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The Case of the Rich Woman: An Agatha Christie Short Story
Агата Кристи

The Case of the Rich Woman: An Agatha Christie Short Story
Agatha Christie

A classic Agatha Christie short story, available individually for the first time as an ebook.Parker Pyne is approached by a woman whose accumulation of wealth over her lifetime has been accompanied by a diminishing sense of happiness. He finds an unorthodox way of putting the interest back into her life…

The Case of the Rich Woman

A Short Story

by Agatha Christie

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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.

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Source ISBN: 9780007438983

Ebook Edition © MARCH 2014 ISBN: 9780007560103

Version: 2017-04-13


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The Case of the Rich Woman (#ulink_736e67ee-96bc-5305-b011-86274fa9797a)

‘The Case of the Rich Woman’ was the first Parker Pyne story, published in the USA as ‘The Rich Woman Who Wanted Only To Be Happy’ in Cosmopolitan, August 1932.

The name of Mrs Abner Rymer was brought to Mr Parker Pyne. He knew the name and he raised his eyebrows.

Presently his client was shown into the room.

Mrs Rymer was a tall woman, big-boned. Her figure was ungainly and the velvet dress and the heavy fur coat she wore did not disguise the fact. The knuckles of her large hands were pronounced. Her face was big and broad and highly coloured. Her black hair was fashionably dressed, and there were many tips of curled ostrich in her hat.

She plumped herself down on a chair with a nod. ‘Good-morning,’ she said. Her voice had a rough accent. ‘If you’re any good at all you’ll tell me how to spend my money!’

‘Most original,’ murmured Mr Parker Pyne. ‘Few ask me that in these days. So you really find it difficult, Mrs Rymer?’

‘Yes, I do,’ said the lady bluntly. ‘I’ve got three fur coats, a lot of Paris dresses and such like. I’ve got a car and a house in Park Lane. I’ve had a yacht but I don’t like the sea. I’ve got a lot of those high-class servants that look down their nose at you. I’ve travelled a bit and seen foreign parts. And I’m blessed if I can think of anything more to buy or do.’ She looked hopefully at Mr Pyne.

‘There are hospitals,’ he said.

‘What? Give it away, you mean? No, that I won’t do! That money was worked for, let me tell you, worked for hard. If you think I’m going to hand it out like so much dirt – well, you’re mistaken. I want to spend it; spend it and get some good out of it. Now, if you’ve got any ideas that are worthwhile in that line, you can depend on a good fee.’

‘Your proposition interests me,’ said Mr Pyne. ‘You do not mention a country house.’

‘I forgot it, but I’ve got one. Bores me to death.’

‘You must tell me more about yourself. Your problem is not easy to solve.’

‘I’ll tell you and willing. I’m not ashamed of what I’ve come from. Worked in a farmhouse, I did, when I was a girl. Hard work it was too. Then I took up with Abner – he was a workman in the mills near by. He courted me for eight years, and then we got married.’

‘And you were happy?’ asked Mr Pyne.

‘I was. He was a good man to me, Abner. We had a hard struggle of it, though; he was out of a job twice, and children coming along. Four we had, three boys and a girl. And none of them lived to grow up. I dare say it would have been different if they had.’ Her face softened; looked suddenly younger.

‘His chest was weak – Abner’s was. They wouldn’t take him for the war. He did well at home. He was made foreman. He was a clever fellow, Abner. He worked out a process. They treated him fair, I will say; gave him a good sum for it. He used that money for another idea of his. That brought in money hand over fist. It’s still coming in.

‘Mind you, it was rare fun at first. Having a house and a tip-top bathroom and servants of one’s own. No more cooking and scrubbing and washing to do. Just sit back on your silk cushions in the drawing-room and ring the bell for tea – like any countess might! Grand fun it was, and we enjoyed it. And then we came up to London. I went to swell dressmakers for my clothes. We went to Paris and the Riviera. Rare fun it was.’

‘And then,’ said Mr Parker Pyne.

‘We got used to it, I suppose,’ said Mrs Rymer. ‘After a bit it didn’t seem so much fun. Why, there were days when we didn’t even fancy our meals properly – us, with any dish we fancied to choose from! As for baths – well, in the end, one bath a day’s enough for anyone. And Abner’s health began to worry him. Paid good money to doctors, we did, but they couldn’t do anything. They tried this and they tried that. But it was no use. He died.’ She paused. ‘He was a young man, only forty-three.’

Mr Pyne nodded sympathetically.

‘That was five years ago. Money’s still rolling in. It seems wasteful not to be able to do anything with it. But as I tell you, I can’t think of anything else to buy that I haven’t got already.’

‘In other words,’ said Mr Pyne, ‘your life is dull. You are not enjoying it.’

‘I’m sick of it,’ said Mrs Rymer gloomily. ‘I’ve no friends. The new lot only want subscriptions, and they laugh at me behind my back. The old lot won’t have anything to do with me. My rolling up in a car makes them shy. Can you do anything or suggest anything?’

‘It is possible that I can,’ said Mr Pyne slowly. ‘It will be difficult, but I believe there is a chance of success. I think it’s possible I can give you back what you have lost – your interest in life.’

‘How?’ demanded Mrs Rymer curtly.

‘That,’ said Mr Parker Pyne, ‘is my professional secret. I never disclose my methods beforehand. The question is, will you take a chance? I do not guarantee success, but I do think there is a reasonable possibility of it.

‘I shall have to adopt unusual methods, and therefore it will be expensive. My charges will be one thousand pounds, payable in advance.’

‘You can open your mouth all right, can’t you?’ said Mrs Rymer appreciatively. ‘Well, I’ll risk it. I’m used to paying top price. Only, when I pay for a thing, I take good care that I get it.’
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