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Unformatted text preview: ora in a
'Don't let's talk of horrid things. I'm so happy. I'm free.
Free to do what I like. Free not to ' She stopped suddenly.
'Not to what?' asked Blunt quickly.
'I forget now. Nothing important.' Blunt had a stick in his hand, and he thrust it into the pond, poking at
'What are you doing. Major Blunt?' 'There's something bright down there. Wondered what it was - looks
like a gold brooch. Now I've stirred up the mud and it's gone.' 'Perhaps it's a crown,' suggested Flora.
'Like the one Melisande saw in the water.' 'Melisande,' said Blunt reflectively - 'she's in an opera, isn't
she?' 'Yes, you seem to know a lot about operas.' 'People take me sometimes,' said Blunt sadly. 'Funny
idea of pleasure - worse racket than the natives make with their tom-toms.' Flora laughed.
'I remember Melisande,' continued Blunt, 'married an old chap old enough to be her father.' He threw a
small piece of flint into the goldfish pond.
Then, with a change of manner, he turned to Flora.
'Miss Ackroyd, can I do anything? About Paton, I mean.
I know how dreadfully anxious you must be.' 'Thank you,' said Flora in a cold voice. 'There is really
nothing to be done. Ralph will be all right. I've got hold of the most wonderful detective in the world, and
he's going to find out all about it.' For some time I had felt uneasy as to our position. We were not exactly
eavesdropping, since the two in the garden below had only to lift their heads to see us. Nevertheless, I
should have drawn attention to our presence before now, had not my companion put a warning pressure
on my arm.
Clearly he wished me to remain silent. Now, however, he acted briskly.
He rose quickly to his feet, clearing his throat.
'I demand pardon,' he cried. 'I cannot allow mademoiselle thus extravagantly to compliment me, and not
draw attention to my presence. They say the listener hears no good of himself, but that is not the case this
To spare my blushes, I must join you and apologize.' He hurried down the path with me close behind
him, and joined the others by the pond.
'This is M. Hercule Poirot,' said Flora. 'I expect you've heard of him.' Poirot bowed.
'I know Major Blunt by reputation,' he said politely. 'I am glad to have encountered you, monsieur. I am
in need of some information that you can give me.' Blunt looked at him inquiringly. 'When did you last see M. Ackroyd alive?' 'At dinner.' 'And you neither saw nor heard anything of him
after that?' 'Didn't see him. Heard his voice.' 'How was that?' 'I strolled out on the terrace ' 'Pardon me,
what time was that?' 'About half-past nine. I was walking up and down smoking in front of the
drawing-room window. I heard Ackroyd talking in his study -' Poirot stopped and removed a
'Surely you couldn't hear voices in the study from that part of the terrace,' he murmured.
He was not looking at Blunt, but I was, and to my intense surprise, I saw the latter flush.
'Went as far as the corner,' he explained unwillingly.
'Ah! indeed?' said Poirot.
In the mildest manner...
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