The Voice in the Dark: An Agatha Christie Short Story
The Voice in the Dark: An Agatha Christie Short Story
A classic Agatha Christie short story, available individually for the first time as an ebook.Mr Satterthwaite turns detective thanks to his mysterious friend Mr Quin when a drowned woman appears to be haunting her family home…
The Voice in the Dark
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: 9780007438983
Ebook Edition © 2011 ISBN: 9780007560110
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‘The Voice in the Dark’ was first published in the USA in Flynn’s Weekly, 4 December 1926, and then as ‘The Magic of Mr Quin No. 4’ in Storyteller magazine, March 1927.
‘I am a little worried about Margery,’ said Lady Stranleigh.
‘My girl, you know,’ she added.
She sighed pensively.
‘It makes one feel terribly old to have a grown-up daughter.’
Mr Satterthwaite, who was the recipient of these confidences, rose to the occasion gallantly.
‘No one could believe it possible,’ he declared with a little bow.
‘Flatterer,’ said Lady Stranleigh, but she said it vaguely and it was clear that her mind was elsewhere.
Mr Satterthwaite looked at the slender white-clad figure in some admiration. The Cannes sunshine was searching, but Lady Stranleigh came through the test very well. At a distance the youthful effect was really extraordinary. One almost wondered if she were grown-up or not. Mr Satterthwaite, who knew everything, knew that it was perfectly possible for Lady Stranleigh to have grown-up grandchildren. She represented the extreme triumph of art over nature. Her figure was marvellous, her complexion was marvellous. She had enriched many beauty parlours and certainly the results were astounding.
Lady Stranleigh lit a cigarette, crossed her beautiful legs encased in the finest of nude silk stockings and murmured: ‘Yes, I really am rather worried about Margery.’
‘Dear me,’ said Mr Satterthwaite, ‘what is the trouble?’
Lady Stranleigh turned her beautiful blue eyes upon him
‘You have never met her, have you? She is Charles’ daughter,’ she added helpfully.
If entries in ‘Who’s Who’ were strictly truthful, the entries concerning Lady Stranleigh might have ended as follows: hobbies: getting married. She had floated through life shedding husbands as she went. She had lost three by divorce and one by death.
‘If she had been Rudolph’s child I could have understood it,’ mused Lady Stranleigh. ‘You remember Rudolf? He was always temperamental. Six months after we married I had to apply for those queer things – what do they call them? Conjugal what nots, you know what I mean. Thank goodness it is all much simpler nowadays. I remember I had to write him the silliest kind of letter – my lawyer practically dictated it to me. Asking him to come back, you know, and that I would do all I could, etc., etc., but you never could count on Rudolf, he was so temperamental. He came rushing home at once, which was quite the wrong thing to do, and not at all what the lawyers meant.’
‘About Margery?’ suggested Mr Satterthwaite, tactfully leading her back to the subject under discussion.
‘Of course. I was just going to tell you, wasn’t I? Margery has been seeing things, or hearing them. Ghosts, you know, and all that. I should never have thought that Margery could be so imaginative. She is a dear good girl, always has been, but just a shade – dull.’
‘Impossible,’ murmured Mr Satterthwaite with a confused idea of being complimentary.
‘In fact, very dull,’ said Lady Stranleigh. ‘Doesn’t care for dancing, or cocktails or any of the things a young girl ought to care about. She much prefers staying at home to hunt instead of coming out here with me.’
‘Dear, dear,’ said Mr Satterthwaite, ‘she wouldn’t come out with you, you say?’
‘Well, I didn’t exactly press her. Daughters have a depressing effect upon one, I find.’
Mr Satterthwaite tried to think of Lady Stranleigh accompanied by a serious-minded daughter and failed.
‘I can’t help wondering if Margery is going off her head,’ continued Margery’s mother in a cheerful voice. ‘Hearing voices is a very bad sign, so they tell me. It is not as though Abbot’s Mede were haunted. The old building was burnt to the ground in 1836, and they put up a kind of early Victorian château which simply cannot be haunted. It is much too ugly and common-place.’
Mr Satterthwaite coughed. He was wondering why he was being told all this.
‘I thought perhaps,’ said Lady Stranleigh, smiling brilliantly upon him, ‘that you might be able to help me.’
‘Yes. You are going back to England tomorrow, aren’t you?’