The Harlequin Tea Set: An Agatha Christie Short Story
‘I said to her,’ one of them was saying, ‘I said you can’t do that sort of thing. No, it’s not the sort of thing that I’ll put up with, and I said the same to Henry and he agreed with me.’
It shot through Mr Satterthwaite’s mind that Henry must have rather a hard life and that no doubt he had found it always wise to agree, whatever the proposition put up to him might be. A most unattractive woman with a most unattractive friend. He turned his attention to the other side of the building, murmuring, ‘May I just look round?’
There was quite a pleasant woman in charge and she said ‘Oh yes, sir. We’ve got a good stock at present.’
Mr Satterthwaite looked at the coloured cups, picked up one or two of them, examined the milk jug, picked up a china zebra and considered it, examined some ashtrays of a fairly pleasing pattern. He heard chairs being pushed back and turning his head, noted that the two middle-aged women still discussing former grievances had paid their bill and were now leaving the shop. As they went out of the door, a tall man in a dark suit came in. He sat down at the table which they had just vacated. His back was to Mr Satterthwaite, who thought that he had an attractive back. Lean, strong, well-muscled but rather dark and sinister-looking because there was very little light in the shop. Mr Satterthwaite looked back again at the ashtrays. ‘I might buy an ashtray so as not to cause a disappointment to the shop owner,’ he thought. As he did so, the sun came out suddenly.