Unformatted text preview: himself: 'Since the blackmailer was a man, it follows that
she cannot be the blackmailer, then ' I coughed.
'As far as that goes -' I began doubtfully.
He spun round on me.
'What? What are you going to say?' 'Nothing, Nothing. Only that, strictly speaking, Mrs Ferrars in her letter mentioned a person - she didn't actually specify a man. But we took it for granted, Ackroyd and I,
that it was a man.' Poirot did not seem to be listening to me. He was muttering to himself again.
'But then it is possible after all - yes, certainly it is possible - but then - ah! I must rearrange my ideas.
Method, order, never have I needed them more. Everything must fit in - in its appointed place otherwise I am on the wrong track.' He broke off, and whirled round upon me again.
'Where is Marby?' 'It's on the other side of Cranchester.' 'How far away?' 'Oh! - fourteen miles,
perhaps.' 'Would it be possible for you to go there? Tomorrow, say?' Tomorrrow? Let me see, that's
Sunday. Yes, I could arrange it. What do you want me to do there?' 'See this Mrs Folliott. Find out all
you can about Ursula Bourne.' 'Very well. But - I don't much care for the job.' 'It is not the time to make
difficulties. A man's life may hang on this.' 'Poor Ralph,' I said with a sigh. 'You believe him to be
innocent, though?' Poirot looked at me very gravely.
'Do you want to know the truth?' 'Of course.' 'Then you shall have it. My friend, everything points to the
assumption that he is guilty.' 'What!' I exclaimed.
'Yes, that stupid inspector - for he is stupid - has everything pointing his way. I seek for the truth - and
the truth leads me every time to Ralph Paton. Motive, opportunity, means. But I will leave no stone
unturned. I promised Mademoiselle Flora. And she was very sure, that little one.
But very sure indeed.'
CHAPTER 11 Poirot Pays A Call
I was slightly nervous when I rang the bell at Marby Grange the following afternoon. I wondered very
much what Poirot expected to find out. He had entrusted the job to me. Why? Was it because, as in the
case of questioning Major Blunt, he wished to remain in the background? The wish, intelligible in the first
case, seemed to me quite meaningless here.
My meditations were interrupted by the advent of a smart parlourmaid.
Yes, Mrs Folliott was at home. I was ushered into a big drawing-room, and looked round me curiously
as I waited for the mistress of the house. A large bare room, some good bits of old china, and some
beautiful etchings, shabby covers and curtains. A lady's room in every sense of the term.
I turned from the inspection of a Bartolozzi on the wall as Mrs Folliott came into the room. She was a tall
woman, with untidy brown hair, and a very winning smile.
'Dr Sheppard,' she said hesitatingly.
'That is my name,' I replied. 'I must apologize for calling upon you like this, but I wanted some
information about a parlourmaid previously employed by you, Ursula Bourne.' With the utterance of the
name the smile vanished from her face...
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