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Unformatted text preview: traight to Inspector Raglan with the truth instead of giving the
guilty person this elaborate warning?' Poirot sat down and drew out his case of tiny Russian cigarettes.
He smoked for a minute or two in silence. Then: 'Use your little grey cells,' he said. 'There is always a
reason behind my actions.' I hesitated for a moment, and then I said slowly: 'The first one that occurs to
me is that you yourself do not know who the guilty person is, but that you are sure that he is to be found
amongst the people here tonight. Therefore your words were intended to force a confession from the
unknown murderer?' Poirot nodded approvingly.
'A clever idea, but not the truth.' 'I thought, perhaps, that by making him believe you knew, you might
force him out into the open - not necessarily by confession. He might try to silence you as he formerly
silenced Mr Ackroyd - before you could act tomorrow morning.' 'A trap with myself as the bait! Merci,
man ami, but I am not sufficiently heroic for that.' 'Then I fail to understand you. Surely you are running
the risk of letting the murderer escape by thus putting him on his guard?' Poirot shook his head.
'He cannot escape,' he said gravely. 'There is only one way out - and that way does not lead to freedom.'
'You really believe that one of those people here tonight committed the murder?' I asked incredulously.
'Yes, my friend.' 'Which one?' There was a silence for some minutes. Then Poirot tossed the stump of his cigarette into the grate and began to speak in a quiet, reflective tone.
'I will take you the way that I have travelled myself. Step by step you shall accompany me, and see for
yourself that all the facts point indisputably to one person. Now, to begin with, there were two facts and
a little discrepancy in time which especially attracted my attention. The first fact was the telephone call. If
Ralph Paton were indeed the murderer, the telephone call became meaningless and absurd. Therefore, I
said to myself, Ralph Paton is not the murderer.
'I satisfied myself that the call could not have been sent by anyone in the house, yet I was convinced that
it was amongst those present on the fatal evening that I had to look for my criminal. Therefore I
concluded that the telephone call must have been sent by an accomplice. I was not quite pleased with
that deduction, but I let it stand for the minute.
'I next examined the motive for the call. That was difficult. I could only get at it by judging its result.
Which was - that the murder was discovered that night instead ofin all probability - the following morning.
You agree with that?' 'Ye-es,' I admitted. 'Yes. As you say, Mr Ackroyd, having given orders that he
was not to be disturbed, nobody would have been likely to go to the study that night.' 'Tres bien. The
affair marches, does it not? But matters were still obscure. What was the advantage of having the crime
discovered that night in preference to the following morning? The only idea I could get hold of was that
the murderer, knowing the crime was to be di...
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