فصل 06

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کتاب های خیلی ساده

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فصل 06

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CHAPTER SIX

Agatha disappears

On the morning of Friday, the 3rd of December, 1926, Archie left Styles and went to stay with some friends for the weekend. Nancy Neele was also staying at this house for the weekend. Perhaps Agatha knew this, perhaps she didn’t - we can’t be sure.

Nobody knows what Agatha was thinking, late that dark winter evening. Rosalind, now seven years old, was in bed. The Christies’ two housemaids were in the kitchen. But we know this. At about eleven o’clock that evening, Agatha went out and drove away in her car.

She did not return home that night.


On Saturday morning, a woman arrived by taxi at the Hydro Hotel in Harrogate, Yorkshire. The Hydro was one of Harrogate’s biggest and best hotels, near the centre of the town.

‘Can I have a room, please?’ the woman asked. She was carrying a small suitcase, and she looked very tired.

‘Yes, of course,’ said the man behind the hotel desk. ‘There’s a nice room on the first floor - room number five. It has hot and cold water, and the cost is seven pounds for a week.’

‘Thank you, that will be all right,’ said the woman. ‘What name, please?’ asked the man.

‘Mrs Teresa Neele,’ said the woman with the suitcase.


Also on that cold Saturday morning in December, a fifteen-year-old boy was walking beside a lake called the Silent Pool. This was at a place called Newlands Corner, about fourteen miles from Sunningdale. The boy’s name was George Best.

Suddenly, George saw a car. It was off the road, down by the lake, but the lights were on.

‘That’s strange,’ he thought. ‘Why is that car down there, and why are the lights on?’ And he went to have a better look.

The car was empty, but the driver’s door was open. George looked inside. He saw a coat, and an open suitcase. Half-out of the suitcase were three dresses, some shoes - and some papers with the name ‘Mrs Agatha Christie’ on them.

George quickly went to find a policeman.


The newspapers were soon full of the story, and Agatha’s picture was on the front pages. Where was the detective-story writer? Was she dead? Was she murdered? Did she kill herself?

The Daily News wanted answers to these questions, and said, on December the 7th, that it would give 100 pounds to the first person with the answers. By the next weekend, hundreds of policemen and thousands of people were looking for her.

‘Did your wife ever talk about disappearing?’ a Daily Mail reporter asked Archie.

‘Yes,’ said Archie. ‘She once told her sister, “I could disappear any time I wanted to. I would plan it carefully, and nobody would find me.” Perhaps this happened. Or perhaps she’s ill and can’t remember who she is.’

The police asked Archie lots of questions, watched his house, and followed him to his office.

‘They think I’ve murdered Agatha,’ he told a friend.


The woman at the Hydro Hotel had breakfast in her room each morning, and sat quietly reading in the hotel sitting- room in the afternoons. She said ‘Good morning’ and ‘Good afternoon’ to other people in the hotel, and seemed worried because there were no letters for her.

But one of the chambermaids went to see Mrs Taylor, the wife of the hotel manager.

‘Mrs Neele looks like the woman in the Daily Mail picture,’ said the chambermaid. ‘You know the one - Agatha Christie!’

Mrs Taylor spoke to her husband about it, but they decided to say nothing. They did not want any trouble at the hotel.

But two more people at the Hydro Hotel were also looking carefully at ‘Mrs Teresa Neele’.

Bob Tappin and Bob Leeming played music in the hotel each evening, and both of them watched the quiet woman in the corner of the room - and began to think.

‘I’m sure that Neele woman is Agatha Christie,’ Bob Tappin said to his friend one evening.

‘I think you’re right,’ Bob Leeming agreed. ‘What shall we do about it?’

And the next day they went to the police.

The police immediately told Agatha’s husband, and Archie Christie arrived at the Hydro Hotel at 6.45pm on Tuesday, the 14th of December. When his wife walked out of the sitting-room, Archie saw her and went up to her.

‘Hello, Agatha,’ he said.

She looked at him carefully, but did not seem sure who he was. ‘Hello,’ she said.


The hotel was soon full of newspaper reporters.

Archie told them later, ‘I don’t think that my wife knows who she is. She doesn’t know me, and she doesn’t know where she is.’

He and Agatha left the hotel the next day. There were reporters everywhere. They followed the Christies to the railway station, trying to get pictures of the frightened Agatha, who was hiding her face behind her hands. She looked thin and her face was white.

And in London, hundreds of people were waiting at King’s Cross Station for the train from Harrogate. Everyone wanted to see the ‘woman of mystery’ and her husband. Their lives now seemed to be like something out of one of her detective stories.

Archie helped the silent, frightened Agatha through the crowd. Reporters shouted questions at them and took pictures, but neither Archie nor Agatha said a word.

And for the rest of her life, Agatha never again spoke about Harrogate, the Hydro Hotel, or ‘Teresa Neele’. But what really happened that night after she left Styles? Why did she leave her car? How did she get to Harrogate? It was always a mystery. It still is.

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