The Adventure of the Cheap Flat: A Hercule Poirot Short Story
Агата Кристи

The Adventure of the Cheap Flat: A Hercule Poirot Short Story
Agatha Christie

A classic Agatha Christie short story, available individually for the first time as an ebook.Poirot is fascinated by Hastings’ talk of an unusually ‘dirt cheap’ flat in an expensive part of London. With his suspicion aroused Poirot cannot resist investigating, much to Hastings’ dismay who thinks nothing of it…

The Adventure of the Cheap Flat

A Short Story

by Agatha Christie

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Published by HarperCollinsPublishers Ltd 1 London Bridge Street London SE1 9GF (

Copyright © 1999 Agatha Christie Ltd.

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Ebook Edition © MAY 2013 ISBN: 9780007526376

Version: 2017-04-13


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The Adventure of the Cheap Flat

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The Adventure of the Cheap Flat (#ulink_c26daf81-7c8b-53f3-be70-63254ad3da51)

‘The Adventure of the Cheap Flat’ was first published in The Sketch, 9 May 1923.

So far, in the cases which I have recorded, Poirot’s investigations have started from the central fact, whether murder or robbery, and have proceeded from thence by a process of logical deduction to the final triumphant unravelling. In the events I am now about to chronicle a remarkable chain of circumstances led from the apparently trivial incidents which first attracted Poirot’s attention to the sinister happenings which completed a most unusual case.

I had been spending the evening with an old friend of mine, Gerald Parker. There had been, perhaps, about half a dozen people there besides my host and myself, and the talk fell, as it was bound to do sooner or later wherever Parker found himself, on the subject of house-hunting in London. Houses and flats were Parker’s special hobby. Since the end of the War, he had occupied at least half a dozen different flats and maisonettes. No sooner was he settled anywhere than he would light unexpectedly upon a new find, and would forthwith depart bag and baggage. His moves were nearly always accomplished at a slight pecuniary gain, for he had a shrewd business head, but it was sheer love of the sport that actuated him, and not a desire to make money at it. We listened to Parker for some time with the respect of the novice for the expert. Then it was our turn, and a perfect babel of tongues was let loose. Finally the floor was left to Mrs Robinson, a charming little bride who was there with her husband. I had never met them before, as Robinson was only a recent acquaintance of Parker’s.

‘Talking of flats,’ she said, ‘have you heard of our piece of luck, Mr Parker? We’ve got a flat – at last! In Montagu Mansions.’

‘Well,’ said Parker, ‘I’ve always said there are plenty of flats – at a price!’

‘Yes, but this isn’t at a price. It’s dirt cheap. Eighty pounds a year!’

‘But – but Montagu Mansions is just off Knightsbridge, isn’t it? Big handsome building. Or are you talking of a poor relation of the same name stuck in the slums somewhere?’

‘No, it’s the Knightsbridge one. That’s what makes it so wonderful.’

‘Wonderful is the word! It’s a blinking miracle. But there must be a catch somewhere. Big premium, I suppose?’

‘No premium!’

‘No prem – oh, hold my head, somebody!’ groaned Parker.

‘But we’ve got to buy the furniture,’ continued Mrs Robinson.

‘Ah!’ Parker bristled up. ‘I knew there was a catch!’

‘For fifty pounds. And it’s beautifully furnished!’

‘I give it up,’ said Parker. ‘The present occupants must be lunatics with a taste for philanthropy.’

Mrs Robinson was looking a little troubled. A little pucker appeared between her dainty brows.

‘It is queer, isn’t it? You don’t think that – that – the place is haunted?’

‘Never heard of a haunted flat,’ declared Parker decisively.

‘No-o.’ Mrs Robinson appeared far from convinced. ‘But there were several things about it all that struck me as – well, queer.’

‘For instance –’ I suggested.

‘Ah,’ said Parker, ‘our criminal expert’s attention is aroused! Unburden yourself to him, Mrs Robinson. Hastings is a great unraveller of mysteries.’

I laughed, embarrassed, but not wholly displeased with the rôle thrust upon me.

‘Oh, not really queer, Captain Hastings, but when we went to the agents, Stosser and Paul – we hadn’t tried them before because they only have the expensive Mayfair flats, but we thought at any rate it would do no harm – everything they offered us was four and five hundred a year, or else huge premiums, and then, just as we were going, they mentioned that they had a flat at eighty, but that they doubted if it would be any good our going there, because it had been on their books some time and they had sent so many people to see it that it was almost sure to be taken – “snapped up” as the clerk put it – only people were so tiresome in not letting them know, and then they went on sending, and people get annoyed at being sent to a place that had, perhaps, been let some time.’

Mrs Robinson paused for some much needed breath, and then continued:

‘We thanked him, and said that we quite understood it would probably be no good, but that we should like an order all the same – just in case. And we went there straight away in a taxi, for, after all, you never know. No 4 was on the second floor, and just as we were waiting for the lift, Elsie Ferguson – she’s a friend of mine, Captain Hastings, and they are looking for a flat too – came hurrying down the stairs. “Ahead of you for once, my dear,” she said. “But it’s no good. It’s already let.” That seemed to finish it, but – well, as John said, the place was very cheap, we could afford to give more, and perhaps if we offered a premium. A horrid thing to do, of course, and I feel quite ashamed of telling you, but you know what flat-hunting is.’

I assured her that I was well aware that in the struggle for house-room the baser side of human nature frequently triumphed over the higher, and that the well-known rule of dog eat dog always applied.

‘So we went up and, would you believe it, the flat wasn’t let at all. We were shown over it by the maid, and then we saw the mistress, and the thing was settled then and there. Immediate possession and fifty pounds for the furniture. We signed the agreement next day, and we are to move in tomorrow!’ Mrs Robinson paused triumphantly.

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