The Mystery of Hunter’s Lodge: A Hercule Poirot Short Story
Агата Кристи

The Mystery of Hunter’s Lodge: A Hercule Poirot Short Story
Agatha Christie

A wealthy man is found dead in his nephew’s hunting lodge. Suspicion falls on a bearded stranger who was with the man immediately before a shot was heard, but he has completely vanished. Hastings is left to investigate solo as Poirot is ill with influenza, but his expertise is never far away

The Mystery of Hunter’s Lodge

A Short Story

by Agatha Christie

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The Mystery of Hunter’s Lodge

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‘The Mystery of Hunter’s Lodge’ was first published in The Sketch, 16 May 1923.

‘After all,’ murmured Poirot, ‘it is possible that I shall not die this time.’

Coming from a convalescent influenza patient, I hailed the remark as showing a beneficial optimism. I myself had been the first sufferer from the disease. Poirot in his turn had gone down. He was now sitting up in bed, propped up with pillows, his head muffled in a woollen shawl, and was slowly sipping a particularly noxious tisane which I had prepared according to his directions. His eye rested with pleasure upon a neatly graduated row of medicine bottles which adorned the mantelpiece.

‘Yes, yes,’ my little friend continued. ‘Once more shall I be myself again, the great Hercule Poirot, the terror of evildoers! Figure to yourself, mon ami, that I have a little paragraph to myself in Society Gossip. But yes! Here it is: “Go it – criminals – all out! Hercule Poirot – and believe me, girls, he’s some Hercules! – our own pet society detective can’t get a grip on you. ’Cause why? ’Cause he’s got la grippe himself”!’

I laughed.

‘Good for you, Poirot. You are becoming quite a public character. And fortunately you haven’t missed anything of particular interest during this time.’

‘That is true. The few cases I have had to decline did not fill me with any regret.’

Our landlady stuck her head in at the door.

‘There’s a gentleman downstairs. Says he must see Monsieur Poirot or you, Captain. Seeing as he was in a great to-do – and with all that quite the gentleman – I brought up ’is card.’

She handed me a bit of pasteboard. ‘Mr Roger Havering,’ I read.

Poirot motioned with his head towards the bookcase, and I obediently pulled forth Who’s Who. Poirot took it from me and scanned the pages rapidly.

‘Second son of fifth Baron Windsor. Married 1913 Zoe, fourth daughter of William Crabb.’

‘H’m!’ I said. ‘I rather fancy that’s the girl who used to act at the Frivolity – only she called herself Zoe Carrisbrook. I remember she married some young man about town just before the War.’

‘Would it interest you, Hastings, to go down and hear what our visitor’s particular little trouble is? Make him all my excuses.’

Roger Havering was a man of about forty, well set up and of smart appearance. His face, however, was haggard, and he was evidently labouring under great agitation.

‘Captain Hastings? You are Monsieur Poirot’s partner, I understand. It is imperative that he should come with me to Derbyshire today.’

‘I’m afraid that’s impossible,’ I replied. ‘Poirot is ill in bed – influenza.’

His face fell.

‘Dear me, that is a great blow to me.’

‘The matter on which you want to consult him is serious?’

‘My God, yes! My uncle, the best friend I have in the world, was foully murdered last night.’

‘Here in London?’

‘No, in Derbyshire. I was in town and received a telegram from my wife this morning. Immediately upon its receipt I determined to come round and beg Monsieur Poirot to undertake the case.’

‘If you will excuse me a minute,’ I said, struck by a sudden idea.

I rushed upstairs, and in a few brief words acquainted Poirot with the situation. He took any further words out of my mouth.

‘I see. I see. You want to go yourself, is it not so? Well, why not? You should know my methods by now. All I ask is that you should report to me fully every day, and follow implicitly any instructions I may wire you.’

To this I willingly agreed.

An hour later I was sitting opposite Mr Havering in a first-class carriage on the Midland Railway, speeding rapidly away from London.

‘To begin with, Captain Hastings, you must understand that Hunter’s Lodge, where we are going, and where the tragedy took place, is only a small shooting-box in the heart of the Derbyshire moors. Our real home is near Newmarket, and we usually rent a flat in town for the season. Hunter’s Lodge is looked after by a housekeeper who is quite capable of doing all we need when we run down for an occasional weekend. Of course, during the shooting season, we take down some of our own servants from Newmarket. My uncle, Mr Harrington Pace (as you may know, my mother was a Miss Pace of New York), has, for the last three years, made his home with us. He never got on well with my father, or my elder brother, and I suspect that my being somewhat of a prodigal son myself rather increased than diminished his affection towards me. Of course I am a poor man, and my uncle was a rich one – in other words, he paid the piper! But, though exacting in many ways, he was not really hard to get on with, and we all three lived very harmoniously together. Two days ago, my uncle, rather wearied with some recent gaieties of ours in town, suggested that we should run down to Derbyshire for a day or two. My wife telegraphed to Mrs Middleton, the housekeeper, and we went down that same afternoon. Yesterday evening I was forced to return to town, but my wife and my uncle remained on. This morning I received this telegram.’ He handed it over to me:

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