Sunday, May 24, 2009

Unknown - Hallowed and Hushed

(This is the beginning of a creative non-fiction piece I'm working on based on a true story. In the late 1800s, an unknown young woman came to the Graham Springs Hotel in Harrodsburg, Kentucky. During the evenings grand ball, she danced all night with one man after another. Immediately after the last dance, the lady died in her partners arms. Her identity remains a mystery to this day.)

Unknown - Hallowed and Hushed be the place of the dead. Step Softly. Bow Head.

As she entered the Graham Springs Hotel, she self-consciously touched her dark hair. Mid-back length, she had it artfully pulled on top of her head with several ringlets of curls dangling like tendrils around her graceful neck.

Her alabaster complexion was deathly white, but not a sickly pallor of ill-health, just the markings of a gentle lady brought up to protect her skin from the sun. The apples of each cheek held the faint hue of a pink rosebud at dawn with only a tiny dimple marring the line of her left cheek.

Her eyes were hazel with tiny flecks of gold that glistened and reflected in sunlight or candlelight. Thick curly eyelashes gave her eyes a dreamy look of someone older than her years.

When had only checked into the hotel for one night, arriving unescorted on a coach from Lexington. She had only a small trunk and she was reluctant to let out of her sight. She paid her bill with Confederate bills and signed her name daintily in the thick ledger Mrs. E. W. Maclaine. They later learned this was a false name.

She appeared in the grand ballroom at precisely the stroke of nine o'clock, her pale green dress draping behind her like a foaming waterfall. She was instantly the center of attention, turning every young man's head.

She danced with each man in turn and would then start all over again, rarely stopping to catch her breath. She refused all overs for a glass of punch and never left the ballroom for a walk in the moonlit garden.

Just a few strokes after midnight, guest began making their way to their rooms. As the mystery girl's last dance partner gave her one last twirl, he was horrified to find the young woman dead.

All attempts to learn the true identity of Mrs. E. W. Maclaine were unsuccessful. After a week of searching, he unknown lady was laid to rest on the grounds of Harrodsburg Springs. The unknown tombstone still marks the grave.

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