Murder on the Orient Express | Study Guide

Agatha Christie

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Murder on the Orient Express | Part 2, Chapter 4 : The Evidence (The Evidence of the American Lady) | Summary

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Summary

Mrs. Hubbard arrives in the dining car where Hercule Poirot is conducting interviews. She says a man entered her compartment the night before. She awoke to see him there and rang her bell repeatedly for the conductor. When Pierre Michel came, he searched her compartment, but the man was gone. She shows the investigators a button that does not belong to her and explains she found it atop a magazine she set down right before she turned out her lights. Bouc says the button comes from a conductor's tunic, and Poirot accepts it as evidence.

After Mrs. Hubbard tells her story, Poirot asks questions. She admits she did not bolt the door between her compartment and Ratchett's. However, Greta Ohlsson—who stopped in her compartment around 10:30 or 10:45 p.m. to get an aspirin—assured her it was bolted. Hubbard says she couldn't see whether it was bolted because her toiletries bag was hanging on the door handle. Hubbard mentions Ohlsson accidentally opened Samuel Ratchett's door and Ratchett made an unkind, salacious comment to her, saying she was too old.

Hubbard says she heard Ratchett snoring after the accidental door opening, but not when she awoke to find the man in her compartment. Poirot asks Hubbard whether she remembers the Daisy Armstrong kidnapping. Hubbard does and expresses her indignation over the killer getting off scot-free. Poirot informs her Ratchett died the night before, to Hubbard's excitement. Further questioning reveals Hubbard does not know anyone in the Armstrong family, nor did she see a woman in a scarlet kimono. But she did hear a woman in Ratchett's compartment the night before. She didn't previously mention the information because "it isn't a very nice thing to speak about."

As she is leaving, Poirot tells Hubbard she dropped her handkerchief and holds out the handkerchief scrap found in Ratchett's compartment. Hubbard states it is not hers; her handkerchiefs are embroidered with the initials CMH and are not expensive ones from Paris.

Analysis

Mrs. Hubbard initially takes charge of the interview, storming in eager to tell what happened in her compartment the night before. Her retelling is marred by her deliberate omission of Samuel Ratchett's female visitor. She claims she did not mention it because it's not a nice topic to speak about. This seems out of character, as Hubbard freely disparages Ratchett and says he seems evil.

While Hubbard concludes the man in her compartment killed Ratchett, Poirot is not convinced. He attempts to trick Hubbard by handing her the handkerchief and behaving as if it is hers. This is another of Poirot's investigative techniques. Rather than asking a question, such a,s "Is this your handkerchief?" he purposely acts as if something is true to see if the other person falls for the bait and admits something he did not know.

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