The Algona Republican from Algona, Iowa on December 23, 1891 · Page 2
Get access to this page with a Free Trial
Click to view larger version

The Algona Republican from Algona, Iowa · Page 2

Publication:
Location:
Algona, Iowa
Issue Date:
Wednesday, December 23, 1891
Page:
Page 2
Cancel
Start Free Trial

Page 2 article text (OCR)

2 TIIK UKPUiVUCAN, ALOONA, IOWA, WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 23, 1801. W. HUME. CHAPTER XIL 6B8 WAS A raUB WOMAN. Melbottrn* «ocietjr wai greatly agitated over the hansom cab murder. Before the omatsin had been discovered it had been looked upon as & common murder, and one that society need take no cognizance of beyond the fact that it was something new to talk about But now the affair was assuming gigantic proportions, since the assassin had been discovered to be one of the most fashionable young men in Melbourne. Mrs. Orundy was shocked and openly talked about having nourished a viper in her bosom, which had turned unexpectedly and stung her. In Toorak drawing rooms and Melbourne clubs the matter was talked about morn, noon and night, and Mrs. Grundy declared positively that she never heard of such a thing. Hero was a young man, well born— "the Fitzgerald, my dear, an Irish family, with rctyal blood in their veins" — well bred— "most charming manners, I assure you, and so very good looking," and engaged to one of the richest girls in Melbourne — "pretty enough, madam, no doubt, but he wanted her money, sly dog." And this young man, who had been petted by the ladies, voted a good fellow by the men and was universally popular, both in drawing room and club, had committed n vulgar murder— it was truly shocking. A- i -i MI-. Felix Rolleston, it was a time of gn : : .;•.'>• to him, knowing as he did all tho civc.. •' ,iLH-es of the case and the dramatis pers.i.. •. When any new evidence came to light. Uulleston was the first to know all about it, and would go round to his friends and relate it with certain additions of his own, which rendered it more piquant and dramatic. But when asked his opinion as to the guilt of the accused he would shake his head sagaciously, and hint that both ho and his dear friend Calton— ho knew Calton to nod to— could not make up their minds upon the matter. » "Fact is, don't you know," observed Mr. Rolleston, wisely, "there's more in this than meets the eye, and all tl;ar. sort of thing — think 'tective fellers wrong tnj'self — don't think Fitz killed Whyte; jolly well sure he didnV Mr. Rolleston, however, in spite of his asseverations, had no grouads for his belief that Fitzgerald was innocent, and iu his heart of hearts thought him guilty. But then he was one of those people who, having either tender hearts or obstinate natures — more particularly the latter — always make a point of coming forward as champions of those in trouble with the world at large. There is a proverb to the effect that the world kicks a man •when he is down; but if one half of the world does act in such a brutal manner, the other consoles the prostrate individual with half pence. Bo, taking things as a whole, though the weight of public opinion was dead against the innocence of Fitzgerald, still he had his friends and sympathizers, •who stood up for him and declared that he had been wrongly accused. Calton was very much annoyed at Brian's persistent refusal to set up the defense of an alibi, and, as he felt sure that the young man could do so, he was anxious to find out the reason why he would not do so. "If it's for the sake of a woman," he said to Brian, "1 don't care who she is, it's absurdly Quixotic. Self preservation is the first law of nature, and if my neck was in danger I'd spare neither man, woman nor child to save it." "1 dare say," answered Brian; "but .if you had my reasons you might think differently." In his own mind tho lawyer had a theory which sufficiently accounted for Brian's refusal to answer for his doings on that night. Fitzgerald had admitted that he had an appointment on that night, and that it was with a woman. He was a handsome fellow, and probably his morals were no better than those of other young men, so Calton thought that Brian had some intrigue with a married woman, and had Useii with her on tho night in question; hence his refusal to speak. If he did so her name would tie brought into the .: • . . -...<• outraged Irasband, vrfcocver 1>3 . •• . -.v.iuld iut.rjioso, and the who^e "i- • 1'i'oliubly end in adivorco court "i. .- '•. ... .• i'nr liiiu to lose his character ' ' '••" ' ••." argueU Culton, "and that ii •• . to speak— it would bo hard on • •••« ..... , tut when n man's neck is in <' . P -i :• •::<! ''i,;Lt to risk anything ratherthan SCO him hanged." Full of theso perplexing thoughts, Calton •went flox-n to St. KLildu to hove a talk with Mndge over the mutter, and also to see if she would help him to obtain the information he wanted. He luid a great respect for Madge, knowing u-hat a clever woman she was, and thought that, seeing Brian was so deeply in love with her, if she saw him about the matter he might be induced to confess everything. The lawyerfoundMod^f waiting anxiously to see him, and when he entered she sprang forward with a cry of delight. "Oh, where have you been all this timer she said, anxiously, as they sat down. "J have been counting every moment since I eaw you last How is he—my poor darlingr "Just the same," answered Calton, takinq off his gloves, "stili obstinately refusing to save hjs own life. Where's your father!" he asked, suddenly. "Out of town," she answered, impatiently. "He will not be back for a week—but what do you mean that he won't save his own life?" Calton leaned forward, and took her band. "Do you want to save his lifel" he nsked. "Save hi* life!" she reiterated, starting up out of her chair with a cry; "God knows, I would die to save him." "Pish," murmured Calton to himself, ai be looked at her glowing face and outstretched hand*, "these women are always in extremes. The fact is," he said aloud, "Fit* gerald i» able to prove an alibi, and he ro- 'fuses to do go." "Put wnyr •Gallon ghrugged bit shoulders. "That is best known to himself—some Quixotic idea of honor, I fancy. Now, to refuses to tell me where h* wn» on that night; perhaps he wont refuse to tell you—so you must come up and we him with mo, and per- baps he will recover hi* senses, and confess. 11 "But my father," «he faltered. "Did you not t*y ha was out of town!" asked Culton. "Yes," hesitated M*dg«. "But he told me not to cm " "In that case," said Cahon, rising and taking up hi» bat and glove*, "I won't oak you." She laid her bond on bis arm. "Stop! will it do any_goodr Cfeltou boiitatod a moment, "for be thought (hat if. .th» ntjoa of Brioa 1 * alienee was, as h* aft intrigue witfe a married wo- curtaialjr not toll the girl h« -about it—but, on tbeotb«r hood, ther* might b» tamo otber reason, and Ca)toatnHl*d«oMadgetofludit«ttt With these thought! in hie mind be turned round. "Yes," to oMwand, boldly, M it may save hi* lite." "Then I will f«," she answered, recklataty. «H«i»i«ar*tQaw than 07 father, and tf I tttaawe hto, I will Watt,' •*, *» m» "An uncommonly plnekv gtrl,* nmrattnd the lawyer, a* toe looked cntt of tb* Window. "It Fittgerald is not a fool he will certainly (ell her all—that is, of course, if he i* able io —queer things these women ore—1 qnite agree with Bafeitff saying that no woftder tton <k>uldfi't understand woman, teeing that Ctod, who created her, foiled to do so." Madge came back dressed id go oat, with ft heavy veil over her face. "Shall I order the carriager she asked, pulling on her gloves with trembling fingers. "Hardly," answered Calton dryly, "unless you want to see a paragraph In the society papers to the effect that Miss Madge Fret- tlby visited Mr. Fitzgerald in jail, no—no- no—we'll get a cab. Come, my dear," and taking her arm he led her away. They reached the station, and caught a train just as it started, yet notwithstanding Madge was in a tever of impatience. "How slow it goes," she said, fretfully. "Hush, my dear," said Calton, laying his hand on her arm. "You will betray yourself—we'll arrive soon—and save him." "Oh, God grant we may," she said, with a low cry, clasping her hands tightly together, while Calton could see the tears falling from under her thick veil I "This is not the way to do," ho said, almost roughly; "you'll go into hysterics soon—control yourself for his sake." "For his sake," she muttered, and, with a powerful effort of will, calmed herself. They soon arrived in Melbourne, and, getting a hansom, drove up quickly to the jail. After going through the usual formula they entered the cell where Brian was, and, when the warder who accompanied them opened the door, found the young man seated on his bed, with his face buried in his hands. He looked up, and, on seeing Madge, rose and held out his hands with a cry of delight. She ran forward, and threw herself on his breast with a stifled sob. For n short time no one spoke—Calton being at the other end of the cell, busy with some notes which he had taken from his pocket, and the warder having retired. "My poor darling," said Madge, stroking back tho soft fair hah- from his flushed forehead, "how ill you look." "Yes I" answered Fitzgerald, with a hard laugh. "Prison docs not improve a man- does it?" "Don't speak in that tone, Brian," she said; "it is not like you—let us sit down and talk calmly over the matter." "I don't see what good that will do," he answered, wearily, as they sat down hand in hand. "I have talked about it to Calton till my head aches, and it is no good." "Of course not," retorted the lawyer, sharply, as ho also sat down. "Nor will it be any good until you come to your senses, and tell us where you were orf that night." "I tell you I cannot." "Brian, dear," said Madge, softly, taking his hand, "you must tell all—for my sake." Fitzgerald sighed—this was the hardest temptation ho had yet been subjected to—he felt half inclined to yield, and chance tho re- sult—huft one look at Madge's pure face steeled him against doing so. What could his confession bring but sorrow and regret to one whom he loved better than his life? "Madge 1" he answered, gravely, taking her hand again, "you do not know what you ask." "Yes, I do!" she replied, quickrt "I ask you to save yourself—to prove tharyou are not guilty of this terrible crime, .and not to saeriiloe 3 our life for tho sake of'-J Her.: she stopped, and looked helplessly at (':ii;on, for she had no idea of tho reason of 1 i!.::;rerald's refusal to speak. "For the sake of a woman," finished Calton, bluntl)'. "A woman I" she faltered, still holding her lover's-hand. "Is—is—is that the reason?" Brian averted his face. "Yes/" he said, iu a low, rough voice. A sharp expression of anguish crossed her pale face, and sinking her head on her bauds, she wept bill y. Brian looked at her in a dodged kind ot way, and Calton stared grimly at them both. "Look here," said he at length, to Brian, in an angry voice; "if you want my opinion of your conduct. I think you're an infernal scoundrel—begging your pardon, my dear, for the expression. Here is this noble girl, who loves you with her whole heart, and is ready to sacrifice everything for your sake, comes .to implore you to save your life, and you coolly turn round, and acknowledge that you love another woman." Brian lifted his head haughtily, and his face Hushed. "You are wrong," ho said, turning round sharply; "there is the woman for whose sake I keep silence;" and rising up from the bed, he pointed to Madge, ns she sobbed bitterly on it She lifted up her haggard face with an air of surprise. "For my riakel" she cried, in a startled voice. "Oh, he's mad," said Calton, shrugging hjs shoulders; "I will put in a defence of insanity." "No, I am not mad," cried Fitzgerald, wildly, as he caught Madge in his arms. "My darling! My darlingj It is for your sake that I keep silence, and will do so though my life pays tho penalty. 1 could tell you where 1 was on that night and save myself; but if I did, you would learn a secret which would curse your life, and I dare not speak— I dare not." Madge looked up into his face with a pitiful smilo as her tears fell fast. "Dearest," she said, softly, "do not think of me, but only of yourself; better that 1 should endure misery than that you should die. I do not know what the secret can be, but if the telling of it will save your life, do not hesitate. • "See," she cried, falling on her knees, "I am at your feet—I implore you by all the love you ever had for me, save yourself, whatever the consequences may be to me." "Madge," said Fitzgerald, as be raised bet in bis arms, "at one time 1 might have don* so, but now it is too late. There is another and stronger reason for my silence, which I have only found out since ray arrest. I know that I am closing up the one way of escape from this charge of murder, of which I am innocent; but as there is a God in heaven 1 I wear that I will not speak." There was a silence in the cell,, only broken by Madge's convulsive sobs, and even Calton, cynical man of the world though be was, felt his eyes grow wet, Brian led Madge over to him, and placed her in hi* arms, "Take her away," he said, in a broken voice, "or I shall forget I am a man;" and turning away he threw himself »n his bed, and covered bis face with bis hands. Calton did not answer him, but summoned the warder, and tried to lead Madge away. But just as they reached the door she broke, away from him, and, running back, flung herself on her lover's breast^ "My darling] My darling!" the sobbed, kissing him, "you shall not die. I will §ave you in spite at yourself;" and, as if afraid to trust beweU (M»r longer, she ran out ot the coil, followed by the barrister. "tell him to drive to Brian* lodging! io Powlett street, rt she said, laying her hand o* "What foff Mk«d th* lawyer, in astonisfr ment. i "And Abo to go pert th* Melbourne otal), a« I want to stop there.* "What the deuCe doesshe«m«mfw matter*! Calton, as he gave the necessary order* and (topped into the cab. "And now," he asked, looking at his companion, who had let down her Veil, while the cab rattled quickly down the street, "what do you intend to dor , She threw back her veil, and he was astonished to see the sudden change which had come over her. There were no tears now, and her eyes were hard and glittering, while her mouth was firmly closed. She looked like a woman who hod determined to do a certain thing, and would carry out her intentions at whatever cost. "1 am going to save Brian in spite of himself," she said very distinctly. "But howl" "Simply this," she answered. "In the first place, 1 may tell you that I do not understand Brian's statement that he keeps silence for my sake, as there are no secrets in my life that can justify him saying so, but the facts of the cote are simply these: Brian, on the night in question, left our place, at St. Kilda, at 11 o'clock. He told me he would call at the club to see if there were any letters for him, and then go straight homo." "But he might have said that merely as a blind." Madge shook her head. "No, I don't think so. I never asked him where he was going, and he told me quite spontaneously. 1 know Brian's character, and he would not go and tell a deliberate lie, especially when there was no'necessity for it. I am quite certain that he intended to do as he said, and go straight home. When he got to the club ho found a letter the're, which caused him to alter his mind." "But who did he receive the letter from?" "Can't you guess?" she said, impatiently. "From the person, man or woman, who wanted to seo him and reveal this secret about me, whatever it is. He got tbo letter at his club and went down Collins street to meet the writer. At the corner of the Scotch church he found Mr. Whyte, and on recognizing him left in disgust and walked down Russell street to keep his appointment." "Then you don't think he come back?" "I am certain he did not, for, as Brian told you, there are plenty of young men who wear the same kind of coat and hat as he does. Who the second man who got into the cab was I do not know, but I will swear that it was not Brian." "And you are going to look for that letter?' "Yes, in Brian's lodgings." "Ho might have burnt it." "Ho might have done a thousand things, but he did not," she answered. "Brianis the most careless man in tho world; he would put the letter Tiito his pocket, or throw it into the waste paper basket and never think of it again." "In this case he did, however." "Yes, he thought of the conversation he had with tho writer, but not of the letter itself. Depend upon it, we will find it in his desk, or iu one of the pockets of the clothes he wore that night." "Then there's another thing," said Calton, thoughtfully. "The letter might have been delivered to him between the Elizabeth street railway station and the club." "We can soon find out about that," an« <wcred Madge; "for Mr. Rolleston was with lim ut, that time." "So he was," answered Calton; "and here We'll CHAPTER XIII. 4JQH A DUOOVUT. Modf« •topped into the cob, and Cotton pattMdamooMntto toll the cabman to drive to fee railway station, vben (he *toppe4 is Rolleston coming down the street ask him now." The cab was just passing the Burke nmi Wills monument, and Gallon's quick eye liad caught a glimpse of Rolleston coining down the street on the left hand side. Tile cob drove up to the curbing, and Uolleston stopped short, ns Cnltou sprung out directly in front of him. Madge lay hack in the cab and pulled down her veil, not wishing to he recognized by Felix, as she knew that if he did it would soon be all over town. "Hallol old chap," said Rolleston, in considerable astonishment. "Where did you spring fronif 1 ' "From tho cab, of course," answered C.-il- ton, with a laugh. "A kind of Deus ex mnchina," replied Rol- lestou, attempting a bad pun, "Exactly," said Calton. "Look here, Rolleston, do you remember the night of Whyte's murder— you met Fitzgerald at tho railway station/" "In the train," corrected Felix. "Well, well; no matter, you come up with him to the club." "Yes, and left him there." "Did you notice if he received any message while he was with you?" "Any message?" repeated Felix. "No, ho did not; we were talking together tbo wholo time, and he spoke to no one but me." "Was he in good spirits?" "Excellent; made me laugh awfully — but why nil this thusness?" "Oh, nothing," answered Calton, getting back into the cab. "I wanted a little information from you; I'll explain next time 1 see you. Good-by." "But 1 say," began Felix, tint the cab had already rattled away, so Mr. Rolleston turned angrily away. "I never saw anything like these lawyers," he said to himself. "Calton's a perfect whirlwind, by Jove." Meanwhile Calton was talking to Madge. '•You were right," he said, "there must have been a message for him at the club, for he got none from the time be left your place." "And what shall we do now?" asked Madge, who, having beard all the conversation, did not trouble about questioning the lawyer about it. "Find out at the club if any letter was waiting for him on that night," said Calton, as the cab stopped at the door of the Melbourne club. "Here we are," and with a hasty word to Madge, be ran up the steps. He went to the office of the club to find out if any letters hod been waiting for Fitzgerald, and be found there a waiter with whom be won pretty well acquainted. "Look here, Brown," said the, lawyer, "do you remember on that Thursday night when the hansom cab murder took place if any letters were waiting hero for Mr. Fitzgerald »» "Well, really, sir," hesitated Brown, "it's so long ago that 1 almost forget" Calton gave him a sovereign. "Oh! it's not that, Mr. Calton,* 1 said the waiter, pocketing the coin, nevertheless. "But I really do forget." "Try and remember," taid Calton, shortly. Brown made a tremendous effort of memory, and at (ajt gave a satisfactory answer. "No, sir, there were none!" "Are you suref said Calton, feeling a thrill of disappointment. "Quite sure, sir," replied the otber, confidently. "I went to the letter rack wvaral time* that night, and I am sure there were none for Mr. Fitngerald." "Ahl I thought at much," MtM Cotton, heaving a sigh, "Stopl" s«i4 Brown, aj tboucb (Crook with » sudden id** « whttttifnef* "Jttrt before Ifl o'clock, air,* "Who brought itr "A f8ang IWmatt* tit," laid BfoWn, in « tone of disgHst. "A bold thinf, Begfm 1 your pardon, Air; and ho bett*f ihaft in* could bet She bounded to at tne ddjafrft* bold ft* brats, and sings out, 'Is he inf : 'Get out,' I says, 'or I'll call the perlice.' 'Oh no. you won't,' says she; 'You'll give him that, 1 and she shoves a letter in my hands. 'Who's himf 1 asks. '1 dunno, 1 she answers, 'It's written there, and 1 can't read; give It Wm at once, 1 And then she clears out before 1 could stop her." "And the letter was for Mr. Fitzgerald? 1 ' "Yes, sir, and a precious dirty letter it wns.too." "You gave it to him, of course!" "I did, sir. He was playing cards and he put it in his potKet, after having looked at the outside of it, and went on with his game." "Didn't he open it!" "Not then, sir; but he did later on, about a quarter to 1 o'clock. I was In the room, and he opens It and reads it. Then he says to himself, 'Whatd——d impertinence,' and puts it into his pocket." "Was he disturbed?" "Well, sir, he looked angry like, and put his coat and hat on and walked out about five minutes to 1." "Ahl and he met Whyte nt 1," muttered Calton. "There's no doubt about it The letter was an appointment, and he was going to keep it. What kind of a letter was it?" ho asked. "Very dirty, sir, in a square envelope; but the paper was good, and so was the writf ng." "That will do," said Calton; "I am much obliged to you," and he hurried down to where Madge awaited him in the cab. "You were right," he said to her, when the cab was once more in motion. "He got a letter on that night, and went to keep his appointment at the time he met Whyto." "1 knew it," cried Madge with delight. "You see, we will find it in his lodgings." "1 hope so," answered Calton; "but wo must not be too sanguine; he may have destroyed it." "No, he has not," she replied; "I am convinced it is there." "Well," answered Calton, looking at her, "I won't contradict you, for your feminine instincts have done more to discover tho truth than my reasonings; but that is often the case with women—they jump in the dark where a man would hesitate, and in nine cases out of ten land safely." "Alas for the tenth 1" said Miss Frettlby. "She has to be the one exception to prove tho rule." She had in a great measure recovered her spirits, and seemed confident that she would save her lover. But Mr. Calton saw that her nerves were strung up to the highest pitch, and that it was only her strong will that kept her from breaking down altogether. "By Jove," he muttered, in an admiring tone, as he watched her, "she's a plucky girl, and Fitzgerald is a lucky man to have a woman like that in love with him." They soon arrived at Brian's lodgings, and the door was opened by Mrs. Sampson, who looked very disconsolate indeed. The poor cricket had been blaming herself severely for the information she had given to tho false insurance agent, and the floods of tears which she had wept had apparently had an effect on her physical condition, for she crackled less loudly than usual, though her voice was us shrill as ever. "That sich a thing should 'ave 'appened to Im," she wailed, in her thin, high voice. : 'An' me that proud of Mm, not 'avin' any 'amily of my own, except ono os died an' menu up to 'caving arter 'is racner, wnicn i 'opes as they both are now angels, an' frienly, as 'is nature 'ad not developed in this valley of the shathier to determine 'is feelin's towards 'is father when 'o died, beiu 1 carried off by n chill, caused by the change from 'ot to cold, the weather bein' that contrary." They had arrived at Brian's sitting room by this time, and Madge sank into a chair, while Calton, anxious to begin the search, said rather impatiently, as he opened the door for her: "Leave us fora short time, there's a good soul; Miss Frettlby and I want to have a rest, and wo will ring for you when wo are going," "Thank you, sir," said the lachrymose landlady, "an 1 I 'opes they won't 'ang Mm, which is such a choky way of dyin'; but in life we are in death," she went on, rather incoherently, "as is well known to them as 'as diseases, an' may be corpsed at any minute, and as" Here Calton, unable to restrain his impatience any longer, shut the door, and they heard Mrs. Sampson's shrill voice and subdued cracklings die away in the distance. "Now then," he said, "now that we have got rid of that woman and her tongue, where are wo to begin i" "The desk," replied Madce, going over to it; "it's the most likely place." The letter, however, was not to be found in the desk, nor was it in the sitting room; they tried tho bedroom, but with no better result; so Madge was nearly giving up the search in despair, when suddenly Calton's eye tell on the waste paper basket, which, by some unaccountable reason, they had overlooked in their search. The basket was half full, ami, on looking at it, a sudden thought struck the lawyer. He rang the bell, and suddenly Mrs. Sampson made her appearance. "How long has that waste paper basket been standing like that?" he asked, pointing to it "It bein' the only fault I 'ad to find with •im," said Mrs. Sampson, " 'e bein 1 that untidy that 'e a never let me clean it out until 'e told me pussonly. 'E said as 'ow 'e throwed things into it as 'e might 'ave to look up again; an 1 1 'aveu't touched it for more nor six weeks, 'opin 1 you won't think me a bad housekeeper, it bein 1 "is own wish—bein' fond of litter an 1 sich like." "Six weeks," repeated Calton, with a look at Madge. "Ah, and be got the letter four weeks ago. Depend upou it, we shall find it there." Madge gave a cry, and, falling on her knees, emptied the basket out on the floor, and both she and Calton were soon as busy among the fragments of paper as though they were ragpickers. "'Opin' they ain't orf their 'eods," murmured Mrs. Sampson, as she went to the door, "but it looks like it, they bein'" . Suddenly a cry broke from Madge, as the drew out of the mass of paper ft half burnt letter, written on thick and creamy looking paper. "Ah I-a»W .HER NEW YEAR'S SOLILOQUY. ti««jr*tUni?verylftte. foekf fn«, ttttrtTeloektlgntt tt&foif f>L- > K« jt*M he'd come at ttiftfe, bnt then 8tnll°*hotlld thi'nk he might be n«*e Oh tUtii today. 1$ vcfy oueeh Pfethip* he will riot'come at alii •• And yet he has u6 tithe* call; Bat tit ket evoh with him yet) He'll find me in A pretty pot. How dare the fellow make me wait! He has n« right to be so latel Perhaps he's ill. Poor fellow—Welll He's come I know, for there's the hell. Yes, Sarah, say that I'll ho down. I hope he'll like this Paris gown. * ' * * * * * * Ah, Jack, dear, is it really you? No. Sit there, plcaso. I wish, you to. JJo'.v, please, don't tell mo that I'm slow, You came so very soon, you know. TOM LANSING. NEW YEAR'S FOLKLORE. A HAPPYJjjiW YEAR. A Happy New Year! Why» certainly; We flfe all good enough Christiana to fling the Wish at the heads of all our friends, and a few of our enemies, too, not on the let of January only, but every day the year round for the matter of that. Why the wish was pinned to the Janus faced firstling of the year ia a question that would require until the 81st of next December to answer fully, and a rare store of outlandish stuff would be the outcome. The } 1st of April is nearer being the true first j day of nature's year, but we feel a little sensitive about fixing it so, goodness knows why. bur good cousins in Scotland are responsible for the high jinks now gener-, ally associated with New Year's day by the British, just as the Hollanders have the credit of establishing it here. Across j the fiea they celebrate all religious feasts by eating something—at the birth of our ^ Lord they gorge on roast beef and plum pudding, his Easter resurrection by bolting hard boiled eggs, Good Friday is made gloomy by swallowing indigestible hot cross buns and Shrove Tuesday by dyspeptic pancakes. Q We, more truly civilized, mortify the flesh on turkey to show otir thankfulness, and sanctify the year by sipping native wine during its first lunch hour. So, long live our good old customs and a Happy New Year to us all. J. H. Beadle Writes of Some Old Time Indiana Superstitions. Some say that ever 'gainst that season comes Wherein our Saviour's birth ia celebrated, Tho bird of dawning singcth all night long: And then they say no spirit can walk abroad; The nights are wholesome; then no planets strike. No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm, So hallowed and so gracious is the time. So Shakespeare says, or makes Marcellus say and Horatio agree with him, but for some reason I could never discover, the traditions of the south and of southern peoples generally have transferred the larger share of these gracious influences to New Year's night. The rare "Yankee" who penetrated to our section of the lower Wabash valley in the forties and fifties was amazed at our notions, and the New England critic sometimes said that our parents had been "Africanized" in their old homes in the border south. He meant, I suppose, that the poor and middle class whites—the early settlers of the Wabash region—had imbibed the superstitions of the negroes; and there must have been some truth in it, for surely we had many beliefs that no white race would have invented. "To watch the old year out and the new year in," was to see strange sights indeed. Then the cows woiild fall upon their knees and low in a strange, prayerful way; the chickens woiild rise on their perches and stretch their wings as if in prayer; other animals would show devotion after their manner, and all nature would take on an appearance that indicated the beginning of a new life. If the potatoes iu store had sprouted, as they too often did in a warm cellar, the sprouts would often shoot out six inches in as many minutes, arid if the ground near the smokehouse was bare, peculiar white plants would spring up. "I have pulled shoots as long as my arm," one good old lady told me, "but they never would keep. They jes' dried up and blew away before daylight." All this and much more I steadfastly believed, and why not? Hundreds of the best negroes in Kentucky had testified most positively to having seen such things, and though our own white folks had never been so favored, they did not contradict the old negroes and the old white people who had seen them. One sight, however, I did see, and that was the "world iu an egg." If the sun shone bright on Now Year's day the trial was made by opening the south door of the dwelling and setting a glass half full of water on tho floor in the sunshine. Into this an egg was broken, and as the contents slowly mingled with the water the bright rays of the sun illumining the mass would, show in it men of various nations pursuing their various employments. I saw the "egg men," a few of them, once when I was about eight years old, but have never been able to see them since. Philosophers may supply the explanation. In those days, too, I often saw wonderful things in the clouds, in the coals of the wood fire and in the frost upon the window—angels, fairies and marvelously beautiful birds, lovely faces .and deep vistas of garden and woodland —but I cannot see them now. New Year's in the west and south was then a sort of supplementary Christmas —there was less rioting and more quiet, homely cheer. On Christmas the tendency was to gather at the village or country store to drink and sing, shoot at a mark, wrestle and race; New Year's was the day for relatives and intimate friends to gather and partake of a bountiful dinner. It was about 1850 that "watch night" began to be observed with religious services, at least in our neighborhood, and the old superstitions seemed to disappear all at once. No more praying cows or reverential roosters, no more sprouting plants or "men in the egg," and no doubt the young people of that region would now hear with amazement that any one, no matter how ignorant, ever "took stock iu such things." J. H. BEA.DLB. .OLD STANDBYS. Mrs. Kingley—Do you expect to receive any calls on New Year's day? Mrs. Bingo—Well, I haven't sent out any cards, but I presume a few of my old friends will drop in on me. Little" Tommy Bingo—The butcher said he would come. 1892—LEAP YEAR. A Few Words from tlie Pen of Edith Sessions Tupper. Has it occurred to j'ou, ladies, 'that 1892 is Jeap year? Ring out wild bells to the wild sky and tell each despairing maid that her hour approaches. Not for long will she be forced to pine in solitude, blush unseen and waste her sweetness on the desert air. Her day is coming—the hour in which she can corner the young man of her choice and tell him that life without him will be a void, a howling wilderness. She can soothe his agitation, quiet his fluttering heart, press his manly form in her arms and kiss him smack on the mouth even if he should resist. Ring out, wild bells, and tell the coquettish widow to lay in un extra stock of warpaint and tomahawks, for her hour is, too, at hand. Never backward about manifesting by gentle look, smile or sigh her preferences, she will be at her perihelion during 1892. And vain will be the attempt of man to escape from the sunshine of her affection. He who trusts himself in the society of some man's relict in leap year is lost. Ring out, wild bells, and tell those who have lost even the semblance of hope—those ancient virgins who have looked through many a weary year for the man to come and have ever been disappointed—that hope is not dead even for them; that the door of opportunity will soon be ajar and they alone will be to blame if they enter not, aye, and shut and barricade it behind them. Woman goes through life in a one- half, one-third, one-quarter sort of fashion. Even in the most important step of her career she is condemned to wait. She must stand back with her finger in her mouth and watch the man she would prefer drift from her without making a sign of distress, But some philanthropist, to whom women should be eternally grateful, ordained that once in four years they should have a whack at proposing. Leap year is c n -jservedly popular with the ladies. And the men—what of their feelings in the matter? Do they, timid, shy, frightened lambs, wish to be pursued? Small difference to the resolute woman who proposes to do matrimonial business. She cares not for timidity or coyness. Her time for skirmishing is short —it must be fierce. Rouse maids and widows! the battlefield is open for the conflict. EDITH SESSIONS TUPPBR. HANDICAPPED. NEW YEAR'S CALLS. The fashion seems setting in for improving the New Year's call out of existence. The advance of fashionable progress is a retrogression in common sense. With our hurry scurry mode of life, we have already knocked half the poetry out of it, and it i» really time to call a halt on the movement tor wiping out what renwUa ot the good <M «os- torn* of our grandfathers, WbyahouJd -'%T*SMWp ffrJP ^WplplPKp^ ^1 MBWialll *

Get full access with a Free Trial

Start Free Trial

What members have found on this page