Four-and-Twenty Blackbirds: A Hercule Poirot Short Story Agatha Christie A classic Agatha Christie short story, available individually for the first time as an ebook.Hercule Poirot is about to tuck into a very traditional English supper with his old friend Bonnington, when the habit and ritual of a lone diner sparks his interest more than the chestnut turkey. The lone diner has eaten there on Thursdays and Tuesdays for the last ten years like clockwork, but, no one at the restaurant even knows his name. However, ‘Old Father Time,’ as they have fondly nicknamed him, suddenly stops coming and Poirot believes that he might have picked up that one essential clue that could shed light on a man who no one really knows. Could what Old Father Time strangely ordered as his final meal prove to be the only thing that makes this suspicious? Four-And-Twenty Blackbirds A Short Story by Agatha Christie Copyright (#u943bce9e-ee00-5f4c-96f7-95ab8e0f34a2) Published by HarperCollinsPublishers Ltd 1 London Bridge Street London SE1 9GF www.harpercollins.co.uk (http://www.harpercollins.co.uk) Copyright © 2011 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. 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. EPub Edition © 2011 ISBN: 9780007451999 Version: 2017-04-18 Contents Cover (#uf61c156d-97a6-5f5d-904d-ee26c31b1bfa) Title Page (#u60058daa-8dc2-5a19-a3cd-475bc6940fc0) Copyright Four-And-Twenty Blackbirds Related Products (#litres_trial_promo) About the Publisher (#litres_trial_promo) Four-And-Twenty Blackbirds (#ulink_e1d1b85d-06be-5cda-9df0-ffcf4ec36d9a) ‘Four-and-Twenty Blackbirds’ was first published in the USA as ‘Four and Twenty Blackbirds’ in Collier’s Magazine, 9 November 1940, then as ‘Poirot and the Regular Customer’ in The Strand, March 1941. Hercule Poirot was dining with his friend, Henry Bonnington at the Gallant Endeavour in the King’s Road, Chelsea. Mr Bonnington was fond of the Gallant Endeavour. He liked the leisurely atmosphere, he liked the food which was ‘plain’ and ‘English’ and ‘not a lot of made up messes.’ He liked to tell people who dined with him there just exactly where Augustus John had been wont to sit and draw their attention to the famous artists’ names in the visitors’ book. Mr Bonnington was himself the least artistic of men – but he took a certain pride in the artistic activities of others. Molly, the sympathetic waitress, greeted Mr Bonnington as an old friend. She prided herself on remembering her customers’ likes and dislikes in the way of food. ‘Good evening, sir,’ she said, as the two men took their seats at a corner table. ‘You’re in luck today – turkey stuffed with chestnuts – that’s your favourite, isn’t it? And ever such a nice Stilton we’ve got! Will you have soup first or fish?’ Mr Bonnington deliberated the point. He said to Poirot warningly as the latter studied the menu: ‘None of your French kickshaws now. Good well-cooked English food.’ ‘My friend,’ Hercule Poirot waved his hand, ‘I ask no better! I put myself in your hands unreservedly.’ ‘Ah – hruup – er – hm,’ replied Mr Bonnington and gave careful attention to the matter. These weighty matters, and the question of wine, settled, Mr Bonnington leaned back with a sigh and unfolded his napkin as Molly sped away. ‘Good girl, that,’ he said approvingly. ‘Was quite a beauty once – artists used to paint her. She knows about food, too – and that’s a great deal more important. Women are very unsound on food as a rule. There’s many a woman if she goes out with a fellow she fancies – won’t even notice what she eats. She’ll just order the first thing she sees.’ Hercule Poirot shook his head. ‘C’est terrible.’ ‘Men aren’t like that, thank God!’ said Mr Bonnington complacently. ‘Never?’ There was a twinkle in Hercule Poirot’s eye. ‘Well, perhaps when they’re very young,’ conceded Mr Bonnington. ‘Young puppies! Young fellows nowadays are all the same – no guts – no stamina. I’ve no use for the young – and they,’ he added with strict impartiality, ‘have no use for me. Perhaps they’re right! But to hear some of these young fellows talk you’d think no man had a right to be alive after sixty! From the way they go on, you’d wonder more of them didn’t help their elderly relations out of the world.’ ‘It is possible,’ said Hercule Poirot, ‘that they do.’ ‘Nice mind you’ve got, Poirot, I must say. All this police work saps your ideals.’ Hercule Poirot smiled. ‘Tout de même,’ he said. ‘It would be interesting to make a table of accidental deaths over the age of sixty. I assure you it would raise some curious speculations in your mind.’ ‘The trouble with you is that you’ve started going to look for crime – instead of waiting for crime to come to you.’ ‘I apologize,’ said Poirot. ‘I talk what you call “the shop”. Tell me, my friend, of your own affairs. How does the world go with you?’ ‘Mess!’ said Mr Bonnington. ‘That’s what’s the matter with the world nowadays. Too much mess. And too much fine language. The fine language helps to conceal the mess. Like a highly-flavoured sauce concealing the fact that the fish underneath it is none of the best! Give me an honest fillet of sole and no messy sauce over it.’ It was given him at that moment by Molly and he grunted approval. ‘You know just what I like, my girl,’ he said. ‘Well, you come here pretty regular, don’t you, sir? I ought to know what you like.’ Hercule Poirot said: ‘Do people then always like the same things? Do not they like a change sometimes?’ ‘Not gentlemen, sir. Ladies like variety – gentlemen always like the same thing.’ ‘What did I tell you?’ grunted Bonnington. ‘Women are fundamentally unsound where food is concerned!’ He looked round the restaurant. ‘The world’s a funny place. See that odd-looking old fellow with a beard in the corner? Molly’ll tell you he’s always here Tuesdays and Thursday nights. He has come here for close on ten years now – he’s a kind of landmark in the place. Yet nobody here knows his name or where he lives or what his business is. It’s odd when you come to think of it.’ When the waitress brought the portions of turkey he said: ‘I see you’ve still got Old Father Time over there?’ ‘That’s right, sir. Tuesdays and Thursdays, his days are. Not but what he came in here on a Monday last week! It quite upset me! I felt I’d got my dates wrong and that it must be Tuesday without my knowing it! But he came in the next night as well – so the Monday was just a kind of extra, so to speak.’ ‘An interesting deviation from habit,’ murmured Poirot. ‘I wonder what the reason was?’ ‘Well, sir, if you ask me, I think he’d had some kind of upset or worry.’ ‘Why did you think that? His manner?’ ‘No, sir – not his manner exactly. He was very quiet as he always is. Never says much except good evening when he comes and goes. No, it was his order.’ ‘His order?’ ‘I dare say you gentlemen will laugh at me,’ Molly flushed up, ‘but when a gentleman has been here for ten years, you get to know his likes and dislikes. He never could bear suet pudding or blackberries and I’ve never known him take thick soup – but on that Monday night he ordered thick tomato soup, beefsteak and kidney pudding and blackberry tart! Seemed as though he just didn’t notice what he ordered!’ ‘Do you know,’ said Hercule Poirot, ‘I find that extraordinarily interesting.’ Molly looked gratified and departed. ‘Well, Poirot,’ said Henry Bonnington with a chuckle. ‘Let’s have a few deductions from you. All in your best manner.’ Конец ознакомительного фрагмента. Текст предоставлен ООО «ЛитРес». Прочитайте эту книгу целиком, купив полную легальную версию (https://www.litres.ru/agata-kristi/four-and-twenty-blackbirds-a-hercule-poirot-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.КУПИТЬ И СКАЧАТЬ ЗА: 117.09 руб.