"Revolvers and Roses."
By Q. Patrick (Richard Wilson Webb, 1901-70, & Hugh Callingham Wheeler, 1912-87).
Illustrations by Ben Prins (1902-80; HERE).
First appearance: This Week Magazine, December 7, 1952.
Reprinted in EQMM, March 1956 (as "On the Day of the Rose Show") and Suspense (U.K.), April 1960 (as "Roses and Revolvers").
Short short short story (3 pages).
Collected in The Cases of Lieutenant Timothy Trant (2019).
"A very sinister pattern it seemed."
For a smart police detective there's an old French proverb that perfectly fits the problem he's confronted with: "No rose without a thorn."
~ Mrs. Weiderbacker:
". . . on the carpet in front of them, large, stately and formidable even in death, lay Mrs. Weiderbacker with a crimson stain on her chintzed bosom."
~ The local law:
". . . the tough, round-faced inspector."
~ The butler:
"An anxious, hovering butler took them both through the living room toward the music room. He had discovered the body."
~ Lieutenant Timothy Trant:
"As I thought. Not natural grief . . ."
~ Freda Trant:
"My speech never got to Mrs. Weiderbacker. Thank heavens, Daisy knows shorthand."
~ Miles Groves:
"So Mrs. Weiderbacker disapproved of your new wife. She threatened to stop your allowance and cut you out of her will."
~ Chloe Carmichael:
". . . the late Mrs. Weiderbacker's new and controversial niece-in-law."
~ Daisy Groves:
"In the hallway, Daisy Groves, her pretty face red and swollen and her eyes wet, rushed toward Freda."
~ Gordon Groves:
". . . dark and disturbed, on a sofa, a blanket over the plaster of his leg cast."
References and resources:
- "copied it out in shorthand":
"Shorthand is an abbreviated symbolic writing method that increases speed and brevity of writing as compared to longhand, a more common method of writing a language. The process of writing in shorthand is called stenography, from the Greek stenos (narrow) and graphein (to write). It has also been called brachygraphy, from Greek brachys (short), and tachygraphy, from Greek tachys (swift, speedy), depending on whether compression or speed of writing is the goal" (Wikipedia HERE).
- Today's tale is the 23rd of 29 stories featuring Lieutenant Timothy Trant beginning in 1937, stopping and then resuming in 1939-40, taking time out for the war and then going again continuously from 1945-55, pausing until 1959, and finishing up in 1964 (FictionMags data).