Serial novel: “The Plot to Kill Susan B. Anthony”

Editor’s note: “The Plot to Kill Susan B. Anthony” is a novel written by William Fleeman, a Cassadaga-area resident. Each week the OBSERVER is publishing a different chapter of the book.

The cab was still at the curb. We walked unhurriedly across the street. Now the cabbie was wide-awake.

“It was yer scream what waked me, Miss,” the cabbie said.

“Washington Square,” MacDuff said. “Number twenty-six 4th Street.”

We climbed in and settled back. We were chilled to the bone, and my teeth chattered.

“MacDuff?”

“Yeah.”

“Obviously, someone knew Mrs. Beecher Hooker was going to contact us. Someone wants us out of the way, MacDuff.”

“Yeah, wonder why, Millicent? And I wonder how they knew we were there.”

“They must have followed us here. MacDuff, I wonder why Emma Goldberg and her paramour ran out when we came in Justice Schwab’s.”

“After we talk with Mrs. Beecher Hooker in the morning,” MacDuff said wearily, “we’ll go and see them.”

When we climbed out of the cab in front of our building, it had stopped raining. We said goodnight in the foyer, and MacDuff climbed the stairs to his rooms on the second floor. I had inserted my key and was unlocking the door to my first floor flat, when MacDuff called to me. I looked up.

“Millicent,” he said. Then after a pause, “Thanks.”

“Don’t mention it, MacDuff.”

I opened my door and put my key back in my bag. Then I turned and looked up again at MacDuff, who was now at the top of the stairs.

“MacDuff_”

He stopped and stood with his back to the hall lamp, his shadow filling the foyer.

“Why do you do it, MacDuff? I mean, you might have been killed tonight.”

He did not answer.

There was another woman in MacDuff’s life, of whom I am exceedingly jealous. I blame her. Look for her the next time you walk past the courthouse. She’s the blindfolded woman standing at the courthouse door. She holds a balance scale in one hand, a short sword in the other. Students of Greek Mythology call her the Goddess of Justice. To MacDuff, she is simply the Blind Lady. That’s who he risked his life for tonight outside Justice Schwab’s Saloon.

MacDuff climbed to the top of the stairs. I heard his door open, then close. Inside my flat I prepared for bed. Before tuning down the gas, I glanced at myself in the mirror.

“You are a rather comely specimen of Victorian womanhood,” I said aloud to the image in the glass, far more handsome than that woman made of stone.

I might have had bad dreams that night, but did not thanks to the tonic of laudanum I drank before retiring.

My last thoughts before the laudanum took effect were of MacDuff. How did this enigmatic part-Cherokee Indian man with a fifth-grade formal education, who understands the nuances of Greek Philosophy better than most University trained scholars_how did such a man become an expert in the field of criminal psychology? And how did I become this enigmatic part Indian man’s partner?

“Good night, MacDuff,” I said aloud in the darkness of my room. “‘and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest'” Then I fell down, down, down into sweet, sweet laudanum dreamland.

To receive a signed copy of “The Plot to Kill Susan B. Anthony,” send check or money order for $15.95 to: William Fleeman, PO Box 259, Cassadaga, NY 14718. You may also purchase the book including the Kindle edition at amazon.com