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The Rajah's Emerald is a short story, written by Agatha Christie which was first published in the UK in the fortnightly Red Magazine on July 30, 1926. The story was subsequently compiled and published in the anthology The Listerdale Mystery in the UK in 1934. In the US it did not appear in an anthology until The Golden Ball and Other Stories in 1971.


James Bond is persuaded to spend a holiday at a fashionable seaside resort by his girlfriend. She has more money and chooses to stay with friends at the best hotel while he stays, abandoned, at a cheap boarding house. Over the days, the wealthy friends basically turn their noses up at him but soon he gets his own adventure, which begins in a bathing hut.

Plot summary

(may contain spoilers - click on expand to read)

James Bond, a young man, is on holiday at a fashionable coastal resort with his young lady, Grace. They observe the proprieties of the age by staying in separate accommodation. He is in a cheap boarding house while she has put herself up in the high-class Esplanade Hotel on the front where she has discovered friends are staying – Claud Sopworth and his three sisters. At almost every opportunity James is being treated in a fairly cavalier manner by Grace and one more arises when Claud suggests they all go bathing in the sea. The Esplanade has its own changing huts on the beach, which James, as a non-resident, is not allowed to use. He therefore has to leave his "friends" and use the public huts, all of which have long queues. He takes a chance and uses an unlocked private hut belonging to one of the large private villas in the resort. After their sea-bathe, James changes back into his clothes which he left in the hut but doesn’t join Grace or the others for lunch as he has taken offence at her jibes at the cheap trousers he is wearing.

Eating in a dingy café, James is astounded to find a large emerald in his pocket. From reading stories in the resort's weekly paper, he has no doubt it belongs to the Rajah of Maraputna who is staying at Lord Edward Campion's private villa and that when he changed out of his bathing clothes, he put on the wrong trousers (the beach hut belonging to Lord Campion). Leaving the café he sees newspaper bills stating that the Rajah's emerald has been stolen. Wondering why a priceless emerald was left in a beach hut in the first place, he goes back to the hut to change back into his own trousers when he is suddenly stopped by a man who shows him his badge and identifies himself as Detective-Inspector Merrilees of Scotland Yard who is on the track of the emerald. James is arrested and claims that the emerald is at his lodging.

The policeman is taking him back there but on the way they pass a police station and James suddenly grabs the man and shouts for the police himself, claiming that Merrilees has picked his pocket. The police search Merrilees and find the emerald, which James secreted there. James is in turned accused but Lord Campion arrives and identifies Merrilees as Jones, his suspected valet. What James doesn't tell Lord Campion is that the badge that "Merrilees" showed him was a badge for a cycling club that, by coincidence, James also belongs to. Lord Campion invites James to his villa for lunch, an invitation he is delighted to accept, also enjoying the opportunity to turn down a half-hearted invitation from Grace and the Sopworth siblings in the process.


References to other works

  • James Bond quotes "Thanking heaven fasting, for a good man's love" from Act III, Scene 5 of As You Like It.
  • The name of James Bond is pure coincidence to the famous literary secret agent, The Rajah's Emerald having first appeared in print twenty-seven years before the first Bond book, Casino Royale.

Plot elements

Christie later used some of the plot and location of this story in her play Afternoon at the Seaside.

Publication history