Unformatted text preview: bility
has been in my mind from the first,' admitted Poirot. 'I was always convinced that Mademoiselle Flora
was hiding something from us. To satisfy myself, I made the little experiment I told you of. Dr Sheppard
accompanied me.' 'A test for Parker, you said it was,' I remarked bitterly.
'Mon ami,' said Poirot apologetically, 'as I told you at the time, one must say something.' The inspector
'There's only one thing for it,' he declared. 'We must tackle the young lady right away. You'll come up to
Fernly with me, M. Poirot?' 'Certainly. Dr Sheppard will drive us up in his car.' 'I acquiesced willingly.
On inquiry for Miss Ackroyd, we were shown into the billiard room. Flora and Major Hector Blunt were
sitting on the long window seat.
'Good-morning, Miss Ackroyd,' said the inspector. 'Can we have a word or two alone with you?' Blunt
got up at once and moved to the door.
'What is it?' asked Flora nervously. 'Don't go. Major Blunt. He can stay, can't he?' she asked, turning to
'That's as you like,' said the inspector drily. 'There's a question or two it's my duty to put to you, miss, but
I'd prefer to do so privately, and I dare say you'd prefer it also.' Flora looked keenly at him. I saw her
face grow whiter.
Then she turned and spoke to Blunt.
'I want you to stay - please - yes, I mean it. Whatever the inspector has to say to me, I'd rather you
heard it.' Raglan shrugged his shoulders.
'Well, if you will have it so, that's all there is to it. Now, Miss Ackroyd, M. Poirot here has made a
certain suggestion to me. He suggests that you weren't in the study at all last Friday night, that you never
saw Mr Ackroyd to say goodnight to him, that instead of being in the study you were on the stairs leading
down from your uncle's bedroom when you heard Parker coming across the hall.' Flora's gaze shifted to
Poirot. He nodded back at her.
'Mademoiselle, the other day, when we sat round the table, I implored you to be frank with me. What
one does not tell to Papa Poirot he finds out. It was that, was it not? See, I will make it easy for you.
You took the money, did you not?' 'The money?' said Blunt sharply.
There was a silence which lasted for at least a minute. Then Flora drew herself up and spoke.
'M. Poirot is right. I took that money. I stole. I am a thiefyes, a common, vulgar little thief. Now you
know! I am glad it has come out. It's been a nightmare, these last few days!' She sat down suddenly and
buried her face in her hands. She spoke huskily through her fingers. 'You don't know what my life has
been since I came here. Wanting things, scheming for them, lying, cheating, running up bills, promising to
I hate myself when I think of it all! That's what brought us together, Ralph and I. We were both weak! I
understood him, and I was sorry - because I'm the same underneath.
We're not strong enough to stand alone, either of us. We're weak, miserable, despicable things.' She
looked at Blunt and suddenly stamped her foot.
'Why do you look at me like that - as tho...
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