Unformatted text preview: ss arrangement. Roger Ackroyd dictated his wishes - they agreed to
them. Flora accepted a chance of liberty, money, and an enlarged horizon, Ralph, of course, was playing
a different game. But he was in a very awkward hole financially. He seized at the chance. His debts
would be Paid. He could start again with a clean sheet. His was not a nature to envisage the future, but I
gather that he saw vaguely the engagement with Flora being broken off after a decent interval had
elapsed. Both Flora and he stipulated that it should be kept a secret for the present. He was anxious to
conceal it from Ursula. He felt instinctively that her nature, strong and resolute, with an inherent distaste
for duplicity, was not one to welcome such a course.
Then came the crucial moment when Roger Ackroyd, always high-handed, decided to announce the engagement.
He said no word of his intention to Ralph - only to Flora, and Flora, apathetic, raised no objection. On
Ursula, the news fell like a bombshell. Summoned by her, Ralph came hurriedly down from town. They
met in the wood, where part of their conversation was overheard by my sister. Ralph implored her to
keep silent for a little while longer, Ursula was equally determined to have done with concealments.
She would tell Mr Ackroyd the truth without any further delay. Husband and wife parted acrimoniously.
Ursula, steadfast in her purpose, sought an interview with Roger Ackroyd that very afternoon, and
revealed the truth to him. Their interview was a stormy one - it might have been even more stormy had
not Roger Ackroyd been already obsessed with his own troubles. It was bad enough, however. Ackroyd
was not the kind of man to forgive the deceit that had been practised upon him. His rancour was mainly
directed to Ralph, but Ursula came in for her share, since he regarded her as a girl who had deliberately
tried to 'entrap' the adopted son of a very wealthy man. Unforgivable things were said on both sides.
That same evening Ursula met Ralph by appointment in the small summer-house, stealing out from the
house by the side door in order to do so. Their interview was made up of reproaches on both sides.
Ralph charged Ursula with having irretrievably ruined his prospects by her ill-timed revelation.
Ursula reproached Ralph with his duplicity.
They parted at last. A little over half an hour later came the discovery of Roger Ackroyd's body. Since
that night Ursula had neither seen nor heard from Ralph.
As the story unfolded itself, I realized more and more what a damning series of facts it was. Alive,
Ackroyd could hardly have failed to alter his will -1 knew him well enough to realize that to do so would
be his first thought. His death came in the nick of time for Ralph and Ursula Paton. Small wonder the girl
had held her tongue, and played her part so consistently.
My meditations were interrupted. It was Poirot's voice speaking, and I knew from the gravity of his tone
that he, too, was fully alive to the implications of the position.
'Mademoiselle, I mu...
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