The Secret Honeymoon: 1898

an english honeymoon 1908

FADS DON’T GO WITH HIM.

He Had a Taste of Latest and He is Cured.

Fell Info a Trap Which a Revengeful Rival Had Planned for Him.

Cost Groom Something to Change His Route, but He Paid Cheerfully.

“I don’t go very much on these new fads in the line of weddings,” said the bridegroom, cocking his feet on the desk of the insurance man and lighting a fresh cigarette. “I’ve just been up against the game, and I’ll stake any body to my part of it next time.”

“What are you talking about?” asked the insurance man. “What do you mean by new fads in weddings?”

“Well, I’ll tell you my troubles and you can figure It out for yourself,” said the benedict. “You see, some daffy guy framed up a game some place or other where the fads come from for what is known as a ‘secret honeymoon.’ The bride and groom are not to be wise to where they are going until they are on the train after the ceremony. The best man is the whole works and does everything for them. He selects a route, buys the tickets, checks the baggage, frames it up with the hotels and gets everything ready for one round of pleasure. Then the tickets and a letter of instructions are put in a sealed envelope and dealt out to Mr Sucker, the bridegroom, and he opens it on the train and goes wherever the best man has things arranged. Now what do you think of that tor a nutty scheme?”

“That is certainly very much foolish house,” admitted the insurance man. “If the best man wanted to gently josh you along the line he couldn’t do a thing under that scheme.”

“Well maybe you think he didn’t, said the bridegroom. “Wait till I tell you. They kept on shooting a bunch of hot air into me about this game and what a good thing it was and how novel it was, that they finally got me to stand for it. I don’t know what kind of hop I was against when I said all right but this fellow Haskins, who was framed to pull off the deal certainly had me conned. I was a little bit daffy anyhow, you know, as a man is likely to be just when he is going to be married, and I thought it would be a grand little plan and it was me to it.

“But it’s no more for me, not if I get married eight times more. It’s me for the little details and all the plans next time. Old Mr Haskins is a good thing and this was the only chance he had to jolly me. As a matter of fact he used to be pretty well stuck on this girl I married and I guess he thought he was there until I got in the running and then he wasn’t 1, 2, 46. But any how, he pretended to be the real glad-hand friend when he heard I had things settled, and it was nobody but him for the best man at the doin’s, and then he springs his funny game on me about the secret honeymoon.

“I let him go ahead and frame every thing up, and I congratulated myself that I wouldn’t have to worry about train time and hotels and Niagara falls and other things, as the average bridegroom does. He got me the tickets and everything, and I got his little old sealed envelope and the wife, and I tore for the rattlers all in good shape after the ceremony. When I got her nicely seated in the parlor car I went into the smoker, a little bit nervous, to see what Haskins had framed up for me.

“O, but he was there with the goods strong! ‘Get off at Albion and go to the Pararzoom house,’ says Mr Sealed Instructions. And I spent the next three hours wondering what Albion was like and whether the Pararzoom house had money enough to buy fly screens. Of course Edith and I were not especially anxious to tip off to the mob that we had just been married. Every couple feels that way, I suppose, and I know I was willing to keep dark for a while and make a bluff that we were celebrating our golden wedding.

“Well, about 7 o’clock In the evening we pulled in at a little old bum wooden station with a big sign ‘Albion’ all across the front of It. I didn’t get wise on the jump that we were on a lobster, but I piled out with Edith on my arm and the porter carrying a wagonload of grips. A coachman steps up to me as soon as I got off and says:

“‘Mr Amschasm?’

“I says ‘Yes.'”

“’This is your rig, sir,’ he says. Well, I thought that was pretty fair for a starter, and we got in, me handing Haskins a little mental compliment for his thoughtfulness about the rig. Just then I heard a band playing the ‘Wedding March’ from ‘Lohengrin.’ I thought I was dopey first, and that it was only a memory, but around the corner of the station came the Albion silver cornet band, and it fell in right ahead of our carriage. I was wise in a minute.

“Edith was ready to jump out and take to the woods, but I managed to make the driver stop while about 200 rubbernecks gathered around us. I helped Edith out of the carriage, and we hustled for another one, while the crowd sent up three cheers for the bride. I was sore enough to have shot Haskins if he was there, and I told the driver to take us to the best hotel in town. He whipped up and in a few minutes we walked into a hotel.

“As soon as I registered the clerk turned around and handed me the key to the bridal chamber. It was decorated with white ribbon, and he smiled a knowing smile as he laid it before he. I wanted to strangle him, but I took the key and went upstairs. The room was about 10 feet square, low ceilinged and hot. There was no screen in the window, and I could see my finish in there. I went back to the clerk and made a large roar, but he said it was the best room in the house and had been especially ordered for me.

“’When does the next train leave here?’ I asked.

“’Quarter after 1 tomorrow morning,” he said, with a bow and a rub of the hands which drove me frantic.

“‘Well I’ll take it,’ I said. ‘I don’t want your clothes closet up there.’

“We gathered up our baggage and were driven back to the station, and there I fixed it up with the station agent to wire to the division headquarters and hire me a special car and engine to take me Cincinnati. It came all right and It cost me $125, but we got out of Albion. The next morning I carefully tore up Mr Haskins’ letter of instructions, got a lot of time tables and framed up a little wedding tour of our own, and I’ve been looking for him ever since. I understand he has enlisted.”

The Boston [MA] Globe 2 October 1898: p. 37

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  The embarrassing ordeal of the honeymoon for both bride and groom was well recognised. If they went directly to their own home, they were apt to be serenaded in the night by neighbours with horns, banging pots, and celebratory gunfire. If they went on a wedding tour, every porter, hotel clerk, and waiter easily identified them as newlyweds and grinned a knowing grin.

The ideal was to pass for an old married couple on a little holiday jaunt–it was axiomatic that “no one tries to look so experienced as a brand-new bride”but this did not always work:

And when a honeymoon couple are trying to pass themselves off as married folk of long standing, and a shower of tell-tale rice, descending from a pocket or a suddenly-opened umbrella, gives the whole show away, the result is embarrassing.

Taranaki [NZ] Daily News 23 October 1909: p. 4

The reality was more often like this gentleman’s experience:

Will not the postboy, the fly-driver, the landlord, and the chambermaids pursue him with commiseration?…Brisk, cheery, bald-headed old gentlemen, utter strangers to you, shake you by the hand; elderly and excellent dowagers, with no claims on your friendship, take a warm interest in you — perhaps one will utterly confound you with a smacking kiss — and away you are jostled out of the passage, across the pavement, bundled into the carriage, slippers shied at your head, and amid the cheers of the company, the jeers and hurrahs of all the butcher boys, costermongers, and little urchins of the neighborhood, hey! presto! you’re on your honeymoon, minus one glove, and your hat backside foremost….As to Fred [the bridegroom]…he wishes all this parade over. Of course every one is smiling, and can see he is a foo — bridegroom….. Draw up with a very sudden halt at first-class entrance Paddington Station, porters twig in a moment, require no whistling now — bran’ new boxes, and “Both of ’em rigged out in new clothes; I say, Bill, here’s a wedding….”

And thus after a month’s bliss, a sweet honeymoon and the consciousness that they have been stared at and detected throughout the length and breadth of the land, the “happy couple” return to the quietness of their new little — their own home, to receive the congratulations of their friends, and the calls of their acquaintances. Bella is contented and happy, Fred himself again, thoroughly glad that the ordeal of the honeymoon has been passed, and that the world can now recognise his new position without staring at him, and without thinking him a — well, without thinking him a bridegroom.

North Otago Times 15 March 1872: p. 4

 

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 anecdote

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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