The Murder on the Links
by Agatha Christie
We crossed from England by the evening boat, and the following morning
saw us in Saint-Omer, whither Jack Renauld had been taken. Poirot lost
no time in visiting M. Hautet. As he did not seem disposed to make any
objections to my accompanying him, I bore him company.
After various formalities and preliminaries, we were conducted to the
examining magistrate’s room. He greeted us cordially.
“I was told that you had returned to England, M. Poirot. I am glad to
find that such is not the case.”
“It is true that I went there, M. le juge, but it was only for a flying
visit. A side issue, but one that I fancied might repay investigation.”
“And it did—eh?”
Poirot shrugged his shoulders. M. Hautet nodded, sighing.
“We must resign ourselves, I fear. That animal Giraud, his manners are
abominable, but he is undoubtedly clever! Not much chance of that one
making a mistake.”
“You think not, M. le juge?”
It was the examining magistrate’s turn to shrug his shoulders.
“_Eh bien___, speaking frankly—in confidence, _c’est entendu___—can you
come to any other conclusion?”
“Frankly, M. le juge, there seem to me to be many points that are
But Poirot was not to be drawn.
“I have not yet tabulated them,” he remarked. “It was a general
reflection that I was making. I liked the young man, and should be
sorry to believe him guilty of such a hideous crime. By the way, what
has he to say for himself on the matter?”
The magistrate frowned.
“I cannot understand him. He seems incapable of putting up any sort of
defence. It has been most difficult to get him to answer questions. He
contents himself with a general denial, and beyond that takes refuge in
a most obstinate silence. I am interrogating him again tomorrow;
perhaps you would like to be present?”
We accepted the invitation with _empressement___.
“A distressing case,” said the magistrate with a sigh. “My sympathy for
Madame Renauld is profound.”
“How is Madame Renauld?”
“She has not yet recovered consciousness. It is merciful in a way, poor
woman, she is being spared much. The doctors say that there is no
danger, but that when she comes to herself she must be kept as quiet as
possible. It was, I understand, quite as much the shock as the fall
which caused her present state. It would be terrible if her brain
became unhinged; but I should not wonder at all—no, really, not at
M. Hautet leaned back, shaking his head, with a sort of mournful
enjoyment, as he envisaged the gloomy prospect.
He roused himself at length, and observed with a start.
“That reminds me. I have here a letter for you, M. Poirot. Let me see,
where did I put it?”
He proceeded to rummage amongst his papers. At last he found the
missive, and handed it to Poirot.
“It was sent under cover to me in order that I might forward it to
you,” he explained. “But as you left no address I could not do so.”
Poirot studied the letter curiously. It was addressed in a long,
sloping, foreign hand, and the writing was decidedly a woman’s. Poirot
did not open it. Instead he put it in his pocket and rose to his feet.
“_A demain___ then, M. le juge. Many thanks for your courtesy and
“But not at all. I am always at your service. These young detectives of
the school of Giraud, they are all alike—rude, sneering fellows. They
do not realize that an examining magistrate of my—er—experience is
bound to have a certain discernment, a certain—_flair___. _Enfin!___
the politeness of the old school is infinitely more to my taste.
Therefore, my dear friend, command me in any way you will. We know a
thing or two, you and I—eh?”
And laughing heartily, enchanted with himself and with us, M. Hautet
bade us adieu. I am sorry to have to record that Poirot’s first remark
to me as we traversed the corridor was:
“A famous old imbecile, that one! Of a stupidity to make pity!”
We were just leaving the building when we came face to face with
Giraud, looking more dandified than ever, and thoroughly pleased with
“Aha! M. Poirot,” he cried airily. “You have returned from England
“As you see,” said Poirot.
“The end of the case is not far off now, I fancy.”
“I agree with you, M. Giraud.”
Poirot spoke in a subdued tone. His crest-fallen manner seemed to
delight the other.
“Of all the milk and water criminals! Not an idea of defending himself.
It is extraordinary!”
“So extraordinary that it gives one to think, does it not?” suggested
But Giraud was not even listening. He twirled his cane amicably.
“Well, good day, M. Poirot. I am glad you’re satisfied of young
Renauld’s guilt at last.”
“_Pardon!___ But I am not in the least satisfied. Jack Renauld is
Giraud stared for a moment—then burst out laughing, tapping his head
significantly with the brief remark: “_Toqué!___”
Poirot drew himself up. A dangerous light showed in his eyes.
“M. Giraud, throughout the case your manner to me has been deliberately
insulting! You need teaching a lesson. I am prepared to wager you 500
francs that I find the murderer of M. Renauld before you do. Is it
Giraud stared helplessly at him, and murmured again:
“Come now,” urged Poirot, “is it agreed?”
“I have no wish to take your money from you.”
“Make your mind easy—you will not!”
“Oh, well then, I agree! You speak of my manner to you being insulting.
_Eh bien___, once or twice, _your___ manner has annoyed _me___.”
“I am enchanted to hear it,” said Poirot. “Good morning, M. Giraud.
I said no word as we walked along the street. My heart was heavy.
Poirot had displayed his intentions only too plainly. I doubted more
than ever my powers of saving Bella from the consequences of her act.
This unlucky encounter with Giraud had roused Poirot and put him on his
Suddenly I felt a hand laid on my shoulder, and turned to face Gabriel
Stonor. We stopped and greeted him, and he proposed strolling with us
back to our hotel.
“And what are you doing here, M. Stonor?” inquired Poirot.
“One must stand by one’s friends,” replied the other dryly. “Especially
when they are unjustly accused.”
“Then you do not believe that Jack Renauld committed the crime?” I
“Certainly I don’t. I know the lad. I admit that there have been one or
two things in this business that have staggered me completely, but none
the less, in spite of his fool way of taking it, I’ll never believe
that Jack Renauld is a murderer.”
My heart warmed to the secretary. His words seemed to lift a secret
weight from my heart.
“I have no doubt that many people feel as you do,” I exclaimed. “There
is really absurdly little evidence against him. I should say that there
was no doubt of his acquittal—no doubt whatever.”
But Stonor hardly responded as I could have wished.
“I’d give a lot to think as you do,” he said gravely. He turned to
Poirot. “What’s your opinion, monsieur?”
“I think that things look very black against him,” said Poirot quietly.
“You believe him guilty?” said Stonor sharply.
“No. But I think he will find it hard to prove his innocence.”
“He’s behaving so damned queerly,” muttered Stonor. “Of course I
realize that there’s a lot more in this affair than meets the eye.
Giraud’s not wise to that because he’s an outsider, but the whole thing
has been damned odd. As to that, least said soonest mended. If Mrs.
Renauld wants to hush anything up, I’ll take my cue from her. It’s her
show, and I’ve too much respect for her judgment to shove my oar in,
but I can’t get behind this attitude of Jack’s. Any one would think he
_wanted___ to be thought guilty.”
“But it’s absurd,” I cried, bursting in. “For one thing, the dagger—” I
paused, uncertain as to how much Poirot would wish me to reveal. I
continued, choosing my words carefully, “We know that the dagger could
not have been in Jack Renauld’s possession that evening. Mrs. Renauld
“True,” said Stonor. “When she recovers, she will doubtless say all
this and more. Well, I must be leaving you.”
“One moment.” Poirot’s hand arrested his departure. “Can you arrange
for word to be sent to me at once should Madame Renauld recover
“Certainly. That’s easily done.”
“That point about the dagger is good, Poirot,” I urged as we went
upstairs. “I couldn’t speak very plainly before Stonor.”
“That was quite right of you. We might as well keep the knowledge to
ourselves as long as we can. As to the dagger, your point hardly helps
Jack Renauld. You remember that I was absent for an hour this morning,
before we started from London?”
“Well, I was employed in trying to find the firm Jack Renauld employed
to convert his souvenirs. It was not very difficult. _Eh bien___,
Hastings, they made to his order not _two___ paper-knives, but
“So that, after giving one to his mother, and one to Bella Duveen,
there was a third which he doubtless retained for his own use. No,
Hastings, I fear the dagger question will not help us to save him from
“It won’t come to that,” I cried, stung.
Poirot shook his head uncertainly.
“You will save him,” I cried positively.
Poirot glanced at me dryly.
“Have you not rendered it impossible, _mon ami?___”
“Some other way,” I muttered.
“Ah! _Sapristi!___ But it is miracles you ask from me. No—say no more.
Let us instead see what is in this letter.”
And he drew out the envelope from his breast pocket.
His face contracted as he read, then he handed the one flimsy sheet to
“There are other women in the world who suffer, Hastings.”
The writing was blurred and the note had evidently been written in
“_Dear M. Poirot:___
“If you get this, I beg of you to come to my aid. I have no one to turn
to, and at all costs Jack must be saved. I implore of you on my knees
to help us.
I handed it back, moved.
“You will go?”
“At once. We will command an auto.”
Half an hour later saw us at the Villa Marguerite. Marthe was at the
door to meet us, and led Poirot in, clinging with both hands to one of
“Ah, you have come—it is good of you. I have been in despair, not
knowing what to do. They will not let me go to see him in prison even.
I suffer horribly, I am nearly mad. Is it true what they say, that he
does not deny the crime? But that is madness. It is impossible that he
should have done it! Never for one minute will I believe it.”
“Neither do I believe it, mademoiselle,” said Poirot gently.
“But then why does he not speak? I do not understand.”
“Perhaps because he is screening some one,” suggested Poirot, watching
“Screening some one? Do you mean his mother? Ah, from the beginning I
have suspected her. Who inherits all that vast fortune? She does. It is
easy to wear widow’s weeds and play the hypocrite. And they say that
when he was arrested she fell down—like _that___.” She made a dramatic
gesture. “And without doubt, M. Stonor, the secretary, he helped her.
They are thick as thieves, those two. It is true she is older than
he—but what do men care—if a woman is rich!”
There was a hint of bitterness in her tone.
“Stonor was in England,” I put in.
“He says so—but who knows?”
“Mademoiselle,” said Poirot quietly, “if we are to work together, you
and I, we must have things clear. First, I will ask you a question.”
“Are you aware of your mother’s real name?”
Marthe looked at him for a minute, then, letting her head fall forward
on her arms, she burst into tears.
“There, there,” said Poirot, patting her on the shoulder. “Calm
yourself, _petite___, I see that you know. Now a second question, did
you know who M. Renauld was?”
“M. Renauld,” she raised her head from her hands and gazed at him
“Ah, I see you do not know that. Now listen to me carefully.”
Step by step, he went over the case, much as he had done to me on the
day of our departure for England. Marthe listened spellbound. When he
had finished, she drew a long breath.
“But you are wonderful—magnificent! You are the greatest detective in
With a swift gesture she slipped off her chair and knelt before him
with an abandonment that was wholly French.
“Save him, monsieur,” she cried. “I love him so. Oh, save him, save