Philomel Cottage: An Agatha Christie Short Story

Philomel Cottage: An Agatha Christie Short Story
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A classic Agatha Christie short story, available individually for the first time as an ebook.Recently swept off her feet, after a week of courting, the newly married Alix Martin is a woman obsessed by a reoccurring dream of her new husband’s murder. Each time she can see the murderer clearly and it is the mild mannered man she had almost married wreaking his revenge. But, what is worse is that at the end of the dream she thanks the murderer. Alix, perplexed and confused calms herself in their pretty garden when their gardener, two days early, wishes her a happy trip and says he’s sad to hear that the couple may never return. More than perplexed Alix is now scared, is the simple gardener confused or is she?

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Philomel Cottage

A Short Story

by Agatha Christie


Published by HarperCollinsPublishers Ltd

1 London Bridge Street

London SE1 9GF

Copyright © 2011 Agatha Christie Ltd.

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 © 2011 ISBN: 9780007452156

Version: 2017-04-18

Philomel Cottage

‘Philomel Cottage’ was first published in Grand Magazine, November 1924.

‘Goodbye, darling.’

‘Goodbye, sweetheart.’

Alix Martin stood leaning over the small rustic gate, watching the retreating figure of her husband as he walked down the road in the direction of the village.

Presently he turned a bend and was lost to sight, but Alix still stayed in the same position, absentmindedly smoothing a lock of the rich brown hair which had blown across her face, her eyes far away and dreamy.

Alix Martin was not beautiful, nor even, strictly speaking, pretty. But her face, the face of a woman no longer in her first youth, was irradiated and softened until her former colleagues of the old office days would hardly have recognized her. Miss Alex King had been a trim business-like young woman, efficient, slightly brusque in manner, obviously capable and matter-of-fact.

Alix had graduated in a hard school. For fifteen years, from the age of eighteen until she was thirty-three, she had kept herself (and for seven years of the time an invalid mother) by her work as a shorthand typist. It was the struggle for existence which had hardened the soft lines of her girlish face.

True, there had been romance – of a kind – Dick Windyford, a fellow-clerk. Very much of a woman at heart, Alix had always known without seeming to know that he cared. Outwardly they had been friends, nothing more. Out of his slender salary Dick had been hard put to it to provide for the schooling of a younger brother. For the moment he could not think of marriage.

And then suddenly deliverance from daily toil had come to the girl in the most unexpected manner. A distant cousin had died, leaving her money to Alix – a few thousand pounds, enough to bring in a couple of hundred a year. To Alix it was freedom, life, independence. Now she and Dick need wait no longer.

But Dick reacted unexpectedly. He had never directly spoken of his love to Alix; now he seemed less inclined to do so than ever. He avoided her, became morose and gloomy. Alix was quick to realize the truth. She had become a woman of means. Delicacy and pride stood in the way of Dick’s asking her to be his wife.

She liked him none the worse for it, and was indeed deliberating as to whether she herself might not take the first step, when for the second time the unexpected descended upon her.

She met Gerald Martin at a friend’s house. He fell violently in love with her and within a week they were engaged. Alix, who had always considered herself ‘not the falling-in-love kind’, was swept clean off her feet.

Unwittingly she had found the way to arouse her former lover. Dick Windyford had come to her stammering with rage and anger.

‘The man’s a perfect stranger to you! You know nothing about him!’

‘I know that I love him.’

‘How can you know – in a week?’

‘It doesn’t take everyone eleven years to find out that they’re in love with a girl,’ cried Alix angrily.

His face went white.

‘I’ve cared for you ever since I met you. I thought that you cared also.’

Alix was truthful.

‘I thought so too,’ she admitted. ‘But that was because I didn’t know what love was.’

Then Dick had burst out again. Prayers, entreaties, even threats – threats against the man who had supplanted him. It was amazing to Alix to see the volcano that existed beneath the reserved exterior of the man she had thought she knew so well.

Her thoughts went back to that interview now, on this sunny morning, as she leant on the gate of the cottage. She had been married a month, and she was idyllically happy. Yet, in the momentary absence of the husband who was everything to her, a tinge of anxiety invaded her perfect happiness. And the cause of that anxiety was Dick Windyford.

Three times since her marriage she had dreamed the same dream. The environment differed, but the main facts were always the same. She saw her husband lying dead and Dick Windyford standing over him, and she knew clearly and distinctly that his was the hand which had dealt the fatal blow.

But horrible though that was, there was something more horrible still – horrible, that was, on awakening, for in the dream it seemed perfectly natural and inevitable.

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