Curtain: Poirot’s last case – Agatha Christie
Who is there who has not felt a sudden startled pang at reliving an old experience or feeling an old emotion?
“I have done this before …”
Why do those words always move one so profoundly?
That was the question I asked myself as I sat in the train watching the flat Essex landscape outside.
How long ago was it that I had taken this selfsame journey? Had felt (ridiculously) that the best of life was over for me! Wounded in that war that for me would always be the war – the war that was wiped out now by a second and a more desperate war.
It had seemed in 1916 to young Arthur Hastings that he was already old and mature. How little had I realized that, for me, life was only then beginning. I had been journeying, though I did not know it, to meet the man whose influence over me was to shape and mould my life. Actually I had been going to stay with my old friend John Cavendish, whose mother, recently remarried, had a country house named “Styles.” A pleasant renewing of old acquaintanceships, that was all I had thought it, not foreseeing that I was shortly to plunge into all the dark embroilments of a mysterious murder. It was at Styles that I had met again that strange little man, Hercule Poirot, whom I had first come across in Belgium. How well I remembered my amazement when I had seen the limping figure with the large moustache coming up the village street.
Hercule Poirot! Since those days he had been my dearest friend; his influence had moulded my life. In company with him, in the hunting down of yet another murderer, I had met my wife, the truest and sweetest companion any man could have had.
She lay now in Argentine soil, dying as she would have wished, with no longdrawn-out suffering or feebleness of old age. But she had left a very lonely and unhappy man behind her.
Ah! If I could go back – live life all over again. If this could have been that day in 1916 when I first travelled to Styles… What changes had taken place since then!
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