On October 27, 1934, a major incident occurred on the legendary train from Paris to Poland during a heavy snowfall.
On the evening of the 26th, a French man with red hair, dressed in a refined suit, boarded the train. Accompanying him was a well-dressed Polish man, likely the red-haired man's butler, carrying two suitcases, one large and one small.After a while, an elderly white-haired man in a simple sweater and a beret, leaning on a cane, slowly approached the carriage. His arms were muscular, noticeably different from his unsteady gait.Just before the train was about to depart, a charming red-haired woman in rich attire briskly ran to catch the train. Her white skirt fluttered with the chaotic breeze on the platform, exceptionally captivating. The woman carried a small green leather suitcase, similar to the one carried by the Polish butler, and almost entered the carriage at the last moment before the train started.Before others boarded, a handsome and tall British man was already sitting in the dining carriage's right corner, sipping exquisite English tea served in delicate enamelware. In front of him was a high-end dessert. Judging by his attire, he seemed to be either a high-ranking detective or a private detective – a long camel-colored suit, an unwrinkled deep brown waistcoat ensemble, and most prominently, a metal rose brooch pinned to his chest.
The legendary train, accompanied by the newly falling snow and billowing steam, departed from the Polish platform. The danger lurking in the darkness has been revealing gradually among the rumbling sound.
- The British man stayed in the dining car until late because he was engrossed in a novel, although he couldn't always concentrate.The first interruption came when the red-haired woman, carrying her suitcase, approached the dining car to ask the trainman if he could take her to her compartment. Despite her elegant appearance, she showed no airs. She also inquired about whether the British man and the trainman had seen a red-haired man, pointing to her own hair while describing it.
- The second interruption came from the Polish butler, sounding anxious. He immediately asked if the red-haired woman had been seen and, upon receiving an affirmative answer, quickly apologized for his urgency. He requested a high-class dinner to be sent to room B221 and especially insisted on Bordeaux wine is needed, also asking for a slight delay in delivery. The butler exchanged glances with the British man, bowed to him, and obtained a bottle of red wine and two glasses from the trainman before hastily leaving. When he turned to leave and collided with the oncoming white-haired old man, the butler was a little stumbling, but the old man was very stable. The butler apologized and left in a hurry.
The elderly man found a seat with his back to the British man and ordered a bottle of beer and a sausage meal. The man had some impression of him – a few years ago, a case of a girl's death occurred in Paris. At that time, he was investigating another case in London and didn't go to Paris. By the time he finished his case in London, that case had concluded. The newspaper only featured a photo of a retired soldier and a brief summary: ' Retired soldier, suffering from post-war mental trauma, accidentally killed his daughter. The soldier has been arrested.' Recently, the newspaper published the photo of the same man, the soldier who, after multiple appeals, was released due to insufficient evidence. The man found many loophole in the case, especially the quick closure, not to mention the rarity of a retired soldier developing such disease suddenly many years after leaving the military.The British man put down his novel, took his dessert, and sat opposite the old man. He introduced himself and subtly inquired about that particular case. Instead of the expected rebuke, the old man seemed relieved, discussing his time in prison, but his lips trembled.When the man asked about the old man's daughter, he paused, tears welled up in his eyes for a moment, and then were sucked back into his eyes. He only said one thing: "I'm sorry for her."During this subtle change in the air, the red-haired woman arrived again, ordering dinner for two to be sent to the room. The old man widened his eyes, gripped his handkerchief tightly, and quickly composed himself. However, this small detail did not escape the eyes of the British detective.
After a while, both the old man and the woman left the car, and the detective returned to his compartment after having a glass of red wine.As the train's low hum was abruptly interrupted by a sudden scream, everyone in the luxury carriage woke up, rushing out to check the situation, including the detective.The trainman, looking frightened, emerged from room B221. It was evident that he was quite scared.The detective quickly pulled the trainman aside, instructing him to tell everyone to stay in their rooms, close the windows, and come out only when notified in the morning. Seeing this scene, everyone obediently closed their doors.The man, wearing gloves, told the trainman to quickly inform the next station master to call the police.
The room was in disarray, and the focus was on the red-haired man lying on the bed with a knife wound, accompanied by a knife and an exquisite revolver. Strangely, there were three bullet holes under the bed, but no bullet holes on the body. The room was slightly cold, and upon looking up, a piece of skylight glass was broken, with an iron hook hanging from it, the end of the hook entwined with a rope. On the bedside table was a black glove, and in the open drawer, there was a bottle of sleeping pills. On the desk near the window was a red women's handbag. In contrast to the mess around, under the bed were neatly arranged a pair of shoes and a delicate small wooden box.The detective, entering the room, intentionally avoided the red wine stains on the floor – dotted, with distances between each spot slightly smaller than a person's stride.
After observing the scene, the detective told the trainman to guard the room and not let anyone in. He requested to see everyone who has entered this carriage the next day.
Early the next morning, the snow had stopped. Sitting in front of the detective were the red-haired woman, the butler, and that elderly man brought by trainman who was recently released from prison but not staying in the luxury carriage. The detective only inquired about the time of their breakfast, jotting down a plethora of case information on his notebook.The red-haired woman and the deceased were siblings. Originally, the brother didn't allow his sister to accompany him, but she stubbornly followed.During breakfast, the woman deliberately kept her distance from the butler, showing a somewhat disdainful attitude. However, her suitcase from last night seemed to have exposed something.The woman had visited the deceased's room during the first departure from the dining car. They argued over some private matters, but in the end, according to the woman's account, the deceased relented and drove her out. In her haste, she forgot to take her handbag.The butler reminded the deceased to take sleeping pills every night about an hour before sleep. Last night was no exception, but due to the sister's arrival, drowsiness seemed to set in a bit later than usual. Since the deceased was irritable last night, seemingly dissatisfied with the butler, the butler, in shock, forgot to take his own gloves when leaving.The butler mentioned that the deceased, due to an incident in his youth, was never satisfied with his appearance. Therefore, every three months, he underwent facial surgery in Paris for almost ten years. This not only made him look different from before but also gave him the feeling that time had stopped on his face since ten years ago.The old man was the last to be questioned. He mentioned that after leaving the dining car, he also went to the luxury carriage once because he had misread the carriage number. However, upon realizing his mistake, he quickly left. He claimed to have seen the trainman and brushed past him at the entrance of the luxury carriage. A deep purple water stain was found on the handkerchief he casually placed, resembling traces of red wine.
After estimating the time, the detective arranged the approximate sequence of everyone entering the deceased's room: the red-haired woman, the butler, and the old man (without direct evidence of entering the deceased's room).
After the questioning, the detective re-investigated the crime scene and supplemented the information.
- The head of the bed in the luxury carriage was different from ordinary carriages, located on the side next to the corridor to allow passengers to enjoy the moonlight while sleeping.
- The train passed through a section of faulty tracks, producing loud noises that could cover up certain sounds.
- The door at the connection between ordinary and luxury carriages was slightly damaged and was not closed tightly last night, with the floor at the entrance slightly wet. However, after asking the trainman, he confirmed that he had left only after ensuring it was closed.
- At the connection point, one could climb onto the roof along a ladder. With the trainman's confirmation, indeed, footprints of varying depths were found on the roof of the luxury carriage, along with a large handprint.
After understanding all the circumstances, the detective returned to the dining car. He looked at the old man and asked, "Why did you do that? What make you have to take his life?"
The old man responded to the detective's question with indifference, smiling as he spoke, "I did kill him, and you want to know the reason? It's because he deserved it, not even death is enough punishment for him. I climbed onto the train roof when the train passed through faulty tracks and entered his room, using a knife to end his life." As he spoke, the veteran's eyes gradually became fierce, and he began recounting that distant night.
"The incident happened many years ago," the veteran began. "It was a tragic night for my daughter. She worked at a bar, and that day, a red-haired man came into the bar. He was wealthy, charming, but a malicious guy. He assaulted my daughter, and though she fought back, he lost control and accidentally killed her."
The veteran paused, pain evident in his eyes.
"That wretched man bribed the local police, framing me for the crime. I tried to defend myself, but it was futile. He had power and influence, while I was just a retired veteran. In the end, I was wrongly convicted and thrown into prison. And that murderer, he walked free."
The veteran continued to narrate his past, recalling the difficult days spent behind bars.
"Life in prison was tough, and I kept thinking about how to seek justice for my daughter. My lawyer tried his best, but that red-haired man had too much power; I was almost helpless. Over the years, my desire for justice turned into a desire for revenge."
His gaze wandered among the people, as if seeking understanding in their eyes.
"I tracked that man for a long time and finally found him. I knew he was on this train, so I bought a ticket and boarded. I couldn't let him escape justice; I had to bring justice for my daughter."
The detective remained silent for a moment and then asked, "Why not wait for the authorities to handle it?"
The veteran grinned, a hint of coldness in his tone. "Authorities? They were bought off by him from the start. How could I believe they would give me a fair trial? Some people in this world only understand one language – the same way they treated others, to get justice."
The detective nodded with a touch of gravity, well aware that sometimes the trajectory of justice isn't always within the confines of the law.
"You mentioned entering when the train passed through faulty tracks. Why choose that moment?"
The veteran pondered for a moment and answered, "I knew there would be a lot of noise during that stretch, masking my actions. Also, the train would be relatively slow at that time, making it easy for me to descend from the roof and complete the mission."
The audience listened intently, captivated by the veteran's tale of conspiracy.
"And what about the knife and gun?" the detective continued.
The veteran grinned again, "Oh, that was just to create chaos. The knife was the one that wretch used on my daughter initially; I kept it and used it today. As for the gun, I picked it up from the deceased."
The detective felt a stir within, contemplating the complexity of the situation.
"What do you plan to do?" the detective asked.
The veteran gazed deeply at the detective, his eyes revealing a firm determination. "I will wait for the police to arrest me. I won't run. But at least, I've done what I had to do."
In the somber atmosphere of the compartment, as the snow outside gradually ceased, leaving behind a serene stillness, the detective knew this case was far from simple. It was entwined with complex emotions. Rising from his seat, he announced the conclusion of this enigmatic story.
"I will inform the authorities, but you know your actions must face legal judgment. The world needs the force of justice, but it must be achieved through the right means."
In the quiet train compartment, time seemed to freeze, each person touched by the unfolding drama of fate. A snowfall, a train, an unforgettable past, all weaving together into the cold yet poignant ending of this story.