19 By Way of Sweden
20 Lady Clarke
21 Description of a Murderer
22 Not from Captain Hastings’ Personal Narrative
23 September 11th. Doncaster
24 Not from Captain Hastings’ Personal Narrative
25 Not from Captain Hastings’ Personal Narrative
26 Not from Captain Hastings’ Personal Narrative
27 The Doncaster Murder
28 Not from Captain Hastings’ Personal Narrative
29 At Scotland Yard
30 Not from Captain Hastings’ Personal Narrative
31 Hercule Poirot Asks Questions
32 And Catch a Fox
33 Alexander Bonaparte Cust
34 Poirot Explains
About Agatha Christie
The Agatha Christie Collection
About the Publisher (#litres_trial_promo)
By Captain Arthur Hastings, O.B.E.
In this narrative of mine I have departed from my usual practice of relating only those incidents and scenes at which I myself was present. Certain chapters, therefore, are written in the third person.
I wish to assure my readers that I can vouch for the occurrences related in these chapters. If I have taken a certain poetic licence in describing the thoughts and feelings of various persons, it is because I believe I have set them down with a reasonable amount of accuracy. I may add that they have been ‘vetted’ by my friend Hercule Poirot himself.
In conclusion, I will say that if I have described at too great length some of the secondary personal relationships which arose as a consequence of this strange series of crimes, it is because the human and personal elements can never be ignored. Hercule Poirot once taught me in a very dramatic manner that romance can be a by-product of crime.
As to the solving of the ABC mystery, I can only say that in my opinion Poirot showed real genius in the way he tackled a problem entirely unlike any which had previously come his way.
Chapter 1 (#ulink_eff14b10-3299-5073-a2f6-d62ade1e7e1e)
The Letter (#ulink_eff14b10-3299-5073-a2f6-d62ade1e7e1e)
It was in June of 1935 that I came home from my ranch in South America for a stay of about six months. It had been a difficult time for us out there. Like everyone else, we had suffered from world depression. I had various affairs to see to in England that I felt could only be successful if a personal touch was introduced. My wife remained to manage the ranch.
I need hardly say that one of my first actions on reaching England was to look up my old friend, Hercule Poirot.
I found him installed in one of the newest type of service flats in London. I accused him (and he admitted the fact) of having chosen this particular building entirely on account of its strictly geometrical appearance and proportions.
‘But yes, my friend, it is of a most pleasing symmetry, do you not find it so?’
I said that I thought there could be too much squareness and, alluding to an old joke, I asked if in this super-modern hostelry they managed to induce hens to lay square eggs.
Poirot laughed heartily.
‘Ah, you remember that? Alas! no—science has not yet induced the hens to conform to modern tastes, they still lay eggs of different sizes and colours!’
I examined my old friend with an affectionate eye. He was looking wonderfully well—hardly a day older than when I had last seen him.
‘You’re looking in fine fettle, Poirot,’ I said. ‘You’ve hardly aged at all. In fact, if it were possible, I should say that you had fewer grey hairs than when I saw you last.’
Poirot beamed on me.
‘And why is that not possible? It is quite true.’
‘Do you mean your hair is turning from grey to black instead of from black to grey?’
‘But surely that’s a scientific impossibility!’
‘Not at all.’
‘But that’s very extraordinary. It seems against nature.’
‘As usual, Hastings, you have the beautiful and unsuspicious mind. Years do not change that in you! You perceive a fact and mention the solution of it in the same breath without noticing that you are doing so!’
I stared at him, puzzled.
Without a word he walked into his bedroom and returned with a bottle in his hand which he handed to me.
I took it, for the moment uncomprehending.
It bore the words:
Revivit.—To bring back the natural tone of the hair. Revivit is not a dye. In five shades, Ash, Chestnut, Titian, Brown, Black.