Friday, 12 April 2013

Agatha Christie writes for the News of the World

Arthur Hepburn Hastie, a well-known London solicitor, has obtained a divorce from his wife on the grounds of adultery with Major Rankin, of the Queensland contingent in South Africa, who was made co-respondent.


               LONDON, March 29.

Major Rankin, of the Queensland Contingent,may be a very brave soldier, but his morals are not up the highest standard.

If you take a man's hand in friendship and put your legs under his mahogany, it is incumbent on you not to poach on his matrimonial preserves.

The gallant Major, like any ordinary blackguard, forgot this principle, and the result is that Mr Arthur Hepburn Hastie has got a decree nisi, and has, in obtaining it, showed the Major up in a most ridiculous light. Mr Hastie, who is a solicitor, met the Major, who had been invalided home from South Africa, and subsequently dined and wined the "gentleman in kharki" at his Mayfair residence. Just after Christmas last year Mr Hastie left London for a week's shooting in Wales, his wife remaining in town. A business telegram recalled Hastie from Wales the day after he got there, and going to his house, he arrived on the doorstep soon after 3 a.m. He was kept out in the cold some time, but finally obtained admittance, and went up to his wife's room. The door was locked, but his insistent raps brought Mrs Hastie to the door which she unlocked, and then jumped back into bed. The room was in darkness, and on turning on the electric light Mr Hastie at first saw nothing to raise his suspicions. Happening, however, to glance at a gig cheval-glass in the room, he saw a pair of stockinged feet, and reconnoitering further discovered Rankin in an advanced stage of deshabille. Hastie called for his man-servant with a view to identifying the intruder and to a subsequent chucking-out process. But the gallant Major required no incentive to departure. He stood not upon the order of his going , but, in all his disarray, fled from the house. Mrs Hastie left next morning, and wrote to her husband expressing regret for what had occurred. The Major, when served with a citation, had the impertinence to express himself as being "very sorry" and to inquire whether there was "any chance of a reconciliation"!

Mrs Hastie, it appears, had once before given her husband grave cause to suspect her fidelity,and, in fact he had previously filed a petition against her. She, however, protested her innocence so well that he at length decided that she could not be guilty, and abandoned the proceedings.

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