Download document


The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

Then you go out of the front door, run round to the summer-house, take Ralph Paton's shoes out of the bag you brought up with you that night, slip them on, walk through the mud in them, and leave prints on the window ledge, you climb in, lock the study door on the inside, run back to the summer-house, change back into your own shoes, and race down to the gate. (I went through similar actions the other day, when you were with Mrs Ackroyd - it took ten minutes exactly.) Then home – and an alibi - since you had timed the dictaphone for half-past nine.' 'My dear Poirot,' I said in a voice that sounded strange and forced to my own ears, 'you've been brooding over this case too long. What on earth had I to gain by murdering Ackroyd?' 'Safety. It was you who blackmailed Mrs Ferrars. Who could have had a better knowledge of what killed Mr Ferrars than the doctor who was attending him? When you spoke to me that first day in the garden, you mentioned a legacy received about a year ago. I have been unable to discover any trace of a legacy. You had to invent some way of accounting for Mrs Ferrars's twenty thousand pounds. It has not done you much good. You lost most of it in speculation - then you put the screw on too hard, and Mrs Ferrars took a way out that you had not expected. If Ackroyd had learnt the truth he would have had no mercy on you - you were ruined for ever.' 'And the telephone call?' I asked, trying to rally. 'You have a plausible explanation of that also, I suppose?' 'I will confess to you that it was my greatest stumbling block when I found that a call had actually been put through to you from King's Abbot station. I at first believed that you had simply invented the story. It was a very clever touch, that. You must have some excuse for arriving at Fernly, finding the body, and so getting the chance to remove the dictaphone on which your alibi depended. I had a very vague notion of how it was worked when I came to see your sister that first day and inquired as to what patients you had seen on Friday morning. I had no thought of Miss Russell in my mind at that time. Her visit was a lucky coincidence, since it distracted your mind from the real object of my questions. I found what I was looking for. Among your patients that morning was the steward of an American liner. Who more suitable than he to be leaving for Liverpool by the train that evening? And afterwards he would be on the high seas, well out of the way. I noted that the Orion sailed on Saturday, and having obtained the name of the steward I sent him a wireless message asking a certain question. This is his reply you saw me receive just now.' He held out the message to me. It ran as follows: 'Quite correct. Dr Sheppard asked me to leave a note at a patient's house. I was to ring him up from the station with the reply. Reply was "No answer."' 'It was a clever idea,' said Poirot. 'The call was genuine. Your sister saw you take it. But there was only one man's word as to what was actually said - your own!' I yawned.

'All this,' I said, 'is very interesting - but hardly in the sphere of practical politics.' 'You think not? Remember what I said - the truth goes to Inspector Raglan in the morning. But, for the sake of your good sister, I am willing to give you the chance of another way out. There might be, for instance, an overdose of a sleeping draught. You comprehend me? But Captain Ralph Paton must be cleared - Ca va sans dire.

I should suggest that you finish that very interesting manuscript of yours - but abandoning your former reticence.' 'You seem to be very prolific of suggestions,' I remarked.

'Are you sure you've quite finished?' 'Now that you remind me of the fact, it is true that there is one thing more. It would be most unwise on your part to attempt to silence me as you silenced M. Ackroyd. That kind of business does not succeed against Hercule Poirot, you understand.' 'My dear Poirot,' I said, smiling a little, 'whatever else I may be, I am not a fool.' I rose to my feet.

'Well, well,' I said, with a slight yawn, 'I must be off home.

Thank you for a most interesting and instructive evening.' Poirot also rose and bowed with his accustomed politeness as I passed out of the room.


And then there were none

The oth­ers went up­stairs, a slow unwilling pro­ces­sion. If this had been an old house, with creak­ing wood, and dark shad­ows, and heav­ily pan­elled walls, there might have been an eerie feel­ing. But this house was the essence of moder­ni­ty. There were no dark corners - no pos ­ si ­ ble slid ­ ing pan ­ els - it was flood ­ ed with elec ­ tric light - every ­ thing was new and bright and shining. There was noth ­ ing hid ­ den in this house, noth ­ ing con ­ cealed. It had no at ­ mo ­ sphere about it. Some ­ how, that was the most fright­en­ing thing of all. They ex­changed good- nights on the up ­ per land ­ ing. Each of them went in ­ to his or her own room, and each of them automatical ­ ly, al ­ most with ­ out con ­ scious thought, locked the door....


The Witness for the Prosecution

“Mr. Vole," said the solicitor, "I am going to ask you a very serious question, and one to which it is vital I should have a truthful answer. You were in low water financially. You had the handling of an old lady's affairs—an old lady who, according to her own statement, knew little or nothing of business. Did you at any time, or in any manner, convert to your own use the securities which you handled? Did you engage in any transaction for your own pecuniary advantage which will not bear the light of day?"

He quelled the other's response.

"Wait a minute before you answer. There are two courses open to us. Either we can make a feature of your probity and honesty in conducting her affairs whilst pointing out how unlikely it is that you would commit murder to obtain money which you might have obtained by such infinitely easier means. If, on the other hand, there is anything in your dealings which the prosecution will get hold of—if, to put it baldly, it can be proved that you swindled the old lady in any way, we must take the line that you had no motive for the murder, since she was already a profitable source of income to you. You perceive the distinction. Now, I beg of you, take your time before you reply."

But Leonard Vole took no time at all.

"My dealings with Miss French's affairs were all perfectly fair and above board. I acted for her interests to the very best of my ability, as anyone will find who looks into the matter."

"Thank you," said Mr. Mayherne. "You relieve my mind very much. I pay you the compliment of believing that you are far too clever to lie to me over such an important matter."

"Surely," said Vole eagerly, "the strongest point in my favor is the lack of motive. Granted that I cultivated the acquaintanceship of a rich old lady in the hopes of getting money out of her—that, I gather, is the substance of what you have been saying—surely her death frustrates all my hopes?"

The solicitor looked at him steadily. Then, very deliberately, he repeated his unconscious trick with his pince-nez. It was not until they were firmly replaced on his nose that he spoke.

"Are you not aware, Mr. Vole, that Miss French left a will under which you are the

principal beneficiary?"

"What?" The prisoner sprang to his feet. His dismay was obvious and unforced.

"My God! What are you saying? She left her money to me?"

Mr. Mayherne nodded slowly.

Vole sank down again, his head in his hands.

"You pretend you know nothing of this will?"

"Pretend? There's no pretence about it I knew nothing about it."


Murder on the Orient Express

She stopped.

"Well," she said, "you know everything now, M. Poirot. What are you going to do about it? If it must all come out, can't you lay the blame upon me and me only? I would have stabbed that man twelve times willingly. It wasn't only that he was responsible for my daughter's death and her child's and that of the other child who might have been alive and happy now. It was more than that: there had been other children kidnapped before Daisy, and there might be others in the future. Society had condemned him—we were only carrying out the sentence. But it's unnecessary to bring all these others into it. All these good faithful souls—and poor Michel-and Mary and Colonel Arbuthnot—they love each other. ..."

Her voice was wonderful, echoing through the crowded space—that deep, emotional, heart-stirring voice that had thrilled many a New York audience.

(Hercule Poirot ) "My dear, Colonel Armstrong. Finally, I can answer your letter at least with the thoughts in my head and the feeling in my heart that somewhere, you can hear me.

I have now discovered the truth of the case, and it is profoundly disturbing.

I have seen the fracture of the human soul. So many broken lives, so much pain and anger, giving way to the poison of deep grief, until one crime became many.

I have always wanted to believe that man is rational and civilized. My very existence depends upon this hope, upon order and method and the little gray cells. But now, perhaps, I am asked to listen, instead to my heart."