"Perhaps, though, you have a warrant for his arrest in your pocket now," suggested Poirot.
A kind of wooden shutter of officialdom came down from Japp's expressive countenance.
"Perhaps I have, and perhaps I haven't," he remarked dryly.
Poirot looked at him thoughtfully.
"I am very anxious, Messieurs, that he should not be arrested."
"I dare say," observed Summerhaye sarcastically.
Japp was regarding Poirot with comical perplexity.
"Can't you go a little further, Mr. Poirot? A wink's as good as a nod--from you. You've been on the spot--and the Yard doesn't want to make any mistakes, you know."
Poirot nodded gravely.
"That is exactly what I thought. Well, I will tell you this. Use your warrant: Arrest Mr. Inglethorp. But it will bring you no kudos--the case against him will be dismissed at once! Comme ca!" And he snapped his fingers expressively.
Japp's face grew grave, though Summerhaye gave an incredulous snort.
As for me, I was literally dumb with astonishment. I could only conclude that Poirot was mad.
Japp had taken out a handkerchief, and was gently dabbing his brow.
"I daren't do it, Mr. Poirot. I'd take your word, but there's others over me who'll be asking what the devil I mean by it. Can't you give me a little more to go on?"
Poirot reflected a moment.
"It can be done," he said at last. "I admit I do not wish it. It forces my hand. I would have preferred to work in the dark just for the present, but what you say is very just--the word of a Belgian policeman, whose day is past, is not enough! And Alfred Inglethorp must not be arrested. That I have sworn, as my friend Hastings here knows. See, then, my good Japp, you go at once to Styles?"
"Well, in about half an hour. We're seeing the Coroner and the doctor first."
"Good. Call for me in passing--the last house in the village. I will go with you. At Styles, Mr. Inglethorp will give you, or if he refuses--as is probable--I will give you such proofs that shall satisfy you that the case against him could not possibly be sustained. Is that a bargain?"
"That's a bargain," said Japp heartily. "And, on behalf of the Yard, I'm much obliged to you, though I'm bound to confess I can't at present see the faintest possible loop-hole in the evidence, but you always were a marvel! So long, then, moosier."
The two detectives strode away, Summerhaye with an incredulous grin on his face.