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Unformatted text preview: t. He went past very quickly and turned off by the path to the
right, which is a short cut to the terrace.' 'And what time was that?' asked Poirot, who had sat with an
'Exactly twenty-five minutes past nine,' said the inspector gravely. There was a silence. Then the inspector spoke again.
'It's all clear enough. It fits in without a flaw. At twenty-five minutes past nine. Captain Paton is seen
passing the lodge; at nine-thirty or thereabouts, Mr Geoffrey Raymond hears someone in here asking for
money and Mr Ackroyd refusing. What happens next? Captain Paton leaves the same way - through the
window. He walks along the terrace, angry and baffled. He comes to the open drawing-room window.
Say it's now a quarter to ten. Miss Flora Ackroyd is saying goodnight to her uncle. Major Blunt, Mr
Raymond, and Mrs Ackroyd are in the billiard room. The drawing-room is empty. He steals in, takes the
dagger from the silver table, and returns to the study window. He slips off his shoes, climbs in, and - well,
I don't need to go into details. Then he slips out again and goes off.
Hadn't the nerve to go back to the inn. He makes for the station, rings up from there ' 'Why?' said Poirot
I jumped at the interruption. The little man was leaning forward. His eyes shone with a queer green light.
For a moment Inspector Raglan was taken aback by the question.
'It's difficult to say exactly why he did that,' he said at last. 'But murderers do funny things. You'd know
that if you were in the police force. The cleverest of them make stupid mistakes sometimes. But come
along and I'll show you those footprints.' We followed him round the corner of the terrace to the study
window. At a word from Raglan a police constable produced the shoes which had been obtained from
the local inn.
The inspector laid them over the marks.
'They're the same,' he said confidently. 'That is to say, they're not the same pair that actually made these
prints. He went away in those. This is a pair just like them, but older see how the studs are worn down?'
'Surely a great many people wear shoes with rubber studs in them?' asked Poirot.
'That's so, of course,' said the inspector. 'I shouldn't put so much stress on the footmarks if it wasn't for
everything else.' 'A very foolish young man. Captain Ralph Paton,' said Poirot thoughtfully. 'To leave so
much evidence of his presence.' 'Ah! well,' said the inspector, 'it was a dry, fine night, you know. He left
no prints on the terrace or on the gravelled path. But, unluckily for him, a spring must have welled up just
lately at the end of the path from the drive. See here.' A small gravelled path joined the terrace a few feet
In one spot, a few yards from its termination, the ground was wet and boggy. Crossing this wet place
there were again the marks of footsteps, and amongst them the shoes with rubber studs.
Poirot followed the path on a little way, the inspector by his side.
'You noticed the women's footprints?' he said suddenl...
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