Agatha Christie

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uppladdat: 2001-05-11
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The mirror cracked from side to side

Miss Marple was an old woman who lived in St Mary Mead, a little village some miles outside London. St Mary Mead was not like it used to be. Where it before had been fields there was now ”The Development ”. In the Development lived only young couples, who all had the same kind of prams. One day, after the five o’clock tea Miss Marple diecided to take a walk in the Development. She suddenly fell and a woman came out of a door to ask how she was. She had seen everything from her window. Miss Marple answered that she only got a few scratches. The old woman asked her in for a cup of tea.

She presented herself and her husband as Mrs and Mr Badcock and Miss Maple told them who she was. Mrs Badcock asked Miss Marple if she was that Mrs Marple who investigated all the murders? Mrs Marple answered that she had been mixed up in murders once or twice. Afterwards she went home.

A rumour went through town that Marina Gregg, a big film star was moving to Gossington Hall, a rather big country estate in St Mary Mead. Marina was going to have a big garden party next week as a welcoming party for all the villagers. Mrs Marple´s friend Mrs Barntry was on the v.i.p. list because she had self be the owner of Gossington Hall.

The throwing open of the grounds of Gossington Hall for the benefit of the St. John Ambulance Association was attended by quite an unprecedented number of people. It was crowding in the serving tents.
At the second floor Mr. and Mrs. Gregg met some special friends and people that belonged to St. John Ambulance Association, among them Heather Badcock. At the top of the stairs Marina Gregg and Jason Rudd were receiving this specially chosen elite. Guiseppe the butler was serving the drinks. Miss Zielinsky, Mr. Gregg´s secretary was also in duty. ”Mr. and Mrs. Badcock” boomed a man in livery.

”You don’t remember me ?” said Heather Badcock, in an arch manner. How should you with all the hundreds of people you met.”
And anyway, it was about twelve years ago. In Bermuda of all places in world. I was there with one of our ambulance units. ”Oh it was a long time ago now. ”Of course”, said Marina Gregg, once more all charm and smiles. ” I remember it so well”, said Mrs. Badcock. ”I was only a girl at the time”. I was a mad fan of yours always.”

”It is to kind of you” said Marina sweetly. Actually I felt a little sick but I put a lot of make up on my face and then I decided to go.
Marina’s response was this time not so automatic. Her eyes seemed to be fixed on the wall midway up the stairs. What could she see that gave her that basilisk look? Marina returned to the present and asked what she wanted to drink. Someone suddenly knocked against Heather Badcocks elbow so that she spilled the whole drink over her and Marina’s dresses. Marina said that it didn’t matter and that she could take her drink.
Suddenly Heather Badcock felt very ill. She sat down on a chair and soon she couldn’t breathe any more.

The rumour went fast through the village that Mrs. Badcock had died last day. Mrs. Marple got to know it already next morning. Mrs. Marple, who had been involved in the other murders became at once asked by the chief-inspector, if she wanted to take part and investigate it.
When they started the inspection the thought fell directly on Mr. Badcock.
When they had asked him a few questions they could not find anything that could make him kill his wife. So they could not do anything else but just keep up the work trying to find out new possibilities. When they started to examine Marina, she was very nervy so it was hard for them to make her say something. But in the end of the examination she said quiete ”Actually I think the poison was for me”

Then the turn fell on Jason, Marinas fellow. After a little while they got to know that Marina had been married four times. In her second marriage she longed for a baby. One very famous physician advised the adoption of a child. Marina adopted three children. You can imagine her delight when eleven years later she found she was going to have a child. The child, a boy, was born mentally deficient, imbecile. It was a tragedy. Marina Gregg was very depressive. The other kids were sent away to America.
Next examination was with the girl who was photographing on the party. Margot Bence`s studio was in a cul-de-sac off the Tottenham Court Road.
The girl nodded and Dermot introduced himself. She was rather hard to talk to. ”Do you know Marina Gregg personally ?” said Dermot.
”You come from the States don’t you ?”
”I was born in England. I was trained in America though. I came over here, about three years ago.”
Dermot Craddock nodded. He had known the answers to his questions.
”You are a very famous photograph. Why did you come to England?
”Oh I like changes. Besides, as I tell you, I was born in England although I went to the States as a child.
”Quite a young child I think”
” Five years old, if you’re interested.”
”I am interested. I think you know Marina Gregg better than you say.”
Her face hardened. She stared at him.
What do you mean with that?”
”I think you know exactly what I mean.”
”Prove it.”
”Come on now Miss Bence, hadn’t you better admit the truth? Admit that Marina Gregg adopted you as a child and that you lived with her for four years.”
”All right, all right, it’s true enough.”
” There were three of you” said Dermot. ” Three children adopted at different times.”
”Yes, me, Rod and Angus.”
After a few years Marina got to know that she was pregnant by her own and then we didn’t fit any more.
Dermot Craddock was thoughtful when he drove home, who could hate Marina so much that she or he were ready to lay poison in Marina’s glass when it was twenty other people in the room. The telephone was ringing directly when he came home. It was Jason Rudd.
” Ella Zielinsky died about ten minutes ago of cyanide poisoning.” ”Was it an accident ?”
It wasn’t. Prussic acid had been put in an atomizer she was using”
”I feel sorry about it.”

Already the same night came Giuseppe (the butler) home from London, where he had been to visit his family. He closed the door with his own key. He went upstairs and fitted a key into his door. He always kept his suite locked. As he turned the key and pushed the door open, he felt the pressure of a hard round ring in his back. A voice said, ”Put your hands up and don’t scream.”Giuseppe threw his hands up quickly. He was taking no chances. Actually there was no chance to take. The trigger was pressed-once-twice.
Giuseppe fell forward……

Jason Rudd was nervous and irritable when Craddock looked at the
threatening notes that had been coming, they were printed. One ran: It won’t be long now. Prepare yourself . The other had a rough drawing of a skull and crossbones and below it was written: This means you, Marina.

When Mrs. Marple first came to Gosington Hall she could not meet Jason Rudd, because Marina just had died.
”You wanted to see me ?” said Jason ” What can I do for you?”
”I’m very sorry about your wife’s death ” said Mrs. Marple ” I can see it has been a great grief to you and I want you to believe that I should not intrude upon you now or offer you sympathy unless it was absolutely necessary. But there are things that need badly to be cleared up unless an innocent man is going to suffer.”
” An innocent man ? I don’t understand you.”
”Arthur Badcock,” Said Mrs. Marple . ”He is with the police now,being questioned.”
”Questioned in connection with my wife’s death ? But that is absurd. He’s never been near the place. He didn’t even know her.”
” I think he knew her,” said Mrs. Marple. ”He was married to her once.”
”Arthur Badcock? But he was Heather Badcock’s husband.
”He was married to both of them. He was married to your wife when she was very young, before she went into the pictures.”
”My wife was first married to a man called Alfred Beadle. They were not suited and they parted almost immediately.”
”Then Alfred Beadle changed his name to Badcock. Said Mrs.Marple.”
”well,” Jason Rudd stalled, uncertain what to say, then he accepted the position, ”and what do you want me to do for you, Mrs.Marple ?” he asked.
” I want, if I may, to stand on the stairs at the spot where you and your wife received guests on the day of the party.”
”If you want to do so. Come with me.”
”Now let me see. She stood here” said Mrs. Marple. She raised her right hand slightly as though shaking, looked down the stairs as though see people coming up it.
Then she looked straight ahead of her. On the wall half way up the stairs was a large picture, a copy of an Italian Old Master.
”Of course you always hear a thing right the first time,” she said. Mrs. Bantry told me that your wife stared at the picture and her face froze as she put it.” She looked at the Madonna with her head slightly back, laughing up at the Holy Child that she was holding up in her arms. A painting of a happy mother with her child.
”Everything is quite simple.”
The decayed butler arrived at this moment up the stairs.
”Inspector Craddock is here, sir” he said
Ask him to join us here” said Jason.
When they had said hello to each other, Mrs Marple started to explain. You see, when my friend , Mrs.Bantry, who was here, described the scene to me, she quoted a poem that was a great favourite in my youth, a poem of dear Lord Tennyson´s, The Lady of Shalott.” She raised her voice a little.

” The mirror cracked from side to side :
The curse is come upon me, cried
The Lady of Shalott.

”That’s what Mrs Bantry saw. She also noticed that Marina was not looking at Heather Badcock but at that picture. A picture with a happy mother who is holding her baby. Now we are coming to something that you know nothing about. You couldn’t know about it, because nobody has told you what it was Heather Badcock actually said.”

”All you know is that she was ill, she got up from bed and came along to a celebration of some kind where she met Marina Gregg and spoke
to her. But it was one operative phrase, because no one thought it was important. Heather Badcock was ill in bed with German measles.” It’s a very slight illness. You have a rash which is very easy to cover up with powder. But it’s one thing, German measles is extremely infectious. If a woman contracts German measles in the first four months of pregnancy, it may have a terribly serious effect. It may cause an unborn child to be born blind or to be born mentally affected.” said Mrs. Marple.

“Marina was delivered a son who was mentally afflicted and she has never really recovered from the shock. She never knew how, or when or from whom she had contracted the disease. She never knew until one afternoon here when a perfectly strange woman came up those stairs and told her the fact. You must imagine what that moment meant to Marina Gregg. Here was the w...

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Inactive member [2001-05-11]   Agatha Christie
Mimers Brunn [Online]. [2018-12-19]

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