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The Lexington House Murder

~ Chapter Seventeen

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In the dining room, Jonathan took the seat next to Katrina, after moving it as close to her as possible. Katrina turned round at him and gave him a kiss on the forehead. Jonathan looked at little bashful but he remained seated tight next to her. In turn, Katrina continued to stay close to Janelle, holding her hand but letting go occasionally to bring some coffee to Janelle’s lips. She was afraid the girl was in shock.

Katrina looked around at the women in front of her. Women whose lives had been made a hell by the deeds of one man. And not just these women, but the others like Margaret who had so easily become the target for a man who traded on their vulnerabilities. Every woman’s vulnerabilities. She wondered how long women’s lives would be determined by their ability to find a husband, lover, or male relative to take kind care of them. Katrina became irritated at herself. She felt angry when she thought of these things.

Janelle sat up and let go of Katrina’s hand; she had stopped weeping. But no sooner had Janelle let go then Katrina felt a weight against her other side. Jonathan had fallen asleep, his head just lolling until it found a comfortable spot. Katrina folded her shawl for a pillow and lowered Jonathan’s head into her lap. She thought that she would be the finest new mother ever, for all the practice she was getting lately. Not that she ever begrudged any tenderness toward Jonathan. She smoothed the hair back from his brow.

Ichabod spoke to Mailer in a low tone. He asked if someone had been sent to fetch the little girl.

Mailer nodded. “As soon as I got her to her feet, Parker gave the address of where the child was. There is a patrol out to bring her back. They should be returning shortly.”

Suddenly, from across the room, Katrina found herself locking eyes with Magistrate Mailer. He had cut off his handle bar mustache and left a neat, more fashionable version. It made him seem so much younger. She had not noticed that before. Nor how nice looking he was. She could see it took all of the control he had to keep from running to Janelle’s side. But he stood firmly with Ichabod at the head of the table.

It was Ichabod broke the silence. “Mrs. Parker, do you wish to tell us about the circumstances of the murder of Margaret Washington?”

Parker slowly lifted her head. During her life, her face had assumed an almost constant look of condescension. Now she was devoid of any expression, as was her voice.

“To begin with, Constable, Margaret was not murdered.”

Ichabod’s surprise showed on his face. “Explain that statement” he demanded.

“Well, why not ask the noble long-suffering wife, she was there as well.”

Ichabod approached Mrs. Wellington-Trumbell. She actually smiled up at him. “She’s stating the truth, Constable Crane. At least the factual truth. I do not know how a night like that can ever actually exist in a state of truth.”

After receiving no response from Ichabod, she shrugged and began to speak.

“It was late; I do not remember the hour, but late. I was awoken by what sounded like a muffled argument down below. My bedroom is the one exactly above the sitting room.”

“I first went to Megan’s room. She was asleep.

The people who were arguing had managed to keep their voices low. I walked down the stairs and looked into the sitting room. There was James, Parker and Margaret. I kept to the shadows. I remember thinking that this would be it. Obviously Margaret had gone too far in her questioning and demanding, James had tried to dismiss her, which led to the argument. I assumed Parker had been summoned, as usual, to take care of the mess for him.”

“During this whole time, Margaret’s back was to me. She looked unusually disheveled, as if she had been in a struggle with some one. She held something in her hand, but I could not see what it was. James and Parker were listening to her, but keeping their eyes on whatever it was she held. Margaret was weeping; she said something to the effect that James was a brute and could no longer keep Megan from her. She would go the authorities. She would get someone to help her, but she was not going to leave without her child.”

“James began to laugh at her. He had obviously had a great deal to drink.”

“He told her. ‘You are just sorry that I could not get it up a second time, bitch. And believe me I would never turn even a bastard child over to a slow-wit like you. You are good for only one thing, my dear, but you have began to wear on me with your constant whining. Megan is my child now. Try to make trouble for me and she could just as well have an unfortunate accident, or god forbid, meet with some type of molestation.’” Mrs. Wellington-Trumbell’s voice had dropped to where she was barely audible. She said, “I become sick again every time I hear those words in my head.”

Janelle now stood up and pointed to the woman. “How can you have not said anything at all, not come and told me, told anyone, when you knew a helpless child’s safety was at stake.” Mailer walked quickly down the side of the table and put his hands on Janelle’s shoulders. For moment she shook him off. But then she reached for his hand and held it. She sat down again.

Jonathan stirred in Katrina’s lap. Ichabod was beside her immediately. He leaned over and took the boy in his arms. Jonathan was heavy but Ichabod managed to carry him into the hallway and set him down in a large comfortable chair. The movement had not woken him.

Ichabod returned to the dining room. “Continue, Mrs. Wellington-Trumbell, if you can.” Helen reached to pour a good bit of brandy into her coffee.

“I saw that Margaret was in a horrifying rage. I noticed blood smeared about her lower skirt. It was very clear that my husband had attacked the girl. Parker was trying to get them both to calm down and to make it clear to Margaret that she must not do this or that, or it would end badly. I saw Margaret make a lunge at her. It was then that I saw in Margaret’s hand a thick bladed knife of some type.”

Helen took a long pause, during which tears began to course down her cheeks.

“When she went for Parker, Margaret’s foot got caught up against the leg of the table. She fell hard, very hard. She made no movement, no sounds. James and Parker were stunned. After a moment Parker went to her side and rolled her over. The knife had entered her throat up to the hilt. I had never been so frightened in my life. I had to bite my own hand to keep from making a sound.”

“After a few moments passed, James went insane. Like a crazy man, he tried to pull the knife out, but it must have been more difficult than he thought, he only ended up making a horrible wound in the girl.”

Janelle made a strangling sound in her throat. Mailer, without hesitation, lifted her up and carried into the small parlor down the hall. Katrina followed him. She didn’t need to hear anymore. She paused a moment to make sure Jonathan was still sleeping soundly. She never wanted her children to hear words like that. Bad enough that they were part of Ichabod’s daily life.

She followed Mailer into the parlor and knelt by Janelle. “You go back now, Magistrate. I will look after her. And please, for the love of god, be quick about it. I want to take my family home.” She spoke more harshly than she intended, but when she looked up, she saw only understanding in his eyes.

Back in the dining room, Ichabod pressed on. “What of the other wounds.”

She replied “I don’t know about any other wounds.”

“There was a slash to her face and other wounds.”

“I don’t know. I was terrified they would see me. I waited until their backs were turned and crept up the stairs. I did hear James ranting some awful things about Margaret. Horrifying things I cannot even repeat. The last thing I heard was Parker. She sounded desperate, pleading with James to leave the girl’s body alone, go ahead upstairs, leave everything to her to fix. By the next day they seemed to have settled it all out. I was told to keep quiet or they would take Megan away.”

Helen Wellington-Trumbell leaned back into her chair. Her eyes went blank. She had no more to say.

A noise at the door proved to be Jonathan who, awake now, walked over to his father. He looked up at Mailer and Ichabod and said. “She is here. Shouldn’t we take her into mother and Miss Janelle?”

Mailer quickly followed the boy into the hallway.

Helen Wellington-Trumbell suddenly became alert, “May I see her, please for just a moment? She is the closest thing I ever had to a child. Please Constable.”

Ichabod’s voice was unusually harsh. “No, Madame. I am afraid that as of this moment you are under arrest for the shooting death of your husband. And while I think you have a good chance of being acquitted, I will do everything in my power to keep you from ever seeing that child again.” 


Janelle sat silently in the back parlor. Katrina had sat herself on the divan. Jonathan was on his feet the moment he heard the patrolmen coming up the walk. Just like that he was up and gone. Katrina did not try to stop him.

Several minutes later, Mailer entered the room holding the sleeping child. Her thin face had a pinched look to it. She was bundled in blankets, but one of her hands had become free and even in her sleep she trembled.

Janelle immediately held out her arms, but Katrina cautioned her quietly. “Janelle, this child needs no more tears and pain in her life, no matter who they come from. If you want to take care of the child, you will have to be strong.”

Janelle did indeed wipe away her fresh tears and squared her shoulders. “John?” she indicated for him to give the child to her. Janelle took the little girl into her arms and held her very gently.

Jonathan walked up slowly to gaze down at the little girl’s face. He ever so gently laid a hand on her bundled form. “Miss Janelle. I think this will be the luckiest day of Megan’s life. Children can get lost at times. You and I know what it is like to lose everything. I was fortunate that Katrina and Ichabod took me into their hearts. You are lucky because the Magistrate has taken you into his. And Megan will be lucky to have found you both.”

Katrina turned to Ichabod. “I would like to go home. Jonathan must be put to bed. Even if you cannot accompany us, I need to leave now.”

Ichabod had apparently earlier agreed that Mailer would do the ‘finish up.’ File the formal report, give directives to the patrolmen on duty, and arrange for fresh shifts.

Ichabod walked his wife and son out to one of the carriages waiting. “Staley, is that you.”

“Yes, sir. Where to Constable.”

“Home, Staley. Please take us home.”

Jonathan was back in his own bed. Tucked and re-tucked in by Katrina. Ichabod finally got her to leave the boy’s side.

They walked to their bedroom. Katrina was silent. “It must be almost dawn. I would say there is not much sense to sleep now, we will just have to get up again.”

“I already left a note for cook not to raise us until we call for her.” Ichabod replied; he could sense the unhappiness in Katrina’s manner. He would not press her.

They entered the bedroom; Ichabod locked the door behind him. Katrina was not sure if she wished to scream or to dissolve into tears.

All during this evening she had wondered at what capabilities she possessed to take care of herself. If she had never met Ichabod, never fallen in love. Would she be able to be on her own? What if she was a widow, how would she live.

And even now she was being undressed like a child. Ichabod removed her shoes, stockings, dress, underskirt and pulled down the bed sheets for her. She remained in her chemise as she crawled in. Ichabod undressed completely and got into bed with her. He turned off the lamp by their bed. He lay on his back and stared up at the ceiling. Waiting.

In a few minutes, it began. Katrina started to shake and then Ichabod could hear her tears began. She turned away from him and buried her face in the pillow. Ichabod reach over to her, and firmly turned her around until she was facing him.

“Here, love. If you are sad or angry this is where you belong. With me. If the sadness or anger comes about from something I have done, I want you to tell me. If it is for fear of loss, fear of being able to survive alone, fear of being helpless, than I want you to tell me that also.” Katrina stopped crying, but remained silent.

“No one will ever stop all of the havoc that man seems to delight in heaping on his fellow man. But I can insure that consequences follow from those acts which society has deemed as destructive. But not a day goes by in my life when I don’t reflect on the capriciousness of it all. And the fear that I have constantly. What if I had not gone to Sleepy Hollow? What would have become of me, Katrina, if you had not come into my life? Do you not know how badly I need you, Katrina?” Ichabod voice was thick with emotion. “Not just as a spouse. As my friend, confidant, lover. My reason to live. I can only hope that you know that.”

Katrina relaxed in his arms. He rocked her quietly for a long time. At one point Katrina thought Ichabod might have wept as well. After a while had passed, she sat up slightly and removed the combs from her hair. She could feel his fingers reaching through her curls even before she could lower herself back into his arms. 


Several Months Later

A mist was clearing before Ichabod’s eyes. For a second he recognized the feeling of panic. Then he was able to clearly focus on the faces of Mailer and Jonathan looking down at him. He must have fainted. Damn. Not today.

Mailer and Jonathan helped him to his feet. Ichabod announced in a shaky but determined voice. “Faint or not, I will be with Katrina during the birth. I insist.”

He began to walk toward the room. A tiny cry made him halt in his footsteps. Jonathan was beside him. “I am afraid, father, that you were unconscious for most of it. But Katrina was most brave and did not cry out a lot.”

Mailer patted Crane on the back. “Well, man, go in and see your child. We do not even know if you had a boy or a girl.”

Ichabod reached down and grasped Jonathan’s hand in his own. “Are you ready, Jonathan?”

The boy smiled shyly and said, “I think it best you go in first. Be alone with mother and the new baby. I will join you in a few minutes.”

“Sorry, my son. I have no intentions of meeting our newest member of the household without you. Ready?”

Together they entered the bedroom. Katrina sat up in bed, holding a tiny bundle. Her face was radiant. “Oh come and see. Ichabod, you have a daughter and Jonathan, a little sister! And she is the most beautiful baby ever.” The man and boy approached the bed.

The mid-wife and Cook continued bundling sheets and gathering basins to remove. When their arms were full they walked out of the room quietly and shut the door behind them.

The End. 

Title: The Lexington House Murder © c.white ~ February 2005
This story is presented here for amusement purposes only.
No infringement of copyrighted material is intended.

This author acknowledges that that characters of Ichabod Crane, Katrina Van Tassel Crane and Jonathan Masbeth are based on the characters portrayed in the movie “Sleepy Hollow” written for the screen by Kevin Yahger (1999) and directed by Tim Burton.

This story contains (Stong language and Adult Content)



The End