Vincent is a genteel lady living in reduced circumstances with her son and daughter, Rupert and Barbara. They now live in rooms in a boarding house which has seen better times and, due to these surroundings, are unable to entertain people of similar class and upbringing. Rupert has just started a job in the city, with excellent prospects but, at this point in time, only a small income. Barbara enjoyed a trip to Egypt the previous winter with — and paid for by — her richer cousin. On this trip she met a young man called Jim Masterson, who is interested in courting her, but who would be put off if he saw their reduced circumstances.
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Vincent is a genteel lady living in reduced circumstances with her son and daughter, Rupert and Barbara. They now live in rooms in a boarding house which has seen better times and, due to these surroundings, are unable to entertain people of similar class and upbringing. Rupert has just started a job in the city, with excellent prospects but, at this point in time, only a small income. Barbara enjoyed a trip to Egypt the previous winter with — and paid for by — her richer cousin.
On this trip she met a young man called Jim Masterson, who is interested in courting her, but who would be put off if he saw their reduced circumstances. Looking through the Morning Post , Mrs St. Vincent sees an advertisement for a house to let in Westminster , furnished, and with a nominal rent. Although she thinks she has little chance of being able to afford the house, she goes to see the house agents and then the house itself, and is instantly taken with it and pleasantly surprised at its very low rent.
The agents offer her the house for a six-month rental. Barbara is delighted, but Rupert is suspicious — the house belonged to Lord Listerdale, who disappeared eighteen months previously and supposedly turned up in East Africa, supplying his cousin, Colonel Carfax, with power of attorney.
Delicious food regularly turns up on the table. After three months, Mrs St. Vincent is very happy in the house and Jim has proposed to Barbara. Rupert still entertains his suspicions, and is somewhat convinced that Listerdale is not in Africa, but has perhaps been murdered, and his body hidden in the house.
Rupert also suspects Quentin of being part of whatever plot has occurred. Spotting someone who resembles Quentin, he questions the man, who tells him he is really called Quentin; was butler to Lord Listerdale; but retired on a pension to an estate cottage some time before. Rupert brings the real butler to London and confronts the fake one. The real butler tells an astonished St. Vincent family that the fake is in fact Lord Listerdale himself.
His Lordship explains that, ashamed of his selfish life to date, he faked his relocation to Africa, and has since spent his time helping people like the St. Vincents, whose lives have been reduced to something akin to begging. Over the past few months, he has fallen in love with Mrs St.
Vincent, and now proposes marriage to the delighted lady. Philomel Cottage[ edit ] Alix Martin is a woman in her mid-thirties who has worked as a shorthand typist for fifteen years. For most of that time she has had an understanding with a fellow clerk by the name of Dick Windyford; but, as both are short of funds and, at various times, had family dependants, romance and marriage have been out of the question and never spoken of.
Dick is furious, and warns Alix that she knows nothing whatsoever about her new husband. A month after they are married, Gerald and Alix are living in the picturesque Philomel Cottage. It is isolated, but fitted with all modern conveniences. Alix has some anxieties: she has a recurring dream in which Gerald lies dead on the floor, Dick standing over him having committed the deed of murder, and Alix grateful for the act.
She is troubled that the dream is a warning. By coincidence, Dick phones her. He is staying at a local inn and wishes to call on her. Gerald had told Alix that it was three thousand, and she gave him part of her inheritance to make up the difference.
An appointment is marked down for pm that night, but no indication is given as to what will happen at that time. Alix suddenly has doubts about her husband, which only increase when he gives her a cryptic warning about prying into his past life. He is also furious that George made the comment about going to London. He claims the pm entry was to remind him to develop photographs in his dark room, but he has now decided not to carry out this chore.
Although found not guilty of murder, he was imprisoned on other charges and escaped four years before. Alix seems to recognise LeMaitre from the photographs — it is Gerald! He returns to the cottage, carrying a spade, supposedly to do work in the cellar, but Alix is convinced he intends to kill her. Desperately keeping up a pretence of normality, she makes a supposed call to the butcher which is in fact a coded call for help to Dick at the inn.
Gerald tries to get her to join him in the cellar, but she plays for time, telling Gerald that she is in fact an unsuspected murderess who killed two previous husbands by poisoning them with hyoscine , which induces the symptoms of heart failure.
Gerald had been complaining that his coffee was bitter, and he is convinced that she has now poisoned him. At that moment, Dick and a policeman arrive at the cottage as Alix runs out. The policeman investigates inside and reports that there is a man in a chair who is dead, looking as though he has had a bad fright.
Annoyed in turn with his uncle, George makes plans to leave home. He is happily alone in the first class carriage when a girl jumps onto the train begging to be hidden. George chivalrously hides her under the train seat before a moustached foreign man appears at the window and "demands" his niece back. George calls a platform guard who detains the foreign man, and the train departs. At the next station, she gets off the train. While speaking to George through the window, she spots a man with a small dark beard further down the platform getting into the train and tells George to keep an eye on him and to guard safely a package that she hands to him.
George follows the bearded man down to Portsmouth , books into the same commercial hotel, and watches him carefully. He is aware that there is another, ginger-haired man carefully watching both of them. He follows the bearded man as he goes on a quick walk through the streets, which ends up taking them both back to their hotel with no sign of any assignation. George wonders if the bearded man has spotted that he is being watched.
His puzzlement increases when two foreign men call at the hotel and ask George although calling him "Lord Rowland" where the Grand Duchess Anastasia of Catonia, a small Balkan state, has gone to. The younger of the two men grows violent but George is able to subdue him with Jujutsu. The two men leave, uttering threats. That night, George watches the black-bearded man as he secretes a small packet behind the skirting board in the bathroom. Returning to his own room, George finds the package Elizabeth gave him has gone from its hiding place under the pillow.
After breakfast, the package has returned to his room but, investigating its contents at last, George finds only a box with a wedding ring inside it. He deduces that the man escaped via the fire escape just before he hears a noise from inside the wardrobe and, investigating, is attacked from within by the ginger-haired man.
The black-bearded man was called Mardenberg and was a foreign spy who secreted the plans of the Portsmouth harbour defences behind the skirting board. His accomplice is a young girl, and George wonders if this could have been Elizabeth. At the next station Elizabeth gets onto the train and explains events to George. He proposes to her. She accepts. Sing a Song of Sixpence[ edit ] Sir Edward Palliser, KC , receives a visit in his Westminster house from a woman called Magdalen Vaughan whom he met on a boat trip some ten years previously.
She begs him for help, as she is the great-niece of Lily Crabtree, an old woman who was murdered some three weeks ago. The victim was found dead in her downstairs room in her Chelsea house, her head crushed in by a paperweight, which had then been wiped clean. All four of the family members in the house were supported financially by Miss Crabtree and all four inherit one quarter of her estate.
The police have been unable to establish any concrete evidence against anyone in the house and the suspicion against them is telling on them all. Magdalen begs Sir Edward to investigate thereby keeping to a promise he made to her ten years before to help her in any way he could, should the need arise. He agrees to help.
Emily rowed with Miss Crabtree at lunch and retired to her room following afternoon tea with a headache pill. William also went to his room with his stamp collection. Magdalen was also upstairs sewing. Matthew Vaughan refuses to speak with Sir Edward, claiming to be tired of the whole business. Sir Edward speaks with Martha who was devoted to Miss Crabtree as she took her into service thirty years before after she had had an illegitimate baby.
She confirms that she can hear the creak of the stairs when anyone comes downstairs — and no one did during the period in question — and that Matthew was in a downstairs room typing a journalistic piece and she could constantly hear the keys of the typewriter. In questioning her as to whether Miss Crabtree was expecting anyone, Martha relates her final conversation with Miss Crabtree, which includes trivial complaints about the household budget and the dishonesty of tradesmen, citing a supposedly bad sixpence she was given.
He is on his way home when Matthew Vaughan stops him in the street to apologise for his behaviour. Sir Edward catches sight of a shop over his shoulder called "Four and Twenty Blackbirds" and runs back to the house to confront Martha.
Martha confesses that the killer was a caller to the house — it was her illegitimate son, Ben, who has now fled the country. He is a romantic at heart who wishes he was masterful and rugged like the men he reads of in novels. On Christmas Eve, on holiday from his work as a clerk, he goes for a drive into the country. He returns to his vehicle and drives back to London but on the way, reaching into the door pocket for his muffler , he instead finds a diamond necklace.
In shock, he realises that although it is the same model car as his, it is not the same car. By coincidence, he got into the wrong car after his walk and drove off. He returns to the Punch Bowl but his car has gone. He keeps the assignation and meets a beautiful woman in evening dress and cloak who thinks he is someone called Gerald.
He does so and receives a passionate kiss in return. He happily admits to the competition win and buying the car and tells her that he means to marry her next month, despite her objections. Merrowdene, as being Mrs. Anthony, a notorious woman who was charged and tried nine years previously with the murder of her husband by arsenic poisoning. She claimed that her husband was an arsenic-eater and that he took too much.
Giving her the benefit of the doubt, the jury acquitted her; and, for the past six years, she has been the wife of a local elderly professor. After recognising her, Evans has carried out further investigations and found out that Mrs. Evans is convinced this earlier death was not accidental and that Mrs.
The Sittaford Mystery
With whom I discussed the plot of this book to the alarm of those around us. In , Christie had been planning a holiday to the West Indies when a chance conversation at a dinner party with a Commander Howe of the Royal Navy and his wife, who had just returned from his being stationed in the Persian Gulf , awakened an interest in her in visiting Baghdad , especially when the Howes pointed out that a part of the journey could be made by the famed Orient Express. The Howes also mentioned that not far from Baghdad, an archaeological expedition was uncovering the remains of the ancient city of Ur , about which Christie had been reading with avid interest in The Illustrated London News. Visitors to the dig were usually discouraged but Katharine Woolley was a great admirer of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and, being an imperious and difficult woman who always got her way in things large and small Gertrude Bell described Katherine as "dangerous" , Christie was treated as an honoured guest. They visited Nippur , Diwaniyah , Nejeif, Ukhaidir, and Kerbela and on a journey back to Baghdad, their car got stuck in the sand. After being reunited with the Woolleys, most of the party made its way by stages to Greece where Christie received telegrams informing her that her daughter Rosalind who was in the care of her sister at Abney Hall , was seriously ill with pneumonia. Christie set off for home by a four-day train journey with Max accompanying her.
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