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The Lexington House Murder

~ Chapter Three

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After watching Ichabod leave the house. Jonathan began a slow walk down the front hall steps. About mid-way down he sat and rested his head against the railing. From this vantage he could see the front door, made sturdy to keep out wind and the unwanted. Carpets along the hallways, thick and warm. Little touches all about; a small vase of violets, a painting of people laughing and picnicking in a field; a colorful scarf tossed over a worn chair and china figurines so delicate you could see your hand through them if held up to the light. Just small additions, but they made the house look…well, something just made it obvious that there was a lady lived here. A wife, a sister, a mother.

Jonathan thoughts drifted. He was so young when his own mother passed over, he could not recall any lingering feminine presence in his house. It had just been him and his father. Now he was in a home. A real home. He was happy because being here allowed him to be near Ichabod. “Constable Ichabod Crane and Assistant at your service.” He bowed to the railing.

Jonathan adored Ichabod Crane more than anything in this world. Ichabod knew everything there was about crime investigation and detection. And, he had proved braver and wiser than any man in Sleepy Hollow. The day Jonathan came to the city with Ichabod and Katrina was the happiest he could remember. Not as exciting as seeing the horseman. Nevertheless, a happy day...

Jonathan closed his eyes and wished as hard as he could, that right now, this moment, he was with Ichabod, carrying his kit, headed out to examine crimes; bloody footprints, anything. Why hadn’t he taken Jonathan with him this morning?

He heard a rustling behind him. Katrina had paused at the top of the stairs. She smiled down at Jonathan. He stood as she approached him. Instead of going on by him, Katrina took his hand in hers. “Come with me Jonathan, into the small parlor. I would like to talk to you about something rather serious.”

She said nothing else, and did not let go of his hand until they had entered the parlor.

She led him to a settee and indicated Jonathan was to sit beside her. At her feet was a basket with some yarn and long needles, which she immediately picked up and began to work with her hands. Also at her feet had been a small grey cat, who had not been pleased to be disturbed from his yarn bed, and stalked away indignantly.

Katrina smiled at Jonathan and waited patiently until he had raised his head and looked directly at her.

“Jonathan, I hope you know that Ichabod and I are extremely fond of you?” She leaned in and lowered her voice to a whisper. “I want to thank you for helping me keep my secret from Ichabod until I was able to find the right time to tell him.”

Her eyes returned to her knitting. “You were quite right about his reaction. I had hoped perhaps that particular affliction had left him.” She smiled again, but Jonathan had lowered his head.

“Jonathan, what I want to tell you is that Ichabod and myself have been talking quite a bit in the last few months. Talking about you and your place with us.

It took all of Jonathan’s strength to keep his chin from quivering. He would not cry, he would not!

Katrina had put aside her yarn and needles. She picked up one of Jonathan’s hands in her own two. “Jonathan, I wish to be frank with you. You have been without a mother for a long time. And no father since almost a year. I hope you know that we have no desire to deepen your loss any further. Or thrust difficult decisions at you. But we agreed that enough time had passed that we needed to let you know. To see if you might agree to our plan.”

Jonathan kept his head down. He face had taken on the feel of a mask and his hand was still and heavy in hers. So many things flashed through his mind. Would they ask him to move into servant’s quarters? Would they send him away to school? Send him back to Sleepy Hollow? Maybe just open that heavy front door and send him anywhere and nowhere.

“Jonathan?” Katrina bent her face down to try and catch the boy’s eye. She seemed puzzled at first and then a calmness settled over her features. She understood. She cupped Jonathan’s chin and raised his head until she could see his face.

“Jonathan, I must apologize to you. In my wish to be delicate, I have bestowed false fears on you. The very opposite of what I intended to do.”

She took a slow deep breath. “Jonathan, you are not leaving this home. Ever. Unless it is by your own wish. Since the day we brought you with us to the city, Ichabod and I have talked about you becoming our son. It would mean a legal adoption, and we worried that it would make you feel disloyal or unloving to your own good mother and father. But the fact is that you are truly only a youth, Jonathan. We both feel very strongly that your parents would want you to have a new family…”

Jonathan Masbeth hadn’t heard a word that Katrina had said, at least not past her first three sentences. The rest was like dim buzzing in the background. Hurt? Loss? Worry? Not one of these feelings was anywhere within Jonathan at that moment. Only a strangely unbearable sensation of relief and a lump choking his windpipe.

“Yes,” It was more of a croak than a voice. “Yes” he repeated looking up at Katrina. “There is nothing I wish more than to stay with you and be of service, uh, to stay with you in any way…” He looked up at Katrina with his features a mixture of agony and joy.

Katrina gathered him to herself. Her arms about his shoulders and her golden head inclined against his own. “Everything is going to be fine, Jonathan. Do not worry yourself any more. You are dearly loved. Ichabod and I are your father and mother now. And you are our fine son.” She rocked him gently, but said nothing more as Jonathan wept openly, tears spilling all down her dress. A long time passed. No sound except the muffled weeping which became quieter and quieter.

“Jonathan, what do you think Ichabod would like for his lunch.” Katrina was placing cloths and silverware into a small lunch basket. “Bread and cheese?”

“Yes” answered Jonathan. “And an apple. We each will have one apple,” Jonathan added as he came in to the kitchen from the front hall.

“Katrina, uh, mother. Ichabod has taken his detecting kit. It must have been an important matter for him to take it straight away like that. Might there have been a murder??”

“Well, I am may be alone in this house when I say, I hope not. We’ve had enough of murders to last us a long time.”

Jonathan picked up the basket grabbing two of Cook’s now cold biscuits to place on top.

Katrina followed him out to the top step. “Go only as far as the constabulary. If Ichabod is not there, wait until he returns. Do not go out until he comes for you. Promise?”

“Yes.” Jonathan was secretly glad he would have a chance to get out of the house. He felt sheepish about his weeping in front of Katrina. Mother. It was strange. He suddenly stopped at the bottom step and looked back at Katrina. “Will he want me to call him ‘Father’ when I see him? Ichabod I mean.”

“You tell him about our talk in your own way,” Katrina answered. “These are small things that worry you. We will become comfortable soon enough. Right now, I think Ichabod will be happy to see both his lunch and his best assistant. Run along!”

Katrina hugged herself and waited on the step until Jonathan rounded the corner. He did not turn or wave to her. The air was turning crisp. The doctor had told her the child would be coming in the early winter. Slightly sooner than she had let on to Ichabod. He would find out soon enough. She felt so much that was new and strange to her. Feelings of apprehension, feelings of protectiveness, and some feelings which almost made her blush. She watched as the wind whipped up the trees and the leaves fell faster to the ground. She went inside and closed the heavy door.

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