Hercule Poirot’s early cases – Agatha Christie
Japp stopped, and Poirot nodded, and said with the relish of the specialist: ‘Une belle affaire! And there was no clue as to the perpetrator of the deed? But how should there be!’
‘Well,’ continued the inspector, ‘you know the rest. The tragedy was a double one. Next day there were headlines in all the papers, and a brief statement to the effect that Miss Courtenay, the popular actress, had been discovered dead in her bed, and that her death was due to an overdose of cocaine. Now, was it accident or suicide? Her maid, who was called upon to give evidence, admitted that Miss Courtenay was a confirmed taker of the drug, and a verdict of accidental death was returned. Nevertheless we can’t leave the possibility of suicide out of account. Her death is particularly unfortunate, since it leaves us no clue now to the cause of the quarrel the preceding night. By the way, a small enamel box was found on the dead man. It had Coco written across it in diamonds, and was half full of cocaine. It was identified by Miss Courtenay’s maid as belonging to her mis-tress, who nearly always carried it about with her, since it con-tained her supply of the drug to which she was fast becoming a slave.’
‘Was Lord Cronshaw himself addicted to the drug?’
‘Very far from it. He held unusually strong views on the subject of dope.’
Poirot nodded thoughtfully.
‘But since the box was in his possession, he knew that Miss
Courtenay took it. Suggestive, that, is it not, my good Japp?’ ‘Ah!’ said Japp rather vaguely.
‘Well,’ said Japp, ‘that’s the case. What do you think of it?’ ‘You found no clue of any kind that has not been reported?’ ‘Yes, there was this.’ Japp took a small object from his pocket and handed it over to Poirot. It was a small pompon of emerald green silk, with some ragged threads hanging from it, as though it had been wrenched violently away.
‘We found it in the dead man’s hand, which was tightly clenched over it,’ explained the inspector.
Poirot handed it back without any comment and asked: ‘Had Lord Cronshaw any enemies?’
‘None that anyone knows of. He seemed a popular young fellow.’