Christmas Adventure is an early short story written by Agatha Christie. It was first published in The Sketch on 12 December 1923 in the U.K. under the title "The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding". It was later collected and published as part of Problem at Pollensa Bay and Christmas Adventure in 1943 in the U.K. and then Poirot Knows the Murderer in 1946, also in the U.K. In 1997 it was reprinted as part of the collection While the Light Lasts and Other Stories in 1997 where it was given the title "Christmas Adventure".
The story was later expanded and published again with the same title as The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding, also known as The Theft of the Royal Ruby. The plot is the same but recounted in greater detail. and the names of the characters are changed.
A draughty manor house is far from Poirot's idea of the best place to spend Christmas, but an interesting case involving a jewel robbery tempts him away from his cosy London apartment to the wild English countryside…
(may contain spoilers - click on expand to read)
In this version Poirot is ensconced in a country manor house and it is Christmas Eve. He is talking to Evelyn Haworth the eldest of the younger generation of people who have been invited to spend Christmas with the Endicotts. Poirot has noticed that she is unhappy and it turns out that she is trapped in an engagement to marry Oscar Levering because the year before, Oscar had agreed to help Evelyn’s aged mother get an expensive operation which had saved her life. In return he wanted Evelyn to be his wife. Evelyn had agreed. Oscar then comes in and takes Evelyn out for a walk in the snow where the younger kids are building a snowman.
At this point Poirot gets a note from the butler warning him “not to eat any of the Christmas Pudding”. Next day they have their Christmas dinner and the Squire finds a red stone in his portion of the Christmas Pudding! There are lots of other things in the pudding and Poirot makes light of the situation saying it is only glass. He surreptitiously slips the stone into his pocket.
The next morning the children have staged a mock murder for Poirot and he goes along with it but actually it appears that, Nancy, one of the children, is really dead! In her lifeless hand is the red ruby. Oscar Leverin is there and he offers to go for the police.
The children are taken to the Library where Poirot tells them that he knew about their plan and Nancy was persuaded to take on the role of acting dead. It turns out that Oscar Leverin and his sister have stolen the ruby from a famous man who was foolish enough to let Leverin’s “sister” wear it for a while and she ran away with it!
Poirot was sent down to the House to “flush out” the villains on behalf of the rich young man who would have been embarrassed as he was going to marry a Princess!
The note about not eating the Christmas pudding had come from the maid who had heard Leverin and his sister talking about getting rid of Poirot as soon as possible and hearing that she had “put it in the Pudding mix”. She meant that she had put the ruby there when she had taken her turn at the traditional stirring of the mixture with the rest of the family.
- Hercule Poirot
- Squire Endicott
- Miss Emily Endicott
- Nancy Cardell
- Charlie Pease
- Evelyn Haworth
- Roger Endicott
- Oscar Levering
- Miss Levering
- Annie Hicks
References to other works
- Poirot describes how he misses a friend of many years who has now gone to South America. This is obviously a reference to Captain Hastings. This remark is not made in The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding.
Film, TV, or theatrical versions
- 1923: The Sketch, Issue 1611, Illustrated London News Company (London), 12 December 1923 (as "The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding").
- 1943 Problem at Pollensa Bay and Christmas Adventure, Todd (London), 1943
- 1946 Poirot Knows the Murderer, Polybooks (London and New York), 1946
- 1997: While the Light Lasts and Other Stories, Harper Collins (London), 1997
- 2020: The Strand Magazine (1998), Issue LXI, Oct 2020.