Category Archives: Seductions

The Widow on the Train: 1888

Mourning veil, 1895 The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Bank’s Flirtation.

Mr. Banks and Mrs. Banks had had a falling out. She said that he didn’t spend enough of his time at home, and he told her that she was too much taken up with society to make home pleasant. That morning they agreed to separate and he slammed his hat on the back of his head, and left the room telling her that she could keep the house and furniture and do what she pleased with it. She was just vowing very sharply that she didn’t want anything to do with the old trash, when the front door slammed and he was gone. Then Mrs. Banks swallowed a few sobs that insisted on coming out, paid the hired girl and sent her away, and went up stairs to pack her valise so as to catch the next train which would take her to her mother’s home.

Banks went down town whistling dance tunes, breaking here and there into an abstracted quaver which made them sound strangely mournful. He sat down in his law office, and tried to work on a case, but it was of no use. He put on his hat, took up his cane and went down town. A huge poster met his eye, and informed him that rates to a town near Barnesville were very low. As he had an old college chum at Barnesville he concluded to take the opportunity to go and see him and talk it all over.

He boarded the train and found the out his pocket I usual excursion crowd on it Some ladies too, who seemed very much out of place, and full of regret because they had ventured to come, were there. One especially attracted his attention. She was dressed entire in black and wore a heavy veil. She was struggling up the steps with a heavy valise as the bell gave warning that the train was about to start. Banks gallantly came to her assistance and taking the valise out of her willing hand helped her on the platform, and found a seat for her. She thanked him merely with a nod, but she seemed to have a sort of fascination for Banks. He kept near at hand and was constantly tendering little services. She was apparently averse to acquaintances formed in this way and indicated very plainly by her manner, that his attentions were not pleasing.

In the course of a half hour the conductor came around for tickets. The little woman in black put her hand in her pocket and withdrew it, in evident consternation.

“It’s gone,” she said in a dismayed tone.

“What’s gone?” asked the conductor.

“My pocketbook and ticket too.”

Banks stepped up and said politely. “I trust you will permit me to offer some assistance in this dilemma,” at the same time taking out his pocket book.

“Never sir, never,” and she said it with an air that meant plainly that she would have a scene rather than accept his offer of help. “I will get off at the next station.”

” Very well,” said Banks. “Here is the station now. I think I will get off here too.”

When they reached the waiting room which was empty, Banks. handed her her valise which he had picked up and carried for her. She lifted her veil and looked him fiercely in the eye and said:

“Now sir, I have discovered you in the midst of your perfidy. You had no idea that you were pursuing your own wife with your wicked attentions, had you.” Here she burst into years. “O just to think that I was scarcely out of the house before you commenced trying to flirt with some other woman. I didn’t think it of you.”

“Didn’t you tell me this morning that I might forget you just as soon as I pleased?”

“Yes-es, but I didn’t mean it that way.”

“And you didn’t want me to forget you after all?”

“No; of course not.”

“Well, look here, Clara, there’s no use of crying about it It’s all right.”

“Don’t come near me any more.”

“But I knew it was you all the time.”

“Don’t try to deceive me. You could not recognize me.”

“No, but you see, I recognized my own name on your valise.”

The next train took them back home and he went out that evening and told the servant girl that she needn’t consider herself discharged.  

The Sherman County Dark Horse [Eustis KS] 31 May 1888: p. 4

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Two sundered hearts re-united–by a valise! Not, perhaps, the most romantic of plot devices, but, there–it will do. At least until the next time Mr Banks spends too much time out at lodge meetings. It would serve him right if she met him at the door at 2 am in her widow’s weeds–in mourning for the “late” Mr Banks. Which begs the question: why did she have a set of mourning clothing at the ready in her wardrobe? Was she, perhaps, so annoyed at his absences that she was preparing to poison his coffee?

The Wife Disguised, particularly at masquerade parties, is one of the hoariest chestnuts in the amusing anecdote file. We have read about “The Lost Columbine,” with its frisson of French intrigue. Then there is this naughty tale:

At Cornely’s Masquerade , last Monday, a pretty Fruit Wench attracted so forcibly the Attention of Lord Grosvenor that for two Hours she was the sole Object of his Flattery and Admiration. At length, worked up into an irresistible Want of forming an Alliance with her, he told her his Name, offered a Carte Blanche, and begged she would not delay his Happiness. The Lady whispered her Consent, but insisted upon continuing masked. The amorous Lord, overjoyed at the Conquest he had made, conducted his fair Inamorata to the Nunnery in Pall Mall, where, having praised and re-praised every Charm he beheld and enjoyed, he obtained Leave to untie the odious Mask that concealed the Beauty who had made him happy. What Pen, or Pencil, could paint or describe the ghastly Astonishment of his Lordship at the Sight of that Woman! What! my Wife, muttered he, shaking in every Limb! Lady Grosvenor burst into Laughter and left the Room, thanking him ironically for the Right he had given her to taste with Impunity of the forbidden Fruit.

The Virginia Gazette [Williamsburg VA] 14 May 1772

See also The Woman in Black, the Conductor, and the Abandoned Infant, for the seductive “Widow on the train” motif.

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

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

Gerty’s Elopement: 1889

GERTY’S ELOPEMENT

“I understand, then, you mean an elopement? Oh, surely, surely, Gerty, you never can be in earnest?”
Gerty Fane sat on a fallen log. whose mossy cylinder was half hidden in tall, plumy ferns, and where the trembling July sunbeams rained down through soft summer foliage like a cascade of gold. An artist would have painted her as a wood nymph. with her hair of braided sunshine, her deep, limpid eyes, and the peach-like bloom upon her perfect cheeks.
And yet this dew-eyed beauty was neither more or less than a factory girl, who worked a machine in the big shop whose gray stone chimneys rose out of the hollow below, at a dollar a day; a girl who had grown up on a diet of yellow-covered novels, and dreamed of knights and ladies and perilous adventures.
“Yes,” said Gerty, lifting her dew-blue eyes, “an elopement. Isn’t it romantic? And isn’t he handsome?”
Sarah Willis looked sadly down into the eyes that were so like blue flowers
“Gerty,” said she, “I beseech of you to think twice about this business. Have you forgotten Francis Tryon?”
“Francis Tryon! Only a cutter in the shop!”
“An honest, honorable man,” said Sarah, impressively.
“Why don’t you take him yourself, since he is such a paragon?” retorted Gerty, saucily.
“Because he loves no one but you.”
“Then he may leave off loving me at his leisure,” said Gerty. “I don’t care a fig for him, and never shall. I am going to marry Mr. Montressor; and I never would have told you of the elopement if I had supposed you were going to be so ill natured about it. My father is as unjustly prejudiced against him as you are, and so I am driven to it.”
And Gerty Fane tried to vail her exaltation beneath a tone of injury as she rose up and began to make her way through the tall ferns. Sarah looked wistfully after her.
“A spoiled, harmless little beauty!” she said to herself. “But Mr. Tryon was kind to me when I came here friendless and alone; and Mr. Tryon loves her; for his sake I will not stand quietly by and see her rush on to ruin.”
“You see,” Gerty Fane had told her, confidentially, “I am to go to the shop on Wednesday, just as usual, so that my father will not suspect anything, and then I am to feign a headache, just at train time, and leave work, step quietly on board the train, and go to Pittsburg; there I stop at the Hapgood house. He comes there the next day, and we’re married; and then we shall go to Saratoga, or Newport, or Long Branch, or some of those aristocratic places; and won’t it be charming?”
But Sarah Willis shook her head dubiously.
“I don’t like Mr. Montressor’s looks,” said she.
“He’s just exactly like that picture, ‘Lord Byron,” in the ‘Poets of England,'” retorted Gerty, triumphantly.
“He is only a traveling salesman.”
“But he’s to be a partner in the firm in the fall. He told me so himself, and he showed me the photograph of his employer’s daughter, who is madly in love with him.”
“Why don’t he marry her, then?”
And now Gerty dimpled into radiant consciousness. “I suppose because he likes me best.” said she.
“Oh, Gerty! and you believe all this farrago?” sighed Sarah, despairingly.
“You’re only jealous because you haven’t such a lover yourself,” retorted Gerty, frowning under her curls like a lovely, willful child. And then Sarah Willis abandoned the task of remonstrance. But for all that, the thought of Frank Tryon’s heart-break lay sore and heavy at her inmost soul.
“She may go to ruin her own way,” thought Sarah; “but she shall not drag him down with her. Montressor–Montressor I know I have heard the name somewhere–it carries a disagreeable remembrance with it. I remember now! It was a Mr. Montressor that boarded so long with Aunt Polly Sharker, and then went away without settling his score. George Gordon Montressor! that was the name! I’ll go see Aunt Polly this very night. I can easily get there on the train by 9 o’clock, and back again in time for work tomorrow morning. And if there is anything to be found out, I’ll find it! Francis Tryon was good to me once, and I shall never forget it.”
***
“Can I speak to you tonight, Gerty?”
Gerty Fane was hurrying away from the great workroom where the buzz of wheels was gradually decreasing, and the girls were beginning to look for their hats and shawls, when Francis Tryon advanced toward her.
“No!” she retorted, petulantly. “I’m in a hurry!”
“Then I will walk along toward home with you.”
“I’d rather go alone!”
He cast one sad, reproachful glance toward her and stepped back. “Gerty—” began he.
“I’m not Gerty, I’m Miss Fane.” said the girl, half defiant, half frightened. “And I’ll trouble you to keep your distance.”
And away she flew like an arrow out of a bow. She was just in time for the train that paused a minute at the solitary little depot in the woods, and, leaning back in the seat, reflected joyfully that she was already beginning the elopement.
Pretty, blossom-like little fool! How little had she calculated the end of her rash experiment! And yet to her it seemed that she was beginning to live romance.
It was toward 10 o’clock at night when the train stopped at Pittsburg. The Hapgood house was nearly opposite the terminus, a comfortable, old-fashioned wooden structure, its windows gleaming with lights, like the shine of friendly eyes; and thither Gerty bent her footsteps.

“Oh!” said the plump, motherly landlady, “it’s the young lady from Wardham village as a room was engaged for by Mr. Montressor. Number 16. Yes, it’s all right, Miss. Please to walk up. The lady’s there, waiting for you!”
“The lady?”
“Mrs. Montressor, you know,” said the landlady. “And a fine, handsome person she is, only a trifle stout, as we all is, when we gets toward 40 odd.”
Gerty stood as still and white as if she was turned to stone.
“His mother, I suppose,” she told herself, regaining courage. “How kind of him to send her here, to welcome me!”
At the same moment the landlady flung open the door of number 16, a small cozy room, with a bright lamp burning on the table.
“It’s the young lady, mem!” said she, dipping a courtesy.
And a fat woman, gayly dressed in cotton velvet and imitation lace, waddled forward.
“Oh!” said she, “good evening, my dear. So you’re the gal that’s goin’ to marry my husband?”
“Your husband?” echoed Gerty.
“Don’t be alarmed,” said the fat woman, busying herself with the strings of Gerty’s hat. “We was divorced eight years ago. He couldn’t support me, and I wasn’t goin’ to support him. He’s had two wives since. But don’t worry. He’s got bills from both of ’em. One of ’em drank, and t’ other one said he drank. I guess they was both true! And now he’s shined up to you! Well. I guess you’ll get enough of him: a great lazy, drinkin’ vagabond, as was raised in Pork Hill workhouse, and served two terms in the penitentiary for forgin’ Lawyer Odderley’s name to a check for $50.”
Gerty stood pale and shocked.
“It is false!” gasped she. “You are inventing these lies to estrange me from him.”
“Bless your heart, my dear, no I ain’t,” said the fat woman, with a comfortable, chuckling laugh. “What should I gain by estrangin’ you from him? I don’t care. I’ve my marriage lines to show, and my papers of divorce, and Gordy’s welcome to marry as many new wives as Bluebeard, for all I care.”
Gerty turned to the landlady.
“How early does the first train for Wardham start in the morning,” said she.
“At 4 o’clock,” said the landlady. The railroad hands go down on it.” “So will I.” said Gerty. “And how about the gentleman as engaged the rooms?” questioned Mrs. Hapgood.
“I’ll never speak to him again!” said Gerty, with spirit.

She was at her machine the next morning, as usual, and when Frank Tryon came past she looked up shyly into his face.
“Please, Mr. Tryon,” she said, “won’t you forgive me for being so cross with you last night? I–I am very sorry. And if you can walk home with me tonight–”
That was enough for Mr. Tryon. They were engaged before the moon was an hour high that night!
For Gerty’s fancy could not endure the idea of being fourth or fifth wife to a man who had once graced the penitentiary, and Mr. Montressor never beheld his pretty fiancee again.
And Sarah Willis kept the secret of her elopement well.
The Shippensburg [PA] Chronicle 12 September 1889: p. 1

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: A spoilt little beauty she may be, but Gerty is far from harmless. Her engagement to Mr Tryon is one best characterised as “rebound.” Mrs Daffodil wonders if there had not been quite so many Mrs Montressors–if she had been, say, only the second wife–if she would have gone through with the elopement. One fears that Gerty will continue to sigh over yellow-covered novels and long for perilous adventures. Sooner than later she will tire of the faithful Mr Tryon for whom she does not care a fig and run off with some plausible, Byronesque drummer with a wife and five children back in Buffalo. If there was any justice in this world, Mr Tryon, hurt by Gerty’s refusal, would have walked home with Sarah Willis and immediately awakened to her kindliness and goodness, recognising that Gerty’s dew-blue eyes and hair of braided sunshine concealed a cankered heart. One does not like to dwell on the sequel to this “happy ending.”

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.

Choose Your Fan and Then Your Flutter: 1919

fans2

American Girls Reviving the Fan, That Fit Symbol of Fluttering Femininity

Approach of Period of Coquetry Foreseen in New Popularity of Long Fashionable Appendage

By Esther Harney

Fans are coming back into vogue again. They never go out of fashion, of course, for they are as old as coquetry, as gallantry itself. But today they are appearing in full blaze of glory, a sure sign, we are told, that an age of coquetry and extreme femininity is approaching as a reaction from the stern period of the war.

Manufacturers will tell you this news happily. Not for years have they had so many orders for fans of every description from the hand-made lace and tortoise shell varieties of the duchess to the little inexpensive chiffon spangled fan which the high school girls “perfectly adore” to flutter at school “hops.”

Manufacturers will also tell you that there could be no stronger evidence of a general return on the part of woman to her ancient arts and wiles than this reinstatement of the fan. (They are qualified to speak—of course.) During the war there was little time for fans and for femininity. Nor in that period which preceded the war did woman fancy fans; instead she preferred a riding crop or a tennis bat. It was not the fashion then, you will recall, to be delicate and feminine.

But today with all our boys returning from overseas from harsh scenes of war and from other scenes and adventures (oh, the reputed wiles of les belles Francaises), American women are beginning to realize that they must rise to the occasion. Femininity must rule supreme. (The soldiers like womanly women, they say.) and as a symbol of lovely femininity the women have taken up the fan.

International Imagination.

Then, too, American girls are looking to France these days. (They are trying to cultivate an international imagination, you know.) And among the French, fans are popular. With them, for instance, the wedding fan is an important item of the marriage trousseau. And was it not Mme. E Stael who recognized an art in the graceful handling of the fan? “What graces,” she wrote, “are placed in woman’s power if she knows how to use  a fan. In all her wardrobe there is no ornament with which she can produce so great an effect.” Verily the revival of the fan in American can be traced to the influence of France on the American doughboy…

Descended from Palm Leaf.

All ages have contributed to the history of the fan. It has it pedigree like everything else. If a thorn was the first needle, no doubt a palm leaf was the first fan. Standards of rich plumage were present when the Queen of Sheba paid homage to Solomon. Queen Elizabeth gave the fan a place of distinction and was the cause of prosperity among the fan-makers of her day. She is said to have had as many as 30 fans for her use. During her reign ostrich feather fans were introduced in England. Charlotte Corday of French evolutionary fame is said to have used a fan expertly : She held a fan in one hand while she stabbed Marat with a dagger which she held in the other hand.

Great painters of all ages have tried their hands at fans. One famous artist spent nine years completing a fan for Mme. De Pompadour, which cost $30,000. Period fans arose to commemorate events, follies and fashions of the day. Besides an intermediary in the affairs of love a fan became a vehicle for satire, verse and epigram.  

Coronation of Napoleon fan, 1807 http://data.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/id/object/117894

Coronation of Napoleon fan, 1807 http://data.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/id/object/117894

In the canons of “fanology” are described “the angry flutter, the modish flutter, the timorous flutter, the confused flutter, the merry flutter, the amorous flutter.” A flutter for every type, you see.

American girls should then first choose their fan and then their flutter. Perhaps they will revive the art of miniature fan painting as a new profession for women. They should, of course, remember that they can learn much of the art of the fan from Europe (except from Germany. Can you fancy a German woman flirting with a fan?) and plan to obtain their practice on the back porch some hot July evening. That will surely amuse their soldier callers. And at least we all can afford a fan of the palm leaf variety. But if we must take up the fan, the symbol of the new age that is before us, just we also take up the spirit of the age in which it was wafted victoriously? Must we be Victorian?

Boston [MA] Herald 10 May 1919: p. 15 

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  And what, Mrs Daffodil wishes to know, is wrong with being “Victorian?” Alas, the author of this piece was entirely too sanguine about a return to femininity. Far from becoming more womanly, young persons shingled their hair, abandoned proper corsetry, smoked in public, and adopted sexually ambiguous costumes and attitudes. The queenly curves of the pre-War years gave way to a flattened feminine figure that caused many physicians to despair of the continuation of the species. Still, in one detail, the author was correct: The beaded and brilliantined females who thronged the night clubs, did carry fans—immense, vampish affairs of ostrich feathers or sequined chiffon–but recognizably fans. One might suggest that these accessories lent their name to the Girl of the Period: the Flapper.

For a school of “fan-ology,” see this post.  And for more details on how to select a fan, this post.

A vampish fan of the period.

A vampish fan of the period.

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.

What a Key Unlocked: 1875

1874 lucretia crouch wedding gown gauze.JPG

What a Key Unlocked.

They were as handsome a couple as one would have wished; indeed, many persons who knew them both intimately, said that Mr. and Mrs. Vivian were samples of what true marriage ought to be. On this bitingly cold January morning they were standing in the elegant library of their residence in New York, numerous evidences of aesthetic tastes surrounding them on all sides; yet, to have looked in their faces, it needed only a glance to tell you of deep abiding trouble. She was a beautiful woman, this peerless Ethel Vivian, with a grave dignity about her that was perfection; with a rare, refined face, lighted by such winsome, violet blue eyes, framing the clear, pure complexion, pale cheeks and glowing scarlet mouth, with masses of pale, dead gold hair that had made her husband so madly in love only two years before. Now, two years, after one year of perfect happiness, when Ethel would tell her husband such bliss so unalloyed could not last much longer; after six months more of vague suspicion, founded on the most shadowy foundation ; then, after the last six months of gradual, then rapid distrust, jealousy, anger— it had all come to this horrible open rupture. And on that beautiful winter morning Ethel Vivian and her husband had met in the library of their home for the last time as man and wife.

And the ponderous document lying on the table where the two had so often read together, was a bill of divorce. Yes, it had come to that—open separation —and all because—why? Ethel Vivian could have told you of Laura St. John’s wondrous face; she could have drawn you a picture of her with such perfection of accuracy, that you would hardly need to see her. And this is how Ethel would have described the woman who lay at the bottom of her life-long misery. A face, witching as a Venus, with such a dainty, scarlet mouth, with the tiny, seed-pearl teeth peeping between her lips, just as the little dimple was called to her scarlet-tinted cheeks by the laugh that so often came.

Her eyes laughed, too—those sunshiny eyes, that sparkled as though they were varnished; wondrous eyes of amber red, with such magnificent red gold lashes, that lay like a heavy shadow on her cheek; perfect arched brows, and hair that seemed a fairy gift, so perfect it was in texture, colour and grace.

Sometimes when she wore it hanging, unbound and unbraided, just as nature had waved it, from the crown of her little, royally set head, to far below her waist, you would have taken Laura St. John for a sprite uncanny gnome, Ethel said; a nymph of rarest beauty, goodness and innocence.

Even after Edward Vivian learned how deceitful, how utterly unprincipled she was, he forgave it her, because it was himself she loved. So, now that this beautiful demoness had so worked her plans that Edward Vivian was oftener by her side of an evening than at his wife’s—now that Ethel had freely come to learn she was no longer necessary to her husband’s happiness, she had requested him to let her go away; let him be freed legally from the bonds that had grown so galling. Now, there the two stood, face to face, to coldly say good-bye. Ethel was deadly white as she took the pen her husband courteously handed her, to sign her name to that which, once signed, unwifed her forever. But was it not better thus? Had she a right to stay where she felt her presence was a burden—where she knew she was merely tolerated? Then rushing memories of the days when she came there in the flood-tide of happiness came surging over her sore heart; she trembled violently; her cold fingers refused to clasp the pen; and, with one swift, piteous look up in her husband’s face, Ethel bowed her head over the divorce bill and wept as only such a woman could weep at such a time. Mr. Vivian looked amazed, then surprised; then a sudden grave expression came into his eyes. He turned away from her, and began to promenade to and fro, walking with restless strides, the while flinging quick glances at the glorious head bowed in such mute agony on the table before him. Then half reluctantly, half angrily, he paused beside her.

“I am so astonished, Mrs. Vivian: I had not expected anything of this kind. I presumed you had arrived at your deliberate decision, and that thenceforth the past was only the past; the future—’

She raised her white face, with its haunting eyes.

‘Oh, the future! The awful midnight, trackless,  endless future that lies before me. Edward! Edward! This will kill me!”

She was trying to speak calmly; she sat folding and unfolding her nervous, chilly hands; but in her very attitude, her vain efforts at courage, was a dumb despair that touched his heart.  “Ethel”—he had not called her Ethel for so long before that  thrilled her to her very soul to hear it once more—“There was no actual need for this. “ and he lightly touched the document “It was at your own request that I had it procured.”

A little wailing cry interrupted him.

“I know, I know,’ she moaned; I wanted you to do this; I want it still, because you love me no longer; because you love Laura St. —’

‘Mrs. Vivian.’

He was stern and icy again, she knew by the curt, sharp way he interrupted her. ‘This is not the first time you have openly accused me of infidelity to you and loyalty to Miss St, John. Cannot a man express admiration for a beautiful woman without a jealous wife using it as a weapon to destroy her own happiness? Miss St. John would be insulted beyond measure did she for a moment suppose—’

‘What?!’

It was a siren voice that startled them both; and then Laura St. John, herself, radiant in daintiest blue velvet and miniver costume, came laughing in, so sweet, so arch.

‘My dear Mrs. Vivian, I am so delighted to—why—’

For Ethel had arisen, cold and still, with no welcome on her white face, and only reproachful sorrow in her eyes.

‘Miss St. John has no reason to be delighted to see the woman whose life she has blasted—whose husband she has tempted,’

Ethel spoke very deliberately, looked Laura full in the face; then she turned to her husband, in whose eyes  there shone a red gleam that portended wrath,

‘Perhaps you will assure your friend she is in the way just now,’ she said, ‘I have only a quarter of an hour to attend to our business.’

And then Ethel consulted her watch with an air of quiet; but, oh, how, under that cold exterior, were her pulses leaping, bounding!

Laura stood motionless, with an ungloved hand resting on the library table, her scarlet lips quivering as if her heart was broken—her big, resplendent eyes slowly filling with tears, as she looked first at Ethel, then Mr. Vivian, as if to humbly beseech them to tell her what it all meant. She was very beautiful at that moment, and she thought Edward Vivian appreciated it to the full; she knew it when he turned towards her.

‘I am sure you will pardon us Miss. St. John,’ he said. At this moment Mrs. Vivian is particularly engaged.

Laura shot him a glance from her liquid eyes.

‘But I must come again and find out what she means! I must know why l am thus accused!’ But her mission was accomplished; and, with a thrill of gratification at her heart, she bowed to Ethel and gracefully departed. And Ethel Vivian, with icy-gleaming eyes, compressed. lip and unfaltering hand, now signed her name in full under her husband’s.

And so it was done—or undone.

***

Two years—twice a twelvemonth— and Laura St. John was standing before her dressing-table, earnestly peering at the splendid reflection she made, with her personal beauty heightened by the chastely-rare bridal attire she wore, that was faultless, from the floating tulle veil, fastened by an orange-blossom spray and a glittering diamond aigrette, to the tiny, white silken slipper, with its rosette scintillating with small jewels. She was beautiful; she was triumphant, for she was successful; and this, her wedding day, would crown her success.

She managed well; according to the chart she had drawn for herself, from the hour she first saw and loved Ethel’s husband, she had marched straight on, regardless of cost, regardless of anything but the ultimate result. Here it was, close at hand—not half an hour from accomplishment.

Down in the saloon Laura heard low, musical laughter at intervals; in the several dressing-rooms opposite she heard the wedding guests preparing to descend to the festivities, and she smiled at her own eyes in the glass, that at last she would marry Ethel’s husband.

And Ethel?

She had dropped suddenly from the social firmament. Like a meteor that comes flashing in dazzling light across the sky, and then plunges into black deeps of obscurity, so had Ethel dazzled delighted and disappointed the people. Now, after two years, she was to them as if she had never been.

To Edward Vivian, if memories of her haunting eyes and quivering lips ever came, he never gave a sign, but deliberately wooed and won Laura St. John.

Laura St. John herself?

In the desert silence of her chamber, as she stood drawing on her gloves—for, with a pretty wilfulness that was irresistible, she had driven her maids from her—a graceful, ebon-robed woman suddenly, silently, swiftly glided across the glaring carpet and confronted her, with upraised veil, and cold clear eyes.

‘It is even I, Miss St. John. Surely you will not despise my congratulations?’ Ethel’s sweet low voice it was, and Laura, after one slight start of great  surprise, bowed constrainedly, and waited.

‘ I will not detain you more than a moment, as Mr. Vivian, doubtless, is impatient for the moment when he may call you his wife. Under the peculiar circumstances, Miss St. John, and to assure you that I bear you no malice, may I present you with this?’

She quietly reached out a small rosewood box, that was mounted with silver.

‘The key is in the lock, you see, Miss St. John. Have I the pleasure of knowing you accept it?’ Ethel set the box on the marble bureau-top, and then awaited an answer.

Laura’s cheeks were flushing slightly; her hands trembled as she essayed to button her glove, and busy thoughts were speeding through her brain.

What did it mean, this sudden appearance of Ethel? Did it augur ill or peace as Ethel declared? Dared this stately, calm woman in black attack her there alone, and wreak a discarded wife’s just vengeance? The thought was natural, and Laura’s heart beat in tempestuous throbs.

‘ I will accept it, Miss Elmore, and thank you. And may I beg that you will allow me to finish my toilette? I would not care to be too late.’

This, with a wonder in her heart if Ethel observed her cowardice.

But Mrs. Ethel—Miss Elmore the law called her—smiled!

‘Assuredly I would not have you too late. I dislike these words, too late. To the superstitious they sound ominous. Adieu, Miss St. John; you will be detained no longer by me, or you might possibly be too late.’

She bowed regally and left Laura shivering with vague unrest at the repeated words. A moment later and from her window she saw Ethel going rapidly down the street, her black veil fluttering like a death pennant in the brisk breeze.

She drew a long breath of relief and then turned to the beautiful little rosewood box with a joyous laugh.

‘Natural curiosity tempts me to see what her present can be. Possibly some horrid snake bracelet, or a dagger for my shawl or something equally delightful.’

She lightly turned the little silver key, and bent her radiant face over the lid. She saw a tiny vaporous smoke wreath roll upward for an instant, and then—

The terrible noise of the explosion brought the horrified guests to her door, and they found her lying in her bridal robes, fresh in her goodness-like beauty, dead.

On the pink velvet carpet, her eyes fixed in a stare that was frozen horror, Edward Vivian bent over her, and knew for a surety what had wrought it, though no lip then, or afterwards, ever uttered a name in connection with the diabolical engine, whose silver key had unlocked the portals of death’s domains to Laura St. John.

Auckland [NZ] Star 25 September 1875: p. 6

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Miss St John belongs to that particularly odious class of woman who scorns the honourable addresses of unencumbered young men, but finds that the real sport in life lies in seducing married gentlemen away from previously happy homes, while feigning wide-eyed innocence. Sadly, her machinations are only crystal clear to the victim’s wife; never to the “mark” himself.

One wonders if the alimony paid by the bewitched Mr Vivian purchased the infernal machine in the little rosewood box. The creator of such a small, yet deadly, object must have been exceedingly clever. Perhaps the former Mrs Vivian found love with a young munitions expert, who–wittingly or unwittingly–helped her take her revenge.

 

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

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

“Going to Lodge:” 1881

odd fellows skull and crossbones medallion

Odd Fellows fraternal organization medallion, c. 1870 http://collection.mam.org/details.php?id=1959

“GOING TO LODGE.”

Secrets of a Married Man’s Lodge Room Given Away.

Wooster, O., Feb. 17. A scandal of large-sized proportions is stirring to is death the society of the eastern part of this county, and in the course of a few days will probably be ventilated in Court. At present all the particulars are conveyed from one person to another in muffled voice and hushed accents but the facts have gradually leaked out, until now the details are no longer secret.

It appears that a young married man has of late been wandering after strange gods, or rather goddesses, and although his visits were generally made late at night and carefully concealed from most intimate companions, the young wife quietly dropped on the game, and decided to satisfy herself that her suspicions were either correct or erroneous. So masquerading in male habiliments, she took the first opportunity when her liege lord said he was “going to lodge,” to follow him at a distance. After meandering up one street and down another, he was suddenly seen to pop into a house occupied by friends of the family, without even knocking for admission. The youthful wife saw all this with sorrow, and perhaps with natural indignation, for after hesitating a few moments, she stealthily approached the door and tried the latch.
To her infinite satisfaction, this door was not locked, and without pausing to announce her arrival she quickly stepped into the room, and there beheld her recreant husband and the lady of the house seated together on a lounge in an extremely embarrassing position. This was all brought to her vision by the light of the moon, but was enough. She was satisfied. And only stopped long enough to say, “You shall suffer for this, you brutes.” And then hastily departed.

Fearing intruders from another direction, the outer door had been left unfastened in case a hasty exit should be necessary, and thus the gay Lothario walked into his own trap. It is safe to say his enjoyment for that night was of brief duration, and that he was in no hurry to meet the wife of his bosom. The little town where this occurred is only a short distance from Wooster, and the parties belong to the “upper ten” in that locality and are well known throughout the county.

Repository [Canton OH] 17 February 1881: p. 1

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Had the gentleman only lived in a larger metropolitan area, he could have avoided shame and exposure by using the excuse of “going to the club” or “working late at the office.”  In small-town America, the opportunities for leaving the domestic hearth in the evening were limited to the lodges of fraternal organizations such as the Odd Fellows, whose skull-and-cross-bone emblem seems to suggest the ultimate fate of the gay Lothario.

 

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.

Posed in Wings–and a Bit of Gauze: 1903

Bagnères-de-Luchon statue vallée du Lys Lily of the Valley statue

The Newest Fashionable Folly

POSING FOR NUDE STATUES—THE MARBLE FAD GROWING IN FAVOR AMONG REPRESENTATIVES OF FRENCH SOCIETY.

[Copyrighted, 1903, by W.R. Hearst.]

Paris, Dec. 20. The marble fad is a new fashion set by women who are beautiful, titled, cultured. Those who have assisted them to make the fashion successful are sculptors of note. They present their subjects in white marble exquisitely—a Venus rising from the sea, a lily of the valley against the green of mountains, an angel with head bent in thought.

The rounded limbs, the unhidden curves, the undraped lines of Mme. La Duchesse d’Aosta, of Mme. La Duchess d’Uzes, of Mme. La Comtesse Bela Zichy are being discussed from end to end of Paris. At first everyone gasped. What! the Duchess d’Uzes, wife of the premier Duke of France, whose family has been of uninterrupted prominence since the days of the Crusades, daughter-in-law of the famous Dowager Duchess who was born in De Mortemart, daughter of the De Luynes, a family only second in antiquity to the Uzes? What!

They blinked their eyes only to be dazzled by the marble form of the Duchess d’Aosta, formerly the Princess Helene of Orleans, a Bourbon, daughter of the Count of Paris and sister of the Duke of Orleans, chief pretender of the throne of France. She, the wife of one of the royal princes of Rome, oldest cousin of the King of Italy and his heir should Victor Emmanuel have no sons—she to pose as a Venus—A Venus rising, untrammeled by draperies, out of the sea!

They gazed in amazement next to behold the American Countess Zichy, she who was once the wife of Fernando Yznaga, a sister-in-law of the Dowager Duchess of Manchester, and before that Mabel Wright—the famously beautiful Mabel Wright, of Ward McAllister’s Four Hundred. She is now the wife of Count Bela Zichy of Hungary. She is a beauty of renown, blond as the angel for which she has posed in wings—and a bit of gauze.

She is lovely, but Paris gasps all the same at the exhibit.

Conventionality At A Discount.

One of the sculptors who have assisted in the modeling of much aristocratic loveliness was asked to explain this latest fad. He though deeply for a moment. Then he said: “It is quite comprehensible, even commendable when you consider the strict conventions of our absurd fashions. Among aristocrats, women of race and pedigree, we find the finest limbs, the most tapering extremities, the purest outlines. All praise to those among them who defy the decrees that command them to keep such charms hidden. A woman who has beautiful feet, for instance, has no opportunity to show them in their natural beauty, not even when she bathes in the ocean, for the dullard fashion has decreed that the hideous stocking should cover them. She may have such ankles as an artist dreams of—they may be her only beauty, and one may only have a glimpse of them. Ah, it is enough to drive a woman to suicide—or to marble.”

The Duchess d’Uzes, the Duchess d’Aosta, the Countess Zichy have defied conventions, as Pauline Borghese, the sister of Napoleon I, did nigh upon a century ago. She commanded the assistance of Canova, the great Italy sculptor, and you may see her today in the Borghese collection perpetuated in all her natural loveliness as a marble Venus. When she condescended to give an excuse, she said, with all the insolence for which her family was famous: “I am a Bonaparte—I may do as I please.”

Asked if she were not uncomfortable, she replied nonchalantly: “No, there was a stove in the room.”

It is the excuse that our modern duchesses and countesses may give. Nevertheless, the people gasp, and nevertheless, as people will the world over, they gaze and gaze and gaze to the full satisfaction of the aristocrats who have said “Bah” to the conventions.

The original of the statue called the “lily of the Valley” was unveiled last summer at Bagneres-de-Luchon in the Pyrenees. The Duchess d’Uzes was sojourning there, apparently with no purpose but to drink of the warm suphur springs for which the watering place is celebrated. A number of other guests, all more or less fashionable, were there, too, walking, drinking, gossiping, passing their hours as people do who are taking a cure for no very serious ill.

The event of the summer proved to be the unveiling of the “Lily of the Valley.” Cast in whitest marble, it was set before a background of green trees and dark rocks.

The Summer’s Sensation.

The effect was startling. More so was the resemblance.

“What?” “No!” “Impossible! And yet”—

The spectators declared they couldn’t believe their eyes. Day after day they studied intently the Duchess d’Uzes. Between drinks they made mental notes of her lines. During their walks they discussed the striking similarities of figure, of pose, of feature between the lovely, draped duchess and the lovely, undraped statue of the “Lily of the Valley.”
Could it be possible?

Day after day the young Duchess passed them driving, looking the picture of modesty. Day after day she cantered by on one of the horses which she rides so famously. They observed her lies and recalled her reputation for fearlessness. It was she who set the fashion of ballooning for women when the season of gayety threatened to become monotonous. She is original, enterprising, daring, and above all, beautiful—the guests at Bagneres went again and again to look at the now celebrated statue.

There it stood, classically serene, challenging comparison with the old Greek statues, whose models one may never know.

The resemblance was not to be disputed—the “lily of the Valley” was the Duchess d’Uzes. Every day during her sojourn at Bagneses she had visited the studio of the great artist who was to perpetuate her in marble. She had gone secretly and alone. Accused by one of her set of cowardice, she explained:
“To pose for an undraped statue is as yet considered unconventional; therefore, one does not announce it to the world. But if one is beautiful…”

The Duchess D’Uzes.

The Duchess’ excuse found an echo in the heart of the Duchess d’Aosta, who is of the daughters of the late Count of Paris is the loveliest. It has been said of her that even if she were not of royal blood she would be considered handsome. She might, in that event, however, be more rudely censured. As it is, she shocks society and still remains in it, a maneuver, by the way, not confined to Italy or France alone.

The Duchess is clever, restless, courageous and not in love with her husband. Only a few years ago she startled all Europe by announcing her intention to leave him. He had done nothing wrong, and was undeniably attached to his handsome wife, but she was tired of him that was all there was against him. It was enough until her ambition came to the rescue. The possibility of giving an heir to the throne of Italy persuaded her to retain her position of Duchess d’Aosta. This is history, so too are the Duchess’ love affairs, so too are. the duels that have been fought by the Duke on her account.

Vanitas Vanitatum.

And now comes the episode of the statue. This time the Duchess has shocked profoundly. Her mother, the Countess of Paris, who is a lady to her finger tips, is in despair; the King of Italy is furious; the Duke is at his wits’ end. There is no one he can challenge. He does not dare to denounce those who point to the lovely Venus as his wife’s portrait, because above the graceful figure her features are too plainly sculptured. Photographs of the statue are for sale everywhere, and the Duchess is calm in the midst of a tremendous family row. To prove this they tell the following anecdote of her:

One of her intimate friends sympathized with her deeply. “Poor woman,” she said, “with your beauty they want you to remain forever in obscurity. But tell me, was it not very uncomfortable posing—without–well, as the statue is?”

The Duchess looked at her from under her wealth of golden hair and firm but clear, steady blue eyes. “Oh, no,” she answered reminiscently of the Borghese princess, “the studio was well heated. I was most comfortable, I assure you.”

The fad to have your friends see how charming marble may make you grows. In its progress it has claimed the Countess Bela Zichy. Of her the sculptor D’Epiny [Prosper D’Epinay] says: “She is, the most beautiful woman I have ever seen.” He has done his best to prove this to the world in the statue he has made of her.”

However some dozen or more years ago, when she was Mabel Wright, a girl designing calicoes to assist her father, who was at work in a print factory, her beauty was recognized without the aid of either painters or sculptors. Without fame or fortune she made her way into the heart of Mrs. Astor’s “Four Hundred,” and there met and married Fernando Yznaga, brother of Consuelo, the present Dowager Duchess of Manchester, for whom the present Duchess of Marlborough was named.

How The Nude Craze Has Grown.

Unhappiness, divorce and all the things that lead to a second marriage followed in quick succession, and the American girl became a Hungarian Countess. Since then she has lived much in the great world abroad. Naturally she has made its fashions here.

But the end is not yet. It has Just been said that King Victor. Emmanuel is furious. He has read the riot act to his cousin’s beautiful wife, and has forcibly reminded her of the fate of that other beautiful Duchess of Aosta, Laetitia. The unconventional and dashing Laetitia, when she persisted in her flirtatious conduct with army officers and riding astride in public on a bicycle was sent to prison to do penance and was threatened if she did not cool down the King would take away her allowance and she could shift for herself.

The younger Duchess, more intrepid than her young mother-in-law, has snapped her fingers in the face of the King and has announced if he tried any such summary punishment on her she would scandalize Italy at this very ticklish point in the affairs of the country by suing for a divorce. This has made the King even more furious, and he has retaliated by saying if she did such a thing he would see to it that her position in any court of Europe would be forfeited.

And so the situation now stands. In the case of the Countess Bela-Zichy another royal rumpus has been aroused. While the Count stands by his wife and insists that the statue is an exquisite expression of purity, the court ladies of Austria, with the Emperor in sympathy with them, have made, it.is said, a secret compact to completely ostracize the lovely blonde countess if it is really proved beyond dispute that she posed as a diaphanous angel. The Austro-Hungarian court is one of the stiffest in Europe for etiquette, and if the case is decided against the Countess Bela Zichy her social position will be ruined.

The row in the D’Uzes family has become so intense over the nude posing of their young Duchess that nobody quite knows yet what the family council will decide to do.

Consequences Of This Folly.

However daring these aristocrats may be, the setting of conventionalities at defiance in statuary or paintings is not original with them. We can recall, for Instance, when Cleo de Merode, the lovely ballet dancer, posed for the sculptor Falguiere; also the sensation that followed the announcement that Mme. du Gast was the model for Gervex’s painting of “The Nude Lady With the Black Mask.” It is true that Mile, de Merode denied that she had posed for anything but the head of the statue called “The Dancer.” It is also true that Mme. du Gast sued those who had dared to say she was the original of the lady who might be just about to slip into her bath.

Henri Gervex Le modèle masqué nude model masked

The fad for being photographed, painted, hewn in marble, grows. Is it due to vanity? Apropos, here is a story told of a woman well known in the world of society. It happened at a time when she had been admired immensely, but, being very young, had been seen but little. She was strictly chaperoned everywhere by her mother, who superintended also the cut of her gowns. She was permitted to wear what might be described as a very modest décolleté to parties or dinners. On a certain occasion she was visiting at a country house without her mother. It was night. She was alone in her room, undressing. In a mirror her figure, girlish, charming, graceful, was reflected. She moved and smiled; she moved and sighed. Then she looked at herself intently and took note of her charms. It seemed to her a pity that no eyes should see them but her own. It seemed such a pity that she sallied forth to the library below, with a lighted candle In One hand and her eyes tightly closed.

She encountered her host and some of his guests–judges of beauty. They said she had walked in her sleep. She encountered her hostess, who declared her guest was wide awake. Either way, a record of her loveliness flew through society. Her defenders said she was so exquisite, endowed with such purity of line, that it would have been a shame to keep it hidden always–forever under drapery. The girl thought so, too. This was before Madame la Duchesse d’Aosta, Madame la Duchesse d’Uzes and Madame la Comtesse Zichy had set their approval upon the marble fad as the very latest artistic solace for woman’s vanity.

The Baltimore [MD] Sun 27 December 1903: p. 11

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Obviously Mr William Randolph Hurst warmed to his theme, no doubt with the aide of a stove in the room.

While we do not often see Duchesses and Countesses posing as nature made them for exquisite expressions of purity in marble or bronze, reality TV stars and athletes more than fill the void with lingerie “selfies” and ESPN’s “The Body” issue. Plus ça change…

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 School of Hammocking: 1901

IN A HAMMOCK WITH THE SUMMER GIRL

A summer school of hammocking was opened in one of the large cities recently. It was a secret society school, conducted on the strictest lines of never tell, and all information regarding its whereabouts, its pupils, their residences, or the places where they, will spend the summer were to be kept secret.

The object of the school was the teaching of grace to the summer girl, who must spend part of her summer days in the hammock. The lessons embraced the getting in and the getting out of it, also the proper manner of sitting down and talking. How to lie down and sleep, how to recline and read, how to carry on an animated conversation without tipping out backward, how to talk, to flirt, to laugh and to rise from the hammock were all in the curriculum.

The teacher—for, though the aims of the school may seem trifling to the unambitious woman, they were taken in all seriousness by the pupils–was one of the most famous teachers of expression in this country. She teaches some of the most celebrated stage people in the world how to be graceful, and she instructs great speakers on the small arts of gesture. When not otherwise engaged she takes classes of women in the 400 and teaches them how to enter a drawing-room and depart therefrom. She shows them how to look at flowers, how to gaze upon works of art, how to receive a compliment with grace and without blushing, how to decline a verbal invitation well, in short, how to be a belle.

The hammock field is a new one to her, but, on being told that she would, by her instruction, fill a long felt want, she consented to give a dozen lessons in the art of entering a hammock to a select circle of young women. The schoolroom was a roof garden, and the hours for the lessons broad daylight with nothing overhead except the sun and a friendly canopy. At the end of twelve lessons the pupils were turned out graduated, with verbal diplomas. All were bound to perpetual secrecy and to know them this summer you must watch the hammock girls and observe which conduct themselves with most grace. Those who are faultless have doubtless been members of the summer school of hammocking.

hammock girl4 (2)

Belle of Summer

The hammock girl is the belle of summer. Old Sol beholds her by the first light of his yellowing rays, and Luna, when she retires behind the day clouds, looks back again to wish her a good night.

To spend the summer in a hammock is the ideal of the languid maid and the favorite dolce far niente of the July girl.

It is said that the hammock habit is the hardest of all to drop. Once formed it becomes almost an insidious disease, preying upon its victim, who cannot tear herself from its grasp of netting. The hammock is responsible for many an added pound, for many a wasted moment. It is the parent of flirtation and it is the scene of many a jolly summer hour.

The girl who can escape to the country for a month or two takes with her a hammock. But it is not she alone who indulges in such an article. The roof garden girl has discovered that it is mightily pleasant to swing in the net, up under the stars, and for her there are wonderfully built hammocks, supported by uprights that are warranted not to break, or allow the ropes to loosen at the critical moment.

Where lives there a man who has not swung a hammock? To climb a tree, knot a rope to a limb and climb down again is part of the programme of the man who goes away for a rest. The chances are that he will hang many a one and rehang several, for ropes shrink and break, slacken and untie and raise uncertainty generally.

The possibilities of picking one’s self up gracefully when the hammock rope breaks are not to be discussed. That is an emergency which must be met at the time. When the hammock falls there is no choice but to settle down in a heap and to roll over and get up with such God-given grace as may be vouchsafed at the moment.

hammock girl3 (2)

The Getting In

But it is with the chances of being graceful when the hammock is in normal position that this has to deal. It is claimed that the girl who can get into a hammock gracefully and there sit and enjoy a conversation without tipping backward or falling frontward, is entitled to a diploma of grace. Certainly she does well, for the hammock is not a rocking chair, nor an anchored seat. It tips and rolls, shunts and rocks, shifts and falls in unexpected spots and is not dependable as a medium of keeping one’s poise.

The girl who would seat herself in a hammock nicely cannot do so carelessly. Let her merely catch hold of the rope and seat herself and she will find herself landed upon the floor. Possibly she may go entirely over the hammock and seat herself on the other side of it, with her feet clawing the ropes and her hands wildly grasping nothing.

 

To seat yourself in the hammock correctly take hold of one side of the netting, bend slightly, and, with the other hand, draw the hammock in under you. This gives you a purchase upon it; you then seat yourself and find the seat in under you. The trick is twofold. It lies in resting the entire weight upon one foot, and, at the same time, pulling the seat of the hammock forward.

hammock girl2 (2)

To lie down in the hammock requires practice. One must not look as though laid out and one must not sink out of sight in the depths of the hammock. The head should rest upon a pillow at one end of the net and the feet should lie together in the other end. To accomplish this gracefully the body must lie slightly at diagonals with the netting, so that the feet just peep out at one side, the head at the other. This gives one more of an upright position and enables one to carry on a conversation while resting. The hammock robe is not often used. It hides the pretty summer gown. If used at all it is thrown across the foot of the hammock, but is rarely employed as a spread.

The Skirt Question

To keep the skirts in place is a difficult matter when planning to lie down. It is done by gently gathering up the side of the skirts with the hand and tucking them in the hammock as one lies down. The feet should be lifted very slowly and deliberately, with the skirts clinging around them, or the general pictorial effect will not be good.

hammock girl4 (2)

To sit and converse in a hammock affords a theatre for some of the most delightful poses. One of these brings out the true poetry of motion. The young woman who attempts it must seat herself gracefully, and then, with a side motion, turn herself a little. One hand must be extended to grasp the netting, while the other must rest in her lap. The pose is a very comfortable one and certainly pretty.

The summer girl who coquettes in a hammock is lost unless she be very skilful. She must have practiced the scenes before or she will not be a success. If she own a hammock that is supported by uprights, let her take it and swing it in front of a pier glass. With the mirror in front of her she can practice her poses.

The animated pose is the most difficult of all. She must seat herself and in some manner manage to change her poses as she talks. She must be as free as though in a tete-a-tete chair.

hammock girl 1 (2)

A coquettish pose, which gives an opportunity for the display of the pretty feet of the young woman, is that in which, with extended feet, she sits with both hands upon the netting and looks straight at you. To keep her poise both arms are stretched out at the side of, her, and both hands are twisted in the netting. Her feet are crossed and pressed forward so that the hammock is swinging. It is not a strictly conventional pose nor one that is in afford with the accepted poses of Delsarte or his followers, but it is effective.

To read picturesquely is quite difficult, until one has acquired the trick. It all depends upon the way one enters the hammock. The young woman who will seat herself in the middle of the hammock, a little toward one end, and who will lift her skirts with one hand, lifting her feet with them, will be sure of a safe deposit into the hammock. She must practice balancing a little in order to keep her head higher than her feet.

The self-taught hammock girl may be a success if she will practice assiduously, but it is far better to engage a friendly spectator who will look on and criticise and offer suggestions at the valuable moment.

AUGUSTA PRESCOTT.

The Philadelphia [PA] Inquirer 26 May 1901: p. 38

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Obviously one needs the correct wardrobe for hammocking: the petticoats that froth beneath the simple summer frock; the pretty stockings and shoes for accidental exposure.

HAMMOCK DRESSES.

“Hammock” dresses, designed for elegant wear on sultry, lazy afternoon, are announced. They are made with long flowing Greek lines; they are steel-less, cushionless, half fitting, but graceful withal, having the look of untidy looseness, and are made of all the soft, pretty crepalines, challis, carmelites and also of China silk, foulard and surah. New York World.

The Salisbury [NC] Truth 12 June 1890: p. 7

Hammock frocks, fashioned from the softest of undressed mulls, delicate batiste and old, quainty-flowered muslins.

Buffalo [NY] Evening News 27 July 1896: p. 43

Mr Binks’s Safety Hammock tells of the perils of hammock customisation, while useful tips about “hammock frocks” are found in My Lady’s Hammock

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 Purity League and the Sea Vamps: 1922

a group of rollicking sea vamps 1922

A rollicking group of sea vamps, 1922

“Protect Our Husbands from the Wiles of the ‘Sea Vamps’”

How the Purity League of Florida Has made the One-Piece Bathing Suit a Political Issue and Demands a Bathing Suit Inspector to Stop the Frolics on the Beaches.

The one-piece bathing suit has pushed its way into politics. In the next election for Mayor of St. Petersburg. Florida, the candidates will have to declare themselves without equivocation whether they are for or against the “Sea Vamps.”

It is a complicated situation. Florida is a Winter resort and the importance of the decision is a far-reaching one. The Purity League and the church element have looked on with increasing dismay at the frolicsome antics of the feminine charmers who frisk about the ocean beach in tight fitting bathing trunks without skirt, stocking or shoe.

But pleasure resorts are dependent for their business prosperity upon luring the tourists. If the news travels abroad that a bathing suit censor stalks the beach the Winter visitors, many of them, may not go to St. Petersburg Thus the hotels and rooming houses and restaurants and merchants will feel the effect of the bathing suit censor in their pocketbooks.

The question of suppressing the lures of the beguiling young ‘Sea Vamps” has become acute, because of the recent official action of the St. Petersburg Purity League. This earnest association of worthy citizens has served notice in writing upon the Mayor of St. Petersburg that the antics of the visitors on that Florida beach must be stopped.

Frank F. Pulver, the Mayor, happens to be a young man and a bachelor. When it became known that the Purity League demanded the appointment of a bathing suit inspector he was inclined to pigeonhole the letter from the league and with a few diplomatic phrases hoped to see the matter blow over.

But the newspapers printed the rather sharp demand of the Purity League and long lines of men formed at the Mayor’s office, offering their services as bathing suit inspectors. Young men and old men, tall men and short men, near-sighted men and men with acute vision, fat men and thin men, married men and bachelors offered to accept the proposed new office of bathing suit inspector without salary or fees or compensation of any kind. He was surprised at the public-spirited unselfishness of the men of the town.

Mayor Pulver, whose youthful portrait in white Winter flannels and straw hat is printed on this page, is regarded as a very eligible matrimonial catch. When he strolls on the beach many of the more attractive of the “Sea Vamps” have beguiled him with their most skillful wiles. They rather interest young Mayor Pulver.

But Mayor Pulver cannot overlook the political aspect of the situation. What would be the probable line-up of the voters of St. Petersburg on the sharply defined issue of “Sea Vamps” or bathing suit inspector?

Of course, the Purity League and the church element would be solidly behind the Mayor if he appointed a bathing suit censor. On the other hand, the younger voters among the women are, many of them, wearers of the one-piece bathing suits and they would vote against him. The young men could be counted on to vote against censorship and whispered warnings from many of the older and married men lead Mayor Pulver to think, that the bald-heads and gray beards would be likely to be against him on the one-piece bathing suit issue. And a large element of the business men would not like to risk the results of blue-law management of St. Petersburg’s beach.

So, to gain time, Mayor Pulver referred the letter of the Purity League to the city attorney, who is the Mayor’s official legal adviser, and thus then secured a legal opinion which lets Mayor Pulver out of this hole for the present.

Here Is the letter the Purity League sent Mayor Pulver:

Frank F. Pulver, St. Petersburg, Fla.

Dear Sir.

The attention of this organization, the Purity League, has been called to the outrageous bathing suits being worn on the beaches around St. Petersburg. Abbreviated to an extreme, skirtless and sleeveless, young women in reckless abandon appear before young men and their elders in costumes that never would be tolerated in Christian communities.

Mr. Mayor Pulver, it is up to you to take some action on these bathing suits. You must compel the young ladies to wear stockings and skirts to their suits. You make them wear sleeves. As it is now permitted, these girls don’t care how they look on the beaches. They are half naked.

Further, this league will protect the married men in its membership from the wiles of the “Sea Vamps” even if it has to engage its own law enforcers. Members of the Purity League have gone on record in opposing the present costumes being worn on the bathing beaches, and it further urges you, Mr. Mayor Pulver, to do away with the suits named after a certain Annette Kellermann.

Give back to us the modest bathing suit and take away the shameless ones your police permit the young women of this community to wear before the men and our husbands.

Pressure is now being brought to bear with the State Legislature to compel restrictions on the abbreviations of bathing suits. We are also urging the appointment of a bathing suit inspector at all beaches.

(Signed) ST. PETERSBURG PURITY LEAGUE

By Hazel Milford Van Freedon, Secretary.

Mayor Pulver, as already said, forwarded the letter to the city attorney Mr. F. J. Mack, for advice as to the Mayor’s legal right to appoint a bathing suit inspector, and it was with a sigh of relief that the Mayor received in due time the following opinion from the legal adviser of the city, which allowed him to dodge the embarrassing issue for the present. Mr. Mack wrote as follows:

“Pursuant to your request for an opinion as to your authority to appoint a ‘ladies’ bathing suit inspector’ with authority to censor and prescribe the texture, dimensions and transparency of ladles’ bathing suits, as you have been requested to do by the Purity League.

“As a legal proposition, it is my opinion that you have no authority under the laws of Florida or the city charter to appoint such an inspector, or to confer any authority upon him.

“Under the ordinances of the city, disorderly conduct is a misdemeanor, and violators, upon conviction in the municipal court, can be punished.

“The married women of the Purity League who ask you to protect their husbands from the ‘wiles of the sea vamps’ can invoke the above mentioned ordinance, and if the court finds the wearing of bathing suits complained of comes within the scope of disorderly conduct or indecent exposure, the matter can thus be adjusted in court.

“It is my opinion that the members of the Police Department are not the best qualified to pass upon the sufficiency of ladies’ bathing suits, and therefore recommend that the sufficiency of said bathing suits be not tested in court until complaint is made in due form, by some of the women who are apprehensive of the consequences of ‘the wiles of the sea vamps.’

“Yours respectfully

“F. J. MACK.

“City Attorney.”

Backed up by the decision of the City Attorney, Mayor Pulver spread the disappointing news to the men of the town who had applied for the job of bathing suit inspector that there would be no such office created.

“Furthermore,” said Mayor Pulver, “I see no good reason for allowing the demand of the Purity League, even if it was within my power to appoint a censor for the bathing beach.

“I am not very familiar with water sports and, in fact, have seldom been on the beach here. But when I have been there I have never seen anything objectionable about the bathing suits worn by the girls of St. Petersburg, nor their behavior.

“It seems to me that we have as lovely girls here as can be found anywhere and just as modest maidens and I do not believe that they would wear insufficient clothing or vamp the males who go into the bay with them. I am strong for the girls. They can wear what they want to wear. They will do it anyhow, so what’s the use?

“The Purity League asked me to be its chairman but I declined and if there is anything done to require the bathers to wear stockings and long skirts and a lot of other clothing when they swim, the leaders of the League will have to take the cases into court.

“The human form is divine and judging from some of the bathers I have seen, a divinity shaped their ends for they certainly are well shaped.”

The young women who enjoy themselves on the bathing beach are indignant at the phrase “Sea Vamps,” which the Purity League has applied to them. They point out that the worthy women of the League, for the most part, belong to a generation which flourished before automobiles were invented or wireless telephones were used, or the “shimmy” had been discovered. They declare that those who complain of the bathing costumes of the girl of 1922 are out-of-date and ought to get into adjustment with modern times.

“Nowadays,” said, one of the “Sea Vamps,” “we do real hard athletic work in our water sports. Grandmother used to cover herself up from her toes to her chin and walk down and step timidly into the water and stand around for a while and then go out and call it sea bathing.

“Now things have changed. We go in for real athletic sports. We swim, dive, play water polo and all sorts of stunts and it can’t be done with skirts and pantalets and water-soaked bathing shoes. That is what the women of the League don’t seem to grasp.

“And another thing. Some of us come to Florida at the advice of our doctors to get all the sunshine we can get. The doctor advises a generous coat of tan. It’s healthy. And how are we going to get all browned up if we wear grandmother’s bathing suit?

“Of course things have changed. But that doesn’t mean that they have changed for the worst. There is nothing to get frightened about. When the taxicabs first began to appear on the streets some people were afraid to get into them. But we are all of us pretty well used to taxicabs now and nobody is shocked or frightened about them any more. The Purity League has got to get used to us girls wearing our brothers’ one-piece bathing suits just the same as they have had to get used to taxicabs.”

But the end is not yet. The Purity League feels that Mayor Pulver has evaded the issue. Miss Hazel Van Freedon, the secretary, believes if she was elected Mayor of St. Petersburg she would not dodge the issue, but would find a way to stop the vampish antics on the beach.

grandma's bathing suit purity league 1922

And another element has entered into the controversy. The Florida Art School, with Miss Edith Tabb Little at its head, has taken sides with the Mayor and declares there is nothing wrong with the one-piece bathing suit: it is cheap, shapely and artistic. The art school is chiefly horrified at. the threatening aspect of the return of grandmother’s style of bathing suit with skirts and pantalets visible beneath them. Upon esthetic grounds the art school is prepared to take the field and campaign against their sisters in the Purity League at the next election.

Meanwhile, as the Purity League announces, pressure is being brought to bear to put through a State law which will provide the authority which City Attorney Mack says the Mayor now lacks. After and when this law is passed by the Legislature the unfortunate Mayor of St. Petersburg will be forced out into the open for or against the frolicsome vamps of St. Petersburg’s famous beach.

The Washington [DC] Times 5 March 1922: p. 65

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Well. Quite.

The Purity League obviously had strong feelings on this issue, as did many communities, who hired “beach censors” to make sure that their standards of modesty were being upheld. A laudable goal, some would say. However, “The St Petersburg Purity League” was, in fact, fabricated by Mayor Pulver and publicist John Lodwick to promote interest in St Petersburg tourism. Papers ran photo-gravures of Pulver posed on the beach while pretending to inspect one-piece bathing suits. No doubt there was a gratifyingly large influx of visitors who wished to see for themselves the ravages of the frolicsome Sea Vamp.

Mrs Daffodil has posted about this issue before in A Matter of Three Inches on a Bathing Suit and Mixed Bathing and the Fall of Empire.

 

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 Handsome Man a Mistake: 1903

 

Leyendecker handsome man

The Handsome Man a Mistake.

Her Royal Highness, Woman, has decided that physical beauty ought to be the monopoly of her sex, and that the Handsome Man is a mistake. She has been investigating him in various roles, and declares that as a lover he is unsatisfactory, as a husband a failure, and as a brother a nuisance. The fiancée of the good-looking man has to pay dearly for her capture of an Adonis. She lives in a state of perpetual siege against a host of fair rivals, and has to run the gauntlet of such remarks as “I wonder what that handsome Mr Jones can see in that Enid Smith,” and “Isn’t it funny how good-looking men always marry such plain wives?” Her troubles are only augmented when she becomes a young matron. She has to stoically endure her husband’s flirtations with other women— who will flatter him if she will not — and to smile amiably when Mrs Robinson praises Jack and Muriel —

“Such pretty children; so like their father!” Last, but not least, she must skimp her wardrobe, while her attractive husband spends on his ties and socks what the Ugly Man would have concentrated cheerfully on his wife’s fur coat.

As a brother the Handsome Man is certainly not an unmixed blessing. From the first moment he opens his “beautiful” eyes he is the idol of an adoring mother, who displays to his moral shortcomings a more than beetle-like obtuseness. As he grows older she palliates his love for pleasure and his disinclination for work by the excuse, “Jack is so good-looking, he is sure to marry an heiress if he goes into society.”

The sister of the  Handsome Man is only asked to parties where the hostess dare not ask him without her, and she is ordered to be civil to all sorts of people who detest her but admire “dear Jack.” Then the handsome brother is generally a woman’s man, which means that Jack will not bring men friends home to smoke and play ping pong and fall in love with his sister. If the modern girl could have her choice in such a matter, she would plump unreservedly for a plain, good-natured, ordinary brother, who would contentedly accept the back seat allotted by twentieth-century women to the “mere man.”

Troublesome though the Handsome Man undoubtedly is, it is probable that, in spite of all her protestations, her Royal Highness Woman will continue to admire and marry him. The Handsome Man of to-day certainly compares favourably with the “pretty” man of 50 years ago. That popular hero was narrow-chested, puny, and pink-and-white, while black whiskers inevitably adorned” his thin cheeks. Today the Handsome Man is stalwart, well set-up, and muscular, for mere beauty of feature will count for very little. He may not be industrious, but he is wise enough to play cricket, football, and golf, and is, by the way, almost as conceited of his prowess in these directions as of his classic nose and chin and “beautiful” eyes.

Otago [NZ] Witness 18 March 1903: p. 61

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Bothersome though they are, these difficulties pale in comparison with the swath cut through happy homes and boarding houses by creatures so utterly lacking in conscience. Mrs Daffodil feels that the word “mistake” is woefully inadequate, given the damage that they do.

The Ravages of the Handsome Man.

There should be something done at once to put a stop to the ravages of the handsome man. The handsome man has not been noted for his nice regard for the rights of other men since the days when Paris ran away with Helen and involved Troy and Greece in a deadly war. It was supposed that the growth of morality and good manners had somewhat curtailed the piratical tendencies of the man who was born with a handsomer face than his neighbors and that he had of late confined his blandishments to susceptible maidens. Some late instances, however, indicate that he is at his old tricks and that he has not reformed at all, but is pursuing his calling of poaching on his neighbors’ preserves quite as vigorously as in the days of Antony and Alcibiades. He is cosmopolitan in his tastes and slights neither high nor low in his attentions.

A young German began housekeeping with his new-married wife in Newark. The young Teuton was poor in this world’s goods, possessing only the wealth of his wife’s affections and a half interest in a bouncing baby. To eke out the slender income of the family a handsome boarder was taken. About a week ago the handsome boarder concluded to leave town and took with him the whole establishment, with the exception of the husband, including $250 in money belonging to. the injured man. A German chemist, while en route to tins country a short time ago, became acquainted with a fair daughter of Germany, to whom he was married on his arrival at New York. The young couple set up their household in Hoboken and to help pay expenses a handsome boarder, also of Teutonic extraction, was taken. After a time the husband thought he discovered that the new boarder was too fond of his wife and ordered him to leave the house. He left, but took the wife and baby with him. It is needless to say that the two German husbands are of one opinion about the deserts of handsome men.

The handsome man does not confine his ravages to the homes of the humble. This is made apparent by a late Hartford scandal. The son of a political millionaire, himself the possessor of no inconsiderable claims to manly beauty, married a fascinating widow who was not only beautiful but talented. But a handsomer man from Boston cast his evil eye on that happy home and it was not. Two suits for divorce and a legal quarrel about the division of a property are the present results of too much handsomeness on the part of that Boston man.

The handsome man of moderate means and good character is also proving dangerous. A New Brunswick family, consisting of husband, wife and three interesting children, has lately become the victim of his wiles. The handsome man in this case is a church member and the trusted employe of a manufacturing company. He has left the church scandalized, the company short and the married man without either wife or children. It is not worthwhile multiplying instances to prove that the handsome man is dangerous and ought to be abolished. That fact is too apparent to admit of a single doubt. A much more interesting inquiry at present is to know how to abolish him. The shotgun and the strong arm of the law have proved alike powerless, and the statesmen and philosophers of this country should bend their gigantic intellects to the task of devising some means to accomplish this necessary work. It may be suggested by way of beginning that young married men should be very chary of handsome boarders.

The Times [Philadelphia PA] 11 February 1883: p. 4

 

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical 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 Kiss of Death: 1887

skeleton lovers Posada.JPG
On this, the last day of Dia de Muertos, Mrs Daffodil has received permission to borrow a post appropriate to the holiday from that death-obsessed person over at Haunted Ohio. She writes: 
 

As we have all painted our faces like La Calavera Catrina and are munching sugar skulls to honor our Dear Departed on this Day of the Dead, let us settle down among the marigolds for a ghost story. On previous holidays, we have met a faithful dead nun and a skeletal bishop with his evil raven companion. Today we go to a churchyard in San Juan where a seductive entity sought its prey.

THE KISS OF DEATH

STRANGE SUPERSTITION OF MONTEREY MEXICANS

A Spectre That Appears in Beautiful Guise to Lure Men and Women to Death.

The Santa Cruz ghost, which is engrossing the attention of the citizens of that famous watering-place by its midnight revelries, recalls a legend of San Juan, in the adjoining county, told the writer many years ago by a narrator no less credible than a good old Spanish priest, with whom the writer happened to be staying on a few days’ visit.

One morning after breakfast he expressed a wish to stroll into the ancient graveyard attached to the old adobe church of that quaint little Mexican town. The old padre, with the kindness and courtesy characteristic of the simple missionary fathers, at once acceded and accompanied the writer, relating as we walked among the graves the brief history of some who lay quietly beneath. “Here,” he observed, with a quiet smile as he pointed to a grave in the middle of the cemetery, “here is a grave which the simple old Mexican families around here look upon with unusual interest, if not with actual awe.”

“A murder?”

“No, no! Something much stranger. I have tried to combat the idea, and while I would be addressing the people they would say, “Si Si, Padre.” They would assent to all I said, but the belief remained and does remain indelible.

“A spirit,” he began, “is said to have appeared to everyone buried in that grave, and to warn the family whenever any of them is about to pass away.

“Its appearance, which is generally made in the following manner, is believed to be uniformly fatal, being an omen of death to those who are so unhappy as to meet with it.

“When a funeral takes place the spirit is said to watch the person who remains last in the graveyard, over whom it possesses a fascinating influence.

“If the person be a young man the spirit takes the shape of a fascinating female, inspires him with a charmed passion, and exacts a promise that he will meet her at the graveyard a month from that day. This promise is sealed with a kiss, that communicates a deadly taint to him who complies.

“The spirit then disappears. No sooner does the person from whom it received the promise and the kiss pass the boundary of the churchyard than he remembers the history of the specter. He sinks into despair and insanity and dies. If, on the contrary, the specter appears to a female, it assumes the form of a young man of exceeding elegance and beauty.” The padre showed me the grave of a young person about 18 years of age, who was said four months before to have fallen a victim to it. “Ten months ago,” the father said, “a man gave the promise and the fatal kiss, and consequently looked upon himself as lost. He took a fever and died and was buried on the day appointed for the meeting, which was exactly a month after the fatal interview.

“Incredible as it may appear, the friends of these two persons solemnly declared to me that the particulars of the interview were repeatedly detailed by the two persons without the slightest variation.

“There are several cases of the same kind mentioned, but the two cases alluded to are the only ones that came within my personal knowledge.

“It appears, however, that the spectre does not confine its operations to the graveyard only. There have been instances mentioned of its appearance at weddings and social parties, where it never failed to secure its victims by dancing them into pleuritic fevers.”

On being questions as to what he might think of such possible occurrences, the good father simply smiled and shook his head.

San Francisco [CA] Chronicle 21 October 1887: p. 1

The Santa Cruz ghost mentioned was a Woman in White, like the classic Hispanic ghost, La Llorona, the Weeping Woman, said to weep for her children whom she killed when their father refused to marry her. Over time La Llorona has morphed into a kind of banshee, warning of imminent death, or a vampire spirit, luring young men to their doom. Here the churchyard specter is both incubus and succubus, an equal-opportunity, shape-shifting seducer. The victim’s oblivion until he or she steps out of the graveyard is an especially fiendish touch. There is an interesting echo of the Dance of  Death in that “dancing into pleuritic fevers” and a hint of the European belief that the last person buried in a graveyard is forced to be its guardian until the next corpse comes along.  Let this be a warning to all of us to never be the last one out of the graveyard….

 

Chris Woodyard is the author of The Victorian Book of the Dead, The Ghost Wore Black, The Headless Horror, The Face in the Window, and the 7-volume Haunted Ohio series. She is also the chronicler of the adventures of that amiable murderess Mrs Daffodil in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales. The books are available in paperback and for Kindle. Indexes and fact sheets for all of these books may be found by searching hauntedohiobooks.com. Join her on FB at Haunted Ohio by Chris Woodyard or The Victorian Book of the Dead.

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