Sunday, 25 September 2016

Tiny stories 4: Grace Hill, fox and dove

A paper found in the prayer book of the accused, Grace Hill.

I tend my flowers dutifully.

This side of the wall, they're sheltered from the chill Antrim wind. The soil is dug to a fine tilth. Rain is plentiful and sun sufficient. They flourish.

Sometimes, though, they grow too high.

They become vulnerable.

I have been watching you carefully.

Behind this linen armour I'm a dove of a girl with the eyes of a fox. I've been cherished, preserved and indulged. They cosset and dote. But I can see through the knots of the lace, my own fine work.

I see you. It does not suit me to become vulnerable.

Testimony from Annie Hedley, a friend of Miss Hill.

Grace thought she were better than us. On account of her being the doctor's daughter. Jack Moore had an understanding with our Susan, but Grace saw him that afternoon and decided he were hers.

No, Sir, Jack were not at fault. He called for our Susan as usual. Susan were anxious-like, and said to Jack that Grace had set her eye on him. Jack said to Susan that Grace's nose were too long for his tastes. He took it all in light heart.

Susan is still abed. Likely she will be for some time more. She has wore her eyes raw with weeping.

Belladonna. Grace said it meant Beautiful Lady. In a lovely bottle, it were, on her dresser.

Report from the Belfast Evening Telegraph, September 25th, 1883

Miss Grace Hill, aged seventeen years, appeared in the dock accused of the murder of Jack Moore, twenty, of Ballykennedy, County Antrim. Mr Donnelly, prosecuting, said that the prisoner had taken against Mr Moore when it appeared that he did not return her affections, and had obtained a Poison from the surgery of her Father, Doctor Hill, having read of its effects in his papers, with the intention of punishing the young gentleman.

Report from The Lancet, 1881, presented in evidence by Mr Donnelly

On September 1st September 2 , 1881, Mrs K__ , a highly nervous patient, suffering from chronic metritis, inadvertently swallowed from half an ounce to an ounce of belladonna liniment…I visited her at 2pm, when she was insensible, with wild, scared, and pinched features, anaemic, with lips blue and pale, the pupils being fully dilated..pain in the pit of the stomach…frequent retching and still incoherent...

Statement of the accused, Grace Hill, on hearing the evidence presented against her

Beautiful blooms, beautiful ladies, beautiful freedom. I hold my dove head high and pure. The linen lace knots round my throat and my body passes on the sisters' path.

Grace Hill was found not guilty of murder by virtue of Lunacy but instead remanded into the custody of the local Hospital for the Insane. She remains there to this day, tending the Flowers within the Walled Garden.

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