Within a Wall is an early short story, written by Agatha Christie which was first published in The Royal Magazine in October 1925. It was not published as part of a collection until While the Light Lasts and Other Stories in the U.K. and The Harlequin Tea Set and Other Stories in the U.S., both in 1997.
(may contain spoilers - click on expand to read)
Alan Everard, a successful modernist painter, is married to the beautiful society girl Isobel Loring, who eagerly promotes her husband's work. At one of her tea parties, to which she invites the London art critics, she unveils her husband's latest masterpiece—a portrait of herself. But Alan realises the picture is lifeless. However, a sketch he has done of his daughter's godmother, Jane Haworth, is full of life and honesty. Alan soon discovers that the real contribution Jane has made to his life is not just her artistic judgement.
Alan is disturbed by Jane’s ability to see the good and bad of his art. He is irritated by the way Jane doesn’t criticise his paintings always saying they are wonderful when he knows she is being less than honest. He thinks she is the one person he can rely on to tell the truth about his work – although she doesn’t actually say it when things are “ordinary” or “lacking”.
Going through his financial papers one day he realises his wife, Isobel, is receiving money from Jane on a regular basis. She claims it is for their daughter, Winnie. (Jane is Winnie's godmother).
However Jane dies later and leaves Alan as the Executor and he realises that Jane has been giving all her money to Isobel over a long period of time and that it is not all for Winnie. Alan also realises that Jane has done this because she has always been in love with him.
He confronts Isobel with this discovery and she accepts this and points out that she had not made any fuss over his preoccupation with Jane or her obvious love for him. Now that Jane has gone Isobel has now got her man to herself! Alan feels his World getting smaller and he is trapped in this relationship.
- Alan Everard
- Isobel Loring
- Jane Haworth
- Mrs Lemprière
- Sir Rufus Herschman
- Lady Charmington
- 1925: The Royal Magazine vol. 54, no. 324, Oct 1925.
- 1997: The Harlequin Tea Set and Other Stories, G. P. Putnams, Apr 1997.
- 1997: While the Light Lasts and Other Stories, HarperCollins, Aug 1997.