On Monday morning, the Karnak steamer is moored on a bank of the Nile near a big temple, where four figures have been carved out of the side of a cliff. Cornelia, Fanthorp, and Simon, all comment on how magnificent it is. To Poirot only, Simon adds that he’s really glad they took this trip because Linnet has been much happier—he thinks being forced to face Jacqueline directly has done the trick. Just then, Linnet walks up and leads her husband away.
Linnet leading Simon away from Poirot hints that Simon is mistaken about Linnet being happier—it seems that she’s still worried about Jacqueline and doesn’t want Simon to distract Poirot. Meanwhile, the book once again lays out where all the characters are, so that it is clear who is a possible culprit if anything should happen.
As the tour guide leads the whole group ashore, Poirot walks with Pennington. Poirot asks him about his boat ride over from the U.S. on the Carmanic and if he happened to meet some of Poirot’s friends who were on the same boat. Pennington says he didn’t.
Poirot is prodding Pennington because he suspects (correctly) that Pennington is lying about when he decided to take his trip to Egypt.
Poirot changes the topic to Linnet and Simon, asking Pennington if Linnet is in line to inherit a large fortune. Pennington confirms that this is common knowledge. Poirot muses that the recent slumps must be affecting anyone who owns stocks, though they both agree that Linnet is smart at business.
Poirot also suspects (correctly) that Pennington’s sudden appearance might have something to do with Linnet’s inheritance. He is insinuating that perhaps Pennington is responsible for losing some of her money, though he does so tactfully by referring to “slumps” instead of directly blaming Pennington for mismanagement.
The tour group stops by the four rock-hewn statues of Ramses. Signor Richetti ignores the tour guide’s focus on the big statues and looks instead at reliefs of “Negro and Syrian captives” located near the base of the statues. Nearby, Dr. Bessner reads aloud from his book of Egyptology for Cornelia, until Miss Van Schuyler interrupts. They all proceed to an inner sanctuary of the temple.
Richetti’s focus on the workers instead of the monument seems to signal that his politics are similar to Ferguson’s. Although Dr. Bessner’s reading from his book is perhaps supposed to depict him as boring, Cornelia still prefers his company over that of her cousin.
In the sanctuary, Linnet and Simon are standing together, when Simon suddenly says he finds the statues creepy and wants to get back outside. As they depart, they pass some “Nubian boys” who appear to be buried so that only their heads are visible. Simon gives them money for their “show.”
Though Agatha Christie probably included this scene as an attempt to capture local color, it fits into the book’s racist pattern of introducing nameless African characters who are only depicted to amuse or annoy European characters.
Outside, Linnet is content in the warm sun and becomes drowsy. Simon, too, becomes more relaxed, and he thinks to himself about how everything is fine and how “After all, one could trust Jackie—” Then there’s a lot of shouting as Simon springs up, taking Linnet with him. A giant rock crashes down the cliff—it would have killed Linnet if she hadn’t moved.
The boulder is the first real danger in the story, foreshadowed by the falling rocks that Poirot saw earlier from the observation saloon. It seems far too coincidental that the rock was aimed directly for Linnet, suggesting that someone may have had a hand in pushing it.
Poirot and Tim run to the frightened Linnet and Simon. An angry Simon says, “God damn her!” He looks amazed, however, when the party gets back to the boat and they see Jacqueline walking off the boat and just coming ashore. Simon tells Poirot about his relief, and Poirot says he knew what Simon was thinking.
Poirot, like many of the other characters, naturally assumes that Jacqueline was the one to push the boulder. But as he goes back to the boat, he finds she has a perfect alibi. Did she have an accomplice, or does this mean that the real (attempted) killer is someone else with a motive?