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Unformatted text preview: n't have those peculiar gurgling noises inside which so many parlourmaids
seem to have when they wait at table Let me see, where was I?' 'You were saying, that in spite of several
valuable qualities, you never liked Bourne.' 'No more I do. She's - odd. There's something different
about her from the others. Too well educated, that's my "pinion. You can't tell who are ladies and who
aren't nowadays.' 'And what happened next?' I asked.
'Nothing. At least, Roger came in. And I thought he was out for a walk. And he said: "What's all this?"
and I said "Nothing. I just came in to fetch Punch." And I took Punch and went out with it. Bourne
stayed behind. I heard her asking Roger if she could speak to him for a minute. I went straight up to my
room, to lie down. I was very upset.' There was a pause.
'You will explain to M. Poirot, won't you? You can see for yourself what a trivial matter the whole thing
was. But, of course, when he was so stern about concealing things, I thought of this at once. Bourne may
have made some extraordinary story out of it, but you can explain, can't you?' 'That is all?' I said. 'You
have told me everything?' 'Ye-es,' said Mrs Ackroyd. 'Oh! yes,' she added firmly.
But I had noted the momentary hesitation, and I knew that there was still something she was keeping
back. It was nothing less than a flash of sheer genius that prompted me to ask the question I did. 'Mrs Ackroyd,' I said, 'was it you who left the silver table open?' I had my answer in the blush of guilt
that even rouge and powder could not conceal.
'How did you know?' she whispered.
'It was you, then?' 'Yes - I - you see - there were one or two pieces of old silver - very interesting. I had
been reading up the subject and there was an illustration of quite a small piece which had fetched an
immense sum at Christy's. It looked to be just the same as the one in the silver table. I thought I would
take it up to London with me when I went - and - and have it valued. Then if it really was a valuable
piece, just think what a charming surprise it would have been for Roger.' I refrained from comments,
accepting Mrs Ackroyd's story on its merits. I even forbore to ask her why it was necessary to abstract
what she wanted in such a surreptitious manner.
'Why did you leave the lid open?' I asked. 'Did you forget?' 'I was startled,' said Mrs Ackroyd. 'I heard
footsteps coining along the terrace outside. I hastened out of the room and just got up the stairs before
Parker opened the front door to you.' That must have been Miss Russell,' I said thoughtfully.
Mrs Ackroyd had revealed to me one fact that was extremely interesting. Whether her designs upon
Ackroyd's silver had been strictly honourable I neither knew nor cared. What did interest me was the
fact that Miss Russell must have entered the drawing-room by the window, and that I had not been
wrong when I judged her to be out of breath with running. Where had she been? I thought of the
summer-house and the scrap of cambri...
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