At the ‘Bells and Motley’: An Agatha Christie Short Story Agatha Christie A classic Agatha Christie short story, available individually for the first time as an ebook.After his car breaks down Mr. Satterthwaite takes refuge at an Inn and is pleasantly surprised when he finds Harley Quin staying there. With his subtle encouragement Satterthwaite dissects the bizarre disappearance of a newly wedded husband… At the ‘Bells and Motley’ A Short Story by Agatha Christie Copyright (#ulink_7bb77b5c-c15e-5088-a603-550c92b480c2) 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 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 on-screen. 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Ebook Edition © MAY 2013 ISBN 9780007526628 Version: 2017-04-13 Contents Cover (#uc5ec43bd-5ba2-593f-8fa0-4b298e77d5f9) Title Page (#ube799da7-9a37-5961-a535-16555e973714) Copyright (#ulink_402cf234-c8de-5592-88f5-2c1c53a2d139) At the ‘Bells and Motley’ (#ulink_7f34bb0f-0ece-5968-af5d-334ebbcf3199) Related Products About the Publisher (#litres_trial_promo) At the ‘Bells and Motley’ (#ulink_46d50ca5-af4d-5879-9dde-43cef60a970f) ‘At the “Bells and Motley”’ was first published as ‘A Man of Magic’ in Grand Magazine, November 1925. Mr Satterthwaite was annoyed. Altogether it had been an unfortunate day. They had started late, there had been two punctures already, finally they had taken the wrong turning and lost themselves amidst the wilds of Salisbury Plain. Now it was close on eight o’clock, they were still a matter of forty miles from Marswick Manor whither they were bound, and a third puncture had supervened to render matters still more trying. Mr Satterthwaite, looking like some small bird whose plumage had been ruffled, walked up and down in front of the village garage whilst his chauffeur conversed in hoarse undertones with the local expert. ‘Half an hour at least,’ said that worthy pronouncing judgment. ‘And lucky at that,’ supplemented Masters, the chauffeur. ‘More like three quarters if you ask me.’ ‘What is this – place, anyway?’ demanded Mr Satterthwaite fretfully. Being a little gentleman considerate of the feelings of others, he substituted the word ‘place’ for ‘God-forsaken hole’ which had first risen to his lips. ‘Kirtlington Mallet.’ Mr Satterthwaite was not much wiser, and yet a faint familiarity seemed to linger round the name. He looked round him disparagingly. Kirtlington Mallet seemed to consist of one straggling street, the garage and the post office on one side of it balanced by three indeterminate shops on the other side. Farther down the road, however, Mr Satterthwaite perceived something that creaked and swung in the wind, and his spirits rose ever so slightly. ‘There’s an Inn here, I see,’ he remarked. ‘“Bells and Motley”,’ said the garage man. ‘That’s it – yonder.’ ‘If I might make a suggestion, sir,’ said Masters, ‘why not try it? They would be able to give you some sort of a meal, no doubt – not, of course, what you are accustomed to.’ He paused apologetically, for Mr Satterthwaite was accustomed to the best cooking of continental chefs, and had in his own service a cordon bleu to whom he paid a fabulous salary. ‘We shan’t be able to take the road again for another three quarters of an hour, sir. I’m sure of that. And it’s already past eight o’clock. You could ring up Sir George Foster, sir, from the Inn, and acquaint him with the cause of our delay.’ ‘You seem to think you can arrange everything, Masters,’ said Mr Satterthwaite snappily. Masters, who did think so, maintained a respectful silence. Mr Satterthwaite, in spite of his earnest wish to discountenance any suggestion that might possibly be made to him – he was in that mood – nevertheless looked down the road towards the creaking Inn sign with faint inward approval. He was a man of birdlike appetite, an epicure, but even such men can be hungry. ‘The “Bells and Motley”,’ he said thoughtfully. ‘That’s an odd name for an Inn. I don’t know that I ever heard it before.’ ‘There’s odd folks come to it by all account,’ said the local man. He was bending over the wheel, and his voice came muffled and indistinct. ‘Odd folks?’ queried Mr Satterthwaite. ‘Now what do you mean by that?’ The other hardly seemed to know what he meant. ‘Folks that come and go. That kind,’ he said vaguely. Mr Satterthwaite reflected that people who come to an Inn are almost of necessity those who ‘come and go’. The definition seemed to him to lack precision. But nevertheless his curiosity was stimulated. Somehow or other he had got to put in three quarters of an hour. The ‘Bells and Motley’ would be as good as anywhere else. With his usual small mincing steps he walked away down the road. From afar there came a rumble of thunder. The mechanic looked up and spoke to Masters. ‘There’s a storm coming over. Thought I could feel it in the air.’ ‘Crikey,’ said Masters. ‘And forty miles to go.’ ‘Ah!’ said the other. ‘There’s no need to be hurrying over this job. You’ll not be wanting to take the road till the storm’s passed over. That little boss of yours doesn’t look as though he’d relish being out in thunder and lightning.’ ‘Hope they’ll do him well at that place,’ muttered the chauffeur. ‘I’ll be pushing along there for a bite myself presently.’ ‘Billy Jones is all right,’ said the garage man. ‘Keeps a good table.’ Mr William Jones, a big burly man of fifty and landlord of the ‘Bells and Motley’, was at this minute beaming ingratiatingly down on little Mr Satterthwaite. ‘Can do you a nice steak, sir – and fried potatoes, and as good a cheese as any gentleman could wish for. This way, sir, in the coffee-room. We’re not very full at present, the last of the fishing gentlemen just gone. A little later we’ll be full again for the hunting. Only one gentleman here at present, name of Quin –’ Mr Satterthwaite stopped dead. ‘Quin?’ he said excitedly. ‘Did you say Quin?’ ‘That’s the name, sir. Friend of yours perhaps?’ ‘Yes, indeed. Oh! yes, most certainly.’ Twittering with excitement, Mr Satterthwaite hardly realized that the world might contain more than one man of that name. He had no doubts at all. In an odd way, the information fitted in with what the man at the garage had said. ‘Folks that come and go …’ a very apt description of Mr Quin. And the name of the Inn, too, seemed a peculiarly fitting and appropriate one. ‘Dear me, dear me,’ said Mr Satterthwaite. ‘What a very odd thing. That we should meet like this! Mr Harley Quin, is it not?’ ‘That’s right, sir. This is the coffee-room, sir. Ah! here is the gentleman.’ Tall, dark, smiling, the familiar figure of Mr Quin rose from the table at which he was sitting, and the well-remembered voice spoke. ‘Ah! Mr Satterthwaite, we meet again. An unexpected meeting!’ Mr Satterthwaite was shaking him warmly by the hand. ‘Delighted. Delighted, I’m sure. A lucky breakdown for me. My car, you know. And you are staying here? For long?’ ‘One night only.’ ‘Then I am indeed fortunate.’ Mr Satterthwaite sat down opposite his friend with a little sigh of satisfaction, and regarded the dark, smiling face opposite him with a pleasurable expectancy. The other man shook his head gently. ‘I assure you,’ he said, ‘that I have not a bowl of goldfish or a rabbit to produce from my sleeve.’ ‘Too bad,’ cried Mr Satterthwaite, a little taken aback. ‘Yes, I must confess – I do rather adopt that attitude towards you. A man of magic. Ha, ha. That is how I regard you. A man of magic.’ ‘And yet,’ said Mr Quin, ‘it is you who do the conjuring tricks, not I.’ ‘Ah!’ said Mr Satterthwaite eagerly. ‘But I cannot do them without you. I lack – shall we say – inspiration?’ Mr Quin smilingly shook his head. ‘That is too big a word. I speak the cue, that is all.’ The landlord came in at that minute with bread and a slab of yellow butter. 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