By Christie Agatha
By Christie Agatha
Agatha Christie was born in England in 1890 and was raised in an upper-middle class home. Christie was homeschooled, and the experiences of her younger days were often reflected in the novels she wrote as an adult. Christie always wanted to write a murder mystery, and asked her sister Madge to help though Madge decided not to, as it was out of her comfort zone.
The main character in Christie’s first novel, “The Mysterious Affair at the Styles”, was named Hercule Poirot and became a fixture in many of Christie’s subsequent novels including “Murder on the Orient Express.” In 1926 when Christie’s first husband, Archie, asked for a divorce she faked her own death/disappearance though she was soon found complaining of memory loss. In 1930, she married a paleontologist named Max Mallowan who took her on the travels that expanded her knowledge of places and things that would make appearances of her novels.
“Murder on the Orient Express” was favored by critics and was even made into a movie. Despite the fact that Christie did not often appreciate her books being made into movies, she did quite enjoy that one. For the most part, Christie wrote what she knew, and that was of people who were in the upper-middle class as she was raised. Throughout her life, she penned several novels until her death in 1976, five years after being named a Dame of the British Empire.
Private detective, Hercule Poirot, is headed to Istanbul via train where he sees two people, Mary Debenham and Colonel Arbuthnot, acting as though they are strangers though Poirot is quite convinced they are not. Once Poirot checks in to his hotel he is summoned back to London and while waiting for a train he runs into his old friend, M. Bouc who offers him a ride on the Orient Express. That evening Poirot sees Ratchett, a man he considers evil, dining with Hector McQueen.
The next day, aboard the Orient Express, Ratchett tells Poirot that he has been getting death threats and asks Poirot to work for him and find out who has been sending the notes but Poirot refuses. The first night on the train Poirot notices some strange things happening, such as a noise from Ratchett’s room, a complaint from Mrs. Hubbard that a man is in her room, and the train stopping in a snow bank. In the morning, Poirot learns that Ratchett was murdered the night before, and he decides to take on the case.
After examining the body and taking into consideration some strange evidence, Poirot concludes that Ratchett is actually a man named Cassetti who kidnapped and murdered a child named Daisy Armstrong a few years back. After interviewing the other passengers and taking evidence into consideration Poirot discovers that the other passengers are not who they seem to be at all but instead were all a part of Daisy’s life and worked together to eliminate Ratchett.
Detective Hercule Poirot
Detective Poirot is the detective in many Agatha Christie novels. He was once a Belgian police officer though he is since retired and he has become known for his long, curly mustache and his slight stature.
It is Poirot’s intelligence, and spot-on instincts that make him a successful detective and his ability to solve crimes that seem impossible to outsiders is what makes him stand out. He is the protagonist of this novel and the reader only learns what Poirot chooses to reveal to them, when he chooses to reveal it.
Ratchett is a passenger on the Orient Express who has been receiving death threats and asks for Poirot’s help in protecting him though Poirot refuses as there is something he immediately distrusts about Ratchett.
Ratchett is the murder victim on the train and in the process of investigating the murder Poirot discovers that Ratchett’s true identity is that of Cassetti, the man responsible for kidnapping and murdering young Daisy Armstrong in American some three years prior. Ratchett’s connections and wealth helped him to escape his death sentence, but only until he boarded the Orient Express.
Doctor Constantine is the man aboard the train who examines the body of Ratchett and determined his cause of death to be twelve stab wounds, all of varying depths and coming from different directions. Doctor Constantine serves as a second “Watson” character in this sense and accompanies Poirot and M. Bouc through the examining of the evidence.
It is Doctor Constantine’s belief that Ratchett was killed in the early hours of the morning, and it is his responsibility to decide which evidence matches up with the testimonies of the passengers.
Mary Debenham is a young woman whom Poirot first encountered on his train to Stanboul, accompanied by Colonel Arbuthnot whom she claims to have just met on that train though their casual interaction with one another and his referral to her by her first name lead Poirot to believe they are old acquaintances.
Mary’s true identity is revealed to be that of the governess to the Armstrong family, and one of the murderers, despite the Countess’ attempt to keep Mary’s identity secret. Poirot suspected Mary’s involvement immediately because of a suspicious conversation he overheard between her and the Colonel on the train to Stanboul.
The Colonel was actually a close friend of Colonel Armstrong, who shot himself after Daisy was killed and his wife died during premature labor. The Colonel is determined to seek revenge and justice for the Armstrong family and the tragedy they succumbed to.
Poirot suspects the Colonel of foul play when he and Mary act so casually together despite insisting they had just met and when he overhears a suspect conversation between the two “strangers” that alludes to the murder that will soon happen.
Mrs. Hubbard is actually Linda Arden, mother of Sonia Armstrong and grandmother to Daisy Armstrong. She is a famous actress, and it shows in her overly hysterical performance as Mrs. Hubbard though she gives some false evidence that makes Poirot suspicious, especially that of having Greta check that her door is locked when she can clearly see the lock herself from where she is lying. She is a constant source of interruption during the investigation, and she is known for telling many stories about her daughter, which is later known to be Sonia.
The Princess is one of the few characters who does not lie about her identity and readily admits a connection to the Armstrong family, as she was the godmother to Sonia Armstrong, being a notable friend of Linda. Princess Dragomiroff is Russian, and she admits that handkerchief belongs to her as the “H” is truly the Russian “N”. She is ugly and old and generally disliked, especially by Poirot as he distrusts her and finds she has spun many lies about the other passengers’ identities.
McQueen is the secretary and personal assistance to Ratchett, though he claims to have had no idea of Ratchett’s true identity until Poirot reveals it to him. McQueen’s father was the prosecutor in the case against Cassetti and, during the trial, he developed a crush on Sonia Armstrong, causing him to seek revenge against the man who, by a chain of events, caused her death. McQueen’s unrelenting insistence that Ratchett did not speak any French is what led Poirot to suspect him so strongly in the murder.
The Countess is who she says she is though she hides the fact that her maiden name is Goldenberg by smudging grease on her passport, as it would tip Poirot to the fact that she is the sister of Sonia Armstrong and the aunt to Daisy.
The Countess is the only passenger in first class who did not stab Ratchett, as her husband took her place. The Countess is decidedly young, in her early twenties, and is a dark-haired beauty. The smudge on the passport is what led Poirot to suspect that the Countess was attempting to hide her maiden name from him.
The Count is the husband of the Countess and is particularly protective of her throughout the investigation process, attempting to prevent Poirot from speaking to her at all. Rather than allowing his wife to participate in the actual crime, he takes her place so she will be satisfied with the justice that has been served but will be safe from being implemented in the crime.
Cyrus is a detective from New York City with a powerful personality who pretends to be assisting Poirot with the case. Cyrus is in love with Daisy’s nurse, who killed herself after Daisy was murdered for fear that she would be seen as a suspect, and thus helps to murder Ratchett, whom he claims he was there to protect. Hardman thinks that he is in the clear as far as he murder goes but Poirot has figured everything out and knows that Hardman is involved, just as everyone else.
Antonio is the large Italian man aboard the Orient Express though he later admits to Poirot that he was the chauffeur for the Armstrong family. Antonio loved little Daisy and saw her as the light of the family; he gets teary-eyed when he mentions how she used to pretend to drive his car.
Hildegard is the servant to Princess Dragomiroff and wears a constant expression that makes her appear to be stupid. Her entire purpose is to carry out the Princess’ demands, no matter how ridiculous they may seem. Poirot wonders if the handkerchief that is found in Ratchett’s room may belong to her as it is embroidered with an “H”, though it ends up belong to the Princess herself. While Hildegard acts as the Princess’ servant, it is revealed that she was the cook for the Armstrong family.
Pierre is the conductor of the Wagon Lit, has been employed by them for a number of years, and is considered to be a top-notch employee. Pierre is not seriously suspected of having a role in the murder as he is tremendously helpful to Poirot and seems to have a strong alibi; however, his role in the murder proves to be one of the utmost importance as he has to tell the most lies of anyone. It is revealed that Pierre is the father to Daisy’s nurse whom committed suicide after her murder.
Murder is an obvious theme to this novel as it is a murder-mystery. The plot centers around the murder of M. Ratchett one night on the Orient Express. The murder falls under mysterious circumstances and reveals the true identity of Ratchett as a known kidnapper and murderer himself, who had walked away from the murder of young Daisy Armstrong without serving his sentence.
The plot of the novel follows Detective Poirot as he sorts through the evidence at hand and determines what actually happened the night Ratchett was murdered and “whodunit”.
Revenge is the motive for murder in this novel. Everyone who was involved in the plot to murder Ratchett/Cassetti was tied to the Armstrong family and killed Ratchett as revenge for the death of little Daisy and the subsequent destruction of the family.
The murderers believed that as Ratchett killed Daisy he too should be killed, an eye for an eye. Poirot seemed to understand early on that the motive for the murder was revenge and that the Armstrong family was somehow connected though it took him slightly longer to work out the details.
When Daisy Armstrong was killed Cassetti was put on trial for her murder and sentenced to death, though his power and wealth managed to get him out of his sentence and he walked free.
The murderers, all associated with the Armstrong family, felt it was a sign of injustice that he be able to walk free when he had destroyed a family, and so they decided to take justice into their own hands. The murderers acted as a “jury” that decided Cassetti’s guilt must not go unpunished, and he must serve out the death sentence that he was originally meant for.
The passengers of the Orient Express who were responsible for the murder of Ratchett slowly broke down and felt their guilt over the course of the investigation. It is the hysteria caused by the guilt that caused each individual character to slip up in a way that leaked small clues to Detective Poirot and helped him to solve the case.
Numerous characters broke down in tears at the end of the novel and admitted to Poirot who they are, though they insisted still that they were not involved and tried to protect others who they did not want incriminated, as well.
Nearly every person aboard the Orient Express was working under an alias, and they all told lies in an attempt to not be discovered. Ratchett, who did not seem to understand why he was getting death threats, was undoubtedly a known kidnapper and child murderer named Cassetti who had walked away unpunished and every passenger on the train was someone involved with the family Cassetti had destroyed, working under a false identity to exact their revenge on him. Everyone lied to Poirot to protect themselves and others until he found the connection and exposed their true identities.
Suspense is more of a mood than a theme, but it still sets the stage for the plot of the novel. The suspense created by the constant wondering of who committed the crime creates a thrilling and heart-pounding experience for the reader that causes them to keep turning the pages. As it seems obvious that Poirot always knows what is going on and exactly what everyone is hiding he only reveals the information to the readers a little at a time, leading up to the big reveal at the end of the novel.
While murder is an amoral act to commit, the murder of Ratchett is seen as incredibly moral and even deserved. The murder that Ratchett committed was disgusting, unnecessary, and cruel, but the murder of Ratchett by the other passengers was an act of divine intervention that they saw as not only moral but necessary and just.
Not only do the passengers see the morality in the act they have committed, but M. Bouc, Doctor Constantine, and Detective Poirot also see the morality in it, to the point that they decide to allow passengers to get away with murder and feed the police an alternative scenario.
Identity goes along with the theme of deceit in this novel as the two are mutually inclusive. The true identity of the characters aboard the Orient Express is covered with their lies and deceit. In the case of Ratchett, he is hiding his true identity as Cassetti because he is running from the law and from his violent past; in the case of the passengers they are hiding their true identities so they can perform an act of justice they found to be long overdue without tying the evidence to the Armstrong family as their name has been dragged through the mud enough.
Detective Poirot is forced to rely on his instincts when solving the murder of Ratchett as his normal advantages, and police assistance is not available to him while aboard the train. Poirot seems to seriously enjoy solving the puzzle of murder using nothing but his own knowledge, intellect, and instincts, which prove to be correct.
Poirot’s instincts lead him to take into consideration the strange mix of evidence found and realize that there is a hodgepodge not because the killer was trying to implement someone else but because there were twelve killers.
The passengers aboard the Orient Express show a sense of camaraderie in their desire to get justice for the Armstrong family and protect one another in the process. No one person on the train calls out another person as a possible suspect, and many of the characters come out and say another could not have been involved, or make up lies to protect the true identity of another passenger. They stick together, bonded by a common goal, and never throw one of their fellow vigilante’s under the bus. Mrs. Hubbard even offers to take the blame for the murder herself.
Detective Hercule Poirot is in Syria and getting ready to board the Taurus Express train to Stanboul (Istanbul) for a vacation. It is obvious that Poirot is a respected detective in the way that Lieutenant Dubosc profusely thanks him for his services and for saving him, to which Poirot replies “do I not remember that you once saved my life?”
Once on the train Poirot sees Mary Debenham and Colonel Arbuthnot and notes their behavior toward one another. The pair appears to not know one another when the Colonel asks Mary if he can dine with her and say little to one another, but Poirot notes they get quite chatty with one another throughout the trip and make some remarks to make him believe that they do, in fact, know one another.
Mary seems terribly agitated when the train has to stop due to a fire under the dining car because her connection onto the Orient Express seems highly significant to her. As the group is preparing to deboard the train Poirot hears Mary say to the Colonel, “When it’s all over, when it is all behind us…” which he finds suspicious given the way they were acting toward one another at first. When the train arrives in Stanboul, Poirot checks in to the Tokatlian Hotel where he receives a message that he must return to London right away as there has been a break in a case he is working on.
Poirot books himself a seat on the Orient Express which will leave that evening at 9:00. In the lobby of the hotel, Poirot encounters M. Bouc, an old friend of his and director of the Wagon Lit and they dine together at the hotel restaurant while they wait for the train. During dinner, Poirot happens to notice a man named Ratchett dining with Hector McQueen and he immediately takes distaste to Ratchett as there is something about him Poirot does not trust. When Poirot learns that there are no seats left in first class as the train that evening is unusually full M. Bouc offers him the seat of another man, Mr. Harris, who has yet to arrive.
Poirot discovers that both Ratchett and Hector McQueen will be staying in the same carriage as he. At lunch, the following day, Poirot takes in the appearance of the other passengers and commits them all to memory as he finds them oddly suspicious. There are Ratchett and McQueen, Mary Debenham, Colonel Arbuthnot, a large and sweaty Italian man, an ugly old lady named Princess Dragomiroff, an Englishman, a couple, some single ladies sitting with Mary, and a middle-aged woman who appears to be Scandinavian.
Poirot is approached by Ratchett who is in fear for his life as he has been receiving death threats and would like Poirot to help protect him. Poirot refuses Ratchett’s money as he has no desire to help the man because he does not find the case engrossing and, as he says to Ratchett, “I do not like your face.”
Poirot gets out to stretch his legs when the train arrives in Belgrade, but the rest is short-lived as it is frightfully cold outside. Upon returning to the train, Poirot learns that M. Bouc has given up his first class compartment for Poirot, and Poirot now finds himself in the compartment next to Ratchett. Mrs. Hubbard informs Poirot that she is seriously scared of Ratchett as she is sure that he tried to open the door between their rooms the night before.
That evening Poirot reads until he falls asleep and several hours later he is awoken by a cry seemingly coming from Ratchett’s room and the sound of a bell. When the conductor knocks on Ratchett’s door to make sure everything is okay, a voice from inside replies in French that all is well and he was mistaken in ringing his bell. Poirot tries to go back to sleep, but the train is still stopped so he has difficulty. He hears some scuffling sounds in the hallway and the sound of another conductor’s bell.
This time it is Mrs. Hubbard who tells the conductor that there is a man in her room. Poirot asks the conductor for some water and finds out that the train is stuck in a snow bank and may not move for several days, to everyone’s disappointment. Poirot tries to go back to sleep but hears a loud noise from Ratchett’s room and notices a woman walking down the hall wearing a red dressing gown.
The next morning at breakfast the passengers all seem extremely worried about the train still being stopped as they will miss their connections to other trains or will have disappointed relatives waiting for them. After breakfast, Poirot is called into M. Bouc’s cabin where he learns that Ratchett was killed the night before. Suicide was considered but ruled out when it became clear that he was stabbed between ten and fifteen times.
Dr. Constantine, the coroner, decided that the murder happened sometime between midnight and two in the morning, which was precisely when all of the commotion had been occurring. Though the window was left open in his room Poirot and M. Bouc believe this is simply a diversion as there are no tracks in the snow outside the window; therefore, the murderer must still be on the train. At M. Bouc’s request, Poirot takes on the case.
Poirot has the passports and tickets of each passenger collected and prepares to interview everyone to determine who murdered Ratchett. The first person interviewed is Ratchett’s travel companion, Hector McQueen. Poirot tells McQueen that Ratchett has been killed, and McQueen is not surprised at all as Ratchett had been receiving death threats for a couple weeks.
McQueen had been working for Ratchett for approximately one year and proved immensely helpful to Ratchett in his travels as McQueen spoke multiple languages and Ratchett did not. McQueen states that Ratchett’s full name is Samuel Edward Ratchett, and he is American, though McQueen believes this to be an alias as Ratchett seems to be running from something that happened in the past.
McQueen shows Poirot one of the death threat letters that had been received and Poirot finds it intriguing that the letter seems to have been written by more than one person. McQueen tells Poirot that the last time he saw Ratchett alive was at approximately ten (o’clock) the previous night when he took some notes for the deceased.
Dr. Constantine brings Poirot to Ratchett’s room where the dead man is still lying on the bed. Poirot finds it intriguing that the stab wounds are varying, as some are made post-mortem. Some are left-handed, and some right and some are incredibly shallow and some deep. Poirot also notes that, in the ashtray in Ratchett’s room, there are two different types of matches, only one of which compares to the matches Ratchett himself used leading Poirot to believe the other was used by the killer. Also in the room Poirot finds a pipe cleaner, a handkerchief with the letter “H” on it, and a charred piece of paper. Poirot manages to read the charred paper which says, “-member little Daisy Armstrong,” and he immediately knows the true identity of Ratchett; he is, in fact, an American man though his name is not Ratchett it is Cassetti.
When Poirot and Dr. Constantine go to lunch that afternoon they meet with M. Bouc and Poirot informs him of Ratchett’s true identity. Cassetti kidnapped a three year old girl named Daisy Armstrong a few years prior and despite the fact that her parents paid a $200,000 ransom he killed the child anyway.
Daisy’s parents were the hugely wealthy Colonel Armstrong, who shot himself in the wake of Daisy’s death, and an actress named Linda Arden. One of Daisy’s nursemaids was questioned in the murder as they thought she may be connected, which caused her to take her own life, as well. Approximately six months after Daisy’s death Cassetti was arrested for her murder though he managed to get off without being convicted as he was extremely powerful and wealthy. Poirot’s assumption is that whoever killed Ratchett tried to burn the piece of paper so the Armstrong family name would not be associated with his murder in any way, though they were unsuccessful.
Poirot interviews the conductor of the Orient Express, Pierre Michel, who has been with the Wagon Lit for fifteen years and is considered to be a top employee and truly professional and trustworthy. Pierre tells Poirot exactly what he remembers from the night before, starting with Ratchett asking that his room be ready for him as soon as possible because he would like to settle in to sleep right after dinner.
McQueen was seen heading into Ratchett’s room shortly after he went in to sleep and just after midnight Ratchett’s bell was rung though when Pierre knocked on his door the voice from inside said the bell was rang by mistake. After that, Pierre went to a different section of the train and was not called back near Ratchett’s room until Mrs. Hubbard and Poirot rang their bells just after one o’clock in the morning. Shortly after this Pierre made up McQueen’s bed as he had been up speaking with Colonel Arbuthnot and the only movement he saw in the hallways was a woman wearing a red kimono. Pierre says that the train was thoroughly checked, and there was no one hiding on the train that was not meant to be there.
After speaking with Pierre Michel Poirot decides to speak with McQueen again and tell him who Ratchett actually was. McQueen seems surprised to learn that Ratchett is actually Cassetti and tells Poirot that he would certainly not have taken the job working for him had he known Ratchett’s true identity. McQueen tells Poirot that his father was the district attorney in the case against Cassetti and he feels terrible for what the Armstrong family suffered.
McQueen tells Poirot that he read for a bit after dinner and then struck up conversation with the Colonel about politics which lasted until nearly two o’clock in the morning. McQueen maintains that the only person he saw in the hallway besides himself and the Colonel was a woman wearing a red kimono that he never saw again. Ratchett’s valet, Edward Henry Masterman, is the next to be interviewed. He says the last time he saw Ratchett was at approximately nine o’clock at night after he had folded Ratchett’s clothes, soaked his dental plate, and given him his sleeping draught. Masterman says that Ratchett seemed singularly edgy and irritable and asked that Masterman not bother him the next morning until he is summoned. Masterman states that Ratchett often did not rise before afternoon, so he was not surprised to not hear from Ratchett in the morning. Upon leaving Ratchett, Masterman told McQueen that Ratchett would like to see him and retired to his own room, which is shared with the large Italian man, to read though he did not fall asleep until about four o’clock in the morning because he was suffering a toothache. Masterman says that while he did not know Ratchett’s real identity he did know that Ratchett was disliked as he had heard Ratchett and McQueen speaking about the death threats. Poirot makes note of the fact that Masterman is a smoker.
Mrs. Hubbard is the next to be interviewed and tells Poirot that she has supremely relevant information for him. She believes that the murderer was actually in her compartment the night before as she shared a communicating door with Ratchett. She says that she heard someone walking around her room and so she rang the bell for the conductor and laid in bed very still with her eyes closed while she waited for him. Mrs. Hubbard asked Pierre Michel to be sure the communicating door was bolted shut before he left and then she put a suitcase in front of the door as well to be sure that no one was going to get in. Mrs. Hubbard found a button the floor in her room that did not belong to her but did match the buttons on the uniform worn by Pierre Michel.
When Mrs. Hubbard is asked if she is familiar with the Armstrong kidnapping she says that she does know the case and was outraged that the murderer got off, though she is not personally acquainted with the family. Mrs. Hubbard is tremendously excited to learn that Ratchett was, in fact, Cassetti. Poirot also learns that Mrs. Hubbard does not own a red kimono, nor is she the owner of the handkerchief with the “H” embroidered on it that was found in Ratchett’s compartment after his murder.
Poirot questions Greta Ohlsson next as she was thought to be the last person who saw Ratchett while he was still alive. Greta was going to Mrs. Hubbard’s room and opened the door to Ratchett’s room by accident, thinking it was Mrs. Hubbard’s and found him inside reading. Mrs. Hubbard asked Greta to check the communicating door before she left to make sure that it was locked and then Greta returned to the room she shared with Mary Debenham at about 10:55 PM. Greta says that Mary remained in the room all night long and tells Poirot that she does not own a red kimono. When Poirot asks Greta if she is familiar with the Armstrong case, she says that she is not though she does feel sorry for the Armstrong family when she hears about it.
Pierre Michel is called back in to see Poirot so it can be determined whether the button found by Mrs. Hubbard belongs to his uniform. All of Pierre’s buttons appear to be intact, and when he realizes they consider him a suspect he is offended and calls for one of his coworkers to corroborate his story from the night before. After Pierre’s alibi is confirmed he is dismissed and Princess Dragomiroff is called in. She tells Poirot that she retired to her compartment just after dinner and read until eleven o’clock. At half past midnight, the Princess called for her maid, Hildegarde Schmidt, to read to her and give her a massage until she should fall asleep, but she does not recall any strange circumstances or noises during the night. The Princess tells Poirot that she was remarkably close with the Armstrong family and is actually the Godmother to their daughter, Sonia. She claims to remember Poirot and tells him their meeting is “destiny”.
Poirot asks that the Count and Countess Andrenyi be brought to speak with him in the dining car, but only the Count meets his request. The Count tells Poirot that he and his wife know nothing of the night before did not hear anything unusual not does he know of the Armstrong family or care when he hears the true identity of Ratchett. The Count says he and the Countess played piquet in their room until eleven o’clock and then they each went to bed.
The Count refuses to bring the Countess to speak with Poirot but allows him to see their passports where he notices a smudge of grease on the one belong to the Countess, which states her to be twenty years old with the name Elena Maria Goldenberg. The Count finally agrees to allow Poirot to speak to the Countess who corroborates his story and tells Poirot that she does not own a red kimono and has never accompanied the Count on a trip to the United States, and also that her husband smokes both cigarettes and cigars.
Colonel Arbuthnot is the next to be questioned, claiming that he has personal reasons for heading to Syria. When asked about Mary Debenham, the Colonel states that he met her on the previous train ride on which Poirot had first encountered them, and seems to find her a extremely amiable lady who could not have possibly murdered Ratchett.
The Colonel tells Poirot that, on the previous night, he spent most of his time discussing politics with McQueen, and the two men got off the train to stretch their legs when it stopped and had a smoke together when they came back on the train, as the Colonel smokes a pipe. The only person the Colonel recalls seeing in the hallway is a woman whom he remembers smelling jolly nice and when he returned to his room at 2:45 in the morning he saw the conductor at the end of the hall. When he walked by room number sixteen, he saw a man looking through a crack in the door, but the man shut the door when he realized he had been seen.
The man who had been looking through the crack in the door turns out to be the American man on the train, named Hardman, and he is called next to speak with Poirot. Poirot notes that according to Hardman’s passport he is a traveling salesman but when Hardman finds out whom Poirot is he reveals that he is, in fact, a private investigator who was hired by Ratchett for protection.
Ratchett showed Hardman the letters that had been given to him and described his harasser as a man with a small build, a dark complexion, and a womanish voice. Hardman meant to have the compartment next to Ratchett’s so he could keep an eye on him, but he could not so instead he kept his door cracked open so he could see if there was anyone in the hallway heading toward Ratchett’s room, but he saw no strangers pass through. When Poirot reveals Ratchett’s true identity to Hardman he is surprised to learn that he is the man, Cassetti, who was responsible for the Armstrong kidnapping and murder.
The Italian man on the train is Antonio Foscanelli, and he is actually an Italian-American for the past ten years. He tells Poirot that he is not thoroughly familiar with the Armstrong case at all and the previous night he spent most of his time talking with Hardman. Poirot takes note that the Italian smokes cigarettes and is the roommate of John Bull who woke him in the night by making groaning sounds.
Mary Debenham is the next to be called in for questioning, and when she approaches Poirot sees that she is an attractive woman who states that she is twenty-six years old and lives in England. She said that she was in bed sleeping the night before though at approximately five o’clock in the morning she was awakened by the feeling the train had stopped, and she saw a woman in a red kimono in the hallway that was wearing a hat and appeared to be quite tall and lean.
Miss Debenham had no feelings about Ratchett’s death at all as she did not know him and had only seen him briefly the previous night. Poirot asks about Greta Ohlsson, Mary’s roommate, and Mary says she is a lovely lady, she has a brown robe, and she fears that she is a suspect because she seems to be the last person to have seen Ratchett alive. Mary says that Greta left to give Mrs. Hubbard aspirin at 10:30 for the night and returned only five minutes later to which Poirot tells her that Greta is not a suspect because there is no way that Ratchett could have been killed that early.
After Mary Debenham leaves Poirot tells the doctor and M. Bouc that he suspects her of the murder because of the casual and strange conversation she had with the Colonel on the other train, also because she seems singularly calm and collected and he feels that is the type of person who could have killed Ratchett. Hildegard Schmidt is the last person called in to questioning. Miss Schmidt works as the maid to Princess Dragomiroff and the previous night she was sleeping until she was summoned to the aid of the Princess who wanted a massage.
After leaving the Princess’ room Miss Schmidt returned to her room to sleep though, in the hall, she saw the conductor coming from room two or three, and he almost ran into her as he came down the hall entirely ignoring the bell that Mrs. Hubbard was ringing. Poirot has the attendants of the sleeping car come in so Miss Schmidt can identify the man she saw, but it is none of them as she described the man as being extremely short with a dark complexion. When Poirot asks her about the Armstrong case she gets highly emotional, and she says that the handkerchief that was found in Ratchett’s room did not belong to her nor did she know who it belonged to though there was some hesitation in her voice.
Everyone is dismissed from the room except M. Bouc and he and Poirot sit and discuss the evidence of the case. Poirot is not sure what time Ratchett was actually stabbed, but he has a few different theories. First he thinks that Ratchett was possibly stabbed at 1:15 in the morning because his watch was stopped at 1:15, it goes along with the doctor’s assessment of the murder, and it goes along with what Miss Schmidt and Mrs. Hubbard said. The other two options are that the murder was committed either earlier or later than 1:15 and the evidence was faked.
Despite the fact that several passengers claimed the existence of a small man with a dark complexion and a womanish voice, there is no evidence to suggest the man is on the train as the train was searched and there was no one matching that description. Several people’s testimonies support the existence of the man, as does the button found in Ratchett’s room. The only possible explanations that Poirot can think of is are that the man is in hiding, or the man does not exist, and there are multiple people involved in the murder who are all covering for one another. The two men are just about to set out and check everyone’s luggage for a red kimono when Mrs. Hubbard comes in screaming about a bloody knife she found in one of her bags and faints on the shoulder of M. Bouc.
The two men go to Mrs. Hubbard’s room to see what she was talking about, and all of the passengers are gathered around her door. Poirot sees that the bad the knife had been in is hanging from the handle of the communicating door that connects her room to Ratchett’s, and the knife is on the floor below it. According to the doctor the knife could certainly have caused Ratchett’s wounds, but Poirot is more interested in the door lock. He notices that the lock is above the handle rather than under the bag so there is no reason that Mrs. Hubbard would have needed someone else to check that the door is locked for her as she claimed to do, however, when her luggage was searched nothing suspicious was found, and she was moved to another room. When M. Bouc and Poirot go through everyone’s luggage, they find some things that spark their interest. First they find that the Colonel has some pipe cleaners that match the one found in Ratchett’s room. The Princess’ luggage tag is wet, and the red kimono is folded up on top of Poirot’s own suitcase. Poirot has stimulating conversations with both the Princess and Mary Debenham.
The Princess tells him that she loved Daisy Armstrong’s mother, Sonia, and Mary says that she cannot reveal any details about her conversation with the Colonel on the previous train but maintains that she never saw Ratchett before getting on the Orient Express nor did she know the Colonel before meeting him on the train.
Poirot sits down with M. Bouc and Doctor Constantine to go over the evidence but he is frustrated because he normally has all of the bells and whistles for solving his cases that are allowed to the police and here he has nothing but his own intellect and problem-solving skills to find the murderer which M. Bouc and the doctor are not convinced to be enough. Poirot lays out all of the evidence and his attention is first drawn to Hector McQueen, Ratchett’s assistant. He distinctly recalls McQueen telling them that Ratchett did not speak any foreign languages; therefore, he could not have spoken French which is the language that responded to the conductor when he knocked on Ratchett’s door to be sure he was okay.
The voice said, “Ce n’est rien. Je ne suis trompe” which essentially translates to “There is no problem, I was mistaken.” In this case, the voice that responded to the conductor was not Ratchett’s voice but one of a person who spoke French, and this occurred at 12:47. Poirot believes that the only time a person could have gotten into Ratchett’s compartment undetected was when the train stopped in Vincovci, and the conductors all got off the train to stretch their legs. The only other option is that a person snuck into the room between 1 and 1:15 when the conductor left his post for a few moments. Poirot proceeds to make a list of all of the passengers on the train, their motives for killing Ratchett/Cassetti, and their supposed alibis.
Poirot’s main questions came from a list of who belonged to what evidence: who owned the pipe cleaners and handkerchief? Who wore the kimono and Wagon Lit jacket? Also, why was Ratchett’s watched stopped at 1:15, what time did he actually die, and how many people killed him?
Poirot believes that the dropping of the handkerchief was purely accidental, but the pipe cleaner was probably placed as false evidence to put the heat on someone else, but the stopped time on the watch is puzzling to him. Poirot knows that the wounds were caused by both left- and right-handed people and recalls that when he asked all of the passengers to write out their names everyone wrote with their right hand except for the Princess who did not write anything at all, leading Poirot to believe that she is the sole left-handed person. The fact that the wounds were inflicted with varying amounts of force and from different angles leads Poirot to be certain that he is looking for more than one murderer.
After the men sit and think about the evidence for fifteen minutes or so, M. Bouc and Doctor Constantine admit that they are lost, but Poirot seems to find things coming together for him quite nicely. He thinks about how rare it is for people of such varying nationalities are all on the train together, how McQueen tried to suggest that Ratchett’s burned the paper bearing the Armstrong name himself so he would not be caught, the fact that Mrs. Hubbard’s bag was not obstructing the view of her door lock at all, Hardman’s failed detective work, the grease spot on the Countess’ passport, and the Princess’ Christian name. He believes that the Countess’ maiden name is Goldenberg, making her Helena Goldenberg, sister of Mrs. Armstrong and the Princess had obviously lied about not knowing where Mrs. Armstrong’s sister was located. He believes that the murderer burned the paper to erase any evidence of a connection to the Armstrong family and that the Countess put the smudge on her own passport so Poirot would not realize she is related to the Armstrong family.
Poirot confronts Countess Andrenyi and tells her that he knows that she is extremely Helena Goldenberg and despite the fact that the Count denies it the Countess breaks down and confesses. She says the reason she tried to hide her identity is because she knew she would be seen as a suspect because of her close tie to the Armstrong family. She says that not only did she not touch Ratchett she also did not ever leave her own compartment that night and the handkerchief with the “H” on it did not belong to her. Poirot asks Helena many questions about the case, especially about Daisy’s nurse and nursery maid, the latter of who committed suicide for fear that she was considered a suspect in the kidnapping/murder. The nurse, Miss Stengleberg, was a trained hospital nurse, and there was also a governess named Miss Freebody who was a large woman with large red hair. Countess Andrenyi swears to Poirot that the Princess is the only person she recognizes on the train.
M. Bouc immediately decides that the Countess is guilty because she had concealed her identity, but Poirot does not seem convinced. Poirot believes that the Count may be telling the truth of his wife’s innocence. Just as the men are discussing what they heard from the Countess, Princess Dragomiroff enters the room requesting back her handkerchief that was found in Ratchett’s room. The “H” is actually the Russian letter for “N”, which Poirot had not thought of though he did suspect she was involved in some way.
The Princess maintains that she did not kill Ratchett, and she has no idea how her handkerchief found itself in his compartment. Doctor Constantine believes that no one as frail as the Princess could possibly have inflicted stab wounds on Ratchett though Poirot is not so sure as he remembers the Princess stating that she has “more strength in her arms than in her will”, making herself seem pathetic though probably on purpose. While M. Bouc is flabbergasted by the number of lies that have been uncovered Poirot seems excited at the prospect of uncovering even more.
Poirot calls the Colonel in for another interview and asks him straight out about the pipe cleaner that was found in Ratchett’s room. The Colonel maintains that he was never in Ratchett’s room and had never even spoken to the man to which Poirot asks if it is possible that the Colonel murdered him without speaking to him. The Colonel swears that he has nothing to do with the murder and still refuses to clarify the conversation he and Mary Debenham had on the train a few days prior. Poirot next calls in Mary Debenham, and immediately asks her why she did not tell them that she worked at the Armstrong house, and she broke down in tears. She admitted that she did work for the Armstrong family but had changed her identity because she did not think others would hire her because of her connection. She said she did not recognize the Countess at first and breaks down in tears, led out of the room by the Colonel who is furious at how upset Poirot made her. M. Bouc is amazed by Poirot’s detective work and does not understand how he knew Mary worked for the Armstrong family. He says that he knew only because of how hard the Countess had worked to protect her. The Countess had described the governess as a big woman with red hair, the exact opposite of Mary and had said her name was Freebody because it is the first name she thought of. In London, there is a store called Debenham and Freebody, and thus Poirot knew the Countess was covering for Mary Debenham.
M. Bouc, amazed at the revelations, tells Poirot that he would not be surprised if everyone who is on the train turned out to be connected to the Armstrong family in some way, an assessment that Poirot is impressed by. Antonio Foscanelli, the Italian man, is called back in to speak with Poirot and immediately breaks down, and admits that he was the chauffeur for the Armstrong family, but he did not kill Ratchett. He tells Poirot that little Daisy was the light of the family. Next, Great Ohlsson is called in, and she admits without hesitation that she was Daisy’s nurse, and she is sorry that she hid the fact from Poirot.
Masterman is the next to be called in, and he admits that he was a close acquaintance of Colonel Armstrong and implores Poirot to believe that Antonio could not have possibly had anything to do with the murder because he is too gentle and kind a man to have committed such a crime. When Hardman comes into the room, Poirot asks if he is connected to the Armstrong family and he denies a connection though admits that he thinks he may be the only one not connected. He asks Poirot if he may know who the American woman and her maid are and Poirot tells him that he is sure they are the housekeeper and the cook from the Armstrong household. When Hardman asks Poirot if he knows who committed the murder Poirot tells him that he has known for some time and asks that all of the passengers be called in to the dining car to join him.
When all of the passengers assemble in the dining car Poirot tells them that he has two separate theories for what happened to Ratchett and when he reveals them it will be up to M. Bouc and Doctor Constantine to decide which one of them is the truth. The first theory states that a man matching the description given to Hardman by Ratchett entered the train through the door left open by the Colonel and McQueen when the train stopped in Vincovci, wearing a Wagon Lit jacket so he may fit in. He murdered Ratchett and the reason the watch was stopped at 1:15 is because Ratchett forgot to set his watch back when they changed time zones. In this explanation, the voice that was heard coming from Ratchett’s room at 12:47 was a third party, uninvolved.
The second explanation is that all of the passengers are involved in Ratchett’s murder. There were many suspicious circumstances, such as the fact that so many different nationalities were represented on the train together. McQueen was shocked when he learned of the paper bearing the name Armstrong as he was sure it had been burned, Masterman’s revelation that Ratchett took a sleeping draught because no one who is scared of being murdered would want to sleep so badly, and Mrs. Hubbard’s insistence that she had Greta Ohlsson check her door lock as it was in clear view. In addition, Ratchett would not have cried out at 12:43 because not only had he been drugged with a sleeping draught but also there was no sign of struggle, and also there was an extraordinarily casual relationship between the Colonel and Mary Debenham considering their insistence that they had just met.
Poirot reached the conclusion that every passenger must have been in on the murder and each had inflicted one stab wound. As Poirot believed the conductor to have been in on the plot he knew one passenger must be innocent, and that was Countess Andrenyi whose husband had taken her place. Poirot reveals the true identities of the passengers, ending with Mrs. Hubbard who is actually Linda Arden, grandmother to Daisy Armstrong.
Mrs. Hubbard explains that Cassetti had unfairly skipped his death sentence, and they felt he should be forced to serve his punishment and took matters into their own hands. She insisted that she be convicted and let everyone else go but when Poirot asked M. Bouc what he thought they should do M. Bouc decided that when the train stops they tell the police the first version of the story rather than the truth. Poirot agrees, believing M. Bouc has made the correct decision.
As Tim is chopping wood outside the tavern one day, he thinks of what excuse he can make to get away for a bit and visit with Sam. Just then Tim sees some rebel soldiers in uniform enter the tavern, and he is concerned about what they may want. Tim goes to the door and peeks in to find his mother held at gunpoint. Father is wrestling from the grip of one of the soldiers who is demanding that Father hand over his gun; he tries to tell them that Sam has it, but they will not accept this as the truth. The soldier continues to argue with Father, and Father argues back; Tim thinks that this must be where Sam got his defiant streak from. As Father is struggling, the soldier slashes him across the face, and Tim runs off to find Sam in the hopes of saving their parents.
At Tom’s hut, Sam is sleeping, and he is holding Brown Bess close to him. Tim stealthily takes the gun from his brother and starts to walk away but Sam wakes and chases after him. Tim summons up all of his courage and turns the gun on Sam, trying to keep from crying. Sam lunges at Tim and takes the gun away, managing to slice his own finger as well as Tim’s in the process. Tim tells Sam what is happening at the tavern and begs Sam to come and help their parents, but Sam does not agree until Tim calls him a coward. Sam loads the gun and the brothers head to the tavern but when they arrive the soldiers have left. Sam and Father awkwardly face one another for the first time in months and Father asks Sam to come back home; Sam runs from the tavern and does not look back.
It is January 1776, and there has still been no fighting in Tim’s immediate area, though that does not mean the war cannot be felt by Tim and his neighbors. There is a lack of food, livestock is being stolen from people’s farms, and guns are quite hard to come by. Tim misses Sam terribly and worries for his safety, but at the same time envies the glory that he is experiencing as a soldier. Tim thinks about how much he looks up to his brother and finds glory in everything that he does; he wonders if maybe the reality of war does not live up to the fantasy of it. Tim imagines himself fighting in the war and wonders which side he would be on.
In April Tom Warrups and Mr. Heron come to the tavern to ask Tim if he will run an errand for them. Father is skeptical that the errand is more than the delivering of business letters that Mr. Heron claims; he believes that they want Tim to help with the rebel cause. Tim actually wants to help Mr. Heron because he sees a certain amount of glory in helping in some way, even if it is small, and he wants to have something to boast to Sam about. Mr. Heron tells Mr. Meeker that sacrifices need to be made in a time of war by everyone but Mr. Meeker refuses to lose another one of his sons. After Mr. Heron leaves Father tells Tim that he is a known political figure and is not to be trusted. When Tim and Mr. Meeker begin arguing Mr. Meeker stops because he seems to remember that arguing is what made one of his sons leave already. Father asks Tim to please stay away from the war effort because he does not want him to end up as a prisoner. A couple of weeks later Tim goes fishing with Jerry Sanford, but verily he just wants an excuse to get away so he can help Mr. Heron.
Tim gets his chance to help Mr. Heron when Mr. Meeker asks him to deliver a keg of rum that Mr. Heron ordered from the tavern. When Tim gets to Mr. Heron’s home he tells the man that he wants to help run his errand; Mr. Heron tells him to be there first thing the next morning. In the morning, Tim tells Mr. Meeker that he is going fishing for the day and heads out to Mr. Heron’s house. Mr. Heron gives Tim a letter to deliver to Fairfield and Tim sets out on his five-hour walk. Tim runs into Betsy on his way to Fairfield, and she teases him about the letter he is carrying, assuming that it is a love letter. She tells Tim that she is going to see Sam, and he questions her about where Sam has been staying and what he has been up to. Betsy refuses to give Tim any information about Sam because he is a “Tory” and thus he cannot be trusted to keep Sam safe, nor does he deserve any information. Tim finds out that Mr. Heron is the one who told Betsy that Sam is back in town, and Tim wonders aloud why Mr. Heron did not tell him anything about his brother that morning. It is then that Betsy realizes the letter that Tim is carrying must be from Mr. Heron and she demands to see it, telling Tim that it may contain information that could get Sam killed. When Tim refuses to give Betsy the letter she lunges at him and grabs it, tears it open, and reads it before discarding it on the side of the road and walking away. Tim walks over to the letter reads it; all it says is that if the letter arrives the messenger is trustworthy.
For the rest of the summer, Tim is careful to stay away from Mr. Heron; he has not seen the man since his failed attempt to deliver his letter. Tim has still not seen any actual fighting, but there is an increased shortage of food, though Tim and his parents are getting by. Sam has been sending letters to his family, and Mother wants to write back to him, but Father disagrees; he feels that writing back to Sam would only validate that he did the right thing in leaving his family and betraying their beliefs. Mother points out to Father that he does not like when people give him orders, yet he expects Sam to obey him at all costs; she decides she is going to respond to Sam’s letters.
Every winter father takes a trip to Verplancks Point where he sells his cattle; he times the trip just right so there will be no snow yet, but it will be cold enough that people are getting desperate to buy. Usually Sam goes with Father, but because he is in battle Tim goes this year. Shortly into the journey Tim and Mr. Meeker are stopped by “cow-boys” who are known for stealing cattle. They question Father about his plans for the cattle and call him a Tory for providing sustenance to the British troops. Tim is sent away into a nearby field while the cow-boys Beat Father with their guns. Tim screams because he is terrified they will kill his father and just then Loyalists arrive and the cow-boys disperse. The Loyalists rescue Tim and Mr. Meeker and take them to New Salem.
The home Tim and Mr. Meeker are brought to belongs to their relatives, the Platts, whom Tim has never met. The Platt house is decidedly cramped; the four girls are together in one area and the two boys sleep in the barn. Tim is grateful for having grown up in the Tavern where he and Sam had plenty of room to themselves. As Tim, Mr. Meeker, and the Platts sit around the fire and discuss the war Tim feels shy but notes that the Platts seem at ease. Father is still darned much on the side of the Loyalists because he feels that there is still law and order surrounding them and it feels safe. When Tim falls asleep his cousin Ezekiel carries him to bed. Ezekiel thinks Sam is a traitor for fighting with the Rebels, but Tim defends him. Ezekiel wonders what side Tim would fight with if he were in the war and Tim says that he supposes he would fight with the Loyalists; however Tim fears what would happen if he were forced to fight against Sam.
Early the next morning Tim and Mr. Meeker leave the Platt house and head to Verplancks Point. There are no more issues on the trip, but there were some escorts accompanying them in the case of another confrontation. This is the first time Tim has ever seen the Hudson River, and he is impressed by the size of it, especially when they reach its widest point at Verplancks and he sees men fishing there in skiffs. He admires the fishermen, but he thinks that they look dead tired. Father is successful in trading his cattle, and he rents a room in a tavern for himself and Tim to stay the night. The next day they plan to take their time getting home, but it starts to snow, so they need to proceed quickly. Eventually the icy conditions are too much, and they decide to stay another night with the Platts.
In the morning, the traveling conditions are rough as the ground is covered in snow, but they must get their supplies back to the tavern, so they set out. Tim stays behind with the oxen and the supplies while Father keeps riding ahead on his horse to scout for danger. They make it a fair way without any trouble, but when Father goes ahead to scout just past Ridgebury he does not return, and Tim gets worried. Tim decides to ride ahead and look for Father; he follows the horse tracks and sees them meet with several other tracks in an area where there appears to have been a struggle. Tim is sure that Father was ambushed by the cow-boys, and he thinks about what he should do. He knows that Sam would be brave and go after Father, but Tim thinks that brave is not necessarily smart; he decides he must get the supplies back to the tavern.
Tim goes back to the oxen and supplies and sets off toward the tavern. He thinks about how he will deal with the cow-boys when he runs into them because he is sure that they will approach him before he gets home. Just as the sky begins darkening Tim sees three figures standing ahead of him. He calls out to them and asks if they are his escorts. The men seem confused, and Tim goes on about how his father called for escorts to scare off the cow-boys. Tim pretends that he is totally fearless and innocent, and the cow-boys are clearly thrown; they obviously want to steal his supplies, but at the same time they do not want to risk being ambushed by the coming escort. When a dark barks in the distance it spooks the cow-boys, and they take off, leaving Tim to be on his way. Tim is so happy and relieved that he cries; he has acted bravely, saved his family’s winter supplies, and done something that will make Father and Sam both proud of him.
Tim and Mrs. Meeker have to work extra hard at home with Mr. Meeker and Sam both gone. Mrs. Meeker feels guilty that she and Tim have to work every day; she reassures him that God will understand why they are working Sundays, but Tim is not worried at all. There has been a substantial amount of business at the Tavern, but not much money coming in because most people have been paying in commissary notes, which have no value at the time. Colonel Read is beginning to doubt the success of the Rebels, and he also doubts whether Sam will be able to return home. Tim feels wholly responsible for running the tavern since he returned from his trip and he cannot wait for Sam to return and see how he has stepped into his role as man of the house. Despite his pride in the work that he is doing, Tim cannot help but miss having his father around and resent Sam a bit for stepping out.
It is April of 1777 when the war finally comes to Redding. There’s a loud noise and Tim hears from a black man named Ned that the British troops are rolling through. Captain Betts sends Jerry to spread the word to other Rebels, such as Mr. Rogers. Tim is impressed by the British soldiers standing formation in their pristine uniforms, and he even speaks to one of them. The soldier does not understand why Tim is not scared of them until Tim explains that nearly his entire town is Loyalist. This is when Tim realizes that he does associate himself with the Loyalists, and he has since his father was taken by the Rebels. Suddenly everything gets violent; a rebel messenger is shot and British troops break into Captain Betts’ house. Captain Read tells Tim to get Dr. Hobart so he runs through the woods, but stops and hides when he hears gunshots. Tim can see the British troops enter Captain Starr’s house and slaughter everyone inside; he even sees Ned’s severed head fly through the air which makes Tim sick to his stomach. As the British burn down Captain Starr’s house, Tim flees to get Dr. Hobart and realizes he no longer respects the British army.
Dr. Hobart has come back to the tavern to remove the bullet from the Rebel messenger, and it appears that the boy will be fine. He tells everyone that Benedict Arnold is coming with his soldiers and Tim is excited because he knows that Sam is one of them. When Captain Betts returns he tells everyone that The British decided to keep Jerry Sanford with them, and Tim is confused by this news; Betts asks Tim to ring the bell in town so everyone will know what has happened but Mrs. Meeker will not allow him to go. As Mrs. Meeker is cooking dinner for everyone in the tavern some Rebel soldiers, including Benedict Arnold, enter and demand to be fed. Tim immediately leaves the tavern in search of Sam and finds a soldier who directs him to his brother; Tim and Sam reunite and are ecstatic to see one another.
Tim mentions that Father was taken in by rebels and Sam confirms that he already knows, he even tried to get him released from prison, but to no avail. As Sam hides Tim gets Mrs. Meeker who brings some food out for her son; Sam is happy to finally have a real meal. Mrs. Meeker wants Sam to come home when he is done with his enlisted period, but Sam has made a pact with some friends to stick the war out until the end. Tim thinks that his brother is making the wrong decision, but tells his mother that arguing is pointless because Sam will do what he wants. When Sam returns to his troop Tim realizes that being a part of something greater than him is what makes Sam proud to be fighting in the war. He thinks that maybe he and Sam are more equal than he ever knew.
Tim and his mother find out in June 1777 that Mr. Meeker died on a prison ship. From what they heard his last words were that he forgave Sam, and he loved his family. In addition to Mr. Meeker, Jerry Sanford also died on a prison ship and was thrown into the sea. Mrs. Meeker is only more vehemently against the war after getting this news, and even Betsy Read is ready for the war to be over at this point, no matter who wins. Despite all of the deaths that have occurred, Tim does not sympathize with either the Loyalists or the Rebels anymore. He puts all of his efforts into keeping the tavern afloat, though it is difficult because no one has any money to pay him, so they are writing commissary notes or trading Tim cattle. Tim thinks about the best way to make money off of the cattle; it is indispensable to get as much money as he can because he and his mother are slowly starving.
Sam returns home during the winter time of 1778, and though he looks malnourished he is happy to see his family; he tells them he will be around until the spring. Sam tells Tim that he needs to try to hide his cattle because there are thieves around; he even stole some cattle himself when he had no other options for food. Sam’s leader, General Putnam has been known to hang cattle thieves, so Tim needs to be careful that he is not accused. Sam thinks that Tim’s best option is to slaughter his cattle and freeze the meat, but Tim still feel as though he should sell it. The Rebels stay in the area for the next couple of months and Sam stops by the tavern often, still trying to get Tim to butcher the cows. One night there is a commotion outside and Sam and Tim run out to find that four of the cattle are gone. Sam runs off in the direction of the tracks and is soon returned by the cattle thieves; Sam is bound up and the men plan to report Sam to General Putnam as a thief.
Tim is desperate to save his brother, so he goes to Colonel Parsons to plead Sam’s case, however, Colonel Parsons is sleeping, so his men send Tim home. When Tim gets back to the tavern to tell his mother the news she gets a feeling as though something nefarious is going to happen and insists that they pray together. Tim is able to see the Colonel the following day, but the news is not good; it seems as though General Putnam wants to use Sam as an example to the others. When Mrs. Meeker gets this news she decides to go and talk to General Putnam herself, but when she returns to the tavern she is sad and begins to drink; Sam was supposed to be on watch that night, not at the tavern and he had been framed efficiently.
Tim learns from Colonel Read that Sam is going to be on trial with other men, but the trial is only a formality because it will not be fair. Sam is locked in a cabin until the day of his trial and he is not allowed to see or speak to anyone. At the trial, Sam is found guilty of stealing cattle and he is sentenced to death by firing squad. Mrs. Meeker is devastated by the verdict, but she is not surprised by it at all. Tim feels that he must still try to fight for his brother and goes to see Colonel Parsons again. Parsons believes that Sam is innocent, but he does not necessarily care, though he sends Tim to see General Putnam anyway. The General tells Tim he will consider Sam’s case and allows Tim to visit with his brother, though they must stay six feet apart from one another. Tim tells Sam that Parsons is going to consider his case and Sam seems pleased though he obviously does not think the verdict will be turned around. Tim notes that Sam appears to be rather happy for someone on death row.
General Putnam decides against reconsidering Sam’s case, and the execution date has been set for February 16. The entire town of Redding attends church the Sunday before the execution is scheduled to occur so they can pray for those who will be put to death. Mrs. Meeker cannot bring herself to attend the service and Tim has to leave in the middle of it because he is too emotional. When he returns home, the tavern is closed because no one is there, and Mrs. Meeker is not too keen on opening it ever again. Tim begins to sharpen his father’s bayonet and Mrs. Meeker tells him not to do anything stupid because he will get himself killed though she thinks maybe that is best so she can lose both him and Sam all at once. Tim sets off in the night though he does not know where he is headed, only that he wants to save Sam.
As Tim walks through the cold, he wonders whether the prisoners worry about keeping warm. When Tim reaches the place where Sam is being held he sees the guard is sleeping, and he thinks that if he killed the guard he could let the prisoners out, only he cannot bring himself to do it. Tim turns and begins to run, but the guard wakes and shoots at Tim, grazing his shoulder with a bullet. Tim throws his gun and hopes that it finds its way to Sam, but he realizes that Sam is no longer there. When Tim gets home, he cleans his wound and gets into bed. Tim attends the execution but Mrs. Meeker does not. When the prisoners are brought in, Sam gives Tim a smile and heads up to his spot. A sack is put over Sam’s dead and as the men line up to fire their guns Tim yells for them to stop, but they do not listen. Sam writhes on the ground after the initial shots though he is soon brought still by a final bullet.
It has been fifty years since the founding of the United States and forty-seven years since Sam’s execution. Tim and his mother moved to Pennsylvania where they opened another tavern. Tim got married, had children, and managed to have a truly happy life but Mrs. Meeker never got over losing Sam. Mrs. Meeker lived to be an old woman and fondly told her grandchildren stories of their Uncle Sam and his stubbornness. Though Tim does not have happy memories of the war, he thinks that it was necessary for the world to be what it has now become.
By the time this chapter begins, Annemarie, her mother, and Henrik are all sitting around the table at the farmhouse. The mood in the air is carefree and relieved, as everything has gone to plan. Annemarie explains to the reader that when she got back from her trip her mother was gone, as the doctor had come to get her and put her ankle in cast. Kirsti wondered where Ellen had gone and because they could not tell Kirsti the truth, Mrs. Johansen only told her that Ellen’s parents had come for her.
Annemarie heads out to the barn with Uncle Henrik so he can fill her in on some of the details of what happened. While Henrik milks the cow he tells Annemarie that she was brave, and she deserves to know what her bravery was for. Henrik tells Annemarie that he had built a compartment in his ship where people, specifically Jews, could be hidden and transported to Sweden. Peter, who is a member of the Resistance, helped Henrik to devise and carry out the plan. Annemarie had to agree that this was a plan because she had been on the ship and she never would have guessed that there were people hidden inside of it. The thing Annemarie actually wants to know about is the handkerchief and its significance. Henrik explains to Annemarie that the hankie was covered with a scent which would confuse any dogs that might be looking for Jews. When Annemarie left Henrik’s ship that night, the Nazi’s came and their dogs could not sniff out any people because the scent of the hankie threw them off. If Henrik had not received that hankie then the mission may not have been successful; so Annemarie is a hero. Henrik tells Annemarie that everyone made it safely to Sweden, and Ellen and her family are safe. He believes that Annemarie and Ellen will continue to be friends for a frightfully long time. Annemarie is relieved to finally know the truth, and also that the Rosens are safe.
It has been two years since the last chapter and World War II has ended; Annemarie is now twelve years old. In the wake of the war Denmark, along with other European countries, is now free. The Rosens have not yet returned, but the Johansen’s are still holding their belongings for them, waiting for the day when they can give them back. Annemarie thinks of Peter and sadly recounts that he was murdered by the Nazi’s for being part of the Resistance. The Nazi’s buried Peter’s body at the site where they killed him and Annemarie knows he would not have wanted it that way. After Peter died, Annemarie’s parents told her what happened to Lise. It turns out that Lise was also a part of the Resistance, and she was killed by the Nazis when one of their gatherings was stormed; Peter had also been injured in this attack. Annemarie appreciates her sister’s bravery; she looks where Lise’s trousseau was kept and finds Ellen’s Star of David which was hidden there. Annemarie asks Mr. Johansen if he could fix the clasp on the necklace so Annemarie can wear it in honor of her best friend, but only until Ellen returns and can wear it herself.
Zane comes back to his camp, or his father’s camp. He has a guard summon is father to the strategy tent. While waiting, he gives one of the soldiers strategic positions of the forces in Luthadel. Straff comes in and Zane tells him about the day’s activities, including what was said between Zane and Elend. They talk over a cup of tea. Straff, being a tineye, burns tin and smells poison in the tea he’s drinking. He knows Zane is always trying to poison him. He defiantly drinks the tea anyway and dismisses Zane. After, Straff summons one of his mistresses, a woman named Amaranta, who prepares a concoction of medicines in a special tea for Straff. He drinks the new tea, hoping he’ll live again this time.
Sazed has traveled six weeks worth of distance in six days, using his metalminds from time to time. Whenever a metalmind runs out, he leaves it on the ground, trying to lessen the amount of weight he has to carry. He notices several pillars of smoke ahead, sure sign that there is an army or camp of some kind. He is surprised to see that the army camp is made up of koloss, a dark blue kind of monster barbarian, once controlled by the Lord Ruler. Sazed is found by a koloss patrol. They force him to come down from the tree he was hiding in and follow them into the camp. Sazed is surprised once again to see that the man controlling these koloss is Jastes Lekal, a one-time friend of Elend Venture. Jastes says that he plans to conquer Luthadel as his own. He ends up letting Sazed go, under the condition that Sazed tell Elend about what he has seen. Sazed leaves, feeling even more urgency about getting to Luthadel.
Elends meets with his advisors–Ham, Breeze, Dockson, and Vin. Tindwyl is there, too. They try to talk Elend out of this plan he has to go into his father’s camp and trick him into fighting Cett. They don’t think Elend can con someone like that, but Elend is insistent that he can manipulate his father any time he wants. Plus, Elend argues, he’ll have Vin with him, in case Straff tries to take his own son hostage. Vin, listening in to the conversation, discovers through bronze that Breeze is soothing Elend to make him more confident. After the meeting, Tindwyl chastises Elend for not acting more like a king. Kings cannot doubt themselves. They must always feel that they are the right man for the job and convince others of the same through sheer confidence. The discussion is interrupted when Elend gets word that Cett’s daughter has arrived in Luthadel, looking for Breeze.
Cetts daughter, Allrianne, has left her father’s camp and come to Luthadel to see Breeze, whom she affectionately calls Breezy. Breeze is completely embarrassed by this, but the rest of the group gets a good laugh at his expense. Allrianne says she hated staying in her father’s camp; she needs comforts only a city can bring, like fresh water and a bed. After Allrianne leaves to freshen up, the group decides it may be beneficial to keep her. It may prevent her father from attacking too soon.
Vin, hides, suspended in the mists, just above Keep Venture. She spies on Ham as he walks across a courtyard. As she follows him, as a predetermined time, OreSeur jumps from behind some boxes and howls, scaring Ham. Ham reacts by flaring pewter. This confirms to Vin that he is not the kandra imposter. Vin admits to Ham that she is out of atium, meaning she’ll die the next time she fights a Mistborn with atium. She wonders is there is a secret to killing someone with atium. Ham doesn’t think so, although there have been some theories about how to do so. It may be possible, for example, to surprise them somehow. After that, Vin has a heart-to-heart with OreSeur. They talk about the way kandra are often treated, beaten by their own masters. They spot someone approaching the keep’s walls. It turns out to be Sazed, who has returned with, as he puts it, “problems and troubles.
Sazed is telling the group in the kitchens late at night, what he saw in the Koloss camp. They are not happy to know that a third army is on its way to Luthadel. Sazed does not know how Lekal is controlling the creatures, but the group does know that 20,000 koloss could beat an army of at least four times that many humans, meaning there is nothing stopping them from reaching and taking Luthadel. Finally, Sazed also share his fear regarding the mist killing people. He thinks something was released when the Lord Ruler was killed, although he never personally saw the mist kill anyone. Cett’s daughter comes walking in, half disheveled, asking what’s going on. They dismiss her and the group breaks apart, everyone either going to bed or to some corner to thin. Vin takes OreSeur outside to patrol. Back in his room, Sazed meets Tindwyl, an old friend of his. She criticizes him for returning and having strange theories about the mist.
Vin is outside, thinking about the beating she hears to the north, just like the writer of the log book, the supposed Hero of Ages. Zane finds her, and again he tries to convince her to leave Elend and Luthadel, claiming that she is being used by them and that she can do much better on her own, free to do as she pleases. Vin insists that she is very happy doing what she is doing and that no one is forcing her to do anything.
Vin is woken by a quiet bark of warning from OreSeur. She reacts by jumping out of bed, reaching for a dagger, and downing a vile of metals. She does all this before she realizes that the person that was “sneaking up on her” is actually Tindwyl the Terriswoman. Tindwyl obligates her to go shopping with herself and Allrianne, something Vin knows she will detest. They take a carriage to the market, the three women and OreSeur, who everything still assumes is just an ordinary wolfhound, along with Spook, who is forced to go to carry the girls’ bags. Vin manages to find a dress that she likes, and Tindwyl arranges for the dress to be made special for a Mistborn. Meanwhile, a someone has identifies Vin and a large crowd has gathered outside the storefront. Vin reluctantly goes outside to talk to them. They obviously worship her, calling her the Heir to the Survivor–Kelsier. She tries to say something that will inspire hope, but she feels that she is really just lying to them. Meanwhile, Elend is at the wall when Straff’s men attack. The guards and archers on the wall are in a total panic, and they barely kill a few of the invading wave before it retreats to the Venture camp. This was a test, just to try out Luthadel’s defenses, it is explained to Elend. Straff is sending a message, just before Elend is supposed to go out to the camp and talk to his father.
Vin opens the box sent from the dress maker, happy to find that the new dress is very well designed for a Mistborn, allowing her to move and fight freely. It even has secret hiding places for her daggers and some vials of metal. OreSeur does not think going is a good idea, since Vin and Elend would be alone in Straff’s army camp. Vin knows she must go anyway. Elend and Vin ride into the camp. Over the meal, Elend tries to manipulate Straff, but the man seems to catch on too quickly. Then he sends Vin out of the tent, so they can talk alone, father and son.
Straff and Elend talk inside, and things don’t seem to be going very well for Elend. Straff says he’ll just have Elend killed and demand Luthadel to open the gates to him. Elend says that if he is killed, Vin will kill Straff. Vin is outside, listening. She begins to manipulate Straff’s emotions, making him feel afraid. Finally, she smoothes away everything–every emotion he has, leaving him feeling empty and dead inside. The trick works, and Elend and Vin get out of the camp safe. Meanwhile, Zane has a little chat with Vin outside the tent, telling her that she is nothing but a knife to Elend. After they are gone, Straff commands Zane to kill Vin. Back in Luthadel, Elend learns that the assembly has voted to remove him as king.
The group meets together to see what they’re going to do about the assembly’s vote. They try to figure out if the assembly already has someone else in mind to put on the thrown, or if they simple want to send a warning to Elend because he has been ignoring them of late. The discussion leads to an argument between Breeze and Ham, as always, and Vin gets a taste of kandra humor when OreSeur whispers that he could always eat one of them and solve the argument. Later, Elend gets another lesson from Tindwyl about how a proper kind should act.
At night, Vin and OreSeur have a talk. OreSeur doesn’t think it’s healthy for Vin to keep herself awake for long periods of time, burning pewter to stay strong. He also doesn’t like the way Vin treats Zane, who should be her enemy. In the middle of the conversation, Vin realizes that she’s figured out what the Deepness is.
Sazed is in his room, studying and transcribing the rubbings he found. He knows that these few pages of transcribed text could keep him busy for months or even years. Vin enters through his window and wants to talk to him about the deepness. Sazed talks about if the deepness is even real or if it’s just a made-up story, some propaganda spun by the Lord Ruler. Vin says she thinks it’s real and tells Sazed that she thinks it’s actually the mist itself. The log book and the rubbings don’t say the mist actually killed people but that people died because of the mist. That could be because a permenant mist that covered the ground would kill crops and live stalk, leaving people to die of starvation. Vin also tells Sazed about the mist spirit that has been following her.
The assembly gathers, and Elend gets an opportunity to explain what he has done with his father. He uses twenty minutes to tell of the situation with the two armies and how his meeting with Straff went. He tells them that he used Vin’s power to threaten Straff, a move that may protect the city for some time yet. Meanwhile, Vin tries to pay attention to Elend’s meeting. She sees Zane in the crowd, and he smiles at her. They then have nominations for who should run for king. Elend and Lord Penrod are nominated, and, lastly, Cett is nominated. The man reveals himself to be in the crowd.
Vin sits in her room, studying the stacks of papers she has there. OreSeur is there with her, and they talk about the religious beliefs of the kandra. They practically worship the Contract above all else, the agreement they have with their human masters. Meanwhile, Elend discovers that some of the wells in Luthadel are being poisoned by someone, probably one of the armies outside. Vin talks to Dockson, and in the conversation, she determines that he can’t be the spy. She and OreSeur turn their attentions toward a new option: Demoux, a captain of the guard.
Elend works to find a way to convince the assembly to name him king again, while Vin wants to tell him her theory about Demoux. Tindwyle gets upset with Sazed when she finds out that he helped write part of the laws Elend put into place a year ago. Vin leaves the group and finds Zane, who immediately attacks her. She thinks he wants to spar, like before, but the fight becomes aggressive and Vin must fight him to survive. Zane tells her that he was ordered to kill her and that this attack was a warning. There are also many refugees coming from the koloss army, on their way to seek refuge in Luthadel. After giving his two warnings, Zane leaves.
Vin tries on another custom-made dress. Tindwyl tells her that Elend has nearly learned as much as he can from her; he’ll now have to learn to be a good leader through experience. Elend prepares his armored escort and carriage to go and see Cett. Breeze decides not to go, since he and Cett have history, which would only make the situation worse. When Elend and Vin actually enter the keep Cett is staying in and talk to the man, they discover just how sincere he is. He doesn’t want his daughter back, trusting that Elend will take good care of her. Cett wants Elend to step down from the election for king, and in return he won’t have Elend killed when he is made king. They also talk about the fact that no atium was found in all of Luthadel. Finally, Cett dismisses the two.
Sazed wanders through warehouse full of refugees from the koloss attacks, trying to help and health where he can. Tindwyl comes in and talks to him. She wants to see what he’s found–the rubbings he’s been transcribing. Meanwhile, Breeze has been listening in on the conversation, soothing both people in a way that would make them more friendly to each other. He walks among the refugees, trying to sooth away bad emotions and make them feel better. Elend and Ham come in, and Elend wants to make sure all the people have the clothes they need. Later, Breeze goes into the keep and has a secret meeting with Clubs. Though they always seem to hate each other, they drink together and talk; they’ve struck up a strange companionship. Allrianne walks in and tries to steal Breeze away. Vin, watching from outside, discovers that Allrianne is a rioter, since she was rioting Breeze’s emotions. She and OreSeur then go to find Demoux, still certain that he is the kandra spy. They find him in a little meeting of the church of the Survivor. He can’t be a spy, Vin decides. Then who is?
Sazed and Tindwyl sit together in the study, pouring over the rubbings, searching their metalminds for any references to the deepness or Hero of Ages. It’s morning, meaning they’ve been at it all night long. Tindwyl knows the course of actions Sazed takes is different from what the keepers want, but she is willing to stay with him and study these things further. Meanwhile, Elend and Ham walk along the wall. Ham comments that Elend looks more kingly than ever. As they walk, Elend announces that he has an idea to help Luthadel’s situation.
Vin, Elend, and the rest of the crew arrive early for the day of the election for king. Before the voting begins, Vin, trying to figure out what Elend has up his sleeve, discovers that he has joined the church of the Savior, in an effort to curry votes from the skaa members of the assembly. Suddenly, a groups of allomancers attack Elend and Cett. Vin manages to fight off the men, getting badly hurt in the process. After the fighting, the vote is moved to a more secure location, and the assembly members each announce their vote. Surprisingly, Penrod, a nobleman from the assembly is chosen the new king. Elend hands over his crown and leaves.
Straff Venture is angry that Zane sent a group of his allomancers to their deaths while Vin still lives. Zane promises that he has a plan to take care of her. Meanwhile, Straff meets with Penrod, the new king of Luthadel. Penrod is planning to give Luthadel to Straff, opening the gates to him and handing over the kingship. Straff, on the other hand, doesn’t want to enter the city while Vin still lives. Later, Zane tells Straff that he has been poisoned again. Zane leaves, and Straff is forced to ride hard back into the camp so his mistress can make him another antidote tea.
Vin awakes to see that Elend is with her. He tells her that he is not king, and he reports that OreSeur, who was badly hurt in the fight, is currently digesting a new set of bones. Vin feels that Elend is now scared of her somehow because of the way she fought those allomancers. Vin goes back to sleep, and awakes to find Zane there. He accuses her, saying that she could have killed those attackers easily had she not been so distracted with protecting Elend and other innocents. Later, OreSeur visits Vin, in another dog’s body. They talk more about the Contract that binds all kandra. Vin uses brass and duralumin to push strongly on OreSeur’s emotions. Even though he at first does not react at all, with enough force, Vin hurts him very badly, and she felt like she were controlling him for a moment. She apologizes for hurting OreSeur, and he leaves to get some rest. Vin promise to never tell anyone what she’s discovered about kandra.
Sazed and Tindwyl continue to talk about the things they are learning. Something doesn’t make sense about the rubbings, written by Kwaan. It seems that Kwaan did not trust Alendi, but he also knew Alendi was a good man. But if Kwaan knew Alendi was good, why did he have his nephew, Rashek, to mislead or even kill Alendi? Elend comes in and asks for advice. After a discussion, he decides that being king isn’t about a title, but about doing something to help others. He returns to his closet and retrieves the white suite, the one made for a king.
Elend is hard at work, helping the people. He’s sending men out to dismantle the wooden parts of keeps and houses to use as firewood. The many refugees are cold and hungry, and he wants to help them. Someone comes with news that one of the gates under the river has been broken. That is how someone has been getting into the city and poisoning the wells. Also, other reports say that an Inquisitor is lurking about the city. Elend decides to go out and talk to Jastes, with the koloss army, himself. He rides out and meets Jastes, unable to make any kind of deal. On the way out, Elend manages to fight and kill one smaller koloss, earning the sword and pouch as his own. He looks into the pouch and discovers how Jastes is controlling the koloss. He’s paying them.
Vin sees Elend, now returned from his meet with the koloss army, inured and resting. Zanes comes and says that Cett was the one that planed the attack at the voting ceremony. Vin gets angry and decides to attack Cett. Zane and Vin attack the keep that Cett has been staying at in Luthadel. Together, they kill guards and hazekillers. Fueled by rage, Vin kills quickly, working her way to Cett’s room. She realizes that Zane is using atium, while she has none, and yet she’s killing just as easily as he is. They finally get to Cett’s room, where he is with his son. Vin fights them at first, but when she discovers that neither of them is an allomancer and that Cett doesn’t have a single allomancer with him, she leaves them behind, injured and scared.
The crew sees that Cett’s army is now leaving, a result of Vin’s attack on his keep the night before. Elend does not know why Vin attacked Cett like that. Some in the crew think she’s crazy, but Elend just sees her as determined. They also discover that the “coins” Jastes has been using to control the koloss are fake, wooden coins painted gold. Elend goes to find Vin, who is hiding in the city. He finds her with OreSeur’s help. She says she must leave Luthadel and go north, to Terris. Elend says he trust her to do the right thing. They have one large bead of atium, and Vin gives it to OreSeur to hold for her.
Sazed and Tindwyl compare notes, studying the rubbing and other references they’ve managed to find. Tindwyl admits that she doesn’t believe in these prophecies, her interest in them being purely academic. Sazed, on the other hand, thinks Vin might actually be the next Hero of the Ages. While they talk, they discover that someone–or something–has torn a piece from one of the transcription pages. Vin comes in, while they try to figure out at what point were they both gone or occupied to not have seen an intruder going through their things. Vin asks Sazed how she can know if she’s in love. They talk about trust. After Vin leaves, Elend comes in and starts asking similar questions. Elend thinks he and Vin are too different to make a couple, but Sazed says that, to him, they are more alike than they think. After Elend leaves, Sazed realizes that Luthadel is going to fall soon; he needs to get both Elend and Vin out of the city before that happens.
Sazed calls a meeting with the members of the crew: Dockson, Breeze, Ham, and Clubs. He doesn’t invite Elend, Vin, or Spook. They talk about how the city is sure to fall. Straff apparently is in no hurry to take Luthadel. Instead, he’ll back off and let the koloss attack the city first. The koloss will win and enter the city, pillaging as they go. Then, with the koloss weakened and tired from the fight, Venture will ride in like a hero and save the city, defeating the koloss and taking Luthadel for himself. Sazed says that Elend and Vin need to get out of the city before these things happen. He wants Spook and Tindwyl to go with them. The rest of the group will have to stay and fight and die. Meanwhile, Vin feels she must follow the drumming she hears all the time. In Straff’s camp, Zane is attacked by his father’s men. He defeats them, but spares his father. He leaves, saying that tonight he will take Vin with him and leave Luthadel. He tells Straff that he should wait for the koloss to attack and then take the city.
Vin is in her room with OreSeur when Zane visits. He wants her to come with him, but she says she can’t because she doesn’t want to leave Elend. When Zane sees that she won’t go, he attacks her. They fight. When Zane starts to burn atium, Vin asks OreSeur for the large bead, a bead Zan had given her before. OreSeur doesn’t respond to her command. Vin discovers that OreSeur is not OreSeur. He is TenSoon, Zane’s kandra. Of course! There was no other spy. The bones they found were TenSoon’s and he had killed OreSeur! Zane corners Vin, but Vin uses a massive soothing to take control of OreSeur/TenSoon and attack Zane from behind. She then cuts the bead of atium fro TenSoon. But this is another trick. The bead is lead, with only a thin layer of atium. Soon, Vin is left helpless against a Mistborn killer with atium. Vin decides that Zane can see what she’s about to do, or, rather, what she plans on doing. If she attacks without thinking, though, she can, see in Zane’s reaction what she is going to do, only to change it at the last possible second. The trick works, and Vin defeats Zane. After Zane dies, she thanks OreSeur/TenSoon for helping her win. His contract is void, and he must return to his people. Vin goes to find Elend.
Elend is in his study when Vin comes in, bloody from her fight with Zane. She tells him that she killed him. He calls for Sazed, who comes to help with the wounds. While she is there, on the ground, she asks Sazed if he knows any wedding ceremonies. Of course, he knows hundreds. Vin asks which one is the shortest, and Sazed recalls one that only requires a declaration of love between the bride and groom before an ordained witness. Vin and Elend both say that they love each other, and Sazed declares them married. The wounds are clean, and Sazed sends Vin to get some rest. He also gives them a fake map to find the Well of Ascension. If the couple follows the map, they’ll be gone from Luthadel for a long time.
Elend and Vin prepare to ride out of the city. Tindwyl decides to stay in Luthadel. Spooks gets ready to go, and Allrianne will ride out, at Breeze’s insistence. So the four of them ride out, Vin quickly having to fight pursuers from Straff’s army. Once they are free, Allrianne breaks off to find her father’s army. Meanwhile, some of the crew watch as the escape, now sure of their own coming doom. Straff Venture hears of the escapes, but he has problems of his own now. He’s getting sick, which he knows is the result of poisoning from his son, Zane. He sends for his mistress, Amaranta, to fix him an antidote, but he discovers that she isn’t preparing what she normally does. She is actually killing, as she has for a long time. There never was any poison. Zane never tried to kill his father. But Amaranta, in her constant fixing of teas for Straff, has been causing him to become addicted to a rare drug. Without that drug, Straff will die. Straff, in a rage, kills Amaranta and then swallows as much powder from her medicine cabnet as he can, hoping to accidentally swallow some of the drug he needs before he loses consciousness.
Allrianne has made her way to her father’s camp, with the help of some bandits she’s tamed with her rioting. Her father, Cett, is not happy to see her. She convinces him to go back and join the winning party in the battle that is to come, although Cett promises that will likely be Straff. Meanwhile, Elend wakes up on the third morning out of Luthadel. He and Vin share a tent now, and he finds himself surprisingly comfortable on the hard ground, with Vin next to him. They get up and prepare the fire. It’s just the three of them: Elend, Vin, and Spook. Meanwhile Straff wakes up in bed. His men have taken care of him, and they’ve isolated the plant he needs to stay alive. When he hears that Vin and Elend have left the city, the men ask if they should attack now. Straff says no; they should pull back and wait for the koloss. Sazed meets with the others to plan a strategy for when the koloss attack. They plan to have a group of men at each gate. Saze and Tindwyl get a little time together, but then the warning drums begin to beat.
Vin is thinking about how the mist is staying later and later every day, instead of just disappearing with dawn, when she feels the pulsing of the mist spirit coming from Elend’s tent. She runs in, just in time to see the outline of that spirit lift some kind of knife to attack Elend, who is sleeping on the ground. She attacks the spirit and it disappears. Elend wakes up and never knows what was happening. She leaves Elend to sleep a little more and goes out to speak with Spook. He thinks someone is following them. Meanwhile, Sazed and the crew get ready, since it looks like the Koloss are about to attack. Men are at each gate, with one crewmember there to help. Straff sees that the koloss are attacking, but he tells his men to wait. Vin and Elend attack the camp of people that have been following them. It turns out to be Jastes. He’s lost control of the koloss, so he just left them. Elend kills Jastes because of his crimes against Luthadel. Vin discovers that the drumming sounds are getting softer, meaning the well is to the south, in Luthadel, and not in the Terris mountains.
Breeze works at his assigned gate, soothing soldiers by the dozen, helping them to be brave and fight well. The koloss pound at the door, while men atop the wall rain arrows down on the attackers. The koloss throw rocks up in return, smashing archers. Meanwhile, Vin runs towards Luthadel, burning pewter. She knows she will run out of pewter long before reaching Luthadel, and she wonders if the effect will kill her. But still she keeps running. Breeze and Clubs talk while the koloss continue to beat the gate. They blame themselves for being stupid enough to be in this mess, and they blame Kelsier for getting them into such responsibilities. Just then, the gates burst open. Meanwhile, Sazed gets word that Breeze’s gate had fallen. He doesn’t think he can really help. He notices that there is a crowd of skaa standing behind the defense force. When Sazed confronts them, telling them that they should flee to safety inside the city, the skaa answer that they are there to witness the fall of the koloss at the hands of Vin, who they are sure will return and make her appearance at Sazed’s gate. Then the gate breaks. Sazed musters his stored strength, growing in size, and faces the lead koloss, shouting for the men to fight. Vin, half collapsing and out of pewter, reaching a small village. At first she thinks to ask for pewter, but then she remembers how she used to travel with Kelsier on a path of metal bars in the ground. She asks for horseshoes, using them to “walk” by leaping, placing horseshoes ahead of her and pulling the ones behind to place further. In this way, she uses the horseshoes like stilts to help her travel in the air.
Outside Luthadel, Straff Venture sees that the koloss have now broken into the city gates. His men are ready to attack the koloss from the rear, but Straff decides to wait longer. Sazed, fighting the koloss, realizes that they need to get the gate closed again in order to survive. Using strength and weight, he manages to fight off the koloss and get the gate closed again. While getting a little break, a messenger comes and says that Tindwyl’s gate fell over an hour ago. Meanwhile, Clubs and Breeze are attacked and forced to run. Clubs is killed, while Breeze hides in a building. Dockson contemplates the root of their failure. He attacks a koloss, only to be cut down. Straff decides not to swoop in a save the city while the koloss are weak. Instead, he’d rather wait for the koloss to kill everyone and burn the city. Then Straff will move in. Meanwhile, Sazed fights on, wondering what happened to Tindwyl. He feels he is going to die, but then Vin arrives and starts killing koloss. Breeze is found by Ham and some others. They want to try to escape.
Vin continues killing koloss, several at a time. Sazed, outside Lord Penrod’s keep, begs the newly appointed king to go with them as they try to escape. Penrod insists on staying inside his keep. Vin continues to fight the koloss, but now she is almost completely out of pewter, steel, and almost every other metal. In desperation, to save some skaa from certain death, she super-soothes them, like she’d done to TenSoon, controlling the koloss with her mind. Sazed is standing outside Penrod’s keep when Vin walks up with koloss in tow. She orders Penrod to gather his men and put out the fires in Luthadel. Vin will take care of the koloss throughout the city. Later, Sazed finds Tindwyl’s dead body among the slain soldiers. He feels that all the faith, all the religions, he has always treasured is now useless. His life, he believes, has been a sham.
Straff wakes up and takes a sample of the drug he needs to stay alive. He gathers his men, expecting to be able to take the city now. But the koloss come out with the remaining soldiers of Luthadel. Vin jumps from among the koloss, sailing through the sky with a giant sword, cleaving Straff and his horse in half on impact. Allrianne watches these events from her father’s camp. She charges after them to help Luthadel’s army, forcing her father and his men to ride after her. Straff’s army surrenders, and Janarle, Straff’s general, is named the new Lord of the Venture army. Janarle, Penrod, and Cett all swear loyalty to Elend as their Emperor. Vin, needing rest, leaves Sazed in charge of the Empire until Elend can return to Luthadel.