Poirot turns his attention to Colonel Arbuthnot. He confronts Arbuthnot with the pipe-cleaner, but Arbuthnot is unimpressed and continues to stonewall him. Poirot asks about the ominous conversation with Ms. Debenham in Syria, and he begins to slip into French, asking “Pourqoui?” when Arbuthnot refuses to answer.
Poirot had hit on a winning strategy in his previous interview with Colonel Arbuthnot which he repeats here. Lapsing back into French, Poirot seeks to unbalance Arburhtnot with his foreignness. Poirot senses an opening in Arbuthnot’s refusal to speak about his conversation with Mary Debenham, which Mary also refused to speak about.
Finding little cooperation, Poirot ventures that Ms. Debenham was Countess Andrenyi’s governess at the time of the was Daisy Armstrong’s kidnapping, after there was “a minute’s dead silence.” Arbuthnot continues to evade, looking like he’s “carved out of wood, rigid and impassive.” Poirot calls for Ms. Debenham.
The “minute’s dead silence” is a clear sign that Poirot’s strategy of guessing at the truth has hit its mark and Arbuthnot isn’t inventive enough to create a lie for cover. Instead, he tries to find a way out by remaining impassive and refusing to volunteer any other information.