Агата Кристи
The Disappearance of Mr Davenheim: A Hercule Poirot Short Story

The Disappearance of Mr Davenheim: A Hercule Poirot Short Story
Agatha Christie

A classic Agatha Christie short story, available individually for the first time as an ebook.Mr Davenheim, a wealthy financier, leaves his home to mail a letter, then fails to return. The story fills the newspapers and intrigues Hercule Poirot, who challenges Inspector Japp that he can solve the case before the police, and without leaving his flat.


A Short Story

by Agatha Christie


This short story is entirely a work of fiction. The names, characters and incidents portrayed in it are the work of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or localities is entirely coincidental.

Published by HarperCollinsPublishers Ltd 1 London Bridge Street London SE1 9GF www.harpercollins.co.uk (http://www.harpercollins.co.uk)

‘The Disappearance of Mr Davenheim’ was first published in The Sketch, 28 March 1923.

This ePub edition published April 2012.

Copyright © 2012 Agatha Christie Ltd.

A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

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 © 2012 ISBN: 9780007486540

Version: 2017-04-18


Cover (#ub425c242-7414-53ed-93a0-bbd7f7f76dca)

Title Page (#u3bfefb17-c040-53a4-8a22-17e298c14169)


The Disappearance of Mr Davenheim

About the Publisher (#litres_trial_promo)

The Disappearance of Mr Davenheim

‘The Disappearance of Mr Davenheim’ was first published in The Sketch, 28 March 1923.

Poirot and I were expecting our old friend Inspector Japp of Scotland Yard to tea. We were sitting round the tea-table awaiting his arrival. Poirot had just finished carefully straightening the cups and saucers which our landlady was in the habit of throwing, rather than placing, on the table. He had also breathed heavily on the metal teapot, and polished it with a silk handkerchief. The kettle was on the boil, and a small enamel saucepan beside it contained some thick, sweet chocolate which was more to Poirot’s palate than what he described as ‘your English poison’.

A sharp ‘rat-tat’ sounded below, and a few minutes afterwards Japp entered briskly.

‘Hope I’m not late,’ he said as he greeted us. ‘To tell the truth, I was yarning with Miller, the man who’s in charge of the Davenheim case.’

I pricked up my ears. For the last three days the papers had been full of the strange disappearance of Mr Davenheim, senior partner of Davenheim and Salmon, the well-known bankers and financiers. On Saturday last he had walked out of his house, and had never been seen since. I looked forward to extracting some interesting details from Japp.

‘I should have thought,’ I remarked, ‘that it would be almost impossible for anyone to “disappear” nowadays.’

Poirot moved a plate of bread and butter the eighth of an inch, and said sharply:

‘Be exact, my friend. What do you mean by “disappear”? To which class of disappearance are you referring?’

‘Are disappearances classified and labelled, then?’ I laughed.

Japp smiled also. Poirot frowned at both of us.

‘But certainly they are! They fall into three categories: First, and most common, the voluntary disappearance. Second, the much abused “loss of memory” case – rare, but occasionally genuine. Third, murder, and a more or less successful disposal of the body. Do you refer to all three as impossible of execution?’

‘Very nearly so, I should think. You might lose your own memory, but someone would be sure to recognize you – especially in the case of a well-known man like Davenheim. Then “bodies” can’t be made to vanish into thin air. Sooner or later they turn up, concealed in lonely places, or in trunks. Murder will out. In the same way, the absconding clerk, or the domestic defaulter, is bound to be run down in these days of wireless telegraphy. He can be headed off from foreign countries; ports and railway stations are watched; and as for concealment in this country, his features and appearance will be known to everyone who reads a daily newspaper. He’s up against civilization.’

‘Mon ami,’ said Poirot, ‘you make one error. You do not allow for the fact that a man who had decided to make away with another man – or with himself in a figurative sense – might be that rare machine, a man of method. He might bring intelligence, talent, a careful calculation of detail to the task; and then I do not see why he should not be successful in baffling the police force.’

‘But not you, I suppose?’ said Japp good-humouredly, winking at me. ‘He couldn’t baffle you, eh, Monsieur Poirot?’

Poirot endeavoured, with a marked lack of success, to look modest. ‘Me also! Why not? It is true that I approach such problems with an exact science, a mathematical precision, which seems, alas, only too rare in the new generation of detectives!’

Japp grinned more widely.

‘I don’t know,’ he said. ‘Miller, the man who’s on this case, is a smart chap. You may be very sure he won’t overlook a footprint, or a cigar-ash, or a crumb even. He’s got eyes that see everything.’

‘So, mon ami,’ said Poirot, ‘has the London sparrow. But all the same, I should not ask the little brown bird to solve the problem of Mr Davenheim.’

‘Come now, monsieur, you’re not going to run down the value of details as clues?’

‘By no means. These things are all good in their way. The danger is they may assume undue importance. Most details are insignificant; one or two are vital. It is the brain, the little grey cells’ – he tapped his forehead – ‘on which one must rely. The senses mislead. One must seek the truth within – not without.’

‘You don’t mean to say, Monsieur Poirot, that you would undertake to solve a case without moving from your chair, do you?’

‘That is exactly what I do mean – granted the facts were placed before me. I regard myself as a consulting specialist.’

Japp slapped his knee. ‘Hanged if I don’t take you at your word. Bet you a fiver that you can’t lay your hand – or rather tell me where to lay my hand – on Mr Davenheim, dead or alive, before a week is out.’

Poirot considered. ‘Eh bien, mon ami, I accept. Le sport, it is the passion of you English. Now – the facts.’

‘On Saturday last, as is his usual custom, Mr Davenheim took the 12.40 train from Victoria to Chingside, where his palatial country seat, The Cedars, is situated. After lunch, he strolled round the grounds, and gave various directions to the gardeners. Everybody agrees that his manner was absolutely normal and as usual. After tea he put his head into his wife’s boudoir, saying that he was going to stroll down to the village and post some letters. He added that he was expecting a Mr Lowen, on business. If he should come before he himself returned, he was to be shown into the study and asked to wait. Mr Davenheim then left the house by the front door, passed leisurely down the drive, and out at the gate, and – was never seen again. From that hour, he vanished completely.’

Вы ознакомились с фрагментом книги.
Для бесплатного чтения открыта только часть текста.
Приобретайте полный текст книги у нашего партнера:
Полная версия книги
(всего 12 форматов)