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Агата Кристи
Jane in Search of a Job: An Agatha Christie Short Story

Jane in Search of a Job: An Agatha Christie Short Story
Agatha Christie

A classic Agatha Christie short story, available individually for the first time as an ebook.Jane Cleveland is in desperate need of a job, when she sees an advert for a woman of her description is needed to impersonate a grand duchess she cannot believe her luck. The royal retainers tell Jane that the job will be dangerous because attempts have been made on the Grand Duchess Pauline’s life, but this only serves to make the job appeal to her even more. Jane’s disguise initially goes according to plan, until she is kidnapped and drugged – it appears that her new employers are not all that they seem…

JANE IN SEARCH OF A JOB

A Short Story

by Agatha Christie

Copyright

This short story is entirely a work of fiction. The names, characters and incidents portrayed in it are the work of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or localities is entirely coincidental.

Published by HarperCollinsPublishers Ltd 1 London Bridge Street London SE1 9GF www.harpercollins.co.uk (http://www.harpercollins.co.uk)

‘Jane in Search of a Job’ was first published in Grand Magazine, August 1924.

This ePub edition published April 2012.

Copyright © 2012 Agatha Christie Ltd.

A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

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 © 2012 ISBN: 9780007486748

Version: 2017-04-18

Contents

Cover (#u8acc946b-1FFF-11e9-9e03-0cc47a520474)

Title Page (#u8acc946b-2FFF-11e9-9e03-0cc47a520474)

Copyright

Jane in Search of a Job

About the Publisher (#litres_trial_promo)

Jane in Search of a Job

‘Jane in Search of a Job’ was first published in Grand Magazine, August 1924.

Jane Cleveland rustled the pages of the Daily Leader and sighed. A deep sigh that came from the innermost recesses of her being. She looked with distaste at the marble-topped table, the poached egg on toast which reposed on it, and the small pot of tea. Not because she was not hungry. That was far from being the case. Jane was extremely hungry. At that moment she felt like consuming a pound and a half of well-cooked beefsteak, with chip potatoes, and possibly French beans. The whole washed down with some more exciting vintage than tea.

But young women whose exchequers are in a parlous condition cannot be choosers. Jane was lucky to be able to order a poached egg and a pot of tea. It seemed unlikely that she would be able to do so tomorrow. That is unless –

She turned once more to the advertisement columns of the Daily Leader. To put it plainly, Jane was out of a job, and the position was becoming acute. Already the genteel lady who presided over the shabby boarding-house was looking askance at this particular young woman.

‘And yet,’ said Jane to herself, throwing up her chin indignantly, which was a habit of hers, ‘and yet I’m intelligent and good-looking and well educated. What more does anyone want?’

According to the Daily Leader, they seemed to want shorthand typists of vast experience, managers for business houses with a little capital to invest, ladies to share in the profits of poultry farming (here again a little capital was required), and innumerable cooks, housemaids and parlourmaids – particularly parlourmaids.

‘I wouldn’t mind being a parlourmaid,’ said Jane to herself. ‘But there again, no one would take me without experience. I could go somewhere, I dare say, as a Willing Young Girl – but they don’t pay willing young girls anything to speak of.’

She sighed again, propped the paper up in front of her, and attacked the poached egg with all the vigour of healthy youth.

When the last mouthful had been despatched, she turned the paper, and studied the Agony and Personal column whilst she drank her tea. The Agony column was always the last hope.

Had she but possessed a couple of thousand pounds, the thing would have been easy enough. There were at least seven unique opportunities – all yielding not less than three thousand a year. Jane’s lip curled a little.

‘If I had two thousand pounds,’ she murmured, ‘it wouldn’t be easy to separate me from it.’

She cast her eyes rapidly down to the bottom of the column and ascended with the ease born of long practice.

There was the lady who gave such wonderful prices for cast-off clothing. ‘Ladies’ wardrobes inspected at their own dwellings.’ There were gentlemen who bought anything – but principally teeth. There were ladies of title going abroad who would dispose of their furs at a ridiculous figure. There was the distressed clergyman and the hard-working widow, and the disabled officer, all needing sums varying from fifty pounds to two thousand. And then suddenly Jane came to an abrupt halt. She put down her teacup and read the advertisement through again.

‘There’s a catch in it, of course,’ she murmured. ‘There always is a catch in these sort of things. I shall have to be careful. But still –’

The advertisement which so intrigued Jane Cleveland ran as follows:

If a young lady of twenty-five to thirty years of age, eyes dark blue, very fair hair, black lashes and brows, straight nose, slim figure, height five feet seven inches, good mimic and able to speak French, will call at 7 Endersleigh Street, between 5 and 6 p.m., she will hear of something to her advantage.

‘Guileless Gwendolen, or why girls go wrong,’ murmured Jane. ‘I shall certainly have to be careful. But there are too many specifications, really, for that sort of thing. I wonder now … Let us overhaul the catalogue.’

She proceeded to do so. ‘Twenty-five to thirty – I’m twenty-six. Eyes dark blue, that’s right. Hair very fair – black lashes and brows – all OK. Straight nose? Ye-es – straight enough, anyway. It doesn’t hook or turn up. And I’ve got a slim figure – slim even for nowadays. I’m only five feet six inches – but I could wear high heels. I am a good mimic – nothing wonderful, but I can copy people’s voices, and I speak French like an angel or a Frenchwoman. In fact, I’m absolutely the goods. They ought to tumble over themselves with delight when I turn up. Jane Cleveland, go in and win.’

Resolutely Jane tore out the advertisement and placed it in her handbag. Then she demanded her bill, with a new briskness in her voice.

At ten minutes to five Jane was reconnoitring in the neighbourhood of Endersleigh Street. Endersleigh Street itself is a small street sandwiched between two larger streets in the neighbourhood of Oxford Circus. It is drab, but respectable.

No. 7 seemed in no way different from the neighbouring houses. It was composed like they were of offices. But looking up at it, it dawned upon Jane for the first time that she was not the only blue-eyed, fair-haired, straight-nosed, slim-figured girl of between twenty-five and thirty years of age. London was evidently full of such girls, and forty or fifty of them at least were grouped outside No. 7 Endersleigh Street.

‘Competition,’ said Jane. ‘I’d better join the queue quickly.’

She did so, just as three more girls turned the corner of the street. Others followed them. Jane amused herself by taking stock of her immediate neighbours. In each case she managed to find something wrong – fair eyelashes instead of dark, eyes more grey than blue, fair hair that owed its fairness to art and not to Nature, interesting variations in noses, and figures that only an all-embracing charity could have described as slim. Jane’s spirits rose.

‘I believe I’ve got as good an all-round chance as anyone,’ she murmured to herself. ‘I wonder what it’s all about? A beauty chorus, I hope.’

The queue was moving slowly but steadily forward. Presently a second stream of girls began, issuing from inside the house. Some of them tossed their heads, some of them smirked.

‘Rejected,’ said Jane, with glee. ‘I hope to goodness they won’t be full up before I get in.’

And still the queue of girls moved forwards. There were anxious glances in tiny mirrors, and a frenzied powdering of noses. Lipsticks were brandished freely.

‘I wish I had a smarter hat,’ said Jane to herself sadly.
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