Unformatted text preview: oing on.' 'Dr Sheppard has been a model of discretion,' said Poirot drily. 'But me, I
discover all the little secrets. It is my business.' 'Now we can have your story of what happened that
night,' said Raymond impatiently.
'You know it already,' said Ralph. 'There's very little for me to all. I left the summer-house about nine
forty-five, and tramped about the lanes, trying to make up my mind as to what to do next - what line to
take. I'm bound to admit that I've not the shadow of an alibi, but I give you my solemn word that I never
went to the study, that I never saw my stepfather alive - or dead. Whatever the world thinks, I'd like all
of you to believe me.' 'No alibi,' murmured Raymond. 'That's bad. I believe you, of course, but - it's a
bad business.' 'It makes things very simple, though,' said Poirot, in a cheerful voice. 'Very simple indeed.'
We all stared at him.
'You see what I mean? No? Just this - to save Captain Paton the real criminal must confess.' He beamed
round at us all.
'But yes - I mean what I say. See now, I did not invite Inspector Raglan to be present. That was for a
reason. I did not want to tell him all that I knew - at least I did not want to tell him tonight.' He leaned
forward, and suddenly his voice and his whole personality changed. He suddenly became dangerous.
'I who speak to you - I know the murderer of Mr Ackroyd is in this room now. It is to the murderer I
Tomorrow the truth goes to Inspector Raglan. You understand?' There was a tense silence. Into the midst of it came the old Breton woman with a telegram on a salver.
Poirot tore it open.
Blunt's voice rose abrupt and resonant.
'The murderer is amongst us, you say? You know which?'
Poirot had read the message. He crumpled it up in his hand.
'I know - now.' He tapped the crumpled ball of paper.
'What is that?' said Raymond sharply.
'A wireless message - from a steamer now on her way to the United States.' There was a dead silence.
Poirot rose to his feet bowing.
'Messieurs et Mesdames, this reunion of mine is at an end. Remember - the truth goes to Inspector
Raglan in the morning.'
CHAPTER 25 The Whole Truth
A slight gesture from Poirot enjoined me to stay behind the rest. I obeyed, going over to the fire and
thoughtfully stirring the big logs on it with the toe of my boot.
I was puzzled. For the first time I was absolutely at sea as to Poirot's meaning. For a moment I was
inclined to think that the scene I had just witnessed was a gigantic piece of bombast - that he had been
what he called 'playing the comedy' with a view to making himself interesting and important. But, in spite
of myself, I was forced to believe in an underlying reality. There had been real menace in his words - a
certain indisputable sincerity. But I still believed him to be on entirely the wrong tack.
When the door shut behind the last of the party he came over to the fire.
'Well, my friend,' he said quietly, 'and what do you think of it all?' 'I don't know what to think,' I said
frankly. 'What was the point? Why not go s...
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