An Ostrich-Plumed Hat: Chapter Seventy-Eight

Above, Bexar County Jail, San Antonio Express-News

Begin with Chapter One ~ Return to Chapter Seventy-Seven

Emma Dumpke Daschel, December 1914

“Finally, we can pack our bags, get back to our lives and put San Antonio far behind us,” says Heinrich.

“It’s such a relief that the Grand Jury recognized my innocence, but what of Hedda?”

“Of course, Hedda’s going to have to stand trial. She shot a man. Dead. She fired not one bullet through him, but three.”

“She shot him, but she didn’t commit murder, Heinrich. And how can one of Otto Koehler’s business partners serve as foreman of the Grand Jury?”

“John Stevens? I have no idea, Emmy. It appears a conflict to me, but maybe they just do things differently in Texas.”

“And why was the only witness listed on her indictment our neighbor, Justice of the Peace Campbell?”

“Because, Emmy, Mister Campbell served as witness to your interrogation by the District Attorney right after the shooting. Witnesses testifying before the Grand Jury always are kept secret.”

“But I’ll need to testify during her trial. To help Hedda clear her name.”

“Number One, the trial will not be until sometime next year. Number two, I’m not sure your testimony will be of much assistance with her defense. Are you going to relate how Hedda forged Mister Cordt’s name on a telegram to trick you here? Are you going to inform the jury about her refusal to return the notes to Otto Koehler? How she made that last dash to that lady lawyer? This story isn’t convincing, Emmy. I believe you, but will a jury? You’re more useful as a witness for the prosecution. And what of your past? The parts of which I was unaware? Are you really going to insist on dragging my name — yes, you have my name attached to yours—through all the muck and mire?”

“But how can we leave her there, stuck in that miserable county jail?”

“Emmy, I spoke with her attorney again this morning. Carlos Bee’s been practicing law in San Antonio since 1893. He served as district attorney for six years. He knows his way around the courthouse.”

“Carlos Bee was one of Otto Koehler’s pallbearers. Obviously, a friend of all of them.”

“Emmy, how do you expect me to find a competent attorney in this town who did not know one of the wealthiest men in the city? Would you prefer a greenhorn with absolutely no experience? Someone like that Missus Ramer? The ink on her diploma isn’t even dry. Mister Bee assured me he’ll seek Hedda’s release on a writ of habeas corpus. And, if that fails, she cashes in the notes and makes bail. Hedda will be out in no time.”

“I feel so horribly guilty leaving her.”

“Guilty? Hedda Burgemeister is the one who should feel guilty. Guilty for forging that telegram. Guilty of endangering your life. She could’ve gotten you killed, Emmy. Pack up. We’ll catch the next train out of here that is headed north or east. I don’t care what destination, just somewhere distant from San Antonio, Texas.”

Footnotes

The Grand Jury indicted Hedda Burgemeister for murder in mid-December. How in hell could John Stevens have served as the jury’s foreman?

It is possible that Emma Daschel’s husband had no knowledge of her relationship with Otto Koehler when they met aboard the ship returning from Germany? Having the world know the details about your wife’s prior paramour would mount stress atop an already awkward situation. And this shooting was not a mere local story. Headlines were splashed across newspapers throughout the country. Makes the Author ponder if their marriage could be salvaged.

Continue to Chapter Seventy-Nine

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