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The Bird with the Broken Wing: An Agatha Christie Short Story
Агата Кристи

The Bird with the Broken Wing: An Agatha Christie Short Story
Agatha Christie

A classic Agatha Christie short story, available individually for the first time as an ebook.When a game with a Ouija board spells out the name QUIN and the name of a place, Mr Satterthwaite’s instincts tell him that a murder is about to take place and that he should drop everything to investigate…

The Bird with the Broken Wing

A Short Story

by Agatha Christie

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Copyright © 2008 Agatha Christie Ltd.

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Ebook Edition © JUNE 2014 ISBN 9780007560301

Version: 2017-04-13

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‘The Bird with the Broken Wing’ was published in The Mysterious Mr Quin by Collins, April 1930. No prior magazine publication has been located.

Mr Satterthwaite looked out of the window. It was raining steadily. He shivered. Very few country houses, he reflected, were really properly heated. It cheered him to think that in a few hours’ time he would be speeding towards London. Once one had passed sixty years of age, London was really much the best place.

He was feeling a little old and pathetic. Most of the members of the house party were so young. Four of them had just gone off into the library to do table turning. They had invited him to accompany them, but he had declined. He failed to derive any amusement from the monotonous counting of the letters of the alphabet and the usual meaningless jumble of letters that resulted.

Yes, London was the best place for him. He was glad that he had declined Madge Keeley’s invitation when she had rung up to invite him over to Laidell half an hour ago. An adorable young person, certainly, but London was best.

Mr Satterthwaite shivered again and remembered that the fire in the library was usually a good one. He opened the door and adventured cautiously into the darkened room.

‘If I’m not in the way –’

‘Was that N or M? We shall have to count again. No, of course not, Mr Satterthwaite. Do you know, the most exciting things have been happening. The spirit says her name is Ada Spiers, and John here is going to marry someone called Gladys Bun almost immediately.’

Mr Satterthwaite sat down in a big easy chair in front of the fire. His eyelids drooped over his eyes and he dozed. From time to time he returned to consciousness, hearing fragments of speech.

‘It can’t be P A B Z L – not unless he’s a Russian. John, you’re shoving. I saw you. I believe it’s a new spirit come.’

Another interval of dozing. Then a name jerked him wide awake.

‘Q-U-I-N. Is that right?’ ‘Yes, it’s rapped once for “Yes.” Quin. Have you a message for someone here? Yes. For me? For John? For Sarah? For Evelyn? No – but there’s no one else. Oh! it’s for Mr Satterthwaite, perhaps? It says “Yes.” Mr Satterthwaite, it’s a message for you.’

‘What does it say?’

Mr Satterthwaite was broad awake now, sitting taut and erect in his chair, his eyes shining.

The table rocked and one of the girls counted.

‘LAI – it can’t be – that doesn’t make sense. No word begins LAI.’

‘Go on,’ said Mr Satterthwaite, and the command in his voice was so sharp that he was obeyed without question.

‘LAIDEL? and another L – Oh! that seems to be all.’

‘Go on.’

‘Tell us some more, please.’

A pause.

‘There doesn’t seem to be any more. The table’s gone quite dead. How silly.’

‘No,’ said Mr Satterthwaite thoughtfully. ‘I don’t think it’s silly.’

He rose and left the room. He went straight to the telephone. Presently he was through.

‘Can I speak to Miss Keeley? Is that you, Madge, my dear? I want to change my mind, if I may, and accept your kind invitation. It is not so urgent as I thought that I should get back to town. Yes – yes – I will arrive in time for dinner.’

He hung up the receiver, a strange flush on his withered cheeks. Mr Quin – the mysterious Mr Harley Quin. Mr Satterthwaite counted over on his fingers the times he had been brought into contact with that man of mystery. Where Mr Quin was concerned – things happened! What had happened or was going to happen – at Laidell?

Whatever it was, there was work for him, Mr Satterthwaite, to do. In some way or other, he would have an active part to play. He was sure of that.

Laidell was a large house. Its owner, David Keeley, was one of those quiet men with indeterminate personalities who seem to count as part of the furniture. Their inconspicuousness has nothing to do with brain power – David Keeley was a most brilliant mathematician, and had written a book totally incomprehensible to ninety-nine hundreds of humanity. But like so many men of brilliant intellect, he radiated no bodily vigour or magnetism. It was a standing joke that David Keeley was a real ‘invisible man’. Footmen passed him by with the vegetables, and guests forgot to say how do you do or goodbye.

His daughter Madge was very different. A fine upstanding young woman, bursting with energy and life. Thorough, healthy and normal, and extremely pretty.
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