“The murderer is with us—on the train now . . .”
Just after midnight, the famous Orient Express is stopped in its tracks by a snowdrift. By morning, the millionaire Samuel Edward Ratchett lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside. Without a shred of doubt, one of his fellow passengers is the murderer.
Isolated by the storm, detective Hercule Poirot must find the killer among a dozen of the dead man's enemies, before the murderer decides to strike again.
“What more . . . can a mystery addict desire?”—New York Times
This is not a guide-book, but an introduction to the country, to be supplemented by guide-books. The area is so extensive, that I have had to exercise restraint and limit myself to a few of the most salient features and most profitable centres whence excursions may be made. The Cévennes should be visited from March to June, afterwards the heat is too great for travelling to be comfortable. For inns, consult the annual volume of the French Touring Club; Baedeker and Joanne cannot always be relied on, as proprietors change, either for the better or for the worse. I have been landed in unsatisfactory quarters by relying on one or other of these guide-books, owing to the above-mentioned reason.
The "Touring-Club de France," Avenue de la Grande Armée 65, Paris, is doing excellent work in refusing to recommend a hotel unless the sanitary arrangements be up-to-date.
In the great palace, now represented by the hospital, the imbecile Claudius and the madman Caligula were born. To the east andsouth far away stand Mont Blanc and the snowy range on the Dauphiné Alps.
Lyons is a city that has at all times summed in it the finest as well as the worst characteristic of the Gallic people. The rabble of Lyons were ferocious in 177, and ferocious again in 1793; but at each epoch, during the Pagan terror and the Democratic terror, it produced heroes of faith and endurance.
The Emperor Marcus Aurelius was a philosopher full of good intentions, and a sentimental lover of virtue. But he fondly conceived that virtue could only be found in philosophy, and that Christianity, which was a doctrine and not a speculation, must be wrong; and as its chief adherents belonged to the slave and needy classes, that therefore it was beneath his dignity to inquire into it. He was a stickler for the keeping up of old Roman institutions, and the maintenance of such rites as were sanctioned by antiquity; and because the Christians refused to give homage to the gods and to swear by the genius of the emperor, he ordered that they should be persecuted to the death.
He had been a pretty, curly-haired boy, and a good-looking young man. He had kept himself respectable, and looked on himself with smug self-satisfaction accordingly. Had he stooped to inquire what were the tenets, and what the lives, of those whom he condemned to death, he would have shrunk with horror from the guilt of proclaiming a general persecution.
In Lyons, as elsewhere, when his edict arrived the magistrates were bound to seek out and sentence such as believed in Christ.
A touching letter exists, addressed by the Church of Lyons to those of Asia and Phrygia giving an account of what it suffered; and as the historian Eusebius embodied it in his history, it happily has been preserved from the fingering, and rewriting, and heightening with impossible marvels which fell to the lot of so many of the Acts of the Martyrs, when the public taste no longer relished the simple food of the unadorned narratives that were extant.