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Harlequin’s Lane: An Agatha Christie Short Story

Harlequin’s Lane: An Agatha Christie Short Story
Harlequin’s Lane: An Agatha Christie Short Story Agatha Christie A classic Agatha Christie short story, available individually for the first time as an ebook.When two Russian dancers are injured in a car crash on the way to a performance at a masquerade, substitutes are quickly found so that the show can continue. But there is mysterious work at play that could put anyone in real danger… Harlequin’s Lane A Short Story by Agatha Christie Copyright (#ulink_5cabcbab-010e-586f-be34-39f21ca96c23) Published by HarperCollinsPublishers Ltd 1 London Bridge Street London SE1 9GF www.harpercollins.co.uk (http://www.harpercollins.co.uk) Copyright © 2008 Agatha Christie Ltd. Cover design © HarperCollinsPublishers 2014 All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the nonexclusive, nontransferable right to access and read the text of this e-book onscreen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, downloaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of HarperCollins e-books. Ebook Edition © JUNE 2014 ISBN 9780007560332 Version: 2017-04-11 HarperCollinsPublishers has made every reasonable effort to ensure that any picture content and written content in this ebook has been included or removed in accordance with the contractual and technological constraints in operation at the time of publication. Contents Cover (#u8c440dc9-24da-5d43-92bf-924c3f5c62f8) Title Page (#u5f974e53-3393-5cb6-9724-127eb4bd5238) Copyright Harlequin’s Lane (#u09135018-4693-53d6-b110-e219fb60a56f) Related Products (#litres_trial_promo) About the Publisher (#litres_trial_promo) Harlequin’s Lane (#ulink_b900519b-0d6f-506c-8ac3-0e7eab43ba43) ‘Harlequin’s Lane’ was first published as ‘The Magic of Mr Quin No. 6’ in Storyteller, May 1927. Mr Satterthwaite was never quite sure what took him to stay with the Denmans. They were not of his kind – that is to say, they belonged neither to the great world, nor to the more interesting artistic circles. They were Philistines, and dull Philistines at that. Mr Satterthwaite had met them first at Biarritz, had accepted an invitation to stay with them, had come, had been bored, and yet strangely enough had come again and yet again. Why? He was asking himself that question on this twenty-first of June, as he sped out of London in his Rolls Royce. John Denman was a man of forty, a solid well-established figure respected in the business world. His friends were not Mr Satterthwaite’s friends, his ideas even less so. He was a man clever in his own line but devoid of imagination outside it. Why am I doing this thing? Mr Satterthwaite asked himself once more – and the only answer that came seemed to him so vague and so inherently preposterous that he almost put it aside. For the only reason that presented itself was the fact that one of the rooms in the house (a comfortable well-appointed house), stirred his curiosity. That room was Mrs Denman’s own sitting-room. It was hardly an expression of her personality because, so far as Mr Satterthwaite could judge, she had no personality. He had never met a woman so completely expressionless. She was, he knew, a Russian by birth. John Denman had been in Russia at the outbreak of the European war, he had fought with the Russian troops, had narrowly escaped with his life on the outbreak of the Revolution, and had brought this Russian girl with him, a penniless refugee. In face of strong disapproval from his parents he had married her. Mrs Denman’s room was in no way remarkable. It was well and solidly furnished with good Hepplewhite furniture – a trifle more masculine than feminine in atmosphere. But in it there was one incongruous item: a Chinese lacquer screen – a thing of creamy yellow and pale rose. Any museum might have been glad to own it. It was a collector’s piece, rare and beautiful. It was out of place against that solid English background. It should have been the key-note of the room with everything arranged to harmonize subtly with it. And yet Mr Satterthwaite could not accuse the Denmans of lack of taste. Everything else in the house was in perfectly blended accord. He shook his head. The thing – trivial though it was – puzzled him. Because of it, so he verily believed, he had come again and again to the house. It was, perhaps, a woman’s fantasy – but that solution did not satisfy him as he thought of Mrs Denman – a quiet hard-featured woman, speaking English so correctly that no one would ever have guessed her a foreigner. The car drew up at his destination and he got out, his mind still dwelling on the problem of the Chinese screen. The name of the Denman’s house was ‘Ashmead’, and it occupied some five acres of Melton Heath, which is thirty miles from London, stands five hundred feet above sea level and is, for the most part, inhabited by those who have ample incomes. The butler received Mr Satterthwaite suavely. Mr and Mrs Denman were both out – at a rehearsal – they hoped Mr Satterthwaite would make himself at home until they returned. Mr Satterthwaite nodded and proceeded to carry out these injunctions by stepping into the garden. After a cursory examination of the flower beds, he strolled down a shady walk and presently came to a door in the wall. It was unlocked and he passed through it and came out into a narrow lane. Mr Satterthwaite looked to left and right. A very charming lane, shady and green, with high hedges – a rural lane that twisted and turned in good old-fashioned style. He remembered the stamped address: ASHMEAD, HARLEQUIN’S LANE – remembered too, a local name for it that Mrs Denman had once told him. ‘Harlequin’s Lane,’ he murmured to himself softly. ‘I wonder –’ He turned a corner. Not at the time, but afterwards, he wondered why this time he felt no surprise at meeting that elusive friend of his: Mr Harley Quin. The two men clasped hands. ‘So you’re down here,’ said Mr Satterthwaite. ‘Yes,’ said Mr Quin. ‘I’m staying in the same house as you are.’ ‘Staying there?’ ‘Yes. Does it surprise you?’ ‘No,’ said Mr Satterthwaite slowly. ‘Only – well, you never stay anywhere for long, do you?’ ‘Only as long as is necessary,’ said Mr Quin gravely. ‘I see,’ said Mr Satterthwaite. They walked on in silence for some minutes. ‘This lane,’ began Mr Satterthwaite, and stopped. ‘Belongs to me,’ said Mr Quin. ‘I thought it did,’ said Mr Satterthwaite. ‘Somehow, I thought it must. There’s the other name for it, too, the local name. They call it the “Lovers’ Lane”. You know that?’ Mr Quin nodded. ‘But surely,’ he said gently, ‘there is a “Lovers’ Lane” in every village?’ ‘I suppose so,’ said Mr Satterthwaite, and he sighed a little. He felt suddenly rather old and out of things, a little dried-up wizened old fogey of a man. Each side of him were the hedges, very green and alive. ‘Where does this lane end, I wonder?’ he asked suddenly. ‘It ends – here,’ said Mr Quin. They came round the last bend. The lane ended in a piece of waste ground, and almost at their feet a great pit opened. In it were tin cans gleaming in the sun, and other cans that were too red with rust to gleam, old boots, fragments of newspapers, a hundred and one odds and ends that were no longer of account to anybody. ‘A rubbish heap,’ exclaimed Mr Satterthwaite, and breathed deeply and indignantly. ‘Sometimes there are very wonderful things on a rubbish heap,’ said Mr Quin. ‘I know, I know,’ cried Mr Satterthwaite, and quoted with just a trace of self-consciousness: ‘Bring me the two most beautiful things in the city, said God. You know how it goes, eh?’ Mr Quin nodded. Mr Satterthwaite looked up at the ruins of a small cottage perched on the brink of the wall of the cliff. ‘Hardly a pretty view for a house,’ he remarked. ‘I fancy this wasn’t a rubbish heap in those days,’ said Mr Quin. ‘I believe the Denmans lived there when they were first married. They moved into the big house when the old people died. The cottage was pulled down when they began to quarry the rock here – but nothing much was done, as you can see.’ They turned and began retracing their steps. ‘I suppose,’ said Mr Satterthwaite, smiling, ‘that many couples come wandering down this lane on these warm summer evenings.’ ‘Probably.’ ‘Lovers,’ said Mr Satterthwaite. He repeated the word thoughtfully and quite without the normal embarrassment of the Englishman. Mr Quin had that effect upon him. ‘Lovers … You have done a lot for lovers, Mr Quin.’ The other bowed his head without replying. ‘You have saved them from sorrow – from worse than sorrow, from death. You have been an advocate for the dead themselves.’ ‘You are speaking of yourself – of what you have done – not of me.’ ‘It is the same thing,’ said Mr Satterthwaite. ‘You know it is,’ he urged, as the other did not speak. ‘You have acted – through me. For some reason or other you do not act directly – yourself.’ ‘Sometimes I do,’ said Mr Quin. His voice held a new note. In spite of himself Mr Satterthwaite shivered a little. The afternoon, he thought, must be growing chilly. And yet the sun seemed as bright as ever. At that moment a girl turned the corner ahead of them and came into sight. She was a very pretty girl, fair-haired and blue-eyed, wearing a pink cotton frock. Mr Satterthwaite recognized her as Molly Stanwell, whom he had met down here before. She waved a hand to welcome him. ‘John and Anna have just gone back,’ she cried. ‘They thought you must have come, but they simply had to be at the rehearsal.’ ‘Rehearsal of what?’ inquired Mr Satterthwaite. ‘This masquerade thing – I don’t quite know what you’ll call it. There is singing and dancing and all sorts of things in it. Mr Manly, do you remember him down here? He had quite a good tenor voice, is to be Pierrot, and I am Pierrette. Two professionals are coming down for the dancing – Harlequin and Columbine, you know. And then there is a big chorus of girls. Lady Roscheimer is so keen on training village girls to sing. She’s really getting the thing up for that. The music is rather lovely – but very modern – next to no tune anywhere. Claude Wickam. Perhaps you know him?’ Mr Satterthwaite nodded, for, as has been mentioned before, it was his métier to know everybody. He knew all about that aspiring genius Claude Wickam, and about Lady Roscheimer who was a fat Jewess with a penchant Конец ознакомительного фрагмента. Текст предоставлен ООО «ЛитРес». Прочитайте эту книгу целиком, купив полную легальную версию (https://www.litres.ru/agata-kristi/harlequin-s-lane-an-agatha-christie-short-story/?lfrom=334617187) на ЛитРес. Безопасно оплатить книгу можно банковской картой Visa, MasterCard, Maestro, со счета мобильного телефона, с платежного терминала, в салоне МТС или Связной, через PayPal, WebMoney, Яндекс.Деньги, QIWI Кошелек, бонусными картами или другим удобным Вам способом.
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