Part 2, Chapter 15 Summary
The Evidence of the Passengers’ Luggage
The men search Mr. Hardman’s luggage. The only surprising thing in his bags is an excessive number of liquor bottles, which he intends to smuggle into the United States despite the Prohibition laws.
In Colonel Arbuthnot’s neatly packed luggage, Poirot finds a package of pipe cleaners, the same kind found at the murder scene. Poirot still believes such a murder is out of character for Arbuthnot.
Bouc deferentially explains the need to search her luggage to Princess Dragomiroff, who graciously allows them to ask her maid for the keys. Schmidt is not chic or modern but she is loyal, a characteristic Dragomiroff values beyond measure.
Schmidt arrives and opens the Princess’s luggage. Bouc searches the bags, but it is a mere formality in his mind despite the fact that Sonia Armstrong was a dear friend of the Princess.
The Andrenyis’ doors are locked and Bouc wishes they could avoid having to search their luggage. Poirot knocks and the Count allows the men to search their bags; the inspector notices that one of the Countess’s luggage labels is slightly damp before the men politely withdraw.
Debenham and Ohlsson allow the men to search their bags as well. Poirot sends the Swedish woman to tend to Hubbard and Debenham asks why, assuming Poirot wants to speak to her alone. Poirot protests, but Debenham assures the inspector that she is aware of his suspicions toward her.
Since she prefers directness, Poirot asks her about the conversation he overheard on the journey from Syria and asks what she meant by “Not now. When it’s all over. When it’s behind us.” Debenham politely refuses to explain but assures Poirot that she was not referring to the murder. Poirot wonders why she was so distraught at a potential one-day delay but does not seem at all upset at this longer snow delay. Debenham claims to have met Colonel Arbuthnot on this journey and never to have met Ratchett, but she still refuses to speak further about her incriminating words.
Next to be searched is Hildegarde Schmidt’s luggage. Right on top inside the unlocked suitcase is a Wagon Lit uniform. The woman protests her innocence and Poirot assures her they do not think she put it there. He believes the imposter conductor needed to get rid of the uniform, saw her open door, and hurriedly stuffed it in her suitcase. It is missing a button, and Poirot finds a Wagon Lit pass-key in the pocket as well. This key answers many questions; now they only need to find the scarlet kimono.
Macqueen, who was only useful to Ratchett because he knew other languages, feels as if he is the most likely suspect on the train; however, Poirot finds nothing suspicious in his bags. Neither the Italian’s nor the valet’s luggage has the kimono. Poirot goes to his own compartment and discovers the scarlet kimono covered with dragons.