The Gypsy is a short story, written by Agatha Christie.
Plot[edit | edit source]
Dickie Carpenter breaks off his recent engagement to Esther Lawes and confides the reason why in the fiancée of Rachel Lawes, Esther’s younger sister - a dour Scot named Macfarlane: Dickie, a former naval man, has had an aversion to gypsies since his childhood when he started to have recurring dreams in which a he would be in a given situation and suddenly feel a presence. When he looked up, a gypsy woman would be stood there looking at him. The sudden appearance of this woman always unnerved him although it wasn’t until some years after these dreams started that he encountered a real gypsy. It was on a walk in the New Forest and she warned him not to take a certain path. He ignored her and the wooden bridge he was crossing broke beneath his weight, casting him into the fast-running stream below and nearly drowning him.
These occurrences came back to him when he returned to England and started to see the Lawes family. At one dinner party he saw a woman called Alistair Haworth who he seemed to see in his own eyes as wearing a red scarf on her head, just like the gypsy of his dreams. He walked on the terrace with her after dinner and she warned him not to go back into the house. He did so and found himself falling for Esther Lawes. They got engaged a week later and two weeks after that he again caught sight of Mrs Haworth who once more warned Dickie. He again ignored her and that very night Esther stated that, after all, she didn't love him. The reason he is now confiding in Macfarlane is that he is due for a routine operation and he thought he saw in one of the nurses in the hospital the image of Mrs Haworth who warned him not to go ahead with the surgery.
Dickie subsequently dies during the operation and some impulse makes Macfarlane go to see Mrs Haworth at her moorland home. There he is surprised to see that her husband is not really suited to such a striking woman as her. The two walk on the moors and Mrs Haworth tells Macfarlane that he too has second sight. For proof, she asks him to look at a rock and he fancies he sees a hollow filled with blood. She tells him it is a sacrificial stone from olden times and he has had his own vision. She confides that she married her husband because she saw some portent hanging over him and wanted to prevent it. She also tells Macfarlane that they won't meet again.
Determined to challenge the fates, Macfarlane drives back from his inn to the Haworth's cottage the next day and finds that the lady is dead. She drank something poisonous thinking it was her tonic and her husband is beside himself with grief. Back at his inn, the landlady tells him stories of long-gone ghosts seen on the moor, including a sailor and a gypsy. Macfarlane wonders if they will walk again.
Characters[edit | edit source]
- Dickie Carpenter
- Esther Lawes
- Rachel Lawes
- Mrs Alistair Haworth
- Mr Haworth
References or Allusions[edit | edit source]
References to actual history, geography and current science[edit | edit source]
In The Gypsy, Dickie Carpenter tells of a recurring dream in which whatever the circumstances, he would feel the presence of the gypsy:
- She - the gypsy, you know - would just come into any old dream - even a good dream (or a kid's idea of what's good - party and crackers and things). I'd be enjoying myself no end, and then I'd feel, I'd know, that if I looked up, she'd be there, standing as she always stood, watching me... With sad eyes, you know, as though she understood something I didn't... Can't explain why it rattled me so - but it did! Every time! I used to wake up howling with terror.
This mirrors Christie's own haunting experiences as related in her Autobiography:
- My own particular nightmare centred around someone I called "The Gunman". The dream would be quite ordinary - a tea-party, or a walk with various people, usually a mild festivity of some kind. Then suddenly a feeling of uneasiness would come. There was someone - someone who ought not to be there - a horrid feeling of fear: and then I would see him, sitting at the tea-table, walking along the beach, joining in the game. His pale blue eyes would meet mine, and I would wake up shrieking: 'The Gunman! The Gunman!'