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The Mysterious Affair at Styles

12. The Last Link
Poirot's abrupt departure had intrigued us all greatly. Sunday morning wore
away, and still he did not reappear. But about three o'clock a ferocious and
prolonged hooting outside drove us to the window, to see Poirot alighting from a
car, accompanied by Japp and Summerhaye. The little man was transformed. He
radiated an absurd complacency. He bowed with exaggerated respect to Mary
"Madame, I have your permission to hold a little reunion in the salon? It is
necessary for every one to attend."
Mary smiled sadly.
"You know, Monsieur Poirot, that you have carte blanche in every way."
"You are too amiable, madame."
Still beaming, Poirot marshalled us all into the drawing- room, bringing forward
chairs as he did so.
"Miss Howard--here. Mademoiselle Cynthia. Monsieur Lawrence. The good
Dorcas. And Annie. Bien! We must delay our proceedings a few minutes until Mr.
Inglethorp arrives. I have sent him a note."
Miss Howard rose immediately from her seat.
"If that man comes into the house, I leave it!"
"No, no!" Poirot went up to her and pleaded in a low voice.
Finally Miss Howard consented to return to her chair. A few minutes later Alfred
Inglethorp entered the room.
The company once assembled, Poirot rose from his seat with the air of a popular
lecturer, and bowed politely to his audience.
"Messieurs, mesdames, as you all know, I was called in by Monsieur John
Cavendish to investigate this case. I at once examined the bedroom of the
deceased which, by the advice of the doctors, had been kept locked, and was
consequently exactly as it had been when the tragedy occurred. I found: first, a
fragment of green material; second, a stain on the carpet near the window, still
damp; thirdly, an empty box of bromide powders.
"To take the fragment of green material first, I found it caught in the bolt of the
communicating door between that room and the adjoining one occupied by
Mademoiselle Cynthia. I handed the fragment over to the police who did not
consider it of much importance. Nor did they recognize it for what it was--a piece
torn from a green land armlet."
There was a little stir of excitement.
"Now there was only one person at Styles who worked on the land--Mrs.
Cavendish. Therefore it must have been Mrs. Cavendish who entered the
deceased's room through the door communicating with Mademoiselle Cynthia's
"But that door was bolted on the inside!" I cried.
"When I examined the room, yes. But in the first place we have only her word for
it, since it was she who tried that particular door and reported it fastened. In the
ensuing confusion she would have had ample opportunity to shoot the bolt