Text - "The Murder on the Links" Agatha Christie

close and start typing
The man who entered the room was a striking figure. Very tall,
with a well knit athletic frame, and a deeply bronzed face and
neck, he dominated the assembly. Even Giraud seemed anaemic beside
him. When I knew him better I realized that Gabriel Stonor was quite
an unusual personality. English by birth, he had knocked about all
over the world. He had shot big game in Africa, travelled in Korea,
ranched in California, and traded in the South Sea Islands. He had
been secretary to a New York railway magnate, and had spent a year
encamped in the desert with a friendly tribe of Arabs.

His unerring eye picked out M. Hautet.

"The examining magistrate in charge of the case? Pleased to meet
you, M. le juge. This is a terrible business. How's Mrs. Renauld? Is
she bearing up fairly well? It must have been an awful shock to her."

"Terrible, terrible," said M. Hautet. "Permit me to introduce
M. Bex our commissary of police, M. Giraud of the S?reté. This
gentleman is M. Hercule Poirot. M. Renauld sent for him, but he
arrived too late to do anything to avert the tragedy. A friend of M.
Poirot's, Captain Hastings."

Stonor looked at Poirot with some interest.

"Sent for you, did he?"

"You did not know, then, that M. Renauld contemplated calling in
a detective?" interposed M. Bex.

"No, I didn't. But it doesn't surprise me a bit."


"Because the old man was rattled! I don't know what it was all
about. He didn't confide in me. We weren't on those terms. But
rattled he was and badly!"

"H'm!" said M. Hautet. "But you have no notion of the cause?"

"That's what I said, sir."

"You will pardon me, M. Stonor, but we must begin with a few
formalities. Your name?"

"Gabriel Stonor."

"How long ago was it that you became secretary to M. Renauld?"

"About two years ago, when he first arrived from South America. I
met him through a mutual friend, and he offered me the post. A
thundering good boss he was too."

"Did he talk to you much about his life in South America?"

"Yes, a good bit."

"Do you know if he was ever in Santiago?"

"Several times, I believe."

"He never mentioned any special incident that occurred
there anything that might have provoked some vendetta against him?"


"Did he speak of any secret that he had acquired whilst sojourning


"Did he ever say anything at all about a secret?"

"Not that I can remember. But, for all that, there was a mystery
about him. I've never heard him speak of his boyhood for instance,
or of any incident prior to his arrival in South America. He was a
French Canadian by birth, I believe, but I've never heard him speak
of his life in Canada. He could shut up like a clam if he liked."

"So, as far as you know, he had no enemies, and you can give us no
clue as to any secret to obtain possession of which he might have
been murdered?"

"That's so."

"M. Stonor, have you ever heard the name of Duveen in connection
with M. Renauld?"

"Duveen. Duveen." He tried the name over thoughtfully. "I don't
think I have. And yet it seems familiar."

"Do you know a lady, a friend of M. Renauld's whose Christian name
is Bella?"

Again Mr. Stonor shook his head.

"Bella Duveen? Is that the full name? It's curious! I'm sure I
know it. But for the moment I can't remember in what connection."

The magistrate coughed.

"You understand, M. Stonor the case is like this. There must be no
reservations. You might, perhaps, through a feeling of consideration
for Madame Renauld for whom, I gather, you have a great esteem
and affection, you might enfin!" said M. Hautet getting rather
tied up in his sentence, "there must absolutely be no reservations."

Stonor stared at him, a dawning light of comprehension in his eyes.

"I don't quite get you," he said gently. "Where does Mrs. Renauld
come in? I've an immense respect and affection for that lady;
she's a very wonderful and unusual type, but I don't quite see how
my reservations, or otherwise, could affect her?"

"Not if this Bella Duveen should prove to have been something more
than a friend to her husband?"

"Ah!" said Stonor. "I get you now. But I'll bet my bottom dollar that
you're wrong. The old man never so much as looked at a petticoat. He
just adored his own wife. They were the most devoted couple I know."

M. Hautet shook his head gently.

"M. Stonor, we hold absolute proof a love letter written by this
Bella to M. Renauld, accusing him of having tired of her. Moreover,
we have further proof that, at the time of his death, he was carrying
on an intrigue with a Frenchwoman, a Madame Daubreuil, who rents
the adjoining Villa. And this is the man who, according to you,
never looked at a petticoat!"

The secretary's eyes narrowed.

"Hold on, M. le juge. You're barking up the wrong tree. I knew Paul
Renauld. What you've just been saying is utterly impossible. There's
some other explanation."

The magistrate shrugged his shoulders.

"What other explanation could there be?"

"What leads you to think it was a love affair?"

"Madame Daubreuil was in the habit of visiting him here in the
evenings. Also, since M. Renauld came to the Villa Genevi?ve, Madame
Daubreuil has paid large sums of money into the bank in notes. In
all, the amount totals four thousand pounds of your English money."

"I guess that's right," said Stonor quietly. "I transmitted him
those sums at his request. But it wasn't an intrigue."

"Eh! mon Dieu! What else could it be?"

"Blackmail," said Stonor sharply, bringing down his hand with a
slam on the table. "That's what it was."

"Ah! Voil? une idée!" cried the magistrate, shaken in spite
of himself.

"Blackmail," repeated Stonor. "The old man was being bled and at
a good rate too. Four thousand in a couple of months. Whew! I told
you just now there was a mystery about Renauld. Evidently this
Madame Daubreuil knew enough of it to put the screws on."

"It is possible," the commissary cried excitedly. "Decidedly,
it is possible."

"Possible?" roared Stonor. "It's certain! Tell me, have you asked
Mrs. Renauld about this love affair stunt of yours?"

"No, monsieur. We did not wish to occasion her any distress if it
could reasonably be avoided."

"Distress? Why, she'd laugh in your face. I tell you, she and
Renauld were a couple in a hundred."

"Ah, that reminds me of another point," said M. Hautet. "Did
M. Renauld take you into his confidence at all as to the dispositions
of his will?"

"I know all about it took it to the lawyer for him after he'd drawn
it out. I can give you the name of his solicitors if you want to
see it. They've got it there. Quite simple. Half in trust to his
wife for her lifetime, the other half to his son. A few legacies. I
rather think he left me a thousand."

"When was this will drawn up?"

"Oh, about a year and a half ago."

"Would it surprise you very much, M. Stonor, to hear that M. Renauld
had made another will, less than a fortnight ago?"

Stonor was obviously very much surprised.

"I'd no idea of it. What's it like?"

"The whole of his vast fortune is left unreservedly to his
wife. There is no mention of his son."

Mr. Stonor gave vent to a prolonged whistle.

"I call that rather rough on the lad. His mother adores him, of
course, but to the world at large it looks rather like a want of
confidence on his father's part. It will be rather galling to his
pride. Still, it all goes to prove what I told you, that Renauld
and his wife were on first rate terms."

"Quite so, quite so," said M. Hautet. "It is possible we shall
have to revise our ideas on several points. We have, of course,
cabled to Santiago, and are expecting a reply from there any
minute. In all possibility, everything will then be perfectly
clear and straightforward. On the other hand, if your suggestion
of blackmail is true, Madame Daubreuil ought to be able to give us
valuable information."

Poirot interjected a remark:

"M. Stonor, the English chauffeur, Masters, had he been long with
M. Renauld?"

"Over a year?"

"Have you any idea whether he has ever been in South America?"

"I'm quite sure he hasn't. Before coming to Mr. Renauld, he had been
for many years with some people in Gloucestershire whom I know well."

"In fact, you can answer for him as being above suspicion?"


Poirot seemed somewhat crest-fallen.

Meanwhile the magistrate had summoned Marchaud.

"My compliments to Madame Renauld, and I should be glad to speak
to her for a few minutes. Beg her not to disturb herself. I will
wait upon her upstairs."

Marchaud saluted and disappeared.

We waited some minutes, and then, to our surprise, the door opened,
and Mrs. Renauld, deathly pale in her heavy mourning, entered
the room.

M. Hautet brought forward a chair, uttering vigorous protestations,
and she thanked him with a smile. Stonor was holding one hand
of hers in his with an eloquent sympathy. Words evidently failed
him. Mrs. Renauld turned to M. Hautet.