Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Deal Me In: Two Stories

Jay's Deal Me In Challenge has us reading one short story per week; one per card in a deck. For details, click on the link and my list of chosen stories may be found HERE.

I have gotten behind, so this post will cover two stories in one. Last week's story was "The Tragedy of Papa Ponsard" by Vincent Starrett (found in Ellery Queen's Anthology: 1966 Mid-Year Edition) and was chosen by drawing the ten of spades from the deck. Papa Ponsard is a book store owner who dreads parting with his books and yet he knows he must sell some or be ruined--for he owes 300 francs in back rent and fears every day that Monsieur Gebhart will show up and kick him out of his shop. But few customers enter his store these days. So he starts cataloguing his books so he can try to draw in customers through the mail. Then an innocent change (on the part of his daughter's suitor) in a book's price results in an unexpected twist of fate--both wonderful and tragic.

Without his books Papa Ponsard would have been lost. But he no longer read them. Instead he catalogued them....For what is more delightful than cataloguing one's books, and what is more sorrowful than writing after them a price? (p.223)

Papa Ponsard was in his way a scholar; but better still he had been for most of his life a reader. (p. 225)


Up next, with the draw of the jack of spades, is "The Silver Curtain" by John Dickson Carr (from the same anthology). Jerry Winton is having terrible luck at the gaming tables. Then a man comes along and offers him ten thousand francs to just go to a doctor's house and pick up some pills. Sounds like an easy way to earn some much-needed cash. But then that same fellow winds up dead with a knife in his back outside the doctor's establishment...and there's no one around but Jerry. And he didn't do it. Fortunately, Colonel March of Scotland Yard is on hand to explain what happened and who really did it.

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