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The Lexington House Murder

~ Chapter Twelve

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Katrina opened her eyes. She was lying on her side looking directly at the back of her beloved’s neck. It was so sweet and vulnerable. She kissed it. Ichabod rolled over and placed her face against his chest. He closed his eyes and ran his fingers through the ends of her hair.

“It must be late, with Cook not here to waken us.”

“Hmmmm.” Ichabod had changed positions and was kissing her neck, and burying his face in her hair.

“Constable Crane?” Katrina got him to raise his head. She saw his sleepy and beautiful face. “I am going down stairs now to be a good wife and to prepare your morning coffee and breakfast.” She slid easily out from under the covers, slipping her night dress over her and placing her dressing gown around her quickly. Against the sun coming through the pale curtains, he had seen the outline of her body and its curves.

He felt he was drunk on her. “What happenstance of nature, gave you to me, Katrina?”

She sat on the side of the bed and responded. “It was the spell I cast on you in Sleepy Hollow. Come downstairs for your coffee, and in payment for my sin I will tell you your future.”

Ichabod held out his palms showing the familiar pattern of markings said simply, “You cannot read my palms; they show only the past.”

Katrina kissed both of his palms. Then she brightened and continued, “Perhaps then I shall give you tea and read your tea leaves.”

She left the room and Ichabod slowly managed to ease himself into his clothing. Again he left collar and cuffs undone. He slipped a dressing gown over his shirt and trousers.

To Ichabod and to Katrina the night before had been a revelation.

Karina heated water and began to mix a simple biscuit batter. She did so with a different heart than she had possessed the day before. She knew now that she would never be without Ichabod. Always be of his heart, in his heart and understand every feeling and thought he would have. Right this moment he was thinking exactly as she was. She knew it for certain.

Ichabod was staring into the mirror, listening to the sounds of Katrina in the kitchen. He glanced back as their bed, now mussed. He walked over and picked up her pillow and smelled it. It brought back everything to him. They would never be separate persons again, not really. He would know what was in her heart at all times. He would always know. He started for the door; and a certain uneasiness came over him.

Below him he heard a frightening scream. It was Katrina’s voice.

Ichabod ran down the stairs and into the kitchen. Katrina stood before the door to the back garden. Her one hand covering her mouth, the other held a piece of paper in her hand. Ichabod pulled her back into the kitchen and Katrina clung to him.

“Are you hurt?’ Ichabod asked. When she did not answer immediately, he sat her down at the end of the table. “Please Katrina, I beg you! Tell me, are you hurt in some way?”

Katrina shook her head emphatically no. He relaxed.

“What is wrong, love?” He suddenly looked rather warily back over his shoulder at the rear entrance with a raised brow and whispered. “Is it spiders?”

“No Ichabod. Outside our doorstep a robin lays dead.”

“Why would that frighten you? The cat kills birds regularly and leaves them on the door.”

“It was because of this I cried out. It lay atop the poor creature.” She unfolded the paper she had held and gave it to Ichabod.

Look no further into the death of Margaret Washington or your wife and her infant will suffer the same.”

Threatening Katrina. Someone threatening his wife and the child she carried. His child.

He recalled now the dream he had of the head of the murdered woman, placed on Katrina’s body. He should have seen then. He should have warned her.

Any resulting rage rapidly chilled to a demeanor reflecting only calm and reason.

“Do not be frightened, love. This sort of thing is always the work of a coward.” He kept his arm round her shoulders.

Katrina had regained her color. “I am sorry I cried out, Ichabod. I do not frighten easily. But reading the note, all I could think of was the child I am carrying. I lost my senses.”

“Does the note being with the bird, have any special meaning?”

“No. Some believe it is a portent of death if a bird, particularly a robin flies into your house; or is found dead in your house. But this…this...poor thing lay well outside the door.”

“Hmmmm. Well, I would have to say…..”

They both startled at the sound of ferocious knocking at their front door. Crane took Katrina by the hand and walked her toward the entrance. The note, he folded carefully and pocketed.

“Who is it?” he called out.

“Crane! Crane! Open this blasted door.” The voice of Mailer was instantly recognizable even through the thick wood. Ichabod quickly moved forward and undid the locks. He stepped back revealing not only Magistrate Mailer, but also the figure of Janelle Washington, who Mailer held tightly by the hand.

“I nearly broke my damed fist on that door. Good god, man, how is it that you did not hear.”

“Mailer, I am glad to see you. Come in. Welcome to you also Miss Janelle. I believe you are already acquainted with my wife, Katrina?”

Janelle nodded. No words were needed. Katrina came forward and kissed the young woman on both cheeks. She managed to replace Mailer’s hand with her own and silently she led Janelle into the dining room.

“Sit here. I will bring you some coffee. If you are cold, I will fetch you a warmer shawl.”

At the kitchen step she carefully pushed the dead bird aside with her broom, until it was fairly hidden under the bushes. She locked the back door and surveyed the room.

She brought coffee out to the dining room. Neither spoke at first.

Then slowly Janelle said, “John has been very worried about me.”

“First he sent a police cab to watch over the house all night. Mrs. Van Ernst complained the sight of such a vehicle in front of their house all night would make people uneasy. Remind them of my sister’s murder. After that he would come himself every day just to check on me. Finally, Mrs. Van Ernst said she wasn’t too happy about having a Magistrate sitting in her front parlor half the day. That was this morning. John, I mean, Magistrate Mailer, reacted rather strongly; grabbed me up and here we are.”

Katrina leaned over and said. “I do confess I am a bit curious. Is it ‘Magistrate Mailer’ or ‘John Mailer’ that watches over you with such care?”

“It is John. Yes, John” Janelle smiled slightly. “He has been very supportive and a great comfort to me.” She touched the fringe on her shawl. Then looked up at Katrina. “Even the Van Ernst’s seemed anxious to put my poor sister’s murder behind them. I have come to trust and respect John. And yes, to have a great measure of affection for him. I believe he will find who is guilty of this dreadful act. An act which I believed had left me quite alone.”

“Not entirely alone, dear Janelle.” Katrina placed her hand over the girls.

Quite unexpectedly, Janelle, put her hand up to Katrina’s cheek. Just for a moment. “I beginning to be believe that is true.” she said.

To change the subject, Katrina ventured, “May I study your palm?”

Janelle flipped over her hand to reveal her palm to Katrina. “If the signs you see are good, then read away. But please do not tell me anything of the bad.”

Katrina smiled. “Well then, I can tell you that your sadness’s are behind you. I see great love between yourself and some type of authority figure. Perhaps a magistrate. You will live a long and happy life.” Katrina turned the hand slightly to its side. “And have one, no three, hearty sons all as handsome as their father.” Katrina gave the girl’s hand a squeeze. Janelle’s cheek blushed a soft rose. And her eyes gave her up. They were those of a young girl very much in love.

Katrina hugged Janelle and said, “I am guessing, but I would venture that Ichabod and John may yet have an appetite. It is Cook’s day off, so come with me into the kitchen where I shall try not to burn the breakfast too badly.” 


Meanwhile in the front room, Mailer paced anxiously in front of Ichabod. “I supposed I have ruined any chance of her continued employment at the Van Ernst’s. But, I am fully prepared to care for her. Entirely in a proper manner, of course.” However, the distressed look that suddenly appeared on Mailer’s face, made it clear that he had not thought much about what a “proper manner” might entail.

“Crane, I could not abide seeing her so alone, surrounded only by those who pretend to want to ease her pain, and in fact are making it worse.” Mailer casually picked a delicate china statuette from the table and tossed it lightly in his hand. “Whatever is there about these things that women collect them so?”

Ichabod moved quickly to remove the figurine from Mailer’s hands.

“Then again, I am not sure I would understand if they explained it.” Mailer continued. “Being around Miss Washington this week has allowed me a real understanding of the fairer sex.”

“Yes, I am sure.” Ichabod nodded. He began to glance desperately in the direction of the dining room. At this moment, the last thing Ichabod wanted to do was hear Mailer’s views on about the idiosyncrasies of women.

Katrina came to the rescue. She appeared at the door and said, “Gentlemen, food and coffee have been prepared for you.” She made a sly curtsy.

“We will be in directly. I just need another moment of Mailer’s time.” Quickly, Ichabod showed Mailer the note and related to him how it had been found at the rear door along with the dead bird.

“Hmmm. That is bad business, Crane. Of course it is usually the work of a person who would never dare to confront you with any actual harm.”

“Yes, I explained that to Katrina. She was upset nonetheless.”

“However,” Mailer stared hard at the note. “By sending this silly letter; the sender, in fact, takes the chance of revealing further information to us”

Crane nodded, “The sender has access to information very personal about me, is not acting alone, and is someone who has received positive results from threats in the past.”

Mailer mused, “The use of the word infant. Very interesting.”

“Yes” Crane said. “It caught my eye also. As soon as we are done here, we should return to the office. I think we need to compare our thoughts.”

Together they entered the dining room to a plain meal of buttered biscuits and coffee.

While they ate in silence, Ichabod looked at Katrina, discreetly inclining his head in the direction of Janelle and raised his eyebrows. Katrina did the same, only inclining her head toward Mailer. Neither Ichabod or Katrina made further gesture. For a moment they stared defiantly at each other. Then Crane coughed and nodded his head ever so slightly. Katrina broke into a smile and slowly nodded back.

He wanted so much at that moment to kiss that cheek or just to touch her hair. But he had only to remember the night before. He had that memory and he would have it with him always, and it followed therefore that he would have Katrina with him. Always.


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