The Mysterious Affair at Styles
11. The Case for the Prosecution
The trial of John Cavendish for the murder of his stepmother took place two
Of the intervening weeks I will say little, but my admiration and sympathy went
out unfeignedly to Mary Cavendish. She ranged herself passionately on her
husband's side, scorning the mere idea of his guilt, and fought for him tooth and
I expressed my admiration to Poirot, and he nodded thoughtfully.
"Yes, she is of those women who show at their best in adversity. It brings out all
that is sweetest and truest in them. Her pride and her jealousy have--"
"Jealousy?" I queried.
"Yes. Have you not realized that she is an unusually jealous woman? As I was
saying, her pride and jealousy have been laid aside. She thinks of nothing but
her husband, and the terrible fate that is hanging over him."
He spoke very feelingly, and I looked at him earnestly, remembering that last
afternoon, when he had been deliberating whether or not to speak. With his
tenderness for "a woman's happiness," I felt glad that the decision had been
taken out of his hands.
"Even now," I said, "I can hardly believe it. You see, up to the very last minute, I
thought it was Lawrence!"
"I know you did."
"But John! My old friend John!"
"Every murderer is probably somebody's old friend," observed Poirot
philosophically. "You cannot mix up sentiment and reason."
"I must say I think you might have given me a hint."
"Perhaps, mon ami, I did not do so, just because he was your old friend."
I was rather disconcerted by this, remembering how I had busily passed on to
John what I believed to be Poirot's views concerning Bauerstein. He, by the way,
had been acquitted of the charge brought against him. Nevertheless, although he
had been too clever for them this time, and the charge of espionage could not be
brought home to him, his wings were pretty well clipped for the future.
I asked Poirot whether he thought John would be condemned. To my intense
surprise, he replied that, on the contrary, he was extremely likely to be acquitted.
"But, Poirot--" I protested.
"Oh, my friend, have I not said to you all along that I have no proofs. It is one
thing to know that a man is guilty, it is quite another matter to prove him so. And,
in this case, there is terribly little evidence. That is the whole trouble. I, Hercule
Poirot, know, but I lack the last link in my chain. And unless I can find that
missing link--" He shook his head gravely.
"When did you first suspect John Cavendish?" I asked, after a minute or two.
"Did you not suspect him at all?"