The Hungarian nobles Count and Countess Andrenyi are next, but only the Count appears. The Count is described as an attractive young man dressed in “English tweeds” who “might have been taken for an Englishman.” Poirot reveals to him that Ratchett was the murderer of Daisy Armstrong, but his response is muted. The Count has, however, been to America, which he proclaims an “extraordinary country.”
Count Andrenyi shares Princess Dragomiroff’s cosmopolitanism, as a Hungarian man dressed in the English fashion who’s traveled extensively in America. There’s an implication that they may have more in common than that, as the Count was stationed at the Hungarian embassy, where Princess Dragomiroff was staying.
The Count says both he and his wife were in their rooms for much of the night, although his wife retired earlier and took a customary sleeping draught. Poirot asks him to write out his name and address. He claims that it’s unnecessary for his wife to join them, at which point “a little gleam came into Poirot’s eye.” Poirot insists on her presence anyway. He receives her passport, which reads Elena Maria Andrenyi, maiden name Goldenberg, and has a spot of grease on it. Both the Count and Countess have “diplomatic status.’
Poirot’s “tell” reappears here, as a “gleam” comes into his eye when he faces resistance from the Count. Clearly, the Count is trying to protect his wife, which Poirot finds significant enough to insist on her presence, even though their diplomatic status makes it risky to compel them.
The Countess appears as asked and confirms her husband’s account that she had been asleep. Poirot asks her to sign her name after answering a few questions about her marriage to the Count. He interjects, “by the way, does your husband smoke?” to which the Countess responds that he smokes cigarettes and cigars, but not a pipe.
Here again, Poirot hopes to catch a witness off guard. He asks her to complete a task while answering questions, possibly hoping that she will inadvertently reveal something. And he asks about her husband’s smoking habits in an off-hand way, without revealing that the answer is essential to the case.
The Countess becomes suspicious when Poirot asks about her dressing gown but reveals that hers is a “corn-coloured chiffon.” She asks whether he’s a Yugoslavian detective, to which Poirot replies, “I am an international detective” and “I belong to the world.” He then pivots to English to ask if she speaks that language, and she responds that she speaks “a little” in a heavy accent.
Poirot’s response, “I belong to the world,” is emblematic of his entire demeanor and approach to detective work. Conversant in many languages and traveled in many places, Poirot doesn’t even mention his own Belgian nationality. It’s this internationalism that allows him to quickly switch to English in order to surprise the Countess. He clearly thinks she’s hiding something, but the Countess’s accented English isn’t out of the ordinary for a woman of her background.