The Gipsy: An Agatha Christie Short Story
The Gipsy: An Agatha Christie Short Story
A classic Agatha Christie short story, available individually for the first time as an ebook.A man confides in a friend that he has a fear of gypsies stemming from childhood nightmares. When he sees a gypsy in a red scarf he becomes unhinged. Encapsulated in fear he doesn’t listen to her warnings…
A Short Story
by Agatha Christie
Published by HarperCollinsPublishers Ltd 1 London Bridge Street London SE1 9GF
First published 2008
Copyright © 2008 Agatha Christie Ltd.
Cover design © HarperCollinsPublishers 2013
Agatha Christie asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work
A catalogue copy of this book is available from the British Library
This novel 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
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Ebook Edition © OCTOBER 2013 ISBN: 9780007526741
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The Gipsy (#ulink_ce60c056-022e-55c0-85de-aafb915ff9f9)
‘The Gipsy’ was first published in the hardback The Hound of Death and Other Stories (Odhams Press, 1933). No previous appearances have been found.
Macfarlane had often noticed that his friend, Dickie Carpenter, had a strange aversion to gipsies. He had never known the reason for it. But when Dickie’s engagement to Esther Lawes was broken off, there was a momentary tearing down of reserves between the two men.
Macfarlane had been engaged to the younger sister, Rachel, for about a year. He had known both the Lawes girls since they were children. Slow and cautious in all things, he had been unwilling to admit to himself the growing attraction that Rachel’s childlike face and honest brown eyes had for him. Not a beauty like Esther, no! But unutterably truer and sweeter. With Dickie’s engagement to the elder sister, the bond between the two men seemed to be drawn closer.
And now, after a few brief weeks, that engagement was off again, and Dickie, simple Dickie, hard hit. So far in his young life all had gone so smoothly. His career in the Navy had been well chosen. His craving for the sea was inborn. There was something of the Viking about him, primitive and direct, a nature on which subtleties of thought were wasted. He belonged to that inarticulate order of young Englishmen who dislike any form of emotion, and who find it peculiarly hard to explain their mental processes in words.
Macfarlane, that dour Scot, with a Celtic imagination hidden away somewhere, listened and smoked while his friend floundered along in a sea of words. He had known an unburdening was coming. But he had expected the subject matter to be different. To begin with, anyway, there was no mention of Esther Lawes. Only, it seemed, the story of a childish terror.
‘It all started with a dream I had when I was a kid. Not a nightmare exactly. She – the gipsy, you know – would just come into any old dream – even a good dream (or a kid’s idea of what’s good – a party and crackers and things). I’d be enjoying myself no end, and then I’d feel, I’d know, that if I looked up, she’d be there, standing as she always stood, watching me … With sad eyes, you know, as though she understood something that I didn’t … Can’t explain why it rattled me so – but it did! Every time! I used to wake up howling with terror, and my old nurse used to say: “There! Master Dickie’s had one of his gipsy dreams again!”’
‘Ever been frightened by real gipsies?’
‘Never saw one till later. That was queer, too. I was chasing a pup of mine. He’d run away. I got through the garden door, and along one of the forest paths. We lived in the New Forest then, you know. I came to a sort of clearing at the end, with a wooden bridge over a stream. And just beside it a gipsy was standing – with a red handkerchief over her head – just the same as in my dream. And at once I was frightened! She looked at me, you know … Just the same look – as though she knew something I didn’t, and was sorry about it … And then she said quite quietly, nodding her head at me: “I shouldn’t go that way, if I were you