Murder on the Orient Express Part 2, Chapter 9 Summary

Agatha Christie

Part 2, Chapter 9 Summary

The Evidence of Mr. Hardman

Mr. Hardman, the big, flamboyant American who shared a dinner table with the valet and the Italian, is the last of the first-class passengers to be interviewed. His clothing is loud and he is in good humor when he arrives at the dining car.

Poirot reads the man’s passport: Cyrus Bethman Hardman, United States citizen, forty-one years old, traveling typewriter ribbon salesman. Hardman is traveling from Stamboul to Paris for business.

When Poirot asks about the man’s activities last night, Hardman demands to know the credentials of his three inquisitors. Poirot introduces Bouc, Constantine, and himself; Hardman has heard of Poirot and therefore feels he must “come clean.” While he knows nothing, he is angry because he feels he should have known something.

Suddenly Hardman stops being a caricature and explains he is actually a detective for McNeil’s Detective Agency in New York City. Poirot knows the agency to be one of the finest in New York. Hardman came to Europe trailing several criminals, but the chase ended in Stamboul.

He would have gone straight home but got a letter from Ratchett written at the Tokatlian Hotel. Ratchett had learned that Hardman was a detective and asked Hardman to meet him at four o’clock that afternoon. The men talked and Ratchett showed Hardman some letters; Ratchett was shaken and asked Hardman to travel on the same train with him so he could ensure Ratchett’s safety.

Obviously someone got to Ratchett despite Hardman’s presence. Since Hardman could not get the compartment next to Ratchett, he took the compartment at the end of the carriage so he could observe anyone who entered or left the coach. Ratchett told Hardman the possible assailant was a “small man—dark—with a womanish kind of voice,” and Ratchett did not think the assault was likely to happen on the first night on the train.

Poirot reveals Ratchett’s true identity to Hardman; the detective is not surprised that someone wanted to kill the man. Poirot asks if Hardman recalls anyone connected to the Armstrong case who matches the description of Ratchett’s potential attacker; he does not. 

Hardman slept during the day so he could stay awake to keep watch at night. Nothing happened the first night, and he peeked out last night but saw no strangers pass by his compartment.

Hardman’s account of the conductor’s actions matches what Pierre Michel has already told the men. Poirot has Hardman initial his official business card. If needed, Macqueen might be able to confirm Hardman’s identity, and Hardman has often seen Macqueen in his father’s New York office. Hardman does not smoke a pipe. After Hardman leaves, Poirot observes that although Hardman’s description of the potential assailant is interesting, it does not match any of the passengers on the train.