This has been a particularly difficult story to put on paper. The incident happened in one of the Shires I am focussing my energies on; what has proved this to be such a delicately handled yarn is the nature of the crime, the specific and well-known locality it occurred at, and lastly, there are descendents, and quite a few of them incidentally, still very much in the area this tragedy centres around. As such, all names used within are purely fictitious. I will be offering no further information beyond what I have penned. As a reference point, when this happened, it was kept from public record by order of the Magistrate presiding. Everything penned below, I obtained after being approached by a descendent of those involved, and via word of mouth.
Agnes had been strolling door to residential door, handing out cheaply produced leaflets to everyone she encountered willing enough, politely enough, to lighten her load. Few were interested in the spiel that went with it, but at least they had something to enlighten them as to the injustice of society and a government precluding women from the vote.
At twenty-two years of age Agnes was bestowed with long fiery red locks, which were currently tied into a bun firm enough to crack rocks on, tied up on the back of her head. Bearing more freckles than is considered appealing; Agnes Ross, had been in Australia a little over five weeks, stood five feet seven inches in stockinged feet. Dressed in a navy blue ankle length skirt, white blouse buttoned to the neck with tie, calf high button down boots, green eyes, and a willowy body; Agnes looked every part the Victorian era lass that she was. The only hiccup she had encountered thus far on her rounds, was her heavy Glasgow accent, causing trouble among those less receptive to her lilt.
Agnes, back ramrod straight and head held high, opened the front gate to an elegant house.
Closing the gate behind her, she took in the beautifully manicured lawn either side of the path she walked. Roses of varying shades of red stood in beds before a wooden decked veranda. Taking the three steps in two paces, she delighted in the heady aroma the roses cast over her. Opening the fly screened door, Agnes politely tapped the front door to the quaint house with a brass door knocker, cast in the shape and size of a carrot. Within a minute she heard a door slam somewhere toward the back of the house, and the sound of the apparent residents footfall increasing with each step they took.
Swinging inward, the face looking back at Agnes was one of a plump, smiling, forty-something year old lady; hair pinned back, and apron covering her.
“Good morning Ma’am, my name is Agnes Ross and I am here………………….”
”Indeed dear. Sorry, Miss Ross was it? I’m Mrs. Hudson, do come in.” she said in a thick east end London accent.
Agnes followed Mrs. Hudson down the short polished floor board passage. Taking in those things that people adorn walls with as she did so, yet nothing was so eye-catching that she slowed her progress for further examination.
Mrs. Hudson continued into a comfortable sitting room, and offered Agnes a chair, which Agnes gratefully took. Poised, prim, and ramrod straight as she did so.
Accepting Mrs. Hudson’s offer of tea, Agnes sat quietly, waiting for Mrs. Hudson’s completion of tea related preparations, and her return with the tray.
The absence of noise within the sitting room gave cause for her to pick up every small sound coming from beyond the well-appointed room; she could hear Mrs. Hudson humming as she walked around her kitchen collecting the tea item’s. Birds and crickets made bird and cricket noises outside. Cocking her head to the left, Agnes felt more than thought there was a vague sound, as though someone was screaming from quite some distance away. The sound dull in her ears.
Tea was served, and Agnes silently gave thanks to God that the milk was still fresh, the weather being as warm as it had been recently. Removing herself from such trivialities, Agnes got down to business. Mrs. Hudson was enthusiastic about all Agnes had said, to the point that she asked if she could relieve her of the plethora of pamphlets Agnes had set to one side of the table.
“I will pass these gems to my ‘Thursday Afternoon Ladies’, when we next meet. I am sure they will be as excited as I, if not more so.”
Mrs. Hudson then stood, stating the leaflets would be all but forgotten, should she not put them with her ‘Thursday Afternoon Ladies’ articles for future discussion.
Feeling rather impressed with herself, Agnes continued to sip her tea, finishing the macaroon before her as she did so.
The muted screaming continued just on the farther reaches of Agnes’s hearing. Yet she dismissed it as something beyond her control, and geographically outside of her reach should aid be required.
With spectacular suddenness, exquisite sharp pain and immense pressure threw Agnes forcefully onto the table. Tea cups, macaroons, and tea spoons leaping into the air in a rare defiance of gravity. A sharpened length of wooden curtain rod extended vertically by two and a half feet from Agnes’s back; impaling her through the left shoulder-blade, lodging deep within her chest.
“Hells! I am terribly sorry Miss Ross, but it would appear I am off the mark so to speak.” laughed Mrs. Hudson. “I will have to try to be somewhat more accurate this time. This won’t hurt me a bit.”
With a booted foot firmly placed against Agnes’s chair back, the curtain rail was powerfully torn from her back and body. Still laughing, Mrs. Hudson dragged Agnes from her chair, dashing her onto the polished floor, leaving her face up. Pain and fear stealing all sound from Agnes’s lips; her eye’s slowly losing focus.
Once more Mrs. Hudson’s boot pinned Agnes, allowing for a single vicious thrust, destroying Agnes’s heart in the process. Blood leaped from Agnes’s broken body as the stake completed its heinous task. Death hovered close by, relieving Agnes’ mortal remains of her soul, freeing her into the unknown that is the afterlife.
A sense of utter joy and contentment washed over Mrs. Hudson. Her smile only leaving her face to be replaced by lips pursed, allowing her to whistle a jolly tune.
Agnes was carefully disposed of as per Mrs. Hudson’s unique routine; cleaning finished and mops bleached, buckets washed, apron laundered, knives put over the whetstone, and life was good. Mrs. Hudson dined out that evening on roast beef and sherry.
It took 43 years for the dismembered corpse of Agnes to be found, along with the corpses of nine other assumed young women, all neatly and individually bound up in calico, hidden behind a false wall in Mrs. Hudson’s cellar, accidentally uncovered when, after a huge patch of rain, it flooded. Mrs. Hudson’s granddaughter brought in a builder and a plumber to examine the foundations and plumbing of the house, it was then that the remains were uncovered. Mrs. Hudson herself had passed away 18 months earlier, old age the cause of death.
As is to be imagined, the entire house was minutely examined after the grisly find, and on completion a red leather ledger was held by Police. Within it, and the reason for the Police holding it as evidence, was due to the nine different locks of hair, varying in colour yet all exactly eight inches in length, neatly tied, with a date marked beside them. Accompanying the locks were other small trinkets, Agnes’ locks were affixed to the page beside the leaflet Agnes had been carrying at the time.
The second, and last damning item, was the sharpened curtain rod. When examined, it was still extremely sharp, exactly three feet long, and had been repeatedly scrubbed.
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