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Unformatted text preview: ce against him may be. The mere fact that he was hard pressed for money ' 'Was
he hard pressed for money?' interpolated Poirot quickly.
The lawyer shrugged his shoulders.
'It was a chronic condition with Ralph Paton,' he said dryly. 'Money went through his hands like water.
He was always applying to his stepfather.' 'Had he done so of late? During the last year, for instance?'
'I cannot say. Mr Ackroyd did not mention the fact to me.' 'I comprehend. Mr Hammond, I take it that
you are acquainted with the provisions of Mr Ackroyd's will?' 'Certainly. That is my principal business
here today.' 'Then, seeing that I am acting for Miss Ackroyd, you will not object to telling me the terms of
that will?' 'They are quite simple. Shorn of legal phraseology, and after paying certain legacies and
bequests ' 'Such as - ?' interrupted Poirot.
'Mr Hammond seemed a little surprised.
'A thousand pounds to his housekeeper. Miss Russell; fifty pounds to the cook, Emma Cooper; five
hundred pounds to his secretary, Mr Geoffrey Raymond. Then to various hospitals -' Poirot held up his
'Ah! the charitable bequests, they interest me not.' 'Quite so. The income on ten thousand pounds' worth
of shares to be paid to Mrs Cecil Ackroyd during her lifetime.
Miss Flora Ackroyd inherits twenty thousand pounds outright. The residue - including this property, and the shares in Ackroyd and Son - to his adopted son, Ralph
Paton.' 'Mr Ackroyd possessed a large fortune?' 'A very large fortune. Captain Paton will be an
exceedingly wealthy young man.' There was a silence. Poirot and the lawyer looked at each other.
'Mr Hammond,' came Mrs Ackroyd's voice plaintively from the fireplace.
The lawyer answered the summons. Poirot took my arm and drew me right into the window.
'Regard the irises,' he remarked in a rather loud voice.
'Magnificent, are they not? A straight and pleasing effect.' At the same time I felt the pressure of his hand
on my arm, and he added in a low tone: 'Do you really wish to aid me? To take part in this investigation?'
'Yes, indeed,' I said eagerly. 'There's nothing I should like better. You don't know what a dull old fogey's
life I lead. Never anything out of the ordinary.' 'Good, we will be colleagues then. In a minute or two I
fancy Major Blunt will join us. He is not happy with the good mamma. Now there are some things I want
to know but I do not wish to seem to want to know them. You comprehend? So it will be your part to
ask the questions.' 'What questions do you want me to ask?' I asked apprehensively.
'I want you to introduce the name of Mrs Ferrars.' 'Yes?' 'Speak of her in a natural fashion. Ask him if he
was down here when her husband died. You understand the kind of thing I mean. And while he replies,
watch his face without seeming to watch it. C'est comprisT There was no time for more, for at that
minute, as Poirot had prophesied. Blunt left the others in his abrupt fashion and came over to us.
I suggested strolling on the terrace, and he acquiesced.
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