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'Where is he?' I demanded sharply.
'I beg your pardon, sir?' 'Your master. Mr Ackroyd. Don't stand there staring at me, man. Have you
notified the police?' 'The police, sir? Did you say the police?' Parker stared at me as though I were a
'What's the matter with you, Parker? If, as you say, your master has been murdered ' A gasp broke from
'The master? Murdered? Impossible, sir!' It was my turn to stare.
'Didn't you telephone to me, not five minutes ago, and tell me that Mr Ackroyd had been found
murdered?"' The, sir? Oh! no indeed, sir. I wouldn't dream of doing such a thing.' 'Do you mean to say
it's all a hoax? That there's nothing the matter with Mr Ackroyd?' 'Excuse me, sir, did the person telephoning use my name?' 'I'll give you the exact words I heard. "Is that DrSheppard?
Parker, the butler at Femly, speaking. Will you please come at once, sir. Mr Ackroyd has been
murdered."' Parker and I stared at each other blankly.
'A very wicked joke to play, sir,' he said at last, in a shocked tone. 'Fancy saying a thing like that.'
'Where is Mr Ackroyd?' I asked suddenly.
'Still in the study, I fancy, sir. The ladies have gone to bed, and Major Blunt and Mr Raymond are in the
billiard room.' 'I think I'll just look in and see him for a minute,' I said.
'I know he didn't want to be disturbed again, but this odd practical joke has made me uneasy. I'd just like
to satisfy myself that he's all right.' 'Quite so, sir. It makes me feel quite uneasy myself. If you don't object
to my accompanying you as far as the door, sir-?' 'Not at all,' I said. 'Come along.' I passed through the
door on the right, Parker on my heels, traversed the little lobby where a small flight of stairs led upstairs
to Ackroyd's bedroom, and tapped on the study door.
There was no answer. I turned the handle, but the door was locked.
'Allow me, sir,' said Parker.
Very nimbly, for a man of his build, he dropped on one knee and applied his eye to the keyhole.
'Key is in the lock all right, sir,' he said, rising. 'On the inside. Mr Ackroyd must have locked himself in
and possibly just dropped off to sleep.' I bent down and verified Parker's statement.
'It seems all right,' I said, 'but, all the same, Parker, I'm going to wake your master up. I shouldn't be
satisfied to go home without hearing from his own lips that he's quite all right.' So saying, I rattled the
handle and called out, 'Ackroyd, Ackroyd, just a minute.' But still there was no answer. I glanced over
'I don't want to alarm the household,' I said hesitatingly.
Parker went across and shut the door from the big hall through which we had come.
'I think that will be all right now, sir. The billiard room is at the other side of the house, and so are the
kitchen quarters and the ladies' bedrooms.' I nodded comprehendingly. Then I banged once more
frantically on the door, and stooping down, fairly bawled through the keyhole: 'Ackroyd, Ackroyd! It's
Sheppard. Let me in.' And still - silence. Not a s...
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