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Unformatted text preview: Ackroyd?' The door had just closed
behind Parker, or I would not have put the question.
Ackroyd waited just a minute before replying.
'I'm in hell,' he said slowly, after a minute. 'No, don't bother with those damn tablets. I only said that for
Parker. Servants are so curious. Come here and sit down. The door's closed too, isn't it?' 'Yes. Nobody
can overhear; don\ be uneasy.' 'Sheppard, nobody knows? what I've gone through in the last twenty-four
hours. If a- ^"^ house ever fe11 in ruin about him, mine has about ^le- This business of Ralph's is the last
straw. But we won^t talk about that now. It's the other - the other -I I don't kw°w what to do about it.
And I've got to make up my mind soc^11'What's the trouble?' Ackroyd remained silent ^ a minute or
two. He seemed curiously averse to begin. VO^" he dld ^a^the question he asked came as a complete?
uprise. It was the last thing I expected.
'Sheppard, you attended ^shiey Ferrars in his last illness, didn't you?' 'Yes, I did.' He seemed to find even greater difficulty in framing his next question.
'Did you ever suspect - dS^ n ever enter Y0111"head -that well, that he might have be
'I'll tell you the truth,' \ sald- 'At the tlme \ had n0 suspicion whatever, but sino^ - well, it was mere idle
talk on my sister's part that first p-r1 the ldea into my head- Since then I haven't been able to ^t rt out
aga"1- Bm' """d Y^ I've no foundation whateve if for that suspicion.' 'He was poisoned,' said ^-Ackroyd.
He spoke in a dull heavy 'volce- "Who by?' I asked sharpMY- 'His wife.' 'How do you know that?"'
'She told me so herself.' 'When?' 'Yesterday! My God! yesterday! It seems ten years ago.' I waited a
minute, then M^ went on.
'You understand, Sheppo^d' rm tellmg V011 this m confidence.
It's to go no furtl-i^- 1 want your advice - I can't carry the whole weight by r-flY^- As l said '^ ""w, I
don't know what to do.' 'Can you tell me the whole story?' I said. 'I'm still in the dark. How did Mrs
Ferrars come to make this confession to you?' 'It's like this. Three months ago I asked Mrs Ferrars to
marry me. She refused. I asked her again and she consented, but she refused to allow me to make the
engagement public until her year of mourning was up. Yesterday I called upon her, pointed out that a
year and three weeks had now elapsed since her husband's death, and that there could be no further
objection to making the engagement public property.
I had noticed that she had been very strange in her manner for some days. Now, suddenly, without the
least warning, she broke down completely. She - she told me everything. Her hatred of her brute of a
husband, her growing love for me, and the - the dreadful means she had taken. Poison! My God! It was
murder in cold blood.' I saw the repulsion, the horror, in Ackroyd's face. So Mrs Ferrars must have seen
it. Ackroyd's is not the type of the great lover who can forgive all for love's sake. He is fundamentally a
good citizen. All that was sound and wholesome and law-abiding in hi...
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