Site menu:


The Lexington House Murder

~ Chapter Six

Example content image

Mailer walked into the Lower Manhattan Constabulary well past the noon hour. After pausing for directions he went up two steps at a time to the second floor. A door of a small office off to the side read: “Ichabod Crane, Constable.” Mailer did not knock as the door was partly opened but was somewhat surprised to see, not Ichabod Crane behind the desk, but a dark haired youth, not much more than a dozen years old. Mailer frowned. “It says this is the office of Constable Ichabod Crane. Can you tell me, lad, is Constable Crane here?”

The boy stood up and came around the desk. He held out his hand. “Yes, Constable Crane will be back directly, sir. I’m Jonathan, his assistant.” They shook hands.
“You’re the new Magistrate here to help solve the Lexington crime, sir?”

“Well, something like that.” Mailer sprawled into a large leather chair in front of the desk. “Where do I know you from? At Crane’s house this morning! I remember you. Are you his nephew or something?”

“Not my nephew” Ichabod Crane stood in the doorway. “But good guess.”

He came forward and put his arm about Jonathan’s shoulders. “Jonathan is our ward, and soon to be our adopted son.” Ichabod looked down at Jonathan’s smile. “And the most valuable associate I have ever known.” He gentled ruffled Jonathan’s hair. “He was invaluable to me in solving that multiple murder in Sleepy Hollow.” Crane sat down behind his desk.

“Katrina too; she braved peril as well, to catch the horseman.” Jonathan began to chew on a biscuit he had drawn out from a small basket.”

“Well, I am very impressed with your family, Crane. Will your wife and son be attending the autopsy as well?” Mailer grinned sarcastically. “Jonathan, there’s a good lad, have you another of those biscuits? I am famished.”

“Sorry, sir. This was the last. However I couldn’t help but notice, sir, you have something that looks like a biscuit coming out of your pocket.”

Mailer frowned and drew out the biscuit he had taken from Crane’s maid that morning. He had forgotten. It was flattened and a bit crumbly, but Mailer seemed quite satisfied and began munching away.

“Well, Crane, or ‘Cranes’ - plural; I did managed to get an interview with Mrs. Van Ernst, employer of the victim’s sister, Janelle Washington. Shall I read you my notes?”

“Ah, Janelle. I told you about her, Jonathan. Poor girl. She is very pretty. Do you not agree, Mailer?” When he drew no response, Crane asked innocently, “You are a bachelor, are you not?”

“For now,” Mailer pulled out his notebook and flipped through the pages as if thoroughly absorbed in finding his notes.

Jonathan and Ichabod exchanged a look. Together they turned back to Mailer.

Mailer fidgeted with his notebook. Then in his chair.

“Yes, she is pretty! Extremely pretty! And if you will ever allow me to read you my notes, we might solve this case, before I am too old to marry!” 


Katrina stood before her large mirror and washing basin. The water was very warm and the scent of the lavender soap made her almost heady. She felt languorous and indulgent as she washed her neck and shoulders with the warm cloth. She had felt these feelings more strongly now that she was having a child. Some days she felt like smothering the whole world in kisses.

Other days she thought about kissing only one person. Ichabod. Katrina knew that she was a pretty girl. She had many men interested in her before Ichabod and even before poor Brom. She knew that Ichabod thought she was beautiful. And she felt the same about him. She never tired of staring at her beloved’s face. She reached over to dry herself off with a cloth. She then re-tied the dressing gown about her and lay on the bed.

Katrina had been a maiden when she married. In this very bed, on their wedding night, Ichabod had been sweet and very gentle. Rather pleased that he was able to deflower her so quickly and thus prevent her from feeling any unnecessary pain. When it was over, and he held her in his arms, she was struck about what an odd sensation it had been. To have a part of a man within her. Part of Ichabod had been inside her body. There had been pain, yes. But she when she cried out, Ichabod only adhered to her more tightly, guiding her movements so that they moved as one. And then the quickening of his breath against her cheek. He said her name just once, and then groaned. Suddenly the discomfort left her. And Ichabod quickly rolled away to her side and embraced her. He told Katrina how much he loved her and how happy she made him. Whatever had happened certainly seemed to have made him happy. He was soft and playful with her. Covering her face with kisses.

She had wondered how it would have looked to a stranger? A husband and wife in their marital bed, having relations, in the pitch dark, with their night clothes on. Ichabod had lifted her sleeping gown only as far as he needed to. And he had not removed his night shirt. She assumed he didn’t want to shock her sense of modesty. But, as she lay in his arms that first night, she wondered, would he wish to do it again that same night? Tomorrow? Once a day? A week? A month? Oh, and she suddenly realized that now that they were husband and wife, Ichabod would know when she was menstruating. How silly, she had never thought of it before. How was she to indicate this to him the first time? She was full of anxiety and amazement. Anxiety because she had so many questions to learn the answers to, and amazement because something in her body was calling out to him, already. So soon. In spite of some discomfort she still wanted Ichabod to repeat the act again. Again and again. She turned towards her beloved. But even as she reached for him, she could hear the first soft sounds of his snoring. Remembering it now, she giggled out loud.

Katrina had been a wife now for almost 6 months. She was not sure she was any closer to finding out the answers to her bridal curiosities. Yes, Ichabod knew now, that she normally menstruated about the 3rd week of each month. And the act of intercourse was always performed at least 4 times a month, if not more. Ichabod had developed a habit of looking at her in a certain way during their evening meal, which she now knew meant he would desire her that night. Each time it had been exactly as on their wedding night. Katrina was very happy with the affection and closeness she shared with Ichabod on those occasions. But somehow she was always left wanting. Neither she nor Ichabod had ever seen the other unclothed.

She stood up from the bed and approached the mirror again.

She thought, surely a few furtive moments can not be the whole of that which has inspired centuries of poetry and song. Katrina had read romance novels and they spoke of great passion between a man and a woman. She thought she had known the feeling of passion within herself; it had grown enormously since her body began to change for the forthcoming birth. She wanted very much to share these feelings with Ichabod. She slowly lowered her gown until it revealed her bare shoulders and top of her bosom. She moved coquettishly before the mirror, fascinated by her boldness. She wondered what Ichabod would think if he saw her now, posing seductively in private. She wondered.

That night dinner at the Crane’s was not a very typical one. Ichabod and Jonathan were full of the Lexington House murder. They told Katrina everything that had transpired that day, about meeting (and liking) Mailer. Ichabod did not go into any detail regarding the wounds, but did give a brief summary of the background of Margaret and Janelle Washington. Katrina was murmuring her sympathies, when suddenly her face changed and she stared upright to the ceiling, shivering slightly.

“What has happened, Katrina? Are you all right; is there a draft of some sort??

“No, no, I am fine. Just when you mentioned the sisters, I suddenly felt very odd.” Katrina leaned toward Ichabod, putting her hand on his arm. “Be careful, my heart, there is greed and jealousy at play there. And something so dark, it is unnatural. Do not take any unnecessary risks, either you or Jonathan. Promise, Ichabod. Promise now.”

“Of course, Katrina, I would not put myself or Jonathan in harm’s way. This isn’t like Sleepy Hollow at all. The only unusual thing here is the level of society in which it happened. The rest is no more than servants’ jabbering.” He continued, “This murder was probably the result of a lover’s quarrel with some local man, which went too far. She wouldn’t be the first housemaid to let a boyfriend in the back door late at night. They probably argued and he attacked her. It’s really just going to be a matter of taking statements and putting the puzzle together. Do you agree, Jonathan?

“Well, I am not sure. They say that the Chief Constable did ask for you especially because of your involvement with Sleepy Hollow. That being true, if it is, then he may think there is something ‘unnatural’ about the murder. However, I think that Magistrate Mailer would agree with you, Ichabod..father…sir.” Jonathan looked helplessly at Katrina.

Ichabod spoke up. “I have an idea, Jonathan; let us see if you agree. I think that Katrina would like it very much, if you called her mother. As for myself, I think there is no harm in two gentlemen, regardless of their relationship, calling each other by their Christian names. You have the option of calling me father at anytime, but until then, call me Ichabod.”

“Do we have an agreement, son?” Ichabod asked.

“Yes, father. I’ll go straight away then and put your things together that you will need for the interviewing tonight.”

Ichabod smiled at Katrina as Jonathan left the room. “Well, I guess we have passed one hurdle.”

Katrina had gotten up from her chair and settled herself in Ichabod’s lap. With a quick peek toward the kitchen, Ichabod took her face into his hands and kissed her for a long moment. “I am sorry that I will not be home early tonight, Katrina. But come up with me while I change my jacket.”

A few minutes later, in their bedroom Ichabod was straightening his jacket and running a brush through his hair. Katrina came up quietly and sat on the bed in her dressing gown. Ichabod saw her reflection in the mirror and smiled at her. Katrina acknowledged by smiling back that she too could see their image in the mirror. For a moment Ichabod continued to fuss with his cravat, when suddenly he saw in the mirror that Katrina had lowered her dressing gown to reveal her shoulders. And then it fell to her waist. “Please Ichabod, do not faint.” Katrina whispered as his face paled considerably.

Ichabod whirled around and stood before her. He said nothing. In the full lamp light of the room, Katrina stood up from the bed, and let her dressing gown drop to the floor. She wore nothing. She watched Ichabod’s face closely. His eyes were drawn immediately to her slightly swollen belly, but he continued to move his eyes upwards over her until he met her look with his own. She thought she would find that incredulity and shock which preceded his usual fainting. But instead, something powerful and provocative came over his features. He moved very quickly over and embraced her. He kissed her very deeply, and then moved slightly away. He knelt and picked up her gown. Gently he wrapped the soft garment around her shoulders, his eyes never leaving hers. He leaned into her neck, and moved his hand under the gown to clasp her bare waist. He kissed the hollow of her throat and ever so slightly touched it with his tongue.

Katrina backed away from his embrace. “I understand you must go out tonight, and I did not mean to cause a disturbance just prior to your leaving, but…I wanted you to know, that…being your wife is the greatest happiness I have ever known. In return I wish to give you every happiness, Ichabod. I am not ashamed of any of myself, and I want to give myself to you fully.”

She laughed softly. “And for some reason I had to tell you this very minute. Well what do you think of my latest effort to bewitch you?”

He kissed her lightly on the cheek. “I think it is…bewitching. I am very sorry that I shall have to leave.”

Ichabod walked toward the bedroom door. “Katrina, you have given me more happiness than I thought ever to deserve. And now, I realize that we have not even begun to explore the true intimacy of our marriage. You astonish me, Katrina. I am the luckiest of all men.”

He stared lovingly at her for a moment. And then he was gone.

Next Chapter