from the mystery novels of
Charlotte MacLeod

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Rest You Merry

The Luck Runs Out


detective fiction

Christmas stories

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Rest You Merry

Copyright © 1978 by Charlotte MacLeod

Chapter 1 This was the seventy-third time in eighteen years she’d nagged him about decorating his house. He’d kept count. Shandy had a passion for counting. He would have counted the spots on an attacking leopard, and he was beginning to think a leopard might be a welcome change.
Chapter 2 Compared to what might be in store for him back at Balaclava Junction, the prospect of sudden death by drowning was not without some attraction.
Chapter 4

“Nevertheless, being her husband had its good points. For one thing, it stopped me from thinking of my deafness as an affliction.”

He emitted an odd little wheeze that would under other circumstances have become a chuckle. “It’s good to have one friend I can say rotten things to without feeling like a skunk.”



“Damn, that was the most amusing afternoon I’ve spent since President Svenson lost his footing while he was showing the Secretary of Agriculture how we make methane gas.”
“After all, damn it, Jemima was my wife. I didn’t like her very much, but I sort of loved her, in a way.”
Chapter 6

“Poor Jemima was such a vibrant personality.”

“That depends on how you define vibrant,” her husband quibbled. “Constantly in motion and not getting anywhere but making a lot of noise about it, like a tuning fork?”



Chapter 8

Shandy picked up both the bags, managing not to stagger. He was fully aware that he was showing off, and that such behavior was silly in a man of his age. Perhaps he might entertain Miss Marsh at a later time by swinging from tree to tree in his leopard skin. He pondered the notion and found it not wholly without merit.

Chapter 10 Life was full of surprises lately. Surely one of them must turn out to his liking.
Chapter 11

“She’s the one with the money, I suppose?”

“Have you ever considered getting yourself burned as a witch? How do you know these things about people you’ve barely met?”

“I meet them everywhere. He’s the sort who marries money and she’s the sort who falls for men like him because she doesn’t really know anything about people except that one needs them for an audience.”

Chapter 20 “A woman wouldn’t kill one husband unless she thought she had another one lined up. Would she?”
Chapter 26

“I told you what she was the minute I laid eyes on her, but you didn’t listen.”

“Good men never believe there are any bad women,” said Sieglinde. “That is why good women have a duty to keep them from running loose and getting into trouble.”

text checked (see note) Jan 2005

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The Luck Runs Out

Copyright © 1979 by Charlotte MacLeod

Chapter 4 “Am I to infer that you are giving me an opportunity to provide what I believe is known as an alibi and that I am failing to do so?”
Chapter 7 The mountain road was a lonely one, not much traveled except during autumn foliage time, when the leaf-lookers lined up bumper to bumper to view their Creator’s handiwork and anathematize their fellow drivers.




No alumnus of the Class of ’73 would ever forget that electric moment when Thorkjeld Svenson in his Commencement remarks clove a solid oak podium neatly in twain from top to base as he slammed down his fist to emphasize those deathless words, “Agri isn’t a business, it’s a culture!”




Chapter 8

“Did I ever tell you about the time they poured itching powder down the back of President Svenson’s overalls just as he was about to start his furrow in the Senior Plowmen’s event?”

“No, but I expect you’ll get around to it sometime or other. What happened?”

“What would you expect? Old Thorkjeld won the event in a time which has never since been equaled, had Sieglinde hold up Odin’s blanket tentwise while he stripped and took a bath in the Gideon J. Higgins Memorial Horse Trough. Then he wrapped the blanket around him like a kilt, went over to the Hoddersville crowd, grabbed them two by two, cracked their heads together, and heaved them into the manure pile behind the cow sheds. It was an impressive spectacle.”

“I can imagine. What did Sieglinde do then?”

“Beamed with wifely pride as the crowd gave him a standing ovation, then made him wipe out the horse trough so the animals wouldn’t get sick from drinking the itching powder.”

“There’s always something rather terrifying about true greatness, isn’t there?” said Helen in awe. “Who but Sieglinde would have remembered to clean the horse tank?”

Chapter 19

“Mama, how do you stand him?” demanded Frideswiede, youngest of the seven sisters.

Her father counterwheeled, snatched his wife in a Rudolph Valentino embrace, and bussed her mightily. “ ‘Farewell, my own. I return with my shield,’ or— What the hell’s the rest of it?”

“For you there is no rest of it,” said his helpmeet, tucking back a strand of flaxen hair and casting a somewhat complacent glance at Frideswiede. “Go, then, I will keep a herring in the window for you.”

“Mama,” said Gudrun, the second youngest, “it’s a candle you’re supposed to keep in the window.”

“Nonsense, my child. A candle would smoke up the glass and drip on the sill. A herring lies looking mournful and bereft. The symbolism is much more meaningful. Also it comes in handy for smorgasbord later.”

text checked (see note) Jan 2005

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