The Mysterious Affair at Styles
2. The 16th and 17th of July
I had arrived at Styles on the 5th of July. I come now to the events of the 16th
and 17th of that month. For the convenience of the reader I will recapitulate the
incidents of those days in as exact a manner as possible. They were elicited
subsequently at the trial by a process of long and tedious cross-examinations.
I received a letter from Evelyn Howard a couple of days after her departure,
telling me she was working as a nurse at the big hospital in Middlingham, a
manufacturing town some fifteen miles away, and begging me to let her know if
Mrs. Inglethorp should show any wish to be reconciled.
The only fly in the ointment of my peaceful days was Mrs. Cavendish's
extraordinary, and, for my part, unaccountable preference for the society of Dr.
Bauerstein. What she saw in the man I cannot imagine, but she was always
asking him up to the house, and often went off for long expeditions with him. I
must confess that I was quite unable to see his attraction.
The 16th of July fell on a Monday. It was a day of turmoil. The famous bazaar
had taken place on Saturday, and an entertainment, in connection with the same
charity, at which Mrs. Inglethorp was to recite a War poem, was to be held that
night. We were all busy during the morning arranging and decorating the Hall in
the village where it was to take place. We had a late luncheon and spent the
afternoon resting in the garden. I noticed that John's manner was somewhat
unusual. He seemed very excited and restless.
After tea, Mrs. Inglethorp went to lie down to rest before her efforts in the evening
and I challenged Mary Cavendish to a single at tennis.
About a quarter to seven, Mrs. Inglethorp called us that we should be late as
supper was early that night. We had rather a scramble to get ready in time; and
before the meal was over the motor was waiting at the door.
The entertainment was a great success, Mrs. Inglethorp's recitation receiving
tremendous applause. There were also some tableaux in which Cynthia took
part. She did not return with us, having been asked to a supper party, and to
remain the night with some friends who had been acting with her in the tableaux.
The following morning, Mrs. Inglethorp stayed in bed to breakfast, as she was
rather overtired; but she appeared in her briskest mood about 12.30, and swept
Lawrence and myself off to a luncheon party.
"Such a charming invitation from Mrs. Rolleston. Lady Tadminster's sister, you
know. The Rollestons came over with the Conqueror--one of our oldest families."
Mary had excused herself on the plea of an engagement with Dr. Bauerstein.
We had a pleasant luncheon, and as we drove away Lawrence suggested that
we should return by Tadminster, which was barely a mile out of our way, and pay
a visit to Cynthia in her dispensary. Mrs. Inglethorp replied that this was an
excellent idea, but as she had several letters to write she would drop us there,
and we could come back with Cynthia in the pony-trap.
We were detained under suspicion by the hospital porter, until Cynthia appeared
to vouch for us, looking very cool and sweet in her long white overall. She took