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A MUSIC HAIL TRAGEDY., Issue 7988, 17 August 1889, Supplement
A MUSIC HAIL TRAGEDY.
A FATHER REVENGES HIS CHILD'S ILL-TREATMENT. A SAD STORY. | From Our Special Correspondent?.] London, June 27. A profound sensation was created at the Canterbury Music Hall (which is one of the largest and smartest in London) on Friday ■ night about eleven, when it became known that the head of the Letine troupe of I acrobats, for whose "turn" the audience were even then waiting, had been stabbed and mortally wounded whilst getting out of a cab at the door a few minutes previously. His murderer, so the story went, had shot himself with a revolver after kniving Letine, and both men had been carried off_ to Westminster Hospital in a dying condition. The circumstances of this crime (if indeed crime it can be called) proved on inquiry to be very peculiar. "Letine," says the 'Daily News' of Monday, "had given aperformance at the Paragon Music Kail, in i the Mile-end road, and had driven from thence to the. Canterbury Music Hall, in the Westminster Bridge road, in company with his wife aud his 'troupe' of three young j girls and a child. They travelled in a j private omnibus, and Letine had no sooner j stepped out than he was attacked by I Nathaniel Currah with a formidable knife, i and such wounds were inflicted in the ] abdomen of the unsuspecting performer that j he only lived half an hour or so after reach- i ing St. Thomas's Hospital, which was ; not very far off, and to which he was i promptly carried. What was said by j the assailant on confronting his victim is variously reported, but it was something to ' the effect that' I have waited for you for a long while, and now I have got you.' According to one account, he added ' You killed my Beatie, and I'll kill you.' There can be not the least doubt that the man had for a long time past been fretting under the conviction that his child had died ra consequence of ill-usage on the part of; Mr and Mrs Letine. We are not, of cour.se, to be understood to give at present the slightest support to any such charge, but there can be no doubt at all that Currah believed it. As a matter of undisputed fact the girl had left home a handsome, wen-developed, spirited child of thirteen, and she was brought back by Mr and Mrs Letine in about twelve months a mere wreck. ' As soon as I saw her get out of the train,' said her brother on Saturday, ' saya I to myself " you'll be a corpse any day," ' and medical examination proved that she was eafi'ering from enlargement of the heart, acute bronchitis, congestion of the lungs, and pleurisy, and that she was altogether iu a, » r ery emaciated condition. Crayford is a village in Kent, about sixteen miles from LonoVm Bridge. It has a population of four or fiv.3 thousand inhabitants, and for twenty yeart and more Currah has been engineer of the small waterworks supplying the hood. Everybody knew him and his cfail-' dren, and down there it is universally allowed that the change in the child was a shocking one. They are all agreed, too, that he was a steady, respectable man, of rather a lively, jocular disposition. He is said to have been very averse, to the girl's proposal to join Letine's troupe; but she and a young schoolfellow had seen the advertisement, and were crazy to go. The schoolfellow's father stoutly refuwjd his consent, and kept his girl at homve. Currah reluctantly yielded, and when Uiis bright, handsome; girl came home to him, shrunken to a skeleton and fatally shattered in health, aome degree of remorse evident^' mingled with his indignation. The girl received medical attention, and went fora time to a convalescent home, but she lived ionly for nine or ten months, and died last February. By general testimony the man was ;fond of his children, and proud of them, as he might well be, for they are exceptionally handsome. Currah felt the death o. f his child most acutely. As she lay in the t offin he was seen to pass his hand softly over her brow,' in a strange way,' said the narrator, 'and he said "My poor child: you've been murdered!"' Ever since February last it is agreed on all hands that Curra hj has been an altered man. His son—an it>telligent-looking young fellow, found ot Saturday iu charge of the waterworks, to which his father *vas expected to return for duty on the day he was lying in ambush for; Letine—says that he became strange and rambling and excitable in his manner, and nil his neighbors testify to the same thing. They say he was morose and churlish, and would frequently talk in a rambling, incoherent way. He became, in fact, quite another man. Of course Mr Currah's belief that the ruin of his child's health and her early death were due to the treatment experienced under the hands of Mr aud Mrs Letine may be entirely a delusion. There are some facts which certainly would suggest the bolief that it must have been so. After this girl Beatrice had been with Letine some time, an older sister, Gertrude, engaged herself with him. Mr and Mrs Letine and their troupe lived in a good sized, old-fashioned house—more than comfortably furnished if the drawing room affords any criterion—at the foot of Denmark Hill. Relati% r es on the premises; affirm that 'ill the troupe had the run of the house, were treated in all respects as members of Mr Letine's family; that they travelled professionally in a private omnibus, and at other times in a carriage and pair, an arrangement probably found needful, as they usually gave five performances , at different halls in one night. They were always treated with kindness and liberality, and those who know them in the music-hall world speak well of them. There are, however, statements on the other side which no doubt will hove to be examined iu open Court, and the public will have an opportunity of judging for themselves as to the alleged wrongs of Beatie Currah. It is quite certain that Currah himself believed his daughter had been ill-treated, and it is, moreover, a matter of newspaper record that the fact of the girl's engagement with Letine and return home in ruined health came to the knowledge of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, who appear to have had reason to believe that a little boy at that time in his hands was illtreated and ucglected. A summous was taken out at Lambeth Police Court, and the girl, whose health was alleged to have been ruined in the employment, appeared as a witness against the Letines. The case, however, was dismissed. Five months later the same society brought another charge against the acrobat trainer, at Cardiff, which was the last piece at which the poor girl had performed before going home to die. The society represented themselves in a position to prove that Beatrice Currah had been brought from her bed and compelled to go througli a public performance -when she was ill, and that in order to give proper roundness to her shrunken limbs her tights were carefully padded. But here again the case broke down, though this time without having been fully heard out, the prosecution collapsing on some point of dates. It seems certain that Currah had from the first resolved to be revenged for what he believed to be the ill-usage of his daughter, and probably if these charges against Letine had been sustained, he would have been in a certain sense satisfied. Butthey failed, and ' that,' said an intimate friend of his on Saturday, 'made him more excited and irritable than ever.' His son says that of late he had acquired all sorts of strange habits, such as nervously tying knots in bits of string, and incessantly talking to himself. He would break out in the most violent passion, and would swear in a way he never was accustomed to do, and on more than one occasion he was evidently contemplating suicide. He had written to Mrs Fawcett, having heard of her interest in performing children, and gave her an account, which she afterwards pub, lished, of the sufferings of his child. It is said that he would brood for hours upon a picture over his mantelpiece in which some children were represented hanging flowers on a cross bearing the inscription ' Our little one, 1 which he would occasionally murmur to. himself. He called some six weeks ago at the office of the society in Harpur street, 3loomsbury, and appeared to be in a very distressed condition. He couldn't sleep, he told them, but thought of his poor child night and day. Last week he was seen wandering in the fields near his house without his hat. On Friday last, hia eon Bays, he was libje a, mad'-.
man, and from his appearance he had on the morning of that day evidently been crying. In this frame of mind Currah Btarted for London on Friday morning, having, it is said, made his will, in which he leaves what he possesses to his present wife, whom he married before the death of his child. It seems that ho also drew up some sort of a statement of his intentions, but all concerned in the matter are naturally very reticent about this. With or without such written statement, however, there can be little doubt that he started from his home with the desperate purpose of taking his revenge, in which he was only too successful. Air Letine, when he stepped out of the vehicle, wore his professional 'tights'and spangled costume under a coat and trousers. Currah's stab was low down in the abdomen, and the blade gashed upward in a frightful manner. A relative of the victim thinks there must have been two thrusts. However thia niuy have been, Letine seems to have made a step or two after his assailant as he turned to walk away, and then had only time to gasp 'I am dying!' and fell to the ground. An instant after Currah put a pistol to his own mouth and fired and also fell, and the murderer and murdered lay weltering in blood in the roadway. Both were conveyed to St. Thomas's Hospital, where Mr Letiao died within half an hour of his admission. His assailanthadbeen leas successful in his attempt on his own life, aad seems likely to recover. The general feeling in the neighborhood of Crayford is one of regret that the revolver should have failed to effect its purpose. Whatever may be the degree of moral responsibility under which the deed was committed, the unhappy man unquestionably was actuated by a real or imaginary grievance of the gravest possible kind—and a grievance, moreover, for which he had failed to bring retribution in a court of law."
A MUSIC HAIL TRAGEDY., Issue 7988, 17 August 1889, Supplement
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