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blackmail?' 'I wasn't-I-' 'Who was your last master?' rapped out Poirot suddenly.
'My last master?' 'Yes, the master you were with before you came to Mr Ackroyd.' 'A Major Ellerby, sir
-' Poirot took the words out of his mouth.
'Just so. Major Ellerby. Major Ellerby was addicted to drugs, was he not? You travelled about with him.
When he was in Bermuda there was some trouble - a man was killed. Major Ellerby was partly responsible. It was hushed up. But you knew about it. How much did Major
Ellerby pay you to keep your mouth shut?' Parker was staring at him open-mouthed. The man had gone
to pieces, his cheeks shook flabbily.
'You see, me, I have made inquiries,' said Poirot pleasantly. 'It is as I say. You got a good sum then as
blackmail, and Major Ellerby went on paying you until he died. Now I want to hear about your latest
experiment.' Parker still stared.
'It is useless to deny. Hercule Poirot knows. It is so, what I have said about Major Ellerby, is it not?' As
though against his will, Parker nodded reluctantly once. His face was ashen pale.
'But I never hurt a hair of Mr Ackroyd's head,' he moaned.
'Honest to God, sir, I didn't. I've been afraid of this coming all the time. And I tell you I didn't - I didn't
kill him.' His voice rose almost to a scream.
'I am inclined to believe you, my friend,' said Poirot. 'You have not the nerve - the courage. But I must
have the truth.' 'I'll tell you anything, sir, anything you want to know.
Il's true that I tried to listen that night. A word or two I heard made me curious. And Mr Ackroyd's
wanting not to be disturbed, and shutting himself up with the doctor the way he did. It's God's own truth
what I told the police. I heard the word blackmail, sir, and well ' He paused.
'You thought there might be something in it for you?' suggested Poirot smoothly.
'Well - well, yes, I did, sir. I thought that if Mr Ackroyd was being blackmailed, why shouldn't I have a
share of the Pickings?' A very curious expression passed over Poirot's face. He leaned forward.
'Had you any reason to suppose before that night that Mr Ackroyd was being blackmailed?' 'No, indeed,
sir. It was a great surprise to me. Such a regular gentleman in all his habits.' 'How much did you
overhear?' 'Not very much, sir. There seemed what I might call a spite against me. Of course I had to
attend to my duties in the pantry.
And when I did creep along once or twice to the study it was no use. The first time Dr Sheppard came
out and almost caught me in the act, and another time Mr Raymond passed me in the big hall and went
that way, so I knew it was no use; and when I went with the tray. Miss Flora headed me off.' Poirot
stared for a long time at the man, as if to test his sincerity. Parker returned his gaze earnestly.
'I hope you believe me, sir. I've been afraid all along the police would rake up that old business with
Major Ellerby and be suspicious of me in consequence.' 'Eh bien,' said Poirot at last. 'I am disposed to
But there is one thing I must request of you - to sho...
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