The Grub-and-Stakers Quilt a Bee - Charlotte MacLeod - ebook
Opis

Before Lobelia Falls can have a museum, the curator's killer must be caught. The Grub-and-Stakers gardening club has traditionally limited its activities to serving tea and gossiping about wildflowers, but when water department supervisor John Architrave is found murdered in the woods, club member Dittany Henbit turns to solving mysteries. After Architrave's will reveals that he bequeathed his ramshackle old house to the Grub-and-Stakers, with instructions for it to be turned into a museum, Dittany resigns herself to weeks of cleaning out the mansion and sorting through donated town "artifacts." The task turns interesting, however, the minute bodies start falling from the sky. The new curator is airing out the house's attic when he takes his tumble off the roof. So unlikely is it that he would fall out the tiny attic window, that Dittany has no choice but to attempt to add one captured killer to the young museum's permanent collection. Review Quote. "The screwball mystery is Charlotte MacLeod's cup of tea." - Chicago Tribune. "Charlotte MacLeod does what she does better than anybody else does it; and what she does is in the top rank of modern mystery fiction." - Elizabeth Peters, creator of the Amelia. Peabody series "The epitome of the 'cozy' mystery." - Mostly Murder. "MacLeod can be counted on for a witty, literate and charming mystery." - Publishers Weekly. Biographical note. Charlotte MacLeod (1922-2005) was an internationally bestselling author of cozy mysteries. Born in Canada, she moved to Boston as a child, and lived in New England most of her life. After graduating from college, she made a career in advertising, writing copy for the Stop & Shop Supermarket Company before moving on to Boston firm N. H. Miller & Co., where she rose to the rank of vice president. In her spare time, MacLeod wrote short stories, and in 1964 published her first novel, a children's book called "Mystery of the White Knight." In "Rest You Merry" (1978), MacLeod introduced Professor Peter Shandy, a horticulturist and amateur sleuth whose adventures she would chronicle for two decades. "The Family Vault" (1979) marked the first appearance of her other best-known characters: the husband and wife sleuthing team Sarah Kelling and Max Bittersohn, whom she followed until her last novel, "The Balloon Man," in 1998.

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Contents

Cover

About the Book

About the Author

Title Page

Copyright Page

Dedication

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Author’s Note

Looking for more suspense?

Cover

Begin Reading

About the Book

Before Lobelia Falls can have a museum, the curator’s killer must be caught.

The Grub-and-Stakers gardening club has traditionally limited its activities to serving tea and gossiping about wildflowers, but when water department supervisor John Architrave is found murdered in the woods, club member Dittany Henbit turns to solving mysteries. After Architrave’s will reveals that he bequeathed his ramshackle old house to the Grub-and-Stakers, with instructions for it to be turned into a museum, Dittany resigns herself to weeks of cleaning out the mansion and sorting through donated town “artifacts.” The task turns interesting, however, the minute bodies start falling from the sky.

The new curator is airing out the house’s attic when he takes his tumble off the roof. So unlikely is it that he would fall out the tiny attic window, that Dittany has no choice but to attempt to add one captured killer to the young museum’s permanent collection.

Review Quote.

“The screwball mystery is Charlotte MacLeod’s cup of tea.” - Chicago Tribune.  

“Charlotte MacLeod does what she does better than anybody else does it; and what she does is in the top rank of modern mystery fiction.” - Elizabeth Peters, creator of the Amelia. Peabody series

“The epitome of the ‘cozy’ mystery.” - Mostly Murder.

“MacLeod can be counted on for a witty, literate and charming mystery.” - Publishers Weekly.

About the Author

Charlotte MacLeod (1922–2005) was an internationally bestselling author of cozy mysteries. Born in Canada, she moved to Boston as a child, and lived in New England most of her life. After graduating from college, she made a career in advertising, writing copy for the Stop & Shop Supermarket Company before moving on to Boston firm N. H. Miller & Co., where she rose to the rank of vice president. In her spare time, MacLeod wrote short stories, and in 1964 published her first novel, a children’s book called “Mystery of the White Knight.”

In “Rest You Merry” (1978), MacLeod introduced Professor Peter Shandy, a horticulturist and amateur sleuth whose adventures she would chronicle for two decades. “The Family Vault” (1979) marked the first appearance of her other best-known characters: the husband and wife sleuthing team Sarah Kelling and Max Bittersohn, whom she followed until her last novel, “The Balloon Man,” in 1998.

The Grub-And-Stakers Quilt A Bee

Charlotte MacLeodwriting as Alisa Craig

 

BASTEI ENTERTAINMENT

 

Bastei Entertainment is an imprint of Bastei Lübbe AG

 

Copyright © 2015 by Bastei Lübbe AG, Schanzenstraße 6-20, 51063 Cologne, Germany

 

For the original edition:

Copyright © 2012 by The Mysterious Press, LLC, 58 Warren Street, New York, NY. U.S.A.

 

Copyright © 1985 by Charlotte MacLeod

 

Project management: Lori Herber

Cover adaptation: Christin Wilhelm, www.grafic4u.de

Cover design by Mauricio Díaz

 

E-book production: Jouve Germany GmbH & Co. KG

 

ISBN 978-3-95859-392-3

 

www.bastei-entertainment.com

 

All rights reserved, including without limitation the right to reproduce this e-book or any portion thereof in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of the publisher.

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Affectionately dedicated to all the grubbers and stakers in the Sudbury Garden Club

Chapter 1

“WELL, FRY ME FOR a doughnut!” cried Hazel Munson.

Therese Boulanger whanged her gavel. “May we have that in the form of a motion?” Therese was a stickler for protocol.

“Stuff it, Therese,” muttered Dittany Henbit Monk, who was not.

Her utterance was drowned in cries of “I don’t believe it!” “My stars and garters,” and similar outbursts including a “gadzooks” from Arethusa Monk, the famous author of roguish regency romances. How could their president drag in Robert’s Rules of Order at a time like this? Never before in all its long and checkered history had the Grub-and-Stake Gardening and Roving Club of Lobelia Falls, Ontario, received a bequest of any magnitude at all, much less a whole dad-blanged museum.

The “dad-blanged” was contributed by the aforementioned Dittany Henbit Monk. Her vocabulary had taken strange new directions as a result of her recent marriage to Osbert Monk, better known to the sagebrush intelligentsia as Lex Laramie. Osbert would be back at the house on Applewood Avenue right now, throwing his literary lasso over the neck of some dreamed-up maverick and wondering if he’d meant to write “dogie” instead. Did he but know! Dittany could hardly wait to tell him.

She’d jolly well have to wait, though. Therese was no slouch with a gavel. The meeting was back to order.

“For the benefit of those who may not have grasped the details of the matter before us” (Therese meant everybody who’d been too busy gabbling to pay attention, but was too good a parliamentarian to say so) “I shall read the terms of the bequest again. The subject will then be thrown open for discussion. If you wish to speak, please raise your hand and wait to be recognized by the chair. Otherwise,” she added, for Therese was human too, “we’ll be here all night.”

“Read on, Macduff,” boomed Arethusa.

Therese cleared her throat. “Under the terms of the holograph will that was found in the files down at the water department after we’d all assumed John Architrave had died intestate, his house on Victoria Street, which we all know to be a fine though sadly rundown example of Early Lobelia Falls architecture, of which we have far too little left, thanks to what some people choose to call progress …”

“Is that all in the will, for Pete’s sake?” Hazel Munson whispered to Dittany.

“Shh!” The shush was Samantha Burberry’s. Being an elected town official and chairman of the club’s legislative committee, she felt duty-bound to uphold the torch of parliamentarianism.

Therese got herself back in hand. “The gist of it is, John has left his house to the club free and clear, on condition that we maintain and operate it as a museum dedicated to the memory of John’s wife, a former president and four-time winner of the Winona Pitcher Award, and that the museum be in fact known and designated by an appropriate sign or plaque as the Aralia Polyphema Architrave Museum. Before we begin our discussion, I’d like to ask our legislative chairman whether there’s anything in the bylaws that might preclude our accepting such a bequest.”

Samantha rose, poised and elegant as always. “Nothing whatever, to my knowledge. It would appear to fit nicely under Section A, Clause 3 which states that the club shall initiate and carry out projects for the general education and beautification of our community.”

“Thank you, Samantha. Any objections?”

Hazel Munson’s hand shot up. “I’m not objecting. I’d just like to know if that old meathead left us any funds to run the place with.”

For one long, horrified moment, there was not a whisper in the room. Everyone knew John had left his life’s savings to his one surviving relative, their own beloved Minerva Oakes, co-chairman of the landscape committee. They also knew how desperately Minerva needed the cash, and they’d rejoiced over the elderly widow’s great windfall. Hazel, realizing too late what a brick she’d dropped, clapped her hand over her errant mouth.

Minerva looked stricken, but rose gamely. “I’m quite willing to …

“Shut up,” barked Zilla Trott, the other half of the landscape committee. “You’re out of order. Madam Chairman,” she waved her hand wildly, “I make a formal motion that the club refuse to accept one plugged nickel from Minerva Oakes.”

“Second the motion,” cried the members as one voice. Even Therese seconded before she remembered she wasn’t supposed to, then called for a vote before Minerva could get another word in. The ayes had it so loudly the windows bulged.

“Now,” said Zilla, “I move the chair appoint a ways and means committee.”

“Objection,” cried Arethusa. “First we elect a board of trustees, then they appoint their own committee.”

“That’s right,” Therese agreed, clearly nonplussed to find Arethusa in possession of so mundane a fact.

“Then I nominate Arethusa chairman of the board of trustees,” Zilla amended, nothing daunted. It took a lot to daunt Zilla.

Again there was a free-for-all to second the nomination. Arethusa was not only the club celebrity but the member with the most spare cash. Furthermore, she had Dittany to keep her in hand. While still a Henbit, Dittany had been Arethusa’s typing service and voice of reason. As a niece-in-law she packed even more clout. Hence Dittany got nominated forthwith as secretary.

Therese would be a member ex officio, Dot Coskoff would be treasurer because she could both add and subtract. Hazel Munson had to be on the board because she could keep her head when all about her were losing theirs and blaming it on anybody who came handy. Minerva was named vice president as a matter of courtesy and a way of salving her conscience anent the money by giving her a reason to work her head off for the museum, which she’d have done anyway. Zilla Trott came next because nobody could envision a committee that Minerva was on and Zilla wasn’t.

Mrs. MacVicar then moved the nominations be closed because six trustees were plenty. Nobody cared to contradict Mrs. MacVicar, whose husband was the law in Lobelia Falls, so they elected the board and broke up the meeting. Instead of staying to participate in the wild babble that followed, Dittany sped home to her husband.

“Osbert, listen!”

“Eh?” Osbert dragged his attention away from some distant arroyo or mesa and focused it on his wife. “Darling, it’s you!”

“And whom were you expecting?”

“Well, you see, Harold the Headless Horse Thief was galloping into the haunted canyon and for just a second there I wondered if—if we mightn’t have some of those big molasses cookies with the crinkly edges hanging around anywhere handy?”

“Let’s go look,” said Dittany, for she loved Osbert dearly.

They went, Osbert nuzzling gently at the back of his bride’s neck as the faithful Appaloosa of his hero was wont to do. To the hero’s neck, of course. Dittany’s was a neck just right for nuzzling, whereas the cowboy’s must perforce be tanned to leather and perhaps not very recently washed. Osbert was feeling pleasantly one-up on the Appaloosa as he buckled down to his tea and cookies. The mood was dispelled by his Aunt Arethusa’s barging through the back door in full cry as was her lamentable habit.

“Osbert, go away” was her greeting. “We have to hold a trustees’ meeting.”

“Stuff it, Arethusa,” said Dittany, Osbert’s mouth being full of cookie at the moment. “A man is king in his own castle.”

“What castle, prithee? This house is yours, not his.”

It was in fact the ancestral residence of the Henbits, but Dittany refused to yield her point. “It’s ours. Osbert’s spent more getting the place glued back together than it was worth before he started. Sit down and have a cookie. We can’t hold a meeting without the rest of the trustees.”

“Why not, egad? We haven’t drawn up any bylaws yet, so how can we be in violation of them?”

“I’d have to clear that point with Therese. Anyway, I don’t want to hold a trustees’ meeting. I want to—”

“I know what you want to and I think it’s perfectly disgusting. Can’t you wait till bedtime, forsooth?”

“Arethusa, that was not what I meant,” said Dittany with quiet dignity.

“Why not? Aha! A rift i’ the lute. What’s that beastly nephew of mine been up to now?”

“Osbert is not beastly. Osbert is a lambie pie with fur-lined booties on. What I intended to say was that I want to start supper because we horsed around at the meeting this afternoon far too long and I’m practicing to be a perfect wife.”

“Darling, you already are,” cried Osbert, having coped with the cookie.

“I haven’t ironed your shirts yet.”

“A bagatelle. I’ll wear this same one tomorrow.”

“You will not. What would the neighbors think?”

“Figo for the neighbors,” said Arethusa. “Could we get on with the meeting? The gist or nub of the matter is that we’ve got to appoint a curator forthwith.”

“Why forthwith?” said Dittany.

“Because I’ve already been approached by seventeen people who want to donate priceless artifacts to the museum, that’s why.”

“What priceless artifacts?”

“A hand-embroidered corset cover worn by Samantha Burberry’s husband’s great-grandmother on the occasion of her presentation to Queen Victoria at the Court of St. James, a set of hand-carved false teeth once owned by a certain Sam Small, the first wagon driver who came to Lobelia Falls, later hanged for cattle rustling in Alberta—”

Osbert brightened. “Now, there’s an item of genuine historical interest.”

“To whom, prithee? If you think I’m going to accept any bogus bicuspids in my capacity as chairman of the board of trustees of the whatever-her-name-was museum, you can think again, eh. The trouble is, I can’t come straight out and say so, because Zilla Trott’s the one who wants to donate the teeth.”

“I see,” said Dittany.

“I don’t,” said Osbert.

“You wouldn’t,” snarled Arethusa.

“It’s quite simple, darling,” Dittany explained. “We need somebody who can winnow out the junk from the good stuff without making everybody hate him.”

“Him?”

“Or her. I used the pronoun abstractly. You remember about abstract pronouns, dear?”

“Certainly I remember about abstract pronouns. Aunt Arethusa wouldn’t know an abstract pronoun if it walked up and tipped its hat to her.”

“I would so,” said Arethusa.

“You would not. You only know words like stap my garters.”

“Garters. Egad, yes. A pair of red silk arm garters won by old Mr. Busch in a poker game when he was a telegraph operator up in Yellowknife in 1909. You see what we’re up against?”

Dittany nodded gloomily. By nightfall they’d have been offered a wealth of hand-crocheted chamber pot covers, secondhand beehives, wooden legs, Moody & Sankey hymnals, autographed photos of Ivor Novello, moth-eaten army uniforms, and that umbrella stand made from interwoven buffalo horns Dot Coskoff’s mother had been trying to unload on somebody for the past forty-three years. Would anybody in town have the guts to explain that none of these things was precisely what the Aralia Polyphema Architrave Museum happened to be in urgent need of at the moment? Sighing, she reached for the telephone.

“Whom are you calling, forsooth?” Arethusa demanded.

“Hazel, Dot, Minerva, and Zilla, of course. Much as I hate to admit it, Arethusa, you’re right.”

Chapter 2

MANY YEARS HAD PASSED since Aralia Polyphema laid down her bow and gavel for the last time. After her death, John Architrave had lived alone. He’d managed his housekeeping much as he’d managed the water department, and that was as ill as anybody in Lobelia Falls cared to speak of the dead. Before they could start putting things into the museum, an awful lot would have to be taken out.

Osbert donated part of the advance on his latest Western, whose heroine had blue-green eyes, blondish brown hair with highlights the color of dawn on the mesa, and cheeks like the bloom on the yucca, or Spanish bayonet; and happened, by apt coincidence, to be named Dittany. That paid for the hiring of a dump truck to cart away enough trash so that the peeling wallpaper and cobwebbed ceilings could be got at.

Before restoration could begin, though, the problem of what to restore it to had to be resolved. After considerable wrangling, the trustees decided to do what everybody then claimed to have been in favor of all along: namely, to plan the museum as a typical Canadian home of the Early Lobelia Falls period. Only genuine antiques or accurate reproductions would be used, and decisions of the curator would be final. The curator would be kept firmly enthumbed by the trustees, but the general public wasn’t to know that. By this stratagem or ruse they hoped to keep out the carved coconuts and art deco smoking stands without antagonizing friends and neighbors who’d been kidding themselves that they’d at last found a place to park the family relics without upsetting the in-laws.

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!