The Bird with the Broken Wing: An Agatha Christie Short Story
It was she who received Mr Satterthwaite when he arrived.
‘How nice of you to come – after all.’
‘Very delightful of you to let me change my mind. Madge, my dear, you’re looking very well.’
‘Oh! I’m always well.’
‘Yes, I know. But it’s more than that. You look – well, blooming is the word I have in mind. Has anything happened my dear? Anything – well – special?’
She laughed – blushed a little.
‘It’s too bad, Mr Satterthwaite. You always guess things.’
He took her hand.
‘So it’s that, is it? Mr Right has come along?’
It was an old-fashioned term, but Madge did not object to it. She rather liked Mr Satterthwaite’s old-fashioned ways.
‘I suppose so – yes. But nobody’s supposed to know. It’s a secret. But I don’t really mind your knowing, Mr Satterthwaite. You’re always so nice and sympathetic.’
Mr Satterthwaite thoroughly enjoyed romance at second hand. He was sentimental and Victorian.
‘I mustn’t ask who the lucky man is? Well, then all I can say is that I hope he is worthy of the honour you are conferring on him.’
Rather a duck, old Mr Satterthwaite, thought Madge.
‘Oh! we shall get on awfully well together, I think,’ she said. ‘You see, we like doing the same things, and that’s so awfully important, isn’t it? We’ve really got a lot in common – and we know all about each other and all that. It’s really been coming on for a long time. That gives one such a nice safe feeling, doesn’t it?’
‘Undoubtedly,’ said Mr Satterthwaite. ‘But in my experience one can never really know all about anyone else. That is part of the interest and charm of life.’
‘Oh! I’ll risk it,’ said Madge, laughing, and they went up to dress for dinner.
Mr Satterthwaite was late. He had not brought a valet, and having his things unpacked for him by a stranger always flurried him a little. He came down to find everyone assembled, and in the modern style Madge merely said: ‘Oh! here’s Mr Satterthwaite. I’m starving. Let’s go in.’
She led the way with a tall grey-haired woman – a woman of striking personality. She had a very clear rather incisive voice, and her face was clear cut and rather beautiful.
‘How d’you do, Satterthwaite,’ said Mr Keeley.
Mr Satterthwaite jumped.
‘How do you do,’ he said. ‘I’m afraid I didn’t see you.’
‘Nobody does,’ said Mr Keeley sadly.
They went in. The table was a low oval of mahogany. Mr Satterthwaite was placed between his young hostess and a short dark girl – a very hearty girl with a loud voice and a ringing determined laugh that expressed more the determination to be cheerful at all costs than any real mirth. Her name seemed to be Doris, and she was the type of young woman Mr Satterthwaite most disliked. She had, he considered, no artistic justification for existence.
On Madge’s other side was a man of about thirty, whose likeness to the grey-haired woman proclaimed them mother and son.
Next to him –
Mr Satterthwaite caught his breath.