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Unformatted text preview: ign of life from within the locked room. Parker and I
glanced at each other.
'Look here, Parker,' I said, 'I'm going to break this door in - or rather, we are. I'll take the responsibility.'
'If you say so, sir,' said Parker, rather doubtfully.
'I do say so. I'm seriously alarmed about Mr Ackroyd.' 'I looked round the small lobby and picked up a
heavy oak chair. Parker and I held it between us and advanced to the assault. Once, twice, and three
times we hurled it against the lock. At the third blow it gave, and we staggered into the room.
Ackroyd was sitting as I had left him in the armchair before the fire. His head had fallen sideways, and
clearly visible, just below the collar of his coat, was a shining piece of twisted metalwork. Parker and I advanced till we stood over the recumbent figure. I heard the butler draw in his breath with
a sharp hiss.
'Stabbed from be'ind,' he murmured. ' 'Orrible!' He wiped his moist brow with his handkerchief, then
stretched out a gingerly hand towards the hilt of the dagger.
'You mustn't touch that,' I said sharply. 'Go at once to the telephone and ring up the police station. Inform
them of what has happened. Then tell Mr Raymond and Major Blunt.' 'Very good, sir.' Parker hurried
away, still wiping his perspiring brow.
I did what little had to be done. I was careful not to disturb the position of the body, and not to handle
the dagger at all. No object was to be attained by moving it.
Ackroyd had clearly been dead some little time.
Then I heard young Raymond's voice, horrorstricken and incredulous, outside.
'What do you say? Oh! impossible! Where's the doctor?' He appeared impetuously in the doorway, then
stopped dead, his face very white. A hand put him aside, and Hector Blunt came past him into the room.
'My God!' said Raymond from behind him; 'it's true, then.' Blunt came straight on till he reached the chair.
He bent over the body, and I thought that, like Parker, he was going to lay hold of the dagger hilt. I drew
him back with one hand.
'Nothing must be moved,' I explained. 'The police must see him exactly as he is now.' Blunt nodded in
instant comprehension. His face was expressionless as ever, but I thought I detected signs of emotion
beneath the stolid mask. Geoffrey Raymond had joined us now, and stood peering over Blunt's shoulder
at the body.
'This is terrible,' he said in a low voice.
He had regained his composure, but as he took off the pince-nez he habitually wore and polished them I
observed that his hand was shaking.
'Robbery, I suppose,' he said. 'How did the fellow get in?
Through the window? Has anything been taken?' He went towards the desk.
'You think it's burglary?' I said slowly.
'What else could it be? There's no question of suicide, I suppose?' 'No man could stab himself in such a
way,' I said confidently.
'It's murder right enough. But with what motive?' 'Roger hadn't an enemy in the world,' said Blunt quietly.
'Must have been burglars. But what was the thief after?
Nothing seems to be disarranged?'...
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