Trouble at the Shelsher Mansion

November 21, 2011
By Anonymous

           The year was 1854 in Bristol, England.  Mary Helling was a relatively young lady at the age of sixteen, with her shimmering gold hair tucked into a tight bun on the back of her head, and her white tunic flaring out of her deep black jacket, when she was walking home from the market around midday.
She remembered that nobody was home this week because her parents needed to take a vacation to Germany because they said that Mary needed to blossom into a more independent woman.  Upon strolling into her home, she found a letter resting upon the light brown wood table in the kitchen.  She quickly paced over to it, knowing full well that the note was from her beloved William who had been gone on business to France.
William was a rather tall fellow who could always be found wearing his dark brown cap atop his rather somber brown hair.  He had piercing blue eyes, which had captured Mary from the first glance they shared.  He was employed his father, who owned a vineyard on the outskirts of Bristol, North of where Mary’s residency was.  It was very important for William’s family that the French fancied their wine, for the simple fact that it was where they made their entire income.  Secretly, William had always wanted to be a writer, as Mary was well aware.  He had described it as one of his dreams that yanked him out of his bed each and every morning.

Mary’s parents were a very strict pair who did not want Mary dabbling with men until she was ready to marry.  While fully conscious of this fact, she did not concern herself with trying to fulfill her parents’ expectations.  They fully anticipated that with Mary’s ravishing good looks and proper manners, that she could entrance a very significant man.
Mary rapidly freed the letter from its envelope and carefully unfolded the thoroughly creased paper.  The letter read:
My beloved Mary,
Do not fear my temporary leave from your life, for it shall not be for much longer.  My father and I have discussed the worth of our wine with the most prestigious of those who live in France.  They have appraised the value of our vintage and have informed us that we shall have a good sum of money coming in our direction.  As you could easily imagine, my father and I are extremely joyous of these tidings, as we can now afford to expand our vineyard and be easily fed throughout the year.  I hope you are well, as I have pondered about your being every day that I have been in this beautiful country.
All my best wishes,
William McQuillen
Following the conclusion of the letter, Mary clutched the letter to her chest as if it were trying to escape her grasp and fly back from whence it came.  Mary knew that she could not dawdle, for she had vowed to her new neighbors, who were the Shelshers that she would watch
their children as most of the family, including the servants, were out for a night on the town except for two young girls named Hannah and Brittney, along with their father.  Mary was informed that Mr. Shelsher would be in his study the entire duration of Mary’s visit, and just to ignore he is there.  Mary was told that he had been locked in his study for days and would not answer to a knock on the door.  After she had gathered her things and retightened her golden bun, she headed out to the Shelshers’ house.  As she traveled, Mary thought about how peculiar the Shelshers seemed to be.  Mary’s mother called it her instincts, and Mary called it her gut, but it told her that this father seemed to be somewhat dangerous.  Obviously denying this and putting it out of her mind, she laid her eyes upon the mansion of the Shelshers.  Mary had heard stories of how grand the mansion was, but she had not experienced it firsthand until this moment.  She strode up to the door of the Shelshers and it creaked open.
Thinking that this was left open by the Shelshers as they left early, Mary nudged the door open and walked into the home.  She silently snuck up the stairs and walked into a chamber that was obviously designated to the children of the household.  There were crude wooden toys strewn about around the pair of girls who had undoubtedly generated the mess.  The two girls in unison said, “Hello there, Ms. Mary,” which was returned with a polite hello spoken by Mary’s soft lips.  By this time it was nearing three o’clock.  Mary was required to watch after the children until ten o’clock that evening.  She thought it odd that Hannah and Brittney’s own father could not leave his study long enough to watch his children or go out with his wife and the rest of the family.

Following Mary’s short conversing with the pair of little girls, the two went back to their hushed giggles and Mary stepped out of the room and closed the door behind her.  She searched for the study of Mr. Shelsher, but was unsuccessful.  Finally, she retired to the living room, which was a very long room with numerous chairs around a fireplace.  She settled into a chair and began to warm her hands when something caught her eye to the upper left of the hearth.  She stood and raised the photo of numerous people to see it in the dim firelight.  It was a photo of several people, including Mr. and Mrs. Shelsher.  The look on Mr. Shelsher’s face disturbed Mary because she knew that Mr. Shelsher was a chemist, and that most chemists were driven mad by the materials their job demanded, like mercury.  The matter that concerned Mary about this picture was the fact that many of those in the picture had crosses over their faces.
“Impressive, isn’t it?”
The voice spun Mary around as she slapped the picture back down on the original location.
“H-Hello Mr. Shelsher,” Mary stuttered.
“Ms. Helling, I- No.  No, that doesn’t sound right, now does it? I don’t believe I’ll call you that.  You see Mary.  That is your name? Mary?  I see the connection between us.  Yes, you will be the one…”  Mr. Shelsher’s voice faded off.
“What do you mean- ‘The One,’ sir?” Mary asked.
“Why, the one who will kill me,” he simply replied.
“What do you mean by that, sir?” Mary questioned.
“I thought the statement to be quite self-explanatory,” Mr. Shelsher thoughtfully answered.
“Sir, I do believe that I must leave, my mother- she’s gravely ill-“Mary started to say.
“Don’t you lie to me, you pathetic little girl,” he growled.
As he reached for Mary, she dug her nails into the side of his face and sliced his cheek with all her strength.  A thunderous bellow came from the large man, as he grasped his now crimson face.  Mary sprinted toward the front door and pulled it open to lead to her escape. As she was leaving the house, she heard behind her a tumultuous laugh that chilled her to her core.
           As afraid as she was, Mary did not dare go to the police with this.  She thought that such a well-known man being accused of attempted murder by a sixteen year old girl would sound ridiculous.  Mary deeply wondered what Mr. Shelsher meant by her being the one to kill him as she slumped into her bed to attempt to sleep.

           Mary was woken by the sound of pounding at her door the following morning.  Not the pounding of a murderous maniac, but of a policeman.  She rushed down the stairs to meet four officials who beat her and called her cursed names as they thrust her into the rear of their automobile.  No matter how she begged or presented the idea that there was a possible mix up, they stayed silent and pulled her out of the vehicle once they arrived at the court, where they
were met with a flood of flashing lights and reporters.  The officials parted the crowd for the very confused girl and other policemen to get through.
           The court room was packed full of people, as Mary was put before a judge.  Mary was informed that she was being charged with three counts of murder.  A man asked her a series of questions, but the moment that really disturbed her most was when they showed her a picture of Hannah and Brittney, who had been clearly thrown out of a window.  Their limbs pointed every direction that Mary could bear to think of.  She was also shown a picture of Mr. Shelsher, who was in his study with a crimson red scratch on his cheek, which was on the same side of his head where there was a hole in his temple that only a bullet could have achieved.  There were bloody footprints leading away from the corpse and back toward the stairs where the little girls had been playing.
           Mary stared in disbelief as she finally realized what Mr. Shelsher meant by saying that she would be the one to kill him.  He had been planning this murder/suicide in his study to look like a murder which was why he would not allow anyone in there for the days leading to his death, and he didn’t want to ruin his legacy by committing suicide.
           Since Mary could not cooperate because she did not know anything about the murders except for her story that nobody believed, she was sentenced to death by public hanging.

Mr. Shelsher Murder Case
By: William McQuillen
Many have been led to believe in these past few days that Mary Helling was the murderer of a great, successful man, and his two children.  While I have no quarrel with the fact that his children were innocent, I do not believe that Mr. Shelsher was a great man, nor do I think he was even a decent man.  On the night of his “murder,” Ms. Mary Helling was hired to watch over the children of Mr. and Mrs. Shelsher.  Mrs. Shelsher was out with the servants and the rest of the family at a dinner, while Mr. Shelsher stayed home with two of his children, Hannah and Brittney Shelsher.  While in his study, we are led to believe that Ms. Helling came in, scratched this beg man across his face, and shot him in the temple without a struggle.  She then proceeded to go up the stairs and throw the two eighty pound girls out of the window with her feeble arms.  I, for one, do not find this believable.  I mourn for those who have lost their loved ones in this tragic incident, for I know that I have as well.

The author's comments:
I wrote this for my creative writing class.

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