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Sing a Song of Sixpence: An Agatha Christie Short Story

Sing a Song of Sixpence: An Agatha Christie Short Story
Sing a Song of Sixpence: An Agatha Christie Short Story Agatha Christie A classic Agatha Christie short story, available individually for the first time as an ebook.An ageing barrister begins to regret past events when an old flame asks him to investigate the murder of her eccentricwealthy aunt in a mystery that recalls an old nursery rhyme… Sing a Song of Sixpence A Short Story by Agatha Christie Copyright (#ulink_d7310b3f-13f3-5185-8108-ab72b3cd5ba2) 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 Layout 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. 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. Source ISBN: 9780007438976 Ebook Edition © MARCH 2014 ISBN: 9780007560073 Version: 2017-04-13 Contents Cover (#u6a16b4ee-da1e-51f2-8634-b11af78e0ee7) Title Page (#u85c1cfa6-9b56-5174-a7d7-f537d7440ed4) Copyright Sing a Song of Sixpence (#u0d0ff880-69c9-5f11-8eda-aa37a2b052df) Related Products (#litres_trial_promo) About the Publisher (#litres_trial_promo) Sing a Song of Sixpence (#ulink_fcbcf8c5-fd31-5e1b-97eb-81ff2a026c21) ‘Sing a Song of Sixpence’ was first published in Holly Leaves (published by Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News), 2 December 1929. Sir Edward Palliser, K.C., lived at No 9 Queen Anne’s Close. Queen Anne’s Close is a cul-de-sac. In the very heart of Westminster it manages to have a peaceful old-world atmosphere far removed from the turmoil of the twentieth century. It suited Sir Edward Palliser admirably. Sir Edward had been one of the most eminent criminal barristers of his day and now that he no longer practised at the Bar he had amused himself by amassing a very fine criminological library. He was also the author of a volume of Reminiscences of Eminent Criminals. On this particular evening Sir Edward was sitting in front of his library fire sipping some very excellent black coffee, and shaking his head over a volume of Lombroso. Such ingenious theories and so completely out of date. The door opened almost noiselessly and his well-trained man-servant approached over the thick pile carpet, and murmured discreetly: ‘A young lady wishes to see you, sir.’ ‘A young lady?’ Sir Edward was surprised. Here was something quite out of the usual course of events. Then he reflected that it might be his niece, Ethel – but no, in that case Armour would have said so. He inquired cautiously. ‘The lady did not give her name?’ ‘No, sir, but she said she was quite sure you would wish to see her.’ ‘Show her in,’ said Sir Edward Palliser. He felt pleasurably intrigued. A tall, dark girl of close on thirty, wearing a black coat and skirt, well cut, and a little black hat, came to Sir Edward with outstretched hand and a look of eager recognition on her face. Armour withdrew, closing the door noiselessly behind him. ‘Sir Edward – you do know me, don’t you? I’m Magdalen Vaughan.’ ‘Why, of course.’ He pressed the outstretched hand warmly. He remembered her perfectly now. That trip home from America on the Siluric! This charming child – for she had been little more than a child. He had made love to her, he remembered, in a discreet elderly man-of-the-world fashion. She had been so adorably young – so eager – so full of admiration and hero worship – just made to captivate the heart of a man nearing sixty. The remembrance brought additional warmth into the pressure of his hand. ‘This is most delightful of you. Sit down, won’t you.’ He arranged an armchair for her, talking easily and evenly, wondering all the time why she had come. When at last he brought the easy flow of small talk to an end, there was a silence. Her hand closed and unclosed on the arm of the chair, she moistened her lips. Suddenly she spoke – abruptly. ‘Sir Edward – I want you to help me.’ He was surprised and murmured mechanically: ‘Yes?’ She went on, speaking more intensely: ‘You said that if ever I needed help – that if there was anything in the world you could do for me – you would do it.’ Yes, he had said that. It was the sort of thing one did say – particularly at the moment of parting. He could recall the break in his voice – the way he had raised her hand to his lips. ‘If there is ever anything I can do – remember, I mean it …’ Yes, one said that sort of thing … But very, very rarely did one have to fulfil one’s words! And certainly not after – how many? – nine or ten years. He flashed a quick glance at her – she was still a very good-looking girl, but she had lost what had been to him her charm – that look of dewy untouched youth. It was a more interesting face now, perhaps – a younger man might have thought so – but Sir Edward was far from feeling the tide of warmth and emotion that had been his at the end of that Atlantic voyage. His face became legal and cautious. He said in a rather brisk way: ‘Certainly, my dear young lady. I shall be delighted to do anything in my power – though I doubt if I can be very helpful to anyone in these days.’ If he was preparing his way of retreat she did not notice it. She was of the type that can only see one thing at a time and what she was seeing at this moment was her own need. She took Sir Edward’s willingness to help for granted. ‘We are in terrible trouble, Sir Edward.’ ‘We? You are married?’ ‘No – I meant my brother and I. Oh! and William and Emily too, for that matter. But I must explain. I have – I had an aunt – Miss Crabtree. You may have read about her in the papers. It was horrible. She was killed – murdered.’ ‘Ah!’ A flash of interest lit up Sir Edward’s face. ‘About a month ago, wasn’t it?’ The girl nodded. ‘Rather less than that – three weeks.’ ‘Yes, I remember. She was hit on the head in her own house. They didn’t get the fellow who did it.’ Again Magdalen Vaughan nodded. ‘They didn’t get the man – I don’t believe they ever will get the man. You see – there mightn’t be any man to get.’ ‘What?’ ‘Yes – it’s awful. Nothing’s come out about it in the papers. But that’s what the police think. They know nobody came to the house that night.’ ‘You mean –?’ ‘That it’s one of us four. It must be. They don’t know which – and we don’t know which … We don’t know. And we sit there every day looking at each other surreptitiously and wondering. Oh! if only it could have been someone from outside – but I don’t see how it can …’ Sir Edward stared at her, his interest arising. ‘You mean that the members of the family are under suspicion?’ ‘Yes, that’s what I mean. The police haven’t said so, of course. They’ve been quite polite and nice. But they’ve ransacked the house, they’ve questioned us all, and Martha again and again … And because they don’t know which, they’re holding their hand. I’m so frightened – so horribly frightened …’ ‘My dear child. Come now, surely now, surely you are exaggerating.’ ‘I’m not. It’s one of us four – it must be.’ ‘Who are the four to whom you refer?’ Magdalen sat up straight and spoke more composedly. ‘There’s myself and Matthew. Aunt Lily was our great aunt. She was my grandmother’s sister. We’ve lived with her ever since we were fourteen (we’re twins, you know). Then there was William Crabtree. He was her nephew – her brother’s child. He lived there too, with his wife Emily.’ ‘She supported them?’ ‘More or less. He has a little money of his own, but he’s not strong and has to live at home. He’s a quiet, dreamy sort of man. I’m sure it would have been impossible for him to have – oh! – it’s awful of me to think of it even!’ ‘I am still very far from understanding the position. Perhaps you would not mind running over the facts – if it does not distress you too much.’ Конец ознакомительного фрагмента. Текст предоставлен ООО «ЛитРес». Прочитайте эту книгу целиком, купив полную легальную версию (https://www.litres.ru/agata-kristi/sing-a-song-of-sixpence-an-agatha-christie-short-story/?lfrom=334617187) на ЛитРес. 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