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from Spirit of Rain by Arline Chase

Murder in the Night

Murder in the Night

October 19, 1907

Troubled in mind, Fritz Kraftner left Patrick’s Tavern, the oldest Irish pub in the city, and made his way through the sleeping streets of Pigtown, a district named for the livestock that was sometimes herded through the streets from the B&O yards to the slaughterhouses and butcher shops. Narrow row houses provided homes for German meatworkers and Irish railroad workers who lived in the district. Kraftner headed toward his home, though he’d been told often enough to “go off and be damned.”

With a lot on his mind, Fritz felt the sharp wind brush his face and caught a whiff of spices from the McCormick factory, blocks away. For weeks he’d been out in Illinois with a gang of strike breakers. Fritz hadn’t liked the violence, or the men in his crew that did. But when you worked for the B&O, you went where they sent you and did whatever they told you to do. At least this time there had been no killing and none of the men in his crew had been badly hurt. Now the strike was done and at last he was back home in Baltimore.

Fritz looked up at the faint stars overhead, and sighed, as he thought about his Norske wife, Katja. She was tall, blonde, buxom and more than anything she loved to bat her eyes and flirt with men. Even before he wed her, his younger sister, Hulda, had warned him she would wink at the devil himself. Still, their daughter Berta had been on the way, so Fritz had no real choice.

Hulda, then twelve, had come to live with them and help w...

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