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Christmas Adventure: A Hercule Poirot Short Story Agatha Christie A classic Agatha Christie short story, available individually for the first time as an ebook.A draughty manor house is far from Poirot's idea of the best place to spend Christmas, but an interesting case involving a jewel robbery tempts him away from his cosy London apartment to the wild English countryside… Christmas Adventure A Hercule Poirot Short Story by Agatha Christie Copyright (#ulink_0d56125e-bb87-5963-b1b3-abe9c7c1e152) Published by HarperCollinsPublishers Ltd 1 London Bridge Street London SE1 9GF www.harpercollins.co.uk (http://www.harpercollins.co.uk) Copyright © 2008 Agatha Christie Ltd Cover design © HarperCollinsPublishers 2014 All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the nonexclusive, nontransferable right to access and read the text of this e-book onscreen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, downloaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of HarperCollins e-books. Ebook Edition © JUNE 2014 ISBN 9780007560134 Version: 2017-04-13 HarperCollinsPublishers has made every reasonable effort to ensure that any picture content and written content in this ebook has been included or removed in accordance with the contractual and technological constraints in operation at the time of publication. Contents Cover (#u36955c7b-6fbf-542b-8e1b-df88aa175e87) Title Page (#u0de1a59e-58d6-511f-bbaa-ce5f4c261727) Copyright Christmas Adventure (#ue0fdc70a-c060-5a37-954c-055bfeab70a1) Related Products (#litres_trial_promo) About the Publisher (#litres_trial_promo) Christmas Adventure (#ulink_b392b230-fd86-5b60-b54d-cf88b3fd9396) ‘Christmas Adventure’ was first published as ‘The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding’ in The Sketch, 12 December 1923. It was later expanded for the book The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding and a selection of Entrées (Collins, October 1960), appearing first in the USA as ‘The Theft of the Royal Ruby’ in two parts in This Week, 25 September and 2 October 1960. The big logs crackled merrily in the wide, open fireplace, and above their crackling rose the babel of six tongues all wagging industriously together. The house-party of young people were enjoying their Christmas. Old Miss Endicott, known to most of those present as Aunt Emily, smiled indulgently on the clatter. ‘Bet you you can’t eat six mince-pies, Jean.’ ‘Yes, I can.’ ‘No, you can’t.’ ‘You’ll get the pig out of the trifle if you do.’ ‘Yes, and three helps of trifle, and two helps of plum-pudding.’ ‘I hope the pudding will be good,’ said Miss Endicott apprehensively. ‘But they were only made three days ago. Christmas puddings ought to be made a long time before Christmas. Why, I remember when I was a child, I thought the last Collect before Advent – “Stir up, O Lord, we beseech Thee …’ – referred in some way to stirring up the Christmas puddings!’ There was a polite pause while Miss Endicott was speaking. Not because any of the young people were in the least interested in her reminiscences of bygone days, but because they felt that some show of attention was due by good manners to their hostess. As soon as she stopped, the babel burst out again. Miss Endicott sighed, and glanced towards the only member of the party whose years approached her own, as though in search of sympathy – a little man with a curious egg-shaped head and fierce upstanding moustaches. Young people were not what they were, reflected Miss Endicott. In olden days there would have been a mute, respectful circle, listening to the pearls of wisdom dropped by their elders. Instead of which there was all this nonsensical chatter, most of it utterly incomprehensible. All the same, they were dear children! Her eyes softened as she passed them in review – tall, freckled Jean; little Nancy Cardell, with her dark, gipsy beauty; the two younger boys home from school, Johnnie and Eric, and their friend, Charlie Pease; and fair, beautiful Evelyn Haworth … At thought of the last, her brow contracted a little, and her eyes wandered to where her eldest nephew, Roger, sat morosely silent, taking no part in the fun, with his eyes fixed on the exquisite Northern fairness of the young girl. ‘Isn’t the snow ripping?’ cried Johnnie, approaching the window. ‘Real Christmas weather. I say, let’s have a snowball fight. There’s lots of time before dinner, isn’t there, Aunt Emily?’ ‘Yes, my dear. We have it at two o’clock. That reminds me, I had better see to the table.’ She hurried out of the room. ‘I tell you what. We’ll make a snowman!’ screamed Jean. ‘Yes, what fun! I know; we’ll do a snow statue of M. Poirot. Do you hear, M. Poirot? The great detective, Hercule Poirot, modelled in snow, by six celebrated artists!’ The little man in the chair bowed his acknowledgements with a twinkling eye. ‘Make him very handsome, my children,’ he urged. ‘I insist on that.’ ‘Ra-ther!’ The troop disappeared like a whirlwind, colliding in the doorway with a stately butler who was entering with a note on a salver. The butler, his calm re-established, advanced towards Poirot. Poirot took the note and tore it open. The butler departed. Twice the little man read the note through, then he folded it up and put it in his pocket. Not a muscle of his face had moved, and yet the contents of the note were sufficiently surprising. Scrawled in an illiterate hand were the words: ‘Don’t eat any plum-pudding.’ ‘Very interesting,’ murmured M. Poirot to himself. ‘And quite unexpected.’ He looked across to the fireplace. Evelyn Haworth had not gone out with the rest. She was sitting staring at the fire, absorbed in thought, nervously twisting a ring on the third finger of her left hand round and round. ‘You are lost in a dream, Mademoiselle,’ said the little man at last. ‘And the dream is not a happy one, eh?’ She started, and looked across at him uncertainly. He nodded reassuringly. ‘It is my business to know things. No, you are not happy. Me, too, I am not very happy. Shall we confide in each other? See you, I have the big sorrow because a friend of mine, a friend of many years, has gone away across the sea to the South America. Sometimes, when we were together, this friend made me impatient, his stupidity enraged me; but now that he is gone, I can remember only his good qualities. That is the way of life, is it not? And now, Mademoiselle, what is your trouble? You are not like me, old and alone – you are young and beautiful; and the man you love loves you – oh yes, it is so: I have been watching him for the last half-hour.’ The girl’s colour rose. ‘You mean Roger Endicott? Oh, but you have made a mistake; it is not Roger I am engaged to.’ ‘No, you are engaged to Mr Oscar Levering. I know that perfectly. But why are you engaged to him, since you love another man?’ The girl did not seem to resent his words; indeed, there was something in his manner which made that impossible. He spoke with a mixture of kindliness and authority that was irresistible. ‘Tell me all about it,’ said Poirot gently; and he added the phrase he had used before, the sound of which was oddly comforting to the girl. ‘It is my business to know things.’ Конец ознакомительного фрагмента. Текст предоставлен ООО «ЛитРес». 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