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Agatha Christie: The Mysterious Affair at Styles
CHAPTER 6. THE INQUEST (continued)
On one point, Poirot seemed to have a curious obsession. He once or twice observed to me that he thought Dorcas must have made an error in fixing the time of the quarrel. He suggested to her repeatedly that it was 4.30, and not 4 o'clock when she had heard the voices.
But Dorcas was unshaken. Quite an hour, or even more, had elapsed between the time when she had heard the voices and 5 o'clock, when she had taken tea to her mistress.
The inquest was held on Friday at the Stylites Arms in the village. Poirot and I sat together, not being required to give evidence.
The preliminaries were gone through. The jury viewed the body, and John Cavendish gave evidence of identification.
Further questioned, he described his awakening in the early hours of the morning, and the circumstances of his mother's death.
The medical evidence was next taken. There was a breathless hush, and every eye was fixed on the famous London specialist, who was known to be one of the greatest authorities of the day on the subject of toxicology.
In a few brief words, he summed up the result of the post-mortem. Shorn of its medical phraseology and technicalities, it amounted to the fact that Mrs. Inglethorp had met her death as the result of strychnine poisoning. Judging from the quantity recovered, she must have taken not less than three-quarters of a grain of strychnine, but probably one grain or slightly over.
"Is it possible that she could have swallowed the poison by accident?" asked the Coroner.
"I should consider it very unlikely. Strychnine is not used for domestic purposes, as some poisons are, and there are restrictions placed on its sale."
"Does anything in your examination lead you to determine how the poison was administered?"
"You arrived at Styles before Dr. Wilkins, I believe?"
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