The Case of Ichabod Crane and Dr. Frankenstein
as told to Kadorienne
Ichabod Crane, known throughout the world as the father of modern crime detection, began as a constable in New York City. In 1799 he was given an opportunity by the New York authorities to test his theories by investigating a series of murders in a small village upstate called Sleepy Hollow. Many biographers have speculated that the High Constable and the Burgomaster were simply tired of hearing Crane exhorting them to use his innovative techniques and wished to get him out of the way for a time. It has even been suggested that they were hoping that he would fail to detect the murderer so that he would have to abandon his theories. However, he solved the crimes and met his future wife, Katrina Van Tassel, in Sleepy Hollow. The spate of murders left Miss Van Tassel quite well off, and marrying her enabled Crane to resign from the New York constabulary. He spent the rest of his career doing independent research on his techniques and investigating privately. He wrote several books about his theories which were to be manuals for police forces for several decades. Many great cities all over Europe and America invited him to train their constabularies. He also trained many detectives who were afterwards to become quite famous for their abilities, including his eldest son Baltus Crane, Allan Pinkerton, C. Auguste Dupin, Professor Abraham Von Helsing, and, in his old age, the remarkable brothers Mycroft and Sherlock Holmes. His first apprentice was Josiah Masbath, who was once a servant in Crane's employ.
Ichabod Crane deserves a respected place in the roster of criminal scientists, for he was a pioneer in the field. Unfortunately, bizarre legends have tended to spring up about many of his cases, eclipsing his actual achievements. His first great triumph, that of the decapitations of Sleepy Hollow, is overshadowed by the admittedly captivating legend that the murders were committed by a ghost known as the Headless Horseman. The actual murderer was Mary Van Tassel, who killed five people who stood between her and an enormous inheritance. Another Crane case which has become the stuff of legends is that of Dr. Frankenstein. The fantasies surrounding this encounter are pure Hollywood.
--"History of Criminal Detection", John Doherty, at 1993.
My association with Ichabod Crane began in my boyhood, when he was the only one who was trying to find the murderer of my father, Jonathan Masbath, and three other victims. The other inhabitants of Sleepy Hollow chose to either hide or flee from the murderer, but Constable Crane readily sought out the danger no other was willing to face. Even the hostility the entire town came to feel toward him, led by the local parson, and a near-mortal wound from the undead murderer did not deter him from his aim. His acute mental powers and willingness to risk himself in time brought the murderer to light. But that tale has been told elsewhere. My purpose here is to relate a later investigation of Ichabod Crane's, that of Dr. Frankenstein and his monster.
After the murderess was discovered and sent to her just reward, my master returned to New York, and I with him. He gave rest to my father's soul, and for that I was willing to follow him to the ends of the earth -- and I did. He married the kind and beauteous Katrina Van Tassel. Besides her abundant personal charms, Miss Katrina brought him the considerable fortune which she had inherited as a result of the murders in Sleepy Hollow. This freed Ichabod from the necessity of scraping out a living as a constable eternally hampered by the outdated methods favored by his superiors.
My master resigned from the constabulary, and from that day forth devoted himself to his own investigations and experimentations. It was once, long ago, my duty to clean up the explosions and lesser messes caused by his chemicals in the laboratory we created for him, a room into which no one, not even Miss Katrina, was permitted without his supervision. He spent a great deal of time writing up his findings and theories, and training those police forces which were sufficiently forward-thinking to embrace his methods. In addition, he was often called upon to privately investigate crimes which had baffled all others. Due to the nature of his adventure in Sleepy Hollow, he was also called upon to investigate supposed "hauntings", most of which transpired to be no more supernatural than fighting cats or trickling streams.
I began in Crane's service as a humble servant, fetching and carrying and standing ready with a rifle to defend my master. For three years I continued in my capacity as simple bodyservant. Aside from carrying his satchel of odd devices and cleaning his laboratory, my chief contribution to his work was to sit and slowly drift off to sleep as he paced and talked aloud and wrote down obscure notations on various papers. But in time, I began to follow his arguments more closely, and to feel an admiration for his keen mind and ingenious techniques. I wished to learn to do what he could do, to take assortments of apparently unrelated facts and unravel them into truth. I listened more carefully to his musings and found that I could follow his reasoning. In time I could even occasionally point out factors he had not thought of, as well as prompt him to continue his chains of reasoning rather than settle to the first solution which presented itself. That error led him once to suspect his own future father-in-law guilty of murder, when in fact the genial old man was to be the next victim.
In those early years my master made rather frequent mistakes, which caused several persons to dismiss his work and his methods, quite wrongly. Ichabod's errors were not caused by any deficiency in his methods or his mind, but by the simple fact that he was almost single-handedly creating a new method of dealing with crime and had to painstakingly discover his own errors.
As I began to display keener powers of observation and reasoning, acquired from association with Ichabod Crane, he raised me from servant to apprentice. After that I did little fetching and carrying; my time was spent doing chemical experiments and interrogations alongside my master, learning his methods. Ichabod was beginning to conceive a dream of training many successors to carry on his work. I was the first of very many indeed.
About two years after I became Crane's apprentice, he received an invitation to train the constabulary of Geneva, a city which was most friendly to science. There as well Crane and his lady and I availed ourselves of all the finer things the city had to offer, as we did in every place we roamed, great or humble. My mistress had a deep love of the arts and of society. While my master loved the arts as well, he should seldom have bothered but for her. He preferred to spend his time investigating crimes and experimenting with new methods. But the Lady Crane loved the opera and museums, and he never neglected to take her.
She loved to go dancing, as well. My master never felt at his ease in society, being of too sober a mien to amuse and converse easily with strangers. My mistress, however, was always radiantly confident that she would be loved by all ó and so she was. She would chatter and jest and charm every man and woman with ease, while her husband stood behind her, stiff and nervous but observing his lady with pride, content with being her acolyte. For he adored Miss Katrina with all his melancholy heart.
Our stay in Geneva was nearing its intended end. We were preparing to press on to Paris to train gendarmes and explore the Louvre when we received an letter from a prominent citizen, Herr Alphonse Frankenstein, a request that we visit him to discuss a murder he wished Ichabod to investigate. Ichabod accepted the summons and took me along to the meeting.
Alphonse Frankenstein was a kind and upright gentleman who reminded me of the good Baltus Van Tassel. His face looked as if it was normally a benevolent one, but when we saw the man his face was drawn. I guessed that he had slept little for several days, and his hands shook ever so slightly. His son, Dr. Victor Frankenstein, was also present and looked even more haggard. He spent the entire interview gazing moodily into the fire.
Alphonse soon explained the reason for his gloom: his small son William had been murdered less than a week earlier. As if this were not tragedy enough for the family, their ward Justine Moritz had been arrested for his murder.
"Justine has been with us for five years, Herr Crane. We took her in when she was orphaned and had no other family willing to take her in," Alphonse related sadly. My eyes met my master's; in the same manner he had taken me in when I had been orphaned by the Hessian ghost. "That she might have committed such a crime...."
"Do you believe her to be guilty?"
Alphonse drew a ragged breath. "At first I thought it was absurd. Indeed, who would credit that Justine Moritz, who was so amiable, and fond of all the family, could suddenly become so capable of so frightful, so appalling a crime? But the evidence is piling up against her, and she has acted so strangely, and I find myself beginning to doubt my own senses...."
I opened my ledger to take notes. This was our usual practice; it allowed Ichabod to scrutinize the faces of those he questioned.
"You must tell me everything. The slightest detail may be important," Ichabod declared. The firmness of his voice calmed Alphonse a bit.
"Last Thursday (May 7th), I, my niece Elizabeth, and my two sons, William and Ernest, went to walk in Plainpalais. The evening was warm and serene, and we prolonged our walk farther than usual. It was already dusk before we thought of returning; and then we discovered that William and Ernest, who had gone on before, were not to be found. We accordingly rested on a seat until they should return. Presently Ernest came, and enquired if we had seen his brother; he said, that he had been playing with him, that William had run away to hide himself, and that he vainly sought for him, and afterwards waited for a long time, but that he did not return.
"This account rather alarmed us, and we continued to search for him until night fell, when Elizabeth conjectured that he might have returned to the house. He was not there. We returned again, with torches; for I could not rest, when I thought that my sweet boy had lost himself, and was exposed to all the damps and dews of night; Elizabeth also suffered extreme anguish. About five in the morning I discovered my lovely boy, whom the night before I had seen blooming and active in health, stretched on the grass livid and motionless; the print of the murder's finger was on his neck."
Alphonse here stopped for a moment, fighting to keep his composure. Ichabod waited patiently in compassionate silence. At length Alphonse was able to continue.
"He was conveyed home, and the anguish that was visible in my countenance betrayed the secret to Elizabeth. She was very earnest to see the corpse. At first I attempted to prevent her; but she persisted, and entering the room where it lay, hastily examined the neck of the victim, and clasping her hands exclaimed, 'O God! I have murdered my darling child!'
"She fainted, and was restored with extreme difficulty. When she again lived, it was only to weep and sigh. She told me, that that same evening William had teased her to let him wear a very valuable miniature that she possessed of my late wife. This picture is gone, and was doubtless the temptation which urged the murdered to the deed.
"We began a massive search for the vile assassin who committed this heinous crime. That search led back to our own doorstep."
Ichabod leaned forward, his features taut. "Miss Moritz was accused? What made someone suspect her?"
"On the morning on which the murder of poor William had been discovered, Justine had been taken ill, and confined to her bed for several days. During this interval, one of the servants, happening to examine the apparel she had worn on the night of the murder, had discovered in her pocket the picture of my mother, which had been judged to be the temptation of the murderer. The servant instantly showed it to one of the others, who, without saying a word to any of the family, went to a magistrate; and, upon their deposition, Justine was apprehended. On being charged with the fact, the poor girl confirmed the suspicion in a great measure by her extreme confusion of manner."
"I see. Did any of the servants have a grudge against Miss Moritz?" Ichabod inquired. Alphonse insisted that such was not the case, but I knew my master well enough to know that he was not satisfied. Still, after following that path for a bit, Ichabod turned to other things. "What did the girl herself say?"
"She has maintained her innocence staunchly and says she has no idea how the miniature came to be in her pocket," Alphonse said sadly. Suddenly he turned a piercing gaze onto Ichabod. "Herr Crane, I beg you -- find proof that my ward did not murder my smallest son! For indeed, I had rather have been for ever ignorant than have discovered so much depravity and ingratitude in one I valued so highly."
"I shall try to," Ichabod promised. "Did you say that the murderer's fingers bruised the boy's throat?" Alphonse nodded, his face turning grim at the memory. "And could you describe the accused for me?"
Alphonse looked a bit surprised. "Why... she has curly golden hair, wide blue eyes, and a clear complexion; she is reckoned fair."
"Is she slight or plump, frail or robust?"
"I should say she is on the slight side. A slip of a girl."
The tiniest smile pulled a corner of Ichabod's mouth. "Yet she is reckoned strong enough to strangle someone with her bare hands, and leave the mark of her fingers on his flesh?"
Alphonse stared at my master for a long time, a glint of hope leaping into his eyes. But I noticed that his son Victor did not look encouraged.
Ichabod noticed as well. "Dr. Frankenstein, what additional facts can you supply that might shed some light on this case?"
The doctor only glanced at Ichabod before resuming morosely gazing into the fire. "None, alas. I was away at the University in Ingolstadt when all of this occurred."
"You are still studying, then?"
"Not exactly. I have been ill for some time and have only lately begun to recover."
"I am sorry to hear it. May I ask the nature of your illness?"
Victor's eyes flickered to Ichabod again. Something in the hardness there aroused both our suspicions. "Exhaustion, chiefly. I was working too hard on my experimentations, and the long hours of work coupled with the disapproval of my professors...."
Ichabod Crane's face lit with fellow feeling. "Your superiors disapproved of your methods, your inquiries?"
"Perhaps they were right. Man was not meant to be a god," Victor said tonelessly.
"Good sir, do not give up your quest!" Ichabod said with energy. "My superiors stood in the way of my scientific methods of crime detection at every turn. On a few occasions, the burgomaster even threatened me with a jail sentence for disagreeing with him. At last they sent me to a remote rural town to investigate a series of murders which happened there, simply to get rid of me for a time. I know they hoped I would fail miserably and stop arguing with them, or perhaps even get beheaded myself. But instead, I proved the effectiveness of my techniques and gained the wherewithal to share them with the world for the benefit of humanity."
At these last words, Victor's lips curled cynically. "The benefit of humanity! Yes, I hoped to benefit humanity once, fool that I was."
Ichabod was so taken aback by this that he simply stared. Suddenly his manner became more casual. "Well, sometimes the ambitions of youth lead us astray. I shall see you later, I hope."
He took his leave of Alphonse, promising to do his best. Alphonse thanked him sadly and saw us to the entrance. As the servants were helping us on with our coats, another servant entered and bowed to Alphonse. "Miss Elizabeth is asking for you, sir."
"Ah." He looked at us. "The poor girl has been in such grief. I must go to see if I may comfort her. If you will excuse me...?"
"By all means, sir, attend to your family." Ichabod seemed to be taking a long time in fussing over his coat. Suddenly, as Alphonse left the room, he turned to me. "Drat it, Masbath, I've left my ledger in the library."
"I have it in my satchel," I blurted before I thought. My master treated me to an exasperated look, and I realized my mistake too late. "I think I do, at least," I added helplessly, opening it.
Ichabod snatched it from me and glanced inside. "Nonsense, Masbath, that's your ledger. Come, let's get mine." He pulled his coat back off and tossed it at the servant. I trailed after him back to the library.
Victor Frankenstein was still staring into the fire, evidently mulling over some unpleasant thoughts.
"Dr. Frankenstein," Ichabod greeted him, standing before him formally. "I had hoped I could speak with you without your father present."
Victor turned bleary, uninterested eyes on him. "Why?"
Ichabod, realizing he was not going to be invited to sit down, took a seat across from the young doctor. "I meant to ask for your help. First, tell me. In America and England, autopsies are... frowned upon." I wanted to snort at that; more than once my master -- and I with him -- had nearly been arrested or lynched for performing autopsies, and only the eloquence of his arguments and the forcefulness with which he advanced them saved us. "Is that the case here in Geneva? Were you able to dissect cadavers in the course of your studies?"
To our astonishment, Victor burst out laughing. His laughing was mirthless, hysterical. It continued, very loudly, for several minutes. At length Ichabod rang for a servant, who seemed singularly unsurprised to find the young man of the house in such a state. We deemed it best to at last take our leave.
Ichabod was thoughtful on the way home. Only once did he speak. "I had hoped to enlist his help in exhuming the body of the poor boy and performing an autopsy. I thought it might be beneficial to have a man of science on my side."
"We'll manage, sir."
"Yes. We always do. We've got to exhume the boy, and soon; I want to see that bruise."
When we arrived at our lodgings, Ichabod told Miss Katrina about the case. "Would you mind staying on here a bit longer, Katrina, whilst I investigate? I know you were looking forward to Paris...."
"Paris will still be there a few months from now." Miss Katrina suddenly dimpled. "Besides, I would like to have some new dresses made very soon. I think it might be best that we stay here a bit." She caressed his cheek before going into the kitchen to make her evening tea -- though we always had servants, Miss Katrina preferred to do much of the cooking herself.
As she put the ingredients together, she hummed to herself contentedly. I was a bit surprised, for only last week she had been speaking of Paris in glowing terms of anticipation. I was struck anew at the devotion my employers had to each other; Katrina was able to cheerfully put off her dearest wishes for the sake of her husband's crusade. My master was most fortunate in his admirable wife.
She poured her herbal infusion into a pot, still humming. When it began to boil, she stopped humming to recite her chant. "Nostradamus Mediamus, Milk of Mercy In Media Nos Laudamas...."
Ichabod sighed very slightly as he looked over the spines of his books, looking for something that might help him with the new case. I smiled to myself. I had witnessed many arguments about Miss Katrina's incantations over the years. Ichabod would insist that the virtue was all in the herbs, and she would taunt him with a phrase she uttered archly whenever he became, in her estimate, too pompous: "Are you so certain of everything?" And this would remind him of a time when he had not believed in ghosts or witches and had been proven appallingly wrong, and he would throw his hands up in exasperated defeat. Often he urged her to try the herbs without the chant to see if they worked, explaining that this was the scientific method. This she always steadfastly refused, saying that she would not risk his health or hers, for if the chant did matter, then the potion would not work and they would sicken.
He had selected two books from the shelf, collections of case studies, when her chant began again. This was too much for him. "Really, Katrina, if the herbs listen to your chant, they will listen the first time you say it. There is no need to repeat it."
Miss Katrina continued her incantation without a pause, even as he spoke. She recited it twice more before answering him as she removed the pot from the hearth. "Of course there is. The chant must be said exactly four times."
"Why four? Why not three or five? I suppose it has something to do with the four elements."
As usual, Miss Katrina was unruffled at her husband's sarcasm. "Not at all. Every potion is different. For some, the incantations must be said only once, for others a dozen times. But it is crucial to say it the right number of times."
She was continuing with her business when Ichabod's eyes suddenly sharpened. "Of course! It is crucial!" Startled, she looked up at him, as did I. He smiled proudly, clasping his hands behind his back as he delivered his lecture. "The chants are a primitive timing device to keep the mixture cooking long enough, very useful for those who do not have clocks or even hourglasses. By keeping the medicine boiling for the time required to say the chant a given number of times, you ensure that it will be cooked for approximately the right amount of time."
He went to his desk and jotted his new insight down in his ledger with satisfaction. Beside the paragraph, he drew one of his whimsical drawings. This one depicted an hourglass with words from Miss Katrina's chant flowing from the top to the bottom half.
Miss Katrina looked thoughtful. "Perhaps," she said. "But even if true -- Ichabod, why are your sense and reason determined to make everything so... dull?"
He put his pen down. "Do I make everything dull, Katrina?" he asked.
As she gazed back at him, a smile remniscent of the Mona Lisa she had looked forward to seeing in Paris suddenly curved her lips. Color came to my master's normally pale cheeks and he rose abruptly, turning away. Miss Katrina's smile widened. She returned to her cup of tea as the silence between them lengthened and grew taut. I excused myself and retreated to my own room with a volume I was studying. I knew that my presence had been forgotten in any case.
We spent the next day questioning those who had some connection with the case: policemen, acquaintances of the Frankenstein family, the servant who had found the miniature in the girl's pocket. All said the same thing: they had always found Miss Moritz to be a girl of merit who possessed qualities which promised to render her life happy, they should never have imagined her capable of such heinousness, but the evidence was abundant. But Ichabod had scant respect for circumstantial evidence ever since the occasion when such evidence had led him to believe that Miss Katrina herself had raised the Hessian from his grave and sent him to murder half a dozen people, her own father among them.
Ichabod also made many inquiries intended to flush out other possible motives, but none emerged. The Frankensteins were not known to have any enemies who might strike at them in such a vile manner. The victim himself was too young to have any personal enemies, certainly, nor did anyone seem to have a motive for framing Miss Moritz. Ichabod asked many questions about young Dr. Frankenstein, whose odd behavior the previous night had certainly aroused his suspicions. The doctor had been a bit eccentric even as a youth, it seemed, spending most of his time reading arcane works of science, though he was still considered a most benevolent boy, kind to all and devoted to his cousin Elizabeth. The premature death of his mother had affected him deeply.
Ichabod pondered aloud about that last bit of information a great deal when we were walking home. Though he did not say it, I knew what he was thinking. Ichabod, Miss Katrina and I were all orphans. That was part of the bond the three of us shared, besides that which came from having faced the Headless Horseman together.
But at length Ichabod had to let the subject of Dr. Frankenstein drop. Ichabod had wondered if perhaps the doctor had killed his brother in an accident, thus explaining his severe depression, but he had an ironclad alibi; he had been miles away when the murder had been committed.
That evening, along with dinner Miss Katrina prepared us a tea which would help us to stay awake and alert well into the night. Ichabod smiled knowingly as she recited the appropriate chant over it. She noticed and, when the chant was finished, said tartly, "It would serve you right if I recited the chant for a sleeping potion over these stimulating herbs and had you nodding off into the cup!"
My master laughed, which instantly cleared away any annoyance she had felt. Ichabod rarely laughed, and I think that he never did before Miss Katrina came into his life. "I would be happy to try that experiment some other time, my love. But tonight, we have important work to do." She smiled and handed us our teacups.
As we rode to the cemetery where little William Frankenstein was buried, I wished that the doctor had been with us after all. The strong stomach of a medical student would have been of use. Ichabod and I both dreaded exhumations. Ichabod dreaded them for their own sake; he strove to hide the illness which swept over him at such sights and out of respect I pretended not to notice, but it continued to affect him just the same. I dreaded them because of the effect they had on him. On one occasion, he was overcome by the sight of an especially gruesome wound and fainted just as some men of the town caught us opening a grave and decided to hurry us into our own. Usually in such cases Ichabod could face them down; one thing which did not intimidate him was arguing about methods of crime investigation, even if there was a gun pointed at him as he did it. A few times we were forced to take to our heels. But I could do neither that time, with my master unconscious. I fortunately hit on the idea of crediting his sudden collapse to a passing and quite imaginary poisonous spider. I danced about screaming and stamping at nothing, babbling about a huge black spider, something I could never have done had my master been awake. It had the desired effect, however; the men had little more desire to meet a spider in the dark than Ichabod would have. They fled, and I set about reviving my master and silently thanking my Creator for leaving the terror of spiders out of His creation of me.
No such misadventures awaited us tonight. We dug in silence, our ears alert for any sounds other than those of our shovels. There is something very pitiful about the site of a child's coffin, so small; it seems lonelier than most in its grave. We lifted it out and I held up the lantern as my master opened the coffin.
The boy had scarcely begun to decompose; his death had been very recent. It was still clear that he had been a handsome boy, most likely the delight of all about. I looked at him ruefully, remembering the rather awkward child I had been, my teeth and ears reaching adulthood long before the rest of me. This boy was beautiful as an angel, and now he was one.
Ichabod held his handkerchief to his face and gingerly moved the collar of the boy's shirt back from his throat. The bruise was still there, dark purple and large. Ichabod leaned closer, examining it. I breathed more easily; when something interested my master, his revulsion and fears temporarily melted away.
"There is not a woman on this earth who could have made such a mark," he said scornfully. "This was the hand of a man -- an unusually strong man at that. Come." He replaced the coffin lid and we carried the small coffin to our carriage. After quickly re-filling the grave, we rode home with little William Frankenstein.
The trial was the very next morning. Ichabod, Miss Katrina and I attended. The mood of the spectators was ugly; all believed Justine Moritz to be guilty, and all were self-righteously angry. The three of us steeled ourselves; we had seen all of this many times before, and expected to see it again.
The appearance of Justine was calm. She was dressed in mourning, and her countenance was rendered, by the solemnity of her feelings, exquisitely beautiful. Yet she appeared confident in innocence and did not tremble, although gazed on and execrated by thousands, for all the kindness which her beauty might otherwise have excited was obliterated in the minds of the spectators by the imagination of the enormity she was supposed to have committed. She was tranquil, yet her tranquillity was evidently constrained; and as her confusion had before been adduced as a proof of her guilt, she worked up her mind to an appearance of courage. When she entered the court she threw her eyes round it and quickly discovered where her family was seated. A tear seemed to dim her eye when she saw them, but she quickly recovered herself, and a look of sorrowful affection seemed to attest her utter guiltlessness.
"She is innocent," Ichabod said promptly and quite definitely. "Even without having seen the bruise, I'd stake my life on it."
Miss Katrina put a hand on his arm. "Hush, Ichabod."
"I think my demonstration will prove her innocence," he replied.
I watched Justine. Her beauty and dignity went straight to my young heart, and I thanked God that the girl had my master to defend her. She did not deserve to die, I was certain, and I was equally certain that with Ichabod Crane on her side, she would not.
When he was called upon for his testimony, Ichabod rose and turned to the gallery. "I must enter into evidence some sights which might not be fit for the eyes of ladies. Perhaps the ladies present should retire into the antechamber."
Miss Katrina took the lead in departing, and among many speculative murmurs, all of the women left the room. Ichabod looked after them, no doubt wishing he, too, could be spared the sight he was about to share.
"The family, too, might prefer to go," he added gently. They would not, but at Victor's urging -- I fancy he had a notion of what my master was up to -- they moved to the back of the room.
Ichabod turned to face the jury. "Good sirs, I can prove that this girl did not commit this vile murder. In the interests of justice, which I know to be paramount to you all, I ask you to bear with me for what I am about to show you."
He nodded to me. I went out, and with a manservant carried in William Frankenstein's tiny coffin.
As I expected, the spectators exclaimed when they saw what we carried. We set down the coffin as carefully, as respectfully as we could, hoping to appease our stunned audience.
"Herr Crane, I never imagined you would go so far--" Alphonse Frankenstein began, leaping trembling to his feet. His son put a restraining hand on his arm.
Ichabod turned to the victim's father. "Sir, forgive me for disturbing your son's rest, but he will have little peace until we find his true murderer in any case. For his sake and for that of Miss Moritz, I must show what I have found."
Alphonse sputtered, outraged. Victor spoke up.
"I quite agree, Herr Crane. Sometimes unusual measures must be taken to serve a higher cause. Please, father, let poor William tell us whatever he can in the only way he still may. It is imperative that Justine be acquitted, for I know beyond a doubt that she is innocent, though I cannot prove it."
Alphonse reluctantly sat back down. Victor's eyes locked for a moment with those of my master, and I saw once more that fire of kindred feeling. Evidently -- and most fortunately -- the doctor's mind was not completely broken. And there was a bond of some sort between him and my master.
"Thank you, Dr. Frankenstein." Ichabod inclined his head to Victor, then turned to me and nodded once more. Again respectfully, I removed the coffin lid. Those nearby lifted handkerchiefs to their faces. "Good sirs, I will only ask you to bear this sight for long enough to observe the bruise on the boy's neck. Notice its size and darkness." Averting his eyes from the open coffin, he opened his ledger to a sketch. "I shall ask you to compare the real bruise to the one I have sketched. May we agree that I have accurately rendered its dimensions?"
The jurors reluctantly looked and agreed. With that I covered the boy once more. I removed the coffin, and a priest at once took charge of it, coldly informing me that he would have to bless its reburial. I returned to the courtroom without arguing. My master was continuing his testimony.
"Do any of you actually believe that a girl of her size could inflict such a bruise?" he demanded.
"With sufficient determination it might be possible," one of the jurors insisted.
Ichabod sighed slightly and squared his shoulders as he did when set on a course of action. "In that case, I propose an experiment. I know from years of observation of murder victims that only a man of unusual size and strength could have inflicted such a bruise, and I shall demonstrate it. I propose that we choose a man of middling strength and allow him to throttle my arm for at least two minutes, that being about the amount of time it takes to strangle a person. Tomorrow we shall compare the bruises that have formed on my arm to that on William Frankenstein's neck. If the bruises on my arm are smaller, may we not take that as proof of the girl's innocence?"
The judge pondered for a time. Ichabod waited patiently. I was amazed at my master's ingenuity; he had not told me of his plan. Alphonse was watching him with hope and respect again. Victor, on the other hand, regarded him with sadness, the sadness of an aged and bitter man at a foolish youth, though they must have been about the same age. No wonder my master was suspicious of him. He had the oddest personality I had ever encountered. This, I decided, was a man who had many secrets, and I felt certain that my master would flush them out in time.
At length the judge and jury agreed to accept this evidence. A man was chosen to carry out the experiment. My master removed his frock coat and rolled up his left sleeve quite calmly; physical pain itself was not one of his horrors. When the man began to throttle his arm, Ichabod could not help but cry out and the man stopped. "Please, sir, continue. It is essential to the cause of justice," Ichabod directed him. He gritted his teeth as the man resumed. I watched the jury's respect grow as my master endured what must have been considerable pain without another sound. When the two minutes had passed -- we timed them with a clock, not having any appropriate incantations -- the man released Ichabod, who staggered a bit. I quickly went to his side and supported him, holding a glass of water to his lips to revive him. He would hardly make a good impression if he swooned before the jury. He was able to keep his feet and turned to the judge. "Your honor, I shall return to display the result of this experiment tomorrow." He glanced around at the spectators. "I hope you will all be so good as to refrain from mentioning this event to my wife."
This brought a chuckle from all, and the room seemed to soften to him at this display of concern not to worry her -- or not to be scolded by her, perhaps! The court adjourned. We found Miss Katrina and headed home.
"Did they credit you?" she asked.
He looked at me quickly, and I understood that he was warning me to keep silence about the experiment before Miss Katrina. "I think they did. We shall know tomorrow."
"And then you shall try to find the real murderer?"
"Quite so. Though I admit I am at a loss for suspects. Who would want to murder a charming child?"
"A lunatic?" she suggested, shivering suddenly. He pulled her protectively closer.
"Perhaps.... I shall look into it. Don't worry yourself about it, my love; concentrate on your new dresses," he teased gently, knowing that his wife was no frivolous gadabout despite her love of fun and mischief.
"Yes, my new dresses...," she said in an oddly sad voice.
"Katrina, my love, is something the matter?"
A moment passed before she answered. "Only that it is such a terrible tragedy. Such a little boy. When I saw you last night coming home with that tiny coffin -- oh!"
He pressed her hand. "I shall obtain justice for the boy. That is all that can be done for him now." She nodded silently. I too wished I could offer some comfort to my tender-hearted mistress. I suddenly remembered my father's funeral. Besides myself, Miss Katrina had been the only one who had wept; the rest of the attendants were too busy pondering their chances of keeping their own heads. As the daughter of one of Sleepy Hollow's wealthiest citizens, she of course had not been well acquainted with a humble servant, but she had wept for him just the same.
"Perhaps we should leave after all," she said suddenly. "It might not be safe here, with the boy's murderer still about."
He looked at her in surprise. "Katrina, there are murderers everywhere, unfortunately. You have never worried about my investigations before."
She clasped her hands at her waist. "That's true.... Oh, Ichabod, of course you are right. Of course you must find the terrible beast who killed that poor little boy. But I am frightened just the same!"
"I shall get a few more men to watch the place if you would worry less," he offered. He and I were both at a loss. Normally Miss Katrina ventured through the world unafraid, and my master often rebuked her for wandering into areas which he deemed unsafe. We could see no reason for her sudden timorousness. "And I will find some pink chalk for you to draw pentagrams under our beds," he added lightly. It was odd to see him attempting to tease her into better spirits, a reversal of their usual relations. "It worked for me in Sleepy Hollow."
"But not for my father," she replied sadly.
"Something is wrong, Katrina!" Ichabod began, but suddenly stopped himself and changed his tone. "I shall clear this girl of suspicion, I am certain of it. I expect the true culprit will be easily found after that," he said, trying to cheer her with his confidence.
The next day the women were again cleared from the courtroom and my master rolled up his sleeve to display his bruise. It was dark and ugly -- Miss Katrina would have been furious at him for inflicting it on himself -- but it was a pale shadow of the livid marks on poor William's young neck. Justine Moritz was acquitted and Ichabod Crane officially commended for his work. After the trial was adjourned, many people crowded about my master, plying him with questions and congratulations, while he stood in the midst of the surging throng stiff and embarrassed at so much attention. Several of the policemen he had just trained praised him, and I could see that this demonstration had raised their valuation of his techniques. I smiled in satisfaction; through the partial solution of a single crime, my master had improved all future criminal investigation in Switzerland. His crusade, little by little, was succeeding.
The Frankensteins at last managed to reach him through the press of people. Alphonse looked tearfully at my master for a moment before suddenly clasping him in an unexpected embrace. Ichabod looked more embarrassed than ever, even more than he did when he met Miss Katrina for the first time by accidentally stumbling into a game of blind man's bluff, but endured the embrace with stoicism.
"I can never thank you enough. It would have broken my heart anew to believe that one I cared for could have...." Alphonse's voice faltered.
"If justice has been served, that is thanks enough for me," Ichabod replied, drawing a breath of relief as the older man released him. "And I shall endeavour to complete my task by finding the true villain."
Alphonse's niece Elizabeth was weeping openly. In an access of impassioned gratitude, she seized my master's hand and kissed it before breaking down completely into helpless sobs. Miss Katrina put an arm around her and led her aside, trying to comfort her. Ichabod watched them as they moved away, and I could tell he was thanking his stars that his own lady was made of sterner stuff.
Victor Frankenstein approached next. Ichabod stiffened, afraid of being assaulted with another embrace, but Victor contented himself with a firm handclasp. As the two studied each other, I saw that Victor's eyes seemed less tormented. Justine's acquittal had given him a measure of peace.
Ichabod spoke in a low voice. "I should like to speak with you--"
"Later," Victor cut him off, and moved quickly away. Ichabod watched him depart with narrowed eyes.
Dusk was gathering by the time we were able to take our leave. As we reached home, Ichabod suddenly stopped and looked about at the dark trees. "What is it?" I asked quietly.
"I don't know...." His dark eyes narrowed as he scanned the horizon. "Just a feeling, as if... as if we were being observed."
All of us peered into the darkness, but we could see or hear nothing. After a moment, Ichabod drew his key and unlocked the door. It took him a moment because his hand was shaking. As soon as we were inside he bolted it.
Miss Katrina looked at him with concern. "You must be tired, my love." Certainly my master's occasional spells of jitteriness were more frequent when he was fatigued. "I'll make you a sleeping draught."
Ichabod drew a deep breath now that we were safely inside. "Don't chant over it," he instructed, as he often had over the years, completely ineffectually.
Katrina moved towards the hearth. "Nonsense. You have proven with your scientific methods that the chants are essential."
He shook off his nervousness and turned to her. "And those same scientific methods have given us an alternative method of timing." Reaching into his pocket, he withdrew a small box and held it out to her with the odd shyness he always displayed when offering her gifts.
"Ichabod!" Smiling, she took the box and removed the lid, then laughed aloud with delight. Inside was a fine silver watch. Opening it, she studied it and her eyes misted. I guessed that he had had a message engraved on the inside, and though I was never to read it, one need not be a detective to deduce its gist. Seeing that both my employers were in a happier mood, I retreated to my own room and my studies.
The next day Ichabod went in search of Dr. Frankenstein. Miss Katrina and I accompanied him; my mistress hoped that she could offer some comfort to Elizabeth and Justine after their harrowing bereavement and ordeal, and Ichabod hoped that making the call appear social would make Victor more attainable. Those at the Frankenstein residence explained that Victor had gone out early and warned them that he might be away for a day or so, but had not revealed where he was going. They wanted to renew their thanks, however, and so we were obliged to stay till dinner. All three of us made the most of the visit by discreetly inquiring about Victor. For the most part, the details we learned only verified what we already knew, that he was kind and compassionate, devoted to his books, and quite bright. He had taken his mother's death very hard, something all three of us sympathized with, and he and his cousin Elizabeth were very much in love.
Only one bit of information intrigued my master. Victor's younger brother Ernest managed to get us alone for a moment and approached Ichabod hesitantly. "Herr Crane, there is something.... Oh, it's most likely nothing, yet it's been weighing on my mind for days...."
Ichabod stepped closer to him, listening attentively. "What is it?"
Ernest looked at the floor for a moment, then looked Ichabod in the eye. "Herr Crane, you must understand. My brother Victor loved William. He is the kindest man I have ever met. When he heard the news -- the last time I saw him so distraught was when our mother died. And he was away at University when the tragedy happened, you know."
Ichabod's face was compassionate, even as his eyes bored into the younger man. "I have no doubt of any of that, Herr Frankenstein. Please, tell me what it is that troubles you."
"Well... it's just that, when I told Victor that the murderer had been discovered, he said something very odd."
"What was it?" Ichabod demanded. When Ernest hesitated, my master pressed him. "I think I know what is in your mind. You know your older brother could not have committed the crime, but you fear he knows too much about it, am I right?"
Ernest stared at Ichabod in amazement. "Yes! How did you...?"
"Dr. Frankenstein's behavior has already attracted my attention. There is something odd behind it, but the sincerity of his grief is patent. Tell me what you know, and perhaps I can help your brother out of whatever trouble he is in. What did he say that weighs on your mind?"
Ernest gulped, then replied, "He said, ' The murderer discovered! Good God! how can that be? who could attempt to pursue him? It is impossible; one might as well try to overtake the winds, or confine a mountain-stream with a straw. I saw him too; he was free last night.' I then told him that Justine was accused, and he declared quite certainly that she was innocent. What did he mean by all this?"
Ichabod's face was drawn taut and intent as he digested this. "I do not know, but I shall try to find out. Thank you, young man. You have done both your brothers a service."
My master was never at ease with physical demonstrations, except with Miss Katrina. To others he had but one gesture of affection, and that bestowed rarely, formally and a bit awkwardly. Looking sympathetically into the younger man's eyes, he clasped Ernest's shoulder for a moment, then patted it before stepping back, just as he did with me at my father's funeral. After escorting Miss Katrina home, Ichabod and I spent the afternoon on various wild goose chases, trying to track down some sort of motive for the murder or gain some clue to the doctor's whereabouts. We found nothing, and the evening had him pacing before the hearth, spinning the cardinal disk toy as he often did when deep in thought.
Miss Katrina was reading a tale of romance and I a volume of natural philosophy when Ichabod suddenly stopped, releasing the paper cardinal from its illusory prison. Both of us looked up at him; he had been pacing for nearly an hour. He looked at us, his mouth set and determined. "Tomorrow I go to Ingolstadt. Do you wish to come, Katrina?"
I was surprised she had not replied with a simple affirmative; generally she was eager for any travels.
"Because that is where Dr. Frankenstein was studying. I wish to see what he was doing there."
"You don't really think he had something to do with the murder, Ichabod? You saw how grief-stricken he was."
Ichabod's black eyebrows met in a frown as he resumed his pacing. "Yes... it does not seem likely that he was an accomplice of any kind. And yet.... Katrina, there is something very odd about Victor Frankenstein. He is hiding something, and that something just might lead to the murderer." He added to himself, "But if so, why does he not accuse him? Or apprehend him--" Ichabod stopped abruptly, his eyes widening. "Of course! Katrina, I think that's where he is right now -- tracking down his brother's murderer! Good God, if only I had some idea of where he'd gone!"
Katrina went to his side and laid a hand on his arm. "Perhaps you will learn something at Ingolstadt."
"I hope so. Blast, there's nothing I can do now! Are you coming?"
"How long shall you be gone?"
"Only a few days, I should think."
"In that case, I'd as soon stay here," Katrina agreed. A lock of black hair had fallen across Ichabod's face, as it often did. She reached up and brushed it back. "Do you still imagine we are being observed?"
"No, it never occurred to me tonight. I believe you were right, it was only fatigue that made me imagine it."
"Good. Now please, Ichabod, try to put Dr. Frankenstein out of your mind or you shan't be able to sleep."
My master took his lady's hands in his and looked into her eyes for a moment before releasing them and turning away, heading into the room that was serving as his laboratory while we stayed there. Miss Katrina put her book on the shelf, smiling to herself, then came and kissed my forehead.
"Good night, Josiah. I'm going to bed. Perhaps you should as well."
"Yes, ma'am," I replied, closing my book. It was fairly early; I would take it to my room and read a bit more before going to sleep. First I went into the laboratory. Ichabod was rearranging the contents of his satchel to make room for instruments he imagined he might need. "Do you need any help, sir?"
"No, Masbath." He rarely used my Christian name, even when we had been together for many years, but the way he said my surname had a subdued affection that we both recognized with unspoken agreement. "I know that if I do not assemble what I need now, I shan't be able to sleep for thinking about it. But in just a moment I shall be retiring."
"Yes, we'd all best rest if we're to travel."
Ichabod looked up from his instruments to me, seeming surprised for one second, but quickly recovered himself. "Yes, of course. Sleep well, Masbath." His gaze moved past me to Miss Katrina, who was waiting for him by the door. I moved past her with a respectful nod and went upstairs.
Once my master and I were in Ingolstadt, we hunted up the lodgings in which Victor Frankenstein had lived. Discovering the address was not difficult; we simply went to the University and inquired.
While we were making our inquiry, an elderly professor, a rather unpleasant man in look and manner, overhead us mention our quarry's name and approached us. "You are friends of the wayward young Frankenstein?" he demanded.
"Of his family, one might say," Ichabod replied, rather coolly. "Why do you call him wayward?"
"Because of the nonsense to which he devoted his early education! Every minute," continued M. Krempe with warmth, "every instant that he has wasted on those books is utterly and entirely lost. He burdened his memory with exploded systems and useless names. In what desert land did he live, where no one was kind enough to inform him that these fancies which he so greedily imbibed are a thousand years old and as musty as they are ancient? I little expected, in this enlightened and scientific age, to find a disciple of Albertus Magnus and Paracelsus. At my prompting, he began his studies entirely anew." M. Krempe gave us a satisfied smile.
"You were his instructor?"
"Ah, no, he studied with one of my colleagues, who recently passed away. But it was I who first directed his feet off the path of superstition and onto that of science."
Ichabod did not trouble himself to dispute the professor's casual dismissal of "superstition", though the tightening of his lips showed me that he was annoyed. My master had traveled a long journey since informing the elders of Sleepy Hollow that there were no witches or galloping ghosts. "And he actually studied alchemy?"
"Indeed he did, voraciously! I nearly fell over when he told me so casually with what nonsense he had filled his head. I sent him away with a long list of up-to-date works to study."
I did not know how these bits of information fitted together, but I could see that my master was intrigued. Once we had the address, he hailed a hackney.
The driver turned and stared at us when Ichabod gave the address. "You're not thinking of taking rooms there, are you, sir?"
"Why not?" Ichabod asked. His voice was level, but I knew he was intent on the slightest nuance of the answer.
My master let a moment pass before replying. Tales of hauntings had frightened him even when he believed them to be impossible. Now that he knew better such tales terrified him, even though he had learned through experience that most such reports were unfounded. Drawing a breath, he asked, "Why do you say that?"
Slapping the reins, the driver twisted halfway round to answer. "Many people's seen strange things about there. A huge, hulking figure, a demon out of Hell itself that flees from the light. Ungodly noises coming from the place. There was a tenant there, a scholar." The way the driver said the last word showed the deep suspicion he felt toward the book-learned. "'Twas his black magic and alchemy raised the demon to serve him."
Ichabod was paler than usual. Seeing that he could not speak, I piped up. "What did he have the demon do for him?"
"Rob graves," the driver replied matter-of-factly. Ichabod swallowed.
Hoping to distract my master from macabre imagery, I cast about for another question. "Do you know the tenant's name?"
"A foreigner named Frankenstein. He left sudden-like, on account of a death in the family, I've heard. No doubt a judgment on him for consorting with demons. Well, here we are. Are you sure you don't want me to take you to other lodgings?"
"Actually, we are only here to speak to the owner. But I thank you very much." Ichabod climbed down and paid the driver as I followed.
My master stood regarding the house, showing no inclination to move towards it. I briskly marched to the door as if I had not noticed his hesitation and knocked.
In his early days of investigation Ichabod had always declared his purpose to all and sundry with the honesty which was his habit. In time, however, he discovered that such was not always the best course. When the landlady, a coarse-looking woman of middle age with suspicious little eyes, opened the door, my master said, "Good day, madame. I am here to inquire about lodgings. Have you any vacancies?"
Her beady eyes examined us. "You ain't science students, is you?"
"Why, no. Why do you ask?"
The woman turned and walked down the hall. We followed, I closing the door. "I had one of them heathen University boys staying here. Practiced black magic, he did, had demons haunting the place."
"Demons? Why do you say so?"
"Everyone saw 'em. Big ugly critters they were, always keeping to the shadows, afraid of God's holy light."
Ichabod swallowed again, but followed the woman up the stairs silently. She continued her diatribe as she huffed up the stairs.
"They were ghouls, I tell you. Found pieces of corpses in his room after he left."
Ichabod paused for a second before continuing to climb.
"Are they still there?" he asked after a moment. "The... pieces of...."
"'Course not! I got a priest in here to gather them all up and give them a Christian burial. I reckon seeing a priest chased all the haunts out, for no one's seen a thing since. I still have to dispose of all these infernal devices he left, though. Some of 'em should fetch a price."
"I should like to see them. Some of them may be of use to me."
She stopped and skewered him with a glare. "You said you weren't a science student!"
"No, I'm a -- watchmaker."
I tried not to grin at my master's sudden change of profession. The woman stared at him another minute before grunting, "Hunh!" and continuing up the stairs. We were almost to the top. Once there, she shoved the door open and stood aside for us to go in.
Ichabod drew a long, deep breath at the sight inside. Both of us already envied Victor Frankenstein his laboratory. Ichabod slowly, reverently examined the devices.
"Well? I ain't got all day. D'you want the room or don't you?"
Ichabod's jaw set. "Yes. I want the room, and all its contents."
"You ain't goin' to be a-raisin' the dead here, is you?"
He closed his eyes for a second. "I assure you, madame, I quite prefer for the dead to remain in their graves, body and soul. How much?"
The woman named a figure. Ichabod named one that was perhaps two-thirds of what she had demanded. She accepted with a triumphant gleam; the figure was a bit too high, but I knew my master had larger things in mind. Ichabod handed her some banknotes and escorted her out. Then he turned and surveyed the room with narrowed eyes.
"Get out your ledger, Masbath," he instructed. I did so happily. This was Ichabod Crane at his best.
We spent hours inspecting that room, on that and subsequent days. I took notes on everything he examined, starting with the prints of feet and fingers in the dust. Ichabod insisted upon drawing every single device and instrument in his ledger, surrounding the sketches with speculations about what they could have been used for. Many were quite ordinary knives and kitchen tools, but some appeared to have been designed by Victor Frankenstein himself. Ichabod would draw them, look at them from every angle, and then guess their purposes; the ingenuity of his guesses sometimes quite astonished me. But then, Ichabod Crane never ceased to astonish me.
We searched the small apartment quite thoroughly, but there were no books or papers. A large heap of ashes in the fireplace hinted as to why. Ichabod ran his hands through the ashes, turning his cuffs grey, and sighed. "Whatever Victor Frankenstein was pursuing, it is lost to us," he said. Trying to brush his hands clean, he straightened and gazed into the cold hearth, lost in thought.
I waited a moment before breaking in. "What are you thinking, sir?"
"I was thinking... that only extreme grief can make a man burn the papers which have chronicled his life."
In a flash, I saw my master in Sleepy Hollow again, broken-heartedly consigning his ledger to the flames, while I watched unnoticed from the doorway.
By the end of the week Ichabod had wrung every bit of information possible out of Victor's rooms. He gave notice to the landlady and haggled with her for some time over a few of Victor Frankenstein's instruments that he had decided to buy. The next day we returned to Geneva.
We drove up in front of our lodgings at sunset. A manservant came to help the coachman with the horses and luggage, including Victor's abandoned instruments, and Miss Katrina ran outside to embrace her husband. "I missed you so!" she declared.
He ran his slender fingers through her golden hair. "Did you? After only a week?"
"A week? It felt like months!"
He chuckled softly and planted a kiss on the top of her head. "No, it was far longer than that, my love." He held her for a moment, then suddenly peered sharply into the shadows.
We all looked, but once again saw nothing. Ichabod peered about warily, then seized his wife's arm and dragged her inside. I hurried after. As soon as the servants entered with the bags, Ichabod bolted the door with shaking fingers.
"You felt we were being watched again, Ichabod?" Miss Katrina asked. When he nodded nervously, she put her hands on her hips and turned to me. "Did he overwork himself in Ingolstadt?"
Ichabod shot me a look which commanded me to lie. "No, ma'am," I replied, but I hesitated too long before saying it to convince her. Both my employers shot me withering glances before turning back to each other.
"I knew I should have come with you," Miss Katrina scolded gently. "You would never eat or sleep if I didn't make you. Now you're all overstrung again."
"Katrina, it is not my imagination! There is something out there watching us!" He turned to me. "Masbath, make sure all the doors and windows are locked!"
I did so without protest, even though I believed my master's fears to be groundless; I wished to give him what reassurance I could.
When I returned to the sitting room, Miss Katrina had made Ichabod sit down and was talking to him quietly, trying to distract him. Trying to sound calm, he asked, "And did you ever get your fitting, for those dresses you decided were so important?"
A lovely smile bloomed on my mistress' face, though concern for him lingered in her eyes. "Indeed I did. Oh, Ichabod, you shall be so happy to see them!"
He smiled. "I have no interest in your dresses, only in the woman who wears them."
"These, I think, will merit special attention." She spoke with such exuberance that I looked at her in surprise. She was as ecstatic over these dresses as if they were from the Rue de la Paix, but Geneva was hardly a center of fashion. I concluded that she was trying to distract her husband from his jitters.
"Have you heard anything about Victor Frankenstein?"
"Oh, yes. I had tea with Elizabeth just yesterday. He has returned from wherever he was," she replied.
"He is back at the family residence?"
"No, Elizabeth says he is staying for a time at a summer cottage they own a few hours' drive away. She says he asked to be left alone for a time, but did not really give his reasons."
"Really." Ichabod's eyes narrowed, and he forgot his nerves as he considered this. Miss Katrina put a hand on his and his eyes met hers. He smiled again. "Never mind, my love. The enigmatic Dr. Frankenstein can wait until tomorrow. Tonight, I have other things to think of."
Smiling to myself, I went to unpack my bag.
The next morning, a messenger was dispatched with a letter asking most urgently if we might see Victor.
My master and I spent the morning arranging Victor's instruments in the laboratory, and the afternoon racking our brains trying to imagine what the doctor knew about his brother's murder. Ichabod filled several pages of his ledger with speculations. This was part of his procedure: he would write down a possibility, and beneath it list everything in favor of it and against it. This process of elimination often bore fruit, but in this case none of the solutions satisfied him. He was moody over supper because of the stubbornness of the problem. I suspected that something else was bothering him which he did not voice: if mundane solutions were so unsatisfactory, then it was possible we were once more up against a supernatural adversary, and that was something he dreaded even as it kindled his ambition.
After supper Ichabod twirled his spinning toy and frowned until Miss Katrina declared, "You are frightening that poor cardinal with your black looks."
Ichabod smiled reluctantly and put it away. "Forgive me, my love. But I am more certain than ever that Victor Frankenstein has a secret. And surely that secret must relate to his brother's murder. He knows who the murderer is, Katrina. I am certain of it. But I cannot divine whether or not that murderer is a supernatural one."
"Do you think he raised a demon that then killed his brother?" she asked, her dark eyes wide.
Ichabod stiffened. "The thought has crossed my mind," he admitted. "And if true... then I will have to learn how the demon may be sent back to Hell."
Miss Katrina moved to him, clasping his hand in both of hers comfortingly. "You did it once before, Ichabod."
I saw his knuckles whiten as his hand tightened on hers. "But only just in time to save you, Katrina. And I know nothing of this new demon, if demon it is. I shall have to learn its particular nature, and what it requires...." His voice trailed off. He stared at nothing for a moment before suddenly straightening, his voice growing firm. "But a murderous demon is not the only possibility. It could be something much simpler. Victor was a medical student. He robbed graves to study anatomy." This time it was Miss Katrina who grimaced, ever so slightly. "Perhaps someone was blackmailing him. Or perhaps he learned too much about the clandestine activities of others in the course of his unlawful studies. In that case, the murder of his brother might have been a warning...." Ichabod's eyes narrowed and his hand relaxed in his wife's grasp. She watched him affectionately.
Ichabod glanced at me and was about to say something when he suddenly made an exclamation and stepped back. Miss Katrina and I looked. On the floor was a spider of middling size.
Ichabod moved several feet away from the spider and forced himself to stop with a visible effort, not taking his eyes off it. Miss Katrina also retreated, lifting her skirts off the floor. She glanced at me appealingly. "Could you take it outside, Josiah? Don't kill it. It can't help being a spider."
My eyes met those of my mistress for an instant. Though I was never to know for certain, I always suspected that Miss Katrina, who was after all raised in the country, was no more afraid of spiders than I was, but pretended to save her husband embarrassment. I stooped and coaxed the spider onto my palm.
Ichabod winced. "How can you do that?"
I shrugged. "Open the door, sir?"
He did so, and retreated to a safe distance before I neared it. I carried it out the door into the darkness. I was shaking the spider off my hands, giving it a new home in some bushes, when I felt it. A presence. I looked around sharply. I could see nothing, but I was certain: I was being watched.
I hurried back inside and bolted the door quite briskly. Ichabod drew a breath of relief when he saw that the spider was safely outside. Miss Katrina looked at me with concern. "Is everything all right, Josiah?"
I forced myself to laugh. "Your nerves have infected me, sir. I felt that I was being watched."
"You see?" he declared to Miss Katrina, clutching her arm. "I told you!"
"Both of you have been working entirely too hard," she told us firmly. "I'm going to make you both a draught, and you're going to drink it and go to bed."
"Only if you do not chant over it," Ichabod said, attempting lightness as he sat down. He was paler than usual.
"If I don't chant over it, how shall I know that it has been boiled long enough?" she countered, moving to the hearth.
"Ah, well. Lend me your watch and I will time your chant. Then you can dispense with the chant next time."
I doubted that Miss Katrina had any intention of omitting her chants, but she looked at Ichabod, saw the relief which attention to logical matters had given him, and handed him the silver pocket-watch without argument. He timed the chant and noted the time in his ledger before exchanging her watch for his sleeping draught.
We had scarcely raised the cups to our lips when a loud knock sounded. Ichabod jumped and nearly spilled the draught. All three of us looked at the door.
One of the menservants appeared and was about to open it when my master spoke. "Wait. Get one of the other men in here before opening it." The servant looked surprised, but obeyed. Before he returned, my master grimly drew his pistol and held it ready. I followed suit. Another knock sounded, but we waited. The servant returned with another, and the door was opened at last.
It was the messenger we had sent to Dr. Frankenstein with a reply. Ichabod sheathed his pistol and exhaled noisily with irritation at himself. Miss Katrina looked a bit amused, but she put a gentle hand on Ichabod's head. "You see, my love? You must rest. Drink the draught."
Ichabod took a sip of the bitter mixture before the servant handed him the letter that had been delivered. It was a brief reply, stating that Victor was far too busy to receive visitors, but would receive us in a week or two if we wished.
Ichabod sighed as he placed the note on his desk. "I keep wishing to discover that Victor Frankenstein is blameless," he admitted, "yet at every turn I become more convinced of his guilt. Or his complicity, at least."
During the following week, we could do little but wait and listen to gossip. Ichabod passed the time by reading the chief works of alchemy. "A fine mind," he pronounced as he shut up a volume of Paracelsus. "A pity he wasted it on superstition."
Miss Katrina raised her eyebrows slightly. "Superstition?"
He smiled, abashed. "Well. Obsolete theories, then."
"Then why are you reading them?"
"I am trying to learn what Victor Frankenstein was experimenting with."
"And have you?"
He sighed. "Just a handful of hypotheses, none with more to recommend them than the others." He opened his ledger and began making notes to clear his thoughts.
A week had passed and my master's foreboding had all but worn off when we received the invitation from the Frankenstein family to visit little William's grave with them the following Thursday. "I would have thought that would be a family affair," Ichabod remarked after reading the invitation, "but they say they wish for the man who cleared Miss Moritz' name to accompany them."
"Of course we must go," Miss Katrina said. "Poor Elizabeth will need consoling."
Ichabod's eyes narrowed. "And Victor Frankenstein may be there." He tried to smile at her. "Are your new dresses ready? You could wear one of them. I am looking forward to seeing what is so dazzling about them. Most likely your beauty will outshine them just as it does all your others."
She smiled at him. There was something more than pleasure at the compliment in her smile. "They are ready, Ichabod, but I am not ready for them. I shall wear the black silk I bought in London."
Victor Frankenstein was not there, but the rest of the family was, and all were disconsolate. Ichabod assured them all he was doing his best to locate the true murderer, and endured their effusive thanks with stiff embarrassment. He was relieved when the family had paid their respects to the dead boy and took him on something of a tour of the cemetery, pointing out the graves of illustrious Genevans and telling their stories.
We were standing about the grave of a general of note when something caught my master's eye. Seeing the familiar narrowing of his eyes, I followed his gaze and saw a fresh grave, the soil still loose. The date on the headstone was but a week old, so I saw no reason for it to merit special attention.
"Did any of you know this woman?" Ichabod asked, indicating the new grave.
"I knew her slightly," Elizabeth said. "She was buried last Sunday; I remember noticing the funeral procession on my way home from church."
"Sunday," Ichabod murmured. "If you will excuse me." He proceeded to march up and down every row of graves. I followed him. At length, his search discovered one more new grave, also of a woman. He had to inquire with the priest about this one, who explained that she had been buried on Monday.
"Why are you asking about them, Herr Crane? There was nothing suspicious about their deaths," Alphonse said.
"No, of course not. Excuse my preoccupations, sir." This was all he said before dropping the matter, but I knew that something was in my master's mind.
As we drove home, he revealed it. "The soil on those graves was freshly turned."
"Of course, sir. They were buried less than a week ago," I replied.
"Yes. On Sunday and Monday. But it rained on Tuesday."
Miss Katrina and I stared at him. I saw at once that he was right; the rain should have flattened the soil, but it had not. "Someone has disturbed those graves since then!" I said.
Miss Katrina looked at her husband. "What could that have to do with William Frankenstein? Likely it was just some scoundrels set on removing whatever trinkets with which the poor women were sent to their rest."
Ichabod's face was drawn and intent. I knew there would be no deterring him now. "Perhaps. But Victor's landlady in Ingolstadt believed that he was entertaining ghouls and she found human remains in his rooms after he left. Medical students have been known to rob graves for their researches. And alchemists sometimes used human remains in their spells." He looked at me. "I'll have the servants wake us before dawn."
Miss Katrina sighed, but she knew that her husband was set on his purpose now, and nothing would stop him. "Be careful, Ichabod. And you, Josiah," was all she said.
So the grey light of dawn had us at our ghoulish work. We opened the first woman's coffin and I held up the lantern. Ichabod tentatively moved the shroud aside before turning away with a moan.
"What is it?" When he did not answer, I gingerly moved the cloth aside myself. When I saw what was beneath, I did not blame him for turning away. The woman had been gutted.
Ichabod drew some deep breaths before turning back to the coffin. Steeling himself, he lifted the shroud again and studied the woman's remains. "All of her vital organs have been removed," he said after a moment, a bit calmer now that he had detection to do. "But to what purpose?"
When he had seen enough, we reburied the mutilated corpse and dug up the second. This grave's discovery was a bit more unsettling, though less grisly: the entire corpse was simply gone.
"Why is it every grave I open holds a new mystery inside?" he asked aloud.
Ichabod sighed as we shoveled the dirt back into the grave. "I do not yet know what is going on here, Masbath, but I am certain that it will be singularly unpleasant."
"I'm baffled, sir. But you'll solve it. You'll learn who killed William Frankenstein."
Ichabod sighed again. "I shall endeavour to."
We returned home to surprise Miss Katrina, still in her nightdress, leaning over the slop pail; she was ill. Ichabod rushed to her side. I thought it best to let him tend his lady himself, so I stepped quietly out of the room. However, their voices were still clearly audible.
"Katrina, how ill are you? What is the matter?" His voice was frantic.
I heard rustling of him moving about. A moment later, I heard my mistress reply calmly.
"Nothing is the matter, Ichabod. It is quite normal and healthy."
"Normal and healthy! To be ill the first thing in the... morning?"
A long silence followed those words. I grinned to myself as the cause dawned on me as it was no doubt dawning on my master.
"Oh, my love...," he gasped. Without waiting to be directed, I fetched the smelling salts from their cabinet. A moment later, I heard the expected thud in the other room. I went in and held the salts beneath the nose of my unconscious employer. Miss Katrina watched us with amusement. I could not help returning her smile; she looked brimming over with joy.
Ichabod started awake as the salts penetrated his nostrils. He caught his breath, staring at Miss Katrina with wonder. "Katrina...?"
She knelt beside him, smiling beatifically. I was happy to slip out of the room; this moment was for my master and his lady alone.
I was rather left to myself for a few days afterwards. Ichabod and Miss Katrina were very absorbed in each other and their shared miracle and spent hours in quiet tete-a-tete discussing their future plans. My master did not mention the Frankensteins again, nor did I see him studying any of his notes or alchemical works. The case seemed entirely forgotten, when one afternoon a note arrived.
Ichabod read it and drew a long breath, passing it to me.
If you still wish to see me, I hope it shall be convenient for you to call on me tomorrow at one at my family's cottage.
I passed it back to him. "What will you say to him, sir?"
He gazed down at the note. "I don't know.... It will partly depend on how I am received. We are kindred spirits, I know it. We have fought much the same battles. I may be able to simply ask him directly. If not... I will consider it." Taking the note to his desk, he sat down, opened his ledger and began to make notes and sketches.
The next day we rode to Dr. Frankenstein's dwelling. He opened the door himself; it seemed he had taken no servants with him. He was paler than the last time we had seen him, and there were dark crescents beneath his eyes. He showed us in quietly and he and my master sat before the fireplace, opposite each other. I sat to the side, quietly, trying to be unobtrusive so that the doctor would speak to my master freely.
Ichabod studied Victor for a long moment. I could see what he was thinking. Victor was tired and preoccupied. The bond between them was in abeyance. Ichabod could not invoke it to learn what he wished to know, not right away.
Victor spoke at last. "I will be forever grateful to you for clearing Justine, Herr Crane."
"Seeing justice done is my life's work, Dr. Frankenstein. Which is why I will find your brother's true murderer."
Victor looked up at Ichabod for a moment, but showed no other reaction. After a pause, he said reluctantly, "You said, after the trial, that you wished to speak with me."
My master straightened. "Yes. From what I have heard, you and I have had to fight the same battles in our quests for truth. Superiors who will not listen to reason, authorities with more stake in tradition than in truth, the universal reluctance to hear new ideas." Ichabod studied Victor's reaction to this, which was only a sad smile. Ichabod's voice became firmer. "My crusade chose me when I was only seven. My mother was accused of witchcraft by my father, and tortured into confessing, and executed. Murdered."
Ichabod delivered this information flatly and coldly. I was stunned. He had never spoken of this to anyone but Miss Katrina. Had she not related the story to me, I should not have known it.
Victor's face was compassionate. Moving closer, he put his hands on Ichabod's shoulders. "My friend... that is a far worse tragedy than mine. At least my father was blameless in my mother's death, and I may still love him."
Ichabod's eyes shone. He tore himself away from the doctor and leaned against the fireplace, his face buried on his arm as he struggled valiantly to master himself.
Victor went to him and placed a comforting hand on his shoulder. To my amazement, a choked sob escaped my master's lips, and in a moment he was weeping openly.
I could only stare. Ichabod Crane was always guarded, never allowing anyone save his wife into the sanctuary of his pains and sorrows. I am certain that Miss Katrina saw an unguarded side of my master, but I, who was his constant companion for decades, only saw him release his guard a very few times during all our years together, and then briefly and under the most extreme pressure. A breath later and he was always taut and controlled again.
I confess I was a bit jealous of Victor for reaching a side of my master that I never did. I made a movement to rise, wishing to offer some comfort, but stopped myself. Ichabod hated to lose control and would wish to be left alone. Victor had no such compunctions. He steered my master to a chair, sat across from him, pulled Ichabod's handkerchief from his vest pocket and handed it to him. Ichabod buried his face in it and continued to sob while Victor watched sympathetically, his hand on Ichabod's shoulder.
After a few moments, Ichabod drew a long shaky breath and wiped his face, attempting briskness. "Forgive me, I--"
"Forgive you? I am grateful, my friend." A moment passed in silence. "Now, if you are ready, please, continue with your story."
"Yes." Ichabod resumed his formality with relief. "I devoted my life to the abolition of torture and to scientific methods of crime detection. I joined the New York constabulary, but my fellow constables would have nothing of my methods. Eventually they sent me to a distant hamlet to investigate a case they deemed unimportant, hoping only to be rid of me for a bit, and perhaps that I would fail and relinquish my quest. Instead, I found success and... and the two people who have since shared my life." He said the last words quietly, but shot me a glance which was full of unexpressed affection. The look warmed me and I smiled silently in return.
Victor leaned closer. "Is this the case of the Headless Horseman? I have long wished to hear the truth of it."
"Why, yes. Even in this scientific age, many people actually believe that these decapitations you investigated were committed by a ghost."
"You do not credit ghosts, then?" Ichabod was watching the other man's face carefully.
Victor chuckled. "We are men of science, my friend. Even as a child, I do not ever remember to have trembled at a tale of superstition or to have feared the apparition of a spirit."
Ichabod's lips thinned; he had trembled at such tales even as an adult who scorned them, but he did not argue. "But you studied alchemy?"
Victor's face looked suddenly haggard again. "Those were the first works which fell into my hands. I knew no better."
"And in Ingolstadt, you began studying chemistry and medicine instead?"
"Unfortunately, yes." He suddenly looked deeply into my master's eyes, and I saw that their bond was present again. "You seek for knowledge and wisdom, as I once did; and I ardently hope that the gratification of your wishes may not be a serpent to sting you, as mine has been."
"What knowledge did you seek?" Ichabod asked tensely.
Victor shook his head sadly. "Alas, my friend, I cannot share my story as you have shared yours. For your own tranquility, I must seal my lips."
"I can see you are in torment, my friend. Allow me to help you. Unburden yourself to me!"
"All I may say is, I reached for Promethean fire, and burned those I wished to gift with it."
Victor shook his head. "Learn from me, if not by my precepts, at least by my example, how dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge and how much happier that man is who believes his native town to be the world, than he who aspires to become greater than his nature will allow."
"Nonsense!" Ichabod's voice thundered. He had shot to his feet. "Every moment of my life I aspire to become greater than my nature will allow. My nature is...." He faltered briefly, but pushed on. "My nature is to be a miserable coward, afraid of my own shadow. If I obeyed the dictates of my nature, I should never leave my home. I turn sick at the sight of blood, yet follow a calling that forces me to see it only too often. Every single day I spent as a constable in New York I was obliged to perform duties which required far more courage than I possessed, yet I performed them. And my investigations now are no different. My temperament is unsuited to my crusade, but I could not turn away from that crusade, not for the world."
This was the only time I ever heard my master admit to any of this; he usually refused to acknowledge his weaknesses, even to himself, as if sternly refusing to give them their way.
Victor listened to him, to this obviously painful confession, with eyes that saw far more than was before him. "Ichabod Crane... I gathered something of your nervous disposition, but I had no idea your quest has been so hampered by your nature." He stood up and spoke with quiet respect. "You are the bravest man I have ever met."
I think that softly spoken compliment may have been one of the greatest moments of my master's life. He looked very solemn. The two locked eyes once more. It was a long while before Ichabod spoke.
"Victor... tell me who killed your brother."
Victor's face sagged. "...I did."
"You were miles away," Ichabod countered gently.
"Nevertheless, the guilt is mine. And had it not been for your brilliant intervention, I should have two deaths on my conscience." With a sudden access of energy, Victor began tearing at his own hair. "How could my noble hopes have come to this?" he cried. He seized an empty vase nearby and threw it at the wall, where it shattered. Losing vitality as quickly as he had acquired it, he sank down and began to sob quietly.
His concern sharpened by the doctor's outburst, Ichabod urged him, "Let me help you! Tell me!"
"Please, I cannot!"
"And I cannot turn away from one I care for who is in danger."
Victor looked up, a bit surprised. "I? I am in no danger, my friend. It is only remorse that now torments me. But I am now hard at work at making what reparation I may so that I may leave... all this behind and perhaps begin to live again."
"I wish to aid you."
"You cannot, save by not asking me to taint yet another life I esteem by miring you in it. I beg you, do not ask me to tell you more. Soon all will be over, there will be no more danger for anyone, and I will perhaps be able to make some atonement for my errors."
And there Ichabod had to yield. We departed shortly thereafter.
A short distance from the cottage Ichabod turned his horse into the trees and stopped. I followed. At my inquiring look, he explained, "I believe Dr. Frankenstein is intending to go out soon; I noticed that he was out of coal, and tea, and most likely eye of newt as well. We shall wait for him."
"You think he might be the one who disturbed those graves?"
Ichabod swallowed. "Perhaps. Or he may need something quite different for whatever marriage of alchemy and medicine he is practicing in that cottage. If we simply follow him, we might glean a clue as to what he is up to."
We tethered our horses and waited as the afternoon shadows lengthened. As the sun began to set, Ichabod's guess was proven correct; Victor rode by, driving a wagon. Evidently he expected to have some cargo when he returned. We quickly mounted and followed him, keeping a long distance between us and our quarry in the gathering gloom.
My master reined in abruptly. I did the same. "Did you hear that?" he whispered.
We waited. All we could hear was the distant hoofbeats of Victor's horses.
Suddenly our horses began to step nervously, tossing their heads. We tried to calm them, but they continued stamping. Ichabod's horse reared and threw him. I quickly jumped down and ran to him. Both of our horses fled into the twilight, and I cursed at the sight; we were miles away from anything now with no transportation, and who knew how far they might run before stopping.
"Sir! Are you all right?"
I heard him grunt as I helped him up. "Aggh... yes, just a... a bruise or two, I think." He brushed himself off and peered about warily into the dusk. "What startled them?"
"I don't know...."
A step sounded close by. We both whirled. In the shadows we could just distinguish a large, hulking shape.
Ichabod swiftly drew his pistol, and I did the same.
"Who's there!" his strained voice rang out.
After a long pause, the shape stepped out of the shadows, into what remained of the waning light.
The blood drained from my face. I heard the sharp intake of my master's breath. Neither of us, I am certain, had been so terrified since seeing the Headless Horseman.
The thing before us was like a man, but not a man. He was well above six feet, and all his proportions were gigantic; he was big-boned with enormous muscles and the hands of an ape. Even Brom Van Brunt would have fled from this behemoth. He could easily have snapped either one of us like twigs. His proportions were somehow wrong, however, and asymmetrical. His skin was a ghastly greyish shade, and his eyes were quite yellow. Scars liberally adorned his body.
He looked down at us sternly. It was clear he meant to intimidate, and yet there was something else in his eyes, a sorrow I could not fathom. He looked from one of us to the other. I took an involuntary step back. My master was frozen to the spot. My finger was on the trigger of my pistol, but I felt certain that such a pitiful weapon would be of no use against this creature.
After looking at us for a long moment, the hulking figure, to our surprise, spoke. His voice was rasping and deep. "Do not interfere with me."
That was all. Then he turned and ran away, at a speed I could scarcely believe possible even as I watched it.
I stared into the darkness at the retreating figure. Beside me, Ichabod fainted.
I took several shaky breaths before I was able to move to my master's side to shake him awake. Had my mind been able to function at all in the presence of the fearsome thing we had just seen, I should have anticipated that he would have fainted as soon as the creature departed. Something about the rush of blood back to his head, the abrupt relaxation after the tension of unbearable fright, often rendered my master unconscious after danger passed.
He awoke with a cry, clutching my arms. "It's gone," I said quickly.
"My God!... My God!"
"It's all right," I said soothingly, though I was terrified as well. I remembered my master's panic after seeing the Headless Horseman for the first time and hoped that he would be able to get ahold of himself more quickly this time. "It's gone."
"What was it? What in God's name was it?"
"I don't know."
"Was it a demon? Was it a ghost? Was it--"
Instinctively, I lifted a hand and slapped my hysterical master's face. I was instantly aghast. "Sir, forgive me--"
He drew a gasping breath, steadying a bit, though both of us still shook all over. "No, you are right. We cannot afford for me to... to indulge my cowardly nature just now." He seemed to draw a little strength from the contempt with which he spoke of his own weakness. He rose, I lending a hand. "Where are the horses?"
I pointed in the direction of Victor's cottage. "They ran that way."
"Then let us go."
"What chance have we of finding them, in this darkness? They may be miles off by now."
"What else can we do? There are no habitations nearby. If we do not find our horses, we shall take sanctuary in the Frankenstein cottage." His voice was unsteady, and in the dim light I could see that his pistol was ready -- as was mine -- but he was walking into the darkness with determination.
I let a moment pass before speaking. "I agree with the doctor, sir. You are the bravest man I've ever known."
I meant it. Is it courage not to be afraid, or to be afraid and press on just the same?
I felt his left hand, trembling slightly, grasp my shoulder. "You are kind, Masbath. I only wish that were true." I opened my mouth to argue, being young, but he cut me off. "We must be quiet and alert to hear any sound our horses or... anything else makes."
"Yes, sir," I answered softly.
We never spoke of it again.
We walked on in silence as the night darkened. I don't know how long we walked. Time seemed suspended and endless; there was nothing but the darkness and the road beneath our feet and the starry, moonless sky above us, and the constant vigilance we tensely kept, waiting for the thing we had seen to return to us.
When there was a sound in the darkness, we both froze and strained our ears. It was horses trotting towards us.
"This way! Over here!" Ichabod called. The hoofbeats continued uninterrupted.
The horses were almost upon us when I realized. "Sir, they're our horses! Try to catch them!"
We managed to snare their reins, I of his mount, he of mine. We exchanged them and mounted. The horses were calm now, and we were able to head home.
During the ride back my master suddenly broke the silence to say, "It is as if someone caught them, pointed them back in our direction and gave them a slap."
At home, Ichabod jumped off his horse and ran inside, not even pausing to hand the reins to the yawning servant. I followed and found him throwing open the door to his bedroom. Seizing a candle, he charged in and shook Miss Katrina awake.
"Katrina, my love! Are you well? Did anything happen tonight? Anything odd?"
I saw her arms encircle him. "Everything is fine, Ichabod," she mumbled drowsily. After a moment she moved out of his embrace. "You must sit down," she ordered, rubbing her eyes and examining him. His skin was not its usual white, but grey, and he still shook all over. She glanced at me and found that I was not in much better case. I sank into the chair before her vanity as Ichabod collapsed on the bed beside her. He grasped her hands frantically. "Take deep breaths, Ichabod," she said gently. He tried to, but he could only gasp. "Tell me."
In garbled sentences, interrupting each other, we told her what we had seen. She listened gravely. I could detect trepidation in her eyes, but as always, she deliberately kept a tranquil demeanour, trying to impart a bit of it to us.
When we had related the better part of our story, he declared, "We must leave here! At dawn! I can't let you stay here with that thing lurking about!" Releasing her hands, which he had been clasping in a grip that must have been painful, he pulled her close and embraced her.
She stroked his hair silently for a moment, kissing his cheek. Then she gently disengaged herself and went to me, embracing me with the same soothing caresses that I vaguely remember receiving from my mother, before she died when I was still very small.
She tried to make us sleep, but neither of us could, nor would we consent to take her sleeping draughts. Ichabod was possessed with the idea that the creature we had seen might come to our home. Miss Katrina went back to sleep and we kept an anxious vigil over her with our rifles until dawn.
"We must go!" Ichabod declared as soon as the sky turned pink, awakening Miss Katrina. "Start packing!"
My mistress sat up sleepily. "But Ichabod... what about Victor Frankenstein? You said he was in trouble, and that you saw in him a friend."
I could see the struggle in my master's eyes. "I do not wish to abandon him." His eyes fell on her flushed face, and he removed one white-knuckled hand from his rifle and placed it tentatively on her abdomen. "But you, Katrina... and our child... my first duty is to the two of you." He sighed. "He said he was in no danger. I can only pray that it is true. I am taking you away from here."
"It might not be safe for me to travel," Miss Katrina replied uneasily, placing her own hands on her stomach.
He pulled her close, resting her head on his shoulder. "It is certainly not safe for you to stay here. We shall travel slowly and take every precaution. Pack what you absolutely need; I shall have the rest sent after." With that he stood.
I did the same, though a dizziness overtook me from the harrowing sleepless night. I gathered my few things in my father's old satchel and my one bag. Ichabod had to pack his instruments himself, as many of them were quite delicate. He chose which of his books he wished to take with him on the trip. One of them, of course, was the book of spells with its fateful bullet still embedded in its cover; it was seldom out of my master's pocket. Miss Katrina gathered up her jewelry and herbs.
Noticing this, Ichabod asked, "My love, would you make me a stimulating brew to keep me awake for the next few hours?"
"And me," I added.
She frowned up at him. "But Ichabod, you both look like death warmed over. I thought you would sleep in the carriage. You need it!"
"Later. I want to keep watch over you until we are out of this city."
She studied him. Her eyes flickered over to me. At length she nodded and began sorting through the herbs. As Ichabod and I directed the servants about how to pack what remained, we could hear her reciting her spell over the brew. Ichabod did not spare the time to argue about it.
In addition to the coachman, we traveled with Miss Katrina's maid and two menservants armed with rifles. As the bags were placed on the coach, my mistress gave us our brews. We both drank quickly and climbed in with her, scanning the horizon for any movement, our rifles on our knees.
The last thing I remember is my rifle slipping from my hands as sleep descended on me heavily. I could not even try to resist it.
When I awoke, it was mid-afternoon. My head ached. I opened my eyes to see my mistress' concerned face. She held a flask of water out to me. I took it and drank silently. Ichabod was still asleep. He awakened a short time after, groaning. As our minds gradually began to work again, he frowned pensively, then shot his wife an inquiring look.
"I believe she said the wrong spell over those stimulating herbs, sir," I joked groggily.
He glanced at her briefly, then away. "I see."
Miss Katrina took his arm. He returned her handclasp, but did not look at her. "Forgive me, my love," she said. "I gave you a sleeping draught. I knew you dreadfully needed rest." He did not answer. "Was it wicked of me?"
"Later," was the brief reply. Her eyes widened slightly.
When we arrived at an inn that evening, I was put in a small room adjacent to theirs, where I could hear almost everything that was said between them. I shall not relate the conversation, but it has remained in my memory because it was one of perhaps two or three times that I ever heard my master raise his voice to his wife. Normally he was the most doting and indulgent of husbands, and seemed not to have a foot to put down. On this unique occasion, however, he was genuinely angry with his lady, and she was terribly distressed over it. After much talk, during which he spoke with the forcefulness he generally reserved for arguing about methods of investigation, she solemnly promised never again to deceive her husband about what she was brewing for him.
True to form, Ichabod later felt so remorseful for having been angry with Miss Katrina that a few days afterwards he presented her with a whimsical gift, a necklace with a cloisonne pendant in the shape of a red cardinal, its wings just slightly spread as if it were about to take flight. Soon my employers were happily absorbed in each other and their future child once more. The only mar on our tranquility was the nightmares Ichabod was having. Most nights I would be awakened by his cry as he jolted out of sleep, and I would drift back to sleep to the murmur of Miss Katrina's voice consoling him. He dreamed of the fearful creature we had seen, and his wife's condition also inspired nightmares about the autopsy he had performed on the pregnant Widow Winship in Sleepy Hollow.
When we arrived in Dijon, Miss Katrina was feeling slightly ill, so we decided to stop for a few days. After two doctors and a midwife had assured Ichabod that his wife would be fine once she had had a little rest, he was able to stop fretting over her -- indeed, I think his frantic worry was more exhausting to her than her condition -- and think of other things. And of course his thoughts went to the creature we had seen. Since the first panic was over, he had been turning the facts over in his mind, trying to determine what the thing was.
Ichabod wrote in his ledger the words Victor Frankenstein had said to his brother Ernest: "who could attempt to pursue him? It is impossible; one might as well try to overtake the winds, or confine a mountain-stream with a straw."
Aloud he said, "First, I think that this creature is not a ghost or demon, but something of flesh and blood."
"Why?" I asked.
"Because I know that there is some connection between this creature and Victor Frankenstein, and Victor does not believe in ghosts. Remember, he said quite convincingly that he did not believe in the Headless Horseman. Yet he has studied alchemy...."
After listing many facts about the mysterious doctor, Ichabod devised an answer. He sat staring at nothing, stunned in the way he often was when a solution began to present itself to his keen mind. He spoke softly, as though afraid that he might frighten the answer away. "Masbath... I believe that the creature we saw was lately a man. A man with a dread incurable disease. Dr. Frankenstein was trying to cure it; he treated the man with some experimental remedy of his own devising; and the remedy transformed him into the monster we saw." He shook his head, awed. "No wonder he is so wracked by guilt."
"What about the disturbed graves?"
Ichabod had already thought of this. "I think he is using the organs of the dead to repair the living. An admirable idea, really." He spoke as if trying to convince himself that he was not horrified. I did not argue.
When suppertime came Miss Katrina preferred to stay in her room, but Ichabod and I went down to eat in the common room, where a small stir had been caused.
One of the other guests, it transpired, was locally famous; he was a big game hunter from Germany who had recently delivered a pair of rhinoceroses to the royal zoo. Nor was this his first such exploit; he had led crowned heads on hunting expeditions and delivered all manner of large and dangerous animals to zoos all over Europe and America. His name was Edward Obermann. He was perhaps in his forties, and looked to have been handsome once, but his face was weathered and a scar twisted one corner of his mouth. The ladies did not seem to mind, however, and even found it romantic. His body was still strong and muscular, with broad shoulders and tanned skin. His manner was that of a man who has seen so much that nothing can shock him any longer. All the other guests were gathered about him, listening to his stories with rapt attention; he told them calmly and matter-of-factly, biting off his words in his thick German accent, and seemed mostly amused at the attention.
When he was introduced to my master, he looked slightly interested for the first time. "Ah, Ichabod Crane! You are the detective."
"Vich makes you also a big game hunter of sorts. You must haff stories of your own."
Ichabod paused, his eyes narrowed. "Sir... I wonder if perhaps you might join me for dinner in my rooms."
Obermann glanced about at the hungry faces which seemed ready to devour him. "It vould be my pleasure."
As a table for four was being set in our private room, Obermann grinned at Ichabod. "My thanks, Crane. All that attention used to be flattering, but they vant so much of me. You must encounter that as vell." Ichabod nodded briefly, preferring not to dwell on his own celebrity. Obermann grinned. "Und the ladies -- vone needs a bodyguard to keep them off, ja?"
Ichabod turned crimson. Miss Katrina laughed. "That is the penalty for having a handsome husband," she declared, at which he turned even redder. It was true that his finely drawn features found favor in feminine eyes. The attentions ladies sometimes pressed upon him embarrassed him terribly, and he usually preferred to avoid female company without his wife to chaperone him.
Obermann noticed Ichabod's embarrassment and took amused pity by changing the subject. "So how did you catch the Headless Horseman, Crane? I understand he vas vone of my own countrymen."
So we related the story of the galloping Hessian once more. Obermann listened with attention and no skepticism. When the story was told, Obermann spoke. "I knew him, the Hessian."
We all stared at him. Obermann smiled. "Ven I vas -- about your age, Herr Masbath. I vas a foot soldier in the Jäger Corps." He shook his head, remembering. "Ve vere all terrified of him. Vonce in the camp, vone of the other soldiers said something he took amiss, und he...." He broke off, looking around at us. "Excuse me, maybe this story is not fit for a lady's ears." Ichabod drew a breath of relief. "Let us just say, the man regretted vat he said. I belieff your story, for the description you gave matches my memory of him exactly. I am not surprised he rose from the grave for more blood."
The memories stirred up were causing Ichabod to tremble; I noticed it as he served his guest more wine. "Mr. Obermann, I invited you up here to ask for your help, and offer you a challenge."
"I guessed as much. But you hunt humans, und they are seldom challenging game. Und I doubt I vould be much help in catching a ghost."
Ichabod's brows arched as he collected his thoughts. "My quarry is no ghost. And if he is a man, he is unlike any other."
Leaving out Dr. Frankenstein's part in the matter, my master told me what little he knew of the creature, and described it in detail. "He is tremendous. I am certain normal means will not suffice to apprehend him. I was at a loss as to how to catch him, until I heard you talking down there."
Miss Katrina spoke up; she was as pale as her husband. "Ichabod, you can't mean you're going back, to face that, that thing...."
"I thought you wanted me to help Victor," Ichabod protested, distressed.
"Who is Victor?" Obermann asked.
"The victim's older brother. I fear he may be in danger, and he is a friend to me."
"But you would be the one in danger then, Ichabod!" Miss Katrina began to rise. Alarmed at her pallor, Ichabod rushed to her side and half-carried her into the bedroom.
Obermann tranquilly watched the door close behind his hosts. "That is vy I do not haff a vife," he announced as he buttered another roll.
"Usually Miss Katrina doesn't worry so," I said, a bit embarrassed. "But she is, er, with child."
"I see. Herr Crane's life vill be very different now."
"Will you help us, sir? With the creature?"
He pressed his lips together, considering. "It sounds like an interesting challenge. So, yes, if the lady vill allow her husband to continue his hunt."
I was relieved. "I think she will, sir. She's just upset now."
Obermann and I talked for a time. At his request, I told stories of some of the investigations on which I had assisted my master, and he indulged me with a thrilling tale of a tiger hunt.
After a time my employers emerged, Miss Katrina looking pale. She spoke gravely to Obermann. "Mr. Obermann, please excuse my outburst. I hope you will help my husband apprehend this criminal."
He stood and inclined his head to her gallantly. "Und vere vill you stay vile ve pursue the creature, Frau Crane? You should be far avay from it."
Ichabod's arm encircled his lady's waist. "I shall leave Mrs. Crane in the care of a doctor here in Dijon."
And so a few days later we were back in our old lodgings in Geneva, without Miss Katrina this time. Obermann chose a few able men to aid us in our plan and we all went over it a dozen times, thrashing out possible problems. "It is imperative that we take him alive," Ichabod emphasized over and over. "I believe that he is the murderer, but we cannot be certain without a trial."
At last the day came. Ichabod was working himself up into a frenzy, pacing, shaking, and worrying aloud. Suddenly, Obermann barked, "Crane! Sit down!"
Surprised, Ichabod obeyed.
Obermann's guttural voice sounded loudly in the quiet room. "Breathe slow und deep, Crane, und put all that energy into being still."
Ichabod followed his instructions, being too nervous to argue. To his surprise and mine, it worked; soon he was more collected than he had ever been while on a hunt, though his hands still shook when he moved them.
We did not plan to give the creature the advantage of darkness, so we set out for Frankenstein's cottage early in the morning. Ichabod had spent a sleepless night, and his pale face was drawn. He was silent as we saddled up.
Obermann came to his side and put a hand on his shoulder. "Herr Crane?"
Ichabod did not look at him. "I feel like a traitor."
"Your course is set, Crane."
My master sighed. "Yes." He put his foot in the stirrup and swung his leg over his horse. "I wonder if it will work."
"Your plan is sound."
"Yes, but I wonder if it will truly lure the creature. It seems the creature needs Dr. Frankenstein, but I do not know why."
Obermann shrugged. He was the only man present who did not seem nervous. "Time vill tell. Now ve may only vait."
Very little was said during the ride. Ichabod looked as if he were heading for his own execution. For once it was not fear, but remorse that tormented him.
We arrived at the Frankenstein cottage shortly after noon. Ichabod reined in and looked dubiously at the house.
Obermann dismounted easily. "You stay here, Crane. Ve vill manage this better in our own vay."
"If you say so," Ichabod agreed miserably.
I began to dismount, but Obermann stopped me. "Stay vith your master, young man."
I did not argue; I thought Ichabod might need me in any case. I uneasily expected him to faint and Victor Frankenstein to go into another bout of hysterics, distracting us all from dealing with the creature.
Obermann's men were taking up various strategic positions, very casually, as if they were simply dawdling. Two of them also dismounted and followed him to the door. Obermann knocked.
"Dr. Frankenstein! Open up!"
Obermann had to knock a few more times before the door opened. Victor had evidently been interrupted at whatever his mysterious work was; he wore neither coat nor vest, his shirt was dirty and the sleeves rolled up, his hair was disarranged, and circles underlined his eyes. "What is it?" he demanded impatiently.
"Victor Frankenstein, ve are putting you under arrest," Obermann declared.
Victor's eyes widened and flickered over them. "On what charge?" he asked warily.
Beside me, Ichabod sighed. This was not the reaction of an innocent man. Perhaps some small part of Ichabod had still hoped.
"For complicity in the murder of Villiam Frankenstein."
Victor's body slumped. After a moment, he asked, "I will appear before a jury, if you wish. But might I remain here for the time being?"
Obermann shook his head. "Nein, you must come vith us."
Victor did not move, nor did he look at the men before him. "I cannot explain, but... for your own safety, good sirs, allow me to remain here."
"No more of that, Dr. Frankenstein." Obermann nodded to his two companions, who took Victor's arms and escorted him to a carriage.
Ichabod's hands were clamped around the reins. When Victor saw him, he stopped in his tracks. The men holding him dragged him on. "Wait," Ichabod called out, kicking his horse. He rode to Victor's side.
Victor stared up at him from hollow eyes. "Ichabod... how could you?"
Ichabod might have looked more cheerful if he were being disemboweled. "Forgive me."
The doctor shook his head sadly. "It is not a question of forgiveness, my friend. You have no idea what you are about."
Victor was shoved into the carriage. He did not struggle, but he did begin that loud, mirthless laughter again, making Obermann's men exchange wary looks. They were all looking about tensely. Nothing happened.
Obermann took his time about remounting. When the creature had not appeared, he gave the order to go. We had discussed the possiblity that the creature would not stop our apprehension of the doctor and decided that we would then hold the doctor at our own lodgings, hoping to draw the creature there. Our caravan began to make its way. We had gone perhaps a mile when I saw a familiar sharpening in Ichabod's eyes. He rode over to Obermann and spoke in a low voice.
"Obermann, I am going back to the cottage. I wish to see what Dr. Frankenstein was doing there."
"Does the young man go vith you?"
"Of course," I replied. Obermann nodded briskly. His eyes were darting about the trees, watching for our quarry. Ichabod turned his horse and I followed.
At the cottage, Ichabod set his jaw and strode inside. First we came to the sitting room we had visited before. It and the kitchen were in even worse disarray than they had been the last time we had seen them. Ichabod tried a door and found a musty-aired bedroom. The bedclothes were disarranged and dirty clothes were piled on a chair; otherwise, the room might have been unoccupied for months.
Ichabod drew a breath and tried another door. This was the room he had hoped and dreaded to find: Dr. Frankenstein's laboratory. And its contents were calculated to rattle my master's nerves.
There were the expected jars of chemicals, and anatomical charts, and tables crammed with instruments. But at the exact center of the room was an operating table, and on it was a female corpse, its skin cut open to expose its vital organs.
Ichabod was too overcome to do more than put his hands over his face. He stood immobile, unable to even tremble.
We stayed like that for a long moment. Eventually I hesitantly moved closer to the table. My stomach was stronger than my master's, luckily, but this sight was truly appalling. I drew a shallow breath and instead of the stench of death caught a whiff of chemicals, used to keep the corpse from decomposing. I looked at the corpse's exposed organs and my eyes widened. "Sir."
My master forced himself to lower his hands, though he carefully averted his eyes. "Yes?" he gasped, trying to steel himself.
"There are stitches on some of these organs. I think you'd better have a look."
As I expected, his expression became purposeful again as my words intrigued him. Swallowing, he came to stand beside me. His lips thinned and his eyes narrowed as he inspected the stitched organs. Then his keen eyes traveled to another table. I followed his look and saw several jars holding human organs, floating in preserving chemicals.
His face had taken on a slightly greenish tinge, but he was in command of himself once more. "Masbath... I think that not all of these organs belong to this woman.The ones which were rotted or damaged have been replaced or repaired, using parts from... other corpses."
I was bewildered. "Why would anyone go to all this trouble to repair the organs in a dead body?"
"Impossible," he murmured, his eyes moving over the corpse, the jars, the instruments. A revelation was opening to him, but I could not see it. When he spoke again, after a long minute, his voice was awed. "But this is not the first time I have seen the impossible."
"Sir, what is it?"
"I was wrong. The creature we saw was not the victim of a botched cure."
"What was he then?"
He spoke softly, almost reverently. "Masbath... I think that Victor Frankenstein means to bring this dead body back to life."
I stared at him for a long time. "But why?" I asked at last.
Ichabod's mind was racing, I could tell. He drew a long breath before announcing his answer. "To be a mate for the corpse he has already reanimated."
Now I was beginning to feel sick. "That's impossible."
"But it is true."
The voice was low and rasping. My master and I both whirled, and caught each other for support.
So intent we had been on luring the creature to follow Obermann by using Victor Frankenstein as bait that when Ichabod decided to search the cottage, it had never occurred to us that the creature might come to us instead.
But it had, and it stood before us now, hulking and gruesome and with stern, sad yellow eyes. There was nowhere to run. My master and I could only stand and wait to die.
It looked at us, sadly, wearily. "I mean you no harm, Ichabod Crane, Josiah Masbath. I have never meant anyone any harm."
"William Frankenstein?" Ichabod managed.
The creature closed its eyes for a moment. "I am indebted to you, Ichabod Crane. I did not wish for an innocent to suffer for my own crime."
"How...." Ichabod's voice cracked. He paused, marshalling his resources, before beginning again. "How do you know my name?"
"I have been observing you and your family, ever since you came into the life of my father."
"Victor Frankenstein. First I was only curious, and then I found that I liked to observe you. You are good people."
Nothing could have amazed me more than to hear these quiet, intelligent remarks from the repulsive thing that stood before us.
I heard my master take a deep breath. "Why did you kill William Frankenstein?"
The creature looked at us for a moment. "You wish to hear my story. Come and sit down and I will tell you." It looked at the corpse without a glimmer of revulsion. "Let us leave my bride alone here."
That word, applied to the monstrosity on the table, made my master look ill again, but he walked to the outer room without protest. He and I sat together, both of us taut and ready to bolt in an instant. The creature gave us another sorrowful look before beginning his tale.
The tragic story of Dr. Frankenstein's monster has been told fully elsewhere, so I shall only summarize, but we heard the entirety of it that night, and at its conclusion we were both moved to intense pity.
Abandoned by its creator, abhorred by all, it -- he -- had lived in shadows and back alleys, avoiding the light, until at last chance had driven him to the relative safety of the open countryside. There he spent some months observing a family as he had observed us and helping them with their labors like the brownies of folklore. From this family he learned language and much else. He hid all the while, for he already knew that his loathesome appearance would repel those he loved. But at last he decided to make himself known, and received the expected but heartbreaking reaction of horror and flight.
The creature's mind had been developed by observation of this family, and after their flight, he went in search of his creator. It was while tracking Victor that the creature encountered little William Frankenstein, and imagined that a small child might not have learned to hate ugliness and would not be afraid of him. But William had been afraid of him, had called him an ogre and a hideous monster, and in a burst of rage the creature had killed him. After hearing this prolonged tale of woe, the monster's crime did not seem so heinous.
The creature finished his story thus: "If any being felt emotions of benevolence towards me, I should return them a hundred and a hundredfold; for that one creature's sake I would make peace with the whole kind! But I now indulge in dreams of bliss that cannot be realized. What I ask of my father is reasonable and moderate; I demand a creature of another sex, but as hideous as myself; the gratification is small, but it is all that I can receive, and it shall content me. It is true, we shall be monsters, cut off from all the world; but on that account we shall be more attached to one another. Our lives will not be happy, but they will be harmless and free from the misery I now feel. When I have my companion, no human being shall ever see us again; I will go to the vast wilds of South America. My food is not that of man; I do not destroy the lamb and the kid to glut my appetite; acorns and berries afford me sufficient nourishment. My companion will be of the same nature as myself and will be content with the same fare. We shall make our bed of dried leaves; the sun will shine on us as on man and will ripen our food."
The creature spoke these words wistfully. I wanted to weep. After what I had heard, I could have wept for days. And yet, ashamed as I am to admit it, even as my heart went out to the creature, I was repelled by him, for he was hideous beyond description. The wretch was indeed doomed; no human could have felt sympathy for him.
Ichabod's eyes were full of pity. The creature looked at him. "I can see that you feel compassion for me, Ichabod Crane. You have imprisoned the one man who can ease my misery."
Ichabod rose, looking exhausted. "He is being held at my house. A dozen men are waiting for you to break him out, and if you do, they will try to capture you. But if you do not, we will have to release him tomorrow. The truth is," he admitted, "we had no right to take Victor in the first place. We are now guilty of kidnapping. Had I not been so certain that his own activities were clandestine, I should never have dared this."
The creature asked anxiously, "You will release him? He will finish his work?"
Ichabod looked at the creature sadly. "I give you my word on that."
After regarding my master for a minute, the creature walked from the room and ran out into the gathering darkness of evening. Ichabod and I were left alone. He collapsed back onto his chair. I went to him at once, but he had not fainted; he was conscious, but exhausted.
"I suppose we had better go on to our lodgings and speak with Victor," he said tonelessly.
I rose, feeling weary myself. The two of us trudged outside and mounted our horses as if we had been running for hours. I did not even want to think of the confrontation ahead of us.
About halfway back to our lodgings, a few of Obermann's men met us. "Herr Crane! We were worried for you."
Ichabod managed a polite half-smile. "I apologize. Dr. Frankenstein's laboratory was so fascinating that I lost track of time. Thank you for coming to look for me."
The men exchanged glances, dismissing Ichabod as an absent-minded professor, and we all returned together.
Victor Frankenstein was sprawled on a chair in the sitting room, staring at the ceiling with the look of a man awaiting his execution. Obermann and one other man sat with him. Others were positioned outside the house.
My master spoke with the crispness he only displayed when extremely certain of himself. "Herr Obermann, I should like to question Dr. Frankenstein about his experimentations. If you would be so good...?"
I was afraid Obermann would want to hear the conversation, but he rose without argument, motioning for the other man to follow. Ichabod, the doctor and I were left alone.
Victor broke the silence in a hollow voice, still staring at the ceiling. "Ichabod... what have you done?"
"I have met your remarkable creation."
Galvanized by the words, Victor shot to his feet, staring at my master. "No! Did he harm you?"
"Indeed he did not. He told me his story."
Victor looked haggard and far older than his youthful years. "So now you know how tremendous is my guilt, my friend."
"And how you must make reparation. Your creation has promised to stay away from this place, and in return I have given my word that you shall be returned to your home tomorrow, when Obermann and his men may be convinced that you are ineffective bait." Ichabod paused, taking a deep breath. "Victor... forgive me for this. I hoped that I was saving you from the clutches of a monster."
Victor laughed mirthlessly. "Forgive you? I should be the last man in the world to pass judgment on another."
"You did what you did with the noblest of intentions!" Ichabod protested.
"Thus is the road to Hell paved." Victor sank back into his chair and put his head in his hands. "Good God, if only it were all over!"
Ichabod's brow furrowed with concern. He stepped closer to Victor. "Victor, let me help you in your task."
The way he looked as he said those words has stayed with me ever since. That was Ichabod Crane, the man I admired and devoted my life to serving. Dealing with human remains was torture for him, yet he readily offered to do so to relieve unjust misery.
Victor hesitated, but at last nodded. "It will be a relief to be able to share this burden with someone," he admitted. "I have never been able to tell a soul of my deeds."
None of us could sleep as the night wore on. We were too aware of the expectant men outside the house awaiting the creature, and Ichabod and I were still stunned from the day's discoveries. Since Miss Katrina was not there to press sleeping draughts on us, we passed the weary night by talking. Victor told us his story, of the years of work and research, of his desire to free humans from death. He told of his painstaking creation of the perfect human, and of its horrifying aspect once animated. Repulsed by what he had wrought, he abandoned it and fled, only to have it discover him some years later, and tell its own tragic story. Victor steadfastly refused to reveal the secret of animating a corpse with the vital spark, but he and my master talked of other scientific matters.
The next day Obermann, his eyes red from lack of sleep, approached my master. "It seems you vere mistaken, Herr Crane."
Ichabod nodded formally. "Yes. My apologies, Mr. Obermann. I thought the creature needed the doctor for something."
"Have you another plan of how to capture it?"
My master shook his head wearily. "We have exhausted my tiny stock of knowledge of its nature."
Obermann glanced around, then stepped closer, lowering his voice. "Did you not find out anything of use from the doctor?"
"Alas, no. He seems to be completely ignorant of the creature's nature."
Obermann studied my master with piercing eyes. I never knew if he found something in my master's face to satisfy him or if he found reason to put his doubts aside, but he nodded gruffly and turned away.
When we were rid of Obermann and his men, we all rode to the Frankenstein cottage. We had to sleep before attempting to work anymore. I was the first to awaken, and I made my way to the kitchen to light a fire and prepare a meal of some kind. Most of the pots and dishes were dirty and there was very little to cook in the house, but I managed to assemble a meal and had it ready when the older men awoke. It was nourishing enough, but not especially palatable. I lacked the single-minded concentration on work that Victor and Ichabod shared, and I resolved that my first task the next day would be to replenish the pantry. Besides which, if I allowed my master to starve himself as was his wont when he was intent on a project, I would have my mistress to contend with!
Our hunger warded off, we went into the laboratory. Victor went right to the corpse on the table quite casually, as if dead bodies were nothing to him. Ichabod stood near the door, steeling himself. Victor glanced at him, then said briskly, "Ichabod, could you help me with this? Hold back the flap of skin with those tongs so that I may add some stitches."
Ichabod obeyed, swallowing, trying to appear calm. Victor picked up one of his odd instruments, clearly of his own design. That caught my master's eye, and he watched the doctor wield it. "I wondered why you chose to add that knob there!" Ichabod exclaimed, his nausea forgotten.
Victor stared at him. "When did you see this instrument before? Surely you didn't trouble yourself to examine my tools the night of my so-called arrest."
"Er, no." Reluctantly, Ichabod explained how he had gone to Ingolstadt and there searched Dr. Frankenstein's former lodgings. Victor shook his head in wonder.
"Would that I had chosen criminal investigation for my own quest. I have never encountered a mind like yours, my friend."
Pleasure and embarrassment at these words fought on my master's face. He shrugged.
Victor examined a few jars, each of which contained some sort of organ floating in liquid. He chose one and carried it to the operating table. Ichabod grasped the edge of the table. Victor gave him another of those glances and began talking about the merits of different preserving chemicals. Interspersed with this, he gave Ichabod curt instructions about what to do with the instruments and the human tissues before them. Something about his manner made me abruptly realize that he had done this before. Many a young medical student's stomach has turned at the dissecting table, and following orders turns his thoughts away from his repulsion. For the next few days, Victor was to distract my master from his nausea many times with instructions and abstract scientific discussions. It was a tactic I continued to use for the rest of our years together.
Those weeks are a blur for me, a blur of chemicals and blood and cold body parts. I did none of the actual operating; my main task was to keep house, doing the kind of menial work I had not done since being raised from servant to apprentice. I did not complain, knowing the tedious duties would be only temporary. Besides, I had a duty to force my master to eat and sleep, else he would have done very little of either. I think that my efforts in this direction saved Victor from collapse as well, for if Ichabod stopped for food or rest, he sometimes did as well. Even so, both men were thin and had dark crescents under their eyes by the time their work was complete.
I studied the female form warily. It was indeed ugly, almost as ugly as the creature it -- she -- had been created for. Victor soberly assembled the chemicals and equipment he needed for the last step; he kept us carefully ignorant as to what most of those chemicals were. With everything in readiness, he stood and looked at it all, not moving.
Ichabod spoke at last. "Victor... is something wrong?"
It was a moment before Victor answered. "Three years before, I was engaged in this same manner and created a fiend whose unparalleled barbarity had desolated my heart and filled it forever with the bitterest remorse. I am now about to form another being of whose dispositions I was alike ignorant; she might become ten thousand times more malignant than her mate and delight, for its own sake, in murder and wretchedness. He has sworn to quit the neighbourhood of man and hide himself in deserts, but she has not; and she, who in all probability is to become a thinking and reasoning animal, might refuse to comply with a compact made before her creation. They might even hate each other; the creature who already lives loathes his own deformity, and might he not conceive a greater abhorrence for it when it comes before his eyes in the female form? She also might turn with disgust from him to the superior beauty of man; she might quit him, and he be again alone, exasperated by the fresh provocation of being deserted by one of his own species."
Ichabod stared at him. "You cannot mean to turn back now!"
Victor looked about him wildly, then seized from among the chemical jars one which contained acid. He uncorked it and was about to throw it on the female form he had created, but my master seized his wrist and tried to take the bottle from him. They struggled with it; some of the acid splashed onto my master's hand and he cried out, but did not let go.
But at Ichabod's cry, Victor promptly surrendered. Ichabod placed the acid on a table and went to plunge his hands in cool water, wincing. Victor followed him and produced a balm to soothe the burns. "Why is it that every action I take causes pain to those I love?" Victor murmured as he treated my master's hands. It is fortunate that he did, otherwise the burns would have caused permanent damage.
"Victor, you must complete this task. It is only justice."
The doctor shook his head. "Even if they were to leave Europe and inhabit the deserts of the new world, yet one of the first results of those sympathies for which the daemon thirsted would be children, and a race of devils would be propagated upon the earth who might make the very existence of the species of man a condition precarious and full of terror. Have I right, for my own benefit, to inflict this curse upon everlasting generations? I have before been moved by the sophisms of the being I had created; I have been struck senseless by his fiendish threats; but now, for the first time, the wickedness of my promise bursts upon me; I shudder to think that future ages might curse me as their pest, whose selfishness had not hesitated to buy its own peace at the price, perhaps, of the existence of the whole human race."
My master's eyes widened. "You do not mean that you gave the female organs of generation!"
Victor looked at him, then laughed that mad laugh of his again. "Ichabod, I am ashamed to have you see what an imbecile I am. So intent was I on creating a perfectly complete human being that I forgot that some organs might be better left out. Do you know, I even gave her an appendix, even though appendices serve no purpose whatsoever." He lifted a scalpel and was about to set about amending his work when he poised. "But what if she is not willing to follow her mate's plan for her...."
Ichabod had an answer for that as well. "We will make him agree to restrain her before we animate her." Victor's wild eyes focused on my master. "I doubt not that he will be here for the birth of his Eve. We can exact his promise then, that if her inclinations prove evil he will destroy her. His is a benevolent soul, for all his fearsome appearance; he will not wish to wreak havoc on the human race."
Victor nodded numbly. "Yes... you are wise, Ichabod.... Now let us attend this last task." With that he made the necessary incision, and within an hour the female he had created was no longer capable of procreation.
After that we waited.
As Ichabod had anticipated, it was not long before the hideous bridegroom appeared. Victor extracted the necessary promise from him, which was given willingly enough, and then he set about the last phase of his work.
Although I saw it done with my own eyes, Victor Frankenstein was close-lipped about his methods and I have no idea how the miracle was performed. But performed it was; in time, the female's hands moved, and her eyes opened, and she looked about at us in the uncomprehending manner of an infant. I felt my master's hand tighten on my shoulder, painfully; she was grotesque, and this thing moving was horrible to see.
The creature had no such revulsion, however. He lumbered to her side and looked down at her tenderly, then helped her to her feet with infinite gentleness. In spite of my pity for him, such sweetness in one so grotesque was appalling. Even the vampiric kiss the Headless Horseman bestowed on the evil witch who had raised him from the grave was not so horrific.
The creature turned to look at us. Such pathetic gratitude from the depths of such despair ó it is best to pass over it. After thanking his creator and my master with that tragic look, he led his mate out into the darkness, never to be seen again.
Victor Frankenstein drew a gasping breath. I think he was about to go into hysterics, but Ichabod forestalled them by fainting.
Now there is only the denouement. I know not if the female creature turned to evil ways and had to be destroyed by her mate, but I do know that no human ever again heard from either of Dr. Frankenstein's creations.
Ichabod and I were back in Dijon very soon, only too happy to submit to the tender care of Miss Katrina, who gave us the expected affectionate reproaches for not eating and resting enough, despite my efforts in that regard. After the bizarre things we had witnessed, to have plates of well-cooked food piled before us and be exhorted to clean them was refreshingly mundane. When she deemed us fit to travel, her own mild illness having long since faded, we moved on to Paris in a leisurely fashion. Once in Paris, the challenges of training a detective force and squiring his lady about the Louvre and the opera houses drove the events in Geneva almost completely from my master's mind. Miss Katrina wore the new dresses she had acquired in Geneva, which had been made to accommodate her condition. And in time, everything was forgotten except for the miracle of little Elizabeth Crane, their first child, named for Miss Katrina's late mother.
Victor Frankenstein, too, was to experience the miracle of the more traditional method of creating life shorty afterward. He married his cousin Elizabeth, after much debate with himself over whether he deserved any happiness in life after his terrible crimes. A year later they named their first child Ichabod, in tribute to the man who brought them peace, as he was to bring it to many others in his distinguished career.
Tales of Romance