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Fed up, Fair married again, hoping to put distance between herself and Crittenden. She left her new husband in 1870, and Crittenden assured her that his marriage was nearly through, making the promise so convincingly that Fair spent a considerable sum to have her wedding wardrobe made. Fair made an ultimatum to Crittenden, demanding he promise not to kiss anyone but her – to not even smile as he walked around town with the wife he claimed not to love.On November 3, 1870, she put his promise to the test, boarding the San Francisco-Oakland ferry dressed in a black waterproof cloak and hood.Only after they had been together for a year did Crittenden let slip that he was in fact married to a woman back east, though he assured Fair that he was in a loveless marriage and intended to leave his wife for her.Their on-again, off-again affair, soaked in high passion and dysfunction, went on for seven years.Friends assured him that any reasonable jury would understand his motive, but the press – and Sickles’s legal team – thought otherwise.He had, after all, shot the man in Lafayette Square, in full view of the White House and a crowd of horrified onlookers.
– and her boyfriend, seemingly unaware that she had shot him the week before.
She was dressed as Little Red Riding Hood, and he was an English hunter, who told the coachman to take the back roads home. C.’s big open secret, known to everyone except Daniel Sickles.
Someone finally sent an anonymous letter, warning Sickles that Key kept a rented house “for no other purpose than to meet your wife Mrs. He hangs a string out of the window as a signal to her that he is in and leaves the door unfastened and she walks in and sir I do assure you with these few hints I leave the rest for you to imagine.” Sickles took the letter to his wife, and forced her to confess her adultery in writing. When Sickles advanced, Key vainly threw his only weapon in defense: a pair of opera glasses.
In 1860 the Fairs had a daughter, Lillias Lorraine, who as a child was generally just called “Baby.” William did not improve Laura’s luck in marriage, however, and died destitute of gunshot wounds in San Francisco.
It is not known if his death was the result of suicide, or a duel.
Though Fair considered herself “spiritually married” to her beau, legal marriage continued to hold a certain appeal.