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Unformatted text preview: s I opened the front door, 'you might tell him about the
boots.' It was a most subtle parting shot. I wanted dreadfully to understand the enigma of the boots.
When the old lady with the Breton cap opened the door to me, I found myself asking ifM. Poirot was in,
Poirot sprang up to meet me, with every appearance of pleasure.
'Sit down, my good friend,' he said. 'The big chair? This small one? The room is not too hot, no?' I
thought it was stifling, but refrained from saying so. The windows were closed, and a large fire burned in
'The English people, they have a mania for the fresh air,' declared Poirot. 'The big air, it is all very well
outside, where " belongs. Why admit it to the house? But let us not discuss ^ch banalities. You have
something for me, yes?' 'Two things,' I said. 'First - this - from my sister.' I handed over the pot of medlar
'How kind of Mademoiselle Caroline. She has remembered her promise. And the second thing?'
'Information - of a kind.' And I told him of my interview with Mrs Ackroyd. He listened with interest, but
not much excitement.
'It clears the ground,' he said thoughtfully. 'And it has a certain value as confirming the evidence of the
She said, you remember, that she found the silver table lid open and closed it down in passing.' 'What
about her statement that she went into the drawing-room to see if the flowers were fresh?' 'Ah! we never
took that very seriously, did we, my friend? It was patently an excuse, trumped up in a hurry, by a
woman who felt it urgent to explain her presence - which, by the way, you would probably never have
thought of questioning. I considered it possible that her agitation might arise from the fact that she had
been tampering with the silver table, but I think now that we must look for another cause.' 'Yes,' I said.
'Whom did she go out to meet? And why?' 'You think she went to meet someone?' 'I do.' Poirot
'So do I,' he said thoughtfully.
There was a pause.
'By the way,' I said, 'I've got a message for you from my sister. Ralph Paton's boots were black, not
brown.' I was watching him closely as I gave the message, and I fancied that I saw a momentary flicker
of discomposure. If so, it passed almost immediately.
'She is absolutely positive they are not brown?' 'Absolutely.' 'Ah!' said Poirot regretfully. 'That is a pity.'
And he seemed quite crestfallen.
He entered into no explanations, but at once started a new subject of conversation.
'The housekeeper. Miss Russell, who came to consult you on that Friday morning - is it indiscreet to ask
what passed at the interview - apart from the medical details, I mean?' 'Not at all,' I said. 'When the
professional part of the conversation was over, we talked for a few minutes about poisons, and the ease or difficulty of detecting them, and about drug-taking and drug-takers.' 'With special reference to
cocaine?' asked Poirot.
'How did you know?' I asked, somewhat surprised.
For answer, the little man rose and crossed the room to wh...
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