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In the novel The Sittaford Mystery, Mr Duke is the resident of cottage No. 6 at Sittaford. At the time of the events in the book, he had only just moved in. Duke was described as "a big man, very quiet and devoted to gardening."

The neighbours did not know much about Mr Duke and this led to all sorts of speculation. Mrs Curtis of cottage 5 was not sure Duke could be called "a gentlemen". She described him as "A bashful sort of gentleman he is - might be a military gentleman from the look of him, but somehow he hasn't got the manner." Others, in their prejudiced way, thought he might "just possibly, be a retired tradesman."

It is only at the end of the story that Duke is introduced to the others as a retired Chief Inspector of Scotland Yard, and apparently a senior officer of some repute.

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