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Unformatted text preview: kroyd last Friday night?' 'Not in
the least,' I said, and straightway began the recital of that strange evening.
Hammond listened with close attention.
'That is all,' I said, when I had finished.
'Blackmail,' said the lawyer thoughtfully.
'You are surprised?' asked Poirot.
The lawyer took off his pince-nez and polished them with his handkerchief. 'No,' he replied, 'I can hardly say that I am surprised. I have suspected something of the kind for some
time.' 'That brings us,' said Poirot, 'to the information for which I am asking. If anyone can give us an idea
of the actual sums paid, you are the man, monsieur.' 'I see no object in withholding the information,' said
Hammond, after a moment or two. 'During the past year, Mrs Ferrars has sold out certain securities, and
the money for them was paid into her account and not re-invested. As her income was a large one, and
she lived very quietly after her husband's death, it seems certain that these sums of money were paid
away for some special purpose. I once sounded her on the subject, and she said that she was obliged to
support several of her husband's poor relations. I let the matter drop, of course. Until now, I have always
imagined that the money was paid to some woman who had had a claim on Ashley Ferrars. I never
dreamed that Mrs Ferrars herself was involved.' 'And the amount?' asked Poirot.
'In all, I should say the various sums totalled at least twenty thousand pounds.' 'Twenty thousand
pounds!' I exclaimed. 'In one year!' 'Mrs Ferrars was a very wealthy woman,' said Poirot drily. 'And the
penalty for murder is not a pleasant one.' 'Is there anything else that I can tell you?' inquired Mr
'I thank you, no,' said Poirot, rising. 'All my excuses for having deranged you.' 'Not at all, not at all.' 'The
word derange,' I remarked, when we were outside again, 'is applicable to mental disorder only.' 'Ah!'
cried Poirot, 'never will my English be quite perfect. A curious language. I should then have said
disarranged, n'est-ce pasV 'Disturbed is the word you had in mind.' 'I thank you, my friend. The word
exact, you are zealous for it. Eh bien, what about our friend Parker now? With twenty-thousand pounds
in hand, would he have continued being a butler? Je nepensepas. It is, of course, possible that he banked
the money under another name, but I am disposed to believe he spoke the truth to us. If he is a
scoundrel, he is a scoundrel on a mean scale. He has not the big ideas. That leaves us as a possibility,
Raymond, or well - Major Blunt.' 'Surely not Raymond,' I objected. 'Since we know that he was
desperately hard up for a matter of five hundred pounds.' 'That is what he says, yes.' 'And as to Hector
Blunt ' 'I will tell you something as to the good Major Blunt,' interrupted Poirot. 'It is my business to make
inquiries. I make them. Eh bien - that legacy of which he speaks, I have discovered that the amount of it
was close upon twenty thousand pounds. What do you think of that?' I was so taken aback that I could
'It's impossible,' I said at last...
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