The Rocking Horse: 1896


“Who bids?” The auctioneer held up a child’s rocking horse, battered and stained. It had belonged to some little member of the man’s family whose household property was being sold under the hammer. He was utterly ruined. He had given up everything in the world to his creditors—house, furniture, horses, stock of goods and lands. He stood among the crowd watching the sale that was scattering his household goods and his heirlooms among a hundred strange hands. On his arm leaned a woman, heavily veiled.

“Who bids?”

The auctioneer held the rocking horse high, that it might be seen. Childish hands had torn away the scanty mane; the bridle was twisted and worn by tender little fingers. The crowd was still. The woman under the heavy veil sobbed and stretched out her hands. “No, no, no!” she cried. The man’s face was white with emotion. The little form that once so merrily rode the old rocking hose had drifted away into the world years ago. This was the only relic left of his happy infancy. The auctioneer, with a queer moisture in his eyes, handed the rocking horse to the man without a word. He seized it with eager hands, and he and the veiled woman hurried away. The crowd murmured with sympathy. The man and woman went into an empty room and set the rocking horse down. He took out his knife, ripped open the front of the horse and took out a roll of bills. He counted them and said: “It’s a cold day when I fail without a rake off. Eight thousand five hundred dollars, but that auctioneer came very near busting up the game.”–Houston Post.

The Christian Recorder [Philadelphia, PA] 12 March 1896

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Mrs Daffodil is speechless with admiration, yet puzzled by the idea that a knife could rip open the front of the horse. She is used to substantial toy rocking horses made of wood prancing in the nursery. Upon consulting with Miss Jessica Wiesel, who is a miniaturist and scholar of antique playthings, she received this very pertinent information: “Smaller horses were often made of papier-mache and covered with the hides of veal calves, the “skin horse,” from The Velveteen Rabbit was one of these. The big wooden ones were always very expensive and considered not very safe.”

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.



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