Part 2, Chapter 5 Summary
The Evidence of the Swedish Lady
Mr. Bouc, director of the Wagon Lit train line, examines the button from a company uniform which Mrs. Hubbard left with him, Poirot, and Doctor Constantine during her interview. It is a significant piece of evidence and he wonders if the conductor for that apartment, Pierre Michel, could have been involved in the murder.
Greta Ohlsson is the next to be interviewed; she peers shortsightedly at the men through her glasses. The Swedish woman does not seem at all agitated, and the interview is conducted in French. She tells them she is the matron of a missionary school near Stamboul as well as a certified nurse. Ohlsson is aware that there has been a murder and has heard from the American lady, Mrs. Hubbard, that the murderer was actually in her compartment last night. Poirot notes that Ohlsson might have been the last person to see Ratchett alive when she inadvertently opened his door last night; he was reading a book and she apologized for the mistake. Ratchett laughed at her, said something (which Poirot does not make the woman repeat), and then Ohlsson left.
Next door, Hubbard gave her some aspirin and asked Ohlsson to make sure the connecting door in her compartment was bolted. It was, so Ohlsson returned to her own room at ten fifty-five (she remembers because she wound her watch) and lay down. The train stopped later, after she had lain awake for some time. Ohlsson has the lower berth, number ten, and shares the compartment with a young English lady who had travelled from Baghdad. Neither of them left their compartment when the train stopped at Vincovci, and neither of them has a scarlet kimono.
Ohlsson is on holiday, travelling to Lausanne to spend a week with her sister. She has never been to America but appreciates Americans for their generosity in founding schools and hospitals. When Poirot tells her Ratchett’s true identity, Ohlsson quivers with strong emotion for such cruelty to a child.
When Ohlsson leaves, Poirot shows Bouc the timeline of last night’s events surrounding the murder based on their interviews so far. Bouc is convinced that Ratchett was murdered at one fifteen by the Italian-looking American from Chicago who shares a compartment with the valet. He is undeterred by the valet’s claims that he had a toothache and was up all night and thus knows the American never left their compartment. Poirot listens to his friend, but he is clearly not convinced.