Murder in Cross: December 8, 1894


Belle Sheridan was as fine a musician as Cross ever produced. It was always a pleasure to listen to her play, and whenever I was in town, I made certain to stop in wherever she might be.

I learned that on the evening of the eighth, she would be performing at the house of Augustus Willoughby, a recent transplant from Boston. The middle-aged man had made his money supplying weapons to both sides during the War of the Rebellion, and while I had no great love for the man, I did enjoy Belle and her music.

When I arrived, I was ushered to the front row in Willoughby’s ballroom and seated beside the man himself, much to my displeasure. I was polite, however, and I refrained from snubbing him. Belle was, after all, the main attraction.

She came out shortly after the last of the audience was seated, and she began with a stirring, passionate rendition of a piece from Schubert’s Death and the Maiden. The music affected Willoughby terribly, for when I glanced at him, his face was deathly pale, and there was sweat beaded on his forehead.

Belle finished the piece and came forward to greet me. As I rose, she drew a small, two-shot derringer and fired a single shot into the forehead of our host, Mr. August Willoughby. He collapsed back into his chair as she swung the derringer towards me, and instinct took over, I am afraid to say.

Before I could stay my hands, I had drawn both Colts and put two rounds through her breast.

As I stood there, sliding the pistols back into their holsters, I understood why she had invited me into Willoughby’s house, and why I was seated beside him.

Upon inspection of her derringer, it was discovered that the second chamber had never been loaded.

No one knows why she killed Willoughby, though rumors ran rampant for a great many years after. I know only that she couldn’t kill herself, and so she left that task to me.

It is one of the few deaths that weigh upon me, but my shoulders are broad, and I shall carry that weight.

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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