A classic Agatha Christie short story, available individually for the first time as an ebook.Sir Henry Clithering is staying with his friends the Bantrys. Over breakfast he learns that a girl has drowned herself. Miss Marple comes to him and says, ‘She did not drown herself – she was murdered … And I know who murdered her’. She then gives him a piece of paper with the murderer’s name to investigate. Will she be right?
Death by Drowning
A Short Story
by Agatha Christie
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.
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Ebook Edition © OCTOBER 2013 ISBN 9780007526734
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‘Death by Drowning’ was first published in Nash’s Pall Mall, November 1931.
Sir Henry Clithering, Ex-Commissioner of Scotland Yard, was staying with his friends the Bantrys at their place near the little village of St Mary Mead.
On Saturday morning, coming down to breakfast at the pleasant guestly hour of ten-fifteen, he almost collided with his hostess, Mrs Bantry, in the doorway of the breakfast room. She was rushing from the room, evidently in a condition of some excitement and distress.
Colonel Bantry was sitting at the table, his face rather redder than usual.
‘’Morning, Clithering,’ he said. ‘Nice day. Help yourself.’
Sir Henry obeyed. As he took his seat, a plate of kidneys and bacon in front of him, his host went on:
‘Dolly’s a bit upset this morning.’
‘Yes – er – I rather thought so,’ said Sir Henry mildly.
He wondered a little. His hostess was of a placid disposition, little given to moods or excitement. As far as Sir Henry knew, she felt keenly on one subject only – gardening.
‘Yes,’ said Colonel Bantry. ‘Bit of news we got this morning upset her. Girl in the village – Emmott’s daughter – Emmott who keeps the Blue Boar.’
‘Oh, yes, of course.’
‘Ye-es,’ said Colonel Bantry ruminatively. ‘Pretty girl. Got herself into trouble. Usual story. I’ve been arguing with Dolly about that. Foolish of me. Women never see sense. Dolly was all up in arms for the girl – you know what women are – men are brutes – all the rest of it, etcetera. But it’s not so simple as all that – not in these days. Girls know what they’re about. Fellow who seduces a girl’s not necessarily a villain. Fifty-fifty as often as not. I rather liked young Sandford myself. A young ass rather than a Don Juan, I should have said.’
‘It is this man Sandford who got the girl into trouble?’
‘So it seems. Of course I don’t know anything personally,’ said the Colonel cautiously. ‘It’s all gossip and chat. You know what this place is! As I say, I know nothing. And I’m not like Dolly – leaping to conclusions, flinging accusations all over the place. Damn it all, one ought to be careful in what one says. You know – inquest and all that.’
Colonel Bantry stared.
‘Yes. Didn’t I tell you? Girl drowned herself. That’s what all the pother’s about.’
‘That’s a nasty business,’ said Sir Henry.
‘Of course it is. Don’t like to think of it myself. Poor pretty little devil. Her father’s a hard man by all accounts. I suppose she just felt she couldn’t face the music.’
‘That’s what’s upset Dolly so.’
‘Where did she drown herself?’
‘In the river. Just below the mill it runs pretty fast. There’s a footpath and a bridge across. They think she threw herself off that. Well, well, it doesn’t bear thinking about.’
And with a portentous rustle, Colonel Bantry opened his newspaper and proceeded to distract his mind from painful matters by an absorption in the newest iniquities of the government.
Sir Henry was only mildly interested by the village tragedy. After breakfast, he established himself on a comfortable chair on the lawn, tilted his hat over his eyes and contemplated life from a peaceful angle.
It was about half past eleven when a neat parlourmaid tripped across the lawn.
‘If you please, sir, Miss Marple has called, and would like to see you.’
Sir Henry sat up and straightened his hat. The name surprised him. He remembered Miss Marple very well – her gentle quiet old-maidish ways, her amazing penetration. He remembered a dozen unsolved and hypothetical cases – and how in each case this typical ‘old maid of the village’ had leaped unerringly to the right solution of the mystery. Sir Henry had a very deep respect for Miss Marple. He wondered what had brought her to see him.