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Unformatted text preview: Caroline shook her head.
'There probably are women like that - but Mrs Ferrars wasn't one of them. She was a mass of nerves.
An overmastering impulse drove her on to get rid of her husband because she was the sort of person
who simply can't endure suffering of any kind, and there's no doubt that the wife of a man like Ashley
Ferrars must have had to suffer a good deal ' I nodded.
'And ever since she's been haunted by what she did. I can't help feeling sorry for her.' I don't think
Caroline ever felt sorry for Mrs Ferrars whilst she was alive. Now that she has gone where (presumably)
Paris frocks can no longer be worn, Caroline is prepared to indulge in the softer emotions of pity and
I told her firmly that her whole idea was nonsense. I was all the more firm because I secretly agreed with
some part, at least, of what she had said. But it is all wrong that Caroline should arrive at the truth simply
by a kind of inspired guesswork. I wasn't going to encourage that sort of thing. She will go round the
village airing her views, and everyone will think that she is doing so on medical data supplied by me. Life
is very trying.
'Nonsense,' said Caroline, in reply to my strictures.
'You'll see. Ten to one she's left a letter confessing everything.'
'She didn't leave a letter of any kind,' I said sharply, and not seeing where the admission was going to
'Oh!' said Caroline. 'So you did inquire about that, did you? I believe, James, that in your heart of hearts,
you think very much as I do. You're a precious old humbug.' 'One always has to take the possibility of
suicide into consideration,' I said impressively.
'Will there be an inquest?' 'There may be. It all depends. If I am able to declare myself absolutely
satisfied that the overdose was taken accidentally, an inquest might be dispensed with.' 'And are you
absolutely satisfied?' asked my sister shrewdly.
I did not answer, but got up from the table.
CHAPTER 2 Who's Who in King's Abbot
Before I proceed further with what I said to Caroline and what Caroline said to me, it might be as well to
give some idea of what I should describe as our local geography.
Our village. King's Abbot, is, I imagine, very much like any other village. Our big town is Cranchester,
nine miles away.
We have a large railway station, a small post office, and two rival 'General Stores.' Able-bodied men are
apt to leave the place early in life, but we are rich in unmarried ladies and retired military officers. Our
hobbies and recreations can be summed up in the one word, 'gossip.' There are only two houses of any
importance in King's Abbot. One is King's Paddock, left to Mrs Ferrars by her late husband. The other, Fernly Park, is owned by Roger Ackroyd. Ackroyd has always interested me by being a man more
impossibly like a country squire than any country squire could really be. He reminds one of the red-faced
sportsmen who always appeared early in the first act of an old-fashioned musical comedy, the setting
being the village green. Th...
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