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Etienne de Sousa is a cousin of Hattie Stubbs. They haven’t seen each other in years, when he suddenly announces his intentions of coming for a visit. He anchored his yacht Espérance in Helmmouth, and took a smaller boat upriver to Nasse House.

Etienne is described as being a "very dark young man, faultlessly attired in yachting costume". When Inspector Bland meets him, he is annoyed by his "polished elegance" and "sartorial perfection", and the "rich flowery smell of his brilliantined hair".

Etienne tells Inspector Bland that he had written to Lady Stubbs three weeks before the events of the novel. He had been in France then, and had written telling her that he would be coming to visit, and that he would let her know the exact date of his arrival later.

He also says that he had seen a paragraph about Lady Stubbs in a society paper, and he had come to visit because he had not seen her since she was fifteen, and he wanted to see what she had become.

When the police arrive to search his yacht, Etienne receives them with "charming courtesy". He offers them drinks and asks how their investigation is progressing. When Superintendent Baldwin says that they have a search warrant, Etienne says that he is eager to cooperate, and that they are welcome to search his yacht. When they ask him to stay on for the inquest, in case the Coroner wants to ask him anything, he says that he wants to do everything he can to help.

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