Unformatted text preview: n ten minutes to nine when I left him, the letter still unread. I hesitated with my hand on the
door handle, looking back and wondering if there was anything I had left undone. I could think of
nothing. With a shake of the head I passed out and closed the door behind me.
I was startled by seeing the figure ofParker close at hand.
He looked embarrassed, and it occurred to me that he might have been listening at the door.
What a fat, smug, oily face the man had, and surely there was something decidedly shifty in his eye.
'Mr Ackroyd particularly does not want to be disturbed,' I said coldly. 'He told me to tell you so.' 'Quite
so, sir. I - I fancied I heard the bell ring.' This was such a palpable untruth that I did not trouble to reply.
Preceding me to the hall, Parker helped me on with my overcoat, and I stepped out into the night. The
moon was overcast, and everything seemed very dark and still.
The village church clock chimed nine o'clock as I passed through the lodge gates. I turned to the left
towards the village, and almost cannoned into a man coming in the opposite direction.
'This the way to Fernly Park, mister?' asked the stranger in a hoarse voice.
I looked at him. He was wearing a hat pulled down over his eyes, and his coat collar turned up. I could
see little or nothing of his face, but he seemed a young fellow. The voice was rough and uneducated.
'These are the lodge gates here,' I said. 'Thank you, mister.' He paused, and then added, quite unnecessarily, 'I'm a stranger in these parts, you
see.' He went on, passing through the gates as I turned to look after him.
The odd thing was that his voice reminded me of someone's voice that I knew, but whose it was I could
Ten minutes later I was at home once more. Caroline was full of curiosity to know why I had returned so
early. I had to make up a slightly fictitious account of the evening in order to satisfy her, and I had an
uneasy feeling that she saw through the transparent device.
At ten o'clock I rose, yawned, and suggested bed, Caroline acquiesced.
It was Friday night, and on Friday night I wind the clocks. I did it as usual, whilst Caroline satisfied
herself that the servants had locked up the kitchen properly.
It was a quarter past ten as we went up the stairs. I had just reached the top when the telephone rang in
the hall below.
'Mrs Bates,' said Caroline immediately.
'I'm afraid so,' I said ruefully.
I ran down the stairs and took up the receiver.
'What?' I said. 'W7w(? Certainly, I'll come at once.' I ran upstairs, caught up my bag, and stuffed a few
extra dressings into it.
Tarker telephoning,' I shouted to Caroline, 'from Fernly. They've just found Roger Ackroyd murdered.' I
got out the car in next to no time, and drove rapidly to Fernly. Jumping out, I pulled the bell impatiently.
There was some delay in answering, and I rang again.
Then I heard the rattle of the chain and Parker, his impassivity of countenance quite unmoved, stood in
the open doorway.
I pushed past him into the hal...
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