Murder on the Orient Express | Study Guide

Agatha Christie

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Murder on the Orient Express | Part 3, Chapter 6 : Poirot Sits Back and Thinks (A Second Interview with Colonel Arbuthnot) | Summary

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Summary

A peeved Colonel Arbuthnot joins Hercule Poirot, M. Bouc, and Dr. Constantine in the dining car for a second interview. Poirot asks him a series of questions, starting by asking him to explain how the pipe cleaner found its way "by the body of the murdered man." Next he asks whether Arbuthnot ever spoke to Samuel Ratchett, followed by asking for confirmation he did not murder him. After Arbuthnot sardonically tells Poirot he would be unlikely to tell him if he had, he pronounces he did not murder Ratchett. Poirot tells him "it is of no consequence," which confuses Arbuthnot.

Poirot's next topic is the conversation he overheard between Arbuthnot and Mary Debenham at Konya. Arbuthnot refuses to provide any information about it, telling him he needs to ask Debenham if he wants to know what her words meant. Poirot admits he already has and he finds her a "highly suspicious character." Arbuthnot refutes Poirot's assessment and states Poirot has "nothing whatever against her." Poirot then states he does: she was a governess in the Armstrong household when Daisy Armstrong was killed.

Poirot's statement is met by silence. He then informs Arbuthnot he knows "more than you think." Arbuthnot disagrees and claims Debenham is innocent. They call for Debenham to come to the dining car.

Analysis

Readers wonder why Poirot's ploy fails to get Arbuthnot to say what he knows. His stunned silence after Poirot's statement demonstrates the profound impact the news has on him. What does Arbuthnot know that he does not want to reveal?

Poirot is sure of one thing: Debenham has covered up her association with the Armstrongs because it would give her a strong motive for murder.

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