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'You think so? I will not press the point. Tell me, instead, what were Ralph Paton's reasons for
disappearing?' 'That's rather more difficult,' I said slowly. 'I shall have to speak as a medical man. Ralph's
nerves must have gone phut! If he suddenly found out that his uncle had been murdered within a few
minutes of his leaving him - after, perhaps, a rather stormy interview - well, he might get the wind up and
clear right out. Men have been known to do that - act guiltily when they're perfectly innocent.' 'Yes, that
is true,' said Poirot. 'But we must not lose sight of one thing.' 'I know what you're going to say,' I
Ralph Paton inherits a great fortune by his uncle's death.' 'That is one motive,' agreed Poirot.
'One?' ^Mais ow. Do you realize that there are three separate motives staring us in the face. Somebody
certainly stole the blue envelope and its contents. That is one motive.
Blackmail! Ralph Paton may have been the man who blackmailed Mrs Ferrars. Remember, as far as
Hammond knew, Ralph Paton had not applied to his uncle for help of late. That looks as though he were
being supplied with money elsewhere. Then there is the fact that he was in some - how do you say scrape? - which he feared might get to his uncle's ears. And finally there is the one you have just
mentioned.' 'Dear me,' I said, rather taken aback. 'The case does seem black against him.' 'Does it?' said
Poirot. 'That is where we disagree, you and I. Three motives - it is almost too much. I am inclined to
believe that, after all, Ralph Paton is innocent.' After the evening talk I have just chronicled, the affair
seemed to me to enter on a different phase. The whole thing can be divided into two parts, each clear
and distinct from the other. Part I ranges from Ackroyd's death on the Friday evening to the following
Monday night. It is the straightforward narrative of what occurred, as presented to Hercule Poirot. I was
at Poirot's elbow the whole time. I saw what he saw. I tried my best to read his mind. As I know now, I
failed in this latter task. Though Poirot showed me all his discoveries - as, for instance, the gold
wedding-ring - he held back the vital and yet logical impressions that he formed. As I came to know
later, this secrecy was characteristic of him. He would throw out hints and suggestions, but beyond that
he would not go.
As I say, up till the Monday evening, my narrative might have been that of Poirot himself. I played
Watson to his Sherlock. But after Monday our ways diverged. Poirot was busy on his own account. I
got to hear of what he was doing, because in King's Abbot, you get to hear of everything, but he did not
take me into his confidence beforehand. And I, too, had my own preoccupations.
On looking back, the thing that strikes me most is the piecemeal character of this period. Everyone had a
hand in the elucidation of the mystery. It was rather like a jigsaw puzzle to which everyone contributed
their own little piece of knowledge or discover...
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