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Unformatted text preview: fact there were two letters - both Scotch
gentlemen. Mr Bruce MacPherson was one, and the other was Colin MacDonald. Quite a coincidence.'
'Hardly that,' I said drily. 'They are usually Scotch gentlemen, but I suspect a Semitic strain in their
ancestry.' 'Ten pounds to ten thousand on note of hand alone,' murmured Mrs Ackroyd reminiscently. 'I
wrote to one of them, but it seemed there were difficulties.' She paused.
I gathered that we were just coming to delicate ground. I have never known anyone more difficult to bring to the point.
'You see,' murmured Mrs Ackroyd, 'it's all a question of expectations,' isn't it? Testamentary
expectations. And though, of course, I expected that Roger would provide for me, I didn't know. I
thought that if only I could glance over a copy of his will - not in any sense of vulgar prying - but just so
that I could make my own arrangements.' She glanced sideways at me. The position was now very
delicate indeed. Fortunately words, ingeniously used, will serve to mask the ugliness of naked facts.
'I could only tell this to you, dear Doctor Sheppard,' said Mrs Ackroyd rapidly. 'I can trust you not to
misjudge me, and to represent the matter in the right light to M. Poirot. It was on Friday afternoon ' She
came to a stop and swallowed uncertainly.
'Yes,' I repeated encouragingly. 'On Friday afternoon.
Well?' 'Everyone was out, or so I thought. And I went into Roger's study - I had some real reason for
going there - I mean, there was nothing underhand about it. And as I saw all the papers heaped on the
desk, it just came to me, like a flash: "I wonder if Roger keeps his will in one of the drawers of the desk."
I'm so impulsive, always was, from a child. I do things on the spur of the moment. He'd left his keys very careless of him - in the lock of the top drawer.' 'I see,' I said helpfully. 'So you searched the desk.
Did you find the will?' Mrs Ackroyd gave a little scream, and I realized that I had not been sufficiently
'How dreadful it sounds. But it wasn't at all like that really.' 'Of course it wasn't,' I said hastily. 'You must
forgive my unfortunate way of putting things.' 'Of course, men are so peculiar. In dear Roger's place, I
should have not objected to revealing the provisions of my will. But men are so secretive. One is forced
to adopt little subterfuges in self-defence.' 'And the result of the little subterfuge?' I asked.
'That's just what I'm telling you. As I got to the bottom drawer. Bourne came in. Most awkward. Of
course I shut the drawer and stood up, and I called her attention to a few specks of dust on the surface.
But I didn't like the way she looked - quite respectful in manner, but a very nasty light in her eyes. Almost
contemptuous, if you know what I mean. I never have liked that girl very much. She's a good servant,
and she says Ma'am, and doesn't object to wearing caps and aprons (which I declare to you a lot of
them do nowadays), and she can say "Not at home" without scruples if she has to answer the door
instead of Parker, and she does...
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