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Unformatted text preview: nsult me about h:r bad knee?' 'Bad knee,' said Caroline. "Fiddlesticks!
No more bad ^ee than you and I. She was after something else.' 'What?' I asked.
Caroline had to admit that she didn't know.
'But depend upon it, that was what he was trying to get at - M. Poirot, I mean. There's something fishy
about that woman, and he knows it.' 'Precisely the remark Mrs Ackroyd made to me yesterday,' I said.
'That there was something fishy about Miss Russell.' 'Ah!' said Caroline darkly, 'Mrs Ackroyd! There's
another!' 'Another what?' Caroline refused to explain her remarks. She merely nodded her head several
times, rolling up her knitting, and went upstairs to don the high mauve silk blouse and the gold locket
which she calls dressing for dinner.
I stayed there staring into the fire and thinking over Caroline's words. Had Poirot really come to gain
information about Miss Russell, or was it only Caroline's tortuous mind that interpreted everything
according to her own ideas?
There had certainly been nothing in Miss Russell's manner that morning to arouse suspicion. At least I
remembered her persistent conversation on the subject of drug-taking - and from that she had led the
conversation to poisons and poisoning. But there was nothing in that.
Ackroyd had not been poisoned. Still, it was odd...
I heard Caroline's voice, rather acid in tone, calling from the top of the stairs.
'James, you will be late for dinner.' I put some coal on the fire and went upstairs obediently.
It is well at any price to have peace in the home.
CHAPTER 12 Round the Table
A joint inquest was held on Monday.
I do not propose to give the proceedings in detail. To do so would only be to go over the same ground
again and again. By arrangement with the police, very little was allowed to come out. I gave evidence as
to the cause of Ackroyd's death and the probable time. The absence of Ralph Paton was commented on
by the coroner, but not unduly stressed.
Afterwards, Poirot and I had a few words with Inspector Raglan. The inspector was very grave.
'It looks bad, M. Poirot,' he said. 'I'm trying to judge the thing fair and square. I'm a local man, and I've
seen Captain Paton many times in Cranchester. I'm not wanting him to be the guilty one - but it's bad
whichever way you look at it.
If he's innocent, why doesn't he come forward? We've got evidence against him, but it's just possible that
the evidence could be explained away. Then why doesn't he give an explanation?' A lot more lay behind
the inspector's words than I knew at the time. Ralph's description had been wired to every port and
railway station in England. The police everywhere were on the alert. His rooms in town were watched,
and any houses he had been known to be in the habit of frequenting. With such a cordon it seemed impossible that Ralph should be able to evade detection. He had no
luggage, and, as far as anyone knew, no money.
'I can't find anyone who saw him at the station that right,' continued the inspector. 'And yet he's we...
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