(Image credit: Michael Maggs)
Dahlia shuffled the deck, making the bracelet of coins tinkle on her right wrist. Dealing out the first card, she smiled. "You had good luck," she said, pointing to the Queen of Cups.
Marco patted his leather purse. It looked heavy with coins. "I had a good morning at the fair. No one sells like a Gypsy."
It was a tranquil afternoon as they sat around the embers of a fire in their small encampment. The sound of horse hooves and jangling spurs announced the arrival of Renard. Seconds later, Carmen's earrings, as melodious as wind chimes and almost as large, told them that their fourth friend had also returned.
The tiny Gypsy tribe exchanged tales of their morning escapades. Dahlia had told fortunes at the fair. Carmen had begged on a street corner. Renard had traded horses with local farmers. But the only lucky one was Marco, who had sold copper pots to housewives and made an enviable profit.
The warm air was still, with not even a bird song to break the quiet. Perfect for an afternoon doze. The Gypsies retreated to separate corners of the encampment, nestled back against a tree and settled into leisurely naps.
Three of the Gypsy friends were awakened by a yelp from the fourth. Marco was standing in the middle of the clearing, cursing as he held up the cut ends of his purse strings. "What is the world coming to when you can't even trust a fellow Gypsy? One of you low dogs stole my money."
Dahlia reached out her left hand. Her bracelet jangled annoyingly as she examined the strings. The cuts were clean. "Cut by a horse-shoeing knife," she said and glanced up at Renard.
The horse dealer bristled. "No. It could have been a paring knife. Carmen was peeling an apple just before she went to sleep. And what about Dahlia's scissors?"
"Ha!" Carmen snarled. "No one could be so stealthy as to rob a Gypsy. If you ask me, it was Marco himself."
Whodunit? And what evidence gives the culprit away?
The whodunit above was provided by American mystery fiction author Hy Conrad.
In addition to his work in mystery and crime puzzles, Hy was also one of the original writers for the groundbreaking TV series Monk.