By Agatha Christie
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Poor Gerda, he thought, she has a lot to put up with. If only she was not so submissive – so ready to admit herself in the wrong when, half the time, it was he who was to blame! There were days when everything that Gerda said or did conspired to irritate him, and mainly, he thought ruefully, it was her virtues that irritated him. It was her patience, her unselﬁshness, her subordination of her wishes to his, that aroused his ill-humour. And she never resented his quick bursts of temper, never stuck to her own opinion in preference to his, never attempted to strike out a line of her own.
Yes, it was amusing to know more than they thought you knew. To be able to do a thing, but not let anybody know that you could do it. And it had the advantage, suddenly discovered, that people often did things for you. That, of course, saved you a lot of trouble. And, in the end, if people got into the habit of doing things for you, you didn’t have to do them at all, and then people didn’t know that you did them badly. And so, slowly, you came round again almost to where you started. To feeling that you could hold your own on equal terms with the world at large.
Fourteen years I’ve ’ad the brown medicine, Doctor, and it’s the only thing does me any good. That young doctor last week writes me down a white medicine. No good at all! It stands to reason, doesn’t it, Doctor? I mean, I’ve ’ad me brown medicine for fourteen years, and if I don’t ’ave me liquid parafﬁn and them brown pills . ’ He could hear the whining voice now – excellent physique, sound as a bell – even all the physic she took couldn’t really do her any harm! They were the same, sisters under the skin, Mrs Pearstock from Tottenham and Mrs Forrester of Park Lane Court.
The Hollow (The Christie Collection) by Agatha Christie