Murder on the Orient Express | Study Guide

Agatha Christie

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Murder on the Orient Express | Part 3, Chapter 8 : Poirot Sits Back and Thinks (Further Surprising Revelations) | Summary

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Summary

Several individuals appear in the dining car and reveal their true relationship to the Daisy Armstrong family. Antonio Foscarelli, who was summoned by Hercule Poirot, is the first to arrive. He is on edge and defensive, his eyes are wary, and he glances around like a trapped animal. Poirot tells him he has something to say—the truth—and after a short discussion, a jumpy Foscarelli admits he was the Armstrongs' chauffeur. He states he lied because he did not trust the Yugoslavians to treat him, an Italian man, justly. He reiterates he had nothing to do with killing Samuel Ratchett, and his compartment mate, Edward Masterman, will vouch he never left the compartment. Overwrought, he expresses how unfair it had been that Ratchett did not go to the chair and how much he cared for Daisy Armstrong, as did everyone in the household. He leaves in tears.

Poirot asks for Greta Ohlsson next. When she arrives, she is weeping. After telling her not to be distressed, Poirot says he just wants a "few little words of truth." He asks her to confirm she was Daisy Armstrong's nurse. Ohlsson admits she was. Like Foscarelli, she describes how innocent and sweet Daisy was and how Ratchett's actions wreaked tragedy on her mother and unborn sibling. Ohlsson is glad Ratchett is dead and cannot harm any more innocent children.

Masterman nearly collides with Ohlsson as she leaves, still crying inconsolably. He apologizes for intruding and volunteers the secret about which he had lied. He was Colonel Armstrong's bat man (servant) during the war and worked as his valet after. He expresses remorse for having lied. He wants to assure Poirot that his compartment mate, "Old Tonio," could not "hurt a fly," saying he is a "very gentle creature," unlike the "nasty murdering Italians one reads about."

After his departure, M. Bouc notes nine of the passengers have a known connection to the Armstrongs. He is musing whether any more do when Cyrus Hardman shows up, unsummoned, like Masterman. When Poirot quizzes him on his relationship to the Armstrongs, Hardman denies having one and asks how Poirot figured everything out. Poirot says he guessed but hasn't quite figured everything out just yet. Poirot admits he knows who killed Ratchett—and has known for quite some time. He asks Hardman to assemble the rest of the passengers, as he has two possible solutions he wants to present to them.

Analysis

Clearly word has spread that Hercule Poirot knows about the passengers' association with the Armstrongs. Edward Masterman and Greta Ohlsson are quick to admit their former roles in the household. Emotions run high as those connected to the murder of Daisy Armstrong think about the crime.

Poirot reveals he has known the identity of the murderer for some time. Why has he not announced the killer's identity? Does he want to verify additional details to ensure his conclusion is correct? Or is he seeking additional information? The ending, revealed in the next chapter, will show it is the latter. Although Poirot knows the murderers' identities, he is trying to figure out what he should do with that information.

Although Poirot has uncovered the truth about how the passengers were connected to the Armstrongs, the passengers continue to lie and attempt to deceive him. He can use these deceptions to discredit evidence collected earlier and connect them with the known facts to buttress his explanation for the murder. For example, Antonio Foscarelli pretended to dislike Edward Masterman, saying he was cold and fishlike. The feeling appeared to be mutual. But Masterman calls Foscarelli "Old Tonio," reflecting an affection betraying their alleged animosity.

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