A classic Agatha Christie short story, available individually for the first time as an ebook.A medium agrees to perform one last seance before retiring. But even she could not have anticipated the chain of events that it brings…
The Last Séance
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 © 2008 Agatha Christie Ltd.
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Source ISBN: 9780007438976
Ebook Edition © MARCH 2014 ISBN: 9780007560035
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‘The Last Séance’ was first published in the USA in Ghost Stories magazine, November 1926, and as ‘The Stolen Ghost’ in The Sovereign Magazine, March 1927.
Raoul Daubreuil crossed the Seine humming a little tune to himself. He was a good-looking young Frenchman of about thirty-two, with a fresh-coloured face and a little black moustache. By profession he was an engineer. In due course he reached the Cardonet and turned in at the door of No. 17. The concierge looked out from her lair and gave him a grudging ‘Good morning,’ to which he replied cheerfully. Then he mounted the stairs to the apartment on the third floor. As he stood there waiting for his ring at the bell to be answered he hummed once more his little tune. Raoul Daubreuil was feeling particularly cheerful this morning. The door was opened by an elderly Frenchwoman whose wrinkled face broke into smiles when she saw who the visitor was.
‘Good morning, Monsieur.’
‘Good morning, Elise,’ said Raoul.
He passed into the vestibule, pulling off his gloves as he did so.
‘Madame expects me, does she not?’ he asked over his shoulder.
‘Ah, yes, indeed, Monsieur.’
Elise shut the front door and turned towards him.
‘If Monsieur will pass into the little salon Madame will be with him in a few minutes. At the moment she reposes herself.’
Raoul looked up sharply.
‘Is she not well?’
Elise gave a snort. She passed in front of Raoul and opened the door of the little salon for him. He went in and she followed him.
‘Well!’ she continued. ‘How could she be well, poor lamb? Séances, séances, and always séances! It is not right – not natural, not what the good God intended for us. For me, I say straight out, it is trafficking with the devil.’
Raoul patted her on the shoulder reassuringly.
‘There, there, Elise,’ he said soothingly, ‘do not excite yourself, and do not be too ready to see the devil in everything you do not understand.’
Elise shook her head doubtingly.
‘Ah, well,’ she grumbled under her breath, ‘Monsieur may say what he pleases, I don’t like it. Look at Madame, every day she gets whiter and thinner, and the headaches!’
She held up her hands.
‘Ah, no, it is not good, all this spirit business. Spirits indeed! All the good spirits are in Paradise, and the others are in Purgatory.’
‘Your view of the life after death is refeshingly simple, Elise,’ said Raoul as he dropped into the chair.
The old woman drew herself up.
‘I am a good Catholic, Monsieur.’
She crossed herself, went towards the door, then paused, her hand on the handle.
‘Afterwards when you are married, Monsieur,’ she said pleadingly, ‘it will not continue – all this?’
Raoul smiled at her affectionately.
‘You are a good faithful creature, Elise,’ he said, ‘and devoted to your mistress. Have no fear, once she is my wife, all this “spirit business” as you call it, will cease. For Madame Daubreuil there will be no more séances.’
Elise’s face broke into smiles.