It dawned on me post haste that the untoward death of the wee’un was caused by arsenic poisoning. The Derby Gazette expeditiously divulged my theory to the masses; nonetheless it was nary successful in convincing everyone.  The benighted had their own speculations, that my theory was impossible, and that no person could be killed by wallpaper especially.

The family of the child had been sickening for quite sometime. I sent them apace to the country to breathe in uncontaminated air. On their arrival back to their dwelling the wee’un had again taken ill. At that time, I beseeched the parents of the Wilson boy to remove the paper from their walls. They had complaints for a fortnight of pains in the eyes and head as well as irritation of their lips. After a simple tidying of the parlour and a brushing of the walls this malady was brought forth. My begging fell on deaf ears. Besides my warnings, there was nary more I could do; the matter was left resting with the Wilson family.

The fashionable, viridis wallpaper continues to line the pockets of much of my country. Ladies wear finery dyed with arsenic to get the most beauteous shade of emerald green. Children’s trinkets are painted with the poison. Delirium has clouded the minds of many. And the witless are unable to acquire that the maladies now plaguing them come from both their homes and the clothing they donned.

Since having been labelled a charlatan by my peers I’ve now questioned my own soundness. I fear I’ll face an assured diagnosis of hysteria by their hands. I’m feeling increasingly green around the gills about my closely watched, but certainly doomed speculations about the well-liked, arsenic dyed wallpaper.

Mayhap, I too need to vanish elsewhere to draw in the uncontaminated country air.

I fear rest will escape me this evenfall. Each hour is needed for rumination…only the dotish would slumber with soundness. Because I longingly await the dawn of answers.

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Eric Radcliffe
Eric Radcliffe (@eric-radcliffe)
7 months ago

I smiled when I read your story Melissa, because there was a case in the 18th century where a woman actually got rid of more than one husband that way. (I paint my walls?) I enjoyed the style you chose to write this story making it far more interesting. Well done Melissa.

Last edited 7 months ago by Eric Radcliffe
Christer Norrlof
Christer Norrlof (@christer-norrlof)
7 months ago

What a wonderful description of a major problem in that period of history, Melissa. Your language is perfectly adapted to the Victorian age, and the doctor’s (?) concerns and suspicions made very realistic. Was the main character a real person or did you invent him?

Andrew Carter
Andrew Carter (@andrew-carter)
7 months ago

Your story was last on the list to read yet, surely should be first to win, Melissa. Oh, how I wish I were read to as a child, especially the wonderful words and works of Jane Austen. You capture not only the time but the language so brilliantly. I was in laughter right through. The comic title and the hilarious stream of consciousness are so reminiscent of Austen, and I can only picture how your mother must have read to you (no doubt with proportionate facial expressions) when you were a child.
The word ‘benighted’ (meaning: in a state of pitiful or contemptible intellectual or moral ignorance), is both fitting and clever as an inference to the word ‘knights’ (alluding to Austen’s exposure of the arist-hypocrisy). And ‘viridis’ continues the green theme regarding the ignorance, or naivety, of the masses.
Thank you for a great read.

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