The Second Gong: A Hercule Poirot Short Story

The Second Gong: A Hercule Poirot Short Story
О книге

A classic Agatha Christie short story, available individually for the first time as an ebook.Lytcham Close, one of the oldest stately homes in England is owned by the last remaining heir and is a house ruled by his intolerable whims. Old Hubert demands complete silence when he plays selected music and dinner is timed exactly by the resounding gong, no matter to trifle with. Rushing down at the hearing of the second, or is it the first gong, Joan Ashby is about to find out that not only is dinner delayed, but, she is about to hear a sound that no one can explain. Everyone is thrown into disarray when Old Hubert never materialises and instead a new guest is announced. The new guest is Hercule Poirot himself. What unfolds is a mystery of lovers, michalmas daisies and a death that is not as it appears.

Читать The Second Gong: A Hercule Poirot Short Story онлайн беплатно


The Second Gong

A Short Story

by Agatha Christie


Published by HarperCollinsPublishers Ltd 1 London Bridge Street London SE1 9GF

Copyrig© 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: 9780007452019

Version: 2017-04-19

The Second Gong

‘The Second Gong’ was first published in the USA in Ladies’ Home Journal, June 1932, and then in Strand Magazine, July 1932. It was later expanded into ‘Dead Man’s Mirror’ for the book Murder in the Mews (Collins, March 1937).

Joan Ashby came out of her bedroom and stood a moment on the landing outside her door. She was half turning as if to go back into the room when, below her feet as it seemed, a gong boomed out.

Immediately Joan started forward almost at a run. So great was her hurry that at the top of the big staircase she collided with a young man arriving from the opposite direction.

‘Hullo, Joan! Why the wild hurry?’

‘Sorry, Harry. I didn’t see you.’

‘So I gathered,’ said Harry Dalehouse dryly. ‘But as I say, why the wild haste?’

‘It was the gong.’

‘I know. But it’s only the first gong.’

‘No, it’s the second.’



Thus arguing they had been descending the stairs. They were now in the hall, where the butler, having replaced the gongstick, was advancing toward them at a grave and dignified pace.

‘It is the second,’ persisted Joan. ‘I know it is. Well, for one thing, look at the time.’

Harry Dalehouse glanced up at the grandfather clock. ‘Just twelve minutes past eight,’ he remarked. ‘Joan, I believe you’re right, but I never heard the first one. Digby,’ he addressed the butler, ‘is this the first gong or the second?’

‘The first, sir.’

‘At twelve minutes past eight? Digby, somebody will get the sack for this.’

A faint smile showed for a minute on the butler’s face.

‘Dinner is being served ten minutes later tonight, sir. The master’s orders.’

‘Incredible!’ cried Harry Dalehouse. ‘Tut, tut! Upon my word, things are coming to a pretty pass! Wonders will never cease. What ails my revered uncle?’

‘The seven o’clock train, sir, was half an hour late, and as –’ The butler broke off, as a sound like the crack of a whip was heard.

‘What on earth –’ said Harry. ‘Why, that sounded exactly like a shot.’

A dark, handsome man of thirty-five came out of the drawing room on their left.

‘What was that?’ he asked. ‘It sounded exactly like a shot.’

‘It must have been a car backfiring, sir,’ said the butler. ‘The road runs quite close to the house this side and the upstairs windows are open.’

‘Perhaps,’ said Joan doubtfully. ‘But that would be over there.’ She waved a hand to the right. ‘And I thought the noise came from here.’ She pointed to the left.

The dark man shook his head.

‘I don’t think so. I was in the drawing room. I came out here because I thought the noise came from this direction.’ He nodded his head in front of him in the direction of the gong and the front door.

‘East, west, and south, eh?’ said the irrepressible Harry. ‘Well, I’ll make it complete, Keene. North for me. I thought it came from behind us. Any solutions offered?’

‘Well, there’s always murder,’ said Geoffrey Keene, smiling. ‘I beg your pardon, Miss Ashby.’

‘Only a shiver,’ said Joan. ‘It’s nothing. A what-do-you-call-it walking over my grave.’

‘A good thought – murder,’ said Harry. ‘But, alas! No groans, no blood. I fear the solution is a poacher after a rabbit.’

‘Seems tame, but I suppose that’s it,’ agreed the other. ‘But it sounded so near. However, let’s come into the drawing room.’

‘Thank goodness, we’re not late,’ said Joan fervently. ‘I was simply haring it down the stairs thinking that was the second gong.’

All laughing, they went into the big drawing room.

Lytcham Close was one of the most famous old houses in England. Its owner, Hubert Lytcham Roche, was the last of a long line, and his more distant relatives were apt to remark that ‘Old Hubert, you know, really ought to be certified. Mad as a hatter, poor old bird.’

Allowing for the exaggeration natural to friends and relatives, some truth remained. Hubert Lytcham Roche was certainly eccentric. Though a very fine musician, he was a man of ungovernable temper and had an almost abnormal sense of his own importance. People staying in the house had to respect his prejudices or else they were never asked again.

One such prejudice was his music. If he played to his guests, as he often did in the evening, absolute silence must obtain. A whispered comment, a rustle of a dress, a movement even – and he would turn round scowling fiercely, and goodbye to the unlucky guest’s chances of being asked again.

Вам будет интересно