A classic Agatha Christie short story, available individually for the first time as an ebook.George’s day couldn’t get any worse when he is fired by his uncle for not grasping the golden ball of opportunity. Within hours he finds himself engaged to be married and the participant in an armed heist…
The Golden Ball
A Short Story
by Agatha Christie
Published by HarperCollinsPublishers Ltd 1 London Bridge Street London SE1 9GF
Copyright © 2008 Agatha Christie Ltd.
Cover design © HarperCollinsPublishers 2014
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Ebook Edition © JUNE 2014 ISBN 9780007560264
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The Golden Ball (#ulink_de49dc19-2dc6-502b-b2a1-6b6ae2dbc501)
‘The Golden Ball’ was first published as ‘Playing the Innocent’ in the Daily Mail, 5 August 1929.
George Dundas stood in the City of London meditating.
All about him toilers and money-makers surged and flowed like an enveloping tide. But George, beautifully dressed, his trousers exquisitely creased, took no heed of them. He was busy thinking what to do next.
Something had occurred! Between George and his rich uncle (Ephraim Leadbetter of the firm of Leadbetter and Gilling) there had been what is called in a lower walk of life ‘words’. To be strictly accurate the words had been almost entirely on Mr Leadbetter’s side. They had flowed from his lips in a steady stream of bitter indignation, and the fact that they consisted almost entirely of repetition did not seem to have worried him. To say a thing once beautifully and then let it alone was not one of Mr Leadbetter’s mottos.
The theme was a simple one – the criminal folly and wickedness of a young man, who has his way to make, taking a day off in the middle of the week without even asking leave. Mr Leadbetter, when he had said everything he could think of and several things twice, paused for breath and asked George what he meant by it.
George replied simply that he had felt he wanted a day off. A holiday, in fact.
And what, Mr Leadbetter wanted to know, were Saturday afternoon and Sunday? To say nothing of Whitsuntide, not long past, and August Bank Holiday to come?
George said he didn’t care for Saturday afternoons, Sundays or Bank Holidays. He meant a real day, when it might be possible to find some spot where half London was not assembled already.
Mr Leadbetter then said that he had done his best by his dead sister’s son – nobody could say he hadn’t given him a chance. But it was plain that it was no use. And in future George could have five real days with Saturday and Sunday added to do with as he liked.
‘The golden ball of opportunity has been thrown up for you, my boy,’ said Mr Leadbetter in a last touch of poetical fancy. ‘And you have failed to grasp it.’
George said it seemed to him that that was just what he had done, and Mr Leadbetter dropped poetry for wrath and told him to get out.
Hence George – meditating. Would his uncle relent or would he not? Had he any secret affection for George, or merely a cold distaste?
It was just at that moment that a voice – a most unlikely voice – said, ‘Hallo!’
A scarlet touring car with an immense long bonnet had drawn up to the curb beside him. At the wheel was that beautiful and popular society girl, Mary Montresor. (The description is that of the illustrated papers who produced a portrait of her at least four times a month.) She was smiling at George in an accomplished manner.
‘I never knew a man could look so like an island,’ said Mary Montresor. ‘Would you like to get in?’
‘I should love it above all things,’ said George with no hesitation, and stepped in beside her.
They proceeded slowly because the traffic forbade anything else.
‘I’m tired of the city,’ said Mary Montresor. ‘I came to see what it was like. I shall go back to London.’
Without presuming to correct her geography, George said it was a splendid idea. They proceeded sometimes slowly, sometimes with wild bursts of speed when Mary Montresor saw a chance of cutting in. It seemed to George that she was somewhat optimistic in the latter view, but he reflected that one could only die once. He thought it best, however, to essay no conversation. He preferred his fair driver to keep strictly to the job in hand.
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