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Unformatted text preview: entence
'Well?' I said, with some curiosity.
'Nothing. But I can think of someone not a hundred miles away.' Then she turned to Poirot suddenly.
'James sticks to it that you believe someone in the house committed the murder. All I can say is, you're
wrong.' 'I should not like to be wrong,' said Poirot. 'It is not how do you say - my metier?' 'I've got the
facts pretty clearly,' continued Caroline, taking no notice ofPoirot's remark, 'from James and others.
As far as I can see, of the people in the house, only two could have had the chance of doing it. Ralph
Paton and Flora Ackroyd.' 'My dear Caroline-' 'Now, James, don't interrupt me. I know what I'm
talking about. Parker met her outside the door, didn't he?
He didn't hear her uncle saying goodnight to her. She could have killed him then and there.' 'Caroline!'
'I'm not saying she did, James. I'm saying she could have done. As a matter of fact, though. Flora is like
all these young girls nowadays, with no veneration for their betters and thinking they know best on every subject under the sun, I don't for a minute believe she'd kill even a chicken.
But there it is. Mr Raymond and Major Blunt have alibis.
Mrs Ackroyd's got an alibi. Even that Russell woman seems to have one - and a good job for her it is
she has. Who is left? Only Ralph and Flora! And say what you will, I don't believe Ralph Paton is a
murderer. A boy we've known all our lives.' Poirot was silent for a minute, watching the curling smoke
rise from his cigarette. When at last he spoke, it was in a gentle far-away voice that produced a curious
It was totally unlike his usual manner.
'Let us take a man - a very ordinary man. A man with no idea of murder in his heart. There is in him
somewhere a strain of weakness - deep down. It has so far never been called into play. Perhaps it never
will be - and if so he will go to his grave honoured and respected by everyone. But let us suppose that
something occurs. He is in difficulties - or perhaps not that even. He may stumble by accident on a secret
- a secret involving life or death to someone. And his first impulse will be to speak out - to do his duty as
an honest citizen. And then the strain of weakness tells. Here is a chance of money - a great amount of
money. He wants money - he desires it - and it is so easy. He has to do nothing for it - just keep silence.
That is the beginning. The desire for money grows. He must have more - and more! He is intoxicated by
the gold mine which has opened at his feet.
He becomes greedy. And in his greed he overreaches himself. One can press a man as far as one likes but with a woman one must not press too far. For a woman has at heart a great desire to speak the truth.
How many husbands who have deceived their wives go comfortably to their graves, carrying their secret
with them! How many wives who have deceived their husbands wreck their lives by throwing the fact in
those same husbands' teeth! They have been pressed too far. In a reckless...
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