Poirot figures that Jacqueline has probably not gone to bed yet, so he goes looking and comes upon her sitting on some rocks near the hotel that have a view out on the Nile. He asks to speak with her briefly. She gives a little smile and guesses that he’s come to see her on behalf of Linnet. He responds that while he did recently speak to Linnet, he’s not acting on her behalf.
After hearing Linnet’s side of the story, Poirot now goes over to hear Jacqueline’s. Jacqueline immediately realizes what he’s doing, but Poirot is quick to clarify that he didn’t accept Linnet’s money, meaning he is coming to hear Jacqueline’s story with an open mind.
Jacqueline asks what, then, Poirot is doing talking to her. He dodges the question by asking her if she has ever seen him before. She says no, so he tells her about when he saw her with Simon Doyle at Chez Ma Tante. She remembers going to the restaurant, just as Poirot describes, but she says bitterly that much has changed since then. Poirot agrees. He entreats her, “Bury your dead!” and give up the past. Jacqueline counters that this would certainly be convenient for Linnet, but Poirot insists that he only has Jacqueline’s own best interest in mind. He says she must be suffering, but she disagrees and says that sometimes in following Linnet and Simon, she almost enjoys herself. “And that, Mademoiselle,” says Poirot, “is the worst of all.”
As a detective, Poirot is not just a passive observer. In this scene, he actively tries to stop Jacqueline from going through with whatever it is she has planned. Jacqueline’s response that this would be convenient for Linnet gets at the idea of fairness that comes up elsewhere in the novel. Like Linnet, she can’t accept a solution that would end up with her looking like a loser, although Jacqueline’s motivations are slightly more complicated.
Jacqueline acknowledges that Poirot’s intentions are probably good but insists he doesn’t understand. “Simon is my world,” she tells him. Poirot replies, “I know that you loved him,” and Jacqueline takes offense at the way he says this. She insists their love was mutual and that her love as a friend for Linnet was equally genuine. The problem, according to her, was that Linnet was used to always getting whatever she wanted, and that this time what she wanted was Simon.
Jacqueline has more self-awareness than Linnet. Though she could try to avoid Poirot, especially if she has something nefarious planned, instead she engages with him. While Linnet makes herself feel better internally by ignoring her worst qualities, Jacqueline tries to feel better externally by justifying her actions to Poirot, whom she wants to convince because he’s a neutral authority.
Poirot asks Jacqueline how Simon allowed himself to be taken in by Linnet. Jacqueline says it’s complicated—that Simon wasn’t marrying Linnet for the money. “There’s such a thing as glamour, Monsieur Poirot,” she says. She says Simon was so dazzled by Linnet that his shift from Jacqueline to Linnet was like the way a radiant sun obscures the moon. Linnet used her glamor to seduce Simon, who wouldn’t have fallen in love with her otherwise, according to Jacqueline.
Jacqueline’s explanation that Simon was taken in by Linnet’s glamor is probably the most convincing explanation for their romance so far. It is worth noting, however, that Jacqueline is a crafty character who thinks she knows what Poirot wants to hear. The metaphor of the moon and sun will come up again several times in the novel.
After hearing Jacqueline’s explanation, Poirot observes, “That is what you think—yes,” causing Jacqueline to insist that Simon will always love her. She admits he hates her at the moment but adds, “He’d better be careful!” before showing Poirot a delicate-looking little pistol that she keeps with her in a silk bag. She insists that despite its dinky appearance, it can kill a person with one bullet, and that she’s a good shot.
Normally, when a character in a whodunnit does something as obvious as revealing their weapon, it means that they can’t be the real murderer, since ideally the ending is always a twist. But since Jacqueline is a complicated character, the audience and perhaps even Poirot himself don’t know what to make of her yet.
Jacqueline reminisces to Poirot about her childhood in South Carolina, where her grandfather taught her how to shoot. She reveals that her father once killed a man in a duel over a woman. She talks about buying the pistol and how she couldn’t decide whether to kill Simon or Linnet—killing both would be “unsatisfactory.” Ultimately, Jacqueline discovers that just “wait[ing]” would be more fun—she realizes that the best way to get under Linnet’s skin is just to stalk her like she’s been doing. The best aspect of this tactic, as Jacqueline explains, is that there’s nothing Linnet can do to stop her, which is poisoning everything for Linnet.
Again, the fact that Jacqueline is a good shot seems like a detail that would be extremely relevant in a mystery story—but it may just be another red herring (a purposely misleading clue). Jacqueline seems like she’s being very honest here with Poirot, even talking about her childhood—but the most effective lies often mix in truth, so it still isn’t clear if Poirot should trust her.
Poirot insists that Jacqueline must give up on what she is doing. “Do not open your heart to evil,” he says. When Jacqueline is confused, he adds “Because—if you do—evil will come…” Jacqueline hesitates but ultimately says that there’s nothing Poirot can do to stop her. Poirot admits this is true, that if she “were willing to pay the price,” nothing could be done to prevent her from killing Linnet. Jacqueline says that she isn’t afraid of death because she has nothing left to live for.
Poirot is an idealist—he may not know exactly what will happen if the conflict between Jacqueline and Linnet escalates, but he can tell it won’t be good, and he feels duty-bound to intervene. He does, however, note that there’s a limit to what he can do—even someone as just as Poirot can’t stop a crime if a criminal really puts their mind to it and doesn’t care about the consequences.
Jacqueline asks Poirot if he believes killing someone who hurt you is always wrong. Poirot responds that killing is “the unforgivable offence.” Jacqueline argues that that means Poirot should approve of her current plan—to stalk Linnet and Simon instead of killing them. She admits sometimes she dreams of stabbing Linnet or “to put my dear little pistol close against her head and then—just press with my finger.” But as Jacqueline is saying this, she’s suddenly startled and says “Oh!” Poirot asks her what’s the matter.
As a detective who solves murder cases, it makes sense that Poirot would consider murder an unforgivable offense—though later events in the story reveal that Poirot’s morality is not as black-and-white as it might first seem. Jacqueline’s admission that she wants to press her pistol against Linnet’s head and pull the trigger is startling, especially since she’s confiding in a murder detective. Perhaps Jacqueline is playing a strategic game of some sort, but it seems more likely that regardless of what she is or isn’t plotting, she’s starting to become a little unhinged.
Jacqueline turns her head and stares into the shadows. She tells Poirot that she thought she saw someone standing nearby, but Poirot says they seem to be alone. Then, he says he’s already told her everything he wanted to and stands to go. Jacqueline asks Poirot if he understands why she can’t just give up her revenge as he suggested. He insists that there is always a chance to change direction and notes that Linnet, too, had the chance to choose not to do what she did. But after considering Poirot’s words, Jacqueline remains defiant. He shakes his head in dismay as he follows her back to the hotel.
Jacqueline seems to be seeing things that aren’t there—it’s possible that, like Linnet, she is getting paranoid. Though Poirot wants to prevent any further conflict between Linnet and Jacqueline, he knows that something will happen, and that he is powerless to stop it.