Unformatted text preview: or somehow she must have left a message for me before she went. I can't argue about it, but there it is.' I shook my head.
'She left no letter or word of any kind?' I asked.
'Sheppard, I'm convinced that she did. And more, I've a feeling that by deliberately choosing death, she
wanted the whole thing to come out, if only to be revenged on the man who drove her to desperation. I
believe that if I could have seen her then, she would have told me his name and bid me go for him for all I
was worth.' He looked at me.
'You don't believe in impressions?' 'Oh, yes, I do, in a sense. If, as you put it, word should come from
her ' I broke off. The door opened noiselessly and Parker entered with a salver on which were some
'The evening post, sir,' he said, handing the salver to Ackroyd.
Then he collected the coffee cups and withdrew.
My attention, diverted for a moment, came back to Ackroyd. He was staring like a man turned to stone
at a long blue envelope. The other letters he had let drop to the ground.
'Her writing,' he said in a whisper. 'She must have gone out and posted it last night, just before - before '
He ripped open the envelope and drew out a thick enclosure.
Then he looked up sharply.
'You're sure you shut the window?' he said.
'Quite sure,' I said, surprised. 'Why?' 'All this evening I've had a queer feeling of being watched, spied
upon. What's that ' He turned sharply. So did I. We both had the impression of hearing the latch of the
door give ever so slightly. I went across to it and opened it. There was no one there.
'Nerves,' murmured Ackroyd to himself. He unfolded the thick sheets of paper, and read aloud in a low voice.
'My dear, my very dear Roger, - A life calls for a life. I see that -1 saw it in your face this afternoon. So I
am taking the only road open to me. I leave to you the punishment of the person who has made my life a
hell upon earth for the last year. I would not tell you the name, this afternoon, but I propose to write it to
you now. I have no children or near relations to be spared, so do not fear publicity. If you can, Roger,
my very dear Roger, forgive me the wrong I meant to do you, since when the time came, I could not do it
after all.. : Ackroyd, his finger on the sheet to turn it over, paused.
'Sheppard, forgive me, but I must read this alone,' he said unsteadily. 'It was meant for my eyes, and my
eyes only.' He put the letter in the envelope and laid it on the table.
'Later, when I am alone.' 'No,' I cried impulsively, 'read it now.' Ackroyd stared at me in some surprise.
'I beg your pardon,' I said, reddening. 'I do not mean read it aloud to me. But read it through whilst I am
still here.' Ackroyd shook his head.
'No, I'd rather wait.' But for some reason, obscure to myself, I continued to urge him.
'At least, read the name of the man,' I said.
Now Ackroyd is essentially pig-headed. The more you urge him to do a thing, the more determined he is
not to do it. All my arguments were in vain.
The letter had been brought in at twenty minutes to nine.
It was just o...
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