Category Archives: Animals

The New York Girl and the Dog-Catchers: 1890

(c) Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

A New York Girl’s Nerve

From the New York Sun.

A black French poodle was trotting down Fifth avenue on a breezy, bright afternoon with a fine, straight young woman. The dog seemed proud of his mistress and the girl was proud of her dog. While all was peaceful and danger seemed nowhere nigh, a rickety and creaky covered wagon, drawn by a pitiable wreck of a horse, and having on its seat two repulsive young men, came around a corner. One of the young toughs leaped to the ground and made a quick plunge for the dog, catching it by the hind leg and whirling it above his head in a circle, running as he did so toward the rear of his wagon. Quicker than it takes to say so the young woman was in front of the young tough, with one hand clutching his coat collar and the other holding the muzzle of a silver-mounted smelling bottle to his face.

“You drop my dog or I’ll shoot you,” said the girl.

The young fellow peered out of his small eyes into the determined face before him, and as he attempted to shake the girl’s hand from his collar, said: “Aw, wot yer given me, any way? Don’t yer see we’re der dog catchers, an’ you ain’t got no right ter have yer purp out without a muzzle? Der dog goes along wid us, see?”

The girl’s face took on a fiercer and still more ominous look. The dog, still in the grasp of the man, was twisting to get away and yelping with pain.

“If you do not drop my dog this instant,” said the girl, “I will fire. Do you hear me?”

The catcher dropped the dog. By this time people were coming up to see the disturbance. The young woman put the bogus weapon into the small chatelaine bag that she wore, blew a small silver whistle, and, accompanied by her joyous dog, pursued her morning walk serenely and with stately grace.

The Anaconda Standard 29 October 1890: p. 3

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Just as Boston girls were labeled intellectuals and Philadelphia girls had a reputation as the souls of propriety, New York girls were said to be able to take care of themselves. Given the “mean streets,” they might walk—dodging scores of mashers, cads, and cat-callers—this was obviously a necessity. Hat-pins and stout parasols could be deployed in an emergency. This young lady showed a particularly inventive flair in using her smelling-salts bottle as a weapon. One of the Hall footmen, who is fond of thrillers at the cinema, reports that he has seen a lip-stick case used in an identical manner in a spy picture. Without the poodle, of course.

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.

 

The Pets’ Christmas: 1901-1915

PETS HAVE HIGH JINKS

Lamb Chops, Carrots, and Bottle Flies hang on Christmas Tree.

Chicago. On the Christmas tree hung four luscious lamb chops.

Near the top were eight fine, big blue bottle flies, each impaled deftly on a pin thrust through red tissue paper.

Two luscious carrots dangled by red ribbons, knotted into holly, from a lower branch.

Mr. and Mrs. Douglas Crane fluttered about like flustered mamma and excited dad at a daughter’s coming-out party.

The tree was lighted; Mrs. Crane’s four chameleons executed deep courtesies; Dick, who was the guest of honor, barked a tiny squeak of appreciation, and the pets’ Christmas tree party was on.

Dick, be it known, is the Belgian griffon owned by Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence Grossmith. Vernon Castle, a brother of Mrs. Grossmith, solemnly baptized the dog a year ago, and has been Dick’s patron, so that these social affairs are somewhat boresome to him.

But Mrs. Crane’s chameleons’ party was not boresome. The chameleons feasted off the flies caught by café busboys at $1 per catch. Dick engaged the lamb chops in deadly encounter, and two mere rabbits, called in at the last minute by the resourceful Mrs. Crane when she received the regrets of George Arliss’ English bulldog, served their turn as “social fillers,” and munched the carrots. The Washington [DC] Post 29 December 1915: p. 6

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil has previously written on entertainments for favoured felines. With the approach of the winter festivals, naturally every dog must have his holiday.  Recently at the shops, Mrs Daffodil observed a department lavishly furnished with toys and gifts for pets, as well as special wrapping papers, decorations, costumes, and greeting cards designed with Our Furry Friends in mind.  One would imagine that our households were stocked with nothing but royal Corgis.

Mrs Daffodil is in favour of kindness to our animal companions, but draws the line at purchasing blue-bottle flies at premium prices. A saucer of sugar-water in the stables would produce as many choice specimens as desired. But perhaps these were pedigreed chameleons requiring a special diet.

Some other examples of celebrating with pets:

CHRISTMAS TREE FOR PET DOGS.

It was Laden With All Possible Canine Delicacies.

Baltimore, Dec. 26. A Christmas tree laden with sausages, ham bones, juicy chicken and other delicacies that would appeal to the taste of a dog was the novel holiday feature for the benefit of pet dogs on the estate of Miss Nannie Sloan, a well-known member of society. Miss Sloan has a beautiful country residence at Fairlee, near Lutherville, with O.B. Magrader, the manager of the place.

The tree was decorated with the usual trimmings, and the three pets, a greyhound, a fox terrier, and a pug, were taken to the room where the tree had been prepared and in a little while they were having the time of their lives. The dogs jumped after the various delicacies, much to the amusement of the spectators, and the event was voted a success. Wilkes-Barre [PA] Times 26 December 1906: p. 5

One imagines the tree did not long remain upright. The Queen of Servia’s dogs were more disciplined;

CHRISTMAS FOR DOGS

The Queen of Servia has a Christmas tree for her dogs. On it are placed those delicacies dearest to the canine heart. The animals are trained to take off these dainty morsels in an orderly manner, and at the Christmas ceremony itself the Queen and her friends attend to witness the proceedings. The Enquirer [Cincinnati OH] 22 December 1901: p. 2

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.

The Snake Garter: 1897

This was sold as a bracelet, but one wonders if it was a garter. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/397161260861916692/

This was sold as a bracelet, but one wonders if it was a garter. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/397161260861916692/

THE SNAKE GARTER

Strange Fad Adopted by the Society Girls of New York

Snake-lovers are becoming constantly more numerous among women who are at leisure to have fads. The newest manifestation of the strange fancy for serpents is the snake garter, which recently made its first appearance in Paris, and which was sketched for the New York World immediately upon its arrival in this country. A counterpart of this not altogether attractive ornament was first made to gratify the whim of a well-known society woman in Paris. Accident disclosed its possession to one of her friends, who was so delighted with it that the secret of the caprice was soon an open one.

Snake garters were many in Paris the next week. The garter is usually made of gold fibers, cleverly knit together so that the whole is made perfectly flexible. It is long enough to coil twice around the leg just below the knee, and is sufficiently elastic to retain its position.

The snake garter is freed from much of the horror naturally attached to it by the elaborate decorations which accompany it. The head is a knob of jewels of various colors, and a line of tiny diamonds runs from the head to the extreme tip of the tail.

Jackson [MI] Citizen Patriot 14 August 1897: p. 5

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Mrs Daffodil really does not understand the appeal of reptilian fashion. The average lady would scream or faint in horror and dismay if a genuine snake were to be found writhing about her leg.  Yet we are expected to believe that a bit of plaited gold tinsel and some tawdry gemstones will cause sensibly snake-averse persons to disregard the revulsion they naturally feel for the species and eagerly embrace ophidian accessories more suited to a lady snake-charmer.

Mrs Daffodil has written before about the garter-mounted pocket-book and garter-flask. There were an infinite number of novelties among these nether necessities.

The latest fashionable extravagance among silly city society ladies are garter buckles. A pair was sold in New York the other day that were valued at eight hundred dollars. The Reading [PA] Times 24 January 1889: p. 2

“HONI SOIT” GARTER

London September 30.

Fashion’s latest fad is in the form of garters with a tiny pocket at the back of the knee for a handkerchief or powder-puff. The garters are made of gold or silver tinsel woven in elastic bands. Auckland Star, 10 October 1924: p. 7

The bicycle girl’s garter-buckle is in keeping with her favorite sport; it is of gold, etched with a figure of a girl in knickers on a wheel. Godey’s Lady’s Book July 1897

And, most stunningly, seen at the New York Horse Show of 1912:

The wonderful diamond garter—or what Mr. John R. Townsend called a “leg bracelet,” worn by a very prominent matron, was the sensation of the hour at the Horse Show. It was a broad band of diamonds clasped on the left leg just below the knee. From it hung a two-inch fringe of smaller diamonds. The matron’s skirt was slit up on the side so as to show the garter.

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.

 

The Black Cat Elemental: 1870s

black-cat-trademark

CARNE HOUSE, NEAR

NORTHAMPTON

THE MAN IN THE FLOWERY DRESSING-GOWN AND THE BLACK CAT

Technical form of apparitions: Phantoms of the dead and possibly animal Elemental.

Cause of haunting: Murder

Source of authenticity: First-hand evidence

The word ghost is very elastic, it may be used in reference to many different types of spirits, and is, in fact, only the designation for that genus of which the departed soul of man is but a species.

Now Northamptonshire is very rich in species; species of all kinds; spirits of men, of beasts, of vegetables! and species of elementals — elemental being in itself, a genus which includes many various types, too numerous indeed, for any attempt at classification in this work.

It is no uncommon thing to meet with some locality (usually barren) or village (generally on the site of barrows or Druidical remains as, for example, Guilsborough) where the nature of the hauntings is dual; a complexity that is, fortunately, of rarer occurrence in houses.

Concerning the latter, Lee mentions one instance, i.e “The Gybe Farm,” in his book, ” More Glimpses of the Unseen World” whilst I will take this opportunity to quote another case of dual haunting, i.e., Carne House, which is situated at the utmost extremity of a village to the south-east of Northampton.

My informant, Mrs. Norton, frequently resided in the house in her childhood and youth, and it was from her lips that I heard the following story which I recollect only too well.

*****

My first impression of Carne House was one of extreme aversion; I can see it now as I saw it then — vast, sleek, and white, like some monstrous toad-stool, or slimy fungus.

Bathed in the moonlight — for we did not arrive till late — it confronted us with audacious nudity; not a plant or shrub being trained to hide its naked sides. There was something unspeakably loathsome in the boldness of its carriage — something that made me glance with fear at its wide and gaping windows and glance again as I crossed the threshold into the dark and lofty hall.

The passages of the house, both in number and sinuosity, resembled a maze ; they recalled to my youthful mind the story of Daedalus, and I half expected to see the figure of the Minotaur suddenly arise from some gloomy corner and pursue me through the labyrinth.

Nor were my fears entirely groundless, for I had hardly been in the place a month before I had a very unpleasant experience. Chancing one morning to go on an errand for my mother to a room that had in all probability once served as a laundry, but which was now restricted to lumber, I was startled at hearing something move either in or on the copper. Thinking it must be some stray animal, or, may be, a rat, I threaded my way through a sea of packing cases, and standing on tip-toe, peeped very cautiously into the copper.

To my intense surprise I found myself looking into a very deep and sepulchral well, at the bottom of which was a man. I could see him distinctly, owing to a queer kind of light that seemed to emanate from every part of his body. He was draped in a phantastic costume that might have been a kimono or one of those flowery dressing-gowns worn by our great-great-grandfathers. [a banyan] He was bending over a box which he was doing his best to conceal under a pile of debris, and it was undoubtedly this noise that had attracted me.

Too intent on his work, he was apparently unaware of my close proximity, until, satisfied that the box was well hidden, he straightened his back and looked up. His face frightened me; not that it was anything out of the normal either in feature or complexion, but it was the expression — the look of evil joy that sufTused every lineament before he saw me, changing to one of the most diabolical fury as our eyes met. I was at first too transfixed with terror to do more than stare, and it was only when, crouching down, he took a sudden and deliberate spring at the wall and began to climb it like a spider, that I regained possession of my limbs, and turning round, fled for my life.

Oh! how long that room seemed and what an interminable succession of furniture now appeared to barricade the way. Every yard was a mile, every instant I expected he would clutch me. I reached the door only just in time — happily for me it was open — I darted out, and as I did so the outlines of a hand — large and ill-shapen–shot fruitlessly past me. The next moment I was in the kitchen — the servants were there — I was saved — saved from a fate that would assuredly have sent me mad.

When I related what had happened, to my mother, she laughingly informed me I must have been dreaming, that there was NO well there, nor was there any man in the house save my father and the servants; yet I fancied I could detect beneath those smiling assurances a faint and scarcely perceptible horror — and she never let me visit that room again — alone!

But was I dreaming — was there no well, and had that man been but the fancy of  a childish and distorted brain? Sometimes I answered “Yes,” and sometimes “No.”

After this little incident, a manifest, though of necessity, subtle change took place in our household; the servants became infected with a general spirit of uneasiness, which although only shown in my presence by their looks, convinced and alarmed me far more than any fears, even the most terrible, would have done had they been outspoken. I was positive they lived in daily anticipation of something very dreadful — something that lay concealed in those dark and tortuous corridors or in that grim and ghostly room.

My dreams at night were horrible, nor did I again feel that in this respect I was singular as I overheard some one remark that no one ever passed the night without awakening with a sudden and inexplicable start. I say inexplicable — would that it had always remained so!

It was August when my next definite adventure occurred….Well, I slept in a room at the end of a corridor, my nearest neighbour. Miss Dovecot our governess, occupying a chamber some dozen yards away. I do not think I need describe any article of furniture the room contained; every piece was strictly modern, and had been brought with us from a newly furnished house in Sevenoaks. The fireplace and cupboard are, however, deserving of comment; the former was one of those old-fashioned ingles Burns delights in describing, and which are now so seldom to be seen; an inn at Dundry, near Bristol, containing, I believe, the finest specimen in the kingdom; whilst the latter, which I always kept securely locked at night, was of such far-reaching dimensions that it might well be termed in modern phraseology a linen room.

On the night in question, I had gone to bed at my usual time — eight — and I had speedily fallen to sleep, as I was in the habit of doing; but my slumber was by no means normal. I was tortured with a series of disturbing dreams, from which I awoke with a start to hear some clock outside sonorously strike twelve. As an additional proof of my wakefulness, I might add (pardon my explicitness) I was sensibly affected by a constant irritation of the skin, due, I believe, to a disordered state of the liver, which in itself was a sufficient preventive to further sleep. It must have been half-past twelve when I heard, to my intense horror, the cupboard door — which I distinctly recollect locking — slowly, very slowly, open.

My first impulse was to make a precipitate rush for the door, but, alas! I soon became aware that I was powerless to act; a kind of catalepsy, coming on suddenly, held my body as in a vice, whilst my senses, on the other hand, had grown abnormally acute. In this odious condition I was now compelled to listen to the Thing — whatever it might be — slowly crossing the floor in the direction of my bed.

The climax at length came, and my cup of horrors overflowed, when, with an abruptness that was quite unexpected (in spite of the direst apprehension), the Thing leaped on the bed, and I discovered it to be an enormous CAT.

I can unhesitatingly add the epithet — black — for the room, which a moment before was shrouded in darkness, had now become a blaze of light, enabling me to perceive the colour as well as the outline with the most unpleasant perspicuity. It was not only in intensity of colour (the blackest ebony could not have been blacker) that the cat was abnormal, but in every other respect; its dimensions were not far removed from those of a large bull-dog, and its expression — the eyes and mouth of the beast were more than bestial — was truly Satanic. Stalking over my legs, its tail almost perpendicular and swaying slightly like the nodding plumes of a hearse, it squatted down between the bedposts opposite, transfixing me with a stare full of malevolent meaning.

I was so fully occupied in watching it and trying to solve the enigma I saw so plainly written in its every gesture, that I did not realise I had other visitors, till a sudden uncertain twitching in the light made me look round. I then perceived with a start a fire was burning in the grate. A fire, and in August — how incongruous! I shivered. But it was no delusion; the flames soared aloft, adopting a hundred fantastic yet natural shapes; the coals burned hollow, and in their crimson and innermost recesses I read the future. But not for long. My cogitations were unceremoniously interrupted by the appearance of the man-in-the-well, whom I was startled to perceive seated in the chimney-corner in the most nonchalant attitude possible — nursing a baby!

Anomalous and mirth-provoking as is such a sight in the usual way, the existing circumstances were grim enough to excite my horror and raise anew my worst forebodings. Supposing he saw me now? There was no escape! I was entirely at his mercy. What would he do?

I glanced from him to the cat, and from the cat back again to him. Of my two enemies, which was most to be feared? The slightest movement on my part would inevitably arouse them both, and bring about my immediate destruction. The situation did not even warrant my breathing.

The minutes sped by with the most tantalising slowness. The clock struck one, and neither of my visitors had budged an inch — the man in the flowery dressing-gown still nursing the baby, and the black cat still staring at me. Mine was indeed a most unenviable position, and I was despairing of its ever being otherwise, when a sudden transmutation in the man sent a flow of icy blood to my heart. He no longer regarded his burden indifferently — he scowled at it.

The scowl deepened, the utmost fury pervaded his features, converting them into those of a demon. He got up, gnashed his teeth, stamped on the ground, and lifting up the child, dropped it head first into the fire. I saw it fall. I heard it burn! The hideous cruelty of the man, the abruptness of his action, proved my undoing. Oblivious of personal danger, I shrieked.

The effect was electrical. Dropping the poker, with which he had been holding down the baby, the inhuman monster swung round and saw me. The expression in his face at once became hellish, absolutely hellish.

My only chance of salvation now lay in making the greatest noise possible, and I had commenced to shout for help lustily, when at a signal from the man, the enormous black cat crouched and sprang.

What followed I cannot exactly remember, I have dim recollections of feeling a heavy thud and of some one or some thing trying to tear away the clothes from my head, after which there came a very complete blank, and when I recovered consciousness, the anxious countenances of my parents and governess were bending over me.

The next night I slept with my sister.

My health had been so impaired by these encounters, that my parents decided to move elsewhere; the furniture was once again packed, and within a month of the above incident we had taken up our abode in Clifton, Bristol.

The history of the hauntings was subsequently revealed to me by the owner of the house. It had once been inhabited by a man of the name of Darby, who seems to have been a sort of wholesale butcher. His elder brother dying, the family estate passed to the latter’s eldest son, a child of two, and Darby determining to succeed to the property, invited the widow to stay with him. She did so — she was a weakly creature — and he got rid of her by puttingher to sleep in a damp bed. The children were next disposed of, the younger by being burnt (as I had witnessed) and the elder, aged two, by being smothered to death by a black cat. Darby is said to have deliberately made the cat sit upon the infant’s mouth as it lay asleep. But these rapid deaths, as might have been expected, aroused suspicions. The nurse, who had been an unwilling party to the burning of the baby, turned King’s Evidence, and a warrant for his arrest was issued. As is often the case, however, the officers of the law were a bit too late. When they arrived at the house, the quarry had flown, nor could his whereabouts be discovered for many years; not, indeed, till fifty years after the crimes, when his skeleton was found at the bottom of a disused well he had himself sunk in one of the back kitchens. Under the skeleton lay an iron box containing many valuables, rings, &c., which he had been doubtless striving to hide when death in some unaccountable form or another overtook him. What became of the cat, history does not say.

The place had always borne a reputation for being haunted — it was on that account my parents had got it at so low a rental — and the ghosts seen there (undoubtedly those of Darby and his cat) corresponded in every detail with the phenomena that had so terrified me.

I am aware that many deny the existence of souls in animals — let them do so — but do not let them be too dogmatical, for where Life ends all is mystery.

Still there is an alternative theory to account for the appearance of animal phantoms, which is, I think, quite within the realms of possibility: the black cat I saw, if not the spirit of the one made such hideous use of by the old man, was undoubtedly an elemental — a spirit representative of a popular crime, a vice — Darby’s evil genius — that ever hovered at his heels in his lifetime and is more loth than ever to leave him now that his physical body is dead and his soul earthbound.

Some Haunted Houses of England & Wales, Elliott O’Donnell, 1908

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: A few days ago it was “Black Cat Day” in England. To-day it is, Mrs Daffodil is reliably informed, “National Cat Day,” in the States, a time to appreciate Our Feline Friends.  Mrs Daffodil has the highest professional regard for the species—the cats at the Hall perform their ratting and mousing duties with admirable zeal—and Mrs Daffodil has ordered an extra ration of cat-nip and kippers in honour of the occasion. However, in this post, with its proximity to Hallowe’en, she has judged it best to highlight the dark qualities of the species, so often linked with witchery and skull-duggery.  If her readers would prefer more kindly kittens, she will direct them to The Brighton Cats, Feline Entertainments, The Ghostly White Cat, and A Funeral for a Theatrical Cat—black cats are traditionally lucky in theatrical circles.

If you wish for thrilling narratives of sinister black cats, see The Black Cat Horror and Murder by Cat.

While he was an unmistakably talented writer of Horrors, Mr O’Donnell was well-known for his fancies and his purple prose (one rather doubts that Mrs Norton really said that the house was “unspeakably loathsome” or compared it to a monstrous toad-stool.) as well as his obsession with “Elementals”—non-human and sometimes monstrous spirits—all of whom were disease-spotted, odouriferous, beast-headed, or otherwise  “unspeakably loathsome.”

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.

 

Feline Entertainments: 1885, 1905

Cat at the tea-table, c. 1911

Cat at the tea-table, c. 1911

Cat Parties the Latest.

Cat parties are the latest entertainments. Recently a young girl, the happy possessor of a fine Maltese cat, invited a number of her friends to bring their pet cats to 5 o’clock tea, each cat to have a ribbon about its neck corresponding to that worn by its mistress. At the appointed hour the cats made their appearance in charge of their respective owners. After the feline introductions had taken place, some of which were the reverse of friendly, games were introduced and soft balls, toy mice and other objects dear to pussy’s heart were provided.

These pastimes, however, I grieve to say, were sometimes marred by a vigorous slap when two strangers came in collision and once the belligerent pussies had to be separated by friends. When tea was announced, a table furnished with saucers of milk and small cages, and with cushioned stools, was disclosed. The floral decorations consisted of catnip, lavender, grasses and bright flowers. The cats placed on their respective stools, and attended by their mistresses partook of the good things set before them. Their behavior was quite correct. With their forepaw on the table they lapped the milk with becoming propriety.

When all were satisfied, there was a comical sight. Each pussy began making her toilet, and the face-washing was decorous in the extreme. After leaving the table, a sprig of catnip was given each kitty, and the feline happiness was complete. These sprigs were tossed in the air, caught, and lovingly caressed. As each kitty departed, it was presented with its ball or toy mouse as a memento of the party.

Bismarck [ND] Tribune 20 October 1885: p. 4

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: If cats were being celebrated in 1885; there was a resurgence of the feline entertainment in 1905. A birthday party was meticulously planned for “Alice Roosevelt,” a black Angora, by Mrs. J.C. Hitchcock of New Castle, Pennsylvania, her owner, if Angora cats may be said to be owned.

CAT PARTY IN NEW CASTLE

A “Coming-out” Event for Mrs. Hitchcock’s Angora.

Sharon, Pa., February 26. Invitations have been issued by Mrs. J.C. Hitchcock, of New Castle, for a fashionable feline party in honor of the third anniversary of her black Angora cat, Alice, named for President Roosevelt’s daughter. The party is to be held at her beautiful residence within a few days.

The novelty of the affair has stirred New Castle society, and it promises to be largely attended by the best and wealthiest people of the tin-plate city down the valley. New Castle society leaders are proud of their high-bred cats and dogs and Mrs. Hitchcock is no exception. She conceived the idea of giving the party, which is to be the “coming out” event of her pretty Angora cat. The invitations read:
“Mrs. Hitchcock desires your presence at a party to be given in honour of the third birthday of her cat Alice. You are requested to bring your best felines.
 

Only high-bred and well-behaved cats are to be admitted, and prizes will be awarded to the handsomest. A dainty luncheon for the friends of Alice will be prepared by caterers.

Acceptances have been received from nearly every one to whom an invitation was sent.

Baltimore [MD] American 27 February 1905: p. 8

One is a little unsure about the propriety of a “coming-out” party for a black Angora. Debutantes are required to wear white gowns and wool, no matter how fine, is rarely on the approved list of textiles. And how did “Alice Roosevelt” acquire her name—did Mrs Hitchcock catch her smoking? Sadly, the party had to be confined to the family circle as Mrs Hitchcock fell ill.  Neighborhood gossips—perhaps those who were not invited to the lavish gathering—spread rumours that, had the invitations not been rescinded, the guest of honour would have dined alone. They claimed that most invitations had been declined by the local nibs, who treated the party as a joke. The cat in the illustration at the head of his post seems be taking the entertainment very seriously indeed.

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.

 

A Mysterious Visitant: 1897

1907-big-snake-fairy-tale

The following remarkable occurrence, an absolute fact, is related by a lady visiting friends in Hartford, as it was told her by her cousin in Meerut, North-Western India. It took place in the house of the narrator. Of its absolute accuracy there can be no question. The two sisters in India are connected with families of repute and with officers in the British Army in India. We give the story as the lady here related it. She is a devout member of the Episcopal Church, and is incapable of misrepresenting in the slightest particular.

Her cousin, in whose house the occurrence took place, was seated at a lighted table engaged in reading, when, thinking it about time to retire, and happening to lift her eyes from her book, she was astonished to see seated in a chair before her, and between herself and the door to the bathroom, a man, a stranger to her, who calmly regarded her. It was too great a surprise for her to speak and demand who was thus intruding upon her privacy, and what was wanted. She remained for a moment in silent astonishment.

Then it gradually dawned upon her that the figure was probably not that of a person of real flesh and blood, but a visitor from the unseen world of life. She remembered having once, as a child, seen a similar figure, under circumstances which seemed to preclude the idea that it was any person still in the body, and, in later years, in revolving those circumstances, she had remembered how the apparition had after a little while faded away into invisibility. Concluding that this new visitor also was not a person of flesh and blood, she sat silently gazing at the silent object, while the intruder, whoever or whatever he was, sat also in silence steadily regarding her. Just how long this state of things lasted, the lady did not accurately know, but it was probably not very long, when the mysterious stranger began to vanish into a thinner and thinner personal presence, until in a moment or two he had vanished quite away.

It was the lady’s hour for her evening bath, but she thought she would first let out her two pet dogs from their confinement in another room. They came, barking furiously, and running directly toward the bathroom. There through the open door the lady was horrified to see on the floor a monstrous cobra— the snake whose bite is certain and speedy death. Springing forward to save her dogs, she quickly shut the door, but not so instantaneously as to prevent her seeing the reptile turning and escaping down through a hole in the floor, where the drain pipes of bath-tub and wash-bowl went, a hole which had been carelessly left larger than was necessary.

If she had gone directly to the bathroom, as she would have done but for the intervention of her mysterious visitant, her life would undoubtedly have been sacrificed in the act.— From the ‘Hartford Times.’

Light 20 March 1897: p. 135

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: A salutary lesson to all of us about the importance of finishing those little jobs of plumbing about the house. When this piece was read at tea in the servants’ hall, Mr Pinch, the Hall plumber, much moved, declared that he would give notice if any dashed reptile could make its way into the Hall through an unfilled gap in his plumbing.  Of course cobras are scarce in Kent, but it is the thought that counts and we applauded his diligence.

One does wonder who the stranger was—perhaps a previous tenant of the house, found, swollen, and blackened in his bath one evening and come to save the lady from a similar terrible fate? Mrs Daffodil also marvels at the sang-froid of the lady, who sat gazing at the ghostly intruder as he began to vanish.

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.

 

The Queen of Valor and the Bull: 1901

I, Sailko [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

I, Sailko [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

DARING FEAT

Of a Young Woman Who Is Called “Queen of Valor.”

[Paris Cor. Baltimore American.]

A few weeks there appeared some alluring advertisements which were especially attractive to those Parisians who love excitement, and who had their appetite for such things tickled by the races of the Rue Pergolese. The attraction this time was a woman, Donna Tancreda, who, made up to resemble a statue, was to await, motionless, in the area, the assault of the bull, and to conquer it by her immobility. At the last moment this performance, which was to have taken place at Enghion, was forbidden. It did, however, take place in Roubaix. Here is an exact account of what happened:

At a given signal from the President, the doors of the arena opened and a magnificent carriage appeared, all draped in red velvet fringed with gold. In this carriage sat Senorita Mercedes del Barte, alias Donna Tancreda.

The “Queen of Valor” is dressed completely in white. Her face and her hair are powdered. The carriage stops just in front of the presiding party, and she gets out smiling and bowing and throws off her mantle, talking with the ushers while the attendants arrange in the middle of the arena a pedestal of wood about two feet high. When all is ready the impresario addresses the public and begs them to observe the most rigorous silence during the performance. This is indispensable. Then Donna Tancreda mounts the pedestal, helped by the matadora. She crosses her arms and faces the door from which the bull will emerge. The woman looks exactly like a marble statue. The arena is empty. All the ushers have disappeared behind the barriers and shelters. The deepest silence reigns in the vast amphitheater. Half a minute passes thus. Then the door opens and one sees tin the shadow the enormous head of the bull Gitano. The spectators hardly breathe. Many of the women cover their eyes with their hands. It is a terrible moment. The bull is a superb animal, with a powerful neck and long, straight horns. He raises his head, looks around, and at once bounds upon the white statue.

It is with the greatest difficulty that one can restrain a cry of horror, one’s sensations are too painful and a long endurance of such emotion would be unbearable. Donna Tancreda is as rigid as marble. The last movement would be fatal to her.

The bull starts back, looks at his strange adversary, and then with a terrible bound rushes up to the pedestal. Anxiety is at its height. But once more the bull stops short without striking. He draws back a few feet, and, taking advantage of this, Donna Tancreda jumps down and rushes behind a screen, while the ushers draw off the bull. The people breathe again. A long sigh escapes from all, and then thunders of applause are heard, and the “Queen of Valor” gets a tremendous ovation.

Donna Tancreda, who was born in Paris, has appeared with success at Barcelona, Valentia, Castile, Madrid, Seville and for the first time in France at Roubaix.

The Enquirer [Cincinnati, OH] 18 August 1901: p. 4

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: What a very curious career—to be, essentially, a professional statue, a tableau vivant of one. The venue sounds most disagreeable: first there are the insects, which  invariably accompany bovines and their excretions. Then there is the smell and the incontinent spittle of the charging creature. And the damage to the complexion from the concealing powder and the  the sun is painful to contemplate. One wonders that the young lady was not carried off by sunstroke or that she did not as a precaution wear a helmet and appear in the character of Athena. That, of course, would have taken much of the fun out of it….

Mrs Daffodil supposes it cannot be that much different from being an artist’s live model, where one must stay very still and one’s virtue, rather than one’s life, is threatened by the amorous artist who fancies himself a bull of sorts. There are also persons who pursue this statuesque vocation by posing as wind-up tin soldiers, or automata, startling the public as they “come to life.”  Mrs Daffodil, who always thinks practically,  wonders if they can obtain insurance for the invariable injuries that will occur. And, of course, there are the Queen’s Guards, enjoined to immobility during sentry duty, but they, at least, are allowed to carry weapons to ward off the predatory, “selfie”-taking public.

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.