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The Call of Wings is a short story, written by Agatha Christie which was first published as part of the collection The Hound of Death and Other Stories in 1933. Although most of the other stories in the collection were first published in magazines, no magazine publication of Wings has been traced before 1933.

According to Agatha Christie, Wings was a short story which she wrote in her early years, after writing House of Beauty. In her own estimation, the story was "not bad". In Christie's narrative, Wings was written before her mother took her to Cairo for her "coming out".[1] Although her "coming out" is usually stated as during the 1910 season, Lucy Worsely puts the year closer to 1908. In which case, a plausible timeframe for when Wings was written would be 1907-1908.[2] It is not clear to what extent Christie revised her early story (if at all) for the purpose of inclusion with Hound of Death.

In the U.S., the story was not published until appearing in the magazine The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in 1952 and thereafter as part of The Golden Ball and Other Stories in 1971.

Synopsis[]

Two friends, a millionaire and a poor parson, polar opposites, explore what it means to be truly content.

Plot summary[]

(may contain spoilers - click on expand to read)

Millionaire Silas Hamer and East-End Parson Dick Borrow, after having dinner with their friend Bertrand Seldon, discuss how they are both completely opposite, yet both contentedly happy. Hamer is economically happy because he built up a fortune from his poverty-ridden background, and Borrow is spiritually happy because he aids the poor. The two go separate ways home, and on his way Silas witnesses a homeless man being hit by a bus and killed. Thinking he could have saved the man, Silas goes home mentally troubled.

Before he goes through his front door, he hears a legless piper playing a tune that he feels lifts him off the ground in joy. After hearing this tune for a few days before he goes to sleep, he thinks that he floats around his bedroom with joy, witnessing amazing scenes of red sand, and a completely new colour that he nicknames Wing Colour. However, something constantly pulls him back to the ground every time, causing him physical pain. He talks to his friend Seldon about it, to which the nerve-specialist replies he should talk to the piper and ask about the music.

Silas confronts the piper, and demands to know who he is. In response, the piper draws a picture of the faun god Pan (who has goat's legs) playing his pipes on a rock, and saying "They were evil.", implying that the piper is the god Pan, who had his legs cut off to appear human. Now addicted to the music, Silas feels that his wealth is the only thing stopping him from reaching true happiness. in response, he donates all of his money to Dick Borrow, so that he can help the whole of East London. Deciding to get the train home, Silas waits and the platform with a homeless man. The man, in a drunken stupor, walks to the edge and accidentally falls off as the train is about to arrive. Remembering the man hit by a bus, Silas pulls the man off the tracks and throws him onto the platform, but as a result he himself falls onto the tracks. Before he is killed, he briefly hears a piper playing and the sound of rushing wings.

Characters[]

Publication history[]

References[]

  1. Agatha Christie, An Autobiography (London: HarperCollins, 2010), 174, ebook edition.
  2. Lucy Worsley, Agatha Christie: A Very Elusive Woman (London: Hodden & Stoughton, 2022), 48, ebook edition.
  3. See this listing at Galactic Central
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