupboard. The possibility had to be confirmed, or eliminated."
"Poirot," I said, "your gaiety does not deceive me. This is a very important discovery."
"I do not know," said Poirot. "But one thing does strike me. No doubt it has struck you too."
"What is that?"
"Why, that there is altogether too much strychnine about this case. This is the third time we run up against it. There was strychnine in Mrs. Inglethorp's tonic. There is the strychnine sold across the counter at Styles St. Mary by Mace. Now we have more strychnine, handled by one of the household. It is confusing; and, as you know, I do not like confusion."
Before I could reply, one of the other Belgians opened the door and stuck his head in.
"There is a lady below, asking for Mr Hastings."
I jumped up. Poirot followed me down the narrow stairs. Mary Cavendish was standing in the doorway.
"I have been visiting an old woman in the village," she explained, "and as Lawrence told me you were with Monsieur Poirot I thought I would call for you."
"Alas, madame," said Poirot, "I thought you had come to honour me with a visit!"
"I will some day, if you ask me," she promised him, smiling.
"That is well. If you should need a father confessor, madame" --she started ever so slightly--"remember, Papa Poirot is always at your service."
She stared at him for a few minutes, as though seeking to read some deeper meaning into his words. Then she turned abruptly away.
"Come, will you not walk back with us too, Monsieur Poirot?"
All the way to Styles, Mary talked fast and feverishly. It struck me that in some way she was nervous of Poirot's eyes.
The weather had broken, and the sharp wind was almost autumnal in its shrewishness. Mary shivered a little, and buttoned her black sports coat closer. The wind through the trees made a mournful noise, like some great giant sighing.
We walked up to the great door of Styles, and at once the knowledge came to us that something was wrong.
Dorcas came running out to meet us. She was crying and wringing her hands. I was aware of other servants huddled together in the background, all eyes and ears.
"Oh, m'am! Oh, m'am! I don't know how to tell you--"
"What is it, Dorcas?" I asked impatiently. "Tell us at once."
"It's those wicked detectives. They've arrested him--they've arrested Mr. Cavendish!"
"Arrested Lawrence?" I gasped.
I saw a strange look come into Dorcas's eyes.
"No, sir. Not Mr. Lawrence--Mr. John."
Behind me, with a wild cry, Mary Cavendish fell heavily against me, and as I turned to catch her I met the quiet triumph in Poirot's eyes.
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The Mysterious Affair at Styles -- by Christie