The Murder on the Links
by Agatha Christie
I Receive a Letter
“You will know all when you get this. Nothing that I can say will
move Bella. She has gone out to give herself up. I am tired out
“You will know now that I deceived you, that where you gave me
trust I repaid you with lies. It will seem, perhaps, indefensible
to you, but I should like, before I go out of your life for ever,
to show you just how it all came about. If I knew that you forgave
me, it would make life easier for me. It wasn’t for myself I did
it—that’s the only thing I can put forward to say for myself.
“I’ll begin from the day I met you in the boat train from Paris. I
was uneasy then about Bella. She was just desperate about Jack
Renauld, she’d have lain down on the ground for him to walk on, and
when he began to change, and to stop writing so often, she began
getting in a state. She got it into her head that he was keen on
another girl—and of course, as it turned out afterwards, she was
quite right there. She’d made up her mind to go to their Villa at
Merlinville, and try and see Jack. She knew I was against it, and
tried to give me the slip. I found she was not on the train at
Calais, and determined I would not go on to England without her.
I’d an uneasy feeling that something awful was going to happen if I
couldn’t prevent it.
“I met the next train from Paris. She was on it, and set upon going
out then and there to Merlinville. I argued with her for all I was
worth, but it wasn’t any good. She was all strung up and set upon
having her own way. Well, I washed my hands of it. I’d done all I
could! It was getting late. I went to an hotel, and Bella started
for Merlinville. I still couldn’t shake off my feeling of what the
books call ‘impending disaster.’
“The next day came—but no Bella. She’d made a date with me to meet
at the hotel, but she didn’t keep it. No sign of her all day. I got
more and more anxious. Then came an evening paper with the news.
“It was awful! I couldn’t be sure, of course—but I was terribly
afraid. I figured it out that Bella had met Papa Renauld and told
him about her and Jack, and that he’d insulted her or something
like that. We’ve both got terribly quick tempers.
“Then all the masked foreigner business came out, and I began to
feel more at ease. But it still worried me that Bella hadn’t kept
her date with me.
“By the next morning, I was so rattled that I’d just got to go and
see what I could. First thing, I ran up against you. You know all
that … When I saw the dead man, looking so like Jack, and wearing
Jack’s fancy overcoat, I knew! And there was the identical
paper-knife—wicked little thing!—that Jack had given Bella! Ten to
one it had her finger-marks on it. I can’t hope to explain to you
the sort of helpless horror of that moment. I only saw one thing
clearly—I must get hold of that dagger, and get right away with it
before they found out it was gone. I pretended to faint, and whilst
you were away getting water I took the thing and hid it away in my
“I told you that I was staying at the Hôtel du Phare, but of course
really I made a bee line back to Calais, and then on to England by
the first boat. When we were in mid-Channel, I dropped that little
devil of a dagger into the sea. Then I felt I could breathe again.
“Bella was at our digs in London. She looked like nothing on God’s
earth. I told her what I’d done, and that she was pretty safe for
the time being. She stared at me, and then began laughing …
laughing … laughing … it was horrible to hear her! I felt that the
best thing to do was to keep busy. She’d go mad if she had time to
brood on what she’d done. Luckily we got an engagement at once.
“And then, I saw you and your friend, watching us that night … I
was frantic. You must suspect, or you wouldn’t have tracked us
down. I had to know the worst, so I followed you. I was desperate.
And then, before I’d had time to say anything, I tumbled to it that
it was _me___ you suspected, not Bella! Or at least that you
thought I _was___ Bella since I’d stolen the dagger.
“I wish, honey, that you could see back into my mind at that
moment … you’d forgive me, perhaps … I was so frightened, and
muddled, and desperate. … All I could get clearly was that you
would try and save me. I didn’t know whether you’d be willing to
save her … I thought very likely not—it wasn’t the same thing! And
I couldn’t risk it! Bella’s my twin—I’d got to do the best for her.
So I went on lying. … I felt mean—I feel mean still. … That’s
all—enough too, you’ll say, I expect. I ought to have trusted
you. … If I had—
“As soon as the news was in the paper that Jack Renauld had been
arrested, it was all up. Bella wouldn’t even wait to see how things
“I’m very tired. … I can’t write any more. …”
She had begun to sign herself Cinderella, but had crossed that out and
written instead “Dulcie Duveen.”
It was an ill-written, blurred epistle but I have kept it to this day.
Poirot was with me when I read it. The sheets fell from my hand, and I
looked across at him.
“Did you know all the time that it was—the other?”
“Yes, my friend.”
“Why did you not tell me?”
“To begin with, I could hardly believe it conceivable that you could
make such a mistake. You had seen the photograph. The sisters are very
alike, but by no means incapable of distinguishment.”
“But the fair hair?”
“A wig, worn for the sake of a piquant contrast on the stage. Is it
conceivable that with twins one should be fair and one dark?”
“Why didn’t you tell me that night at the hotel in Coventry?”
“You were rather high-handed in your methods, _mon ami___,” said Poirot
dryly. “You did not give me a chance.”
“Ah, afterwards! Well, to begin with, I was hurt at your want of faith
in me. And then, I wanted to see whether your—feelings would stand the
test of time. In fact, whether it was love, or a flash in the pan, with
you. I should not have left you long in your error.”
I nodded. His tone was too affectionate for me to bear resentment. I
looked down on the sheets of the letter. Suddenly I picked them up from
the floor, and pushed them across to him.
“Read that,” I said. “I’d like you to.”
He read it through in silence, then he looked up at me.
“What is it that worries you, Hastings?”
This was quite a new mood in Poirot. His mocking manner seemed laid
quite aside. I was able to say what I wanted without too much
“She doesn’t say—she doesn’t say—well, not whether she cares for me or
Poirot turned back the pages.
“I think you are mistaken, Hastings.”
“Where?” I cried, leaning forward eagerly.
“She tells you that in every line of the letter, _mon ami___.”
“But where am I to find her? There’s no address on the letter. There’s
a French stamp, that’s all.”
“Excite yourself not! Leave it to Papa Poirot. I can find her for you
as soon as I have five little minutes!”