The Dressmaker's Doll

I am in Amherst Massachusetts this weekend, enjoying all things literary with a visit to the Emily Dickinson house scheduled for this afternoon. Plans for Halloween are in full swing with the Berkshire mountains glowing colour and elephantine pumpkin stands by the roadside. I thought I would get you into the spirit and bring you a ghost story. This one is an extract from The Dressmaker's Doll, written by Agatha Christie.

“Where did she come from?” demanded Mrs. Fellows-Brown. “Did you buy her?” “Oh, no.” Somehow Alicia Coombe was shocked at the idea. “Oh no. I suppose – I suppose someone gave her to me.” She shook her head. “Maddening!” she exclaimed. “Absolutely maddening, when everything goes out of your head the very moment after it’s happened.”

“Now don’t be stupid, Fou-Ling,” said Mrs. Fellows-Brown sharply. “Come on. I’ll have to pick you up.” She picked him up. Fou-Ling uttered a short bark of agonized protest. They went out of the room with Fou-Ling’s popeyed face turned over his fluffy shoulder, still staring with enormous attention at the doll on the chair

“That there doll,” said Mrs. Groves, “fair gives me the creeps, it does.” Mrs. Groves was the cleaner. She had just finished a crablike progress backward along the floor. Now she was standing up and working slowly round the room with a duster. “Funny thing,” said Mrs. Groves, “never noticed it really until yesterday. And then it hit me all of a sudden, as you might say.”

“You don’t like it?” asked Sybil. “I tell you, Mrs. Fox, it gives me the creeps,” said the cleaning woman. “It ain’t natural, if you know what I mean. All those long hanging legs and the way she’s slouched down there and the cunning look she has in her eye. It doesn’t look healthy, that’s what I say.” “You've never said anything about her before,” said Sybil. “I tell you, I never noticed her – not till this morning... Of course I know she’s been here some time but–” She stopped and a puzzled expression flitted across her face. “Sort of thing you might dream of at night,” she said, and gathering up various cleaning implements she departed from the fitting room and walked across the landing to the room on the other side.

Extract from the Intrigue issue.

Blog post by Polly Leonard.

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