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Mystery

March 14. (1892) I passed my exams today. I’m certain Mr. Wilson in London will give me a position in his apothecary. He and Father are acquaintances. His son, Jonah, promises to teach me all he can before enlisting in the King’s army. He’s insatiably excited about his future.

I hoped the nearing seasons’ change would shake Father from grief. Mother left nearly two years. The doctors say nothing of the strange illness which took her. She fares better in her new home than Father is in his earthly purgatory. Her love of gardening survives within me. Father takes no notice of any similarities between us.

The growing warmth in the outdoors continues. The only thing profiting from this heat is my courtyard garden.

April 20. They’re still outside. My sister and her new beau. Jonah and Elizabeth roam around my garden, destroying my aconite and roses in their walk. No one accompanies them. It isn’t proper.

My sister has taken a liking to Jonah, and he has decided to withdraw his military aspirations.

I see them laughing. Elizabeth always finds humor at my expense. I bravely admit in private writings I don’t find it as humorous as others believe.

Elizabeth stepped on my newly blossomed purple flowers as she brought Jonah in for tea.

April 30. Jonah invited Elizabeth to mass tomorrow. She was undeniably excited when she shared this information at the table. I offered a wobbly smile. I left for the apothecary a few minutes later. I try to be happy for them. I try so hard.

May 1. I met Father Mitchell after mass. We bumped into one another in front of my favorite restaurant. He apologized. (I’ve always thought Father Mitchell handsome.) Asking of Father’s well-being, I answered with expected pleasantries. I responded, inquiring about his progress in fundraising for the new orphanage. He surprised me when he replied Elizabeth helped greatly. Elizabeth charitably donated Mother’s golden locket to be sold. I had been unaware of the fact. Father Mitchell’s eyes turned softer as he spoke of Elizabeth, and I didn’t like it.

I told him of my work at Wilson’s apothecary. I saw he heard the words coming from my lips but wasn’t listening. He bid me a good day, and I proceeded into the Holburn, quickly going into the ladies’ dining area. It’s here where I write my accounts. I’ve barely been able to eat anything.

May 4. I worked later than usual today. Several different parcels with dried plants from India and Hong Kong were delivered. The task of sorting fell to me.

May 11. Today was Father’s birthday. Never had I seen our family house and grounds so filled. Elizabeth flittered from place to place, an elegant blur of curled blonde hair. I greeted only the necessary friends and relatives. The only exception was to an Inspector from Scotland Yard. He fascinated me. Detective Inspector Thomas St. John entertained my questions, finding my interest unusual. Father says it isn’t right how such things fascinate me. He blames the macabre interest on Mother’s death. I disagree. I was different long before this.

May 15. Cousin Marian came for a surprise, telling us she would stay for a month before leaving for her South American tour.

She nearly couldn’t contain her excitement at seeing me again. She tells me many stories I’m never to breathe a word. She speaks of her brothers. Enrolled in law school, you know, and doing well. She always believed in me, even when Mother did not.

May 17. Jonah spoke to me at work today, which is not unusual. The topic of his discussion left much to be desired. He plans to ask for Elizabeth’s hand. Struck speechless, he laughed, thinking I was too happy to say anything. I opposed this. Rage flooded my chest like wildfire.

 How selfish is it for me to ask for Elizabeth’s happiness? What has she done to deserve bliss? She boasts a doting Father and an adoring gentleman. Why does she have it and not me?

May 23. I love my sister dearly. The shock of the engagement troubled me briefly. I am glad to admit I feel much more excitement over the occasion now. They do make a handsome couple. I wonder how I didn’t see it previously. Stress, I suppose.

We all danced and were gaily happy when Elizabeth told us directly. Even gloomy Father cracked a broad smile when he witnessed our joy. Marian and I began to assist with the arrangements. It’s a pleasure helping her. Jonah visits us regularly with his parents. They won’t be wealthy, but they’ll love one another. Elizabeth says they are to marry in November. The days cannot go by quickly enough.

July 31. Elizabeth was radiant at mass. Her blue eyes sparkled as she walked with her fiancé to their seat at the front; her skin was sun-kissed, and her cream lace dress was the envy of everyone. My sister’s beauty was undeniable. The two of us were recently compared by a relative. Elizabeth was the sun-- bright, shining, drawing others to an undeniable light. I was the night sky and stars- outwardly cold with otherworldly beauty and mystique. I agreed. Elizabeth and I were different. Selina and Elizabeth Blackwell, what a pair we make!

What a pair, indeed.

August 20. Auntie accompanied me to Paris. We had a splendid time. We ate at cafés, talked with artists, and popped into a popular millenary. Returning with a divine dress and hat, I shall be the talk of London.

Stricken with an unusual headache, Elizabeth was unable to join us.  

September 28. We laid Elizabeth to rest today, besides Mother in our family’s crypt.

It happened so quickly. The headaches, fever, nausea, and her spells of faint heart. Our physician believes it’s the same illness that took Mother; we can never be certain.

Elizabeth passed a week before she was to marry, and Jonah thinks of enlisting again. I don’t know what I’ll do without his company. It’s all for the best. I cannot imagine his pain. He says Elizabeth was fortunate to have me while here.

Father rarely leaves his office. I come to him every meal, bringing his favorite tea and foods. It’s always untouched.

The people showing their sympathies are most gracious toward our family.

We’re being well cared for by our staff and relatives. They never mind I’m the only one who meets them.

I spend most days at the apothecary. The routine soothes my mind. They must never know what causes my turmoil, but guilt has always been foreign to me.

October 30. Tonight is the day before All Hallows’ Eve. Everyone I’ve known has inherently despised the holiday. Not me. The frightening chill in the air morbidly delights me. The anniversary of Mother’s death makes it all-the-more reminiscent.

Mr. Wilson tells me I’m excelling faster than any of his other apprentices. He says when he retires he wants me to continue there. Jonah says I work harder than anyone he knows to become what I am. He’s right in more ways than he realizes.

October 31. My dear friend Lavenia invited me to tea. She told me all I had missed at the gala the weekend before. She and her driver were kind enough to take me home afterward.

I had been home for an hour when our butler announced Inspector St. John and a younger constable. Not leaving the library, I only heard pieces of their conversation. It wasn’t long after the men took their conversation outside to the garden. My garden.

I admit my insatiable curiosity won over. I went to the window overlooking the garden.

The Inspector knelt, plucking what aconite remains from the ground. He waves it in front of Father. Father holds his head in his hands. I wonder what the Inspector said. (I’ve an inkling, but no one knows. I was so careful.)

Father argues with St. John. The constable attempts to calm them. It does no good. Nothing deters Father when he falls into these spells; the good inspector is no different. Father walks away, disappearing into his tree grove.

The two officials linger in my garden. St. John appears vexed. He berates the constable before ordering him to leave. The constable quickly made his escape.

The inspector turned, looking up, removing his hat. I knew he caught me spying. His gaze caught mine as I coldly observed from my tower.

I saw in his eyes he knew. Somehow, he knew what happened. What occurred in this wretched house all those nights ago!

It’s ironic how he stands so proudly in my garden. If only he knew the garden was my ally, never his! St. John stood a moment longer before storming off, breaking away from my gaze.

Elizabeth looked over me as a stupid girl just as Mother had; it’s all just as well. I’m the only one who knows how this story ends.

 

End...


October 23, 2019 02:45

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7 comments

Emily Bloggs
20:54 Dec 01, 2019

Did the girl kill her mother and sister?? The ending left me very confused. I enjoyed the story though.

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Maria Madeira
18:44 Oct 31, 2019

Loved the historical setting! Good story well told.

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Stacey Horton
01:09 Nov 01, 2019

Thank you so much!

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Albert Zygier
22:42 Oct 30, 2019

Interesting story but being interested in military history I found an error. In 1892 it was Queen Victoria on the thone so that it would have been the "Queens Army" he would have joined. There a poem by Kipling named 'The Young British Soldier' and refers to being a soldier of the Queen. No one most like would know, I'm just picky about those things...

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Stacey Horton
01:09 Nov 01, 2019

Hi, Albert! Thanks so much for reading my story in your spare time. I really appreciated your comment. I am actually a history buff as well. I was actually referring to the King's Own Royal Regiment that operated between the years 1680-1959. But I see what you mean about it not being clear enough to those who aren't as interested in history. I will have to fix that in the next draft. :-) Thanks again! -Stacey

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Unknown User
02:14 Oct 29, 2019

You’ve created quite a realistic Victorian world. I could almost smell the tea and the roses. 👍

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Stacey Horton
01:03 Oct 30, 2019

Thank you so much! I love the premise of world-building. -SH

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