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I GO TO STYLES
The intense interest aroused in the public by what was known at the time as "The Styles Case" has now somewhat subsided. Nevertheless, in view of the world-wide notoriety which attended it, I have been asked, both by my friend Poirot and the family themselves, to write an account of the whole story. This, we trust, will effectually silence the sensational rumours which still persist.
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.
THE NIGHT OF THE TRAGEDY
To make this part of my story clear, I append the following plan of the first floor of Styles. The servants' rooms are reached through the door B. They have no communication with the right wing, where the Inglethorps' rooms were situated.
The house which the Belgians occupied in the village was quite close to the park gates. One could save time by taking a narrow path through the long grass, which cut off the detours of the winding drive. So I, accordingly, went that way. I had nearly reached the lodge, when my attention was arrested by the running figure of a man approaching me. It was Mr. Inglethorp. Where had he been? How did he intend to explain his absence?
"IT ISN'T STRYCHNINE, IS IT?"
"Where did you find this?" I asked Poirot, in lively curiosity.
"In the waste-paper basket. You recognise the handwriting?"
In the interval before the inquest, Poirot was unfailing in his activity. Twice he was closeted with Mr. Wells. He also took long walks into the country. I rather resented his not taking me into his confidence, the more so as I could not in the least guess what he was driving at.
POITROT PAYS HIS DEBTS
As we came out of the Stylites Arms, Poirot drew me aside by a gentle pressure of the arm. I understood his object. He was waiting for the Scotland Yard men.
There was a moment's stupefied silence. Japp, who was the least surprised of any of us, was the first to speak.
I had had no opportunity as yet of passing on Poirot's message to Lawrence. But now, as I strolled out on the lawn, still nursing a grudge against my friend's high-handedness, I saw Lawrence on the croquet lawn, aimlessly knocking a couple of very ancient balls about, with a still more ancient mallet.
To my extreme annoyance, Poirot was not in, and the old Belgian who answered my knock informed me that he believed he had gone to London.
THE CASE FOR THE PROSECUTION
The trial of John Cavendish for the murder of his stepmother took place two months later.
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 Cavendish.
Poirot, you old villain," I said, "I've half a mind to strangle you! What do you mean by deceiving me as you have done?"
Agatha Christie was listed by the Guinness Book of World Records as the best selling-novelist of all time. Her estate claims that her books are more widely published than anything but William Shakespeare and the Bible. She is best known for her colorful detectives Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple.
The Mysterious Affair at Styles was first published in the US by John Lane in October 1920, and in the United Kingdom by The Bodley Head (John Lane's UK company) in January 1921. It is considered to be in the Public Domain in the US due to being published prior to January 1st, 1923, as well as in countries where the copyright term is life +40 years or less.