Tag Archives: Paris

A Yankee Girl’s Pluck: 1883

woman whipping man lydia thompson horsewhipping editor

A YANKEE GIRL’S PLUCK.

She Horsewhipped a Member of the Legion of Honor in Paris.

I recently heard of an action on the part of a young American girl toward a French woman insulter which has filled my soul with admiration and delight. The young lady in question, who is a refined, modest, and high-bred young girl, is staying with some members of her family at one of the prominent hotels on the Avenue l’Opera. As her dress and manners are alike unobtrusive, she has never hesitated to go out alone whenever business or inclination impelled her to do to. One would fancy on that wide, brilliant avenue, in broad daylight, a quiet, modest young lady, in the city deemed the center of the world’s civilization, would be perfectly safe from annoyance or molestation of any kind. Such was not the case. For a few weeks past, whenever she ventured out alone, she was followed and accosted by a stylishly-dressed individual about forty-five years old, wearing the red ribbon of the Legion of Honor in his button-hole. This person would not only follow her, but would address her in language of the fulsome complimentary style, would thrust his face under her bonnet, would go a few steps in front of her, and would then look back and leer at her, and, in fact, he conducted himself in the manner that a well-bred Parisian gentleman usually considers proper to assume when he meets an unprotected young girl. This went on for some time to the infinite annoyance of the young lady. Her tormentor never made his appearance when her brother was with her, or when there was a policeman within hailing distance–on these occasions he kept discreetly out of the way.

Finally, the other day the affair came to a climax. The young lady was returning to her hotel about three o’clock in the afternoon, when her persecutor made his appearance, and began tormenting her as usual. The hunted girl, worried, wearied and exasperated, was at last wrought up to the highest pitch of indignation and nervous excitement. Chancing to pass a cab stand, by a sudden impulse she snatched one of the driver’s whips from its socket, and turning on her tormentor she cut him sharply across the face with the lash. Being taken by surprise he started back and dropped his hat. As he stooped to pick it up she followed up her advantage, raining blow after blow upon his head and shoulders, so stunning and bewildering him that he was some time in recovering his lost headgear, every moment of which she employed to the best advantage. At last, catching his rescued hat, he fled from the scene as fast as his legs could carry him, followed by the laughter and jeers of the whole line of cabmen, who heartily sympathized with the brave young heroine of the scene. And so one of the woman-insulters of Paris has at last met with his deserts, and at the hands of an American girl. I feel inclined to cry with the jolly old cabman, when he received back his useful whip: “Bravo, Mademoiselle. That was well done.”

The Cincinnati [OH] Enquirer 5 May 1883: p. 12

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Well. So much for honneur… It is rather startling to see, in 1883, the notion (so frequently voiced in modern times) that it is only the young woman’s refinement, modesty, dress, and manners that protect her from persecution by women-insulters and that unprotected status, “fast” dress and demeanour invites such bounders.  The idea, of course, probably goes back millennia: “You’re not going out in >that< kalasiris, young lady!” Mrs Daffodil does not usually advocate public violence, but applauds the young woman for her decisive action.

The horse-whip seems to have been the weapon of choice for ladies dealing with mashers. Although more difficult to conceal than a derringer, it could readily be borrowed and seemed to drive home the point without involving the police.

Why She Horsewhipped Him.

The confidence of a young woman in love is something that ought to be treated with great tenderness. A wicked young man of Bethlehem, Pa., evidently didn’t understand this, or he had no concern about it, for he did the most shameful thing the other day. He borrowed a dollar of his girl, bought a couple of tickets for the show with it, and took another girl. This outrageous conduct was discovered while the entertainment was in progress, and naturally created a good deal of excitement in the mind of the young woman whose dollar had gone to furnish an evening’s diversion for another. She undertook to get even by meeting the couple after the show was over, and exerted herself as well as possible to give the young man a whipping on the sidewalk. She succeeded so well she is very confident he won’t want to borrow any more of her money to take other girls to shows. The moral of this is that impecunious young men who must take their girls out had better try and raise the essential funds at an impartial pawn-shop.

The Benton Weekly Record [Fort Benton MT] 9 April 1880: p. 1

 

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.

 

“She looks most like Mother:” 1868

the feast of the bean king twelfth night

The Feast of the Bean King (Twelfth Night), Jacob Jordaens, 1640-45 https://www.google.com/culturalinstitute/beta/asset/the-feast-of-the-bean-king/MwEBgGg74T1f2g

A Story from Paris

A Paris letter tells us the following story of a Twelfth Night fete in that city:

A wealthy family in the aristocratic Boulevard Malesherbes were amusing themselves in seeking the king’s portion, or the ring in the festal cake, when a lady of the company says to the hostess:

“I wish my portion to be given to the poorest little boy we can find in the street.”

The servant was dispatched on this cold night, and not far from the house he found a ragged urchin trembling with cold and hunger. He brought him up, was ordered into the saloon, where a thousand lights glittered and sparkling fire gladdened and surprised him. As he drew his portion which the benevolent lady had promised; and as luck would have it, the little fellow found the ring, and, of course, he was king. They all shouted out, that being king must choose a queen. He was asked so to do, and, looking around the company, he chose the very lady who had proposed to cede her portion of the cake. He was asked why he chose her. He said: “I don’t know; she looks most like mother!”

“Whose mother?”

“My mother! I never knew her, but was stolen away from her, and here is her portrait!”

With this he drew from out of his ragged coat a likeness proved to be that of the very lady herself, who, while in Italy, had her child stolen from her, and how he turns up a poor little ragged Savoyard, dragging along a miserable existence in Paris while his mother by an intuition, perhaps, felt that in the air near to where she was, was one so near to her.

The Hornellsville [NY] Tribune 20 August 1868: p. 1

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Would a child stolen from his mother still retain her portrait? Surely those who took the child would have disposed of anything of value. Still, it is a pretty story, and we must not cavil too much at a holiday story with a happy ending. Twelfth Night Parties were the riotous end to the Christmas season. Here are some details of the feast:

Twelfth Night Parties

In England and on the Continent this used to be the time chosen for elaborate masked balls and parties. A ring was concealed in an immense cake, and the guest obtaining it was made . “king” or “queen.” It is a matter of history that Mary, Queen of Scots, honored her maid Mary Seaton, by robing her in her own royal apparel to be the ” Queen of Twelfth Night.”

Tradition says that on this day every vestige of Christmas green must be taken down and burned. This is a peace offering to evil spirits, and assures good luck to the household.

Invitations to a Twelfth Night party afford an opportunity for the pen-and-ink artist to show her skill. A bonfire piled high with holly wreaths, or a cake with a ring suspended over it, is a suitable decoration. If there is no open fireplace for the burning of the greens, there may be a back yard, where the decorations may be offered with due ceremony.

Twelfth Night Cakes

Cakes are to Twelfth Night what the tree is to Christmas. In London, on the night before this festival, there are always crowds before the bakery shop windows to see the wonderful examples of cakes both great and small; these are ornamented with mechanical toys, live birds, and all sorts of grotesque decorations.

Decorations for a Twelfth Night Table

This decorative scheme was carried out in England, and is easily adaptable by any hostess who can imagine how things will look and then carry out the idea. The centrepiece was a court jester’s cap made in sections of different colors, with bells on the points. A circle of snapping-cracker paper caps surrounded it. At either end of the table there was a crimson, cushion, on which rested gorgeous gilt crowns for the King and Queen. When the cake was passed, the guest who received the bean hidden in the cake, was the King; the pea designated the Queen, and the clove the Court Jester. The other guests appropriated the snapping caps, crowns were donned, and a merry time ensued.

“Dame Curtsey’s” book of novel entertainments for every day in the year, Ellye Howell Glover,1907: pp 5-7

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 Duke’s Diamonds: 1863

 

The Duke Of Brunswick.—The Duke of Brunswick, now residing in Paris, has an extraordinary collection of diamonds, valued at £450,000. A catalogue of his gems, which has just been published, contains 268 quarto pages, and gives the history of each stone; one has glittered on the breast of an emperor, another has sparkled in a royal diadem, a third has served as the eye of an idol. In this way diamonds follow one another of the value of from £2000 to £12,000 each. Not content with these, the duke is at the present moment bargaining for two gems—one valued at £35,000, the other at £97,500.

The possessor of these treasures is a perfect slave to them—he dare not leave Paris, for his diamonds form the chain which binds him; he dare not even absent himself from home a single night for fear of being robbed. The house he resides in is built less for comfort than for safety: it is equally proof against fire and thieves. It is surrounded by a lofty wall, on the top of which are spikes so arranged that when a hand is laid on one of them a bell commences ringing. The diamonds are kept in a safe let into the wall, and the duke’s bed stands before it, so that a thief attempting to get at the safe must awaken the sleeper. But this arrangement enables the Duke to gloat over his beloved jewels while he is lying in bed, and this he frequently does for hours together. Even were the safe reached and forcibly opened it would be useless, for four guns would be discharged and kill the burglar on the spot; and with the discharge of the guns is connected the ringing of an alarm-bell in every room to arouse the household. The duke’s bedroom has but one small window, and this is securely barred. The bolt on his door is of the stoutest iron, and the lock cannot be either picked or forced. A case containing twelve loaded revolvers stands by the side of his bed. Notwithstanding these precautions the duke continually fancies that he is about to be robbed, and this fear pursues him day and night. His idols prove his curse.

The Panorama, 1863: p. 83

Charles II, Duke of Brunswick

Charles II, Duke of Brunswick

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: The alleged “Duke of Brunswick,” was, in fact, Charles II, former Duke of Brunswick, although he was allowed to keep his title when he was deposed in 1830 for his eccentricities and his corrupt government. Since he spent the first years after his father’s death under the guardianship of the Prince Regent, later George IV of England, his fascination with diamonds is readily explicable. While described in his obituary as a “painted, bewigged Lothario, whose follies, eccentricities, and diamonds made him the talk of Europe,”  he undeniably had an eye for jewels. It was said that he owned the Agra diamond and the “Brunswick Blue,” reputed to have been cut from the same stone as the Hope Diamond. He never married and left his fortune to the City of Geneva, which was disappointed in the results of the sale of his jewels and plate, some of which proved spurious.

Mrs Daffodil understands, from a mention made by a tabloid-reading footman, that a certain television personality, a Miss Kardashian, in town for Paris Fashion Week, was recently the victim of a terrifying and daring jewel robbery. The thirteen pieces of jewellery purloined, including Miss Kardashian’s immense engagement ring, were reported to be worth US$10 million, a figure later reduced to US$5.6 million in the insurance claims.  If Miss Kardashian happens to peruse these pages, she might wish to take a hint from the Duke who seems to have neglected no detail of security for his collection, anticipating the use of so-called “panic rooms” in the residences of the wealthy and powerful.

For a story of a sinister tablet-diamond ring, see this post; and for a clever diamond thief, see “The Diamond Buckles.”

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 Spook Party: 1897: To Celebrate National Ghost Hunting Day

spook party

Since it is, Mrs Daffodil is reliably informed, “National Ghost Hunting Day” in the United States, here is an encore presentation of a popular post on fashionable “spook parties” held in Paris.

SPOOK FUNCTIONS

An X Ray Diversion for the Paris Fashionables.

They Produce All Kinds of Fearful Shudders.

Curious Effects of the Roentgen Rays on Porcelain

And Crystal and Humans Coated With a Fluorescent Substance.

Paris, March. 30. Ghost parties are the latest diversion of fashionable folks who have money and brains in sufficient quantities to manage them. The Roetgen rays make these society functions possible, and their originators say that the amusement is only in its infancy. If this be true, it is difficult to picture what form the ghost parties will take when they are fully developed, for even in their present stage they are calculated to send every known variety of shiver and shudder and chill through the marrow of the spectator. Certainly new emotions of the shivery kind will have to be developed to keep pace with the growth of the ghost party.

The first essential of a spook function is a drawing-room of fair dimensions, containing a quantity of porcelain, glass, crystal and enamel bric-a-brac. Large vases should be numerous, and if the hostess is well supplied with diamonds, additional effect can be obtained if her faith in the integrity of her guests permits her to scatter the gems about in conspicuous places.

In a corner of the apartment should be the X ray apparatus, enveloped in black cloths. This machine only occupies as much space as the ordinary magic lantern, and as the lights in the room are extinguished before the guests enter, its presence is not apparent. An operator skilled in management of X rays should be engaged, also a couple of assistants, one of them a woman, to render various services.

The explanation of the need of the porcelain vases and bric-a-brac of various material rests in the fact that these articles being of fluorescent substance, become phosphorescent at a certain distance behind the X ray apparatus

At the first function of the kind held here the guests were greatly startled, and two or three of the women guests fainted from terror. No explanation of the mysteries were vouchsafed beforehand and the guests imagined that they were in the midst of the occult.

The host had secured form a maker of physical apparatus several glass hands, glass legs and other paraphernalia of the human body, and these, under the careful manipulation of the X ray operator and his assistants, were made to appear especially weird in the darkened room.

When the guests had assembled in the drawing-room the tinkling of a tiny bell sounded, and then appeared what seemed to be a human hand of dazzling brightness. It waved about and circled over the apartment and then disappeared. It was merely a glass hand, made phosphorescent by the action of the penetrating X rays, but it was ghostly enough to satisfy the cravings of the mightiest Mahatma in the love of theosophy.

Then a table in the corner of the room, loaded with dainty cups and saucers, suddenly blazed up out of the darkness. Only the cups and saucers were visible, they seeming to be resting on air. Then they faded away and a huge vase in an opposite corner loomed up with bewildering brilliancy. Next the scores of bits of porcelain in a cabinet were illuminated, each piece standing out separately in the darkness, all other objects and the cabinet itself being invisible.

A dazzling ball of fire then descended slowly from the ceiling, and swung back and forth over the heads of the guests. It was simply a glass sphere, which had been hung on wire prior to the coming of the guests; and was easily operated by one of the assistants standing in a corner of the apartment.

The most interesting and ghostly exhibition of them all came last, when the parting of a pair of portieres at the end of the room revealed a human form all in a blaze of light. The apparition moved slowly forward, and then it was seen that the figure was that of an unusually tall woman.

The phantom at first held her hands so that they shielded the face, and when they were lowered the sight of that face caused the men to move back nervously, nearly all of the women screamed, and two or three fainted. The face had a greenish pallor, and instead of eyes, there were two black holes. The mouth was closed and the hair streamed about, lit by phosphorescent flame. Every few seconds the spook raised her hands and seemed to scatter bouquets of flame about the room. Then when the bell tinkled the phantom receded slowly, and gradually faded from view.

This ended the party, the lights were turned on and the hostess explained how she had managed the mysteries. Everything was soon made clear, except the mystery of the human figure, and this, too, was easily explained. A clever figurante was engaged from a theatre and was concealed behind some draperies. She was enveloped in a veil which had been covered by a fluorescent substance, and her face and hair were glazed with a phosphorescent sulphate of zinc powder. This preparation, of course, could not be applied to the eyes, hence the black holes when the phantom appeared under the X rays.

Nannette du Bignon.

Times-Picayune [New Orleans, LA] 11 April 1897: p. 22

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Like the radium given as Christmas gifts by the Smart Set, x-ray “spook parties” were all the rage. And although some scientists warned of the dangers of x-rays almost from the moment of their discovery in 1895, others pooh-poohed the scientists as alarmists. Ironically the lethal rays were discovered by Wilhelm Röntgen using the “Crookes tube.” This was invented by Sir William Crookes, a distinguished scientist and credulous Spiritualist who championed medium Florence Cook, materializer of the winsome spirit of “Katie King.” How strange that Sir William’s invention should come back to haunt by association at “spook parties.” One wonders if the “figurante” suffered any ill-effects from the phosphorescent sulphate of zinc powder or from those entertaining x-rays.

 

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.

Jewel-set Gloves: 1896-1899

JEWELS SET IN GLOVES

The Latest Parisian Fad Which Is on Its Way Here.

The latest fad in the way of eccentric dress is the wearing of jewels upon various articles of clothing. This extravagance originated in gay Paris, where the jewelers are falling over one another in their attempts to find some new use to which to put gems.

There are now on the market as a unique result of this attempt to find or devise something new, gloves in the back of which rubies, pearls and emeralds, and, in fact, any gem whose natural color harmonizes or makes a pleasing contrast to the color of the glove. Diamonds seem to be the favorite gem used for this purpose.

The jewels are set in the back of the glove, along the seam and are held in place by means of a small nut attachment. Thus far only a few of the more advanced women of the ultra-fashionable set have taken to wearing the diamond ornamented glove, but the fad is slowly but surely spreading and no man can tell to what extent it may be carried.

The wearing of gems, according to jewelers, has never been so widespread and extensive as at the present time. While a year or two ago it was considered bad form to wear any but the plainest jewels, the extreme will soon be reached, and jewels will be worn in ways never before thought of.

Like every other fashion which originates in Paris, the fad of wearing diamond-backed gloves has crossed the English Channel and a few of the more daring English leaders of fashion have promptly had jewels set in the backs of their gloves. Following the invariable order of such things, the fad will reach this country during the present season.

St Louis [MO] Republic 14 June 1896: p. 21

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: While the jeweled-glove fad was extensively reported from about 1896 to 1899, there were varying descriptions of precisely how the gemstones were attached. Mrs Daffodil is uncertain about the particulars of that “small nut attachment.” For example, this description is from 1897:

Jewelled gloves are now numbered among the many luxuries indulged in by fashionable Parisians, who adorn their gloves, according to the colour of the kid, with real diamonds, rubies, pearls, turquoises, etc. These are fastened on fine chains, which replace the raised seams on the back of the hand. Short gloves are ornamented at the wrists and gauntlets, and they have not unfrequently a jewelled monogram conspicuously placed in the middle.

Hawke’s Bay Herald, 3 April 1897, Page 1

An engraved newspaper illustration, which somewhat inadequately conveys the splendour of jewelled gloves.

An engraved newspaper illustration, which somewhat inadequately conveys the splendour of jewelled gloves.

And this account of jeweled gloves on the Riviera:

JEWELLED GLOVES,

A New Fashion Started by Leaders of Society at Nice and Rome

Several leaders of society at Nice and Rome have taken to jewelled gloves, and the fashion is said to be spreading. At a Russian dinner on the Riviera, one woman wore jewelled gloves which represented a fortune. The jewels were not set in the gloves, but were detachable. Hoop rings of rare rubies and diamonds encircled each finger. From each ran a tiny gold chain, and these chains were caught together on the back of the hand by a superb cluster of the same stones. The chains then extended to the wrist, where they were fastened to a ruby and diamond bracelet…the wearer was a countess who is a power in European society, and other women are wearing less pretentious ornaments of the sort.

The Times [Richmond, VA] 31 January 1899: p. 7

Certainly the notion of jewelled chains couched to the fabric of the glove or of linked rings and bracelets worn over the glove seem far more practical than painstakingly attaching prong-set gems to the accessory.  It is certainly more palatable than the disagreeable fad of setting jewels into one’s finger-nails. When the jewelled glove fad was revived in the 1930s and 1940s, large and blatantly faux jewels, attached with adhesives, simplified life immensely. The effect, as may be seen at the top of this post, was eminently satisfying.

 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 Story of an Engaged Young Person. A Murder Mystery: 1857

THE STORY OF AN ENGAGED YOUNG PERSON.

[This story is told by a young woman on a long journey from London to Liverpool, to her fellow passengers, many of whom were emigrating to Australia.]

She was certainly the plainest of the female passengers. Her nose turned up, and her mouth had scarcely any turn at all; her hair was red, and so were the rims of her eyes; and her eyes themselves were far from being good ones; but there was a certain piquancy and sprightliness about her, too, as though she had been a French lady’s-maid rather than an English one. She looked as if she could put her hand and her well-rounded arm to anything, and had been very good-tempered and obliging throughout the journey. It was understood—it had been expressed, indeed, already rather triumphantly by the young lady herself—that she was an engaged young person, going out to Australia to be married; that there was a somebody waiting upon the other hemisphere with outstretched hands, yearning to receive her as his bride. She would be a capital wife for a settler without doubt, although perhaps in England we should have called her rather a settler for a wife. She seemed to know very well, indeed, what we were all likely to think about this matter; but she didn’t care.

If I had been better looking—she began her story with this—I might never have got a husband, or at least not the money to marry him upon, which is the same thing. The unsuitableness of my face to what I may be allowed to call a very tolerable figure, has been literally the means of bestowing happiness, as I hope, upon Joseph, and of putting £400 into my own pocket. And this was how it all came about: my late mistress, who was very kind to me, and had intended, poor thing—for she told me so—to leave me comfortably provided for, took me over with her, seven years ago, to Paris. She was a widow lady, fond of a gay life and brilliant amusements; and that place suited her so well, that she made it her home, and I, but little loath, remained there too. Joseph and I had kept company together before that time, but he was not so foolish as to wish me to give up my expectations for the sake of a hurried marriage; he said that he would wait patiently, dear fellow, although the great salt sea was to roll between us, and there could be no chance of his getting a letter more than once a day. He was a mason’s assistant in London, and very hardly worked, it seemed, for he himself was not able to reply nearly so often; however, of course I was not a bird, that I could be in two places at once, so I made the best of it, and was as happy as a confidential lady’s-maid, under such circumstances, could hope to be.

One evening I had been preparing my mistress, who was a very splendid dresser, for the opera; my only fellow-servant was on leave of absence for some days; and except the porter in the courtyard, there was nobody, when the carriage had driven off that night, in the whole house save myself; therefore, having nothing better—or at least nicer—to do, and being in my mistress’s bedroom amongst her beautiful robes and ornaments, it was hardly to be expected that I should resist such an opportunity of trying them on. The room, besides being charmingly hung with mirrors, had a delicious full-length swinging-glass, and before this I amused myself for a good long while. I beheld how Mademoiselle Elizabeth Martin — that is my present name, but dear Joseph’s is Andrews—how she looked in barèges, in silks, in muslins, for the morning; and how lace and satin, and low sleeves, with pearls, became her for evening wear; finally, equipping myself in a particularly pleasant glacé silk walking-dress, with a bonnet and falling veil fit for a bride, I could not help twisting round a little, to see as much of myself as possible, and contrasting the effect at the same time with that of madame—who was beautiful enough, but indifferently proportioned—I involuntarily remarked aloud: ‘Well, we may be plain in the face, but we are certainly unexceptionable behind.’ It was an absurd thing to say even to one’s self, and I remember blushing like a beet, as though it were not quite out of the question that I could be overheard. There were several jewel-drawers — this ruby upon my middle finger, a ring belonging to my mistress’s late husband, was in one of them—but I had no time for more than to set off a handsome necklace or two, and to very much regret that my ears had not been punched for the accommodation of an especial pair of diamond earrings, before I heard wheels in the courtyard, and my mistress came home. Everything had been put away very carefully, and I undressed her and saw her to bed as usual. She was more than commonly kind and gentle in her manner that night, as I have since thought at least; and when she wished me her bon soir, she added: ‘I am sure we shall both be tired to-morrow, Bessie; so call me an hour later, and take an extra sleep yourself.’ I was never to hear my good mistress speak any more.

Did I dream that night that she had left me all her wardrobe, and that I was married in the glacé silk? Did I, even in my sleep, build schemes of what I would do with the money that my dead mistress might enrich me with? No; as I hope for heaven, and to meet dear Joseph, with all my woman’s vanity, I had my woman’s heart too, beating true and warm, and I thought no shadow of evil. I told them so in court, where all looked black against me, and they believed me even there. But in that morning, late, when the sun was shining full upon the window, and the noise of the people going about their daily work was full and clear, I saw a frightful sight, a ghastly horror that the day but served to make more hideous and unnatural—my mistress murdered in her bed! No answer when I knocked; again no answer. The curtains at the bedside were close drawn, but through the open shutters a fiery flood of light fell red upon the carpet and the curtains—ay, and on the corner of the snow-white counterpane, red also. It was blood! I thought there had been a rain of blood; upon the handles of the drawers, upon the toilet-cover, on the dressing-case, upon the towels, in the basin—everywhere where the murderer’s hands had been after their deadly work; and in the bed—I dared not look in the bed; but in that great swing-glass, where I had decked myself but a few hours ago, I saw it all, and every mirror in the room was picturing the same sight—there lay the corpse, the murdered woman with her gaping throat.

They thought at first that I was murdered too, lying so stiff and cold in that death-chamber. I answered nothing to their questions, neither in the house nor in the prison. I knew nothing, nor could I have told them had I known, until Joseph came. It seemed to me then quite natural that he should be with me—nothing praiseworthy, nothing. (This dear little engaged young person’s eyes began to get redder about the rims at this reminiscence, and her story to assume an incoherent as well as choky character.) I did not understand how much I owed him: how, not having heard from me for some time, and reading in the paper that an English lady’s-maid had been taken up in Paris for a murder in the Rue St. Honore, but that she refused to speak, and even had perhaps in reality lost her senses, he started off at once, giving up his employ, and borrowing and begging what he could, and knowing no word of French but the name of that one street, he hurried to me: so that my mind came back again, and I could tell them what I knew. All he did, he said, was less than he ought to have done, because he had behaved ill to me of old (which, I am sure, dear Joseph never had, nor thought of doing). He stood by me in court—in the prisoners’ place along with me he stood and shared my shame.

I told about the jewels, and of my trying them on; how everything was safe, and the doors locked, and the chamber-window too high to be climbed up to, though a man might have let himself down from it into the yard. And then I learned for the first time that all that afternoon and night the murderer had lain hidden under my mistress’s bed; that he must have been there all that time —think of it!—that I was trying on the dresses and the ornaments; that there was murder waiting in that chamber all the while: it made me shudder even then, amidst that crowded court, with Joseph by me. They thought it very strange, they said, that since there was so much time before him between my mistress’s departure and return, that he had not murdered me instead. He had carried off all the jewels—those in the drawers as well as those which my poor mistress had worn that very evening; but from the moment he had dropped into the courtyard, the police could find no trace of him. A mere suspicion fell upon the brother of the gate-porter; but it was so vague that he was not put upon his trial. A great sum was offered in reward for the apprehension of the murderer, making up, with what was offered by my late mistress’s family, nearly £400. She died without a will, poor lady, and they were not disposed to give me anything beyond the wages due to me.

After my acquittal, a collection for mine and Joseph’s benefit was made by some good people; but the money only sufficed to bring us back to England. Joseph had to work out a heavy debt, incurred upon my account, and I went into service again at once, resolving to do my best to help him. At the end of two years, poor fellow, except that he had discharged his obligation, he was but little better off than at their beginning; and despairing of ever getting a living for us both in the old country, he sailed twelve months ago for Sydney. Whichever of us first got rich, it was arranged, should cross the seas after the other; and until very lately, it seemed that we might each stop where we were, engaged young persons, till we died.

I was nursery-maid in my new place, and was taking the youngest child across Hyde Park one afternoon, when I was followed by an impertinent man; I had my “ugly” on, for the sun was hot, so that my face might have been like Venus, for all he knew to the contrary; and otherwise, I flatter myself I was not disagreeable looking. At all events, I attracted the wretch, who kept close behind me. He was an abominable person, with a foreign appearance—which I had reason enough for disliking—and eyes that looked different ways, but neither of them nice ways, so that I was glad enough to get in sight of the policemen about the marble arch. He saw that there was no time to be lost, if he meant to get a good look at me at all, so he passed me on a sudden very quickly, turned round, and looked up into my face. I gave him a very tolerable stare, too, because I knew it would disappoint him, after his great expectations; and it did so; and not only that, for it made him give a sort of villainous grin, which I hope I may never see again, and he broke out, as if he could not help it for the life of him, with ‘Well, we may be plain in the face, but we are unexceptionable behind.’

I cried out ‘Murder’ and ‘Police!’ as loud as I could, and the man was secured at once. No human being except the one who had been under the bed, her murderer, could have known those words, which I had spoken alone, before madame’s toilet-glass. He denied everything, of course, and said it was an unjust detention; but in little more than half an hour, a telegraphic message from the Paris authorities set his mind at ease in this respect, and demanded his presence in that city. He was the elder brother of the gate-porter, whom I had never before seen; and what I had to tell, in addition to the previous suspicions against him, procured his conviction. He was sent to the galleys for life. This ruby ring, which he wore upon his little finger, I identified as having been in the jewel-drawer that very night. It was bestowed upon me after the trial by the heir-at-law, and I obtained besides the £400 reward. If I had been pretty, you see, there would not have been any occasion for me to have remarked upon it that evening, and I might have remained, my whole life long, an engaged young person.

Chambers Journal of Popular Literature, Science and Arts, Volume 7, William and Robert Chambers, 1857

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil has been a lady’s maid in several households, but has never forgot herself so strangely as to try on her mistress’s clothing or jewels. Such a liberty would be utterly abhorent to her nature. She might countenance hiding the odd murderer under the bed, if there was good and sufficient reason. However, such things are difficult to explain to the authorities, and complications inevitably arise when utilising this less-than-ideal scenario to remove a difficult employer. One would not wish to be in the unenviable position of having to simulate a struggle in which the murderous marauder was inexplicably garotted when he blundered into a scarf of point d’Alençon.

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 Two-Edged Secret: A Diverting French Tale: 1893

Dolche Far Niente by Auguste Toulmouche, painter of the fashionable French world.

Dolce Far Niente by Auguste Toulmouche, painter of the fashionable French world.

A TWO-EDGED SECRET.

People who Live in Glass Houses should not Hire Detectives.

Breakfast was nearly over, and the Baron and Baronne Silber were chatting as affectionately as lovers. She had just come from her boudoir and he from his racing stables, training-courses, paddocks, etc., at Viroflay. Absorbed all day long in business in Paris, he had fallen into the habit of visiting his stud of evenings, in order to be present at dawn during the speeding of his horses.  

Baron Karl Silber, an Austrian banker and financier, was an unknown nobody ten years before. Now you could not open a morning journal of commerce, sport, or anything else without running across some mention of his business, his races and racers, his balls, or his wife’s beauty.  

Above all, his wife’s beauty, for Silber, who denied himself nothing, had indulged himself at forty in the dangerous luxury of marrying charming Marguerite de Francmont, with whom all Paris had danced during four successive seasons, but whose poverty had reserved her for a marriage of this kind.  

They lived happily enough, and Silber, recognizing his wife’s really uncommon intelligence, did nothing— save in matters of finance — without consulting her with a frank and tender deference.

“Then,” said he presently, rolling a last strawberry in sugar, “Guerin did come?”  

“Yes, last night, just after you had started for Viroflay. I saw him and explained to him fully how you were the victim of indiscretions that brought suspicion upon you. ‘Everything that passes at the stable,’ said I, ‘is reported straightway to the book-makers of the Rue Vivienne. They know in advance what horse will run or be withdrawn; what horse carries the stable’s money or is meant to win; briefly, daily and regularly, we are betrayed by some one. But by whom?  Know this we must, for they are beginning to accuse us of dishonest practices.'”  

“And he said?”  

“Nothing, but asked if you suspected any one of your men?”  

“No special one, by Jove! I simply suspect them all.”  

“Precisely what I told him. Whereupon he took notes and his departure, assuring me that a special agent would be at once put in charge of so delicate a matter. He will report so soon as he discovers anything.”  

“Which will be soon, I hope. You have had no other visitor, my dear?”  

“Not one; I dined alone and spent the evening with mother. But you, Karl, what did you do at Viroflay?”  

“Always the same thing; audited accounts, paid out money, examined the colts, and by three o’clock was out with the trainers speeding the racers. Kronstadt is not doing as well as he should; we shall have a hard pull to keep him in shape for the twenty-fifth. Why, hello! it’s ten o’clock; I must go, it’s time for business.” 

 “But you seem so fatigued, my poor Karl!”  

“Zounds! I ought to be; I was up before the sun.”  

“But need you go to Viroflay so often, Karl?”  

“Every day, if I could, my dear; ‘the eye of the master,’ you know — above all, in the care of race-horses. And I have, praise heaven, an eye that sees clearly.”  

“Undoubtedly, my dear,” Marguerite assented calmly, tracing the table-cloth with the tip of her rosy nail; “but Geurin, I trust, will see clearer still. It is really as amusing as a play to me, dearest, to have anything to do with a detective whom they talk so much of as they talk of this Guerin.”  

Two hours later, Karl Silber, lying back in an easy-chair in his office in the Rue Richelieu, smoked, with half-closed eyes, the purest products of the Havana tobacco-fields. Near him, in a chair no less luxurious and with a weed drawn from the same source between his lips, young De Payzac — with a somewhat doubtful past — lolled and talked with wide open eyes, making the most of his position of intimate friend of so rich and renowned a man as the Baron Silber.  

“The fact is, Baron,” said he, continuing the subject upon which he was launched, “you are, or ought to be, the happiest man in Paris to-day. Just think of it, the pot of money you’ve made at a single stroke — more than I would need to amuse me a whole long year.”  

“One would say that fact annoyed you,” Silber returned, lazily, without stirring himself.  

“Annoyed me? Not the least in the world, baron. I’m too much your friend for that. But when I contrast our two destinies! Why, everything in the world succeeds with you. Your business, look at it; it goes like a conflagration. Your racing, too, which heaven knows why you took it into your head to try; whether your own horses win or lose, it matters not; you find a way to win with the horses of others.”  

“In a word,” Silber interrupted, with some show of temper, “you mean to imply, like the rest, that I purposely allow my own horses to be beaten?”  

Payzac continued with an imperturbable calm and a lightly shrugged shoulder.  

“But all of which is as nothing,” said he, “compared with the fact that not only are you the legitimate possessor of the most beautiful woman in Paris, but you also know one not less lovely who lives in a more mysterious quarter of the city.”  

This time the banker sat erect, as if pulled with a spring, and looked about him uneasily.  

“Payzac,” said he, “s-s-sh! You risk too much at times. You, and you only, are to know that side of my life, a secret that must not be noised abroad.”  

“Of course,” said Payzac, “I know it, for to whom else than me do you owe the acquaintance of the fair and beautiful Wanda?”  

“Also the happiness of being loved for myself alone,” assented Silber, gratefully. “That poor foreign girl, with her sensitive soul — positively, Payzac, she loves me like a faithful dog, though I seek always to treat her like a companion and friend. Nothing so binds women to us as letting them believe they fully share in our lives. The Baronne, for instance, who thinks I tell her everything, because I’ve the air of deciding nothing without consulting her. The result? An occupied mind for her and an affection for me — calm, possibly, but solid and devoted.”  

“Who could doubt it?” cried Payzac, fervently, diligently blowing smoke-rings above his head. “But then, as I said, Baron, everything succeeds with you. Your Viroflay combination is simply a masterpiece; which, by the way, reminds me, Silber, that I’ve a favor to ask of you.” And the needy parasite, judging the ground well prepared, came to the true object of his visit.  

A fortnight later the Baron and Baronne were again finishing breakfast in the little breakfast-room where we met them first, and where, now as then, the Baron had just come in from a night at his stables.  

“Haven’t you lost something, Karl?” demanded the Baronne, suddenly, at the same time drawing from her pocket a railroad pass.  

“Parbleu! yes,” said the Baron, “and a hunt I had for it, too, last night. Where did you find it, love?”  

Before the Baronne could answer, the door opened and a servant entered, hearing a card on a salver.  

“Ah, Guerin!” said Karl. “May he come in here, dearest? A personage so potent should be treated like a family friend.”  

And Madame consenting, the world-famed detective was ushered in. Freshly shaven, sedately dressed, monocle in eye, and portfolio in hand, he looked like the head-clerk of a legal firm, and beamed upon his employers with the satisfied air of a bearer of good news.  

“Well, Monsieur,” said the Baronne, in fine humor herself, “have you discovered anything?”  

“Everything, Madame,” Guerin returned calmly, depositing his portfolio on the table. “A curious story it is, too, and with a woman in it, of course, as I thought from the start.” 

“Perhaps, then,” said the Baron, with a meaning look at his wife, “you would desire, monsieur, to be alone with me a while?” 

But Guerin, priding himself upon his skill as a raconteur, and preferring two auditors to one, made signs that he could gloss over things when necessary, and plunged into his story.  

“The truth is, Baron,” said he, alter a little thought, “we never have had a case that gave us so much trouble as this. Usually we have to trail people who, suspecting nothing, take no precautions. Here, on the contrary, all were under cover. It took us nearly a week to learn that Wilhelm, the book-maker of the Rue Vivienne, had a lady-love, and to find out who she was took us longer still, as Wilhelm visits her very irregularly. She is a foreigner — a Polish girl — who lives a secluded life in a little gem of a house in the vicinity of La Muette .”  

“The vicinity of La Muette!” mechanically repeated the Baron, going red and white by turns; “La Muette! — the little wretch!”  

“Yes,” said Guerin, though not comprehending; “but what will interest you most of all is that Wanda — the Polish girl’s name, you know — on certain evenings receives another visitor, and that he — this visitor — comes from your Viroflay stables. You see the mouse in the cheese, do you not, Baron?” and Guerin smiled significantly.  

“The little wretch!” cried Silber again, starting up in his chair.  

“Exactly,” said Guerin, carelessly; “but you would see more than one of the same kind, Baron, were you a week in my place. Well, it is she — this Wanda — who sells to Wilhelm — for a round sum, of course — the secrets of your stable, by which every one profits but you, baron. Nothing remains to be done, now, but to learn the name of this man who gives this girl the information that she, in turn, imparts to the book-maker.”  

“Ah!” said Silber, with sudden vivacity, “you do not know his name then.”  

“And nothing is done after all, then, monsieur,” chimed in the Baronne, with resentful surprise.  

“On the contrary, everything is done, Madame,” firmly declared Guerin, pouring his demi-tasse of brandy into his coffee-cup and draining it at a gulp; “everything, I repeat, because you do not know my agent, Coutourier. This is the way it happened: you see.” 

“But we don’t — we don’t see, Guerin, or want to see, either!” Silber cried, recklessly. “We see too much already — more than is necessary.”  

“On the contrary, M. Guerin,” Marguerite protested, sweetly, “your story is most interesting; proceed, if you please.”  

“Then, as I said,” continued Guerin, “it happened in this way. They go to bed very early at Viroflay, and, last night — other nights, also — when all were asleep, a man slipped out of there with great precautions, went to the station, took a train for Paris, and reached the La Muette house about eleven P. M. Two hours later he came out again, took a fiacre, and was driven back to Viroflay, where his absence had been noticed by no one.”  

“The name of this man — you do not know it, you say?” demanded the Baronne, becoming thoughtful.  

“Not yet, Madame; but…”  

“Pooh!” said Silber, “it must have been my trainer, Hawkins; he’s a great hand for girls and the only man at Viroflay rich enough to have a nest in the Muette quarter.”  

“And has Hawkins a railroad pass, do you know, Baron — as this man last night had?” Guerin pursued, eagerly.  

“A pass? You are sure he had a pass, Monsieur?” cried Marguerite, considering intently the great red face of her husband, suddenly beaded with perspiration.  

“Absolutely, for Coutourier shadowed him all the way from Viroflay, trying to see his face, which he kept concealed, and heard him tell the Saint Lazare officials that he had somehow misplaced it. With a detail like that to work on, it won’t take long to nab the fellow.”  

“M. Guerin,” interrupted the Baronne with sparkling eyes, “no — go no further. We know all we need to know; we shall do the rest. Decidedly, with your assistance one can learn anything!”  

“It is my trade, Madame,” replied Guerin, modestly; “but if Madame likes and has time to spare, there are other details of this business that it would amuse Madame greatly to hear.”  

“Go on; I am not at all hurried. Give us the details, Monsieur,” and Mme. Silber smiled invitingly, with her eyes fixed always on the Baron’s face with an indefinable gaze. Proud of his success and warmed by his demi-tasse of eau-de-vie, Guerin settled back in his chair and crossed his legs comfortably.  

“Two words, Madame,” said he, “and the milk of the cocoa-nut is yours. That Viroflay personage, first befooled by the book-maker and the book-maker’s lady-love, is a second time befooled by his — would you guess it? — by his wife, who has a lover.”  

Guerin paused for the laugh that did not come.  

Silber and his wife were evidently indisposed to hilarity. White as the cloth her fingers drummed on, the Baronne bit her lips and gazed straight before her, and Karl, with an effort to pull himself together, called tremulously for the brandy.  

“Wanda, I must tell you,” continued Guerin, “for my agent watched her house, too — Wanda, of course, numbers among her other friends a certain M. Rene de Payzac.”  

The Silbers started, each in a different way.  

“De Payzac! He makes three, then!” the Baron gasped out, losing all vestige of self-command.  

“Oh, no, not at least as you mean, Baron. Payzac is merely an old friend of Wanda’s, who limits himself now to replenishing his pockets through his one-time idol. Coutourier overheard them one night in the garden, and learned the whole story. He wanted forty louis, and she wouldn’t give them to him, and he threatened, if she didn’t, to tell her ‘ friend ‘ how she sold to the book-maker the secrets of his stable. ‘Tell him if you dare,’ says she, ‘and I will in turn tell him with whom his wife spends her evenings when they believe him safely engaged with his horses!'”  

Guerin broke off to laugh heartily. But still no one imitated him, and vexed at this lack of interest in his amusing “details,” he rose, took his hat, and began a cool adieu. He was tired of talking thus to the walls.  

“What do we owe you, sir?” said Silber, stiffly. “It is useless to trouble you to call here again. We’ll drop this business where it stands.” 

“A thousand francs, Baron,” replied the chief of the Guerin agency; “but the name of the Viroflay unknown — you still lack that?”  

“We do not need it, sir,” growled Silber; “and a thousand francs, Guerin! You’re wrong; you can’t be serious; you’ll surely make a reduction?”  

Guerin did not at once reply; he was carefully selecting a cigar from the box before him. This done, he raised his eyes, fixed them upon the discomfited couple and read the situation.  

“No,” said he, firmly, “a thousand francs, Baron, just as I said. And if you haven’t the worth of your money at that, you are, indeed, hard to please!”  

Whereupon Guerin, the bill buttoned safe in his pocket, smilingly bowed himself out, leaving the Baron, the Baronne, and, unluckily for himself, De Payzac, who chanced in at the moment, to explain things at their ease.  

Translated for the Argonaut from the French of Leon de Tinseau by E. C.  Waggener.

The Argonaut [San Francisco, CA] 3 July 1893 

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Leon de Tinseau [1844-1921], also known as Count Antoine Joseph Leon Tinseau, was a 19th-century French aristocrat and literary personage, best known for his novels of Parisian manners. Mrs Daffodil thinks that this tale would have furnished a plot tailor-made for one of M. Feydeau’s comic farces.

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

A Mysterious Sable Specter at the Jardin Mabille: 1880

victorian widow 7

A SABLE SPECTER

The Mysterious Woman Who Haunted the Jardin Mabille

In the season of 1880, at eleven o’clock every night, an elegantly-appointed brougham, the horses seventeen hands high, with black satin coats, the coachman in black, the clothes fitting him like paper on the wall, a white camellia in his buttonhole, dashed up to the brilliantly-lighted entrance of the Mabille Garden. So punctually did this vehicle arrive that after a little while a group of men used to wait at the gate in order to time their watches by it, and the young Marquis de Gallifet lost fifty thousand francs by betting that on a particularly wet and stormy night in August the carriage would fail to appear. Ehrich Rothschild pocketed the money, for the carriage did appear at the very second. The sole occupant of this exquisitely appointed vehicle, whose upholsterings were all as black as the horses’ and driver’s coats, was a woman. She dressed in black satin, her gown being cut in the shape of a riding habit, and clinging to a most svelte and lissome form. She wore no ornament save one—a diamond star which served to fasten her black point lace veil to her hair. The diamond, almost as large as a pigeon’s egg, was of the purest water and shone like a star. The habit of the mysterious lady was to alight from the magnificent carriage, enter the gardens, take one turn around them, to sip one glass of vermouth, and then leave, her footman, a reticent giant in black, walking behind her at a distance of two or three yards. No one saw her face. The veil came down over the eyes and nose, leaving her rich red lips exposed, and a deliciously molded white chin, rendered additionally white on account of its black surroundings.  Her pocket-handkerchief was black, her shoes and stockings were of the same raven hue, and her petticoats, at least such of them as revealed themselves as she alighted from the brougham, were of somber dye.

A SENSATIONAL WAGER

It is only necessary to say that she created a sensation, and that all the “mashers” were inquirers as to whom she was, and where she came from. Half a dozen looked knowing, pretending to be in on the secret, but as they were not able to divulge any thing they only got laughed at for their pains. Night after night this strange apparition would glide through the gardens, never speaking to anyone, and always followed by the giant. She very soon became known as the “Lady in Black,” and it was not very long until a cavalier was found bold enough to swear that he would not only address her, but would accompany her home. This young boaster was the Count Maltonnier, a very wealthy and fast scapegrace, whose father, the Marquis de Villette-Pieux-Cotine, allowed him to pull at pleasure at the very long family purse, and he backed himself to perform this singularly audacious feat in large sums, both at the Jockey Club and at the Circle.

Maltonnier dined at Vefour’s, in the Palais Royal, and having primed himself with wine, and accompanied by Ehrich Rothschild, his alter ego, and other self—they were always together—drove out to the Mabille, so as to reach the gardens by just a few minutes before eleven o’clock. The young men stood inside the entrance awaiting the last stroke of eleven, when up dashed the brougham. The giant footman leaped from the box, threw open the door, and flung down the steps, and offering his arm to the lady assisted her to alight. Then the lady moved majestically in the garden followed as usual by the giant.

The count, as soon as the lady passed in, at once slipped up to her and blowing low, and removing his hat, presented her with a bouquet composed entirely of black roses, saying never a word. The lady did not start—on the contrary, she accepted the bouquet, smiled, did not speak, and glided onward.

“Move Number One,” said the count.

“By the beard of St. Denis,” murmured Rothschild, “it promises well.”

The two young men passed into the crowd, and crossing the path of the “Lady in Black” five or six times, lifted their hats—the count staring at her, or seemingly expecting recognition. Now, it so happened that Nina Vermuth was at the Mabille on this particular night, and being exceedingly jealous of Count Maltonnier, beheld with feelings the very reverse of amiability, his decided avoidance of her, and was not long in detecting that he only had his eyes for the “Lady in Black.”

A JEALOUS EXPLOSION

Nina, although ordinarily a well-conducted propriety-in-public-loving young lady, on this occasion had been dining with a banker adorer, and had partaken of just enough champagne to raise all the deviltry in her nature.

The Count had followed the “Lady in Black” at a respectful distance and determined to come to closer quarters as soon as the unknown should seat herself in the little kiosk to take her accustomed petit cerre of vermouth. He went to the waiter who served her and ordered him to place another glass and chair, adding a twenty-franc piece by the way of a retainer. The waiter, in terror of the giant footman, at first refused point blank, but the twenty-franc piece brought his courage back to the sticking-point. He boldly placed a second glass and a second chair, and so boldly that the footman imagined the order had come from his mistress. The very instant that the waiter emerged from the kiosk the bold count stepped in, having told Rothschild to await him at the outer gate in order to see him enter the carriage with the incognito. Bowling low, he seated himself opposite the “Lady in Black,” the giant footman looking askance the while. She never moved; she never gave sign or token of his presence.

“Madame,” he said, filling his glass, “I drink to your very good health.”

She was silent.

“Madame,” he continued in a low voice, “you will think me bold, audacious, but my audacity must be translated to admiration. I have long admired your elegant figure, your graceful walk, your beautiful mouth and chin. Curiosity has overcome every other feeling—curiosity—“

“Will lead you to my footman to be kicked into the Champs Elysees,” she interposed, in a sweet, smiling voice.

“Even so,” he retorted, “my curiosity to know what you are like will enable me to bear anything – everything.”

She sipped her vermuth.

“Any thing more?” she asked.

“Only let me see your face,” he said. “I am sure it is lovely—divine.”

“It might disappoint you.”

“Impossible!”

“You are a very positive young man,” said the lady, “and I will overlook your idiotic conduct on account of its folly.”

“You forgive me then,” he cried, stretching out his hand to clasp hers, but at that moment Nina Vermuth, who had watched them unperceived, sprang past the giant footman, and, clutching the veil of the “Lady in Black,” shouted: “You infernal hussy from the slums of the fish market, I will soon see your ugly red face.”

MALTONNIER LEAPED AT HIS MISTRESS

“No, Nina,” he replied, “you shall not make known this lady’s identity.”

And by sheer force he compelled Nina’s vengeful hand to relax its vigorous grip of the veil.

The giant footman entered, and was about to pounce upon the Count when the lady in black interfered.

“Wait outside, Jules,” she said.

Nina Vermuth was not tamely going to submit either to the coldness of the lady or the wrath of the Count.

“I will have that veil torn off your face before you leave this garden, my good fisherwoman,” she cried, “as sure as my name is Nina Vermuth. There is no deception about me. I lead a gay life and I own it. What are you? A death’s head for all I know. Mathy,” addressing the Count, “come along with me, or I’ll have you mobbed, and I’ll do it. There are a dozen girls in that dancing circle who are full of champagne and deviltry, and who would not ask better fun. Are you for peace or war? Will you leave this black beetle or stay?”

“I will protect this lady from insult, no matter from what quarter it may come.”

“Be it so–you have chosen,” and with a wild laugh Nina rushed away in the direction of the dancers.

“She is intoxicated and capable of doing anything,” cried the Count. “Come this way, Madame; take my arm. I know every turning in the Mabille, and there is a secret door at the back of that elm tree. Let your servant go to the carriage. Be quick!”

Already a din of excited sounds came from the dancers—there was not a second to be lost.

“Jules, go to the carriage—I will be there in a minute.”

The “Lady in Black” took Maltonnier’s proposed arm, and he led her around at a run to the left of the kiosk, and behind a gigantic elm tree. There stood a small door. It was locked; with one kick from the heel of his boot Count Maltonnier burst it open, and, hurrying his fair companion through a sort of lane full of broken bottles, lobster-shells and all sorts of abominations, reached the entrance, which was a blaze of light. At the gate stood Ehrich Rothschild, stupefied, bewildered, having followed the footman.

“Step in quickly,” cried the Count to the “Lady in Black.”

Jumping into the carriage and banging the door after him, ere Rothschild could recover from his amazement the vehicle was disappearing at the turn into the Champs Elysees.

“Well won!” cried Ehrich Rothschild to Colonel St. Maur, of the Voltigeurs of the Guard, who had also watched the proceedings as umpire.

“Well won, indeed, Ehrich! That means a hundred thousand francs out of the Rothschild exchequer. Poor beggars, can they afford it?” and with a light laugh the warrior sauntered toward the Rue Royale.

In the meantime the adventurous Count Maltonnier and the “Lady in Black” tore down the Champs Elysees.

“I hope you will forgive me,” he pleaded, in a tender tone.

“I suppose I must,” she replied.

“And won’t you tell me your name?”

“Yes. I will tell it to you. I am Jeanette Crilly. You are not a bit the wiser now, are you?”

“Oh, yes I am, Jeannette Crilly. And why do you always dress in black, always drive in a black carriage lined with black and drawn by black horses; always have your servant in black; always come to the Mabille at a certain hour and to the second?”

“Just to have myself talked about.”

“But why?”

“Because I am paid ten francs a day on account of my figure, which is perfect. My face is ugly.”

“Ten francs a day for what?”

“Well, I don’t mind telling you, as I commence to distribute hand-bills tomorrow night. I am advertising the St. Etienne soap.”

“Good heavens! And this carriage, these horses, these servants—“

“Are all in the employment of the St. Etienne Soap-Works Company on the Quai Sylvestre. I shall send you a few dozen cards to-morrow.”

The Count Maltonnier won his wager, and, what is more, he fell over head and ears in love with Jeannette Crilly, who was an honest girl enough, and she is now Countess de Maltonnier.

She did not go to the Mabille after that remarkable night, and the Soap Company had to provide itself with a new medium of advertisement.

Cincinnati [OH] Enquirer 23 Sep 1882: p. 11

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: The Jardin Mabille was, like London’s Vauxhall Gardens, a pleasure-resort, bal venue, and haunt of the rich and the fashionable, as well as of those fashionable grand-horizontals who wished to ally themselves with wealth. (But really, Nina Vermuth?)  This excellent post gives a history and some images of Jardin Mabille. Mrs Daffodil is amused by the ambiguous description of Mme. Crilly  as “honest enough.” St. Etienne Soap-Works Company seems to have been a real manufactory, so is not the soap-maker’s ingenious scheme perhaps the earliest example of what is known today as “viral marketing?”

The Strange Appetites of a Hungarian Count

kiss pianist

A postcard, later in date than our story, but expressive of the Count’s strange lusts.

A VAMPIRE,

Though In Human Form.

Strange Appetite of a Hungarian Count.

Nothing Save the Taste of Human Blood Satisfied Him.

Disguised as a Music Teacher He Got a Number of Girl Pupils,

Picked Out His Victim, and, With the Aid of His Wife,

He Would Make a Sharp Cut in the Back of the Neck,

Then Suck the Warm Blood Until He Had His Fill.

How a Clever Detective Got On To the Fiend and Brought Him To Justice.

Translated for The Enquirer from the French Police Records, by E.C. Waggener.

One morning in the year 1867 [another edition says 1880], third-floor apartments were taken at 319 Rue St. Honore, Paris, by a couple with Austrian passports, who called themselves Jean Kislov and wife. Kislov gave out his occupation as that of musician, a teacher as well as composer. He was also a man of education, well-informed on many subjects, haughty and aristocratic in manner, and unusually striking in appearance, with his long, cadaverous face set in a frame of thick, black hair and ornamented with a long mustache that hung to his breast. His eyes, intensely black and singularly brilliant, flashed and burned as if they belonged anywhere in the world rather than in that ghastly white mask, cold and expressionless as stone and the pallor of it heightened by vividly red lips.

He was thin, too, as a shadow, though there was nothing of the look or the languor of disease about him. On the contrary, a fire and vim about all he did that, coupled with his dress—entirely black and of the finest fabric, was of itself impressive.

Mme. Kislov was a less distinguished person, a florid blonde, with the white-eyebrows and the pinkish tint of the skin about them, peculiar to Albinos. She was very plump, as well, and with the rose bloom laid on her glistening white skin, looked precisely like a wax doll.

They had lived in the Rue St. Honore in the neighborhood of four months when something happened that, taken with later developments, brought Kislov under the surveillance of the police. Riding in a fiacre on day on the Boulevard Montmartre, he was assaulted by a workman with a knife, who would have killed him, but for the prompt assistance of a sergeant de ville.

He was arrested, but, strange to say, Kislov refused to testify against him, and Jasz, who was a Hungarian, was finally discharged. All that he would say was that he knew Kislov, and that he was a monster.

Naturally this statement and Kislov’s refusal to appear against the assassin provoked inquiry into the musician’s antecedents. Two things were promptly demonstrated—that his name was not Kislov, and that he was a buyer of considerable arsenic in the pharmacies of his neighborhood.

Further inquiry, however, soon set the official curiosity at rest. The Austrian Embassy, which had stamped Kislov’s passport, told the Paris authorities that they knew him well, and were satisfied with his reason for living incognito. He was a Hungarian nobleman of rank and great wealth, and had left his estates to live in France under an assumed name because the stupid and ignorant peasantry had got it into their heads that he was a vampire who lived on human blood.

This explained the attempt made on his life by Jasz, who was doubtless from his neighborhood. As for the arsenic, Mme. Kislov was a Styrian and an accredited arsenic eater; while the professional teaching of Kislov was the simple eccentricity and fad of an artistic enthusiast.

The agent of the Police Bureau, however, was not satisfied with the report of the Austrian officials, and determined to pursue the inquiry on his own account. To this end, Sylvain, a man of great shrewdness and authority, hunted up Jasz, and learned by persistence questioning, that the vampirism business and charges against Kislov were intimately connected with this alleged music mania, and absolutely in some ways inexplicable.

It was a clew for Sylvain. He set to work to look into Kislov’s pupils and teaching methods. The first point discovered was that Kislov’s classes were composed entirely of young women; that he gave his instruction for a merely nominal pay, but exacted perhaps the most arbitrary conditions: in short exercised over his pupils a species of despotism as strange as it was imperious. He dismissed or received them at pleasure and without cause; assumed a right of arbitrary selection that he allowed no one to dispute; He would have absolutely none but good-looking pupils and these always must be blondes. The fairer they were the more likely they were to be accepted. More than this, he confined his pupils to the middle classes, only in very rare instances consenting to receive one from the higher social circles.

To offset all this Kislov was said to be and was, an extraordinary teacher, thoroughly master of his art and possessing the faculty of imparting to his pupil his own enthusiasm. When a pupil pleased him he spared no time or pains to cultivate and improve her efficiency. A fine conversationalist and with a fund of widespread information, his pupils seemed to find a magnetic spell in the somber mystery of his flashing eyes, the tender courtesy of his sympathetic manners, which made them not only like the man, but improve rapidly and charmingly under his guidance.

Still, this was the curious point, as Sylvain had discovered—there was always an impassioned end to this triumphal progress, and the relations of master and pupil abruptly terminated. The pupil, after an almost tender friendship with the teacher, would be startled by a sudden inexplicable coldness and a dismissal so abrupt, rough, and peremptory, as to admit of no protest; else invited to go to Mme. Kislov’s apartment to practice some original music on his own piano, one of incomparable tone. In the last case, the pupil was never taught again; in the second case the pupil never returned to the wife’s apartment to practice a second time. The circumstances, as Sylvain found. When he personally investigated the cases of the favored pupils invited to practice at Kislov’s house, were mainly the same with one and all.

The case of Mlle. Swartz, for instance, the daughter of a German concierge. She was a brilliant blonde, young, about 17 years, with a very fair voice and preparing to go on the stage. A plump, good-natured soul, full of archness and a frank grace that would greatly aid her in her profession, she was the picture of joyous health; a rosy Hebe of Saxon lineage, with the blue eyes of Franconia and the yellow locks of the English girl.

She was received at Kislov’s house with delighted courtesy by the tutor and with gracious ease by madame, his wife. The team room was rather dark, shaded by crimson curtains that shed a deep glow on everything, and in the air a strong, tropical odor of perfume that was somewhat oppressive. Mlle. Swartz’s faith and admiration for her teacher were unbounded, though mingled with a little awe, which made her feel confused and a little dizzy when, presently, after a little chat, Kislov advanced to lead her to the piano, a confusion that did not wear off, but rather increased as she began to play the opening bars of a piece of music. Kislov accompanying her with a flute and Mme. Kislov occasionally chiming in with a chord on the guitar.

All at once there was a blank, and when she came to herself, she was at an open window, and Mme. Kislov was bending over her with gentle solicitude.

“You are better now?” she asked. “You are not alarmed, my dear? The room is too warm, and made you faint.”

Then Kislov, in his deep, sonorous voice added: “Stafosta, you had better call a carriage and accompany Mlle. Swartz home.

Unhappily, owing to the dizziness and languor that possessed her, Mlle. Swartz scarcely noticed anything. All she thought of or desired was to be taken home, which was speedily done.

She was as white as linen, and frightened her people cruelly. But Mme. Kislov explained it as the result of a fainting fit and declared that she would be quite well the next day. She was not well the next day, however, and it was fully three months before the deadly pallor left her. Meanwhile a note had come from Kislov, stating that, owing to unavoidable circumstances, &c., he would not be able to permit Mlle. Swartz to resume her studies under his direction—something she had no intention of doing, her liking and reverence having given place to an invincible repugnance.

Four others among Kislov’s pupils, Sylvain found, had suffered almost identical experiences with those of Mlle. Swartz. He was still pondering the mystery, when a sixth case came to his ears that was exciting interest in a considerably higher circle. A Mlle. Goijoux-Enchuysen, daughter of a rich Dutch banker, who had been in Paris since 1868, and also been taking music lessons from Kislov. She was as perfect a blonde as Mlle. Swartz, but delicate, less robust and exceedingly nervous. She returned from her visit to Kislov’s house in a dead swoon, followed by fever and delirium.

In seeking to quiet her restless tossings the nurse found the pillow supporting her head stained with blood and examination disclosed a small wound on the back of the neck from which the blood oozed freely. A surgeon was promptly called, who found the hemorrhage, though small, stubbornly persistent and only to be conquered by powerful styptics. The character of the wound also puzzled him greatly, being, as he said, with the attending bleeding, singularly like an exaggerated leech bite.

Kislov stoutly denied that she had been hurt while with him, and the doctor could not dispute it, since he had found no trace of it in his first examination of his patient. He was, nevertheless, worried enough to appeal to the police for particulars, concerning Kislov and thus it came to Sylvain’s ears.

Sylvain called at once on the doctor, and finally induced him to see Mlle. Swartz and the other pupils of Kislov similarly troubled. Three weeks later Jean Kislov and wife were summoned before the Judge d’Instruction—Sylvain had made his case.  

Kislov at first haughtily refused to answer, but finally admitted that he was not Jean Kislov, but the Comte Hadnaji Jotintzo; that his wife was the Comtesse Starnoska, and that his Hungarian estate lay on the Teiss, near the town of Madriega. The practices attributed to him were ridiculous rubbish and simply incredible that the authorities of enlightened Paris should be touched with the childish superstition of ignorant peasant boors.

Mlle. Swartz and the other pupils called—Mlle. Goijoux-Enchuysen being still too ill to appear—and testified to the facts already told. The surgeon of Mlle. Goijoux-Enchuysen, however, appeared, and testified to his patient’s condition. She was as feeble as a babe, as if sapped of all strength, and though superficial in depth, the character of the wound was such that he would stake his reputation on the fact that she had either been cupped there or that the wound had been sucked. The neck of Mlle. Swartz, also the other four pupils, showed a small scar, precisely in the position of the wound on his patient’s neck.

Then Mlle. Leonide Saumaise was called, a handsome blonde, with a resolute chin, but a face betraying the pallor of recent illness. In obedience to the instruction of M. Sylvain, she had applied to Kislov for music lessons; had been received into his classes, and at last invited to his house, according to the regular programme.

Briefly, she was a spy, and her object to find out the truth of Kislov’s practices for the information of the police. Sylvain watched her movements and was always at hand in case his services were needed, and she herself was provided with ammonia and stimulants to enable her to resist the stupor that had vanquished the others. She had succumbed, however, like the rest, and recovered to find herself pale and faint, as if from copious bleeding.

Instead of going or being taken home at once like the others, she had gone immediately with M. Sylvain to the doctor, the same whose testimony had just been taken and who attended Mlle. Goijoux-Euchysen, and had her neck examined. There was no pain, and at first no appearance of a wound, but the microscope revealed a place over which a sort of membranous film had been skillfully applied. This removed disclosed a shallow lancet wound, the bleeding from which had been checked with styptics and the cut closed with consummate skill.

Here the examination had to close for the day to be resumed on the morrow, and Comte Jotintzo and his wife, under heavy bonds, allowed to go home, but under the secret surveillance of Sylvain, still determined to keep the couple in constant sight.

Armed with a provisional warrant, he took up his watch in a room that he had hired for the purpose immediately beneath the apartment of Kislov and his wife.

Everything seemed as usual, but toward midnight Sylvain was suddenly startled by a piercing shriek in the room above him and a heavy fall. Without losing a second, he darted upstairs and burst open the door. Here a scene met his gaze never to be forgotten.

The gas-jets flamed high, the room was filled with a stifling odor, and on the floor in her night robe, white and still as marble, lay the Comtesse full length, with the Comte kneeling beside her, his lips glued to her neck.

As Sylvain burst the lock he turned upon him eyes glaring like a madman’s, his face and shirt were bespattered with blood, and his mouth and chin literally dripping gore. Even as Sylvain looked the wretch dropped his head and seized again the throat of his victim, snarling and gulping like a feeding tiger.

Recovering himself the officer leaped forward, pistol in hand, but Jotintzo, with a wild cry and bound, sprung to his feet, thrust him like a feather out of his way and fled the room. Sylvain vainly firing upon him as he ran.

The alarm was given and surgeon summoned, but Mme. Jotintzo never regained consciousness. Her neck and flesh were frightfully torn and she died during the night. Her husband, escaping for the moment, was two days later found in the wood of Vincennes, and found dead, as the post-mortem demonstrated, from arsenical poisoning. His wife’s blood had killed him, though the precautions she had taken to preserve her own life had failed of their purpose.

Examination of the apartment showed that the Comte produced insensibility in his victims by means of a preparation of ether, disguised by strong perfumes and diffused by the piano keys. Once overcome, he renewed the dose as long as needed. This apparatus, together with another of rubber, constructed for tapping a vein without injuring the integuments, a box of styptic ointment, and one of leaf fat skin for the closing of incisions, settled the fact that the wretch was fully equipped for the gratification of his horrible appetites and to escape detection.

Moreover, Jotintzo’s vampirism was well known to his family. He had killed two other wives by the same mad thirst for human blood, and had been forced by his relatives to marry this Styrian arsenic-eater, believing she would be safe. In a word, she was Kislov’s keeper—a woman of low birth, who knew whom she was marrying, and who consented to live with him and prevent his doing murder, at the same time permit him a moderate indulgence in his devilish appetites whenever it could be done safely, she always to approve the victim, be present at the time and regulate the quantity of blood taken.  Mme. Kislov had met the fate she deserved.

Cincinnati [OH] Enquirer 26 June 1892: p. 17 

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil really cannot censure the negligent parents of these young lady pupils sufficiently. Are they mad? Entrusting their ewe-lambs to a foreigner, a Count, dressed all in black, with pale skin and flashing eyes! With incarnadined lips! Do these parents not read serialized Gothic novels? 

However Mrs Daffodil is full of admiration for the notions of ether being released by piano keys and the Styrian arsenic-eater’s blood poisoning her vampiric husband. They are truly inspired ideas and deserve a wider and more practical application.

For a truly gorge-rising post of another human vampire–from 1870 New York–please visit this Haunted Ohio blog link.

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.