The Manhhod of Edward Robinson is a short story written by Agatha Christie which was first published in the Grand Magazine in December 1924. In the U.K. the story was subsequently collected and published as part of the anthology The Listerdale Mystery which came out in 1934. In the U.S. the story was not published in any collection until 1971 when it came out as part of The Golden Ball and Other Stories.
Edward Robinson, a city clerk much under the thumb of his fiancée, Maud, decides on a whim to spend some competition prize money to buy a sports car. He takes it to the country for a drive. After coming back from a walk, he finds. to his surprise that he has got back into the wrong car, and there is a stolen diamond necklace in the pocket....
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Edward Robinson is a young man firmly under the thumb of his fiancée, Maud, who does not wish to rush into marriage until his prospects and income improve. He is a romantic at heart who wishes he was masterful and rugged like the men he reads of in novels. Somewhat impetuous in nature, he enters a competition and wins the first prize of £500. He doesn't tell Maud of this, knowing she will insist the money is wisely invested for the future, and instead uses it to buy a small two-seater car.
On Christmas Eve, on holiday from his work as a clerk, he goes for a drive into the country. Stopping off in the dark evening at the Devil's Punch Bowl, he gets out of his car to admire the view and takes a short walk. He returns to his vehicle and drives back to London but on the way, reaching into the door pocket for his muffler, he instead finds a diamond necklace. In shock, he realises that although it is the same model car as his, it is not the same car. By coincidence, he got into the wrong car after his walk and drove off. He returns to the Punch Bowl but his car has gone. Searching further, he finds a note in the car he is driving which gives instructions to meet someone at a local village at ten o'clock. He keeps the assignation and meets a beautiful woman in evening dress and cloak who thinks he is someone called Gerald. Telling her his name is Edward, she is not thrown by the mistake and in conversation reveals that 'Gerald's' brother is called Edward but she hasn't seen him since she was six years old. She gets in the car but realises quickly that Edward has only recently learnt to drive and takes the wheel herself. She tells Edward a story about her and 'Jimmy' having successfully stolen the necklace from a rich lady called Agnes Larella. She drives him to a London townhouse where the butler arranges evening dress for him and the lady drives them onto Ritson's – the nightclub of the rich and famous.
Edward drinks cocktails and dances with the lady who he discovers is Lady Noreen Elliot, a famous society debutante. The theft of the necklace was in fact part of a "burglary for fun" challenge. She had organised it because she was bored. Participants in the challenge drew lots to see who they must burgle. Then they have three days to perform the act. The 'stolen' item must be worn in public for one hour to claim the prize. As Edward and Lady Noreen leave the nightclub, the real Gerald turns up in Edward's car and also reveals Edward not to be the one Noreen thought he was. Edward pretends to be a real "highwayman" and hurriedly runs to his car. He is about to drive off when Noreen begs him to 'be a sport' and give her the necklace so she can return it. He does so and receives a passionate kiss in return.
Edward arrives at Maud's home in Clapham the next day. He happily admits to the competition win and buying the car and tells her that he means to marry her next month, despite her objections. Maud is much taken with her newly masterful fiancé and agrees.
The Agatha Christie Hour
- 1924: The Grand Magazine, vol. 46 no. 238, Dec 1924 as "The Day of His Dreams".
- 1925: Your Car, vol. 1 no. 1, May 1925, as "Romance and a Red Runabout".
- 1934: The Listerdale Mystery, William Collins and Sons (London), June 1934.
- 1971: The Golden Ball and Other Stories, Dodd Mead and Company (New York), 1971
- 1971: Gothic Stories, vol. 1 no. 4, May 1971.