Recently, while re-reading The Clocks
, I found a reference by Merlina Rival (aka Flossie Gapp) stating that her husband (Harry Castleton, who we know was once married to her) had been mixed up with a school-teacher, and that she was pregnant. I was wondering if this may bear a connection with (SPOILER) the pregnancy of Miss Rich… Here are some reasons for this theory.
- In The Clocks, Mrs Rival was married to Castleton, who was involved in scams similar to those involving Mrs Rival, as Inspector Hardcastle stated (he must have known about Castleton beforehand, for he says that the police already suspected him of being people such as Roger Byron, Lawrence Dalton and Raymond Blair even before Mrs Rival came forward).
- Castleton and Merlina were married in 1948 (“fifteen years ago”, according to the Inspector), and since the novel was published in 1963, we can assume that the timelines are the same - the story takes place in the present day (1963, that is).
- The only reference to the season in which Cat Among the Pigeons takes place is in the garden, when Briggs refers to flowers. He says he wants to plant asters, which bloom in early fall to late winter, and in front of Miss Bulstrode (somewhat of a botanical Puritan) suggests Pompom Dahlias, which bloom between February and May. The only grey area between the asters and the pompom dahlias is February, which can be classified as late winter. Poirot states that Miss Rich was away “three months ago” in the previous term, which would be about the end of the previous year. Knowing that Miss Rich is pregnant, the pregnancy must have taken place about eight or seven months prior to Miss Rich’s arrival in Ramat (as she is stated as still being “fat” when in Ramat). This places it approximately in April, or May of 1958 at the latest (the novel takes place in 1959).
- In The Clocks, Hardcastle states that soon after Mrs Rival threw him out, Castleton disappeared (fifteen or twenty years ago). Some thought he had died, but most thought he had gone abroad. We know that the dead man (Curry) was SPOILER not Castleton, so what if he had gone abroad to forget Mrs Rival and Miss Rich?
- In The Clocks, Hardcastle says that Castleton disappeared fifteen or twenty years ago. Mrs Rival turned him out in 1951, but he certainly had other concubines who he was “married to” and I doubt he would have disappeared in shame after one had disowned him He could not have disappeared twenty years ago, since he married Mrs Rival fifteen years ago, but perhaps he disappeared about five years ago, allowing for Castleton’s web of lies, and Mrs Rival’s possible embarrassment at having been “duped”. Which would place his disappearance in 1958, at exactly the time when Miss Rich would have been impregnated.
Perhaps it is important to mention that, although “Curry” is NOT Castleton, the police have information that states that Merlina Rival (Flossie Gapp) did marry Harry Castleton, who was a suspected bigamist, fifteen years ago.
I know there’s quite a bit of speculation, but I want to ask some fellow Christiophiles - do you think this is possible?