Part 3, Chapter 6 Summary
A Second Interview With Colonel Arbuthnot
Colonel Arbuthnot makes it clear that he is annoyed at being summoned again to the dining car. Poirot asks if the pipe cleaner he has in his hand belongs to him. The Colonel assumes it probably does after Poirot tells him that he is the only passenger on the train who smokes a pipe. Poirot says the pipe cleaner was found at the murder scene, and the Colonel raises his eyebrows.
Arbuthnot repeats that he never entered Ratchett’s compartment or even spoke to him—and he did not murder him. Poirot casually says he can think of at least eleven other reasons the pipe cleaner was in Ratchett’s room; what Poirot really wants to ask him about is the conversation he overheard between Arbuthnot and Miss Debenham at the train station in Konya. Debenham said, “Not now. When it’s over. When it’s behind us.” Poirot wants to know to what she was referring, but Arbuthnot refuses to answer the question and suggests the inspector ask Debenham directly.
Of course Poirot says he has already done that and that she, too, refused to explain. Arbuthnot suggests it is a private matter, but Poirot explains that Debenham is under suspicion in the murder investigation because she was the companion governess at the Armstrong household at the time young Daisy was kidnapped.
There is nothing but silence for a minute. Poirot gently tells the Colonel that he knows more than Arbuthnot thinks and, if Debenham is innocent, he wonders why she hid that information and told Poirot she had never been to America.
Colonel Arbuthnot clears his throat and asks if Poirot might be making a mistake. He thinks the inspector is wrong; however, Poirot must ask Debenham herself if he has any further questions about the matter. Poirot immediately summons Mary Debenham, and in a few moments she arrives.