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TOPICS OF THE DAY., Evening Star, Issue 12858, 6 July 1906
TOPICS OF THE DAY.
[From Otto Sftcui CoRUKsrotn>ENT.J | LONDON, May 2&. STONY-HEARTED LONDON. A colonial acquaintance with whom I yeateiuay spent .ii. hour or two has given me m:mo interesting details ;vjt<> his experience of being temporarily stranded in London. He says that he would personally prefer being stranded in the Sahara to undergoing another term similar to that which he has recently endured hero. It did not last longer ih-Mi a week- or ten days, but during its course he seems to havo acquired an unenviable insigtit into many things not ordinarily apparent to the casual visitor. Most of us here who have dwelt within sound of Bow Bells for any tittle time have learned what restaurants to avoid if we do not wish to pay extravagant prices for quito ordinary foods, but my informant has become an expert in discovering those humble caravAnsaries where v*m may obtain the maxamumof " filling food" at the minimum of expenditure. He has dined, iv tells me, for several evenings in succession at an average cost of s^d—-the <£d providing a ravory in the afoa-r>e. of an evening paper. Uhe actual menu of these little repasts was simple and short, and consisted of two scones and a mug of cocoa He describes the diet as fairly satisfactory, if a little monotonous But_ what seems to have struck him most forcibly was the terrible loneliness and friendlessness of London to anyone who might be temporarily or permanently "down." Nobody cares. Th-sre is a sense of appalLng loneliness, of unrelieved friend!r-ssness, which the vastness of the place and the swaiming of its hurrying people terribly accentuate. Nt body has any time for the man or won,ao who has no money, or very little of it. That is to say, no unofficial person. He haif regrets, for the suke of an experience whica may not come his way again, that he did not try soup kitchens'and Salvation Army shelters. But he prefeiTed instead to spend of adventurous nights in the streets. There is not space here* to record all his strange foregathering? with human waifs i and derelicts—but they- were many and varied. Particularly alive is he to the sua. picion which the police who moved him on ! when he dozed on benches or on doorsteps seemed to entertain for him. This he accounts for from the fact of his being incongruously well dressed. His period of destitution was not sufficiently lengthy to enable him to altogether "look the part," and he says that he often felt himself to be regarded by- the minions of law and order as some kind of curious freak who was "dome it for fun." Towards four o'clock on a cold morning he saw a woman jump into the Thames, and was much impressed by the stolid and unconcerned manner in which the " other blackguards," as he terms his companions in homelessness, regarded the incident. On the whole he s&ems, now that it is over, to look upon his pilgrimage into submerged London as, if not altogether a joko whiilo it ksted, at anv rate a valuable, instructive experience. One conclusion he has arrived at is that poverty of the kind with whiclij he was brought in contact is utterly unknown in New Zealand or Australia, and that untfl one has rubbed shoulders with it in Lonodon, as he has, one can have no real conception of its dreadful meaning. From his own adventures and misadventures he declares himself enthusiastically in favor of pointing an inexorable moral to all fellow-colonists who may contemplate visiting London—"Whatever you do, don't get hard up in London. There is nothing worse." " 'EAVE 'ABF A BRICK r Finding their " demonstrations" and their speeches of no avail, tho self-styled leaders of the womun's suffrage agitation have started on another tack. They have sent round the fiery cross, and declared open war upun Mr Aequith, the ooliue, the income tax collector, and anyone else who dares to thwart their imperious behest. " H we dont get our votes," they «r- "we will your windows!" And Mr Asquibh is nmrked down as the first- victim of t.he <*--t of woman scorned. Let him treznbb in his shoes, the fais-e caitiff. No luucy will be shown to fuch as he. The swee't seclusion of Cavendish square and all the force and majesty of the law shall not protect him when brickbats hurtle through his window panes. What matier if the aim be something I*sp than true, and faithful adherent* of the Oanse reewve on their back hair the brick? intended for the windows? It is good to suffer for one's cause, and the halo of martyrdom fl-w«,it« the good lady who hits herself behind the ear in launching the dread bolt—l shv iid say brickbat—at the windows of the oppressor. Unfortunately the lady who is to throw the brick—apparently the only one who can be trusted to throw them anything like straight —is a prisoner in her own hou.se. She is defying tbe bailiffs, who wish to distrain upon thf lady's goods and chattels for nonpayment of income tax. "Mrs Montefiore, it appears, refoy&s to pay her. income tax becautio Ghe has no vote. The doors aiid gtctce ai her house at Haa>mersmith 2-"s locked, and ahe remains itwkora wit handing a siege. Outside, are two bailiffs, massed in battle array, while from a secondrfioor window Airs Montefiore harangues the populace. The black and white flags of the Suffragettes wave defiantly from o*y the garden wail, and the front door bears in letters of flaming rod this legend: "We demand the vote this session." Nor.is this all. Within tho CToumds the besieged has hoisted .the red banner of revolt, with the inscription " Women should vote for the laws they obey and the tax they pay.". To complete the forfcificatkwis, haaidbills witi " Votes for. Women" in bold lettering are posted no on tbe outside of the walls, apparently to strike terror into the hearts of the enemy. Thus entrenched, Mrs Montefiore bids diSince to the law. while her supporters crowd the narrow lane outside to cheer her on. Eluding the vigilance of the besiegers, the friends of tho garrison have provkiioned the fortress for three days: bo hope runs -hiAh writhin its frowning w&Hb. Yesterday there was a demonstration in
force on the part of the Suffragette* That ] 3hy, j»hrinking m-aid, Mia* Annie Kenny, tbf ' Lancashire factory girl., marched, down to ! Hammersmith at mid-day at the head of a faithful band of Suffragettes. Miss Kenny carried a flag with the usual device, "We demand the vote- tfc# session/' Mrs IHontefiore, q, friend, and a dog surveyed the inspiriting scene from the second -storey window, and presently the first-named" broke out into a fjpry speech. Mr AsquiUx, she declared, was opposing femiUp euffvige, and if she were free she would at once go to demonstrate before Mr Asquith s house and break his windows. Whereupon the ladies gave three cheers fa? ft!ib Montefiore and three hoots for C.B. and the Cabinet. Then Miss Kenny and Miss Billington in turn mounted on a chair afld harangued tbe crowd. "Wenre prepared to go to prison also," they shunted. "We shall have twenty-two women in prison before another month is out if something is not done for j the women of this country." I And itl is my opinion that these gentle ! ladies will not be really happy until they do get sent to prison. , A BOOM L>- BUS TICKETS. " Save your tram ajid bus tickets," is the tote>i u'vice to Londoners on the payt of th« Harmsworth newspapers!. These Utile sups oj board art at a premium just now. You very seldom see one thrown away. Under ordinary conditions the floor of a bus or tram is usually littered with discarded tickets; now it remains as clear of Utter aa when it left the terminus in the morning- The purchaser of a penny ticket Qirtfully puta it jn hjs pogketi book,, as though it were a cboqne or a. pas? for the opera. People even take bus rides for the sole purpose of getting ticket* Small boys hang round the tramway termini and' besiege the passengers as they alight with requests for tram tickets. Some of the boys dispose of the tickets thus collected at the rate of a penny or twopence a dozen; others take them home and add them to the family store. Altogether there is a great boom in tho once humbla token of a penny fare. The reason ia not far to seek. Each ticket represents a number in an ingenious species of lottery. The * Weekly Despatch' is offering a sovereign each for specified bus or tram tickets from anywhere in England [ and Wales, while the ' Daily Mirror '—that j enfant terrible of Carmelite House— i$ publishing daily the numbers of the London j tickets for which money will be given, in ; sums ranging up to £lO. If you find that >ou hold a ticket bearing one of the numbers given by the 'Mirror,' you take it to the office of that paper and receive £l, £2, or ss, as the case may be, according to the group to which tht> number is included. The recipients of the prizes *t both places are drawn from widely different classes. Working women with shawls over their shoulders, city men in silk hats, Post OfSc© clerks, and errand boys arc among the fortunate once. Some received their tickets from tl>e conductors in payment t>f their ordinary farce, others picked thein up in the streets. One delighted, middle-aged woman, who said her husband had been out of work for J three weeks, explained that she got her ticket in this way. The 'Daily Mirror,' meanwhile, is treating its readers to some very touching stones in the form of interviews with prize-win-ners. I quote one or two as a specimen of London's mental pabulum in these enlightr eced days:— Two and a-halt hours after his usual bed-time, Master Alfred Bastone, aged nine, of 4 Mere-dene street, Brixton HiU, was still collecting tramcar tickets at the Streatham. toruimus. "Never mind, mother," he said, by way of excuse on bis return to Mrs W, Ba/stonc, wino was. like most mothers, inclined to be cross with him for being ktc, "I'm sure I've got the 'Daily Mirror' £5 prize ticket amongst this lot." Then he held up a packet of about a hundred, which be had already arranged in alphabetical order. Lite a good boy be trotted off to bed, and in the morning his words came true. Rp. 8,991 Angell road was the 'Daily Minor' £5 prize-winn.ng ticket, and it was the first one in Alfred's collection. "Alfred will bo quite, proud when we all go on our summer holidays this year," Mra Bastone told the ' Daily" Mirror' yesterday. "He has set his mind on sharing tho expense, and we shall Jet him." Another prize-winner, a joiner, out of work ■ for some time, got employment on Tuesday, and started out for Victoria with a light heart, a bag of tools, and a twopenny bus ticket That particular pasteboard slip was the lint one he had saved, and, much to his surprise, it proved to be one lie saw advertised for at a price of £5. So on the same day lie obtained work and won a £5 prize. " I always understood that people whose names form a word are lucky," he said, "and as my initials form the word gas, perhaps that explains why I was so fortunate twice on the same day. I started, work this morning." Everybody is wondering now whether ' The Times' advertising staff will allow themselves to be outdone by tho ' Daily Mirror ' and the ' Weekly Despatch.' Are we to have 'Times' gilts to holders of pass-out cheques at tho theatre, and 'Times' interviews with little Willie when bo wins a prize Wfll it come to that ? THE ONLY WAT. The secret of "Mane Derval," the niys'terious woman who poisoned herself at Liffen's Hotel, Pimlico, some vwo months ago, alter destroying nearly every clue worth the name to her identity, has just been revealed. The unhappy woman was a Ru.sian jxilicc spy, and killed herself in despair of escaping the vengeance of the Nihilists, who had .sentenced her to death! two years before for the betrayal of their I comrades to justice Her real name is still unknown. She has pa&-ed under the names of Helene De Krebel and Marie Derval, and for some considerable time has been a fugitive from Rus. ia, travelling all over Hie world to escape assassination. At Liffens she pretended to be an American. She had only arrived at the hotel the day before her dead body was discovered standing upright against her bedroom wall. Five empty laudanum bottles told how she. had died, and a letter to the hotel proprietor asking forgiveness for the trouhlr. she might him contained this request: Let them dispose oi me as promptly as possible, and in the cheapest poss bie way. I want to bo cremated, aud my ashes scattered anywhere, and I beg to avoid an autopsy, and aL>o publicity. Lot me disappear as quietly as can be. She left the contents of her purse—some 550 francs —to the landlord to recompense him for his trouble, and her luggage to the chambermaid. "Marie Derval is said to have joined the Nihilists several years ago, and proved a valuable ally to the Russian authorities. Her timely" warnings foiled many a well-laid plot, anil on one occasion, it is said, a message from her saved the life of the Czar. Then the supicions of the Terrorists fell upon her, and to try her fidel ty she was commanded to assas inate an official whose death the revolutionaries desired. She feigned a glad assent, but instead of carrying out her task supplied details of the plot to the police. Some of the consp'rators were ;yre ted, but others escaped, and they set themselves to the task of hunting down the traitress. "Mario Derval." however, had fled from Russia, and for two years her constant travelling baffled the hunters. For a time she made America her home, and then came to England, subsequently crossinsr to Paris. Here for a time she lived in humble in a secluded suburb. But ber period of quietude did not last long. Early in March the fugitive received a letter which upset -her terribly. Others in the house remember the incident well, for it was at first thought that she had gone mad. She shut herself in her room, and insisted on lockincr and barrin? the door. She wept-, shrieked aloud, and walked the room as one demented. Wh<-n she r?eovered from this rhp Announced ber "ntent on of 'earn.' Pari foit 1 - ! with. She wro'e a letter to he.- parent ip j. Hnss?a announcing that she was going to | commit strcide. She then packed fr»-n j boxes, which she sent to a local fumifr J warehouse to be stored, and, telling the I people in the bonce that she would not r---i turn, she quitted her lodgings and fled to j London, The letter that caused her sudden I flight from Paris has not been found. The : a-sumption.is that it was from some friendly ■ hand warning her that she had been tracked Idasrn by the eaenjv, Qa her arrival ai
Liffep'a Hotel she seems to have made up her mind that it was useless to hope any longer to escape death the ha,nds of her enemies, and therefore agticjpited th,ejr vengeance. WEIRD BELIEFS 151 THE WEST CQUNTRIt. In these days it is hard to believe that even in the "back-blocks" of the West Country such extraordnary superstitionscan exist as those- discovered among the Devon peasantry by an inquisitive traveller' who recently toured in "Ciderland." In many parts of rural Devon it is. believed that if a lady's surname after marriage begins with the isms letter as her maiden surname she will be very unlucky, but these " unlucky" ones are., however, believed. to possess compensating advantages, in that they are able to cure juvenile Whooping congb is included in the category, and when mothers find that dragging their children through three parishes in one day does not effect a cure they promptly take them off to be " doctored" by ladies who have not changed the first letter of their name by marriage. It is claimed that whatever such women give a sick child to eat \yUl cure the. complaint. Other strange "cures" for whooping comrh arc in vogue in Devonshire Many believe that the complaint can be eradicated from a child's system by letting the little sufferer wear a hairy caterpillar in a small bag round the neck. * Others hold that if a hair is taken from a child's head, put between a slice of bread and butter, and given to a dog, the child will recover if the dog coughs, as it certainly, will if the hair touches ita throat. Another extraordinary belief prevalent is that a child can be cured of whooping cough if, while the dew is on the ground, it is laid on the ground face downwards where a sheep haa been sleeping. Another id,ea prevailing is that if a child is placed for a lew moments in a grave prepared for the reception of th,e body of a pereon. of the opposite cex it wAL jiot thereafter suffer from any of the ailments common to childhood. Quaintly foolish also is one Devonian method of curing a cough. The sufferer wanders abroad tiying to meet with a person driving a white horse. If he has the luck to come acrots one he asks him what he shall take to cure the cough, in the belief that if the white horse driver's recommendation is carried out a cure will be cer... ta ; in. Toads are supposed by many Devonians tQ possess, remarkable curative properties. Persons suffering from sores of any kind are recommended to wear the wwc-. ponding part of a toad tied up in a little bag. As a cure for warts there is, according to some people, nothing like a fat slug, which has to be placed on the parts affected. To cure an adder's bite the victim has to catch' an adder, fry it, and put it on the spot where he was bitten. Some of the cures recommended for minor ailments are. more curioua still. Many people believe' that a stye in the eye will speedily disappear if a cat's tail is drawn across the in.flanied part, or if the stye is stroked, with a widow's wedding ring! The number of Devonshire superstitions regarding cats is extraordinarily large. Many Devonshire housewives will not on any account allow a, kitten to be in the house at the same time as a baby, fearing that in such a case harm would come to the infant. In other households kittens bom in May are always killed. The reason assigned'is that "May kittens bring home vermin." The only time when k ; ttens are regarded as being .essential is when thirteen persona are expected to sit down to dinner. In aucq a case a kitten has to take a place on one of the guest's knees at the table. This makes thirteen at table lucky instead of unlucky.
TOPICS OF THE DAY., Evening Star, Issue 12858, 6 July 1906
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