The Dream: A Hercule Poirot Short Story Agatha Christie A classic Agatha Christie short story, available individually for the first time as an ebook.Hercule Poirot is slightly reluctant to answer a letter demanding his services by the reclusive and eccentric millionaire Benedict Farley. Entering the strange world that Mr. Farley inhabits and accounting for each stagy nuanced oddity Poirot is a little at a loss at his ability to help. Poirot is apparently meant to consult on Mr. Farley’s reoccurring dream, of death, something not usually within his remit. The dream haunts Mr. Farley and only one week after dismissing the bemused Poirot the dream becomes real. What ensues is a perplexing short story in which each member of the Farley household that Poirot questions seems more puzzled than the one before. The Dream A Short Story by Agatha Christie Copyright (#u9187a30c-74c3-5317-8f62-f37ecf7b533e) Published by HarperCollinsPublishers Ltd 1 London Bridge Street London SE1 9GF www.harpercollins.co.uk (http://www.harpercollins.co.uk) Copyright © 2011 Agatha Christie Ltd. 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 on-screen. 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. EPub Edition © 2011 ISBN: 9780007451982 Version: 2017-04-18 Contents Cover (#u4229f6f8-e1e4-5d3b-b7a3-a250ba8cda54) Title Page (#u975417c1-9440-551b-bcba-39515be0489b) Copyright The Dream Related Products (#litres_trial_promo) About the Publisher (#litres_trial_promo) The Dream (#ulink_2c28127a-8aa5-59c4-b5de-d1367e0ba778) ‘The Dream’ was first published in the USA in the Saturday Evening Post, 23 October 1937, then in The Strand, February 1938. Hercule Poirot gave the house a steady appraising glance. His eyes wandered a moment to its surroundings, the shops, the big factory building on the right, the blocks of cheap mansion flats opposite. Then once more his eyes returned to Northway House, relic of an earlier age – an age of space and leisure, when green fields had surrounded its well-bred arrogance. Now it was an anachronism, submerged and forgotten in the hectic sea of modern London, and not one man in fifty could have told you where it stood. Furthermore, very few people could have told you to whom it belonged, though its owner’s name would have been recognized as one of the world’s richest men. But money can quench publicity as well as flaunt it. Benedict Farley, that eccentric millionaire, chose not to advertise his choice of residence. He himself was rarely seen, seldom making a public appearance. From time to time, he appeared at board meetings, his lean figure, beaked nose, and rasping voice easily dominating the assembled directors. Apart from that, he was just a well-known figure of legend. There were his strange meannesses, his incredible generosities, as well as more personal details – his famous patchwork dressing-gown, now reputed to be twenty-eight years old, his invariable diet of cabbage soup and caviare, his hatred of cats. All these things the public knew. Hercule Poirot knew them also. It was all he did know of the man he was about to visit. The letter which was in his coat pocket told him little more. After surveying this melancholy landmark of a past age for a minute or two in silence, he walked up the steps to the front door and pressed the bell, glancing as he did so at the neat wrist-watch which had at last replaced an old favourite – the large turnip-faced watch of earlier days. Yes, it was exactly nine-thirty. As ever, Hercule Poirot was exact to the minute. The door opened after just the right interval. A perfect specimen of the genus butler stood outlined against the lighted hall. ‘Mr Benedict Farley?’ asked Hercule Poirot. The impersonal glance surveyed him from head to foot, inoffensively but effectively. En gros et en détail, thought Hercule Poirot to himself with appreciation. ‘You have an appointment, sir?’ asked the suave voice. ‘Yes.’ ‘Your name, sir?’ ‘Monsieur Hercule Poirot.’ The butler bowed and drew back. Hercule Poirot entered the house. The butler closed the door behind him. But there was yet one more formality before the deft hands took hat and stick from the visitor. ‘You will excuse me, sir. I was to ask for a letter.’ With deliberation Poirot took from his pocket the folded letter and handed it to the butler. The latter gave it a mere glance, then returned it with a bow. Hercule Poirot returned it to his pocket. Its contents were simple. Northway House, W.8 M. Hercule Poirot Dear Sir, Mr Benedict Farley would like to have the benefit of your advice. If convenient to yourself he would be glad if you would call upon him at the above address at 9.30 tomorrow (Thursday) evening. Yours truly, HUGO CORNWORTHY (Secretary) P.S. Please bring this letter with you. Deftly the butler relieved Poirot of hat, stick and overcoat. He said: ‘Will you please come up to Mr Cornworthy’s room?’ He led the way up the broad staircase. Poirot followed him, looking with appreciation at such objets d’art as were of an opulent and florid nature! His taste in art was always somewhat bourgeois. On the first floor the butler knocked on a door. Hercule Poirot’s eyebrows rose very slightly. It was the first jarring note. For the best butlers do not knock at doors – and yet indubitably this was a first-class butler! It was, so to speak, the first intimation of contact with the eccentricity of a millionaire. A voice from within called out something. The butler threw open the door. He announced (and again Poirot sensed the deliberate departure from orthodoxy): ‘The gentleman you are expecting, sir.’ Poirot passed into the room. It was a fair-sized room, very plainly furnished in a workmanlike fashion. Filing cabinets, books of reference, a couple of easy-chairs, and a large and imposing desk covered with neatly docketed papers. The corners of the room were dim, for the only light came from a big green-shaded reading lamp which stood on a small table by the arm of one of the easy-chairs. It was placed so as to cast its full light on anyone approaching from the door. Hercule Poirot blinked a little, realizing that the lamp bulb was at least 150 watts. In the arm-chair sat a thin figure in a patchwork dressing-gown – Benedict Farley. His head was stuck forward in a characteristic attitude, his beaked nose projecting like that of a bird. A crest of white hair like that of a cockatoo rose above his forehead. His eyes glittered behind thick lenses as he peered suspiciously at his visitor. ‘Hey,’ he said at last – and his voice was shrill and harsh, with a rasping note in it. ‘So you’re Hercule Poirot, hey?’ ‘At your service,’ said Poirot politely and bowed, one hand on the back of the chair. ‘Sit down – sit down,’ said the old man testily. Hercule Poirot sat down – in the full glare of the lamp. From behind it the old man seemed to be studying him attentively. ‘How do I know you’re Hercule Poirot – hey?’ he demanded fretfully. ‘Tell me that – hey?’ Once more Poirot drew the letter from his pocket and handed it to Farley. ‘Yes,’ admitted the millionaire grudgingly. ‘That’s it. That’s what I got Cornworthy to write.’ He folded it up and tossed it back. ‘So you’re the fellow, are you?’ With a little wave of his hand Poirot said: ‘I assure you there is no deception!’ Benedict Farley chuckled suddenly. ‘That’s what the conjurer says before he takes the goldfish out of the hat! Saying that is part of the trick, you know!’ Poirot did not reply. Farley said suddenly: ‘Think I’m a suspicious old man, hey? So I am. Don’t trust anybody! That’s my motto. Can’t trust anybody when you’re rich. No, no, it doesn’t do.’ ‘You wished,’ Poirot hinted gently, ‘to consult me?’ The old man nodded. ‘Go to the expert and don’t count the cost. You’ll notice, M. Poirot, I haven’t asked you your fee. I’m not going to! Send me in the bill later – I shan’t cut up rough over it. Damned fools at the dairy thought they could charge me two and nine for eggs when two and seven’s the market price – lot of swindlers! I won’t be swindled. But the man at the top’s different. He’s worth the money. I’m at the top myself – I know.’ Hercule Poirot made no reply. He listened attentively, his head poised a little on one side. Behind his impassive exterior he was conscious of a feeling of disappointment. He could not exactly put his finger on it. So far Benedict Farley had run true to type – that is, he had conformed to the popular idea of himself; and yet – Poirot was disappointed. ‘The man,’ he said disgustedly to himself, ‘is a mountebank – nothing but a mountebank!’ He had known other millionaires, eccentric men too, but in nearly every case he had been conscious of a certain force, an inner energy that had commanded his respect. If they had worn a patchwork dressing-gown, it would have been because they liked wearing such a dressing-gown. But the dressing-gown of Benedict Farley, or so it seemed to Poirot, was essentially a stage property. And the man himself was essentially stagy. Every word he spoke was uttered, so Poirot felt assured, sheerly for effect. He repeated again unemotionally, ‘You wished to consult me, Mr Farley?’ Abruptly the millionaire’s manner changed. He leaned forward. His voice dropped to a croak. ‘Yes. Yes … I want to hear what you’ve got to say – what you think … Go to the top! That’s my way! The best doctor – the best detective – it’s between the two of them.’ ‘As yet, Monsieur, I do not understand.’ ‘Naturally,’ snapped Farley. ‘I haven’t begun to tell you.’ He leaned forward once more and shot out an abrupt question. ‘What do you know, M. Poirot, about dreams?’ The little man’s eyebrows rose. Whatever he had expected, it was not this. ‘For that, M. Farley, I should recommend Napoleon’s Book of Dreams – or the latest practising psychologist from Harley Street.’ Benedict Farley said soberly, ‘I’ve tried both …’ There was a pause, then the millionaire spoke, at first almost in a whisper, then with a voice growing higher and higher. ‘It’s the same dream – night after night. And I’m afraid, I tell you – I’m afraid … It’s always the same. I’m sitting in my room next door to this. Sitting at my desk, writing. There’s a clock there and I glance at it and see the time – exactly twenty-eight minutes past three. Always the same time, you understand. ‘And when I see the time, M. Poirot, I know I’ve got to do it. I don’t want to do it – I loathe doing it – but I’ve got to …’ His voice had risen shrilly. Unperturbed, Poirot said, ‘And what is it that you have to do?’ ‘At twenty-eight minutes past three,’ Benedict Farley said hoarsely, ‘I open the second drawer down on the right of my desk, take out the revolver that I keep there, load it and walk over to the window. And then – and then –’ ‘Yes?’ Benedict Farley said in a whisper: ‘Then I shoot myself …’ There was silence. Then Poirot said, ‘That is your dream?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘The same every night?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘What happens after you shoot yourself ?’ ‘I wake up.’ Poirot nodded his head slowly and thoughtfully. ‘As a matter of interest, do you keep a revolver in that particular drawer?’ Конец ознакомительного фрагмента. Текст предоставлен ООО «ЛитРес». Прочитайте эту книгу целиком, купив полную легальную версию (https://www.litres.ru/agata-kristi/the-dream-a-hercule-poirot-short-story/?lfrom=334617187) на ЛитРес. 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