فصل 02

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Chapter two

Who’s Who in King’s Abbot

There are only two houses of any importance in King’s Abbot. One is King’s Paddock, left to Mrs Ferrars by her husband. The other, Fernly Park, is owned by Roger Ackroyd, an extremely successful businessman of nearly fifty years of age. He gives generously to village activities, though he is said to be extremely mean in personal spending. When he was just twenty-one, Ackroyd married a beautiful widow. Mrs Paton, who had one child, Ralph. Sadly, Mrs Ackroyd was an alcoholic and drank herself to death. Ralph, now twenty-five, has been a continual source of trouble to Ackroyd. However, we are all very fond of Ralph in King’s Abbot.

After her husband’s death, Ackroyd and Mrs Ferrars were always seen together, and it was thought that at the end of a period of mourning. Mrs Ferrars would become Mrs Roger Ackroyd.

The Ferrarses only came to live here just over a year ago. Before that, the whole village had confidently expected Ackroyd to marry his housekeeper, Miss Russell. At the same time, his widowed sister-in-law, Mrs Cecil Ackroyd, with her daughter, came to stay with Ackroyd - and she certainly disapproved of him marrying his housekeeper.

I went on my round, my thoughts returning to Mrs Ferrars’ death. I had last seen her only yesterday, walking with Ralph Paton. I had been very surprised to see him. He and his stepfather had argued very badly six months ago and he hadn’t been seen in King’s Abbot since. I was still thinking of it when I came face to face with Roger Ackroyd himself.

‘Sheppard!’ he exclaimed. ‘This is a terrible business! I’ve got to talk to you. Can you come back with me now?’

‘No. I’ve got patients to visit still, and surgery.’

‘Then come for dinner tonight. At 7.30. I - Damn! Here’s old Miss Gannett coming. I don’t want to have to talk to her. See you tonight, Sheppard.’

Miss Gannett was full of gossip. Wasn’t it sad about poor dear Mrs Ferrars? People were saying she had been a drug addict.

I went home, thoughtful, to find several patients waiting for me to begin surgery.

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