MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS:
In the Guise of Innocence
Poirot sat in the dining room chair, pondering this impeccably strange case. Every new piece of evidence made the case even more mystifying. He sat beside his friend, M. Bouc, the director of the Compagnie Wagon Lits, and the Greek doctor, Dr. Constantine.
"This case seems to advance in a very strange way, n'est-ce pas?" Poirot says thoughtfully. "It is as if every time we begin to piece the puzzle, another factor comes in and we are at yet another standstill. Even though, I think that I have almost found out who is the murderer."
"Yes, yes, but I still believe it is the Italian, say what you say, after all, he was the chauffer for the Armstrongs," replies M. Bouc.
"The twelve stab wounds differ in depth and angles, it couldn't be one person who murdered Cassetti. It has to be at least two people," points out Dr. Constantine.
M. Bouc frowns, and the three men sit in silence once more, until Poirot suggests there should be a second investigation of Ratchett's compartment.
The three men arrive at the door of Ratchett's room, and head inside together. M. Bouc sighs and says, "We have already investigated this room before my friend, why must we repeat the search? Couldn't we look at the other passengers' rooms once more, since they are alive? After all, what can a dead man be suspected of? He is innocent – or as innocent as he could be, since he murdered that poor Daisy Armstrong. "
Poirot chuckles softly and replies, "A detective can never be too suspicious, M. Bouc. That is our job. Besides, I did not come here to search the entire room again. The first time we were here, I noticed something strange about the seam of Ratchett's trunk. Part of the seam was sewn inward, and the other half was sewn outward. That is not the typical quality of a millionaire's suitcase. It would only be that way if the seam was ripped off, then sewn again."
"That is truly ingenious, M. Poirot!"exclaims Dr. Constantine.
"I do not understand," says in a confused tone.
"M. Poirot is suggesting that there might be something hidden behind the piece of cloth covering the inside of the trunk. Isn't that so, Monsieur Poirot?"
"That is exactly so, Dr. Constantine," replies Poirot, and he pulls out a pocket knife, and begins tearing through the seams of the trunk. When he is about halfway through, an envelope falls out, along with a passport, and a folded piece of paper. "Ah-ha! I knew it! Merveilleux!
He opened the passport, which had the emblem of Russia, a bit strange, considering the fact that Ratchett was American. Poirot put it aside and looked into the envelope. He found fifty an hundred dollar bills. He took them out and handed them to M. Bouc to count them. "Please count this money, and record it. Here is a paper and pen," Poirot said, handing him the supplies from his coat pocket.
"Dr. Constantine, would you be so kind as to see who this passport belongs to, while I read this letter here?" Poirot asks, and begins reading the letter.
December 28, 1933
You have agreed to help me in what I have proposed to you. Your mission will begin in exactly thirteen days. I want you to impersonate me on the Simplon Orient Express. The reason for this is because I have important business I must take care of, and cannot be there. However, people are expecting me, and since you and I look so much alike, I have decided that this should be the first stage in proving that you can work for me.
"No, no, no, M. Bouc," says Poirot. "You are confused, mon ami. Here is what happened; Ratchett wasn't the man murdered. The real Ratchett is still out there. The man who was murdered was a look-alike of Ratchett, whom he hired to protect him. He sent this man to the Orient Express, claiming to have business, and that people are expecting him, without telling him that he would be killed," he explains.
"Oh, this case, it's so confondant!"cries out M. Bouc. "I cannot keep up!"
"This case is puzzling," adds Dr. Constantine. "I've never seen anything like it," he continued.
Poirot smiles and puts the letter down. "M. Bouc, if you would please tell the conductor to gather everyone in the dining room, I will propose two solutions to the case."