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Unformatted text preview: y. But their task ended there. To Poirot alone belongs the
renown of fitting those pieces into their correct place.
Some of the incidents seemed at the time irrelevant and unmeaning. There was, for instance, the question
of the black boots. But that comes later... To take things strictly in chronological order, I must begin with
the summons from Mrs Ackroyd. She sent for me early on Tuesday morning, and since the summons sounded an urgent one, I hastened
there, expecting to find her in extremis.
The lady was in bed. So much did she concede to the etiquette of the situation. She gave me her bony
hand, and indicated a chair drawn up to the bedside.
'Well, Mrs Ackroyd,' I said, 'and what's the matter with you?' I spoke with that kind of spurious geniality
which seems to be expected of general practitioners.
'I'm prostrated,' said Mrs Ackroyd in a faint voice. 'Absolutely prostrated. It's the shock of poor Roger's
They say these things often aren't felt at the time, you know.
It's the reaction afterwards.' It is a pity that a doctor is precluded by his profession from being able
sometimes to say what he really thinks.
I would have given anything to be able to answer 'Bunkum!' Instead, I suggested a tonic. Mrs Ackroyd
accepted the tonic. One move in the game seemed now to be concluded.
Not for a moment did I imagine that I had been sent for because of the shock occasioned by Ackroyd's
death. But Mrs Ackroyd is totally incapable of pursuing a straightforward course on any subject. She
always approaches her object by tortuous means. I wondered very much why it was she had sent for me.
'And then that scene - yesterday,' continued my patient.
She paused as though expecting me to take up a cue.
'What scene?' 'Doctor, how can you? Have you forgotten? That dreadful little Frenchman - or Belgian or whatever he is.
Bullying us all like he did. It has quite upset me. Coming on the top of Roger's death.' 'I'm very sorry,
Mrs Ackroyd,' I said.
'I don't know what he meant - shouting at us like he ^d. I should hope I know my duty too well to dream
of concealing anything. I have given the police every assistance in my power.' Mrs Ackroyd paused, and
I said, 'Quite so.' I was beginning to have a glimmering of what all the trouble was about.
'No one can say that I have failed in my duty,' continued Mrs Ackroyd. 'I am sure Inspector Raglan is
perfectly satisfied. Why should this little upstart of a foreigner make a fuss? A most ridiculous-looking
creature he is too - just like a comic Frenchman in a revue. I can't think why Flora insisted on bringing
him into the case. She never said a word to me about it. Just went off and did it on her own.
Flora is too independent. I am a woman of the world and her mother. She should have come to me for
advice first.' I listened to all this in silence.
'What does he think? That's what I want to know. Does he actually imagine I'm hiding something? He he - positively accused me yesterday.' I shrugged my shoulders.
'It is surely of no consequence...
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