The Case of the Missing Will: A Hercule Poirot Short Story
A classic Agatha Christie short story, available individually for the first time as an ebook.When Andrew Marsh dies he leaves behind a charming and ingenious problem for Poirot. In his will he has left his niece all of his wealth. But only for one year. After that it will all be given to charity and she will be left penniless. Unless they solve the mystery Mr Marsh has left behind…
The Case of the Missing Will
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.
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Ebook Edition © OCTOBER 2013 ISBN 9780007526383
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‘The Case of the Missing Will’ was first published in The Sketch, 31 October 1923.
The problem presented to us by Miss Violet Marsh made rather a pleasant change from our usual routine work. Poirot had received a brisk and businesslike note from the lady asking for an appointment, and had replied asking her to call upon him at eleven o’clock the following day.
She arrived punctually – a tall, handsome young woman, plainly but neatly dressed, with an assured and businesslike manner. Clearly a young woman who meant to get on in the world. I am not a great admirer of the so-called New Woman myself, and, in spite of her good looks, I was not particularly prepossessed in her favour.
‘My business is of a somewhat unusual nature, Monsieur Poirot,’ she began, after she had accepted a chair. ‘I had better begin at the beginning and tell you the whole story.’
‘If you please, mademoiselle.’
‘I am an orphan. My father was one of two brothers, sons of a small yeoman farmer in Devonshire. The farm was a poor one, and the elder brother, Andrew, emigrated to Australia, where he did very well indeed, and by means of successful speculation in land became a very rich man. The younger brother, Roger (my father), had no leanings towards the agricultural life. He managed to educate himself a little, and obtained a post as clerk with a small firm. He married slightly above him; my mother was the daughter of a poor artist. My father died when I was six years old. When I was fourteen, my mother followed him to the grave. My only living relation then was my uncle Andrew, who had recently returned from Australia and bought a small place, Crabtree Manor, in his native county. He was exceedingly kind to his brother’s orphan child, took me to live with him, and treated me in every way as though I was his own daughter.
‘Crabtree Manor, in spite of its name, is really only an old farmhouse. Farming was in my uncle’s blood, and he was intensely interested in various modern farming experiments. Although kindness itself to me, he had certain peculiar and deeply-rooted ideas as to the upbringing of women. Himself a man of little or no education, though possessing remarkable shrewdness, he placed little value on what he called “book knowledge”. He was especially opposed to the education of women. In his opinion, girls should learn practical housework and dairy-work, be useful about the home, and have as little to do with book learning as possible. He proposed to bring me up on these lines, to my bitter disappointment and annoyance. I rebelled frankly. I knew that I possessed a good brain, and had absolutely no talent for domestic duties. My uncle and I had many bitter arguments on the subject, for, though much attached to each other, we were both self-willed. I was lucky enough to win a scholarship, and up to a certain point was successful in getting my own way. The crisis arose when I resolved to go to Girton. I had a little money of my own, left me by my mother, and I was quite determined to make the best use of the gifts God had given me. I had one long, final argument with my uncle. He put the facts plainly before me. He had no other relations, and he had intended me to be his sole heiress. As I have told you, he was a very rich man. If I persisted in these “new-fangled notions” of mine, however, I need look for nothing from him. I remained polite, but firm. I should always be deeply attached to him, I told him, but I must lead my own life. We parted on that note. “You fancy your brains, my girl,” were his last words. “I’ve no book learning, but, for all that, I’ll pit mine against yours any day. We’ll see what we shall see.”
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