Unformatted text preview: s. Miss Russell attends to the household
matters.' The inspector remained lost in thought for a minute or two. Then he nodded his head and
remarked, 'I think I'd better have a word with Miss Russell, and I'll see the girl Dale as well.' Poirot and I
accompanied him to the housekeeper's room.
Miss Russell received us with her usual sangfroid.
Elsie Dale had been at Fernly five months. A nice girl, quick at her duties, and most respectable. Good
The last girl in the world to take anything not belonging to her.
What about the parlourmaid?
'She, too, was a most superior girl. Very quiet and ladylike. An excellent worker.' 'Then why is she
leaving?' asked the inspector.
Miss Russell pursed up her lips.
'It was none of my doing. I understand Mr Ackroyd found fault with her yesterday afternoon. It was her
duty to do the study, and she disarranged some of the papers on his desk, I believe. He was very annoyed about it, and she gave notice. At least, that is what I understood from her, but perhaps you'd
like to see her yourselves?' The inspector assented. I had already noticed the girl when she was waiting
on us at lunch. A tall girl, with a lot of brown hair rolled tightly away at the back of her neck, and very
steady grey eyes. She came in answer to the housekeeper's summons, and stood very straight with those
same grey eyes fixed on us.
'You are Ursula Bourne?' asked the inspector.
'Yes, sir.' 'I understand you are leaving?' 'Yes, sir.' 'Why is that?' 'I disarranged some papers on Mr
Ackroyd's desk. He was very angry about it, and I said I had better leave. He told me to go as soon as
possible.' 'Were you in Mr Ackroyd's bedroom at all last night?
Tidying up or anything?' 'No, sir. That is Elsie's work. I never went near that part of the house.' 'I must
tell you, my girl, that a large sum of money is missing from Mr Ackroyd's room.' At last I saw her roused.
A wave of colour swept over her face.
'I know nothing about any money. If you think I took it, and that that is why Mr Ackroyd dismissed me,
you are wrong.' 'I'm not accusing you of taking it, my girl,' said the inspector. 'Don't flare up so.' The girl
looked at him coldly.
'You can search my things if you like,' she said disdainfully.
'But you won't find anything.' Poirot suddenly interposed.
'It was yesterday afternoon that Mr Ackroyd dismissed you - or you dismissed yourself, was it not?' he
The girl nodded.
'How long did the interview last?' 'The interview?' 'Yes, the interview between you and Mr Ackroyd in
the study?' 'I - I don't know.' 'Twenty minutes? Half an hour?' 'Something like that.' 'Not longer?' 'Not
longer than half an hour, certainly.' 'Thank you, mademoiselle.' I looked curiously at him. He was
rearranging a few objects on the table, setting them straight with precise fingers. His eyes were shining.
'That'll do,' said the inspector.
Ursula Bourne disappeared. The inspector turned to Miss Russell.
'How long has she been here? Have you got a copy of the reference you had with her?' Without
answering the first question, Miss Russell moved to an adjacent...
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