The Pin Fair

I shared this article ones before. It seems fitting to share it again in anticipation of this weekend’s Agricultural Society Fair at the Genesee Country Village and Museum. Here, from the 1867 The Lyceum Banner, (Chicago).

Pin Fair

The enterprises of boys are never recorded, no matter how much energy, talent and taste they display. It gives me great pleasure to be able through these columns, to describe to other boys and girls, an enterprise on which I know there was a great deal of energy shown, but of the taste and talent, I will leave others to judge.

I had just attended the Rock Island Fair, and having examined the grounds, buildings, articles entered, and race-track, and inquired how it was conducted, I proposed to open a Pin Fair on an empty lot near my home. Johnnie Gow, brother Roddie and myself constituted ourselves a stock company, and agreed to plan, execute and control the fair without the assistance of the grown folks. We spread tables in the open air for display of articles, built an amphitheater of raised seats under some trees, and made a race-track in a circle, Oscar Dow as Marshal. Cousin Carrie printed some handbills, and the following saw the price of entry and the premiums awarded:


We only sold tickets to children in our neighborhood, because we were afraid we could not control a large crowd, without assistance of the grown folks. The day was pleasant. The tables were covered with beautiful articles tastefully displayed and interspersed with splendid bouquets and wreaths. The most noticable among the premiums awarded to Nettie Guyre, for best embroidery and prettiest doll; to Lizzie Whitman, for best bead basket, best charm; to Charlie Riggs, for best collection of geological specimens, best original drawing, best puzzle, largest bunch of grapes and larges apples; to Lucy Harper, for prettiest toy lamb; to Jennie Gow, for best collection of sea shells and prettiest toy dog; to Minnie Hakes, for prettiest paper doll; to Cornelius Smith, for the best worsted knitting; to Mary Gale, for best bouquet; to Lucy Gow, best pin cushion, best crochet work; to Roddie Riggs, best collection of river shells, largest pear, largest toy chicken; to Clara Whitman, largest glass marble; to Minnie Gow, prettiest bead ring, largest doll, prettiest pen-wiper; to Carrie Conant, largest collection of carnelians; to Harry Carter, best crab apples.

[paragraph on racing]

Our receipts were 187 pins. We spent a very happy day in the open air, increased our love of the beautiful, gave an impetus to our industry, and I hope improved our health and by social intercourse, our good manners. Next year, if we get larger grounds and if the grown folks will control it, we can open it to the public, and get up a big Pin Fair. Charlie.

PS – Two blog posts with lovely photos of a local event in Angelica, NY came up on my feed this morning. Check them out.

Published in: on September 30, 2015 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  

“The Old Bonnet” by Henrietta N. Babb.

“I do so wish Sallie Curtis would not wear that old bonnet!” exclaimed a lady, as she entered the parlor of a fashionable boarding-house, which some half dozen families miscalled “home” – that sweet word, which the heart can only apply to the place that shelters our own household band!

“Why does Miss Curtis’ bonnet trouble you? Asked her husband, laughingly.

“Trouble me? indeed it does – indeed it does – it takes away all my comfort in church! It looked badly enough in the early part of the season, but now that all the ladies in the pews around them have such elegant new hats, Sallie and her mother do look most forlorn in their old straws!?

“Is her mother’s as bad as hers?”

“Yes; and a hundred times worse. IT is shameful for ladies in their position to dress so meanly! I beg your pardon, Mrs. T—-, I did not see you,” said the last speaker, with a blush.

“Oh, you need not apologize to ma, she sees Cousin Sallie’s hat in the same light in which you do, and aunt’s too!” spoke up a young lady, at the side of the person addressed.

“Yes, indeed; and I am not surprised at their being the subject of remark. I told them it would be so, when I saw them fixing up their bonnets, (for they trimmed them themselves with ribbon they had in the house;) but I hoped then they would be worn for a few weeks, until cold weather set in; but they are bent on making them do service during the entire winter! Such a foolish notion as my sister-in-law has in her head; because this is a hard winter, and business men are cramped for money, she is determined to save a dime wherever she can, without causing actual suffering to herself and family! I am lecturing her continually on the absurdity of her course, but I cannot mover her. I told her that Sallie could not possibly do without a new bonnet this winter, even if she did. A married lady, you know, may occasionally enjoy the privilege of being careless about her own dress; people take it for granted that in her anxiety about her family, she has forgotten herself; but it is absolutely necessary for a young lady to be always well dressed, and I am sure I am ashamed of Sallie, this winter! My Julia wouldn’t wear her best hat, even for ‘a hack bonnet’”

“No, that I would not!” said the young lady. “I should be afraid of losing caste, if I did so!”

“But I thought Mr. Curtis was a man of wealth!” said an intimate friend to Mrs. T— , in a lower tone.

“He is considered so; but now even the wealthiest men are embarrassed, you know. My husband says that one dollar, this winter, is worth more than two were last year!” she said laughing.

“But you are not obliged to economize?” and the speaker glance at the rich velvet, costly furs, and the “lovely hat,” in which Mrs. T— was arrayed.

“Me! oh, I can’t do it; and if I could, where would be the use of worrying and slaving myself to asve a little here, and a little there? What would it all amount to, in the end? A few hundred dollars, which, if my husband is going to fail, could not prevent him, and which I may as well enjoy while I can! My sister-in-law says that if her husband becomes involved, it shall not be through any extravagance of hers; and that she is resolved

to make no unnecessary purchases this winter. I represented to her that with all her efforts, she could not save more than a trifle, and that she had better give up the struggle and take things as they come; but her earnest answer was – ‘No, Elizabeth, although the sum may be ever so trifling, I am resolved to exercise self denial, in order that I may have the satisfaction of feeling that I have done what I could!” It has really become quite a mania with her, and Sallie just like her mother. Whenever I tell her of anything she needs, her reply invariably is – ‘I can do without it at present, for we wish to economize,’ or, ‘we are trying to retrench.’
“What a pity! She is such a fine-looking girl, when well-dressed!”

“I know it; and I am so glad you alluded to her dress, for I meant to tell her it has been remarked upon, and I shall do my best to prevent her face being again seen under that old bonnet!”

The ladies who carried on the above conversation, and a listener, of whom they little dreamed. Mr. R—, a wealthy and elegant gentleman, who had spent several years in Europe, and had lately returned home, with nothing to do but to seek enjoyment and a wife, lay on a sofa in the adjoining parlor trying to reed, but unconsciously taking in all that the ladies said.

“So Miss T— would be afraid of losing caste, if she wore a bonnet as her cousin’s, would she?” he repeated to himself sneeringly. “How finely her position in society must be established, if so a slight a thing as a straw hat could hurl her from her place! When will our women have that noble independence which should be their birthright?” and as the voices died away, he lay musing for some time upon the old straw bonnet, and its wearer.

Despite the eloquent way in which Mrs. T—- reported to her niece the remarks that had been made upon her old bonnet, Sallie’s pretty face was still seen under it at church, and on the street.

“You foolish child!” the aunt persisted, “what are ten or fifteen dollars to your father, in his business, when he has thousands of dollars to pay out almost every day?”

“Very little, I know; but then the consciousness that I am trying to lighten his cares, is a great deal to me; and mother says that the feeling of independence, which we call forth by our self-denial, will be lasting benefit to me.”

“Pshaw! you don’t know the disadvantage it may prove to you! Just in an age when the appearance you make will have a great influence on your future destiny; it is all –important that you should look as well as possible; and what girl can appear in an old bonnet?”

“Mother, just think of it,” exclaimed Julia T—, a few days after. “Sallie fancies she can go to that party in the with dress that she has worn, I don’t know how many times!”

“You don’t mean to say that she had not made a new dress for this occasion?”

“So she says.”

“Well, then she had better stay at home, that’s all!”

“So I told her myself. I wouldn’t go into society in an old dress, if I never went at all, for I should not expect to receive the least attention! But let me tell you the funniest thing you ever heard, Ma!” continued the young lady, laughing immoderately, as if she just recalled something excessively ludicrous. “She thinks she can’t even afford a new pair of gloves for the party, and so what do you suppose she has done? Taken soap and milk and cleaned the pair she wore to Mrs. C—-‘s; I laughed ready to kill myself, when she showed them to me with the assurance that they were ‘just as good as new!”

“How did they look?”

“I couldn’t see for laughing’ and just think mother, they have dismissed the seamstress, and Sallie is going to do the family-sewing, until times are easier, she says!”

“Why, is there anything especially wrong in her father’s affairs?”

“Oh, no; only the old story of, ‘he is embarrassed, and I wish to do what I can!”

It is said “stone walls have ears;” I do not know how true it is, but somehow or other, Mr. R—- overheard this conversation, as distinctly as he had the one about the old bonnet.

One word respecting that gentleman. Young ladies said he was about thirty; certainly spinsters and affirmed that he was “all of thirty-five,” while he laughingly owned to thirty-three; but he was so lively and interesting in conversation, that even very young girls forgot his age.

After the above revelations respecting the economy of Miss Curtis’ toilet, he certainly expected her to present a shabby appearance at the party; and he began to dread seeing her pass through the trying ordeal of feeling herself the most illy-dressed person in the room; and enduring the slights consequent upon that circumstance, she did not appear until quite late, and as he looked around upon the rich satins and gorgeous silks, in which many of the guests were arrayed, he found himself hoping that she might not come at all.

“There is one young lady here, dressed in such pure artistic taste, can you tell me who she is?” inquired a friend at his elbow. “There talking to that tall man with the light hair!”

Mr. R—- looked, and recognized Sallie. But he sought in vain for evidence of her dress being old, or unfit to grace a scene like that. Its snowy folds were a positive relief to the eye, dazzled by so much splendor, while her dark hair – which formed so fine a contrast to her alabaster skin and white dress – was most tastefully arranged, and ornamented with a few white rose-buds. The effect of that simple toilet was perfect, but he remembered what had been said of the gloves, and looked eagerly at her hands.

“If they are the same, she was right in pronouncing them as good as new,” he said to himself; and so absorbed was he by these profound reflections, that he almost forgot to reply to his friend.

The crisis that business men had apprehended came, and those whose credit had stood highest, were the first to fail. Among them was Mr. Curtis.

“So it seems that with all your worrying and economy, you were not able to keep your father from failing!” said Mrs. T— to her niece.

“No, aunt, we did not expect to be able to do that.”

“Then your wisest course would have been to enjoy life while you could. Here you have been denying yourselves all winter to no purpose!”

“But, as mother says, we have the satisfaction of feeling that since father has been pressed for money, we have not cause him one needless expenditure!” and she looked radiantly happy.

“Will you permit me, Miss T—, to ask you a direct question?” Inquired Mr. R—, , of that young lady, as they found themselves left alone in one of the parlors.

“Certainly,” was the gracious reply, “ask me any question you like, since I can use the privilege of replying to it or not, just as I happen to be in the vein!”

“But I hope you will deign to answer this one in which I am greatly interested – is Miss Curtis much depressed at her father’s failure?”

The question was different from what Julia had anticipated, but she replied with a laugh –

“Depressed! you should see her! Were I in her place, I confess that I should be plunged into the depths of woe, at the thought of the retrenchments, and the changes that must be made in their style of living; but Sallie is as light-hearted as a bird!”

“Perhaps she does not realize it yet!”

“Oh yes she does; and she has her plans all laid out as clearly as we had to note down the various revolutions on our historical charts at school, and she talks about their moving into a small house, and keeping only one servant, as gayly as if she were planning a pleasure trip! And that is not all, she says she has been reviewing her studies with a view of teaching, so that they can thus continue her little sisters at the expensive schools they are attending. Just think of her stooping to become a teacher, isn’t it absurd?”

“I confess, I should prefer seeing her occupy a different position,” said Mr. R—-, with emphasis.

As long as her father lives he ought to be able to support her, and I told her that if I were in her place, I would reserve that degradation for some greater emergency; but she said she would rather prepare herself, by her own exertions, for any emergency.”

“I suppose they see no company now?”

“Oh yes, just the same as usual.”

Mr. R—- called on Sallie that evening, and to his delight found her alone. He was really relieved at seeing no cloud on her young face but instead, such a joyous expression as only springs from a happy heart.

In a manner not to be misunderstood he told her how glad he felt at seeing her thus, and she answered frankly –

“Why should I not be happy? My father is reduced, but he can never be dishonored! Perfect integrity and uprightness have characterized all his dealings, and if he has been unfortunate, the way in which he bears up under it makes me more proud of him than ever!” and tears filled her eyes as she spoke. “I don’t know much about business,” she added with a smile, “but I am told that all my father’s liabilities are to be met, so that no one else is to suffer through his failure.”

“But do you not shrink from the changes that must take place?”

Sallie wondered to herself why it was that she felt so perfectly free with Mr. R—, it seemed as if they had known each other all their lives as she answered -,

“Oh no, there is nothing very hard in that! Cousin Julia has been trying to convince me that I ought to be very wretched, but she did not succeed in her mission.”

There was a pause, and then the conversation renewed by Mr. R—-, but we are not going to tell the reader what he first said, though all the light that he can get upon the subject from the remarks that follow, he is welcome to. Mr. R—- spoke for about ten minutes in an earnest tone. Sallie, at first, looked down, and then raised her eyes to his face with an inquiring glance. At length she said —

“Had you spoken so, to me, half an hour ago, I should have supposed you ignorant of the change in our circumstances; but you know all.”

“I do!” was the answer, and he went on to tell Sallie of the effect that knowledge had produced upon him, and again the conversation was too earnest and tool low for our ears. At last he seemed to be urging her to reply, and if we give her answer, just as it fell from her cherry lips, we shall have to record the very trite words, “ask father!”

“Are you aware , sir, of my failure!” inquired Mr. Curtis, in answer to something Mr. R—- said to him next morning in his counting-room. “My daughter is now penniless!”

“I know all that,” was the reply; “but she is a fortune in herself!”

“That is most true; and, since you can appreciate her, take her, and may God bless you in proportion as you make her happy!”

“Thank you for the precious gift!” said Mr. R—–, much affected; “and now, sir, may I talk a little about business?”

The merchant bowed.

“I have lately received, from a relative, an overlooked-for gift of thirty thousand dollars, upon condition that I will go into some kind of business. I have been puzzled to know how to invest it, for, of business matters, I am sorry to say, I am most profoundly ignorant. You have experience and patience to bear with my want of knowledge; now, are you willing to consider my ready cash equal to your practical information, and so take me as a partner?”

The business arrangement being satisfactorily concluded, Mr. R— was urgent to have the wedding take place as soon as possible.

“Why didn’t you offer him the use of your money before, it might have saved his failure?” ask a friend of Mr. R—.

“I did long to do so, but was afraid to have the girl I loved feel that she was under obligations to me! I never could have hoped to win her affections then!”

“Pshaw! that would have been the very way to get her!”

When Mrs. T— and other friends were offering their congratulations to the blushing Sallie, her husband said —

“By the way, aunt, did I ever tell you what caused me to fall in love with your niece?”

“Her own loveliness, of course, drew our your love!”

“No such thing! it was her old straw bonnet!”

“Why, aunt, you told me, I don’t know how many times, that my old bonnet would prevent my ever marrying!”

“How had that fright of a hat anything to do with your admiration?”

“Why, you see, I wanted a companion in a wife; not a mere doll to please my fancy by her pretty face and costly dress; so I said to myself, ‘a girl who can reason thus correctly about economy, and who has independence enough to carry out that reasoning by wearing an old bonnet, has a mind above the ordinary herd, and powers of which any man might be proud?’”

Published in: on March 1, 2015 at 1:01 pm  Leave a Comment  
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A Lesson in Economy

In  the lesson “Economy” from The Village Reader (1841) we find this little story.

“If you please, mother, I will now tell you why I called Mrs. Marsh stingy; and I am sure, much as you like economy, you will think she carried it a little too far.” When she had detailed the occurrences of the morning, she added—” Now that seems a saving too small to be worth any one’s attention.”

 “That, my dear, is because you think of the ‘little matters’ alone, and not, as you should, in connection with the very serious consequences, which flow from daily and hourly neglecting such ‘little matters.’ One cent a day seems very little indeed; but I should like to have you tell me how much it would amount to in a year.”

 Elizabeth, after a momentary pause, answered, ” Three dollars and sixty-five cents; is it possible!”

 “Certainly, my dear. ‘Little matters,’ you see, by continual accumulation, amount to great matters in time. Drops make the ocean; minutes make the year.”

 “Well, mother, I believe I must allow that my opinion of Mrs. Marsh was too hastily formed.”

 “And not very decorously expressed—you will acknowledge that, too, my daughter, I hope.”

 “Yes, mother,” answered Elizabeth, with a crimson cheek. “But still I cannot think Mrs. Marsh was quite right; for when we went into the milliner’s shop, she de clined purchasing a bonnet for Laura, which she reall needs.”

 “Perhaps she wants it, but does not need it.”

 “Indeed, mother, the milliner said she needed one and Laura said so; and I said so. Now I am sure you think that parents ought to supply the wants of their children, if they can.”

 “Certainly, my dear, the real wants, but not the fancied wants. If I rightly remember, Laura’s bonnet is quite fresh and clean.”

 “Yes, but that is because she is so careful of every thing; she has worn it a long time.”

 “That is no reason why she should not continue to wear it, if it be unsoiled and unfaded.”

 “But it is so unfashionable, mother.”

 “Unfashionable! What magic is in the sound! No matter how comfortable, or pretty, or becoming any thing is, let but that word be breathed over it, and it passes at once into oblivion! But this is not to the purpose. I think Mrs. Marsh was quite right in judging for herself about what she could afford, or what was proper for her to purchase, instead of suffering herself to be led by others. She best knows her own resources, and the demands likely to be made upon them.

 “Mrs. Marsh is not rich. She has enough for the comforts of life—nothing for its costly decorations. Yet limited as her income is, she contrives by her excellent management to command all that is really valuable and useful; all that can actually add to the happiness of herself and family.

 “You can perceive, my dear, that if there be only money enough to purchase necessary and useful things, and part of it go for superfluities, there must be a deficiency of the others. You would not much like to see your friend Laura with a new bonnet, and an old, untidy pair of shoes; or with a pretty necklace and a faded dress. It would shock Mrs. Marsh’s taste, even more than yours. There is a beautiful fitness and propriety in her whole establishment, which shows her judgment and good sense.

 “She has the true economy to proportion her expenses to her income, while she makes it produce to her family all the happiness it is capable of producing; and she has the true wisdom to wish for those things only, which it is proper and right for her to have. If the occurrences and conversation of this morning prove a salutary lesson to you, if [sic]  will make Mrs. Marsh your model in the management [sic] your yearly allowance, I shall dare to hope that you will [sic[ time become as useful and estimable a woman.”

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Published in: on May 11, 2013 at 8:00 am  Comments (1)  
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A Change of Mind

(Rural Repository, “Laura Lovel “ By Eliza Leslie 1837)

Laura had tact enough to perceive that any further attempt at a conversation on books, would be unavailing; and she made some inquiry about the annual exhibition of pictures at the Athenaenm.

‘ I believe it is a very good one,’ replied Mrs. Brantley. ‘ We stopped there one day on our way to dine with some friends out of town. But as the carriage was waiting, and the horses were impatient, we only stayed a few minutes, just long enough to walk round.”

‘ Oh ! yes, mamma,’ cried Augusta, ‘ and don’t you recollect we saw Miss Darford there in a new dress of lavender-colored grenadine, though grenadines having been over these hundred years. And there was pretty Mrs. Lenham, as the gentleman call her, in a puce-coloured italianet, though italiancts have been out for ages. And don’t you remember Miss Grover’s canary colored reps bonnet that looked as if it had been made in the ark. The idea of any one wearing reps!—a thing that has not been seen since the flood ! Only think of reps !’

Laura Lovel wondered what reps could possibly be. ‘Now I talk of bonnets,’ pursued Augusta ; ‘ pray, mamma, did you tell Miss Pipingcord that I would have my Tuscan leghorn trimmed with the lilac and green riband, instead of the blue and yellow ?’

‘Indeed,’ replied Mrs. Brantley. ‘ I found your cousin Mary so extremely ill this afternoon when I went to see her, and my sister so very uneasy on her account, that I absolutely forgot to call at the milliner’s as I had promised you.’

‘ Was there ever any thing so vexatious !’ exclaimed, Augusta, throwing down her beadwork—’ Really, mamma, there is no trusting you at all. You never remember to do any thing you are desired.’ And flying to the bell she rang it with violence.

I could think of nothing but poor Mary’s danger,’ said Mrs. Brantley, ‘ and the twenty five leeches that I saw on her forehead.’

‘Dreadful!’ ejaculated Augusta. ‘But you might have supposed that the leeches would do her good, as of course they will. Here, William,’ addressing the servant man that had just entered; ‘ run as if you were running for your life to Miss Piping cord, the milliner, and tell her upon no account whatever, to trim Miss Brantley’s Tuscan Leghorn with the blue and yellow riband that was decided on yesterday. Tell her I have changed my mind and resolved upon the lilac and green. Fly as if you had not another moment to live, or Miss Pipingcord will have already trimmed the bonnet with the blue and yellow.’

‘ And then,’ said Mrs. Brantley, ‘ go to Mrs. Ashmore’s, and inquire how Miss Mary is this evening.’

‘ Why, mamma,1 exclaimed Augusta; ‘ aunt Ashmore lives so far from Miss Pipingcord’s that it will be ten or eleven o’clock before William gets back, and I shall be all that time on thorns to know if she has not already disfigured my bonnet with the vile blue and yellow.’

* Yesterday,’ said Mrs. Brantley, ‘ you admired that very riband extremely.’

‘ So I did,’ replied Augusta, ‘ but I have been thinking about it since, and as I tell you. I have changed my mind. And now that I have set my heart upon the lilac and green, I absolutely detest the blue and yellow.’

• But I am really very anxious to know how Mary is to-night,’ said Mrs. Brantley.

‘Oh !’ replied Augusta, ‘ I dare say the leeches have relieved her. And if they have not, no doubt Dr. Warren will order twentyfive more—or something else that will answer the purpose.—She is in very good hands—I am certain that in the morning we shall hear she is considerably better. At all events I will not wear the hateful blue and yellow riband—William what are you standing for ?’

The man turned to leave the room, but Mrs. Brantley called him back. ‘ William,’ said she,’ tell one of the women to go to Mrs. Ashmore’s and inquire how Miss Mary is.’

‘ Eliza and Matilda are both out,’ said William, ‘ and Louisa is crying with the toothache, and steaming her face over hot heebs— I guess she won’t be willing to walk so far in the night-air, just out of the steam.’

‘ William !’ exclaimed Augusta, stamping with her foot, ‘don’t stand here talking, but go at once ; there’s not a moment to lose. Tell Miss Pipingcord if she has put on that horrid rihin, she must take it off again, and charge it in the hill, if she pretends she can’t afford to lose it, as I dare say she will—and tell her to be sure and send the bonnet home early in the morning—I am dying to see it.’

To all this Laura Lovel had sat listening in amazement, and could scarcely conceive the possibility of the mind of so young a girl being totally absorbed in things that concerned nothing but external appearance. She had yet to learn that a passion for dress, when thoroughly excited in the female bosom, and carried to excess, has a direct tendency to cloud the understanding, injure the temper, and harden the heart.

Till the return of William, Augusta seemed indeed to be on thorns. At last he came, and brought with him the bonnet, trimmed with the blue and yellow. Augusta snatched it out of the bandbox, and stood speechless with passion, and William thus delivered his message from the milliner—

‘ Miss Pippincod sends word that she had ribanded the bonnet afore I come for it—she says she has used up all her laylock green for another lady’s bonnet, as chose it this very afternoon ; and she guesses you won’t stand no chance of finding no more of it, if you sarch Boston through ; and she says, she shew you all her ribands yesterday, and you chose the yellow blue yourself, and she han’t got no more ribands as you’d be likely to like. Them’s her very words.’

‘ How I hate milliners !’ exclaimed Augusta, and ringing for the maid that always assisted her in undressing, she flounced out of the room and went to bed.

‘ Miss Lovel,’ said Mrs. Brantley, smiling, ‘you must excuse dear Augusta. She is extremely- sensitive about every thing, and that is the reason she is apt to give way to these little fits of irritation.’

Laura retired to her room, grieving to think how unamiable a young girl might be made, by the indulgence of an inordinate passion for dress.

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Published in: on April 27, 2013 at 8:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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The Rival Bonnets

From Trials and Confessions of an American Housekeeper. Philadelphia, 1854

I Have a pleasant story to relate of a couple of fashionables of our city, which, will serve to diversify these “Confessions,” and amuse the reader. To the incidents, true in the main, I have taken the liberty of adding some slight variations of my own.

A lady of some note in society, named Mrs. Claudine, received a very beautiful bonnet from New York, a little in advance of others, and being one of the rival leaders in the fashionable world, felt some self-complacency at the thought of appearing abroad in the elegant head-gear, and thereby getting the reputation of leading the fashion.

Notwithstanding Mrs. Claudine’s efforts to keep the matter a secret, and thus be able to create a surprise when she appeared at church on the next Sunday, the fact that she had received the bonnet leaked out, and there was some excitement about it. Among those who heard of the new bonnet, was a Mrs. Ballman, who had written to a friend to get for her the very article obtained first by Mrs. Claudine. From some cause or other a delay had occurred, and to her chagrin she learned that a rival had the new fashion, and would get the eclat that she so much coveted. The disappointment, to one whose pleasures in life are so circumscribed as those of a real fashionable lady, was severe indeed. She did not sleep more than a few hours on the night after she received the mortifying intelligence.

The year before, Mrs. Claudine had led the fashion in some article of dress, and to see her carry off the palm in bonnets on this occasion,

when she had striven so hard to be in advance, was more than Mrs. Ballman could endure. The result of a night’s thinking on the subject was a determination to pursue a very extraordinary course, the nature of which will be seen. By telegraph Mrs. Ballman communicated with her friend in New York, desiring her to send on by the evening of the next day, which was Saturday, the bonnet she had ordered, if four prices had to be paid as an inducement to get the milliner to use extra exertions in getting it up. In due time, notice came back that the bonnet would be sent on by express on Saturday, much to the joy of Mrs. Ballman, who from the interest she felt in carrying out her intentions, had entirely recovered from the painful disappointment at first experienced.

Saturday brought the bonnet, and a beautiful one it was. A few natural sighs were expended over the elegant affair, and then other feelings came in to chase away regrets at not having been first to secure the article.

On the day previous, Friday, Mrs. Ballman called upon a fashionable milliner, and held with her the following conversation.

“You have heard of Mrs. Claudine’s new bonnet, I presume V

“Yes, madam,” replied the milliner.

“Do you think it will take?” asked Mrs. Ballman.

“I do.”

“You have not the pattern?”

“Oh, yes. I received one a week ago.”

“You did!”

“Yes. But some one must introduce it. As Mrs. Claudine is about doing this there is little doubt of its becoming the fashion, for the style is striking as well as tasteful.”

Mrs. Ballman mused for some moments. Then she drew the milliner aside, and said, in a low, confidential tone.

“Do you think you could get up a bonnet as handsome as that, and in just as good taste?”

“I know I could.” In my last received London and Paris fashions are several bonnets as handsome as the one that is about being adopted in New York, and here also without doubt.”

“I am not so sure of its being adopted here,” said the lady.

“If Mrs. Claudine introduces it, as I understand she intends doing on Sunday, it will certainly be approved and the style followed.”

“I very much doubt it. But we will see. Where are the bonnets you spoke of just now?”

The milliner brought forth a number of pattern cards and plates, and pointed out two bonnets, either of which, in her judgment, was more beautiful than the one Mrs. Claudine had received.

“Far handsomer,” was the brief remark with which Mrs. Ballman approved the milliner’s judgment. “And now,” she added, “can you get me up one of these by Sunday?”

“I will try.”

“Try won’t do,” said the lady, with some excitement in her manner. “I must have the bonnet. Can you make it?”


“Very well. Then make it. And let it be done in your very best manner. Why I wish to have this bonnet I need hardly explain to you. I believed that I would have received the bonnet, about to be adopted in New York, first. I had written to a friend to procure it; but, by some means, Mrs. Claudine has obtained her’s in advance of me. Mine will be here to-morrow, but I don’t mean to wear it. I wish to lead.”

“If you were both to appear in this bonnet, the fashion would be decided,” said the milliner.

“I know. But I have no wish to share the honor with Mrs. Claudine. Make me the bonnet I have selected, and I will see that it puts her’s down.”

“You will remember,” said the milliner, ” that her’s has been already adopted in New York. This will be almost sure to give it the preference. It would be better that you did not attempt a rivalry, than that you should be beaten.”

“But I don’t mean to be beaten,” replied the lady. “I have taken measures to prevent that. After Sunday you will hear no more of the New York bonnet. Mine will go, and this, I need not tell you, will be a feather in your cap, and dollars in your pocket; as I will refer to you as the only one who can get it up. So do your best, and improve the pattern we have selected, if it will bear improvement.”

The milliner promised to do her “prettiest,” and Mrs. Ballman returned home in a state of considerable elation at the prospect of carrying off the palm, and humiliating her. rival at the same time.

Mrs. Claudine, though a little vain, and fond of excelling, was a woman of kind feelings, and entirely superior to the petty jealousies that annoyed Mrs. Ballman, and soured her towards all who ‘succeeded in rivalling her in matters of taste and fashion. Of what was passing in the mind of the lady who had been so troubled at her reception of a new style of bonnet from New York, she was entirely ignorant. She was not even aware that Mrs. Ballman had ordered the same article, nor that she had suffered a disappointment.

Saturday came. Mrs. Claudine was busy over some little article of dress that was to add to her appearance on the next day, when an Irish girl, who had formerly lived with her, entered her room.

“Ah! Kitty!” said the lady pleasantly. “How do you do?’

“I’m right well, mum, thankee,” replied Kitty, with a courtesy.

“Where do you live now, Kitty?” inquired Mrs. Claudine.

“I’m living with Mrs. Ballman,” said the girl.

“A very good place, I have no doubt.”

“Oh, yes, mum. It is a good place. I hain’t much to do, barrin’ going out with the children on good days, and seein’ after them in the house; and I get good wages.”

“I’m very glad to hear it, Kitty; and hope you will not give up so good a home.”

“No, indeed, mum; and I won’t do that. But Mrs. Claudine—”

Kitty’s face flushed, and she stammered in her speech.

“What do you wish to say?” inquired the lady, seeing that Kitty hesitated to speak of what was on her mind.

“Indade, mum,” said Kitty, evincing much perplexity, “I hardly know what I ought to do. But yez were good to me, mum, when I was sick, and didn’t send me off to the poor house like some girls are sent; and I never can forget yez while there’s breath in me body. And now I’ve come to ask yez, just as a favor to me, not to wear that new bonnet from New York, to-morrow.”

It was some moments before the surprise, occasioned by so novel and unexpected a request, left Mrs. Claudine free to make any reply.

“Why, Kitty!” she at length exclaimed, “what on earth can you mean?”

“Indade, mum, and yez mustn’t ask me what I mane, only don’t wear the bonnet to church on the morrow, because—because—och, indade, mum, dear! I can’t say any more. It wouldn’t be right.”

Mrs. Claudine told Kitty to sit down, an invitation which the girl, who was much agitated, accepted. The lady then remained silent and thoughtful for some time.

“Kitty,” she remarked, at length, in a serious manner, “what you have said to me sounds very strangely. How you should know that I intended appearing in a new bonnet to-morrow, or why you should be so much interested in tbe matter is more than I can understand. As to acting as you desire, I see no reason for that whatever.”

This reply only had the effect of causing Kitty to urge her request more strenuously. But she would give no reason for her singular conduct. After the girl had gone away, Mrs. Claudine laid aside her work—for she was not in a state of mind to do any thing but think—and sat for at least an hour-, musing upon the strange incident which h%d occurred. All at once, it flashed upon her mind that there must be some plot in progress to discredit or rival her new bonnet, which Kitty had learned at Mrs. Ballman’s. The more she thought of this, the more fully did she become satisfied that it must be so. She was aware that Mrs. Ballman had been chagrined at her leading ofl’ in new fashions once or twice before; and the fact, evident now, that she knew of her reception of the bonnet, and Kitty’s anxiety that she should not wear it on Sunday, led her to the conviction that there was some plot against her. At.first, she determined to appear in her new bonnet, disregardful of Kitty’s warning. But subsequent reflection brought her to a different conclusion.

The moment Mrs. Claudine settled it in her mind that she would not appear in the new bonnet, she began dressing herself, hurriedly, to go out. It was as late as five o’clock in the afternoon when she called at the store of the milliner who had been commissioned by Mrs. Ballman to get the rival bonnet.

“Have you the last fashions from abroad?” enquired Mrs. Claudine.

“We have,” replied the milliner.

“Will you let me see them?”

“Certainly, ma’am.”

And the patterns were shown. After examining them carefully, for some time, Mrs. Claudine selected a style of bonnet that pleased her fancy, and said—

“You must get me up this bonnet so that I can wear it to-morrow.”

“Impossible, madam!” replied the milliner. “This is Saturday evening.”

“I know it is; but for money you can get one of your girls to work all night. I don’t care what you charge; but I must have the bonnet.”

The milliner still hesitated, and seemed to be confused and uneasy. She asked Mrs. Claudine to sit down and wait for a little while, and then retired to think upon what she had better do. The fact was, Mrs. Claudine had pitched upon the very bonnet Mrs. Ballman had ordered, and her earnestness about having it made in time i to wear on the next day, put it almost beyond

her power to say no. If she were to tell her that Mrs. Ballman had ordered the same bonnet, it would, she knew, settle the matter. But, it occurred to her, that if both the ladies were to appear at church in the same style of bonnet, the fashion would be sure to take, and she, in consequence, get a large run of business. This thought sent the blood bounding through the milliner’s veins, and decided her to keep her own counsel, and take Mrs. Claudine’s order.

“She’s as much right to the bonnet as Mrs. Ballman,” settled all ethical questions that intruded themselves upon the milliner.

“I will have it ready for you,” she said, on returning to Mrs. Claudine.

“Very well. But mind,” said the lady, “I wish it got up in the very best style. The hurry must not take from its beauty. As for the price, charge what you please.”

The milliner promised every thing, and Mrs. Claudine went home to think about the important events of the approaching Sabbath. On Sunday morning both bonnets were sent home, and both the ladies fully approved the style, effect, and all things appertaining to the elegant affairs.

At ten o’clock, Kitty, who was a broad-faced, coarse-looking Irish girl, came into the chamber of Mrs. Ballman, dressed up in her best, which was not saying much for the taste and elegance of her appearance.

“Are you all ready?” asked her mistress.

“Yes, mum.”

** Very well, Kitty, here’s the bonnet. Now, remember, you are to go into the pew just in front of ours. The Armburner’s are all out of town, and there will be no one to occupy it.”

Kitty received the elegant bonnet which had come on express from New York, and placed it upon her head.

“You really look charming,” said the lady.

But Kitty was not nattered by her words, and evinced so little heart in what she was doing, that Mrs Ballman said to her, in a half threatening tone, as she left the room—

“Mind, Kitty, I shall expect to see you at church.”

“Oh, yes, mum; I’ll be there,” replied Kitty, courtesying awkwardly, and retiring.

Not long after Kitty had retired, Mrs. Ballman, after surveying, for many minutes, the effect of her new bonnet, becoming more and more pleased with it every moment, and more and more satisfied that it would “take,” left her room, and was descending the stairs for the purpose of joining the family, who were awaiting her below. Just at that unlucky moment, a servant, who was bringing down a vessel of water, slipped, and a portion of the contents came dashing over the head and shoulders of the richly attired lady, ruining her elegant bonnet, and completely destroying the happy frame of mind in which she was about attending public worship. No wonder that she cried aloud from the sudden shock and distress so untoward an event occasioned; nor that she went back weeping to her chamber, and refused to be comforted.

Mr. Ballman and the children proceeded alone

to church on that day. On their return home, they found the lady in a calmer frame of mind. . But Mr. Ballman looked grave and was unusually silent. Kitty came home and gave up her elegant head-dress; and when her mistress told her that she might keep it, she thanked her, but declined the present.

“You went to church, of course,” she said.

“Oh, yes, mum,” replied Kitty.

“And sat in the Armburner’s pew?”

“Yes, mum.”


“Yes, mum.”

“Was Mrs. Claudine there?”
“Yes, mum.”

“Did she wear her new bonnet?”
“Yes, mum.”

“It was exactly like this?”

“Oh, no, mum, it was exactly like the new one you had sent home this morning.”

“What!” The face of the lady flushed instantly. “Wasn’t it like this?”

“No, mum.

Mrs. Ballman sunk into a chair.

“You can retire, Kitty,” she said, and the girl withdrew, leaving her to her own feelings and reflections, which were not of the most pleasing character.

The appearance of Kitty at church, fully explained to Mrs. Claudine the ungenerous game that had been played against her. Her first thought was to retaliate. But reflection brought other and better feelings into play. Instead of exposing what had been done, she destroyed the bonnet received from New York, and made an effort to keep what had occurred a secret. But Kitty’s appearance at church in such an elegant affair, naturally created some talk. One surmise after another was started, and, at last, from hints dropped by the milliner, and admissions almost extorted from Mrs. Claudine, the truth came out so fully, that all understood it; nor was Mrs. Ballman long left in ignorance on this head.

As to the fashion, Mrs. Claudine’s bonnet became the rage; though, as might be supposed, Mrs. Ballman refused to adopt it.

Who will be the successful rival next season, I am unable to predict. But it is believed that Mrs. Claudine intends giving Mrs. Ballman an advance of two weeks, and then coming in with a different style, and beating her in spite of the advantage.                                      

Published in: on March 30, 2013 at 8:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Ladies’ Luggage

A bit of baggage humor from Punch, November 19, 1859:

“Ladies’ Luggage; or Hard Lines by a Brute”

How happy is the single life
Of all those priests and monks!
Not one of whom has got a wife
To bother him with trunks,
And bandboxes, a load to gret
For man or horse to bear,
Which railways charge for, over-weight.
And cabs ask double fare.
Fell care as with your bride you post
Distracts your anxious mind,
Lest this portmanteau shall  be lost,
Or that be left behind;
Ther baggage as you travel down
Life’s hill, weighs more and more,
And still, as balder grows your crown,
Becomes a greater bore.
Outstretched by Fashion vile and vain,
Hoop-petticoats and vest,
Now British females, to contain,
Require no end of chests.
To which bags, baskets, bundles, add,
Too mumerous to name,
Enough to drive a poor mad mad,
A job with rage inflame.
The cab keeps awaying o’er your head,
With luggage piled above,
Of overturn you ride in dread,
With her whom you should love;
Then you, the station when you gain,
Must see that lumber stowed,
And fears about it in the train,
Your heart and soul corrode.
Thus does your wife each journey spoil
Of yours that she partakes,
Thus keeps you on the fret and broil,
Your peace and comfort breaks.
With all these boxes, all her things,
(How many!) to enclose,
The fair Encumbrance on you brings
A waggon-load of woes.


Published in: on March 30, 2013 at 7:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Railway Photographs

Today we have a longer story looking at travel: “Railway Photographs” published in The Continental Monthly, 1862.

Click the title for the PDF, Please.

Published in: on March 23, 2013 at 7:59 am  Comments (1)  
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“The Three Traveling-Bags” part 2


  “The Three Traveling-Bags” (The Continental Monethly, 1862)

Chapter III

When the train stopped at Camden, four gentlemen got off, and walked, arm-in-arm, rapidly and silently, up one of the by-streets, and struck off into a foot-path leading to a secluded grove outside the town. Of the first two, one was our military friend in a blue coat, apparently the leader of the party. Of the second two, one was a smiling, rosy little man, carrying a black valise. Their respective companions walked hasty, irregular strides, were abstracted, and apparently ill at ease.

The party stopped.

“This is the place,” said Captain Jones.

“Yes,” said Doctor Smith”

The Captain and the Doctor conferred together. The other two studiously kept apart.

“Very, well. I’ll measure the ground, and do you place your man.”

It was done.

“Now, for the pistols,” whispered the Captain to his fellow-second.

“They are all ready, in the valise,” replied the Doctor.

The principals were placed, ten paces apart, and wearing that decidedly uncomfortable air a man has who is in momentary expectation of being shot.

“You will fire, gentlemen, simultaneously, when I give the word,” said the Captain. Then, in an undertone, to the Doctor, “Quick, the pistols.”

The Doctor, stooping over and fumbling at the valise, appeared to find something that surprised him.

“Why, what the devil –“

“What’s the matter?” asked the Captain, striding up. “Can’t you find the caps?”

“Deuce a pistol or a cap, but this!”

He held up – a lady’s night-cap!

“Look here – and here – and here!” holding up successively a hair-brush, a long white night-gown, a cologne-bottle, and a comb.

They were greeted with a long whistle by the Captain, and a blank stare by the two principals.

“Confound the luck!” ejaculated the Captain; “if we haven’t made a mistake, and brought the wrong valise!”

The principals looked at the seconds. The seconds looked at the principals. Nobody volunteered a suggestion. At last the Doctor inquired.

“Well, what’s to be done?”

“D—d unlucky!” again ejaculated the Captain. “The duel can’t go on.”

“Evidently not,” responded the Doctor, “unless they brain each other with the hairbrush, or take a pop at each other with the cologne-bottle.

“You are quite sure there are no pistols in the valise?” said on of the principals, with suppressed eagerness, and drawing a long breath of evident relief.

“We might go over to the city and get pistols,” proposed the Captain.

“And by that time it will be dark,” said the Doctor.

“D—d unlucky,” said the Captain again.

“We shall be the laughing-stock of the town,” consolingly remarked the Doctor, “if this gets wind.”

“One work with you, Doctor,” here interposed his principal.

They conferred.

At the end of the conference with his principal, the Doctor, advancing to the Captain, conferred with him. Then the Captain conferred with his principal. Then the seconds conferred with each other. Finally, it was formally agreed between the contending parties that a statement should be drawn up in writing, whereby Principal No. 1 tendered the assurance that the offensive words “You are a liar” were not used by him in any personal sense, but solely as an abstract proposition, in a general way, in regard to the matter of fact dispute. To which Principal No 2 appended his statement of his high gratification at this candid and honorable explanation, and unqualifiedly withdrew the offensive words “You are a scoundrel.” They having been used by him under a misapprehension in the intent and purpose of the remark which preceded them.

There being no longer a cause of quarrel, the duel was of course ended. The principals shook hands, first with each other, and next with the seconds,  and were evidently very glad to get out of it.

“And now that it is so happily settled,” said the Doctor, chuckling and rubbing his hands, “it proves to have been a lucky mistake, after all, that we brought the wrong valise. Wonder what the lady that owns it will say when she opens ours and finds the pistols.”

“Very well for you to laugh about,” growled the Captain; “but it’s no joke for me to lose my pistols. Hair triggers – best English make, and gold mounted. There aren’t a finer pair in America.”

“Oh, we’ll find’em. We’ll go on a pilgrimage from house to house, asking if any lady there has lost a night-cap and found a pair of dueling-pistols.


Chapter IV

In very goo d spirits, the party crossed the river, and inquired at the baggage-room in reference to each and all black leather traveling-bags arrived that day, took notes of where they were sent, and set out to follow them up. In due time they reached the Continental, and, as luck would have it, met the unhappy bridal pair just coming down the stairs in charge of the policeman.

“What’s all this?” inquired the Captain.

“Oh, a couple of burglars, caught with a valise full of stolen property.

“A valise! What kind of valise?”

“A black leather valise. That’s it, there.”

“Here! – Stop! – Hallo! – Policeman! – Landlord! It’s all right. It’s all a mistake. They got changed at the depot. This lady and gentleman are innocent. Here’s their valise, with her nightcap in it.”

Great was the laughter, multifarious the comments, and deep the interest of the crowd in all this dialogue, which they appeared to regard as a delightful entertainment, got up expressly for their amusement.

“Then you say this ‘ere is yourn?” said the policeman, relaxing his hold on the bridegroom, and confronting the Captain.

“Yes, it’s mine.”

“And how did you come by the spoons?”

“Spoons, you jackanapes!” said the Captain. “Pistols! – dueling-pistols!”

“Do you call these pistols?” said the policeman, holding up one of the silver spoons marked ‘T.B.”

The Captain, astounded, gasped “It’s the wrong valise again, after all!”

“Stop! Not so fast!” said the police functionary, now invested with the great dignity by the importance of the affair he found himself engaged in. “IF so be as how you’ve got this ‘cre lady’s valise, she’s all right, and can go. But, in that case, this is yourn,  and it comes on you to account fro them ‘are stole spoons. Have to take you in charge, all four of ye.”

“Why, you impudent scoundrel!” roared the Captain; “I’ll see you in-. I wish I had my pistols here; I’d teach you to insult gentlemen!” shaking his fist.

The dispute waxed fast and furious. The outsiders began to take part in it, and there is no telling how it would have ended, had not an explosion, followed by a heavy fall and a scream of pain, been heard in an adjoining room.

The crowd rushed to the scene of the new attraction.

The door was fast. It was soon burst open, and the mystery explained. The thief, who carried off the Captain’s valise by mistake for his own, had taken it up to his room, and opened it to gloat over the booty he supposed it to contain, thrusting his hand in after the spoons. In so doing he had touched one of the hair triggers, and the pistol had gone off, the bullet making a round hole through the side of the valise, and a corresponding round hole in the calf of his leg. The wounded rascal was taken in charge, first by the policeman, and then by the doctor; and the duelists and the wedded pair struck up a friendship on the score of their mutual mishaps, which culminated in a supper, where the fun was abundant, and where it would be hard to say which was in the best spirits, – the Captain for recovering his pistols, the bride for getting her night-cap, the bridegroom for escaping the station-house, or the duelists for escaping each other. All resolved to ‘mark the day with a white stone,’ and henceforth to mark their names on their black traveling-bags, in white letters.


Published in: on March 16, 2013 at 7:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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“The Three Traveling-Bags”

Lately, I’ve really been enjoying lost or mixed-up baggage stories. This story, “The Three Traveling-Bags” is from The Continental Monethly  of 1862.

Chapter 1

There were three of them, all of shining black leather; one on top of the pile of trunks; one on the  ground; one in the owner’s hand; all going to Philadelphia; all waiting to be checked.

The last bell rang. The baggageman bustled, fuming, from one pile of baggage to another, dispensing chalk to the trunks, checks to the passagengers, and curses to the porters, in approved railway style.

“Mine! – Philadelphia” cried a stout military-looking man, with enormous whiskers and a red face, crowding forward, as the baggageman laid his hand on the first bag.

“Won’t you please to give me a check for this, now?” entreated a pale, slender, carefully-dressed young man, for the ninth time, holding out bag No. 2. “I have a lady to look after.”

“Say! be you agoin’ to give me a check for that ‘are, or not?” growled the proprietor of bag No. 3, a short, pockmarked fellow, in a shabby over coat.

“All right, gen’l’men. Here you are,’ says the functionary, rapidly distributing the three checks. “Philadelfy, this? Yes, sir, -1092-1740.11-1020. All right.”

“All aboard!” shouted the conductor.

“Whoo-whew!” responded the locomotive; and the train moved slowly out of the station-house.

The baggageman meditatively watched it, as it sped away in the distance, and then, as if a thought suddenly struck him, slapping his thigh, he exclaimed,

“Blest if I don’t believe – “

“What?” inquired the switchman.

“That I’ve gone and guv them three last fellers the wrong checks! The cussed little black things was all alike, and they bothered me.”

“Telegraph,” suggested the switchman.

“Never you mind,’ replied the baggageman. “They was all going to Philadelfy. They’ll find it out when they get there.”

They did.

Chapter II

The scene shifts to the Continental Hotel, Philadelphia. – Front parlor, up stairs. – Occupants, the young gentleman alluded to in Chapter I, and a young lady. In accordance with the fast usages of the times, the twain had been made one in holy matrimony at 7.30 a.m.; duly kissed and congratulated till 8.15; put aboard the express train at 8.45, and deposited at the Continental, bag and baggage, by 12.58.

They were seated on the sofa, the black broadcloth coat-sleeve encircling the slender waist of the gray traveling-dress, and the jetty moustache in equally affectionate proximity to the glossy curls.

“Are you tired, dearest?”

“No, love, not much. But you are, arn’t you?”

“No, darling.”

Kiss, and a pause.

“Don’t it seem funny?” said the lady.

“What, love?”

“That we should be married.”

“Yes, darling.”

“Won’t they be glad to see us at George’s?”

“Of course they will.”

“I’m sure I shall enjoy it so much. Shall we get there to-night?”

“Yes, love, if – “

Rap-rap-rap, at the door.

A  hasty separation took place between man and wife – to opposite ends of the sofa; and  then –

“Come in.”

“Av you plaze, sur, it’s an M.P. is waiting to see yez.”

“To see me! A policeman?”

“Yis, sur.”

“There must be some mistake.”

“No sur, it’s yourself; and he’s waiting in the hall, beyant.”

“Well, I’ll go to – No, tell him to come here.”

“Sorry to disturb you, sir,” said the M.P., with a huge brass star on his breast, appearing with great alacrity at the waiter’s elbow. B’lieve this is your black valise?”

“Yes, that is ours, certainly. It has Julia’s – the lady’s things in it.”

“Suspicious sarcumstances about that ‘ere valise, sir. Telegraph come this morning that a burglar started on the 8.45 Philadelphia train, with a lot of stolen spoons, in a black valise. – spoons marked T. B. – Watched at the Ferry. Saw the black valise. – Followed it up here. – Took a peek inside. Sure enough, there was the spoons. Marked T. B., too. Said it was yours. Shall have to take you in charge.”

“Take me in charge!” echoed the dismayed bridegroom. “But I assure you, my dear sir, there is some strange mistake. It’s all a mistake.”

“S’pose you’ll be able to account for the spoons being in your valise, then?”

“Why, I – I – it isn’t mine. It must be somebody else’s. Somebody’s put them there. It is some villainous conspiracy.”

“Hope you’ll be able to tell a straighter story before the magistrate, young man; ‘cause if you don’t, you stand a smart chance of being sent up for six months.”

“Oh, Charles! This is horrid. Do send him away. Oh dear! I wish I was home,” sobbed the little bride.

“I tell you, sir,” said the bridegroom, bristling up with indignation, “this is all a vile plot. What would I be doing with your paltry spoon? I was married this morning, in Fifth Avenue, and I am on my wedding tour. I have high connections in New York. You’ll repent it, sir, if you dare arrest me.”

“Oh , come, now,” said the incredulous official, “I’ve been hearn stories like that before. This ain’t the first time swindlers has traveled in couples. Do you s’pose I don’t know nothin’? ‘Tan’t no use; you’ve just got to come along to the station-house. Might as well go peaceably, ‘cause you’ll have to.”

“Charles, this is perfectly dreadful! Our wedding night in the station-house! Do send for somebody. Send for the landlord to explain it.”

The landlord was sent for, and came; the porters were sent for, and came; the waiters, and chambermaids, and bar-room loungers came, without being sent for, and filled the room and the adjoining hall, some to laugh, some to say they wouldn’t have believed it, but nearly all to exult that the unhappy pair had been ‘found out.’ Now explanation could be given; and the upshot was, that, in spite of tears, threats, entreaties, rage, and expostulations, the unfortunate newly-married pair were taken in charge by the relentless policeman, and marched down stairs, en rout for the police office.

And here let the curtain drop on the melancholy scene, while we follow the fortunes of black valise No. 2.


Published in: on March 16, 2013 at 7:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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“Where’s My Trunk?” part 2

And so it really was. At the head of the pier at Newport, there is a  shed with seats within where people wait for the ferry-boats;and there, perdu beneath a form, lay the enchanted trunk, having been so disposed, in the bustle of unloading,  by means which nobody could pretend to understand. The guard, with a half frightened look approached the awful object, and soon placed it with other things on board the ferry boat.

On our landing at Dundee pier, the proprietor of the trunk saw so well after it himself, tat it was evident no accident was for this time to be expected. However, it appeared that this was only a lull to our attention. The tall gentleman was to go on to Aberdeen by a coach then just about to start from Merchant’s Inn; while I, for my part, was to proceed by another coach which was about to proceed from the same place to Perth. A great bustle took place in the narrow street at the inn door, and some of my late fellow travelers were getting into the one coach, and some into the other. The Aberdeen coach was soonest prepared to start, and just as the guard cried ‘all’s right,’ the long figure devolved from the window, and said, in an anxious tone of a voice –

“Guard, have you got my trunk?”

“Your trunk, sir!” cried the man; “what like is your trunk? – we have nothing here but bags and baskets.”

“Heaven preserve me!” exclaimed the unfortunate gentleman, and burst out of the coach.

It immediately appeared that the trunk had been deposited by mistake in the Perth, instead of the Aberdeen coach; and unless the owner had spoken, it would have been, in less than an hour, half way up the Carse of Gourie. A transfer was immediately made, to the no small amusement of myself and one or two other persons in both coaches who had witnesses its previous misadventures on the road through Fife. Seeing a friend on the Aberdeen vehicle, I took an opportunity of privately requesting that he would, on arriving at his destination, send me an account by post of all further mistakes and dangers which were to befall the trunk in the course of the journey. To this he agreed, and, about a week after, I received the following letter:

“Dear ——,

“All went well with myself, my fellow-travellers and the Trunk, till we got a few miles on this side of Stonehaven, when just as we were passing one of the boggiest parts of that boggy road, an unfortunate lurch threw us over upon one side, and the exterior passengers, along with several heavy articles of luggage, were all projected several yards off into the morass. As the place was rather soft, nobody was much hurt; but, after everything had again been put to rights, the tall man put some two thirds of himself through the coach window, in his usual manner, and asked the guard if he was sure his trunk was safe in the boot.

““Oh, Lord, sir!” cried the guard, as if a desperate idea had at that moment rushed into his mind, “the trunk was on the top. Has nobody seen it laying about any where?”

““If it be a trunk ye’re looking after,” cried a rustic, very coolly, “I saw it sink into that wellee a quarter of an hour sync.”

““Good God!” exclaimed the distracted owner, “my trunk is gone for ever. Oh my poor dear trunk! – where is the place – show me where it disappeared.”

“The place being pointed out, he rushed madly up to it, and seemed as if he would have plunged into the watery profound to search for his lost property, or die in the attempt. Being informed that the bogs in this part of the country were perfectly bottomless, he soon saw how vain every endeavour of that kind would be; and so he was with difficulty induced to resume his place in the coach, loudly threatening, however, to make the proprietors of the vehicle pay sweetly for his loss.

“What was in the trunk. I have not been able to learn. Perhaps the title deeds of an estate were among the contents; perhaps it was only filled with bricks and rags, in order to impose upon the innkeepers. In all likelihood, the mysterious object is still descending and descending, down the boundless abyss, in which its contents will probably be revealed till a great many things of more importance and equal mystery are made plain.”

Published in: on March 9, 2013 at 8:00 pm  Comments (1)  
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