Unformatted text preview: ' 'Yes.' Poirot laid his jesting manner aside.
'A very meticulous and accurate account,' he said kindly.
'You have recorded all the facts faithfully and exactly though you have shown yourself becomingly
reticent as to your own share in them.' 'And it has helped you?' 'Yes. I may say that it has helped me
considerably. Come, we must go over to my house and set the stage for my little performance.' Caroline
was in the hall. I think she hoped that she might be invited to accompany us. Poirot dealt with the
'I should much like to have had you present, mademoiselle,' he said regretfully, 'but at this juncture it would not be wise.
See you, all these people tonight are suspects. Amongst them, I shall find the person who killed Mr
Ackroyd.' 'You really believe that?' I said incredulously.
'I see that you do not,' said Poirot drily. 'Not yet do you appreciate Hercule Poirot at his true worth.' At
that minute Ursula came down the staircase.
'You are ready, my child?' said Poirot. 'That is good. We will go to my house together. Mademoiselle
Caroline, believe me, I do everything possible to render you service. Good-evening.' We went off,
leaving Caroline rather like a dog who has been refused a walk, standing on the front door step gazing
The sitting-room at The Larches had been got ready. On the table were various siropes and glasses. Also
a plate of biscuits.
Several chairs had been brought in from the other room.
Poirot ran to and fro rearranging things. Pulling out a chair here, altering the position of a lamp there,
occasionally stooping to straighten one of the mats that covered the floor. He was specially fussing over
the lighting. The lamps were arranged in. such a way as to throw a clear light on the side of the room
where the chairs were grouped, at the same time leaving the other end of the room, where I presumed
Poirot himself would sit, in a dim twilight.
Ursula and I watched him. Presently a bell was heard.
'They arrive,' said Poirot. 'Good, all is in readiness.' The door opened and the party from Femly filed in.
Poirot went forward and greeted Mrs Ackroyd and Flora.
'It is most good of you to come,' he said. 'And Major Blunt and Mr Raymond.' The secretary was
debonair as ever.
'What's the great idea?' he said, laughing. 'Some scientific machine? Do we have bands round our wrists
which register guilty heart-beats? There is such an invention isn't there?' 'I have read of it, yes,' admitted
Poirot. 'But me, I am oldfashioned.
I use the old methods. I work only with the little grey cells. Now let us begin - but first I have an
announcement to make to you all.' He took Ursula's hand and drew her forward.
'This lady is Mrs Ralph Paton. She was married to Captain Paton last March.' A little shriek burst from
'Ralph! Married! Last March! Oh! but it's absurd. How could he be?' She stared at Ursula as though she
had never seen her before.
'Married to Bourne?' she said. 'Really, M. Poirot, I don't believe you.' Ursula flushed and began to
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