Poirot and Dr. Sheppard walk back from the summerhouse. By this time Inspector Raglan has gone. Poirot studies Ackroyd’s house and murmurs, “Who inherits it?” Sheppard says that he’s surprised by such a question, and that he wishes he’d thought of it earlier. When Poirot inquires what Sheppard means, Sheppard says, “Everyone has something to hide.”
Sheppard alludes to the fact that he, too, is probably hiding something from Poirot—and, it would seem, from the reader. Yet Sheppard’s claim also suggests that he’s not really interested in Roger’s money.
Poirot and Dr. Sheppard then walk to a small goldfish pond. There, they notice Flora and Major Blunt. Flora asks if Blunt will be going on any expeditions, and Blunt blushes. Blunt remains quiet, admitting that he’s no good at talking. Flora suddenly exclaims that, in spite of everything, she’s happy. She tells Blunt, “there’s something awfully consoling about you.” Next, Flora explains that Roger has left her 20,000 pounds in his will—money that represents “freedom.” Major Blunt then sees something shiny in the pond and tries to retrieve it. This prompts Flora to recall Melisande, an opera character who—Blunt says—“married an old chap.” Blunt stops trying to retrieve the object, and tells Flora that everything will be fine. Flora agrees—she’s sure that Poirot will clear Ralph’s name.
Flora and Blunt’s interaction (they don’t know that Sheppard and Poirot are watching them) suggests that 1) Flora had a motive to kill Roger, since she wanted freedom from her domineering uncle, and 2) Blunt and Flora seem to be attracted to one another, in spite of Flora’s engagement to Ralph (hence the allusion to Melisande). And yet Flora also seems genuinely loyal to Ralph—she hired Poirot to protect Ralph from the police, after all.
Poirot and Dr. Sheppard emerge from where they’ve been eavesdropping, and greet Flora and Major Blunt. Poirot asks Blunt to tell him when he last saw Roger Ackroyd. Blunt explains that he saw Ackroyd at dinner, and, while he was standing on the terrace at 9:30, he heard Ackroyd’s voice coming from the study. Poirot points out that Blunt couldn’t have heard the voice from so far away, and Blunt, embarrassed, says that he’d walked to the corner of the terrace because he thought he’d seen “a woman disappearing into the bushes.” Blunt claims to have heard Ackroyd speaking to Raymond, though when Poirot questions him, he admits that he just assumed it was Raymond.
Blunt doesn’t seem to have any particular motive for killing Roger Ackroyd, but his testimony is confusing and somewhat conflicted, perhaps indicating that he’s hiding something. He changes his testimony regarding the voice he heard from the study, and he revises his claims about the terrace, adding a story about seeing a woman walking toward the bushes.
Poirot next asks Flora about the dagger, and she insists that, when she looked at the silver table with Dr. Sheppard, the dagger wasn’t there. Flora further points out that Inspector Raglan doesn’t believe her story—he thinks she’s just trying to make it seem less likely that Ralph committed the murder. Poirot points to the shiny object in the water and tries to fish it out, but he says he’s unable to do so. Poirot, Blunt, Flora, and Dr. Sheppard walk up to the Ackroyd house to have lunch. On the walk, Poirot shows Sheppard what was really in the water—a wedding ring with the inscription, “From R., March 13th.”
The passage nicely captures Poirot’s multi-pronged approach to detection. He tries to understand the psychology of his suspects by asking them important questions, but he’s also willing to get his hands dirty, obtaining evidence from the goldfish pond (and hiding the fact that he actually obtained it). Notice that the ring leaves it unclear who “R” is—and there are lots of “R” characters in this book—Roger, Raymond, and Ralph.