The Christie Affair PDF Book by Nina de Gramont


Click here to Download The Christie Affair PDF Book by Nina de Gramont having PDF Size 1.2 MB and No of Pages275.

Archie kissed me. He tasted like pipe smoke. I closed my hands on the lapel of his jacket and didn’t object when he cupped his hand around my breast. Tonight he would be going home to his wife. If the course I’d planned so carefully were to continue, it was best to send him to her thinking of me.

The Christie Affair PDF Book by Nina de Gramont

Name of Book The Christie Affair
PDF Size 1.2 MB
No of Pages 275
Language English
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A sponge soaked in quinine sulphate – procured by my married younger sister – stood guard inside me, protecting against pregnancy. Never once had I encountered Archie without preparing myself in this way, but for the moment my precautions proved unnecessary. He pulled my skirt modestly back into place, smoothing over the pleats, then stood and walked back round his desk.

Almost the moment he returned to his chair, in walked Agatha. She rapped lightly on the door and at the same time pushed it open. Her sensible heels made the barest sound on the carpet. At thirty-six, she was much taller than me and nearly ten years older. Her auburn hair had faded towards brown. ‘Agatha,’ Archie said sharply, ‘you might have knocked.’

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I was due to return to work but instead I headed towards Archie’s office. My secretarial job no longer meant much to me as Archie covered more and more of my expenses. I knew he would be worried about my lunching with Agatha, and if he really did tell her he was leaving tonight, she might level the charge that I didn’t love him. So it was important to leave him feeling as though I did.

On my way I passed a bookshop that displayed a mountain of copies of a pink children’s book, a little teddy bear clutching the string of a balloon and flying off into the air. Winnie the Pooh. It looked so whimsical, I went in and bought a copy for Archie to give to Teddy. For a moment I considered giving it to her myself, as a Christmas gift. By then her parents might be living apart.

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Perhaps Teddy would spend Christmas with her father and me. Cosy, the three of us, exchanging gifts beneath a Christmas tree. Sometimes one did hear of children living with their father, after a divorce. And Archie always claimed Teddy loved him better. Though that was like Archie, wasn’t it, not only to say such a thing but also to believe it.

When I returned to Archie’s office I gave him the book to give to Teddy himself. He locked the door and drew me into his lap, unbuttoning my skirt and pulling it up around my waist. The night before, Archie had succumbed to nostalgia and carnal longing. But today he returned to his mission. Like any good zealot he would not allow himself to be dissuaded.

With long-legged strides he crossed the study to return to the front hallway. He picked up his valise and walked out to his car, the second-hand Delage Agatha had bought for him with money from her new contract. It was rather a grand car and Archie preened in its presence, as if its ownership were something he’d achieved entirely on his own. The Christie Affair PDF Book

It had an electric starter motor, no cranking was necessary, and he could just hop in and escape. How galling it must have been, as she flung herself through the doorway, seeing him drive away in that extravagant gift. ‘Archie!’ she cried, running down the long drive. ‘Archie!’ Dust flew up from the tyres, a cloud in front of her. Archie didn’t even turn to glance through the back windscreen.

His shoulders were set, firm and determined. He was gone from her, unreachable in every possible way. ‘Unreachable’ is the same word Honoria used later, to describe Agatha. It was Honoria’s job to wake Teddy and ready her for school, and after she’d risen, she heard loud voices from inside Mr Christie’s study: a marital squabble and a bad one at that.

So she went to the nursery, where Teddy sat in a corner, already awake and playing with her dolls. That was the sort of child Teddy was, a seven-year-old who could climb out of bed and set to amusing herself, troubling no one. And indeed at that time Archie was already deeply embroiled with me, and somewhere inside her Agatha knew it, and all the same she refused to know it – refused to see she could lose her mother and her husband in so brief a span of time. The Christie Affair PDF Book

So she had squeezed her mother’s frail hand and ignored the death rattle in her voice, and promised, ‘There’s no man more loyal that Archie. He’s faithful to his core. You can bet your life on that.’ Perhaps her mother had bet her life on it. And lost. By this time Teddy, always bold and impatient, had gained a considerable distance ahead of Agatha and Honoria. Sunningdale, in Berkshire abutting Surrey, was an easy distance to London by train.

The houses were far apart from each other and private, with lovely gardens. The roads weren’t paved, and dust flew up when the occasional carriage or bicycle or automobile went by. The two women were not hoverers by nature and were happy to let Teddy meander ahead. They didn’t worry when she crested the hill and disappeared.

The memory of our child’s beauty had no healing power. None of it was Finbarr’s fault and still I sent him away. With Ireland embroiled in its war for independence, he left Great Britain for Australia, where nobody would expect him to fight for any country, and he could work training herding dogs. He had wanted me to go with him but I refused. The Christie Affair PDF Book

Just this past September I had written to him at the last address I knew, to tell him about Archie, the marriage I believed was impending, and my reasons for stealing another woman’s husband. I owed him that much, but I never heard back. Perhaps the words I wrote repulsed him, written by a woman he’d never imagined I could become. Or perhaps he’d simply moved again, to America, or back to Ireland. Beyond it all.

A place I could never reach. It was too soon for Agatha to move beyond anything. I packed my warmest clothes, boots and hats and gloves, so I could go for walks while I was in the country. Perhaps if I found a deserted road, I would even run. I tried to picture Agatha, running beside me, the two of us invisible to the outside world and finally equals.

I folded a skirt and thought: she headed to Godalming so she could confront Archie and me, make a great scene in front of the Owens. In her unaccustomed Sturm and Drang she’d driven off the road, then left her car and wandered out into the frigid night. First thing tomorrow morning I’d hear the news, her body had been found frozen in the hedgerow, or in the nets they used to drag the Silent Pool. The Christie Affair PDF Book Download

The train whistle blew for a stop. There were some pleasures left in this life, things he would miss when he left it. Chilton did like the sound of a train whistle. A time away, train travel was. A chance to gather your thoughts or have no thoughts at all. Nobody would be looking for him and nobody would find him either, here on a train.

Perhaps that’s what this Agatha Christie was doing. It’s what he would do, if he wanted to get away from the world. Board a train and ride it all over England. Never get off at any stop. Everything you needed, from privies to dining cars to shelter from the rain and a place to rest your head. If he wanted to escape, to disappear, he’d simply ride on and on to nowhere.

Which was, now that he thought about it, very close to what he was doing – searching for someone in a place she surely wouldn’t be found. After a while, Chilton fell asleep with his head lolled back, mouth slightly open, cigarette still burning in his hand. The woman across the aisle, old enough to be his mother, hadn’t wanted to ride in the smoking carriage, but there were no seats left in the non-smoking one. The Christie Affair PDF Book Download

She looked at the sleeping man kindly. He had that particular look about him, so many did nowadays. And he was a handsome fellow, if you looked beyond the edges, a little squidgy and rumpled, but a good strong chin. Nice broad hands. She reached across the aisle and took the cigarette from his fingertips, sneaking one small puff before grinding it out in the ashtray.

Mr Marston fell to the floor. His eyes bulged, his hands clasped his throat and his feet kicked like a freshly landed fish. Almost everyone – the hotel staff as well as the guests – headed over to the scene of distress. It was young Mrs Race who reached him first. ‘Stand back,’ she commanded, seeming a different person to the one who’d just done battle with her husband. ‘I’m a nurse.’

She loosened Mr Marston’s tie and shirt collar, then took his pulse. She had his head pulled into her lap and I thought there was something grotesque about that pretty young girl balancing his wide, red, froggish face so close to her body. By the time we thought to look around us, Agatha and Chilton were gone. The Christie Affair PDF Book Free

In silent agreement they had walked up to the top floor, where Agatha lay down on the bed she hadn’t bothered to make that morning, used as she was to someone else performing that task. Chilton rekindled the fire, then lay down beside her. She did not object. Nothing real existed. It was a span out of time.

No consequences. She acknowledged what she ought to be feeling – the rekindled romance between Finbarr and me could represent her road back to Archie. Instead, she felt something different and altogether more liberating. She could allow herself to kiss Chilton. She could allow him to remove her clothes, and she could even assist him with the garments that required more than one hand.

She could take him inside her and enjoy it immensely. If she became pregnant and went back to Archie, she could pass the child off as his and that would serve him right. If she became pregnant and Chilton disappeared from her life, and she and Archie divorced, her marriage would still protect her, as would her money, the living she was quite capable of making on her own. The Christie Affair PDF Book Free

Among Agatha’s enviable qualities, perhaps the most significant was her ability to thrive in this man’s world. Following the rules but managing also to rise above them. Then a baby cried. Perhaps it was Susanna’s baby. That distinct hungry mewl, sharp and desperate. My milk let down with a searing sting, soaking through my shirt and apron. I let go of the nun.

Sister Mary Clare raised her hands to her throat, stroking away what damage I’d done, reclaiming the room’s oxygen with great honking inhalations. I could see welts, red now; by evening they would be black and blue. She stared at my chest, milk spilling through my dress and apron, its sweet smell filling the room. How far away was Genevieve at that moment?

Every second brought her further and further from my arms. If I raised my hands again, if I killed Sister Mary Clare, I’d be incarcerated for good. There would be a trial. My parents would discover my whereabouts through newspapers. The harlot who strangled a bride of Christ. I would spend the rest of my life in prison, if I was lucky enough not to be executed. The Christie Affair PDF Book Free

So I kicked off the clogs and ran from the nursery with my soiled apron, in my stockinged feet. Out of the convent. Into the nuns’ graveyard. The children from the orphanage played in the yard, I could hear their voices rising up into the air. When I got to the iron gate, I only had to kick the bar, turn sideways and squeeze myself through, just as I’d practised. I ran away from the road, across the fields. After a while, in the distance, I heard the convent’s bells and then a constable’s siren.

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