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known down here, and you'd think somebody would have noticed him. There's no news from Liverpool
either.' 'You think he went to Liverpool?' queried Poirot. fc 117 'Well, it's on the cards. That telephone
message from the station, just three minutes before the Liverpool express left there ought to be something
in that.' 'Unless it was deliberately intended to throw you off the scent. That might just possibly be the
point of the telephone message.' 'That's an idea,' said the inspector eagerly. 'Do you really think that's the
explanation of the telephone call?' 'My friend,' said Poirot gravely, 'I do not know. But I will tell you this:
I believe that when we find the explanation of that telephone call we shall find the explanation of the
murder.' 'You said something like that before, I remember,' I observed, looking at him curiously.
'I always come back to it,' he said seriously.
'It seems to me utterly irrelevant,' I declared.
'I wouldn't say that,' demurred the inspector. 'But I must confess I think Mr Poirot here harps on it a little
We've better clues than that. The fingerprints on the dagger, for instance.' Poirot became suddenly very
foreign in manner, as he often did when excited over anything.
'M. rinspecteur,' he said, 'beware of the blind - the blind comment dire? - the little street that has no end
to it.' Inspector Raglan stared, but I was quicker.
'You mean a blind alley?' I said.
'That is it - the blind street that leads nowhere. So it may be with those fingerprints - they may lead you
nowhere.' 'I don't see how that can well be,' said the police officer. 'I suppose you're hinting that they're
faked? I've read of such things being done, though I can't say I've ever come across it in my experience.
But fake or true - they're bound to lead somewhere.' Poirot merely shrugged his shoulders, flinging out
his arms wide.
The inspector then showed us various enlarged photographs of the fingerprints, and proceeded to
become technical on the subject of loops and whorls.
'Come now,' he said at last, annoyed by Poirot's detached manner, 'you've got to admit that those prints
were made by someone who was in the house that night?' 'Bien entendu,' said Poirot, nodding his head.
'Well, I've taken the prints of every member of the household, everyone, mind you, from the old lady
down to the kitchenmaid.' I don't think Mrs Ackroyd would enjoy being referred to as the old lady. She
must spend a considerable amount on cosmetics.
'Everyone's,' repeated the inspector fussily.
'Including mine,' I said drily. 'Very well. None of them correspond. That leaves us two alternatives. Ralph Paton, or the mysterious
stranger the doctor here tells us about. When we get hold of those two ' 'Much valuable time may have
been lost,' broke in Poirot.
'I don't quite get you, Mr Poirot.' 'You have taken the prints of everyone in the house, you say,'
murmured Poirot. 'Is that the exact truth you are telling me there, M. 1'Inspecteur?' 'Certainly.' 'Without
overlooking anyone?' 'Without overlooking anyone.' 'The quick...
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