Unformatted text preview: ater by Miss Flora, we cannot
approach a solution of the mystery until we know wno that visitor was. The window may have been left
open after his departure and so afforded entrance to the murderer, or the same person may have
returned a second time. Ah! here is the colonel who returns.' Colonel Melrose entered with an animated
'That telephone call has been traced at last,' he said. 'It did not come from here. It was put through to Dr
Sheppard at 10.15 last night from a public call office at King's Abbot station. And at 10.23 the night mail
leaves for Liverpool.'
CHAPTER 8 Inspector Raglan is Confident
We looked at each other.
'You'll have inquiries made at the station, of course?' I said.
'Naturally, but I'm not over sanguine as to the result.
You know what that station is like.' I did. King's Abbot is a mere village, but its station happens to be an
important junction. Most of the big expresses stop there, and trains are shunted, re-sorted, and made up.
It has two or three public telephone boxes. At that time of night, three local trains come in close upon each other, to catch the connection with the express for the north which comes in at 10.19 and leaves at
10.23. The whole place is in a bustle, and the chances of one particular person being noticed telephoning
or getting into the express are very small indeed.
'But why telephone at all?' demanded Melrose. 'That is what I find so extraordinary. There seems no
rhyme or reason in the thing.' Poirot carefully straightened a china ornament on one of the bookcases.
'Be sure there was a reason,' he said over his shoulder.
'But what reason could it be?' 'When we know that, we shall know everything. This case is very curious
and very interesting.' There was something almost indescribable in the way he said those last words. I felt
that he was looking at the case from some peculiar angle of his own, and what he saw I could not tell.
He went to the window and stood there looking out.
'You say it was nine o'clock, Dr Sheppard, when you met this stranger outside the gate?' He asked the
question without turning round.
'Yes,' I replied. 'I heard the church clock chime the hour.' 'How long would it take him to reach the house
- to reach this window, for instance?' 'Five minutes at the outside. Two or three minutes only if he took
the path at the right of the drive and came straight here.' 'But to do that he would have to know the way.
How can I explain myself? - it would mean that he had been here before - that he knew his surroundings.'
'That is true,' replied Colonel Melrose.
'We could find out, doubtless, if Mr Ackroyd had received any strangers during the past week?' 'Young
Raymond could tell us that,' I said.
'Or Parker,' suggested Colonel Melrose.
'from tons les deux,' suggested Poirot, smiling.
Colonel Melrose went in search of Raymond, and I rang the bell once more for Parker.
Colonel Melrose returned almost immediately, accompanied by the young secretary, whom he
introduced to Poirot. Geoffrey Raymo...
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