Unformatted text preview: Mr Ackroyd in the study at
'So we come to another and most interesting aspect of the crime. Who was it in the room with Mr
Ackroyd at nine-thirty?
Not Ralph Paton, who was in the summer-house with his wife.
Not Charles Kent, who had already left. Who, then? I posed my cleverest - my most audacious question:
Was anyone with him?' Poirot leaned forward and shot the last words triumphantly at us, drawing back
afterwards with the air of one who has made a decided hit.
Raymond, however, did not seem impressed, and lodged a mild protest. 'I don't know if you're trying to make me out a liar, M.
Poirot, but the matter does not rest on my evidence alone except perhaps as to the exact words used.
Remember, Major Blunt also heard Mr Ackroyd talking to someone. He was on the terrace outside, and
couldn't catch the words clearly, but he distinctly heard the voices.' Poirot nodded.
'I have not forgotten,' he said quietly. 'But Major Blunt was under the impression that it wasyou to whom
Mr Ackroyd was speaking.' For a moment Raymond seemed taken aback. Then he recovered himself.
'Blunt knows now that he was mistaken,' he said.
'Exactly,' agreed the other man.
'Yet there must have been some reason for his thinking so,' mused Poirot. 'Oh! no,' he held up his hand in
protest, 'I know the reason you will give - but it is not enough. We must seek elsewhere. I will put it this
way. From the beginning of the case I have been struck by one thing - the nature of those words which
Mr Raymond overheard. It has been amazing to me that no one has commented on them has seen
anything odd about them.' He paused a minute, and then quoted softly: '... the calb on my purse have
been so frequent of late that I fear it is impossible for me to accede to your request. Does nothing strike
you as odd about that?' 'I don't think so,' said Raymond. 'He has frequently dictated letters to me, using
almost exactly those same words.' 'Exactly,' cried Poirot. 'That is what I seek to arrive at.
Would any man use such a prase in talking to another?
Impossible that that should be part of a real conversation.
Now, if he had been dictating a letter ' 'You mean he was reading a letter aloud,' said Raymond slowly.
'Even so, he must have been reading to someone.' 'But why? We have no evidence that there was
anyone else in the room. No other voice but Mr Ackroyd's was heard, remember.' 'Surely a man
wouldn't read letters of that type aloud to himself- not unless he was - well - going balmy.' 'You have all
forgotten one thing,' said Poirot softly: 'the stranger who called at the house the preceding Wednesday.'
They all stared at him.
'But yes,' said Poirot, nodding encouragingly, 'on Wednesday. The young man was not of himself
But the firm he represented interested me very much.' 'The Dictaphone Company,' gasped Raymond. 'I
see it now. A dictaphone. That's what you think?' Poirot nodded.
'Mr Ackroyd had promised to invest in a dictaphone, you remember. Me, I had the curiosity to inquire of
the company in que...
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