Category Archives: Animals

The Inspector Smelled a Rat: 1902

rat trap 1915.JPG

The Inspector Smelled a Rat.

The sight of vast quantities of coin has a stimulating influence on human wits, to such an extent that Uncle Sam is kept busy “coppering” efforts of geniuses to “do” the various mints. Some of the schemes devised are so smooth that the government officials are unwilling for their nature to be divulged at least until the law has been twisted into shape to fit the new form of theft. Time and again methods have been evolved for which no legal antidote is discoverable and which can only be punished by dismissal, not by criminal prosecution. One of the latter types was recently worked on a western mint, according to the report of a late arrival via the Southern Pacific. It was this way. The gold is rolled into strips from ingots in the rolling room and carefully weighed out again. The “in” and “out” figures should tally so they did until recently when a suddenly daily deficit appeared. Each evening there was a loss of $10 or $20 and the director of the mint grew hot in the collar. A personal search was made of every one leaving the room, but the shortage continued.

Finally, one day the inspector in the coinage department smelled, a rat, a real rat, which had fallen a victim to the jaws of a deadfall during the night. Although it was still early in the day, the rat asserted itself until it dawned upon the inspector that decomposition had progressed with remarkable rapidity for a one-day corpse. The trap, he knew had been emptied of another rodent the evening before, for he remembered seeing an employee pick up the thing by the tail and toss it through the small slot above the window.

A flash of intelligence came to the official, and he waited. Later a “stamper” approached the trap, remarking jocularly ‘’Nother rat,’ bent over, fooled with the trap and then tossed the creature out of the window. The inspector was out in a flash and reached the ground just in time to see a gent pick up a defunct rodent, slip it into a leather grip and decamp.

The commotion made by the inspector put the employee on his guard, and he threw no more rats.

He was soon dismissed for cause and went away damning his own laziness, for instead of getting busy and keeping a supply of fresh rats on ice, he used and reused the same fellow until he became faisandé [overripe] and put the authorities next to his game. However, he justified himself by saying that was the only rat he had found with a mouth large enough to hold $35 worth of gold. Exchange.

The Leavenworth [KS] Times 2 September 1902: p. 7

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil will note that, even to-day, those persons in charge of securing clients’ intimate financial details have the same difficulty in apprehending and convicting miscreants who would steal those golden “user-names” and “pass-words.”  The only thing that can be said in the favour of these criminals is that they have moved beyond rats, into “phish.”


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 Province Man’s Story of a Blizzard: 1840s

blizzard story in Winter Frolics Matildy and Bob


“Yes, I’ve no doubt that blizzards are fearful to encounter, but I do not think they can be much worse than a downright north-easter of the Province,” said a gray-bearded New Brunswicker to a Western man, who had been relating to the few passengers of the steamer plying on the river between Tobique and St. John his experience of one of those terrible winter storms which so frequently sweep down upon the exposed people of the Northwest.

“I remember one in particular,” he said, “for it gave me a lameness that’s going to stay by me as long as I live.”

After listening to the Western man’s adventure, we were all anxious to hear that of the Province man’s, and urged him to favor us. He at last assented.

“I was eighteen,” he said, “that winter, and tough as a young buffalo. I had never been sick, and scarcely knew what it was to be tired. My father was a lumberman. He went into the logging-swamp that winter, towards the head of the Miramichi River, and left me to take care of the family, –a pretty large one, counting in all the children. I was the oldest.

“The winters are long in that part of New Brunswick, and a good deal of snow falls. At that time there were but few settlements, the one nearest to where we lived being about forty miles away; so you may know there wasn’t much going back and forth for the women-folks.

“But for that matter, there were five or six families living in our settlement, and I will say we used to have some pretty good times together. We seemed almost like one family, and when one was in need of help the others were sure to give it.

“One of our neighbors was a Mr. Moore. He married a girl who lived in the settlement next to ours, and all her folks lived there. In the winter he worked in the woods with the rest of the men, and as his children were small, he used to hire me to look after the chores that were necessary about his house.

“Well, about the middle of that winter, it was in February, I think, Matildy, that was Mrs. Moore, got word that her mother was sick, and that, if she wanted to see her alive, she must go to her at once.

“The poor woman was nearly frantic with anxiety. Her husband was in the woods, and she had no way of getting to her father’s house. I think she had not seen her mother for two years.

“‘William,’ said my mother, coming home from the Moore cabin, where she had been to spin flax and comfort the sorrowing woman, ‘I think you’ll have to go.” “‘I’m going at once, mother,’ I said, for I thought she meant that I must go to Mrs. Moore’s and attend to the chores.

“‘Not that,” she replied, surmising what I was thinking about. ‘You must go to the settlement with Matildy. How should I feel if my mother was dying, and I could not see her? Now, get your chores all done up to-night, so you can start in the morning by daylight. I’ll see to things while you’re gone.”

“But what’s to be done with the children?’ I asked.

“’They’re coming to stay with me until Matildy gets back.”

“So it was settled that I should go with Mrs. Moore, and if she did not stay more than a day or two, I was to bring her home. The sky had threatened a storm for a number of days, and I expected to get up the next morning and see a snow-storm. But it was a bitter cold morning—too cold to snow then, though the sky was still gray and heavy, showing plainly enough that there’d be a heavy fall of snow as soon as the weather was warmer.

“It didn’t take long to get the horse and sled ready, and putting on father’s moose-skin coat, we started, Matildy carrying her baby, that was not more than six months old, in her arms, swathed in a blanket of lynx-skins.

“It was scarcely light when we set off, and it was very slow travelling through the narrow, rough road. We had not got more than three miles from the settlement when it begun to sprinkle snow, and in an hour more the flakes were coming down thick and fast. A cutting wind swept through the woods, driving the snow into our faces, and it looked doubtful to me whether we should ever get to the next settlement in such a storm.

“I wanted to turn back, but Matildy would not consent to this. So I had nothing to do but whip up old Bob and get on as fast as we could.

“But the storm grew worse and worse. The wind kept rising, and the air was so thick, with the driving snow that I could scarcely see a rod beyond the horse’s head. Noon came, and we were not over ten or twelve miles from the settlement. The snow was now so deep that the horse could make but little headway through it and against the heavy wind.

“We had food with us, but we could not stop for luncheon with the storm piling the big drifts all about us. Part of the time I walked behind the sled to lighten the load, and when it got so deep that Bob–the horse—couldn’t pull through, I tramped a path; and so, tramping and wallowing, we managed to get on a few miles further.

“But towards night the horse showed signs of giving out, and we had not gone over two-thirds of the way. I can assure you, it made me feel about sick to think of being out in that storm all night. Not that I feared so much for myself, for, as I said, I was tough as a buffalo and could have found some snug corner to stow myself away in, and in the big moose-skin coat could have been quite comfortable; but there was Matildy, and the baby, poor thing, was beginning to cry. I feared they both would perish before morning.

“By jerking and encouraging, Bob was made to start again. But his strength and courage did not last, and after another half-mile of plunging and tramping he lurched over the thills into the snow and gave out entirely. All my urging couldn’t get him on his legs again.

“Suddenly I got an idea, and untackling Bob from the sled, I tied his legs together with the straps of the harness, so that he could neither get up nor thrash about. Then, drawing the sled alongside of him, I canted it up sideways, setting the stakes to keep it from turning over fully, and thus made a sort of shelter to break off the wind.

“Going into the edge of the woods, I cut a lot of fir-boughs with my big knife and made a sort of bed for Matildy and the child, snug up against Bob’s back, covering them over with the quilts and skin, tucked in warm about them; and then I covered all with another thick coat of boughs.

“Then I went on towards the settlement, fifteen miles distant, for help. It soon became dark, and I never can tell you half what I suffered stumbling along through the drifts, half blinded by the whirling snow and nearly breathless; sometimes laying down and feeling that I never could go another rod; but the thought of Matildy and the baby in the snow drove me on—and I’ve no doubt saved my life.

“When within two miles of the settlement the road came out near the river, and for the rest of the way it was mostly cleared land. But it troubled me to keep the road. I was afraid I should wander off and never find the settlement.

“But there was a Hand leading me through that night and storm that I had never known before— and it led me safe; for, after wandering around till I was so exhausted that I was about to lay down in despair, I caught the glimmer of a light ahead.

“Ah, never was a half-drowned sailor more thankful for the sight of a life-boat than I was for that little spark of light! I crawled towards it shouting with all my strength.

“It came from a little log-hut on the outskirts of the settlement, where a logger’s wife was nursing a sick child. Hearing my cries she roused her husband, who came out to my assistance.

“As soon as it began to grow light the man got one of his neighbors—for I was too badly frozen to go back with him—and taking a horse and sled, started after Matildy and the baby.”

“And did they find them alive?” asked a listener, furtively brushing away the tears. “Yes, ma’am, they did. The snow had drifted over them, and so kept out a good deal of the cold, though Matildy was considerably frost-bitten. The baby was asleep, as comfortable as though it had been at home. But old Bob was dead. The journey and the cold had been too much for him.

“That spring the people at the settlements contributed money and bought my father another horse, so we wa’n’t much the worse off,” concluded the old man, seeming to be quite unconscious of his own heroism. Youth’s Companion.

Junean County Argus [New Lisbon WI] 23 August 1883: p. 1

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  A breathless moment there at the end. But poor, poor Bob….


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 Swan for Christmas Dinner: 1910

A Devonshire man sent his club, just before Christmas, a fine large swan in a hamper. The hamper was addressed to the secretary, who notified the club members of the treat that was in store, and a special swan dinner was arranged. The swan came on, at this dinner, looking magnificent — erect and stately on a great silver-gilt salver. But tough! It was so tough you couldn’t carve the gravy.

A few days later the sender of the swan dropped in at the club. “Got my swan all right. I hope?” he said to the secretary.

“Yes, and a nice trick you played us.”

“Trick? What do you mean?”

“Why, we boiled that swan for sixteen hours, and when it came on the table it was tougher than a block of granite.”

“Good gracious! Did you have my swan cooked?”

“Yes, of course.”

The other was in despair.

“Why, that bird was historic,” he groaned. “I sent him up to be stuffed and preserved. He had been in my family for 200 years. He had eaten out of the hand of King Charles I.”

The Argonaut [San Francisco, CA] 8 January 1910

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Mrs Daffodil does not like to call a gentleman a liar, but swans only live for perhaps two or three decades at best. If the swan truly had eaten out of the hand of King Charles I, he must have been frozen solid for at least two centuries.

The club secretary and members would have felt like royalty: roast swan was a feature of royal Christmas feasts from time immemorial. The Crown may lay claim to all swans in public waters; currently the Queen shares her swans with two livery companies: the vintners and the dyers; the yearly ceremony of “swan upping” divides the Thames swans between the Queen and the livery companies. Queen Victoria and King Edward VII enjoyed a nice Christmas swan. This article gives the receipt for its preparation, should you happen to have a 200-year-old swan lying about the larder.


Every Year One is Served at Sandringham—The Recipe.

The royal swan has ever been a conspicuous item in the Christmas menu at Sandringham. Every year the largest and plumpest young cygnet that can be obtained from the swannery on the Thames is killed.

When it leaves the hands of the special messenger at Sandringham it is taken charge of by the head cook, who personally looks after it until it is laid before the king.

Trussed like a goose, it is stuffed with a rich mixture of which the principal ingredient is ¾ of a pound of rump steak. It is finally covered with a piece of oily paper, sprinkled with flour, wrapped in a second piece of paper; and then roasted on a spit for four or five hours in front of a blazing fire.

A gravy of beef is provided to which is added a pint of good port wine. Folk who have tasted this dish describe the flavor as being half way between goose and hare. New York World.

The Boston [MA] Globe 24 January 1909: p. 48


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.

Mrs Daffodil’s Thanksgiving Greeting

turkey cart

Mrs Daffodil wishes all of her friends who celebrate the holiday

a very jolly Thanksgiving!


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 Sea Dog: 1850s

collie dog

Shakins and the Tough Four.

Perhaps there are persons who have read some of my previous stories of sea dogs who may think that I never bought a dog but was always picking up homeless ones, but they wrong me, for I have bought several in my life; but after varied experiences with both boughten ones and pick-ups, the latter classes have almost invariably proven to have been the most precious ones, and then again I rather think my fad was for canine waifs and strays.

It was in Liverpool that I picked up Shakins. He looked friendless and as if searching for some one to be good to him, and I called him to me, and patting his head and talking to him, said, “Come along, old fellow,” and he was nothing loth to accept my invitation. When we arrived at the dock gate, the policeman on duty said to me, “Are you going to take that dog aboard your ship, Captain? I hope you are, for he deserves a good home. His former master was the mate of a ship that left here a few days ago. The poor mate died and his dog has been watching for his return ever since. He is half starved, but we feed him at times.”

That settled it with me, and again patting the poor fellow on the head, I determined that he should have as good a home as he had lost. The dog evidently knew that I was to be his new master, and having been indorsed by the policeman, a future home was as good as assured. He was a collie, and a bright, clean one at that; with a clear, loving eye, and as gentle as a little girl. As soon as we got on deck, the dog was wild with joy. He frisked about the decks and barked and frolicked around as if to say, “Home at last!” When we entered the cabin, he went around peering into every stateroom, perhaps in quest of some trace of his late master, but quite as likely to familiarize himself with his new surroundings; at any rate, he soon made himself quite at home. I told the story of the dog to the two mates, and they at once took kindly to the fellow, and before the day was over he was on excellent terms with all hands fore and aft. The second mate christened him “Shakins,” why that name I do not now remember, but it suited me and the dog, and hence that was his name, and one never to be forgotten by anyone who sailed in that ship on that memorable voyage.

Some of my crew that came from New York in the ship got the gold fever and ran away, and I was obliged to ship some new men. Several of these were not to my liking, but they were the best to be had under the circumstances. Four of them the mate christened the “Tough Four,” before they had been on board as many days. However, the marked quartette obeyed all orders promptly and gave us no trouble; but they were a forbidding looking lot of chaps, to say the least. Shakins did not like them at all, and while he was fairly familiar with the rest of the crew, he would have nothing to do with these fellows. Several times I was on the point of telling them to come aft and get their wages and go on shore, but I was confronted with the great difficulty of getting men to fill their places, and finally dismissed the matter from my mind.

The afternoon before we sailed several boxes of specie were delivered alongside the ship, to be put on board. In those days there were no steam lines to Brazil—we were bound to Rio Janeiro—so that specie shipments were of common occurrence on sailing vessels. It so happened that the four toughs had a hand in putting the boxes on board and, of course, knew from their weight and markings that they contained money. They were put in my state room temporarily. Nothing unusual transpired on our outward passage, until we had been out from Liverpool about three weeks, when one night as I was looking into the binnacle to see if the man at the wheel was keeping on his course, he said to me, “Say, Captain, you’ll have to excuse me, but most of us fellows forward don’t like the four fellows we shipped in Liverpool. They’s bad ones, they is. I think they are hatching up some plot to make mischief on board this ship.”

I questioned him closely; but he could not make himself quite clear as to what kind of a plot the fellows were hatching, and after cautioning him to be careful, I asked him to ingratiate himself with the suspects, and gather all he could about the supposed plot and let me know.

All the while Shakins was my constant companion; and his marked intelligence bordered on the miraculous at times. Some of the superstitious old sailors said he was possessed of an evil spirit, and was an uncanny dog that was to be respected if not feared. He knew several colors by name, that is so far as the ship’s flags were concerned, and if told to bring the ensign, the jack, or the house flag, he would do it every tine without making a single mistake. Tell him to bring the quarantine flag—“Q” of the International Code of Signals—and he would pick it out of the nineteen flags of the code. If sent for a ball of cotton sewing twine, he would not bring the hemp twine, although they were in the same locker; in fact, he knew the names of the common things of everyday use on board the ship. He could scent land when we could not see it, and his varying bark—his language—soon became to be as well understood as if he had spoken, as we did, a common language. To the men he was a canine wonder.

We were out just thirty-one days from Liverpool, when Shakins demonstrated his prowess as a life-saver and made himself the hero of the ship. After dinner the passengers, of whom we had several on board, including a family with two little girls, went to their rooms for the customary afternoon nap. I had also lain down for the same bit of comfort, when I was awakened by the cry of “Man overboard!”

Rushing on deck I ordered the main topsail laid to the mast, and a boat lowered, sending a man aloft to keep the man in sight that was overboard. Judge of our surprise when the man aloft sung out: “It’s Shakins that is overboard, sir, and he has got something in his mouth, but I can’t just make out what it is yet.”

Just at this time little Minnie Foster’s mother was hunting for the child, a beautiful flaxen-haired girl of about seven years of age. Several joined in the hunt for Minnie, but she was nowhere to be found. Poor Mrs. Foster was running about crying, “Oh, my poor Minnie, it is she that has fallen overboard! She will be drowned!” And then falling into her husband’s arms, went into a faint.

It was not long before the boat was up to where Shakins was calmly holding Minnie by the back of her dress, waiting for the boat’s crew to receive them into their keeping. It seemed to me that the men pulled back to the ship even faster than they pulled away from her, for it was but a very short time from the announcement that Shakins had something in his mouth until Minnie and her rescuer were again in safety on our decks. Minnie told her story before her mother recovered from her swoon. She was playing on the transom locker aft and crawled up to one of the stern ports, lost her balance and fell through into the sea. Shakins saw her go and leaped in after her. I have told the rest. When Minnie’s mother came to, there was a rejoicing, and Shakins came in for a goodly share of that mother’s blessings. The dog was the hero of that ship from that hour until the voyage ended some months later. But before we shall have ended this story, it will be seen he was capable of still greater achievements.

The man at the wheel confessed that the tough four were too deep for him. He was unable to worm himself into their confidence, and must give up the task I had assigned him, and trust to luck to find out what they were up to; for he felt certain that mischief was brewing. I resolved to confide in no one but the mate, whom I could rely upon implicitly, and to him told what the man at the wheel had told me; but we could not between ourselves conjure up just what these four fellows were planning. We watched them closely, but they did their duty well and gave us aft no cause for complaint.

One night the thought came to me that they might be in a conspiracy to seize the ship and attempt to get away with the specie. I acted upon this stray thought, and each hour it weighed heavier on my mind. I loaded the firearms, placed them in a secure place, gave the mate a brace of pistols—there were no revolvers in those days—and began a most careful vigil, especially at night. Shakins now, as I remember, never permitted me to be out of his sight, and he became more adverse to the now to me suspicious four. Most of my sleep I took in the daytime, so that I might be better able to watch by night. I would go to my room as if to take my regular rest, and then when unobserved, come out and sit on the transom, behind the cabin staircase, which led from the quarter deck to the main cabin. After 10 o’clock at night the light was put out in the saloon. Shakins used to lie on the locker by my side or on the floor at my feet.

I had been on deck one night, when the port watch was relieved at 8-bells, midnight, and after passing the time of day with the officers, and cautioning the helmsman to steer a straight course, went below, and, going to my room, struck a match as if going to turn in as usual in my own berth; then silently taking my place on the transom, began my lonely watch. Shakins was by my side. I must have dozed off and been oblivious for some time, when suddenly Shakins rubbed his paw two or three times quickly over my face. I was up in an instant. There in his bare feet, with a big oaken heaver behind his back, one of the tough four was softly coming down the cabin stairs. Shakins was sitting on his haunches, but never a growl came from him. The fellow made for the door of my room. I permitted him to enter, then before he could do a thing, I whispered to him, “Move, speak, and you die, you villain,” at the same time wiping a brass pistol barrel across his face. “Drop that stick, put out your hands.” And quick as a flash I had the fellow handcuffed. “Now if you stir or make the least noise so as to alarm your confederates, I will blow your brains out certain. I know your whole plot.”

Shutting the door. I turned the key and was just going to call the mate, who was asleep in his room on the opposite side of the cabin, when I saw a shadow in the companion way, gliding along the side of the cabin, was hailed from the deck in a whisper, “Is it all right, shall I come down?” I whispered back, “Yes, come gently.” Down he came. As he passed me—for it was so dark that he could not see me—I grabbed him by the arm, and sticking the cold, brass muzzle of the pistol in his face—I should say on his face—said, “Open your mouth, and you are a dead man, or stir, except as I order, and I will kill you.” Leading him to the door of my room, I pushed him in, saying to the pair, “If you fellows stir, I will send you to hell in a second, and don’t you dare give any alarm.”

Then shutting the door, I ran to the mate’s room and, routing him out, sent him with his pistol to my room door to keep guard over my two captives, and to look out for any more of the gang that might come down into the cabin by the companionway. I then went out the forward cabin door, which was always kept locked after 10 o’clock at night; and to my surprise found the second mate bound and gagged at the main fife-rail. It took but an instant to cut his bonds, and telling him to go aft with the capstan bar—he going to the lee side of the house on deck, while I went up on the weather side—I met the third man of the quartette crouched down near the end of the house waiting for the signal to assist his shipmates. I kicked him and ordered him to go aft, and by the time the second mate had reached the wheel, where the fourth man of the gang was, the tough four were all prisoners. The fellow I had secured I marched down the cabin stairs, leaving the second mate to look out for the man at the wheel. All this time Shakins was a silent but much interested spectator, but never opened his mouth. He seemed to know that this was the time for whispering, and he had not learned how to do that as yet.

After sending the second mate down to my room to change places with the chief mate, I told the mate to go forward and summon all hands aft. Not getting any response to his repeated calls, he went forward cautiously and found the watch on deck stupid, and very difficult to awaken; but the watch below were speedily aroused and came aft. My story was quickly told, and in a few minutes the wheel had been relieved and the four mutineers, or rather pirates, were in double irons and securely stowed away in the carpenter’s shop. The scoundrels had drugged their watch mates and the four thought it was going to be an easy matter to kill the mate and me; and it would have been, but for Shakins waking me up at the right moment.

After breakfast I sent for the prisoners one by one and questioned them. Two refused to talk, but one confessed the whole plot, and the other confirmed what the confessing man had told me. They had planned to murder us all, save the second mate, whom they were to compel to navigate the ship near to the land; then put the specie in the boat, kill him, set fire to the ship and make their escape inland and divide the money. It was Shakins that brought their plans to grief. We carried the tough four into Rio, and delivered them to the American Consul. He jailed them until an opportunity presented itself and then shipped them in double irons for trial before a United States Commissioner at New York. Off Hatteras a vessel collided with the ship in a fog, sinking her. The crew were all saved, but the four that were not to be saved from death by law perished as they deserved to perish.

We finished our loading at Rio and went to Cronstadt, thence to London, and back home to New York. Shakins was made an idol of. In every port his deeds were told, both by the men forward and by us in the after part of the ship. Men petted him and women kissed the dear old fellow; but they never took away one whit of his love for me. He made several more voyages with me, but at last his strength began to fail, his eyesight dimmed, and I did not want to see him suffer on shipboard, so I left him on shore with a friend who I knew would care for him tenderly. When I returned some months afterward poor Shakins had gone to the Heaven prepared for dogs. He sleeps now on the banks of the Hudson in a quiet spot where I know he will not be disturbed. I would dearly love to mark his last resting place with a stone on which would be engraved a fitting tribute to his memory, a token of my love and affection for a friend whose equal I have never met. But, alas! I dare not do this, lest some dog-hater would disturb even the dust of dear old Shakins. Can you wonder I love dogs, and that tears will come when I tell of their goodness to me. B. S. OSBON.

Forest and Stream, Volume 65, 18 November 1905: pp. 406-7

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: It is, Mrs Daffodil is given to understand, “National Dog Day,” so Mrs Daffodil thought it would be appropriate to share a thrilling story of a loyal sea-dog and his master. Captain B.S. Osbon led a life packed with incident, including standing trial for treason during the American Civil War and establishing the Mexican navy. (See his biography in The Nautical Gazette.)  He was also a journalist and his memoir, A Sailor of Fortune, is equally thrilling, Boys-Own-Paper stuff.  Shakins was fortunate to have found such a kind friend and companion.

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 Cats Came Back: 1911

angel cat

An article appearing in the April issue of the National Review from the pen of Capt. Humphries, once more draws attention to the subject of the apparition in visible form of deceased animals. Capt. Humphries has various stories to relate which have come within his own personal knowledge, and they are stories in several instances which can be paralleled by the records already given in earlier numbers of the Occult Review. Take, for instance, the following story of the apparition to a child of its pet cat:—

The following authenticated case (says Capt. Humphries) happened in the Midland counties of England at a house where the writer was frequently present, and from personal observation can confirm every detail, and which can also be vouched for by the mother and father of the boy. The boy was four years old, and spent much of his time in the company of a large white cat who shared his joys and pleasures. The cat died, but its death was carefully guarded from the child, when some weeks after the boy asked why it was that his old cat only came to see him at night, and that immediately after going to bed. Upon being questioned, he said “It looks much the same, only thinner. I expect, as he goes away all the day time, he has not been properly fed.’’

This, says the writer, went on at intervals for about four months.

A close parallel to the above story will be found in the issue of the Occult Review for July 1905, the narrator being the late Mrs. Nora Chesson, and the experience her own. I make no apology for reproducing it here in full. She wrote:—

Perhaps the next time that the Other World touched me, being older I was more ready to be touched, for your ordinary school-girl is a healthy happy animal, pagan to the tips of her fingers, selfish to the last cell of her brain.

I had rolled my hair up to the crown of my head, and my skirts were on visiting terms with my ankles, when the home circle was suddenly narrowed by the loss of a pet cat, a little loving creature who did not need the gift of speech, her eloquent emerald eyes were such homes of thought, the touches of her caressing head and pleading paw so naturally tender and persuasive.

Sickness of some kind had kept me to my room for a week, and I had wondered why my cat Minnie had not courted my company as usual, but accounted for her sudden indifference by a possible reflux of motherly devotion to her kittens, now about six weeks old. The first morning of my convalescence the bedroom door, which stood ajar, opened a little further and Minnie came in. She rubbed her pretty tortoise-shell tabby coat against me in affectionate greeting; she clasped my hand with ecstatic paws in a pretty fondling gesture that was all her own; she licked my fingers, and I felt her white throat throbbing with her loud purring, and then she turned and trotted away.

“Minnie has been to see me at last,” said I to the maid who brought in my lunch.   “I wonder why she kept away from me so long!”

“Minnie has been dead and buried these two days, and her kitten’s fretting itself to skin and bone for her,” said Louisa looking scared. “Your mamma would not tell you while you weren’t well. Miss, for she knew you’d take on, being that fond of the little cat.” Minnie was undoubtedly dead and buried, and a stone from our garden rockery was piled upon her place of burial, yet as undoubtedly Minnie came to welcome my return to health. Is this explicable? I know that it is true.

The Occult Review May 1911: p: 241-242

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Cats have, of course, always been associated with the mystical and the occult. They were witches’ familiars and minions of the Evil One. They were thought to turn corpses into vampires, might prove omens of death and were also believed to have the ability to see ghosts, as we have seen in this story of “What  the Cat Saw.”

So it is refreshing to find cats coming back in a benign manner, just to touch noses and purr at their friends.

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 Aristocats: 1909



The Society Feline Is Many Grades Removed from the Midnight Prowler on the Back Fence.

Blue Blood in a Cat’s Veins Is a Costly Fluid

Fashionable People Are Turning Nowadays from the Dog to the Cat

More Cats Were Seen in Newport Last Seasons Than Ever Before in its History

A Cat Is Better Fitted For Carrying About.

The proverb maker says “A cat can look at a king.” But it takes a king to look at a fashionable cat these days. At least a king of coin, for a society feline is as far removed from the midnight prowlers, whose habitat is a plank on the backyard fence as the moth is from the star. Blue blood in a cat’s veins is a costly fluid. Most cats serve only the boy in the backyard and the cartoonist, but a cat of fine blood and prize markings is a feline gem of the rarest ray serene. And each ray of blood, so to speak, is worth its weight in silver.

Fashionable folk are turning from the dog to the cat. The cat is being gradually promoted from the basement to the sleeping basket in the parlor. Instead of sleeping wherever it can the cat now has a specially made sleeping basket and wears a nightgown. The cat craze is spreading everywhere. More cats were seen at Newport last summer than ever before in all its history. And this when the time of the cat is winter. A cat looks more fashionable in winter than in summer. A dog can follow all right in the summer, but in the winter he can’t jump through the snow; and if he does he gets is boots all dirty. A cat is fitted for carrying. Then in the winter time when the dog cannot very well accompany his owner the cat comes into her own. Her long, thick fur makes her look appropriate when the snow blows and the wind bites. When the air sings and brings red to women’s cheeks a cat looks a picture under a woman’s arm.



This winter more than forty cat shows will be held in the United States. Rare cats will be exhibited and blue ribbons will be awarded from Bangor, Me., to Pasadena, Cal. Even in Canada cat fairs will be held. There the two governing bodies that hold these shows, and the books of these institutions show that there are 2,000 pedigreed cats in the United States. And all the fashionable Toms and Tabbies are not pedigreed, nor are they social climbers. By chance they happen to have the marks and qualifications that go to make a desirable cat, and the first thing they know they are raised to the ranks of society by being taken up by a cat lover.

Ask the first man you meet on the street, or the person next you on the car what he imagines a fashionable cat is worth and he will wrinkle up his brows for a moment and say: “Oh, I suppose about $20.” Then he will blush and built fortifications by saying that he supposes there might be one cat worth that much.
Tell a cat fancier that and he will slap his knees in glee. He will inform you impressively that you couldn’t any more than buy a night prowler for that.

Why, $20 wouldn’t go very far toward outfitting a cat even. Goodness no! Twenty dollars would leave a cat’s wardrobe so barren that a cat of luxury would get up and stalk majestically away. Put $20 in a cat’s outfit and you would have to have the bill of sale to know that you had bought anything at all. It wouldn’t more than buy a cat blanket and a few catnip balls. Cat is another way of spelling money. Especially if you put fashionable before it. A kitten from a blooded sire sells for from $50 to $100. Yes, actually sells. That is the mark-down price, too. The value of an average prize-winning cat is about $150. Then when you begin to sift them out for the best the price jump up like steel on a squeeze. Whenever you start out to buy a blooded cat or kitten take a full pocket-book. Cats often change hands at $500.


Mrs. George Lynas, an Indiana woman, has a cat that she bought in England for $525. This does not include the expense of bringing him over. He is a Persian Chinchilla, and is 3 years old. His name is Rob Roy II. Of Arrandale. His name is no more aristocratic than he is. Mrs. James Conolisk of Gowanda has a cat valued at $800. Ho, that is not just the value she puts on it; there are several persons who would like to become his owner at that figure. That is not all. C.H. Jones of Rochester, N.Y., has a cat that he holds at $2,000. No, that is not a mistake—there should be three ciphers after the “2.” The animal’s name is Honorable Peter Stirling—or “Petie.”  Honorable Peter is a very famous cat, and is known wherever cat lovers congregate. “Petie” has a record behind him, for he has promenaded on Broadway with his master without string or chain. He walks along with his master with all the proud dignity of his namesake. Two thousand dollars would buy enough ordinary cats to have made the Pied Piper hurry out early in the morning and study the want ad section. If you had $2,000 to invest in the common or backyard variety of cats you would have to put electric trucks on all the furniture vans in town. The Egyptians who held cats to be sacred and bowed down to them in worship would only give two or three kopecks for a bushel of them. Such a cat as “Petie” ought to be able to look at a whole battalion of kings and never get fussed.

¿With Kindest Greetings for this Christmas dayî

Lithograph scrap, cat in a slipper, 1870s

A complete outfit for a cat looks like an inventory of the trunk of a belle going to the seashore for a month. Tabby has to have more things to wear than a bride. Tabby must have a collar. Some cats have lived and flourished to a ripe old age on the division fence who never once felt the need of a collar. But you must remember that our Tabby is a fashionable cat. A collar worn by Fluff would never do for Tabby, Never! Horrors! no! A dog collar on a cat! Again horrors! Even if nine tenths of the people can’t tell a dog collar from a cat collar it would never do to put Fluffs collar on Tabby. Tabby could never lift her eyes in self-respect if she had to wear a dog collar.

lalique cats choker

The caption is ambiguous as to whether this Lalique glass collar is a collar engraved with cats or a collar designed to be worn by cats, c. 1906-8

A cat collar is rope-shaped—round–so that it will fit down into the fur. The collar isn’t to show much, for the cat’s fur is an adornment. On a short haired cat a collar of some width may be used, but never on a cat of long fur. The color of the collar must harmonize with the color of the cat. A cat properly rigged out is a study in color harmony. There should be no abrupt changes of color; the blankets, collar and leading string should present one impression—an artist would call it a “tone.” The rigger out of cats is just us much of an artist as the man who sticks his thumb through a palette and smears paint on his jacket. Before a man will begin to outfit your cat he steps off a few pace and casts a critical eye over her, studying her just as a decorator does a room before he begins operations. As far as the ensemble will harmonize this year the prevailing color in collars is tan and brown.   Last year the collars had a touch of red in them, but this season they are more sombre. A collar costs just what you want to pay for it—usually more. You can begin at $10 and keep on for some time. The costlier collars are set with stones; often a small diamond gleams on top of the collar, or a row of moonstones may encircle the leather belt. When you begin putting stones and jewels on the collar of your cat you are adding ciphers behind the first figures on your check-book with great celerity. Then a “lead” must be bought. The lead is of braided leather or silk cord and must harmonize with the collar and blanket. Otherwise there would be a discord in the color symphony.

cat in cradle 1880 Letters from a Cat

A cat of caste must have three blankets at the very least. No self -respecting cat can have fewer. A dog would need more, of course, but a cat, since its hair is its show, must have a wardrobe of three blankets. One is a house blanket; this is to keep its fur slick and smooth. Then it must be the possessor of a heavy winter blanket, and a lighter one for spring. The ruling color for winter blankets is dark, with blue as a choice. The spring blanket may show more color. On a cat of color a Scotch plaid may be worn, but if the cat is of solid color the fast color should be kept to. From the present rage in cat and cat accessories it will not be long until the fashion magazines will devote a corner to the latest styles in cat outfittings side and side with the latest in women’s hats and muffs.

Your pocketbook gets a full breath when you come to boots; a dog can wear rubber boots or leather hoots and enjoy them, but a puss in boots goes only in Mother Goose rhymes. Boots were tried for cats, but the cat always sat down and tried to get them off. But cat cuffs make up for lack of boots. A cat cuff is a kind of wristlet worn around a cat’s ankle. They are made of leather, and fasten on with a polished buckle. Some of them have minute bells, which give a soft tinkle as Puss picks her way. When she skips and frolics they play a merry tune. The old story of the cat being belled is now a fact. For traveling there is a specially made bag. It looks like any ordinary bag, but when the conductor goes on by the owner reaches down and rolls up the end. Cross bars show, and from the inside Puss pushes her nose against the screen. This is to give her air. This bag costs from $11onward and upward.

A basket to ship Tabby when you don’t feel like carrying her may be bought. It has airholes, and an opening where food may be put in. It costs $6. You put your pet in, give her some food, and you need not worry about her, for, with the conveniences of the basket, she will have a safe and easy trip to her destination. A cat housed up must have exercise. For this purpose for people who do not send their animals to a regular cattery during the snowy days, a cat gymnasium may be bought. This is a little woolen affair that sets on four legs, and may be put up in the nursery or in any open room. The cat may climb the pole, thus sharpening its claws or strike at the swinging balls that hang in the middle. Across the top is a round perch, on which it is the delight of the average cat’s life to walk. It will try and try until it succeeds. When it grows tired it gets in the swinging basket and can rock itself by walking from one side to the other. A cat exercising outfit gives a cat health and contentment.

wicker cat bed

Wicker cat bed that belonged to Sara Roosevelt, mother of Franklin D. Roosevelt.

When night comes the cat is put to bed. But it is not by opening the door and putting her out. And here comes the nightgown. It has two little sleeves for the forelegs, and tucks and puckers and frills, to say nothing about the lace at the collar and the pink ribbons. Puss sticks her forefeet into it, it is drawn over her, then buttoned at the top. If you buy the gown downtown you pay $4 up. Generally up. Then you put Tabitha in her little sleeping basket. It is of wicker, and has one low side for her highness to crawl in over. In the bottom is some kind of skin, usually goat, making it as soft and downy as can be. The basket is shoved under a bed or a piece of furniture during the daytime. A cat used to sleeping in a basket will not sleep anywhere else. The sleeping basket wears a tag reading $3.

In the morning comes the manicuring. For there is a special manicure set, with two brushes, two combs, a box of nail paste, a buffer to make the claws glisten, a pair of nail clippers, and a toothbrush, Some of the boxes have a bit of chamois skin, which will give luster to a cat’s hair when rubbed over it. And again some of the ultra cats have nail files in their manicure sets; these files give the nails a delicate rounding off that must make a cat’s heart pound with joy. A manicure set with your monogram on the leather case will mean $25 at the very least. A cat of the blue ribbon class has to be manicured just the same as an heiress. A cat is the daintiest of animals but still she has to have her teeth brushed; and if the brush does not eradicate all the tartar she must be taken to a cat hospital.

cats in a scales 1873 St Nicholas

A cat of blood is watched over night and day, in sickness and in health. If she falls ill she is taken to a special cat hospital in an ambulance, where a white-suited doctor with the walls of his office hidden by degrees in Latin and penmanship flourishes feels her pulse, looks at her tongue, and taps her ribs. When he performs an operation on your kitty you couldn’t tell the bill from that of a private hospital. At the hospital cats are boarded, exercised, and groomed. Attendants do nothing else than wait on them. Every whim that floats through the cat’s mind is promptly attended to. If you wish to go out of town for the summer yon can leave your Napoleon Bonaparte, or Josephine, at the hospital, assured that every attention known to man will be given your pet.

cat headstone

Pet cat’s headstone, Bodnant Garden, Conwy, Wales

Finally, when your cat dies she may be buried in a cat cemetery, and have her own tombstone and flowers. A small fee keeps up the lot. There is such a cat cemetery at Yorktown Heights, N. Y., where the graves are laid out in neat, orderly rows, and stone headpieces richly carved rear themselves to the memory of departed Tabbies and gone-but-not-forgotten Toms.

Democrat and Chronicle [Rochester NY] 21 November 1909: p. 15

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  It is that delightful holiday, “International Cat Day,” when our feline friends are celebrated. Cook has made some tempting dishes of chicken for all of the Hall cats and they have received an extra ration of catnip.

Like the “dandy dogs, the aristocrats of dogdom, the cat, too, has her day and her fashionable accoutrements.

victorian cat collar with bell

Cat collar with bells.

Fashionable cats are now ornamented with collar and bells, so that puss makes music wherever she goes. Weekly Chillicothe [MO] Crisis 13 November 1884: p. 1

And one would give much to see a chat chapeau created by a Parisian milliner. These portraits of “Monkey” and his hats are from the 1940s.


Cats’ Millinery Marks Parade of Parisiennes

Paris, Oct. 30. Cats have ousted dogs in the affections of French women. Whereas, in the past it was considered fashionable for a Parisienne to promenade with a dog dressed in a neat tight-fitting coat, today this Parisienne is out of date if she does not take with her a cat, often of priceless value. But cats do not wear coats. They wear specially-fitted and made hats.

Below the Sacre Coeur, up at Montmartre, there lives a hatter. In his shop window he has on exhibition the tiniest hats ever seen in France. At any hour of the day cars roll up outside the shop and Madame, carrying her pet cat under her arm, walks inside the shop and Madame, carrying her pet cat under her arm, walks inside the shop and engages in an earnest conversation with the hatter. She has come to have her pet angora tried for a hat. She prefers a bowler shaped hat as a change to the soft slouch hat. She also wants to purchase a small top hat for her pet for evening wear. The hatter’s recommendations of a soft velvet hat fall on deaf ears. The hatter says bowler hats fit the cats better than any other and he has large orders on hand. El Paso [TX] Herald 30 October 1920: p. 21


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.