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Unformatted text preview: nd was fresh and debonair as ever. He seemed surprised and
delighted to make Poirot's acquaintance.
'No idea you'd been living among us incognito, M.
Poirot,' he said. 'It will be a great privilege to watch you at work - Hallo, what's this?' Poirot had been
standing just to the left of the door. Now he moved aside suddenly, and I saw that while my back was
turned he must have swiftly drawn out the arm-chair till it stood in the position Parker had indicated.
'Want me to sit in the chair whilst you take a blood test?' asked Raymond good-humouredly. 'What's the
idea?' 'M. Raymond, this chair was pulled out - so - last night when Mr Ackroyd was found killed.
Someone moved it back again into place. Did you do so?' The secretary's reply came without a second's
'No, indeed I didn't. I don't even remember that it was in that position, but it must have been if you say
so. Anyway, somebody else must have moved it back to its proper place. Have they destroyed a clue in doing so? Too bad!' 'It is of no consequence,' said the detective. 'Of no
consequence whatever. What I really want to ask you is this, M.
Raymond: Did any stranger come to see Mr Ackroyd during this past week?' The secretary reflected for
a minute or two, knitting his brows, and during the pause Parker appeared in answer to the bell.
'No,' said Raymond at last. 'I can't remember anyone.
Can you, Parker?' 'I beg your pardon, sir?' 'Any stranger coming to see Mr Ackroyd this week?' The
butler reflected for a minute or two.
'There was the young man who came on Wednesday, sir,' he said at last. 'From Curtis and Troute, I
understood he was.' Raymond moved this aside with an impatient hand.
'Oh! yes, I remember, but that is not the kind of stranger this gentleman means.' He turned to Poirot. 'Mr
Ackroyd had some idea of purchasing a dictaphone,' he explained. 'It would have enabled us to get
through a lot more work in a limited time. The firm in question sent down their representative, but nothing
came of it. Mr Ackroyd did not make up his mind to purchase.' Poirot turned to the butler.
'Can you describe this young man to me, my good Parker?' 'He was fair-haired, sir, and short. Very
neatly dressed in a blue serge suit. A very presentable young man, sir, for his station in life.' Poirot turned
'The man you met outside the gate, doctor, was tall, was he not?' 'Yes,' I said. 'Somewhere about six
feet, I should say.' 'There is nothing in that, then,' declared the Belgian. 'I thank you, Parker.' The butler
spoke to Raymond.
'Mr Hammond has just arrived, sir,' he said. 'He is anxious to know if he can be of any service, and he
would be glad to have a word with you.' 'I'll come at once,' said the young man. He hurried out.
Poirot looked inquiringly at the chief constable.
'The family solicitor, M. Poirot,' said the latter.
'It is a busy time for this young M. Raymond,' murmured M.
Poirot. 'He has the air efficient, that one.' 'I believe Mr Ackroyd considered him a most able secretary.'...
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