The continuing saga of two women, their men, and a whole lot of hats.

Posts tagged “Morbid

The Suit Hat

One day, she looked around and realized that Prudence’ once bountiful wardrobe was now a thinning supply room. Like a magpie in the graveyard, Temperance had plucked and picked every bauble and frill, taken panels of fabric from without and within to adorn her one of a kind creations. Looking upon the threadbare threads only served to mirror the reality of her sister’s lingering absence. And the sadness was almost too much for Temperance to bear. The only styptic for such a wound was creativity. But what does one create with dwindling supplies?

They say necessity is the mother of invention. And Temperance now knew this to be true. For as she was looking around a shop still rife with men’s finery, she realized that she had only scratched the surface of her resources. Prudence was not the only one who had flounced across oceans. Henry was even more to blame for her sister’s extended absence. And so Henry would be the one to offer Temperance his support.

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Pardon Me

The highly macabre event was not spoken of by civilized folk; and yet, the little hamlet of Bridgeport was “a-buzz” with the news. A few towns over a woman of well-known stature had achieved a most unfortunate sentence of “death by electrocution” by way of a new-fangled chair designed to send lethal current throughout. Many felt this method even worse than hanging and pleaded with the governor to show mercy on her soul and to pardon her from death by The Chair. Rumor had it that the governor would be traveling through Bridgeport while reviewing the case and the idea of being linked to such sensationalism, though most adamantly denied it, had everyone worked into an eager lather.

Mr. Harman Michaels finally whitewashed his entry gate, a task The Women’s League had been bothering him about for several months. The mercantile hung festive bunting along the entire perimeter of their wrap-around porch, an extravagance usually saved for more patriotic celebrations. And the church choir was primed with a trio of songs, each carrying God’s opinion of the excitement at hand.

Temperance, though less concerned with the political or religious implications of the situation, still found the details quite intriguing. She had known the woman at the center of the scandal, Martha, briefly in her youth. And although the two had not spoken in quite a while, a result of a small misunderstanding involving an accident with a sleigh, she felt a personal involvement with the case. In fact, Temperance could not recall the exact reason the two stopped talking. She certainly had not intended to strike the other with the sleigh, so there was no reason to hold a grudge. Still, in the years since the accident, they had only seen each other occasionally, while picking up parcels or passing through town. It was true that Martha’s brother remained exceptionally cross about the situation and, for this reason, Temperance thought it best to avoid them both. 

So the news of Martha’s plight came as quite a surprise. Temperance knew it must have been an accident.  Martha didn’t seem capable of murder. She was a terribly gangly woman, and quite clumsy as evidenced by the mishap with the sleigh all those years ago.

While the idea of entertaining a politician in no way thrilled her (politics is how thieves fail upward, you know), she felt it her duty to speak on behalf of poor Martha. Of course, Temperance’s plan hinged entirely on the governor’s acceptance of her invitation. That is why she made sure to drop the name of Henry Allworthey into her message. Surely all thieves colluded or, at the very least, were bound by a code. It seemed her best chance at luring the man to her. Much to her delight but not to her surprised, her invitation was accepted. The governor and company would indeed stop by for tea.

Upon her guests arrival, Temperance was pleased to find an intriguing addition. Mr. Brown, a scientist credited with the construction of the much talked about “Electric Chair,” was traveling with the governor to lend the benefit of his expertise regarding matters of fitting the chair to a woman’s frame… and he was quite the entertainer! He held Temperance captive as he spoke at great length on new methods of alternating current. While most found electricity a modern vulgarity, she believed it necessary for the advancement of society. It was, after-all, science! And it would benefit households everywhere.

The gentlemen stayed in her company for several hours. Between Mr. Brown’s captivating recitation on the marvels of modernity, and Temperance’s willingness to soak up his sermon, she had barely noticed that, for an extended period of time, the governor was absent. He left for a tour of Prudence’s grand old mansion returning only to inform his company that they really must attend to more pressing matters.

Temperance was, surprisingly, an excellent hostess. She thanked them both for attending tea and welcomed them back at any time. Still giddy with a day full of stimulating conversation, she waved goodbye to the governor’s coach. But, as she headed into the house, she could not escape the sinking feeling that she had forgotten something…. something terribly important.

A few days later the town erupted with shock when it was announced that the woman had indeed been executed.

It was then that Temperance had remembered what she had forgotten.  “Poor Martha.”

Little Sparky


Mournful Inspiration

All Hallows was upon the town of Bridgeport and it was accompanied by grim news of a spike in untimely deaths.

Among them was dear Mr. Ravenhurst, proprietor of the town’s only funeral coach.  With the recent rash of demise he had become quite the busy fellow. His wife, Olivia, had even taken up the position of professional mourner. For a small fee she would make sure that one’s deceased would be properly announced to the heavens. Her wailing could be heard clear into the next valley.

She was in rare form for her beloved, Thaddeus’, procession. The fact that she was forced to take over as driver of the hearse did nothing to distract from her mournful wails which were at their zenith that day. 

The carriage crept its way to the cemetery followed by a long procession, friends and family ready to see poor Thaddeus off. With every inch of progress Olivia’s lament for her husband grew louder, her vision blurring amidst a fountain of tears. The coach meandered this way and that, the horses grounding themselves more than once on the odd front porch. Were it not for several  helpful on-lookers, Thaddeus may very well have tumbled to his final resting place. Traffic on Main was stopped for the better part of three hours.

The day’s shadows grew long and the route to the cemetery grew longer. The once great cavalcade began to crumble. By the time they arrived, the sun dipping low in the sky, the only ones left were Mrs. Ravenhurst, Mr. Ravenhurst, and Temperance, giving it both the distinction of longest and shortest single procession the town had ever seen. As the cemetery hands lowered Mr. Ravenhurst into the ground, and the priest said his prayers, Mrs. Ravenhurst wailed to beat the banshees, using the trailing ends of the tattered ribbon from her hat to blot the streaming tears. Temperance marveled at how very comforting a hat can be in one’s times of woe and her head grew swollen with inspiration as she cemented the little scene in her mind.

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