The Red Signal: An Agatha Christie Short Story Agatha Christie A classic Agatha Christie short story, available individually for the first time as an ebook.Sir Alington, a venerable expert of the mental condition is being pestered by the pretty, but fairly dotty Mrs. Eversleigh about the importance of the sixth sense. Soon the young man Dermot is drawn in and tells both of having something like a sixth sense, what he calls the red signal that spells danger. He is about to tell them about the last time he had the feeling, the red signal, when he stops himself, the last time he had the signal was not then, it was earlier that very evening. But how could there be danger at a simple gathering of old friends? Will the evening’s entertainment of a medium bring forth whatever impending danger that Dermot senses? The Red Signal A Short Story by Agatha Christie Copyright (#u3d278288-4ba9-5594-850e-c416d753a89a) Published by HarperCollinsPublishers Ltd 1 London Bridge Street London SE1 9GF www.harpercollins.co.uk (http://www.harpercollins.co.uk) Copyrig© 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. Ebook Edition © 2011 ISBN: 9780007452170 Version: 2018-11-08 Contents Cover (#ucd75cd83-aaad-5655-a696-eb89eed1b0b0) Title Page (#u19801178-ea02-5aeb-bdad-df0dc8b4a941) Copyright The Red Signal Related Products (#litres_trial_promo) About the Publisher (#litres_trial_promo) The Red Signal (#ulink_0928026d-f18a-50bc-a462-dead29f92576) ‘The Red Signal’ was first published in Grand Magazine, June 1924. ‘No, but how too thrilling,’ said pretty Mrs Eversleigh, opening her lovely, but slightly vacant eyes very wide. ‘They always say women have a sixth sense; do you think it’s true, Sir Alington?’ The famous alienist smiled sardonically. He had an unbounded contempt for the foolish pretty type, such as his fellow guest. Alington West was the supreme authority on mental disease, and he was fully alive to his own position and importance. A slightly pompous man of full figure. ‘A great deal of nonsense is talked, I know that, Mrs Eversleigh. What does the term mean – a sixth sense?’ ‘You scientific men are always so severe. And it really is extraordinary the way one seems to positively know things sometimes – just know them, feel them, I mean – quite uncanny – it really is. Claire knows what I mean, don’t you, Claire?’ She appealed to her hostess with a slight pout, and a tilted shoulder. Claire Trent did not reply at once. It was a small dinner party, she and her husband, Violet Eversleigh, Sir Alington West, and his nephew, Dermot West, who was an old friend of Jack Trent’s. Jack Trent himself, a somewhat heavy florid man, with a good-humoured smile, and a pleasant lazy laugh, took up the thread. ‘Bunkum, Violet! Your best friend is killed in a railway accident. Straight away you remember that you dreamt of a black cat last Tuesday – marvellous, you felt all along that something was going to happen!’ ‘Oh, no, Jack, you’re mixing up premonitions with intuition now. Come, now, Sir Alington, you must admit that premonitions are real?’ ‘To a certain extent, perhaps,’ admitted the physician cautiously. ‘But coincidence accounts for a good deal, and then there is the invariable tendency to make the most of a story afterwards – you’ve always got to take that into account.’ ‘I don’t think there is any such thing as premonition,’ said Claire Trent, rather abruptly. ‘Or intuition, or a sixth sense, or any of the things we talk about so glibly. We go through life like a train rushing through the darkness to an unknown destination.’ ‘That’s hardly a good simile, Mrs Trent,’ said Dermot West, lifting his head for the first time and taking part in the discussion. There was a curious glitter in the clear grey eyes that shone out rather oddly from the deeply tanned face. ‘You’ve forgotten the signals, you see.’ ‘The signals?’ ‘Yes, green if its all right, and red – for danger!’ ‘Red – for danger – how thrilling!’ breathed Violet Eversleigh. Dermot turned from her rather impatiently. ‘That’s just a way of describing it, of course. Danger ahead! The red signal! Look out!’ Trent stared at him curiously. ‘You speak as though it were an actual experience, Dermot, old boy.’ ‘So it is – has been, I mean.’ ‘Give us the yarn.’ ‘I can give you one instance. Out in Mesopotamia – just after the Armistice, I came into my tent one evening with the feeling strong upon me. Danger! Look out! Hadn’t the ghost of a notion what it was all about. I made a round of the camp, fussed unnecessarily, took all precautions against an attack by hostile Arabs. Then I went back to my tent. As soon as I got inside, the feeling popped up again stronger than ever. Danger! In the end, I took a blanket outside, rolled myself up in it and slept there.’ ‘Well?’ ‘The next morning, when I went inside the tent, first thing I saw was a great knife arrangement – about half a yard long – struck down through my bunk, just where I would have lain. I soon found out about it – one of the Arab servants. His son had been shot as a spy. What have you got to say to that, Uncle Alington, as an example of what I call the red signal?’ The specialist smiled non-committally. ‘A very interesting story, my dear Dermot.’ ‘But not one that you would accept unreservedly?’ ‘Yes, yes, I have no doubt that you had the premonition of danger, just as you state. But it is the origin of the premonition I dispute. According to you, it came from without, impressed by some outside source upon your mentality. But nowadays we find that nearly everything comes from within – from our subconscious self.’ ‘Good old subconscious,’ cried Jack Trent. ‘It’s the jack-of-all-trades nowadays.’ Sir Alington continued without heeding the interruption. ‘I suggest that by some glance or look this Arab had betrayed himself. Your conscious self did not notice or remember, but with your subconscious self it was otherwise. The subconscious never forgets. We believe, too, that it can reason and deduce quite independently of the higher or conscious will. Your subconscious self, then, believed that an attempt might be made to assassinate you, and succeeded in forcing its fear upon your conscious realization.’ ‘That sounds very convincing, I admit,’ said Dermot smiling. ‘But not nearly so exciting,’ pouted Mrs Eversleigh. ‘It is also possible that you may have been subconsciously aware of the hate felt by the man towards you. What in the old days used to be called telepathy certainly exists, though the conditions governing it are very little understood.’ ‘Have there been any other instances?’ asked Claire of Dermot. ‘Oh! yes, but nothing very pictorial – and I suppose they could all be explained under the heading of coincidence. I refused an invitation to a country house once, for no other reason than the hoisting of the “red signal”. The place was burnt out during the week. By the way, Uncle Alington, where does the subconscious come in there?’ ‘I’m afraid it doesn’t,’ said Alington, smiling. ‘But you’ve got an equally good explanation. Come, now. No need to be tactful with near relatives.’ ‘Well, then, nephew, I venture to suggest that you refused the invitation for the ordinary reason that you didn’t much want to go, and that after the fire, you suggested to yourself that you had had a warning of danger, which explanation you now believe implicitly.’ ‘It’s hopeless,’ laughed Dermot. ‘It’s heads you win, tails I lose.’ ‘Never mind, Mr West,’ cried Violet Eversleigh. ‘I believe in your Red Signal implicitly. Is the time in Mesopotamia the last time you had it?’ ‘Yes – until –’ ‘I beg your pardon?’ ‘Nothing.’ Dermot sat silent. The words which had nearly left his lips were: ‘Yes, until tonight.’They had come quite unbidden to his lips, voicing a thought which had as yet not been consciously realized, but he was aware at once that they were true. The Red Signal was looming up out of the darkness. Danger! Danger at hand! But why? What conceivable danger could there be here? Here in the house of his friends? At least – well, yes, there was that kind of danger. He looked at Claire Trent – her whiteness, her slenderness, the exquisite droop of her golden head. But that danger had been there for some time – it was never likely to get acute. For Jack Trent was his best friend, and more than his best friend, the man who had saved his life in Flanders and had been recommended for the VC for doing so. A good fellow, Jack, one of the best. Damned bad luck that he should have fallen in love with Jack’s wife. He’d get over it some day, he supposed. A thing couldn’t go on hurting like this for ever. One could starve it out – that was it, starve it out. It was not as though she would ever guess – and if she did guess, there was no danger of her caring. A statue, a beautiful statue, a thing of gold and ivory and pale pink coral … a toy for a king, not a real woman … Claire … the very thought of her name, uttered silently, hurt him … He must get over it. He’d cared for women before … ‘But not like this!’ said something. ‘Not like this.’ Well, there it was. No danger there – heartache, yes, but not danger. Not the danger of the Red Signal. That was for something else. He looked round the table and it struck him for the first time that it was rather an unusual little gathering. His uncle, for instance, seldom dined out in this small, informal way. It was not as though the Trents were old friends; until this evening Dermot had not been aware that he knew them at all. To be sure, there was an excuse. A rather notorious medium was coming after dinner to give a seance Конец ознакомительного фрагмента. Текст предоставлен ООО «ЛитРес». 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