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In the novel Taken at the Flood, Katherine Cloade is the wife of Lionel, and is usually called Aunt Kathie, since her family are fond of her but find her rather ridiculous. In the book, she is contrasted with Jeremy's wife Frances Cloade, whom the family respects and refers to simply by her first name. Katherine is an avid believer in the spirit world – possesing an Ouija board, participating in numerous séances with Madame Elvary, and having Madame Vablatsky books on hand in the living room. She likes to throw rather pitiable parties which her husband despises, and occasionally makes a muddle of things, especially figures. However, Lynn Marchmont is of the opinion that Aunt Kathie is "not such a fool as she looks". The couple lives in a rather shabby house with a worn brass plate, near the market square of Warmsley Vale.

Katherine Cloade is the first to consult Poirot regarding Underhay.

"'She would be aged between forty and fifty, I should say, sir. Untidy and somewhat artistic in appearance. Good walking-shoes, brogues. A tweed coat and skirt – but a lace blouse. Some questionable Egyptian beads and a blue chiffon scarf.'
Poirot shuddered slightly.
'I do not think,' he said, 'that I wish to see her.'"

(George to Poirot in Taken at the Flood, Prologue)

She comes to Poirot under spirit guidance (both the automatic writing and her Ouija board spelled out the initials H.P.) and urges the detective to attempt to find a Mr Robert Underhay, former husband to Rosaleen who then married the wealthy Gordon Cloade. In a somewhat cryptic manner, the spirit of Robert has asked Katherine to "Tell Rosaleen that Robert Underhay is not dead.", suggesting that Rosaleen was not fit to re-marry and has no claim to Gordon's considerable fortune. Katherine promises Poirot monetary compensation only after he finds Underhay, since at the moment, she and her husband are badly off due to some ill-advised investments. With Rosaleen out of the way, however, they would get a fourth of Gordon's money. Poirot refuses, telling Mrs Cloade to instead go to the police, since they and their machinery are much better suited to find a person hiding in Central Africa. Reluctantly, she leaves. She does not mention her visit to any of her family members, as she wants to keep her husband from knowing about her financial strain. Five days later, Poirot sees a necrologue for a certain Enoch Arden, deceased in Warmsley Vale, and he wonders what has been going on in the village.

When Lynn Marchmont, the daughter of Katherine's sister-in-law Adela, is demobbed and comes home from war, Katherine throws a party for the whole family that is much the same as usual, having "a rather breathless amateurish quality characteristic of their hostess". Lynn meets Gordon's widow Rosaleen and her brother David Hunter for the first time.

Spoiler warning: A spoiler is announced! The following section contains details about the plot of Taken at the Flood.

As other members of her family, Katherine's desperate need of money soon drives her to call on Rosaleen. She incurrs certain debts that have been occasioned by payments to mediums and that she would like to keep her husband from discovering – not knowing that he himself has also already asked the widow for money. David Hunter mockingly relates the whole story to Lynn, adding that the money was given to Aunt Kathie as she didn't even need much, "a mere two hundred and fifty" pounds.

Some days later, Aunt Kathie meets Lynn outside the post office and declares that her latest communications with ghosts fill her with a strong belief that everything will soon be alright – "a simple happy end to end all our troubles". However, she doesn't want to betray any secrets and instructs Lynn not to get her hopes up prematurely. She also expresses concern for her husband's plight, as he has been having "queer nervous fits" lately and she finds him odd. Katherine puts it down to overwork during the war, stating he should better retire and devote himself to specialised studies – something that is not possible to do without a stable income. Lynn only nods, wondering if Aunt Kathie also suspects the doctor of helping himself to drugs and stimulants, as she is "not such a fool as she looks".

That evening, Katherine calls to the White House out of a call-box, as their telephone is out of order. At length, she recounts to Lynn her latest muddle about figures at the meeting at the Institute, then thanks her for her support and practical advice and hangs up.

She is present at the inquest held two weeks after Enoch Arden's death, but does not give testimony. On the same day, she gets a visit from Poirot, who has decided to take up residence at the Stag Inn. Katherine attempts to sound welcoming, she fusses about tea and stale cake, but does not seem far from dismayed at the thought that Poirot might tell her husband about her consultation a week ago. The detective assures her of his silence. She then demostrates her hidden shrewdness by expressing concern about Rowley's limited views and Lynn's post-war restlessness, which might lead the girl to get involved with the adventurous David Hunter. Aunt Kathie is quite anxious about the situation but assures Poirot that nothing at all is going on between Lynn and David, as they seem to "quarrel more than anything else every time they meet".

Katherine Cloade and Hercule Poirot

Aunt Kathie (Celia Imrie) discussing spirits with Poirot (David Suchet), in Agatha Christie's Poirot: Taken at the Flood

As her husband comes home, Mrs Cloade leaves the room and comes back with a tray of (hopefully) boiling tea, bread and "depressfully-looking" jam. Her husband ruthlessly calls it "cat-lap" and takes his leave. Katherine expresses concern about his nervous state and bitterness, and a hope that he will soon be able to retire and concern himself only with his hobby: botany, most specifically medicinal herbs in the Middle Ages. She rejoices at the fact that Major Porter has identified Arden as Robert Underhay and she is glad that the situation worked out for the best, just as the spirits said.

Two days later, Aunt Kathie and the Detective run into each other on the street. Going shopping, she carries several bags and is clearly extremely agitated by Major Porter commiting suicide.

"Aunt Kathie shook her head and relaxed her grip on one of the shopping-bags. A depressed-looking bit of cod slipped out and slithered into the gutter. Poirot retrieved it and in her agitation Aunt Kathie let a second bag slip, whereupon a tin of golden syrup began a gay career rolling along the High Street.
'Thank you so much, M. Poirot.' Aunt Kathie grasped the cod. He ran after the golden syrup. 'Oh, thank you – so clumsy of me – but really I have been so upset. That unfortunate man – yes, it is sticky, but really I don't like to use your clean handkerchief. Well, it's very kind of you –'"

(from Taken at the Flood, Book II, Chapter Twelve)

She puts the Major's suicide down to a materialistic outlook on life, narrowed by his Army days and his stay in India where he clearly "never took advantage of the spiritual opportunities". She mentions that she sometimes passes astral bodies in the street – such as the other night, when a spirit with a face she could not place gave her change for the telephone box – and rushes off to the confectioner's.

Later that day, Poirot calls on her and she elaborates on her description of the woman who came out of the telephone box: she had an orange scarf around her head and looked rather actressy. This matches the portrait given to Poirot by Mrs Leadbetter of an unknown woman visiting Arden at the Stag the night of the murder. Poirot then asks Katherine how long has her husband been a morphia addict. She bursts into tears and tells the Detective that he started in the war, but promised to go for a cure and she hoped nobody would ever know. That is probably the reason he needed to borrow money. Hercule Poirot thanks her and leaves.

Spoilers end here.
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