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= ROOT|Agatha_Christie|The_Mysterious_Affair_at_Styles-76.txt =

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THE MYSTERIOUS AFFAIR AT STYLES

AGATHA CHRISTIE




CONTENTS

 I.     I GO TO STYLES
 II.    THE 16TH AND 17TH OF JULY
 III.   THE NIGHT OF THE TRAGEDY
 IV.    POIROT INVESTIGATES
 V.     "IT ISN'T STRYCHNINE, IS IT?"
 VI.    THE INQUEST
 VII.   POIROT PAYS HIS DEBTS
 VIII.  FRESH SUSPICIONS
 IX.    DR. BAUERSTEIN
 X.     THE ARREST
 XI.    THE CASE FOR THE PROSECUTION
 XII.   THE LAST LINK
 XIII.  POIROT EXPLAINS






CHAPTER I.

I GO TO STYLES


The intense interest aroused in the public by what was known at
the time as "The Styles Case" has now somewhat subsided.
Nevertheless, in view of the world-wide notoriety which attended
it, I have been asked, both by my friend Poirot and the family
themselves, to write an account of the whole story.  This, we
trust, will effectually silence the sensational rumours which
still persist.

I will therefore briefly set down the circumstances which led to
my being connected with the affair.

I had been invalided home from the Front; and, after spending
some months in a rather depressing Convalescent Home, was given a
month's sick leave.  Having no near relations or friends, I was
trying to make up my mind what to do, when I ran across John
Cavendish.  I had seen very little of him for some years.
Indeed, I had never known him particularly well.  He was a good
fifteen years my senior, for one thing, though he hardly looked
his forty-five years.  As a boy, though, I had often stayed at
Styles, his mother's place in Essex.

We had a good yarn about old times, and it ended in his inviting
me down to Styles to spend my leave there.

"The mater will be delighted to see you again--after all those
years," he added.

"Your mother keeps well?" I asked.

"Oh, yes.  I suppose you know that she has married again?"

I am afraid I showed my surprise rather plainly.  Mrs. Cavendish,
who had married John's father when he was a widower with two
sons, had been a handsome woman of middle-age as I remembered
her.  She certainly could not be a day less than seventy now.  I
recalled her as an energetic, autocratic personality, somewhat
inclined to charitable and social notoriety, with a fondness for
opening bazaars and playing the Lady Bountiful.  She was a most
generous woman, and possessed a considerable fortune of her own.

Their country-place, Styles Court, had been purchased by Mr.
Cavendish early in their married life.  He had been completely
under his wife's ascendancy, so much so that, on dying, he left
the place to her for her lifetime, as well as the larger part of
his income; an arrangement that was distinctly unfair to his two
sons.  Their step-mother, however, had always been most generous
to them; indeed, they were so young at the time of their father's
remarriage that they always thought of her as their own mother.

Lawrence, the younger, had been a delicate youth.  He had
qualified as a doctor but early relinquished the profession of
medicine, and lived at home while pursuing literary ambitions;
though his verses never had any marked success.

John practiced for some time as a barrister, but had finally
settled down to the more congenial life of a country squire.  He
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