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Unformatted text preview: the chief constable, 'or would you prefer to
examine the study?' Poirot chose the latter alternative. Parker opened the door to us. His manner was
smug and deferential, and he seemed to have recovered from his panic of the night before.
Colonel Melrose took a key from his pocket, and unlocking the door which let into the lobby, he ushered
us through into the study.
'Except for the removal of the body, M. Poirot, this room is exactly as it was last night.' 'And the body
was found - where?' As precisely as possible, I described Ackroyd's position.
The arm-chair still stood in front of the fire.
Poirot went and sat down in it.
'The blue letter you speak of, where was it when you left the room?' 'Mr Ackroyd had laid it down on
this little table at his right hand.' Poirot nodded.
'Except for that, everything was in its place?' 'Yes, I think so.' 'Colonel Melrose, would you be so
extremely obliging as to sit down in this chair a minute. I thank you. Now M. Ie docteur, will you kindly
indicate to me the exact position of the dagger?' I did so, whilst the little man stood in the doorway.
'The hilt of the dagger was plainly visible from the door then. Both you and Parker could see it at once?'
'Yes.' Poirot went next to the window.
'The electric light was on, of course, when you discovered the body?' he asked over his shoulder.
I assented, and joined him where he was studying the marks on the windowsill.
'The rubber studs are the same pattern as those in Captain Paton's shoes,' he said quietly.
Then he came back once more to the middle of the room. His eye travelled round, searching everything
in the room with a quick, trained glance. 'Are you a man of good observation. Doctor Sheppard?' he asked at last.
T think so,' I said, surprised.
'There was a fire in the grate, I see. When you broke the door down and found Mr Ackroyd dead, how
was the fire? Was it low?' I gave a vexed laugh.
T -1 really can't say. I didn't notice. Perhaps Mr Raymond or Major Blunt ' The little man opposite me
shook his head with a faint smile.
'One must always proceed with method. I made an error of judgment in asking you that question. To
each man his own knowledge. You could tell me the details of the patient's appearance - nothing there
would escape you. If I wanted information about the papers on that desk, Mr Raymond would have
noticed anything there was to see. To find out about the fire, I must ask the man whose business it is to
observe such things. You permit ' He moved swiftly to the fireplace and rang the bell.
After a lapse of a minute or two Parker appeared.
'The bell rang, sir,' he said hesitatingly.
'Come in, Parker,' said Colonel Melrose. 'This gentleman wants to ask you something.' Parker
transferred a respectful attention to Poirot.
'Parker,' said the little man, 'when you broke down the door with Dr Sheppard last night, and found your
master dead, what was the state of the fire?' Parker replied without a pause.
'It had burned very low, sir.' It was almost out.' 'Ah!'...
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