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The Coming of Mr Quin: An Agatha Christie Short Story
Агата Кристи

The Coming of Mr Quin: An Agatha Christie Short Story
Agatha Christie

A classic Agatha Christie short story, available individually for the first time as an ebook.On a dark evening, Mr Harley Quin appears at the door of Royston Hall under the premise that his car has broken down. Once inside, he embarks upon the tragic tale of Royston Hall’s former occupants, leading to a dramatic change in the perceptions of the current inhabitants – but has Mr Quin’s revelation come too late?

THE COMING OF MR QUIN

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)

‘The Coming of Mr Quin’ was first published as ‘The Passing of Mr Quinn’ in Grand Magazine, March 1923.

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: 9780007486717

Version: 2017-04-18

Contents

Cover (#u08e458e6-06af-57d9-b09b-9aabc2f4e417)

Title Page (#u7a693ff8-73b7-5726-b5d4-1118347c0b71)

Copyright

The Coming of Mr Quin

About the Publisher (#litres_trial_promo)

The Coming of Mr Quin

‘The Coming of Mr Quin’ was first published as ‘The Passing of Mr Quinn’ in Grand Magazine, March 1923.

It was New Year’s Eve.

The elder members of the house party at Royston were assembled in the big hall.

Mr Satterthwaite was glad that the young people had gone to bed. He was not fond of young people in herds. He thought them uninteresting and crude. They lacked subtlety and as life went on he had become increasingly fond of subtleties.

Mr Satterthwaite was sixty-two – a little bent, dried-up man with a peering face oddly elflike, and an intense and inordinate interest in other people’s lives. All his life, so to speak, he had sat in the front row of the stalls watching various dramas of human nature unfold before him. His role had always been that of the onlooker. Only now, with old age holding him in its clutch, he found himself increasingly critical of the drama submitted to him. He demanded now something a little out of the common.

There was no doubt that he had a flair for these things. He knew instinctively when the elements of drama were at hand. Like a war horse, he sniffed the scent. Since his arrival at Royston this afternoon, that strange inner sense of his had stirred and bid him be ready. Something interesting was happening or going to happen.

The house party was not a large one. There was Tom Evesham, their genial good-humoured host, and his serious political wife who had been before her marriage Lady Laura Keene. There was Sir Richard Conway, soldier, traveller and sportsman, there were six or seven young people whose names Mr Satterthwaite had not grasped and there were the Portals.

It was the Portals who interested Mr Satterthwaite.

He had never met Alex Portal before, but he knew all about him. Had known his father and his grandfather. Alex Portal ran pretty true to type. He was a man of close on forty, fair-haired, and blue-eyed like all the Portals, fond of sport, good at games, devoid of imagination. Nothing unusual about Alex Portal. The usual good sound English stock.

But his wife was different. She was, Mr Satterthwaite knew, an Australian. Portal had been out in Australia two years ago, had met her out there and had married her and brought her home. She had never been to England previous to her marriage. All the same, she wasn’t at all like any other Australian woman Mr Satterthwaite had met.

He observed her now, covertly. Interesting woman – very. So still, and yet so – alive. Alive! That was just it! Not exactly beautiful – no, you wouldn’t call her beautiful, but there was a kind of calamitous magic about her that you couldn’t miss – that no man could miss. The masculine side of Mr Satterthwaite spoke there, but the feminine side (for Mr Satterthwaite had a large share of femininity) was equally interested in another question. Why did Mrs Portal dye her hair?

No other man would probably have known that she dyed her hair, but Mr Satterthwaite knew. He knew all those things. And it puzzled him. Many dark women dye their hair blonde; he had never before come across a fair woman who dyed her hair black.

Everything about her intrigued him. In a queer intuitive way, he felt certain that she was either very happy or very unhappy – but he didn’t know which, and it annoyed him not to know. Furthermore there was the curious effect she had upon her husband.

‘He adores her,’ said Mr Satterthwaite to himself, ‘but sometimes he’s – yes, afraid of her! That’s very interesting. That’s uncommonly interesting.’

Portal drank too much. That was certain. And he had a curious way of watching his wife when she wasn’t looking.

‘Nerves,’ said Mr Satterthwaite. ‘The fellow’s all nerves. She knows it too, but she won’t do anything about it.’

He felt very curious about the pair of them. Something was going on that he couldn’t fathom.

He was roused from his meditations on the subject by the solemn chiming of the big clock in the corner.

‘Twelve o’clock,’ said Evesham. ‘New Year’s Day. Happy New Year – everybody. As a matter of fact that clock’s five minutes fast … I don’t know why the children wouldn’t wait up and see the New Year in?’

‘I don’t suppose for a minute they’ve really gone to bed,’ said his wife placidly. ‘They’re probably putting hairbrushes or something in our beds. That sort of thing does so amuse them. I can’t think why. We should never have been allowed to do such a thing in my young days.’

‘Autre temps, autres moeurs,’ said Conway, smiling.

He was a tall soldierly-looking man. Both he and Evesham were much of the same type – honest upright kindly men with no great pretensions to brains.

‘In my young days we all joined hands in a circle and sang “Auld Lang Syne”,’ continued Lady Laura. ‘“Should auld acquaintance be forgot” – so touching, I always think the words are.’

Evesham moved uneasily.

‘Oh! drop it, Laura,’ he muttered. ‘Not here.’

He strode across the wide hall where they were sitting, and switched on an extra light.

‘Very stupid of me,’ said Lady Laura, sotto voce. ‘Reminds him of poor Mr Capel, of course. My dear, is the fire too hot for you?’
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