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Authors: Jane Langton

Shortest Day

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The Shortest Day

Murder at the Revels

A Homer Kelly Mystery

Jane Langton

A
MysteriousPress.com

Open Road Integrated Media Ebook

Contents

Dedication

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

20

21

22

23

24

25

26

27

28

29

30

31

32

33

34

35

36

37

38

39

40

41

42

43

44

45

Afterword

Preview:
Dead as a Dodo

Copyright Page

FOR STEWART GUERNSEY

So the shortest day came
,

and the year died
,

And everywhere down the centuries

of the snow-white world

Came people singing, dancing
,

To drive the dark away.…

Susan Cooper

PART ONE

THE CALL FOR ROOM

Room, room, brave gallants all!

Pray give us room to rhyme!

We've come to show activity upon this wintertime
.

Activity of youth, activity of age
,

Such activity as you've never seen on stage!

Saint George and the Dragon

CHAPTER 1

O I shall be as dead, mother
,

As stones are in the wall;

O the stones in the streets, mother
,

Shall sorrow for me all
.

“The Cherry Tree Carol”

T
he death of the folk singer from the South was a bitter disappointment to everyone who had bought tickets for the Christmas Revels. Last year, in every performance, he had captivated the audience in Memorial Hall. Middle-aged women were crazy about him. Already this year several women students from the Harvard Business School and another from the Law School had tried to date Henry Shady, even though he had only a fourth-grade education, having spent most of his life excavating bituminous coal in Filbert, West Virginia.

Mary Kelly was a witness to the accident, or almost a witness. She heard the sound of the approaching car and then the thud and the squeal of brakes. But her back was turned. She was climbing the steps of Memorial Hall on her way to a Revels rehearsal. She whirled around and saw the big Range Rover heave backward and thump down off the body. As the driver burst out of the car she ran down the steps, and both of them bent over the poor kid with the crushed skull.

It was apparent that he was beyond help. At once Mary recognized the crude country haircut and cheap overcoat belonging to Henry Shady. Sickened with pity, she stood up, then staggered back as the demented driver fell on her, sobbing, and clung to her, choking out the same words over and over, “He ran in front of me. I couldn't stop, I couldn't stop.”

A crowd was gathering. Revels people on their way to the evening rehearsal stopped to see what was going on and gasped in stunned recognition. “Oh, my God, it's Henry.”

“Who?”

“Henry Shady.”


Oh, no, not Henry Shady
.”

Mary was still caught in the grip of the sobbing driver. “Look,” she said, trying to speak over his shoulder, “would someone—please call the police? There's a phone—inside the door.”

And then all the rest of the Revels people poured out the north door of Memorial Hall and stood in a shocked ring around the body of Henry Shady. A flashlight flickered over his ruined face, someone said “Don't,” and the light vanished. There was the sound of weeping.

Mary was frozen in a grim geometrical tableau—she and the driver were a clumsy vertical, Henry Shady was the horizontal, the onlookers were an enclosing circle. Would the police never come? Then the driver loosened his hold on her neck and cried, “Sarah,” and the circle opened to let someone through. “I'm sorry, Sarah,” gasped the driver. “I'm sorry, I'm sorry.”

Sarah Bailey cast one look down at Henry Shady, then reached out her arms to the man whose car had run over him. They stood together in the hush, clinging to each other, rocking a little back and forth, Sarah murmuring like a mother comforting a child.

Oh, God, how terrible, thought Mary. The poor heartbroken driver must be Morgan Bailey, Sarah's husband. Sarah was the director of all that was going on in Memorial Hall's Sanders Theatre; she had discovered Henry Shady in the first place, and invited him northward last year, and made him once again the ornament of this year's Revels. And now it was Sarah's own husband who had killed him! No wonder the poor guy kept sobbing and protesting that it wasn't his fault. “I couldn't help it, Sarah. I'm sorry, I'm so sorry.”

BOOK: Shortest Day
10.11Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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