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A Caribbean Mystery

A Caribbean Mystery

A Caribbean Mystery 90


  ‘What’s the matter?’

  Alicia Coombe, who had got up late, came down the stairs, hobbling a little precariously for she had rheumatism in her right knee.

  ‘What is the matter with you, Sybil?’

  ‘Look. Look what’s happened now.’

  They stood in the doorway of the showroom. Sitting on a sofa, sprawled easily over the arm of it, was the doll.

  ‘She’s got out,’ said Sybil, ‘She’s got out of that room! She wants this room as well.’

  Alicia Coombe sat down by the door. ‘In the end,’ she said, ‘I suppose she’ll want the whole shop.’

  ‘She might,’ said Sybil. ‘You nasty, sly, malicious brute,’ said Alicia, addressing the doll. ‘Why do you want to come and pester us so? We don’t want you.’

  It seemed to her, and to Sybil too, that the doll moved very slightly. It was as though its limbs relaxed still further. A long limp arm was lying on the arm of the sofa and the half-hidden face looked as if it were peering from under the arm. And it was a sly, malicious look.

  ‘Horrible creature,’ said Alicia. ‘I can’t bear it! I can’t bear it any longer.’ Suddenly, taking Sybil completely by surprise, she dashed across the room, picked up the doll, ran to the window, opened it, and flung the doll out into the street. There was a gasp and a half cry of fear from Sybil.

  ‘Oh, Alicia, you shouldn’t have done that! I’m sure you shouldn’t have done that!’

  ‘I had to do something,’ said Alicia Coombe. ‘I just couldn’t stand it any more.’

  Sybil joined her at the window. Down below on the pavement the doll lay, loose-limbed, face down.

  ‘You’ve killed her,’ said Sybil. ‘Don’t be absurd . . . How can I kill something that’s made of velvet and silk, bits and pieces. It’s not real.’

  ‘It’s horribly real,’ said Sybil.

  Alicia caught her breath. ‘Good heavens. That child –’

  A small ragged girl was standing over the doll on the pavement. She looked up and down the street – a street that was not unduly crowded at this time of the morning though there was some automobile traffic; then, as though satisfied, the child bent, picked up the doll, and ran across the street.

  ‘Stop, stop!’ called Alicia.

  She turned to Sybil. ‘That child mustn’t take the doll. She mustn’t! That doll is dangerous – it’s evil. We’ve got to stop her.’

  It was not they who stopped her. It was the traffic. At that moment three taxis came down one way and two tradesmen’s vans in the other direction. The child was marooned on an island in the middle of the road. Sybil rushed down the stairs, Alicia Coombe following her. Dodging between a tradesman’s van and a private car, Sybil, with Alicia Coombe directly behind her, arrived on the island before the child could get through the traffic on the opposite side.

  ‘You can’t take that doll,’ said Alicia Coombe. ‘Give her back to me.’ The child looked at her. She was a skinny little girl about eight years old, with a slight squint. Her face was defiant.

  ‘Why should I give ’er to you?’ she said. ‘Pitched her out of the window, you did – I saw you. If you pushed her out of the window you don’t want her, so now she’s mine.’

  ‘I’ll buy you another doll,’ said Alicia frantically. ‘We’ll go to a toy shop – anywhere you like – and I’ll buy you the best doll we can find. But give me back this one.’

  ‘Shan’t,’ said the child.

  Her arms went protectingly round the velvet doll. ‘You must give her back,’ said Sybil. ‘She isn’t yours.’

  She stretched out to take the doll from the child and at that moment the child stamped her foot, turned, and screamed at them.

  ‘Shan’t! Shan’t! Shan’t! She’s my very own. I love her. You don’t love her. You hate her. If you didn’t hate her you wouldn’t have pushed her out of the window. I love her, I tell you, and that’s what she wants. She wants to be loved.’

  And then like an eel, sliding through the vehicles, the child ran across the street, down an alleyway, and out of sight before the two older women could decide to dodge the cars and follow.

  ‘She’s gone,’ said Alicia. ‘She said the doll wanted to be loved,’ said Sybil. ‘Perhaps,’ said Alicia, ‘perhaps that’s what she wanted all along . . . to be loved . . .’

  In the middle of the London traffic the two frightened women stared at each other.

  Appendix

  Short Story Chronology

  This table aims to present all Agatha Christie’s short stories published between 1923 and 1971, starting with her series of Hercule Poirot cases for The Sketch magazine and ending with her last contributions to the genre, the stories for children in Star Over Bethlehem and, finally, The Harlequin Tea Set. It should be noted that a number of stories that first appeared in weekly or monthly magazines were subsequently re-worked in book form, where they became simply chapters in a larger work, no longer independent short stories. In Partners in Crime, for example, some short stories were subdivided into smaller chapters, while 13 separate stories were re-worked into the episodic novel, The Big Four, and are not generally regarded as individual stories in their own right. There are also a handful of stories which were rewritten so substantially that they appear separately in different books, for example The Mystery of the Baghdad/Spanish Chest. This all makes counting up the stories very difficult indeed!

  However, excluding The Big Four (for the reason stated above) and including the published variants, there are a total of 159 stories published in book form in the UK:

  Hercule Poirot – 56

  Miss Marple – 20

  Tommy & Tuppence – 14

  Harley Quin – 14

  Parker Pyne – 14

  Non-series stories – 35

  Children’s stories – 6

  Titles are listed in order of traced first publication date. Actual first publication details are given where known. It is generally assumed that practically everything Christie wrote – novels, short stories, poetry – appeared first in a magazine or newspaper, prior to the hardback edition. However, despite exhaustive research, it has not always been possible to trace a magazine appearance for every story, in which case the first hard-back publication is given.

  Whilst most stories first appeared in British magazines or newspapers, a number premiered in America, and these are duly noted. Where both ‘firsts’ were close together, or where a subsequent publication gave rise to an interesting variation in title for the story, both are given.

  KARL PIKE

  2008

  Books by Agatha Christie

  The ABC Murders

  The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding

  After the Funeral

  And Then There Were None

  Appointment with Death

  At Bertram’s Hotel

  The Big Four

  The Body in the Library

  By the Pricking of My Thumbs

  Cards on the Table

  A Caribbean Mystery

  Cat Among the Pigeons

  The Clocks

  Crooked House

  Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case

  Dead Man’s Folly

  Death Comes as the End

  Death in the Clouds

  Death on the Nile

  Destination Unknown

  Dumb Witness

  Elephants Can Remember

  Endless Night

  Evil Under the Sun

  Five Little Pigs

  4.50 from Paddington

  Hallowe’en Party

  Hercule Poirot’s Christmas

  Hickory Dickory Dock

  The Hollow

  The Hound of Death

  The Labours of Hercules

  The Listerdale Mystery

  Lord Edgware Dies

  The Man in the Brown Suit

  The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side

  Miss Marple’s Final Cases

  The Moving Finger

  Mrs McGinty’s Dead
/>  The Murder at the Vicarage

  Murder in Mesopotamia

  Murder in the Mews

  A Murder is Announced

  Murder is Easy

  The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

  Murder on the Links

  Murder on the Orient Express

  The Mysterious Affair at Styles

  The Mysterious Mr Quin

  The Mystery of the Blue Train

  Nemesis

  NorM?

  One, Two, Buckle My Shoe

  Ordeal by Innocence

  The Pale Horse

  Parker Pyne Investigates

  Partners in Crime

  Passenger to Frankfurt

  Peril at End House

  A Pocket Full of Rye

  Poirot Investigates

  Poirot’s Early Cases

  Postern of Fate

  Problem at Pollensa Bay

  Sad Cypress

  The Secret Adversary

  The Secret of Chimneys

  The Seven Dials Mystery

  The Sittaford Mystery

  Sleeping Murder

  Sparkling Cyanide

  Taken at the Flood

  They Came to Baghdad

  They Do It With Mirrors

  Third Girl

  The Thirteen Problems

  Three-Act Tragedy

  Towards Zero

  While the Light Lasts

  Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?

  Plays adapted into novels Black Coffee

  Spider’s Web

  The Unexpected Guest

  Novels under the Nom de Plume of ‘Mary Westmacott’

  Absent in the Spring

  The Burden

  A Daughter’s a Daughter

  Giant’s Bread

  The Rose and the Yew Tree

  Unfinished Portrait

  Memoirs

  Come, Tell Me How You Live

  An Autobiography

  ALSO IN THIS SERIES

  Agatha Christie

  MISS MARPLE Omnibus

  VOLUME 1

  THE BODY IN THE LIBRARY

  It’s seven in the morning, and the body of a young woman is found in the Bantrys’ library. But who is she? And what’s the connection with another dead girl? Miss Marple is invited to solve the mystery – before tongues start to wag …

  THE MOVING FINGER

  The quiet inhabitants of Lymstock are unsettled by a sudden outbreak of hate-mail. But when one of the recipients commits suicide, only Miss Marple questions the coroner’s verdict. Is this the work of a poison pen? Or of a poisoner?

  A MURDER IS ANNOUNCED

  An advertisement in the Chipping Cleghorn Gazette announces the time and place of a forthcoming murder. Unable to resist the mysterious invitation, a crowd begins to gather at the appointed time when, without warning, the lights go out …

  4.50 FROM PADDINGTON

  As two trains run together, side by side, Mrs McGillicuddy watches a murder. Then the other train draws away. With no other witnesses, not even a body, who will take her story seriously? Then she remembers her old friend, Miss Marple …

  ‘Suspense is engendered from the very start, and maintained very skilfully until the final revelation’

  Times Literary Supplement

  Agatha Christie

  MISS MARPLE Omnibus

  VOLUME II

  A CARIBBEAN MYSTERY

  As Miss Marple dozes in the West Indian sun, an old soldier talks of elephant-shooting and scandals. Then he dies – and the deceptively frail detective finds herself investigating a most exotic murder …

  A POCKET FULL OF RYE

  Rex Fortescue, ‘king’ of a financial empire, was in his counting house; his ‘queen’ was in the parlour … There are baffling similarities between the rhyme and the crime and it takes all Miss Marple’s ingenuity to find them …

  THE MIRROR CRACK’D FROM SIDE TO SIDE

  Marina Gregg, the famous film actress, witnesses a murder in her country home. But what gave her the expression of frozen terror that only Dolly Bantry saw? Dolly, of course, knows just who can find out: her old friend, Miss Marple …

  THEY DO IT WITH MIRRORS

  To fulfil a promise to an old schoolfriend, Miss Marple stays in a country house – with 200 juvenile delinquents and seven heirs to an old lady’s fortune. One of them is a murderer – with a talent, it seems, for being in two places at once …

  ‘Throws off the false clues and misleading events as only a master of the art can do’

  New York Times

  Agatha Christie

  MISS MARPLE Omnibus

  VOLUME III

  NEMESIS

  Miss Marple receives a letter from a friend who died only a week earlier – a letter urging her to investigate a crime. But he has failed to tell her the nature of the crime. The only clue he leaves is an almost unfathomable quotation …

  SLEEPING MURDER

  Since Gwenda moved into her new home, odd things have started to happen. In fear, she turns to Miss Marple to exorcise her ghosts – and unravel a ‘perfect’ crime that has escaped detection for 18 years …

  AT BERTRAM’S HOTEL

  A holiday in London draws Miss Marple to Bertram’s Hotel, where she can indulge herself in all the comforts of a bygone era. But she senses that something sinister lurks beneath the well-polished veneer …

  THE MURDER AT THE VICARAGE

  The Colonel’s body is discovered in the Vicarage study.Yet only a few hours before, the vicar himself declared, ‘Anyone who murdered Colonel Prothero would be doing the world at large a service.’ Miss Marple finds it all most intriguing …

  ‘Full of freshness and charm … Miss Marple is spry, shrewd and compassionate’

  Sunday Telegraph

  Agatha Christie

  HERCULE POIROT: The Complete Short Stories

  At last – the complete collection of over 50 Hercule Poirot short stories in a single volume!

  Hercule Poirot had a passion for order, for rational thought, and had a justified confidence in his deductive genius. No matter what the provocation, he always remained calm.

  The shrewd little detective with the egg-shaped head and the enormous black moustache was created by one of the world’s greatest storytellers, Agatha Christie, who excelled at the art of short story writing. Only she could have devised the cases worthy of Poirot’s skill, the ingenious mysteries that challenge the reader as well as the detective.

  There is a spectacular diversity in the plots and themes of these cases, ranging from very brief tales to full-length novellas. Violent murders, poisonings, kidnappings and thefts, all are solved or thwarted with Poirot’s usual panache – and the characteristic application of his ‘little grey cells’.

  ‘Little masterpieces of detection – Poirot and Agatha Christie at their inimitable best.’

  Sunday Express

  ALSO AVAILABLE

  Agatha Christie

  The MARY WESTMACOTT

  Collection

  VOLUME ONE

  Agatha Christie is known throughout the world as the Queen of Crime. It was her sharp observations of people’s ambitions, relationships and conflicts that added life and sparkle to her ingenious detective novels. When she turned this understanding of human nature away from the crime genre, writing anonymously as Mary Westmacott, she created bittersweet novels, love stories with a jagged edge, as compelling and memorable as the best of her work.

  GIANT’S BREAD

  When a gifted composer returns home after being reported killed in the war, he finds his wife has already remarried…

  UNFINISHED PORTRAIT

  On the verge of suicide after a marriage break up, a young novelist unburdens herself on an unsuspecting young man…

  ABSENT IN THE SPRING

  Unexpectedly stranded in Iraq, a loyal wife and mother tries to come to terms with her husband’s love for another woman…

  ‘I’ve not been so emotionally moved by a story since the memorable Brief
Encounter. Absent in the Spring is a tour de force which should be recognized as a classic.’

  New York Times

  Agatha Christie

  The MARY WESTMACOTT

  Collection

  VOLUME TWO

  Agatha Christie is known throughout the world as the Queen of Crime. It was her sharp observations of people’s ambitions, relationships and conflicts that added life and sparkle to her ingenious detective novels. When she turned this understanding of human nature away from the crime genre, writing anonymously as Mary Westmacott, she created bittersweet novels, love stories with a jagged edge, as compelling and memorable as the best of her work.

  THE ROSE AND THE YEW TREE

  When an aristocratic young woman falls for a working-class war hero, the price of love proves to be costly for both sides…

  A DAUGHTER’S A DAUGHTER

  Rejecting personal happiness for the sake of her daughter, a mother later regrets the decision and love turns to bitterness…

  THE BURDEN

  With childhood jealousy behind them, the growing bond between two sisters becomes dangerously one-sided and destructive…

  ‘Miss Westmacott writes crisply and is always lucid. Much material has been skilfully compressed within little more than 200 pages.’

  Times Literary Supplement

  Copyright

  This collection first published 2008

  1

  Copyright © 2008 Agatha Christie Limited (a Chorion company).

  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.

  The publishers would like to acknowledge the help of Karl Pike in the preparation of this volume.

  ISBN 978 0 00 728418 4

  EPub Edition © 2011 ISBN: 9780007438976