Murder on the Orient Express Part 1, Chapter 8 Summary

Agatha Christie

Part 1, Chapter 8 Summary

The Armstrong Kidnapping Case

Hercule Poirot and Doctor Constantine find Bouc, the director of the train line; after they eat, Bouc asks Poirot what he has discovered. The inspector explains that Ratchett is actually Cassetti, the American man who is responsible for the kidnapping and murder of a young girl, Daisy Armstrong. The girl’s father, Colonel Armstrong, was an English noble and scion of a Wall Street millionaire. Armstrong married the daughter of the most famous dramatic actress, and the couple had one child, Daisy, whom they adored. She was kidnapped when she was three and an enormous ransom was demanded.

After the Armstrongs paid the two hundred thousand dollars in ransom, Daisy’s body was discovered. She had been dead for at least two weeks, and the public was outraged at the heartless act. Even worse, Mrs. Armstrong was pregnant at the time. She gave birth prematurely, and first the baby and then Mrs. Armstrong died. In his grief, the colonel shot himself. One more death was blamed on the tragic kidnapping. A French (or perhaps it was Swiss) nursemaid was hysterical in her denials that she knew nothing about the case; the police refused to believe her, so she threw herself out of her window. Later the girl was exonerated.

Six months later, Cassetti was arrested; he was the leader of the gang which kidnapped Daisy—and she was not the group’s first victim. Cassetti was undeniably guilty, but he was a powerful man who had accumulated so much wealth and knew so many secrets about important people that he was acquitted. Because he would have been lynched in America, Cassetti changed his name and left the country. Poirot wonders if Ratchett was killed by some kind of a rival gang seeking revenge for past actions or if he was murdered as an act of personal vengeance.

The letter he found in Ratchett’s compartment was burned by the murderer to hide his (or her) identity. Poirot vaguely remembers Mrs. Armstrong having a younger sister but does not know if she is still alive. Poirot shares what he and Constantine discovered in Ratchett’s compartment; Bouc is encouraged when he hears about the damaged watch. Poirot reminds Bouc that he heard Ratchett talking to the conductor at twelve thirty-seven, though. Lunch has been served and the dining car is now free for Poirot to conduct his interviews. Constantine accompanies Bouc to the restaurant car.