A classic Agatha Christie short story, available individually for the first time as an ebook.Asked to investigate an incident that needs to be dealt with discretion, Poirot reluctantly agrees to spend Christmas in the countryside with the Laceys. Dreading the cold and traditional English fare Poirot attempts to locate a missing ruby in order to save a kingdom…
The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding
A Short Story
by Agatha Christie
Published by HarperCollinsPublishers Ltd 1 London Bridge Street London SE1 9GF www.harpercollins.co.uk (http://www.harpercollins.co.uk)
Copyright © 1999 Agatha Christie Ltd.
Cover design © HarperCollinsPublishers 2013
All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access and read the text of this e-book on-screen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, down-loaded, 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 © OCTOBER 2013 ISBN 9780007526680
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..
Title Page (#u72a96f6e-60cd-5a49-8253-a36f7e81eaf4)
The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding (#uae7d6e59-4799-5527-88c6-47966ba00eb4)
Releated Products (#litres_trial_promo)
About the Publisher (#litres_trial_promo)
The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding (#ulink_a54d8dab-9563-5144-ac8a-d290ed564111)
‘The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding’ was first published in The Sketch, 12 December 1923. This is an expanded version of the story.
‘I regret exceedingly –’ said M. Hercule Poirot.
He was interrupted. Not rudely interrupted. The interruption was suave, dexterous, persuasive rather than contradictory.
‘Please don’t refuse offhand, M. Poirot. There are grave issues of State. Your co-operation will be appreciated in the highest quarters.’
‘You are too kind,’ Hercule Poirot waved a hand, ‘but I really cannot undertake to do as you ask. At this season of the year –’
Again Mr Jesmond interrupted. ‘Christmas time,’ he said, persuasively. ‘An old-fashioned Christmas in the English countryside.’
Hercule Poirot shivered. The thought of the English countryside at this season of the year did not attract him.
‘A good old-fashioned Christmas!’ Mr Jesmond stressed it.
‘Me – I am not an Englishman,’ said Hercule Poirot. ‘In my country, Christmas, it is for the children. The New Year, that is what we celebrate.’
‘Ah,’ said Mr Jesmond, ‘but Christmas in England is a great institution and I assure you at Kings Lacey you would see it at its best. It’s a wonderful old house, you know. Why, one wing of it dates from the fourteenth century.’
Again Poirot shivered. The thought of a fourteenth-century English manor house filled him with apprehension. He had suffered too often in the historic country houses of England. He looked round appreciatively at his comfortable modern flat with its radiators and the latest patent devices for excluding any kind of draught.
‘In the winter,’ he said firmly, ‘I do not leave London.’
‘I don’t think you quite appreciate, M. Poirot, what a very serious matter this is.’ Mr Jesmond glanced at his companion and then back at Poirot.
Poirot’s second visitor had up to now said nothing but a polite and formal ‘How do you do.’ He sat now, gazing down at his well-polished shoes, with an air of the utmost dejection on his coffee-coloured face. He was a young man, not more than twenty-three, and he was clearly in a state of complete misery.
‘Yes, yes,’ said Hercule Poirot. ‘Of course the matter is serious. I do appreciate that. His Highness has my heartfelt sympathy.’
‘The position is one of the utmost delicacy,’ said Mr Jesmond.
Poirot transferred his gaze from the young man to his older companion. If one wanted to sum up Mr Jesmond in a word, the word would have been discretion. Everything about Mr Jesmond was discreet. His well-cut but inconspicuous clothes, his pleasant, well-bred voice which rarely soared out of an agreeable monotone, his light-brown hair just thinning a little at the temples, his pale serious face. It seemed to Hercule Poirot that he had known not one Mr Jesmond but a dozen Mr Jesmonds in his time, all using sooner or later the same phrase – ‘a position of the utmost delicacy.’
‘The police,’ said Hercule Poirot, ‘can be very discreet, you know.’
Mr Jesmond shook his head firmly.
‘Not the police,’ he said. ‘To recover the – er – what we want to recover will almost inevitably invoke taking proceedings in the law courts and we know so little. We suspect, but we do not know.’
‘You have my sympathy,’ said Hercule Poirot again.
If he imagined that his sympathy was going to mean anything to his two visitors, he was wrong. They did not want sympathy, they wanted practical help. Mr Jesmond began once more to talk about the delights of an English Christmas.
‘It’s dying out, you know,’ he said, ‘the real old-fashioned type of Christmas. People spend it at hotels nowadays. But an English Christmas with all the family gathered round, the children and their stockings, the Christmas tree, the turkey and plum pudding, the crackers. The snowman outside the window –’
In the interests of exactitude, Hercule Poirot intervened.
‘To make a snowman one has to have the snow,’ he remarked severely. ‘And one cannot have snow to order, even for an English Christmas.’
‘I was talking to a friend of mine in the meteorological office only today,’ said Mr Jesmond, ‘and he tells me that it is highly probable there will be snow this Christmas.’
It was the wrong thing to have said. Hercule Poirot shuddered more forcefully than ever.
‘Snow in the country!’ he said. ‘That would be still more abominable. A large, cold, stone manor house.’
‘Not at all,’ said Mr Jesmond. ‘Things have changed very much in the last ten years or so. Oil-fired central heating.’