Tag Archives: elopement

Gerty’s Elopement: 1889


“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.

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.

Wedding Tales from a Parish Clerk: 1830

[The narrator is a parish clerk of long-standing.]

It would not perhaps be unamusing to describe the vast changes in fashion which have taken place during the forty years that I have officiated as parish clerk; but though I am not an inattentive observer of dress, I have looked beyond the bridal robes, and my chief delight has been to scrutinize, I hope not impertinently, the conduct of the parties. I was much interested by the appearance of a lady who came in a splendid carriage, and attended by her friends to our church. She was richly and elegantly attired, in white lace and white satin; but no one who looked upon her countenance would ever cast a thought upon her dress again: her form was so thin and fragile, it seemed a mere shadow; her face was of lily paleness, and she wore a look of such deep and touching melancholy, that the heart melted at the piteous sight. There was, however, no violence in her grief; her eyes were tearless, and her manner was calm. I understood that she was a great heiress, who had lately changed her name for a large fortune, and that she was of age, and her own mistress; therefore there could be no constraint employed in inducing her to approach the altar. My ears are rather quick, and I could not help overhearing a part of that lady’s conversation with her bridesmaid, as they walked up and down the aisle together. “I was wrong to come here,” she said in a mournful tone, “wrong to allow any persuasion to tempt me to violate the faith I have plighted to the dead. Can an oath so sacred as that which I have sworn ever be cancelled? I scarcely dare glance my eyes towards those dark and distant corners, lest I should encounter his reproaching shade: it seems as though he must rise from the grave to upbraid me with my broken vow.”

The friend endeavoured to combat these fantastical notions, urged the duty she owed to the living, and the various excellencies of the man who now claimed her hand. “I know it all,” returned the fair mourner, “but still I cannot be persuaded that I have not acted lightly in accepting the addresses of another. My faith should be buried in the tomb with my heart and my affections. I fear me that he who now receives my vows will repent those solicitations which have induced me to break my steadfast resolution to keep that solemn promise which made me the bride of the dead.” Pulling down her veil, she passed her hand across, her eyes and sighed heavily. Not wishing to appear intrusive, I withdrew to the vestry-room; and shortly afterwards the bridegroom entered, accompanied by a gentleman whom he introduced as a stranger, saying that the relative who was to have attended him as the groom’s-man had been suddenly taken ill, and his place unexpectedly supplied by a friend newly arrived from the continent. He then inquired for the bride, entered the church, and led her to the altar. The clergyman opened his book– the ceremony commenced–and the lady, raising her drooping downcast head, fixed her eyes upon the stranger who stood by her intended husband’s side, and, uttering a wild scream, fell lifeless on the ground! We carried her immediately into the vestry, and, after many applications of hartshorn-and-water, she at length revived. In the interim an explanation had taken place; and I learned that in early life the bride had been engaged to the gentleman whose appearance had caused so much agitation, and whom she had long mourned as one numbered with the dead. The bridegroom did not urge the conclusion of the ceremony, and indeed the spirits of the lady had sustained too severe a shock for the possibility of going through it. Her tremor was so great that there was some difficulty in conveying her to the carriage, and the whole party retired looking very blank and dejected.

About three months afterwards, the same lady came to church again to be married, and never in my life did I see so astonishing a change as that which had taken place in her person and demeanour. She had grown quite plump; a sweet flush suffused her face, and her eyes, instead of being sunk and hollow, were now radiantly brilliant. She stepped forward with a cheerful air, and her voice sounded joyously. If my surprise were great at this alteration, it was still greater when I looked at the bridegroom, and saw that he was the very same gentleman who had come before. I thought, to be sure, that the lady who had grieved so deeply was now going to be united to her first love–but no such thing; and I was told afterwards, that the young heiress was so shocked by the inconstancy of the faithless friend–for it seems that he was not aware of the report of his death, and had long ceased to trouble himself about her–that her attachment was quite cured, and she had determined to bestow her hand and fortune upon the man who best deserved them.

There was something very remarkable about the next couple who came to be married. The lady was old, and the gentleman young –a mere boy of one-and-twenty, going to link himself with sixty-five. And such a vinegar, crabbed aspect as the bride possessed, was surely never exhibited at a wedding before. She seemed conscious that she was about to do a foolish thing, and was angry that the world thought so too; the bridegroom looked sheepish, and kept his eyes fixed on the ground, while he rapped his shoe with his cane, much to the discomfiture of the lady, who was compelled to put herself forward as he hung back, and to take his arm instead of waiting to be led to the altar. She could not conceal her mortification at the neglect she experienced, but she bridled, and tossed, and cast such bitter glances upon those who seemed disposed to smile, that all, the party stood awe-struck; and when the ceremony commenced, it was rather curious to hear the bridegroom whispering his part of the service, while the sharp shrill voice of the bride was actually startling in the solemn silence of a large and nearly empty church. The contrast between this antiquated belle’s yellow parchment visage and her snowy drapery was so striking that it increased her ugliness. I could think of nothing but an Egyptian mummy tricked out in white satin; and there were some sly looks passed amid the company when her restless fiery eyes were for a moment withdrawn, which seemed to say that some such idea was gliding through their heads. I suppose that she had a good deal of money; for by the poor lad’s manner I should think that nothing else would have induced so young a man to link himself with such a withered, and I may say pestilent hag.

I have seen, to be sure, many unwilling bride-grooms in my time. One, I remember, was evidently brought to church through fear of the brothers of his bride. They came, three of them, to escort the lady, as fierce as dragoon officers; and I believe one of them was in the army, for he clattered in with long spurs, and wore a brave pair of mustachios on his upper lip. The other two were stout athletic men, with an air of great resolution; while the bridegroom, who was strong enough to have coped with any one of them, but who in all probability disliked the chances of a bullet, looked dogged and sullen, taking especial care to show that the slight civility which he displayed was extorted from him by compulsion. I felt for the poor girl, for she met nothing but stern glances. The rising tears were checked by a frown from some one of her three brothers, who watched her narrowly; and there was little consolation to be drawn from the countenance of her intended husband: if ever he looked up there was a scowl upon his brow. She could only hope to exchange three tyrants for one, and there seemed too great a probability that the last would revenge upon her the treatment which he had received from her kinsmen. The ladies of the party shook their heads and were silent; and altogether I never saw more evil augury, although the termination was not so disastrous as that which I once witnessed upon a nearly similar occasion.

The lady, according to custom, came first. She had many of her friends about her; and the whole company showed more joy than is generally exhibited by the polite world, even on these happy events. There appeared to be a sort of congratulation amongst them, as though they had brought some fortunate circumstance to pass of which they had despaired; and amid them also was a tall bluff-looking brother, who seemed very well pleased with the success of his exertions. The bride, too, was in high spirits, and talked and smiled with her bride’s-maiden, arranged her dress at the glass, and carried her head with an air. So much were the party occupied with their own satisfied feelings, that they did not appear to observe the wild and haggard look of the bridegroom. I was shocked and alarmed at the pale and ghastly countenance which he presented; he was dressed in black, and though somebody took notice of this circumstance, it was only to joke about it. To me he seemed under the influence of brandy, or of laudanum, for he talked strangely, and laughed in such a manner that I shuddered at the sound. Nobody, however, appeared to regard it; and the wedding party entered the church as gaily as possible. During the ceremony the bridegroom’ s mood changed; as if struck by its solemnity, he became grave; a shade of inexpressible sadness passed over his wan, cold brow; and large drops of perspiration chased each other down his face. The nuptial rite ended; he stooped forward to kiss the bride, and just as the clergyman turned to leave the altar, drew a pistol from his bosom, and shot himself through the heart before an arm could be raised to prevent him! Down dropped the new married couple together, for this unhappy gentleman had entangled himself in his wife’s drapery, and dragged her with him as he fell. It was a horrid sight to see the dead and the living stretched in this fearful embrace upon the ground. Paralyzed by the report of the pistol, we stood aghast, and a minute elapsed before even I could stretch out my hand to extricate the bride from her shocking situation.  She had not fainted, and she could not weep; but her eyes were glazed, her features rigid, and her skin changed to a deep leaden hue. Her satin robe was in several places stained with blood; and surely never was any spectacle half so ghastly! Her friends repressed their tears and sobs; and, gathering round her, attempted to convey her away. She submitted as if unwittingly; but when her foot was on the threshold of the portal, she burst into long and continued shrieks. The whole church rang with the appalling cry; and it was not until she had completely exhausted herself by her screams, and had sunk into a sort of torpor, interrupted only by low moans, that she could be taken from the fatal spot. A coroner’s inquest sat in the vestry; and a sad tale of female levity, and of the weakness and libertinism of man, came out. But the subject is too painful to dwell upon, and I gladly turn to pleasanter recollections.

We had a very fine party shortly afterwards, who arrived in two or three carriages. The bride was young and fair, but she held her head down, and seemed greatly agitated. It was very easy to perceive that her heart had not been consulted in the choice of a husband. The father, a tall heavy-browed man, cast severe and threatening glances upon his trembling daughter; but the mother, though she seemed equally bent upon the match, interceded for a little cessation of hostilities; and, when the shrinking girl asked to be allowed to walk for a moment with one friend in the church, in order to collect her scattered thoughts, leave was granted. As she passed out of the door she dropped her white satin reticule, and it clanked heavily against the steps–a sound not at all like that of a smelling-bottle, and I must confess that my curiosity was strongly excited. I endeavoured to pick it up; but before I could bend my arm, which is a little stiff with the rheumatism, she had whipped it off the ground, and down the side aisle she went, leaning upon her companion’s arm. This aisle is long, and rather dark, terminating in a heavy oaken screen, which conceals the green baize door leading to the front portal. She passed behind this screen and was seen no more! I thought it very odd, but it was not my place to speak, so I returned into the vestry room, that I might not be questioned. Presently the bridegroom arrived and an ill-favoured gentleman he was with a fretful discontented countenance; and he began complaining of having been detained at home by some fool’s message. After he had grumbled for a few minutes the bride was called for–she was not to be found. The father stormed. “Is this a time,” he exclaimed, “to play such childish tricks! she has hidden herself in some corner;” and away we all hastened in search of her. The church doors were shut and locked; but as I passed up the gallery stairs, I observed that the bolts were withdrawn from that which led from the side aisle. I did not, however, feel myself compelled to publish this discovery, though I shrewdly suspected that the reticule which had rung so loudly as it fell contained a key; and so it proved. Some time was wasted in examining the organ-loft, and indeed every place in which a mouse might have been concealed. At last somebody hit upon the truth, and a little inquiry placed the elopement beyond a doubt. We learned that a carriage had been in waiting at a corner of the street opposite to the church; and that a gentleman had been seen loitering under the portico, who, the instant that two ladies popped out, conducted them to his equipage, which moved leisurely away, while we were engaged in our unsuccessful search. Upon strict examination, it came out that a pew-opener had furnished the means of obtaining a false key. It would be impossible to describe the rage and dismay of the disappointed parties: the mother went off in hysterics, the bridegroom looked sourer than ever, the father raved and swore bitterly; and the clergyman, after vainly attempting to pacify him, read him a lecture upon his intemperate conduct. All those who were not related to the parties slunk quietly away, perhaps to have their laugh out; and I take shame to myself to say that I could not help enjoying the scene, so thoroughly unamiable did those persons appear with whom the fair bride was unfortunately connected. I was anxious about the young couple, and heard with great pleasure that they got safe to Scotland.

Another young lady, forced by her parents to the altar, did not manage matters quite so cleverly. They had dressed her out, poor thing, in ball-room attire; her beautiful hair fell in ringlets from the crown of her head, down a swanlike throat as white as snow, and these glossy tresses were wreathed with long knots of pearl, which crossed her forehead twice, and mingled in rich loops with the clustering curls. Her white arms were bare, for her gloves had been lost in the coach, and the veil had slipped from her hand and hung in disorder over her shoulders. Before the carriage reached the church, I saw her fair face thrust out of one of the windows, as if in expectation of seeing somebody. She paused for an instant on the steps, and, unmindful of the gazing crowd, cast hurried glances up and down the street; and even in the vestry-room, and in the church, she searched every corner narrowly with her eyes, turning round quickly at the slightest sound. Hope did not forsake her until the very last moment–when the bridegroom appeared– a tall prim person, who drew on his gloves very deliberately, not seeing or heeding the agonizing perturbation of his intended bride. Her movements became more hurried as her expectation of a rescue decreased. She suffered herself, as if bewildered, to be led to the communion table; her head all the time turned over her shoulder, still watching for the arrival of some too tardy friend. But when she stood by the rails, and the actual commencement of the ceremony struck upon her ear, she seemed to awaken to a full sense of her dangerous situation; and, throwing up her beautiful white arms, and tearing away the long curls from her brow, she exclaimed, with much vehemence, “No! no! no!” Her bosom heaved as though it would have burst through the satin and lace which confined it; her dark flashing eyes seemed starting from her head; her cheek was now flushed with the hue of crimson, and now pale as death, and every feature was swelled and convulsed by the tumultuous emotions which shook her frame. The tall prim gentleman looked astounded: there was a gathering together of friends; but the bride was not to be appeased–she still continued her half-frenzied exclamation, “No! no! no!” A slight scuffle was heard outside the church, and in the next moment a fine-looking young man dashed in through the vestry-room, scarcely making two steps to the afflicted fair, who, uttering a piercing cry of joy, rushed into his outstretched arms. The clergyman shut his book, scandalized by the indecorum of these proceedings; the tall prim gentleman opened his eyes, and seemed fumbling in his waistcoat pocket for a card; and the lovers, careless of every thing but each other, clasped in a fervent embrace, had sunk down upon one of the free seats in the middle aisle–the youth swearing by heaven and earth that his beloved should not be torn from his grasp, and the lady sobbing on his shoulder. The parents of the bride, confounded and amazed at this unexpected catastrophe, had nothing to say. They at length attempted to soothe the bridegroom ; but he had elevated his eyebrows, and, looking unutterable things, was evidently preparing to walk off; and, this resolution taken, he was not to be stayed. He seized his hat, placed it solemnly under his arm, faced about, and, perceiving that his rival was wholly engrossed in wiping away the tears from the loveliest pair of eyes in the world, he pursed up his mouth to its original formality, and marched straight out of the church. An arrangement now took place between the intruder and the crest-fallen papa and mamma. The latter was left with her daughter, while the two gentlemen went in quest of a new license. The young lady, a little too wilful, it must be owned, pouted and coaxed, till the old lady’s brow relaxed, and all was harmony. Again the curate was called upon to perform his office, and now radiant smiles played upon the lips of the bride–a soft confusion stole over her cheek, and scarcely waiting until the conclusion of the ceremony, as if she feared a second separation, clung to her husband’s arm, not quitting it even while signing her name in the book.

There was nothing extraordinary about the next couple who joined their hands in our church, excepting their surpassing beauty. It seemed a question which could be styled the handsomer, the lady or the gentleman: both were tall, and both had that noble aspect which one is apt to fancy the exclusive gift of high birth. The bridegroom was a man of rank, and the bride little inferior in family connexion. The friends of each party, magnificently appointed, graced the ceremony: altogether–it seemed a most suitable match, and was one of the grandest weddings that had taken place for a long time. The whole affair was conducted with the greatest propriety; hearts, as well as hands, appeared to be joined; the lady smiling through the few tears which she seemed to shed, only because her mother and her sisters wept at parting from her, and the rapturous delight of the gentleman breaking through the cold and guarded forms prescribed by the fashion.

I was much amazed to see the same lady only five years afterwards come again to our church to be married. The same she certainly was, but still how different! Wrapped in a plain deshabille, attended by a cringing female, who bore the stamp of vulgarity in face, dress, and demeanour; her cheeks highly rouged, and the elegant modesty of her manners changed into a bold recklessness, which seemed to struggle with a sense of shame. I could scarcely believe my eyes; the widow of a nobleman would not surely have been in this degraded state. I was soon convinced of the truth of the surmise which flashed across my mind: she answered to the responses in her maiden name–she had been divorced–and the man to whom she now plighted the vow so lately broken, was he worthy of the sacrifice? I should say, no! He was, I understand, one of the wits of the day; but in person, bearing and breeding; sadly, wretchedly beneath her former lord. She seemed to feel her situation, notwithstanding all her efforts to shake off the painful recollections that would arise. I saw her press her hand once or twice upon her heart; and when her eyes glanced around, and caught those well -known objects which she had gazed upon in happier days, she heaved deep and frequent sighs. There was less of solemn earnestness about the clergyman who officiated than usual, and he seemed to hurry over the service as though the holy rite were profaned in joining guilt and shame together. But though the marriage ceremony was cut short, it had already detained this dishonoured pair too long. As they were leaving the altar the vestry-door opened, and a gay bridal party descended the steps. It was the divorced lady’s deserted husband, leading a beautiful young creature, the emblem of innocence and purity, by the hand, and surrounded by a host of friends splendidly attired. A start, and almost a scream of recognition, betrayed the emotion which the wretched woman, who had forfeited her rank in society, sustained at this unexpected and most unwished-for meeting. She had many mortifications to undergo before she could get away. During the ceremony of signing her name, several individuals made excuse to enter the vestry, in order to stare at her; while the ladies, in passing by, shrunk away as though they feared contamination; and she was obliged to walk half-way down the street, amid a line of gaping menials, before she could reach her shabby carriage, which had drawn off to make room for the coroneted coaches of the noble company in the church.

There was something I thought exceedingly strange about another wedding which took place nearly at the same period. One chariot contained the whole party, which consisted of an elderly and a young gentleman, and the bride, a very pretty girl, not more than seventeen or eighteen at the utmost. She was handsomely dressed, but in colours, and not with the precision and neatness of a bride: her clothes, though fashionable and expensive, were certainly not entirely new, bearing slight tokens of having been worn before. Neither did she show any thing like timidity or bashfulness; asking a hundred questions, as if totally ignorant of the forms and ceremonies usually observed at weddings, laughing heartily at the idea of a set of demure bride-maids, and exclaiming continually, “La! how ridiculous!” The bridegroom lounged upon the chair and benches, and said it would be a fine addition to a parson’s income, if he could unmarry the fools who were silly enough to slip into his noose; and the old gentleman listened to this idle conversation with a grieved and mortified air. The young couple, it seems, had not very long returned from a journey to Scotland, and were now re-united, to satisfy the scruples of the bride’s father; although both appeared as if they would have been as well pleased to have been left at liberty to seize the facilities offered in the North for the annulling, as well as the celebrating of contracts, too often hastily performed and speedily repented.

There was a gentleman, a sort of Blue-beard, I must call him, who, having his town-house in our parish, came five times to be married; and I observed that, in all his five wives, he seemed to make a pretty good choice, at least as far as beauty went. The first was a blooming country nymph, who, except that her hair was powdered, and she wore high-heeled shoes, might have passed, with her large curls pinned stiffly in a row, immense hat, and spreading furbelows, for a belle of the present day; and a mighty comely pair she and the ‘Squire made. The second wife was a languishing lady of quality, who, annoyed at the bridegroom’ s old-fashioned prejudice against a special license, kept her salts in her hand, said that the church smelled of dead bodies, and that she should catch some disease and die; and so she did. Then came the third, buttoned up in a riding-habit, which was an ugly fashion adopted at weddings some fifteen or twenty years ago, with a man’s hat upon her head, and a green gauze veil: her partner, then a little inclining to the shady side of life, affected the fooleries of the times, and was dressed in the very tip of the mode, She looked as though she would see him out; but he came again; and the fourth, a pale, pensive, ladylike woman, apparently far gone in a consumption, who seemed, poor thing, as though she had been crossed in love, and now married only for a maintenance, did not last long. The fifth time we had three weddings: the old gentleman and his son espoused two sisters; the former taking care to choose the younger lady, and his daughter married the uncle of her father’s bride. It was a droll exhibition; and I think that the elder Benedict would have done well to remain in his widowed state; for he appeared to have caught a Tartar at last, and would have some difficulty in carrying things with the high hand which he had done with his former wives. I have not heard of his death, but I still retain the expectation of seeing his widow.

Godey’s Lady’s Book, October 1830

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: A candid narrative from a gentleman with a front-pew seat, as we might say. He is most severe upon the ladies, which one feels is ungenerous of him and unfair to a sex put at such a disadvantage by society and the law. One does wonder why the clergy did not put a stop to marriages where there was obviously coercion.

A Consent.—A girl was forced into a disagreeable match with an old man whom she detested. When the clergyman came to that part of the service where the bride is asked if she consents to take the bridegroom for her husband, she said with great simplicity, ” Oh dear, no, sir! but you are the first person who has asked my opinion about the matter.” New-York Mirror, Volume 18, 1840

Or where fashion sowed confusion:

 A certain Macaroni bien peudre et bien frize, with a feather hat under his arm, perfumed like an Egyptian mummy, and who had all the appearance of a modern puppy, went to church with his bride, to receive the nuptial blessing, when the Parson, struck with wonder at the strange apparition, for fear of a mistake, thought proper to ask before the ceremony, which of the two was the Lady?

Spooner’s Vermont Journal [Windsor, VT]  7 April 1784: p. 3

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 Resurrection of Willie Todd: 1897



By Arthur Thompson Garrett

“WHAT! marry that insignificant nonentity? Never! Understand me, never!” and the Honorable Gregory Bismuth glared at his pretty daughter, his scant supply of gray hair standing fairly erect with indignation.

“But, papa,” answered Arabella Bismuth, the great lawyer’s only child, “Willie is a good young man; what have you against him?”

“I’ll have my foot against him the next time he comes here,” snorted the irascible father. “The idea of Arabella Bismuth, daughter of Gregory Bismuth, granddaughter of Anthony James Bismuth, great-grand—”

“Papa, papa, there is no need of you going over your ancestral tree in anti-chronological order. The question is, What is your objection to my marrying Willie Todd?”

“Objection! objection! you impudent young chit, just like your mother, though my objection is that he isn’t a man. He’s nothing but a plagiarism. I had hoped that my daughter would show more sense than to express a desire to wed a remote circumstance like William Todd;” and the lawyer departed for his office, leaving his daughter in tears.

Arabella Bismuth was a pretty girl and an heiress, two qualifications that were sufficient to make her quite a figure in the matrimonial market. She shunned, however, many seemingly advantageous opportunities to wed, and singled out young Todd as her future husband. This selection irritated her stately father exceedingly, as he was aware that Willie Todd would never set the world afire with his brilliant achievements. He had allowed the young man to come to the house, as he considered him a harmless, inoffensive dude, and had no fear of his fascinating the handsome daughter. Great was his surprise when Arabella informed him that she and Willie desired to marry (Willie could never have managed to screw his courage up to that point).

After the Hon. Gregory Bismuth’s majestic form had disappeared down the street, the object of his wrath, the effeminate Todd, emerged from a house across the way and, walking over, ascended the steps of the Bismuth mansion.

“How did he take it, Bell?” inquired the lover.

“Take it!” ejaculated Arabella. “It’s lucky for you, Willie, that you didn’t break the news, or I would probably have been a widow before being married.”

Willie shivered. “Heavens, what a narrow escape. Why, do you know, I came near bracing him yesterday!”

“It’s lucky that you didn’t, for— hide, Willie, hide; here comes papa. He has either forgotten something or seen you come in.”

“Great Scott. I hope not. Where can I hide?”

“Here, get behind this screen; I think I can keep him away from there.”

“Say, Arabella,” said Willie, as he concealed himself, “spring the subject on him again and let me see how he acts; perhaps he is only bluffing.”

“All right, but keep still; here he is.”

“With whom were you talking?” asked Mr. Bismuth as he entered the room.

“I was just talking to myself,” answered Arabella.

“Well, quit it; it’s a bad habit. Have you seen anything of my glasses?”

“No; did you forget them?”

“Oh, no, of course not,” answered her father, sarcastically. “I just simply walked back six blocks to casually inquire if you had seen them.”

“Well, I haven’t.”

“Don’t get saucy, you young minx, but help me find those confounded glasses;” and he commenced such a thorough and systematic search that Willie was sure he would be discovered. “I must have left them behind this screen, where I was reading;” and he walked over, but was stopped by Arabella, much to Willie’s relief.

“No, no, papa, they are not there, I’m sure. Look through your pockets again.”

Mr. Bismuth mechanically did as he was told, and after two or three frantic dives in different pockets he at last brought forth the missing glasses.

“Ha! ha! ha! and you had them all the time. Ha! ha! ha!” and Arabella laughed hysterically.

Her father looked at her in a puzzled way and said, “Yes, it’s very funny, but I guess I’d better send Dr. Hamline around to see you. You’re sick. Your face is flushed, and you laugh like a maniac.”

“No, I’m all right, papa, but before you go I wish you’d consent to my marrying Willie; won’t you?”

At this Mr. Bismuth boiled again. “Never, never, and when a Bismuth says never he means it. That scamp is a worthless loafer and I would take delight in paying his funeral expenses.”

“Papa, papa, do you know what you are saying?”

“Certainly I do—a Bismuth always knows what he is saying. He simply wants you for the money you will inherit, and I say he shall never have it, and a Bismuth never told a lie. I remarked a moment ago that I would delight in paying his funeral expenses, and to be true to not only the reputation of myself, but my ancestors, I will keep my word. That is all the money he will ever wring from the coffers of the house of Bismuth;” and the great attorney started for his office, after again assuring himself that his glasses were safely in his pocket.

“Whew,” remarked Willie, as he emerged from his hiding-place, “he seems to have it in for me in earnest, doesn’t he, Bell?”

“Yes, Willie, I am afraid we can never win him over.”

“Well, let’s elope.”


“Yes, certainly. Ain’t that what all lovers do? Let’s go away and get married, and then when it all blows over we can come back. Your father will cool down by that time and be ready to fall on my neck with tears of forgiveness.”

“Yes, Willie, he would fall on your neck quickly enough, but don’t put too much faith in the tears of forgiveness. That isn’t what he would fall with. Besides, Willie Todd, how much money have you right now?”

Willie began a diligent search and managed to show up thirty-seven cents and a pawn ticket for his overcoat.

“That looks like eloping, doesn’t it? Papa never allows me any money, and I wouldn’t part with my jewelry. No, Willie, we can’t elope on credit.”

But Willie did not answer for a few minutes; he was lost in thought. “Say, Bell,” he said, finally, “if I’ll raise money enough to pay the expenses of a first-class elopement, will you go, and take the chances of ultimate forgiveness?”

After a moment’s deliberation Arabella said, “I will.”

“All right, then, your father shall bear the expense.”

“My father? You must be crazy, Willie.”

“No, I’m not. He never breaks his word, does he?”


“He said he’d pay my funeral expenses, didn’t he?”


“Well, I’m going to die.”


“That’s what I said, and my lifeless body shall be placed in the cold and silent tomb, at the expense of your father, and I rely on you to make him come down handsomely.”

“Well, I must say that I cannot see through this; I’m not going to marry a corpse .”

“Oh, I don’t mean to really die. I’ve a friend that is a mesmerist, and I’ll have him put me in a trance. My cousin will be the undertaker. After the funeral they will dig me up, and then we can go on our wedding-tour with the funeral money. Great scheme, isn’t it?”

“That doesn’t sound very reasonable, Willie. Suppose something should happen to this mesmerist while you are in the ground, or that papa should hire another undertaker, or that the cemetery authorities should keep too close a watch, and prevent them from digging you up?”

“Oh, well, we’ve got to take some risks, but there isn’t much danger. I could live a month in that state. The only hitch is that you could not act the mourner in a natural way.”

“Yes, I can. I’ll put an onion in my handkerchief. I can be mournful enough then, for I abhor onions.”

“Well, good-by, then, for the present. I guess I’ll die to-night; there’s no time like the present, and, say, don’t forget to remind your father that I must have a handsome funeral. Broadcloth suit, very expensive coffin, and get a diamond ring, if you can;” and the blithe young man, so soon to be laid to rest, departed to find his friend the mesmerist.

That same evening, true to his word, Willie Todd, by the aid of Professor Drummond, lay on his bed, to all appearances a corpse. His cousin, the undertaker, having been engaged in the afternoon, soon made his appearance. He was to furnish all the requisites of a first-class funeral, the same to be returned to him in good order.

Arabella and her father were reading when the messenger arrived with the sad tidings. The lawyer was afflicted with catarrh, or he certainly would have detected the odor of onion in the room. When the news was gently broken, Arabella’s handkerchief flew to her face to produce the necessary tears.

“Well,” remarked the lawyer, “so he’s dead, is he? Most sensible thing he’s ever done;” and he resumed his reading.

“Papa, p-p-papa,” sobbed Arabella, “have you no feelings at all?” and the tears rolled down her cheeks. The onion was doing its work grandly.

“Certainly I have feelings; a Bismuth always has feeling, but I see no reason why I should be bowed down with grief. I’ll give him a grand funeral. A Bismuth never broke his word.”

“Will you b-b-buy him a new s-s-suit of broadcloth to be b-b-buried in?”


“And a three-hundred-dollar coffin?”


“And a diamond ring?”

Mr. Bismuth straightened up. “A diamond ring! What in Heaven’s name does a dead man want with a diamond ring? There are no pawn-shops in the other world.”

“Willie al-al-always admired diamonds s-s-so,” sobbed Arabella, “and you said you’d spare no expense.”

“All right; I’m getting out of it cheaply, anyway.”

Mr. Bismuth was truly liberal with that funeral. The cousin stayed with the body until Arabella and her father arrived, fearing another undertaker might be engaged. The doctor who examined the body gave a certificate of death from heart disease, a handy way of saying he didn’t know what was the matter. He mentioned a post-mortem examination, but the mesmerist, Arabella, and the undertaker strenuously objected. It might prove embarrassing, they thought, for Willie to come out of his trance with his internal mechanism disarranged, so the doctor was dissuaded and the heart-disease certificate was granted.

Willie’s cousin, the undertaker , said he had often heard the young man express a desire to be buried beneath a certain willow-tree that shaded a sparkling brook. Mr. Bismuth assented to this, although he remarked that he didn’t believe the deceased could now distinguish a sparkling brook from one of the common kind, but that it was Willie’s funeral and to carry it out any way to suit him. Clothed in his new broadcloth, his diamond ring sparkling in the light, the young man was placed in the most expensive coffin his cousin’s establishment afforded, and the funeral party set out for the weeping willow by the sparkling brook. At the grave the undertaker made a serious blunder when his assistant accidentally let his end of the box that held the coffin fall to the ground.

“Confound you, Bill, be careful; that coffin is worth $300 in cold cash, and I don’t want it scarred.”

“What if you don’t?” roared Bismuth in a tone of voice not usually heard at a funeral. “Whose coffin is that? I’m paying for that coffin, and it don’t make a cent’s difference to you whether it’s scarred or not.”

The undertaker stammered some un-intelligible reply, Arabella turned her face away, and the mesmerist grated his teeth. The interment was soon over, and Mr. Bismuth with his daughter started for home, after giving the undertaker a check for $500.

That night, after Arabella had retired, she thought she would see if her father’s heart had been softened any; so she arose, and went down-stairs, where he was reading.

“Papa,” she said, “I had a dream.”

“Too much supper,” commented her father, without looking up.

“No, papa, I dreamed that Willie came back from the grave; that he had been buried alive and was rescued.”

The old man glanced up from his book, and looked at his daughter sternly. “If he does an ungrateful trick like that after the expense he’s been to me, I’ll send him to the penitentiary for obtaining his coffin by false pretence. You’d better go back to bed and dream again;” and he resumed his book.

Arabella sighed and returned to her room. She was about to retire again, when she heard the signal agreed upon for their elopement. Hastily dressing, and picking up a few articles she wished to take, she noiselessly emerged from the house, unobserved by her father.

“Willie, you didn’t intend for us to leave to-night, did you?”

“Yes, the sooner the better. You see, everybody in this neighborhood thinks I’m dead, and I don’t want to be seen. I’ve got over four hundred dollars, and we can have a grand wedding-trip before we come home to be forgiven.”

“I don’t know about that,” rejoined Arabella, dubiously. “Papa didn’t seem a bit softened by your untimely death.”

“Oh, he’ll come around all right; they all do. We’ll write him an explanatory letter after we are safely married, and he won’t be long in extending his blessing. Come, now, and we can catch a train in a few minutes.”

The lovers stealthily made their way from the Bismuth grounds and were soon at the depot, where Willie purchased two tickets to a neighboring city. The next morning they were married, and started on a wedding-tour that made the $400 dwindle rapidly. The diamond ring was sacrificed, and then Arabella thought it was about time to write to papa.

“You write to him, Willie.”

“No, Arabella, my dear, it is your place to write. You know him better than I, and you can explain things in a more satisfactory way.”

So Arabella penned the following:


Doubtless you were surprised at my disappearing, but I know you will forgive your little daughter. Willie was not dead; it was a case of suspended animation. He was rescued, and signalled me to come down into the yard. I was terribly frightened, but he explained, and persuaded me to elope. We are nearly out of money, papa, and want you to forgive us. Write soon, and send us a check—that’s a dear —and we will soon be with you.

Your loving daughter, ARABELLA TODD.

They anxiously awaited a reply. At every whistle of the postman Willie would turn pale, and Arabella would get nervous. At last the expected missive arrived, and, eagerly tearing open the envelope, Arabella unfolded the sheet of paper and read:


Yours of recent date at hand, and in reply will say that I absolutely and unequivocally refuse to have any dealings with a dead person. Mr. William Todd is dead. I saw him in his coffin, and, what is more convincing still, I have a receipt in full for his funeral expenses. Any female marrying into a foreign country, according to recognized international law, becomes a citizen of that country. If you have married the said deceased William Todd, then you are also dead. No Bismuth, ever, as near as I can learn, had any dealings with ghosts, and I trust that you and your husband, the late William Todd, will trouble me no more.

Your bereaved father, GREGORY BISMUTH.

Handing the letter to her husband, Arabella said, “I thought so. Read it.”

Willie perused the epistle, and it dropped from his nerveless fingers and floated to the floor. They looked into each other’s eyes for a moment, and then Arabella remarked:

“It’s no use, Willie; you’ll have to go to work.”

Godey’s Lady’s Book [Philadelphia, PA] May 1897

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  The memorably-named Arabella Bismuth seems to have seriously over-estimated her Papa’s capacity for extending the parental blessing.  Willie Todd should have considered himself fortunate that the Hon. Gregory Bismuth did not bribe the undertaker to keep him underground until really and truly deceased.  For such a harmless, inoffensive dude there seems only one course of action: he must go on the road with Professor Drummond the mesmerist, doing the “buried alive” stunt, so popular with pseudo-Indian fakirs, who went about the United States, mesmerising attractive young ladies and “professional corpses.” One suspects that Willie Todd would be the ideal professional corpse.

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 Marriage Mill of Manhattan: 1905

 Manhattan alderman marrying2THE MARRIAGE MILL OF MANHATTAN

By Nina Carter Marbourg

Illustrated with special photographs

There is a veritable Marriage Mill in New York. Spend a morning in it and then if you can, say that there is no romance in this prosaic world. In this mill the God of Love is not overburdened with care concerning the quality of his grinding, nor is he at all deliberate in the process.

When I stepped from the bright sunlight of City Hall Park, into the gloom of a long corridor that runs through the basement of the City Hall, I suddenly and quite unexpectedly collided with a group of men and women. Naturally I begged pardon, and asked where I could find the Marriage Bureau.

“It’s right here,” in a thin voice and accompanied by a series of suppressed giggles came from a girl near the wall. I started toward the door, when the same voice called out: “It is too early, lady, the door isn’t open yet. Yes we are waiting to get married,” she added amiably. “Been here this half hour. We’ve got to hurry too or put it off until noon, because if—if we are late at the office we’ll lose our jobs.”

Waiting for the opening of the marriage mill.

Waiting for the opening of the marriage mill.

Astonishing and unique it did seem to find young people making this plunge into the maelstrom of the marital sea in such a matter-of-fact way, just as though it were an every-day occurrence, and something that might be deferred until tomorrow without making much difference to either of them.

“You don’t mean to say that you will be married this morning and then go to your office and enjoy no honeymoon, do you?”

“Um—!” the bridegroom-elect rejoined this time, “and later on our vacations come at the same time so we are going away then. We’d have been married last week, only we couldn’t get a chance, one of us was working all of the time—. But…”

At this period of the interesting explanation a man came down the corridor. He cast a glance at the waiting couples, nodded, grinned, placed a key in the lock, turned it and announced: “Business begun for the day. Step in all youse who are in love and want to be married.”

The two young couples needed no urging, and the conductor of the marriage mill surveyed them critically as they filed to the chairs against the wall.


The chamber of ceremony is not over prepossessing. The ceiling is very low; an ordinary flat-topped desk stands at the back of the room; in front of it and around the sides of the wall are ranged a single row of chairs ; a smaller desk completes the furnishings. The supervisor waved the young people to the seats and without taking further notice of them proceeded to dust the desk. Presently he looked up, very much as though his grey matter had begun work.

“In a hurry?” he managed to say out of the side of his mouth, as he chewed a piece of gum.

“Yes, sir,” from the more courageous bridegroom.

“How much is it worth?” he paused a moment in his dusting and looked speculatively at the young people.

“Why, I’ll give you a dollar,” volunteered one of the men.

“So will I,” chimed in the other.

“Well “considered the keeper of the Mill, continuing his dusting, and, judging from the furrows between his brows, thinking deeply.

“Well?” queried the more audacious of the two men.

“Say,” ejaculated Mike, fixing the young people with his eyes, “Say did any of youse ‘lope?”

Indignation in all its righteousness arose; the four young people stood up as though they were mechanical dolls and the spring had been touched.

“Well! Well! That’s all right. Don’t get huffy about it. Stick to yer perches an’ I’ll see if I can hustle an Alderman fer youse. A dollar a piece you said? All right. Hi, Jerrey, pike down the shoot an’ hustle the Alderman. See? Git!”

During this performance the young people, having regained their respective chairs, sat staring at each other in blank amazement, but soon this dazed condition of their minds wore off and they looked rather sheepish.

The young man who entertained apprehensions concerning the safety of his “job” looked at his watch. His bride-to-be whispered at him. For an instant he gazed blankly at the floor and then, man fashion, answered in a distinctly audible tone:

“Yes, and we’ll get a new table for the dining-room and lace curtains bye-and-bye.”

The girl blushed as red as an American Beauty rose, and the young woman on the opposite side of the pillar giggled.

All five of us straightened perceptibly as a sharp, quick step neared the door; then the Alderman, that all-important Mr. Leopold Harburger of this morning’s romances, came in, tossed his hat on the desk, pulled off his gloves, and remarked as he did so: “Now, young people, if you are in as much of a hurry as I am, we’ve no time to lose. Who is first?”

“We are, sir,” returned the prospective purchaser of the new “table for the dining room and lace curtains bye-and-bye.”

“All right, step up; what’s your name?” said the Alderman without pause or break in his sentence.

”Henry Roth.”

‘”The lady’s?”

“Margaret Dean.”

“Your age?”





“New York, and so was she,” he added wishing to hurry matters and evidently thinking of his “job” the whole.

“Now, then, where are your witnesses?”

“Haven’t any.”

“Well, then, you two young people back there step up here, take the witness places and be sworn.”

The other couple did as the Alderman desired and presently the Master of Ceremonies was rattling on in his rapid-fire manner: “Bride and groom join hands. Henry Roth, do you take this woman, Margaret Dean, to be your lawful and wedded wife?”


“Margaret Dean, do you take this man Henry Roth to be your lawful and wedded husband, and do you promise to love, honor and obey him as long as you remain his wife?”


“Well, then, Henry Roth kiss your wife, Mrs. Henry Roth, and go back to your homes and be happy all the rest of your days; there you two stand back and play witnesses for these other young people as they have done for you; it will take you only a minute and as I am in a hurry you will accommodate me as much by doing this as I have by getting you two married and if you owe the keeper of this marriage bureau anything pay it before you go though there is no charge for anything down here.”

a world of advice to the young couple2

I drew a deep, long breath as Alderman Harburger completed this utterly unpunctuated list of instructions. It seemed as though his lung power must be exhausted, but before I had time to draw another breath he was off at the same mile-a-minute pace.


Within twenty minutes four people had been made two, everything was done up in proper shape, the certificates were ready, and the big red seal was placed on them. Then the young man paid the keeper of the Mill his little fee and in a second more had left the room.

“There,” said the Alderman as they disappeared, “I’ve done my duty by them. Now I’m going over to my office. I’ll be back by half-past ten. If others come, hold ’em or get another Alderman.” So saying, he picked up his hat and was off.

The superintendent once more regained his feather duster, not that anything needed dusting, but it was a habit with him. We were left alone in this strange Cupid’s Court. Resting his weight on one foot and flourishing the duster at intervals, he remarked: “You see, it’s this way. These young folks have no people in town, so they don’t have church weddin’s; they just come here, an’ we ties the knot fer ’em. Then there’s folks what ‘lope. Sometimes you can spot ’em, because they look so scared, but now and then they gets away. After them comes older folks what takes marriage just as indifferent like as they do anything else in life. They come here ’cause it’s like going ‘jest round the corner’ and there ain’t no fuss and feathers.” Here he dabbed at the chair as though he were making a body thrust at some hated enemy, and after a pause remarked in subtle, deep-meaning tones: “Last of all there’s them [ethnic slur.] S’pose you call ’em Italians. They are the worst ever. Why, they come here morning, noon and night, and—hello, there’s some now. Want to get hitched? All right, come in here.”

He motioned them to chairs with a grand sweep of his feathered scepter.

The party in hand was a queer one. It was comprised of the young Italian, his sweetheart, her father and mother. They were decked in holiday day regalia, all the colors of the rainbow could be found in the dresses of the women, and brilliant purple and red neckties threw the deep bronzed features of the men into fine relief.

Every Italian in America must be married twice. The man of Little Italy is married in his Church. To our authorities this means nothing, so a civil marriage is necessary. To the Italians a civil marriage means no marriage whatsoever, for this reason there is a double wedding.

The party from Little Italy sat staring in wide-eyed astonishment at the King of the chamber, the little bride-to-be tugged at her husband’s homespun coat sleeve.

“Say—where we find marrying man. Here? Yes?”

He of the homespun nodded, but the little woman was not yet content.

“S—ay, when, now?”

Again he nodded.

By this time two more couples had come to have the knot tied for them. They represented the up-town young people, a homey, comfortable sort. You perceived instantly that they were not strangers to Broadway, still they were not of the theatrical type, but a couple of young people who had succeeded in reaching the happy medium of existence. Being of such a class they sat down for a comfortable chat and a wait for the Alderman. To them, a wait of half an hour or so didn’t matter much; they could find plenty to interest them.

Suddenly there was a rustle of skirts in the corridor, a quick step, a flutter at the door, and a young man quite breathless, demanded: “Where’s the man who ties the knots?”

“He’ll be here after while,” slowly answered the attendant from behind his morning paper, wholly unmoved by this sudden entrance.

“Say, I’ll give you five dollars if you’ll get him here in as many minutes.

“Whew!” whispered Mike, and in an instant he had darted from the room.

He had forgotten to ask whether or not they had eloped; it did not seem to matter to him what they had done. The young girl was all of a flurry, and they sat down near the very much sophisticated young couple. The flurried young woman held her hand to her heart a moment, and the girl in the next seat passed her vinaigrette.

“Oh, thank you ever so much. You see we hurried and—and I’m a little out of breath and…”

“Why, child,” remarked the young woman of the vinaigrette, “you are as white as a ghost, now for heaven’s sake don’t faint, because if you do you’ll probably spoil it all. You see when you’ve had enough courage to elope—there, there, I can read it in your face, you’ve eloped all right enough—and as I was about to say, when you’ve had enough courage to do that you don’t want to ruin things at the very end. There now— here comes the Alderman and everything will be all right. Courage,” she whispered, as she patted the back of the small, well-gloved hand.

The timid girl smiled her thanks, and in a more breathless manner than usual the marriage ceremony was read. The young men exchanged cards and the newly-married pair were out of the marriage bureau door before you could comfortably say Jack Robinson.

The Alderman was just calling the second couple when the door burst open and a very red faced, irate little man raised on tip toe, and shouted: “Where are they?”

“Oh,” remarked the Alderman,” so they did elope after all. I thought so, for the fee was unusually big. Well, they have been gone some twenty minutes, and they said they were going to catch a train.”

“They did, did they?” shouted the little man, “What train where?”

“I don’t know,” said the Alderman, “But I’d advise you to telegraph their description.”

“Oh, it’s a shame. It’s a shame. I’ll forgive them, but I wanted to give them a fine wedding, and only said ‘No’ because I wanted the pleasure of being asked over again. So, they’ve stolen the march on me, the young rascals! Well, that makes me love ’em more than ever,” he completed, as he handed the Alderman a bill for no other reason than that his ill temper had turned to joy, and that smiles superseded the frowns.

“Now, I’m going to telegraph for them, and when I find them we’ll have to celebrate. Good-bye, thank you.”

“Good-bye,” responded the Alderman, “and good luck.” Then turning to the other American couple he remarked: “Queer old codger, isn’t he? Now, what on earth did he thank me for? Well, no time to lose, suppose you want to be made miserable, too?” jocosely smiled the marrying man.

“No, rather happy. But, say, won’t you do me a favor? Read that marriage ceremony in a way that we may understand what we are doing, for goodness sakes don’t make us say ‘yes’ to a lot of things we don’t intend to do.”

“All right,” laughed this good-natured Alderman. “Now, ready? We’re off,” and he read the ceremony in a more decorous manner than previously.

Presently these young folks were married and sauntered out of the Court, but before going, the bridegroom exchanged such a good, well-relished kiss with his bride that it made everybody feel particularly glad that this comfortable young pair had come to the Mill.

manhattan marriage mill2

The two Italians were next taken in hand. They could speak but little English and understand less. The marriage ceremony was read rapidly and when the Alderman came to the question: “Do you take this woman, etc.,” our friend of the feather duster nodded violently at the man and then the man nodded; the same performance was repeated when the question was addressed to the woman. So the ceremony was accomplished, the certificate was handed to the group, he turned it over and contemplated the big red seal. Presently he went to the table in the corner where the superintendent was sitting.

“Red spot,” he said pointing to the seal. “Two?”

“No, that’s all right.”


“No, one’s enough. You’re married now.”

“No. Two red spots.”

“Now, see here,” jerked out the keeper of seals, “you go on back to Little Italy, and be happy. You’re married fast enough, and one seal’ll hold the knot as tight as you want it to be tied. Most folks are willing to do with half a seal. So long.”

He waved the man imperiously aside. In all probability the Italian did not understand a word said to him, but so long was the sentence and in such a gattling-gun rapid-fire manner was it delivered that he picked up his hat and catching his little bride by the hand bolted out of the door, followed by the mother and father.

Sometimes there are as many as twenty or twenty-five marriages ground out in this mill a day. Sometimes it is very dull. There is always an Alderman on the tapis, and at a moment’s notice he will appear and say the word. Alderman Leopold Harburger holds the record for making the greatest number of marriages in the city. He is familiarly known as the “marrying Alderman” and well has he earned his title.

Any one who wants to may visit the Marriage Mill. All he has to do is to go to City Hall and inquire for the place. You may be stared at by the man of whom you inquire your way, but that need not trouble you, for down in City Hall they have a way of staring at one if one only asks where the Mayor’s office is.

The Hampton Magazine, Volume 14, 1905

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil is surprised that the “little man” took the elopement with such equanimity. The bereft Papas in the story of The Elopement Bureau displayed much more temper.

The Italians are particularly mentioned because a large wave of emigration from Eastern Europe and Italy had swept the United States at the turn of the 19th century. Many had not yet assimilated into the American mould; hence the careless ethnic slur and remarks on the Italians’ multi-coloured clothing and imperfect command of English and of American customs. Several decades earlier the same charges had been levelled against Irish immigrants to the States (with the exception of the multi-coloured clothing) and with additional accusations of criminality, drunkenness, and humorous dialect stories. The fabled Melting Pot of America has seemed, at times, perhaps more like an Automat.

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.


An Ectoplasmic Elopement: 1898

(c) Brighton and Hove Museums and Art Galleries; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Cavalier with a Mandoline, Bernard Louis Barione (c) Brighton and Hove Museums and Art Galleries; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

June being the bridal month, Mrs Daffodil thought that she would pair with the story of Mlle Bob Walter’s “Elopement Bureau,”  another runaway couple—this time of the spectral sort.


The Story of the Mysterious Disappearance of Two Ghosts.

The Penorwood girls picked up their ghost in Italy. It was certainly a little lonesome for any ghost to inhabit a ruined and decaying palace with no living soul to haunt from year’s end to year’s end, and when the three rosy-cheeked girls, healthy and independent, took a fancy to the old place and “camped out” there for a week, as they expressed it, the ghost was delighted and worked overtime with clanking chains and shrieks and dismal moans and all that.

The Penorwood girls not having an unruly nerve among them, were also delighted and lost no time in looking up the ghost’s history. It was a young lady ghost they found, and a beautiful story. Forbidden attachment, stern father, coat of arms, rapiers, and dungeons and everything there ought to be. Oh, it was simply perfect; so night after night they listened to the ghost and wished they might have it for their very own.

To say that the ghost was gratified is putting it mildly. And one could not help liking the Penorwood girls, so when their week was up and they made a beeline for Germany, the ghost went along. It brought, it is true, dismay to the hearts of hysterical ladies and otherwise phlegmatic men in many a hostelry, but as no one ever dreamed of connecting it with the robust Penorwood girls, those young ladies enjoyed the matter hugely. To be sure, there was the question as to how the ghost would carry herself in the old family house in Kentucky, but that was a long way off.

It was by the side of Lake Teuffelwasser that they settled next. There was an old Baronial castle there which they rented for a song, full of delightful passages and leaks and draughts, and with a real moat around it. Besides all that, there was a legend.

Out upon the little lake, it was said, a ghostly cavalier sometimes appeared on moonlight nights, floating in a ghostly bark and playing upon a ghostly guitar. That decided the matter, and they took the castle for the rest of their stay in Germany

The young lady ghost got to work beautifully the very first night, and seemed perfectly at home, clanking from the lowest dungeons to the top of the winding stairway that led to the little room at the top of the tower overlooking the water.

One night the moon shone brightly, a faint sweet tinkling was heard out over the water, then the Penorwood girls clapped their hands in ecstasy. The cavalier was on duty. At that moment their own ghost was happily climbing the winding stairway in the tower, but in a little while she had reached the top and was silent.

The tinkling music came nearer, until it seemed right under the castle walls, where it played until 12 o’clock. Looking out, the girls could see it standing erect in its filmy boat, its eyes upturned to the tower window, playing sweet songs of sentiment, until as their little ormolu clock chimed the hour it suddenly disappeared.

There was a little clank and a long-drawn sigh from the tower room, and all was silent.

Every night after that the Penorwood girl’s ghost clanked up the tower stairway and the cavalier came beneath their walls at 10 o’clock and gave a concert until 12.

“Funny, isn’t it?” suggested one of the girls, “that both ghosts won’t work at once?”

But they little suspected the truth—the truth that should have been foreseen by a young lady especially—until one night there was no clank nor any serenade.

They had almost given up in despair, when one clear night they chanced to be looking out on the lake and saw the dainty white boat gliding by, carrying their cavalier—and another—and their maidenly hearts were happy for the two ghosts had eloped. And what was the use of clanking chains and tinkling guitars now?

Cincinnati [OH] Enquirer 20 November 1898: p. 18

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Mrs Daffodil assumed that the Penorwood girls of Kentucky, so enchanted by the clanking maiden and the tinkling cavalier, were echoes of the fearless Otis family of “The Canterville Ghost.”  However, that amusing work by Mr Wilde was not published until 1906. Perhaps Mr Wilde took the Cincinnati papers and was inspired by this flight of fancy.

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 Elopement Bureau: 1908

A party of bridegrooms who have eloped in the “Cupid” paying their respects to the car.

A party of bridegrooms who have eloped in the “Cupid” paying their respects to the car.


A Bureau of Elopement Operated by a French Woman.

There has been a regular epidemic of mysterious elopements in Paris during the past six months. Every guard which stern parents have put about their infatuated daughters has been broken down and piff! In a twinkling loving couples have been whisked away to conjugal happiness, carried off apparently on the wings of Cupid.

Indeed, Cupid has played a most practical and effective part in these runaway marriages, but it is a Cupid of rubber tires, shining wheels, and powerful motor power, it’s a Cupid with the speed of Mercury—in short, it is the latest make of racing automobile.

This speeding car has become as well known in France as in the Little Church Around the Corner in this country.

For a long while all that could be wrested from runaway couples was the statement that they had been married in the “Cupid Car.” What the Cupid Car was or where it was to be found they declined to reveal to any but those whose hearts were torn by “the cruelty of opposing parents.”

Somehow the secret leaked out, as even the deepest mysteries will in time, and lo, there is in Paris, a perfectly equipped elopement bureau with a polished and charming Parisienne in charge—a regular fairy godmother she is to the elopers—and her splendid garage is a much sought port in the rough ocean of true love.


This elegant garage is a regular Jekyll and Hyde establishment, for besides providing means of escape to young couples it also supplies enraged parents with high speed cars in which to follow. But these latter lack a few horse power of the speed of the former, and—but that is a long story and must be told briefly in tis proper place, after the tale of the Cupid.

Mlle. Bob Walters, who Keeps the Elopement Office.

Mlle. Bob Walters, who Keeps the Elopement Office.

Mlle. Bob Walters is known in Paris as the owner of one of the finest garages in the French capital, and many races have been won by her machines.

She will show you frankly every nook and corner of her establishment, and then as soon as your back is turned will press a button, glide through a hole in the wall and gesticulate wildly to a frightened couple awaiting her. She has just allayed the suspicions of an irate parent, and is now ready to send the lover son the road to the Mayor.

Behind this sliding panel there is a powerful touring car—a perfect beauty, always in the pink of condition, and ready to start on the wildest race over the hardest roads at a moment’s notice—it is the “Cupid.”

All about this car are suitcases, small trunks, parasols, umbrellas, heavy boots, dainty shoes, rain-coats and top-coats, caps and travelling hats, closets containing fine lingerie and boxes filled with every imaginable kind of accessories, filmy veils, powder-puffs, bottles of perfume, boxes of sachets, and even little packages of beauty patches.

In an adjoining room there is every facility for putting up a hasty lunch, and here there are guide-books and time-tables, hotel directories and road-maps. In short, nothing has been forgotten by Mile. Bob, as she is called, which would add to the comfort of the couples who come to her for aid in their love affairs.

Sometimes she receives word weeks ahead that her Cupid will be desired on such and such a date, then the matter of wardrobe, route, etc., can all be attended to with leisure, but more frequently the couples run into her garage, breathless and incoherently plead for speedy first aid. Then all Mademoiselle’s ingenuity is roused, and she soothes, assures and plans as she gives orders and bustles about fitting out the bride with finery which hasty flight has obliged her to leave behind. She has the route laid out, the honeymoon planned, a telegram sent to the mayor or parson, rooms at a distant hotel secured, a substantial lunch packed, Cupid run out, Jacques, the chauffeur, equipped, a dainty maid to act as necessary witness instructed, and all four packed into the double-seated car, with the luggage in the tonneau and honk, honk and another elopement is on!

After about an hour’s respite mademoiselle’s services may be again called for —this time in the outer garage. Monsieur, very red of face, very damp of brow, and very fierce of temper, dashes into the garage so innocently famous for its speedy motor carriages, and excitedly implores mademoiselle to bring out her best car and put her cleverest chauffeur at the wheel. Mademoiselle is all solicitude; she hopes that monsieur has not had bad news. She prays that her car may be of assistance, and little by little, as she again gives orders and bustles about, she learns the father’s side of the elopement story.

She may not willfully lead him astray as to the road to take; indeed, she earnestly asserts that she often helps a little—not enough to cause trouble—in this direction. And who can blame her if Cupid is many horse-power superior to any other car in her garage, or if the lovers have a full two hours’ start of “papa “? Surely not the eloping couple. And so her business grows. Cupid is constantly changing his colour and his number. Even his trimmings are renewed about once a fortnight, so that although Mlle. Bob’s garage is famous throughout Paris among sportsmen, and has a fame of a different order among a number of happily-married young people, as yet the Cupid has not been “spotted.” To have the car become familiar would be to materially injure the value of this strange elopement office. Mlle. is growing so rich in worldly goods that she anticipates the day when she can equip the Cupid and launch matrimonial barks without thought of material compensation.

The Strand Magazine, Vol. 35, 1908

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Elopements were not always the sole purview of a dewy-eyed maiden and her handsome, yet impoverished suitor, formerly a clerk in Papa’s office or a coachman in his stable. Those in the bonds of matrimony also slipped the “old ball and chain,” as a spouse is sometimes quaintly called.

Happy Man Wants Wife to Stay Eloped; Tells People Other Fellow Was Stung.

Wilkesbarre, Pa., June 4. Wearing a sheepish grin, George H. Charles, who said he lived in Scranton, walked into the police station here to-night and said he was looking around for his wife, who he thought had eloped with a neighbor.

“You might ask your men to watch out for them,” he said to the sergeant in charge.

“Sure we will,” replied the sergeant, reaching for his book. “What does she look like?”

“She don’t look like anything I can think of right now,” said Charles. “She is five feet, eleven inches tall and weighs 100 pounds. There are two teeth out in front, but that don’t bother her much. She squints in her left eye and the right is a kind of a dark purple shade as a result of a little argument in our family. The little hair of her own and all that she has bought is a carroty red. I might say that up to the present she has never won any beauty prizes.

“All right,” said the sergeant. “We will arrest her if we see her, but why do you want her back?”

“Want her back! I don’t want her back, and I don’t want her arrested. I have been trying for five years to wish her onto someone and now that she has gone, I want her to stay. Tell your men if they see her to say that I have reported the elopement and that may frighten them so they will go so far away they can’t get back. I certainly hope she will stay eloped. That fellow who ran away with her sure was stung.” The Weekly Messenger [St. Martinsville, LA] 17 June 1911: p. 4

Mlle. Bob Walter (this seems to be the correct spelling) was also a danseuse in the vein of Loïe Fuller and famous for her “serpentine dance,” among her other  startling achievements as a lion tamer and racing-car driver. This piece, which includes more photographs, gives an admirable summary of what is known about the lady.

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.