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The Plymouth Express: A Hercule Poirot Short Story

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The Plymouth Express: A Hercule Poirot Short Story
Agatha Christie

A classic Agatha Christie short story, available individually for the first time as an ebook.When Ebenezer Halliday’s daughter’s body is found stuffed underneath a train seat, the wealthy American industrialist hires Hercule Poirot to locate the murderer and over one hundred thousand dollars’ worth of stolen jewels.


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 Plymouth Express’ was first published as ‘The Mystery of the Plymouth Express’ in The Sketch, 4 April 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: 9780007486557

Version: 2017-04-18


Cover (#uf6218cac-90fd-5ad1-a25b-3863f6027ae4)

Title Page (#ucae727ba-4c5e-52ec-b8c9-cf41d657ecce)


The Plymouth Express

About the Publisher (#litres_trial_promo)

The Plymouth Express

‘The Plymouth Express’ was first published as ‘The Mystery of the Plymouth Express’ in The Sketch, 4 April 1923.

Alec Simpson, RN, stepped from the platform at Newton Abbot into a first-class compartment of the Plymouth Express. A porter followed him with a heavy suitcase. He was about to swing it up to the rack, but the young sailor stopped him.

‘No – leave it on the seat. I’ll put it up later. Here you are.’

‘Thank you, sir.’ The porter, generously tipped, withdrew.

Doors banged; a stentorian voice shouted: ‘Plymouth only. Change for Torquay. Plymouth next stop.’ Then a whistle blew, and the train drew slowly out of the station.

Lieutenant Simpson had the carriage to himself. The December air was chilly, and he pulled up the window. Then he sniffed vaguely, and frowned. What a smell there was! Reminded him of that time in hospital, and the operation on his leg. Yes, chloroform; that was it!

He let the window down again, changing his seat to one with its back to the engine. He pulled a pipe out of his pocket and lit it. For a little time he sat inactive, looking out into the night and smoking.

At last he roused himself, and opening the suitcase, took out some papers and magazines, then closed the suitcase again and endeavoured to shove it under the opposite seat – without success. Some obstacle resisted it. He shoved harder with rising impatience, but it still stuck out half-way into the carriage.

‘Why the devil won’t it go in?’ he muttered, and hauling it out completely, he stooped down and peered under the seat . . .

A moment later a cry rang out into the night, and the great train came to an unwilling halt in obedience to the imperative jerking of the communication cord.

‘Mon ami,’ said Poirot, ‘you have, I know, been deeply interested in this mystery of the Plymouth Express. Read this.’

I picked up the note he flicked across the table to me. It was brief and to the point.

Dear Sir,

I shall be obliged if you will call upon me at your earliest convenience.

Yours faithfully,


The connection was not clear to my mind, and I looked inquiringly at Poirot.

For answer he took up the newspaper and read aloud: ‘“A sensational discovery was made last night. A young naval officer returning to Plymouth found under the seat of his compartment the body of a woman, stabbed through the heart. The officer at once pulled the communication cord, and the train was brought to a standstill. The woman, who was about thirty years of age, and richly dressed, has not yet been identified.”

‘And later we have this: “The woman found dead in the Plymouth Express has been identified as the Honourable Mrs Rupert Carrington.” You see now, my friend? Or if you do not I will add this – Mrs Rupert Carrington was, before her marriage, Flossie Halliday, daughter of old man Halliday, the steel king of America.’

‘And he has sent for you? Splendid!’

‘I did him a little service in the past – an affair of bearer bonds. And once, when I was in Paris for a royal visit, I had Mademoiselle Flossie pointed out to me. La jolie petite pensionnaire! She had the joli dot too! It caused trouble. She nearly made a bad affair.’

‘How was that?’

‘A certain Count de la Rochefour. Un bien mauvais sujet! A bad hat, as you would say. An adventurer pure and simple, who knew how to appeal to a romantic young girl. Luckily her father got wind of it in time. He took her back to America in haste. I heard of her marriage some years later, but I know nothing of her husband.’

‘H’m,’ I said. ‘The Honourable Rupert Carrington is no beauty, by all accounts. He’d pretty well run through his own money on the turf, and I should imagine old man Halliday’s dollars came along in the nick of time. I should say that for a good-looking, well-mannered, utterly unscrupulous young scoundrel, it would be hard to find his mate!’

‘Ah, the poor little lady! Elle n’est pas bien tombée!’

‘I fancy he made it pretty obvious at once that it was her money, and not she, that had attracted him. I believe they drifted apart almost at once. I have heard rumours lately that there was to be a definite legal separation.’

‘Old man Halliday is no fool. He would tie up her money pretty tight.’

‘I dare say. Anyway, I know as a fact that the Honourable Rupert is said to be extremely hard up.’
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