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The San Francisco call. (San Francisco [Calif.]) 1895-1913, December 20, 1903, Image 28

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Persistent link: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85066387/1903-12-20/ed-1/seq-28/

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The ¦ King of Dahomey had detained
the Englishman, Rutherford, to witness
the annual customs, and the most' atro
cious part of the whole dreadful rite
was now in celebration. The savage
subjects of the savage monarch crowd
ed the stifling market 'place, variously
armed, . and eyes with ". the / lust of
slaughter in them were fixed on three
long and narrow baskets In the center.
In each basket lay bound a living man,
an alligator, a cat and a hawk; no pen
would describe the: faces of the three
human sacrifices. ,-' r : •'•'¦
¦Oh a signal from the King, twelve
Amazons— great," brawny, " half-naked
women— seized- the baskets, four to
each, and 'carried them to the top of
a platform high above the people. Then
the' King arose and made his speech I
The victims, said 1 the old King, would
go forthwith ; upon their journey to
the spirit land, the men : and. the ani
mals each to their kind, to fshow^ the
had been at his throat. *
In a spasm of uncontrollable fear the
hangman screamed aloud, and the chief
warder and another hurrying to the
spot found him in a desperate fit hud
dled against the door of the celL They
could not revive him' in the infirmary,
and the hour for the execution drew
nearer and nearer. Then the Sheriff
and the Governor consulted, and a tel
egram was dispatched. At the very
moment that the hangman should have
been withdrawing the bolt came the
reprieve. ¦
dwellers there his power over all crea
tion. At a second signal, the Amazons,
taking up the baskets again, hurled
them among the people; and almost be
fore they had ceased falling the live
sacrifices were hacked and battered to
pieces. Then the Englishman was , al
lowed to go.
.He fled in horror, his ears filled with
the shrieks of the crowd, | his terrified
. fancy renewing every detail of the
massacre. He fled as far as the Jun
gle, and in the thick white jungle fog
the man was swallowed up and lost.
As he wandered the horrid nausea of
j the. swamp came over him, and by and
by he reeled and fell. The cold, dry
harmattan— wind of the north or north
east—was blowing; and in the middle
of the night the: Englishman awoke
with a shiver, and j a kind ' of sub-con
sciousness that something was happen
ing close to him. He sat* up and saw
the strange procession of the- ghosts.
The '\ three hawks flew abreast over
head. One of the three : ghost-men
pushed a. fourth ghost In front of him,
holding the. Khost's neck 1 1n * the cleft
of a stick.. The Khost with ; his : neck
in the cloven stick was the old black
gray headed King who had sent the
victims to the^ spirit* land to show that
-. he had t power over - men , and animals."
t; In the morning the Englishman found
his tracks and, .arrived at -the port,
asked news of i the King. .The King,
he was told, had been £ murdered the
night before by the • father of one of
the three victims.
there was none.
"Will you have a look at him now?"
asked the chief warder. .;
Usually on entering the prison the
hangman took stock of his victim
through the spy-hole in the door of the
cell, to judge what length of rope would
settle him quickest. He nodded vaguely.
"AH right, you know your way; here's
the Sheriff coming. I must fetch the ;
The hangman crept through the gas
lit, noiseless corridors until he stood at
the door of the condemned cell. Within
could be heard the voice of the chap
lain faintly raised In prayer. The hang-,
man shook, he knew not why; he was
in dreadful fear of the coming on of his
fit, when it would be Impossible for him
to fasten the straps and adjust the
rope. .How . was his fear a thousand •
fold enhanced when, on tiptoe at the
spy-hole, he beheld the very face that'
had terrified him in the train!" It was
the doomed man himself, kneeling (.at
the side of the clergyman and gazing,
as it were full at" the hangman, of
whose presence on the other Bide of the
door he could not be aware.
i The Jest of the porter, "Been travel
'ing with a ghost?" slipped through* the
hangman's mind, and he thought: " "He
came to get at me, and push me out o'
the train, so's I shouldn't, have him."
He was certain that until .this moment
he had never -before ' seen , - the con
demned man in the flesh, ; and remem
bered that in the train he had' seen the
face only, though positive that hands
silver balls, produces a most festive ef
fect—almost as if one had come into a.
Christmas tree, forest. Where holly is
difficult to obtain, bows of bright red
ribbon are very effective. Single holly
leaves can be used as guests' name
cards, written on with gold paint; or
they make pretty little Christmas cards
to slip into parcels if appropriate mot
toes are written on them.
If the partv given is a dance, then
there is very little to suggest in the
way of novelty, for everything pro
ceeds on well-known lines. The floor
is polished, or a dancing cloth Is laid
down; as good music as possible Is ob
tained, and a supper of more or less
elaborate description is provided. Now
this is all very well where the children
are old enough to dance properly, but
as the ages at children's parties are
apt to vary considerably, as it is usual
to invite the whole family, the younger
ones arc likely to be either a little dis
appointed or knocked about and driven
Into corners by themselves. I have
found it a good plan to devote the
earlier part of the festivity to the lit
tle ones, and then, after gathering all
of them together for a tea; and sending
the "tinies" home, the older ones are
at liberty to dance and behave in as
grown-up a fashion as they please, and
so both divisions are satisfied.
And now to consider the game3. We
"But there was no 'un here' then."
"Well, there's no 'un here now, 'cept
you, far as I can see. Been travelln'
with a ghost?"
The hangman, still clutching his bag
tightly, stepped across to a four
wheeled cab.
The vast prison was full of the
strange, silent bustle that marks a gal
lows morning. Only the officers were
about, however: prisoners are locked
in their cells till the /act is complete.
Every one moved stealthily, nothing
was spoken above a whisper. The chap
lain had arrived and was with the con
demned man.
The hangman, staggered and mysti
fied by that Inexplicable passage in the
train, which he was afraid. to speak of,
had hoped for news of a reprieve—
which, indeed, had been generally ex
pected—but the chief warder told him
went on struggling, as though seek
ing to free himself from some one. The
bag with the rope and pinioning straps
had fallen on the floor.
"Ah, you've gone!" exclaimed the
hangman. "But I'll keep a watch for
you, and, mark me, I'll know your
face." The light was extinguished in
the carriage. The hangman groped for
his bas, felt in it and found his gal
lows' tackle safe, and kept It clutched.
In the dare of the lamps at Kings
Cross he looked around, and saw that
he was alone in the carriage.
"Where did we stop last?" he asked
of the porter who opened the door.
"PeterbroV *
*p*f S tha night mail rattled Into Pe
f I terborough, the hangman drew
£| on his black knitted gloves,
JL picked up the bag containing the
rope, white cap and pinioning
straps and looked for an empty third.
The porter who closed the door on him
recognized the little man, and 6aid:
"Seems he ain't got his reprieve. Mus
ter StickelL"
"Time enough," rejoined the little
hangman, quietly.
Time enough! What thought the man
in the condemned cell, whose death was
fixed for » a. m.?
The train launched itself again upon
the dark winter's night; no other
* etop until London, at S:45 a. m. The
executioner, recruiting from an ague,
hugged himself in his long yellow frieze
and set about Bleeping. He was a
flute maker on week days, and when
he traveled by night on a hanging er
rand he could often pleep by calling
Into his car the velvety notes of his
instrument. He dozed, and dozed more
heavily, end every minute he was a
mile nearer to the man whose reprieve
had not come. The black bag with the
greased rope in it bobbed up and down
on the seat beside him.
Suddenly the hangman started up
wide awake. "What are you doing to
mrV he cried. "I can Bee your face,
and nothing else: but you're trying to
ehove me out of the carriage. Leave
me be, I tell you!"
No answer came, but the hangman
f / To come the gravestone of a dead de-
I / < n K ht.
VL/ To some the landmark of a new do-
Well, I do not propose to, discuss
gravestones in this little Christmas
chat. I will leave them to the writ
ers of those gruesome ghost stories
which are not yet "dead delights" at
this season of the year. Landmarks
and new domains are more to my lik
ing at present, especially the former.
Even if they are not of sufficient im
portance to engage the attention of
the ordnance surveyors, children's
parties and Juvenile entertainments
of all sorts are very j real landmarks
in the lives of the little ones—memo
ry's milestones, which,, as we grow
older, we should be very loth to lose;
oases of "make-believe" In the desert;
of "matter-of-fact," where the col
ored candles are always alight, where
presents arrive from all sorts of . un
expected places and where we may
eat all the things which at other times
are specially forbidden. There is
very little to say to the children on the
subject; they shut their eyes and open
their sweet little mouths in complete
confidence that what they are going
to get is sure to be nice, because, of
course, they are loved so much. But
I would beg the older ones not to
leave out those they do not feel "call
ed upon" to include in any fun that
is going forward. Few of us have
enough wisdom to select, none of us
to exclude; and If our hearts have
been flung a little wider open at this
'season we shall feel all the better, de
pend upon it.
The preparations, for Christmas and
its attendant festivities are not the
least enjoyable features of thelfuletide
programme. Set the young people to
work at weaving garlands and wreath3
as Boon as the holidays begin, which is
not usually long before Christmas day
itself. Ropes stretched between two
chairs and pieces of evergreen placed
crisscross on them make very pretty
festoons of greenery; holly can be
j sparingly used . among laurels and
such like cheaper growths; and, of
course, the mistletoe is always wel
come. Prettiest of all, however, are
tiny fir trees, or boughs so cut as to re
semble them. On the occasion of a
party a series of these fastened so as
to stand upright on the outside of the
banister rail up the staircase, each
hung with little different colored quick^
>¦ ' ¦'¦''¦¦. /
do not want them to be too rough for
best clothes, but all the little folks
must enjoy themselves to the utmost,
and to this end it is well to have a
list made out beforehand, and to note
down the names of children upon
•whom you can count as "leaders." Lit
tle prizes of bon-bons done up in small
parcels, tiny Japanese fans, penny •
dolls, or little books give an added in
terest to competitive games, but In no
case should they be things of much
value. Games should follow in quick
succession to prevent the boys sliding
up and down the room, or trying each
other's strength, which is apt to upset
the harmony of the entertainment. A
very good game is called the "Extin
guisher." After clearing the room,
and arranging the little guests on either
side of it, a candle la lit at the far end
from the door; one of the children is
then blindfolded, and has to find his
way to the candle and blow it out. Ha
can be guided by the rest calling "hot"
or "cold," but It is really more amusing:
in complete silence, when he frequently
blows in quite a wrong direction. All
the attempts should have a time limit,
otherwise it gets wearisome to both
actor and onlooker.
A table-game called "Blowball"
originated In America. Tapes are
stretched round the table for
boundaries. Pencils are used for goals,
while an esg-shell pierced and "blown"
is used as a ball. Players sit round the
table and blow the shell about as a ball
is kicked In a game of football. Cap
tains are chosen, who select their sides,
and once a player has taken his posJ-^
tlon he; may not leave it. '^L
Just one more new game, and then,
I think, with the addition of some of
the old favorites the children would .
not like to do without, the party ought •*
to be a success. This Is the "New
Blindman's Buff," where no one ia
.blindfolded, but the 'one who is to play
the part of bllndman is seated on a
footstool facing a stretched white sheet
— Just as you would arrange one for a
magic lantern. Some way behind him
a candle is put on a table; then the
children pas3, one at a time, between
the light and the blind man. throwing
their shadows on to the sheet, and, by
their shadows, he has to guess who it
is that is passins behind him. The
child whose name he guesses correctly
has to take his place. It Is a pretty
game, and possesses a good deal of
interest. Care must be taken to have
the blind man seated sufficiently low,
so as not to cast his own shadow on the
But when all Is said and done, the
preparation for Christmas, its secrets,
its shopping expeditions, are half the
joy of the festival to the youngsters,
and if we elders. are wise we will allow
them as much scope in this direction
as we are able. We grumble over the
inordinate length of our list of names
for our Christmas shoppings, V^k'
- would our hearts be any the lighter to?
the absence of one of those names, and
the knowledge that never again could
anything be purchased for him save—
"rosemary, for remembrance"?
Then followed some very lovely
scenes from Tennyson's poems. Among
them, one from "The Princess." where
the Princess and her train of "sweet
girl graduates" are resting in her tent
with the three disguised students in
women's dress— the Prince, Florian and
CyriL The tent is very beautiful, in
embroidered silk and eatln. In the mid
dle is a tripod, from which rises "a
fragrant flame." They have fruit and
flowers and wine set out before them,
and the girls recline about on cushions
in their college robes, - the Lady
Blanche's pupils in daffodil yellow and
the Lady Psyche's in pale lilac One of
the girls takes a harp and sings the
Bong, "Tears, idle tears," and then the
Prince sings, "O swallow, Bwallow, fly
ing, flying south." The grouping of
the college maidens was very graceful
and artistic. There were several wrong
guesses as to the origin of this scene,
one being that it was out of the comic
opera "Patience."
This scene was a very short one. It
represented Sir Lancelot du Lac
bringing the diamonds he has won In
tournament to Guinevere. He comes to
the Queen in a leafy bower, and, kneel
ing, gives her the Jewels with a beau
tiful lover's speech. She receives them
coldly and lays them down on the table
near her. .Answering him with a speech
of passionate jealousy, she ends by
seizing them again and throwing them
out of the window into the river. The
whole of her speech was not repeateri,
as In It she mentions Sir Lancelot by
name, and also Arthur, thus giving too
distinct a clew to her own identity.
There is an infinite variety of subjects
from the poets that are well known or
otherwise which lend themselves to this
sort of representation, and even some
of the best known are not so readily
guessed as one might imagine.
of the stage on the figure. A pale
blue light produces the proper ghostly
effect. This charade Is taken front
ecene 3 of act 6 of "King Richard
of, but she must leave that day month.
'Scene II, "Tiff."— A pretty drawing
room or conservatory; a ybung girl and
her lover talking together. The girl is
jealous of some attentions she thinks
.the young man has been paying to an
other girl; she is very cross and pet
tish with him; then he also becomes
irritated, and they have a regular
quarrel. At last she says she is sure
they can never be happy together, and
she would rather break off the engage
ment. : The young man begs her not
to ruin both their lives for a tiff. He
h-3 some trouble in persuading her to
make it up, and at the end he says:
"It was nothing but a tiff, after all,
b; v 't frightened me."
Scene III (whole word), "Plaintiff.' —
A court of Justice. Judge In wig and
Thtre Is a pretty, new variation of
the old-fashioned Christmas charades.
In our young days the charade was a
Quite impromptu affair. The host or
hostess at a Christmas party suggested
charades, and the company forthwith
divided Itself into two parties — actors
end audience, the audience remaining
in the drawing-room while the actors
went out, and, on the spur of the mo
ment, selected a word, which they
then acted before the audience, using
*uch dresses and materials as came to
hand, and the audience were required
to guess the word acted before them.
A more picturesque and more elabor
ate effect is produced if the charades
ere rehearsed beforehand, the actors
#Tiosen and the dresses in character.
At one country house, instead of the
isual three or four syllable word of
three or more acts, part of a scene
from one of Shakespeare's plays was
flven by the actors; and all those In
the audience who eucceeded in guess
tig from which play the scene was
liken, and in giving the names of the
Itiaracters represented, received little
fcmvenir prizes, after the fashion of
Jte cotillon prizes. The first charade,
»s It may be called, ttfat was acted
9&s from "King Henry V" — that
fuaint little scene where Henry V tries
lo woo the French Princess Katherlne
in her own tongue and she tries to an
rwer him in English. There are only
three characters — King Henry, in his
warrior's dress, as he has come from
the battlefield, and with his crowned
helmet on his head; the Princess
Katherine, very tall and 6tately, in a
picturesque high sugar-loaf hat, with
a fine lace veil falling from it. and a
fourteenth century dress of rich bro
cade, trimmed with ermine, falling in
long folds about her feet. ,Ehe is at
tended by her maid of honor, Alice,
•who wears a little, tight-fitting cap,
and is somewhat older than her mis
tress. The scene is part of scene 2, act
f. of "King Henry V," when the French
King and Queen, the lords and ladies,
etc., have gone out and left these three
together, and begins, "Fair Katherlne
and most fair." A great par^t of
Henry's rather long speeches was cut
out, but the broken English of the two
ladles, and his rather rough French,
had a piquant effect, and the dresses
were charming.
Another scene was from the "Mer
chant of Venice," one that is rather
less well known than that where Portia
appears in her doctor's robes, which is
rather too obvious for guessing pur
poses. In this the curtain went up on
a room in Portia's house, where the
three caskets are kept, from which her
suiters are to choose. A fair and sra
cious Portia, a dark-skinned and gor
geous Prince of Morocco, with both
their trains of lords and ladies, were
the dramatis personae, and they gave
the ehort and animated scene 7 of act
2 of the play, in which the Prince of
Morocco, a suitor for the hand of Por
tia, stands before the three caskets of
gold, silver and lead and debates with
himself which is most likely to contain
a favorable answer to his Buit, finally
, choosing the golden casket. In which he
finds a Death's head, with the scroll.
gown. Counsel for plaintiff and de
fendant, clerk of the court, etc. The
plaintiff seeks to recover £10 damages
from the defendant for the loss of one
of her locks of hair, cut off by the
said defendant without the real and
actual consent of the lady. The case
as stated was that the two parties ba
came friendly, and the defendant, tak
ing advantage of the unusual amiabil
ity and graciousness of the lady, took
a pair of scissors and in play deprived
the said lady of one of her pretty and
valuable locks. Amusing examination
of witnesses follows. The Judge gives
the c-.se for the* plaintiff, and the court
applauds. .
"Penitent" is another good word for
a charade.
Scene I, "Penny."— A family of poor
people. Father, mother and several
children discovered talking. Torn, the
eldest boy. Is absent for the moment.
From the conversation It appears that
he has ! found a purse of money, has
heard of the owner, and is gone to
take it to him. The family talk a great
deal about his probable reward, mak
ing all sorts of extravagant guesses.
Soon Tom returns, and when they ask
him what he has received from the
gentleman who lost his purse he an
swers, "A penny — one whole' penny."
He is much disappointed and disgust
ed till one of his brothers suggests
that he can buy a penny-worth of nuts,
and then they can crack a few Jokes
over the "penny gentleman."
Scene II, "Tent."— A soldier's tent,
with an officer sitting inside, having
his breakfast; two or three soldiers
pass near the tent and there is a
sound of bugles. An orderly comes up
and cries: "Then they must strike the
tent at once. Bring some of the men
to do it." The orderly goes away and
comes back with a number of soldiers,
who proceed to strike the tent, the
officer giving them various directions
as to the tent. While they are fuss
ing about It, pulling at ropes and tak
ing out pegs, the curtain falls.
Scene III (whole word), "Penitent'
—A confessional. The priest'. Invis
ible Inside, the penitent kneeling out
side, sobbing and confessing. Sha
tells how she has decived her father
and mother and run away from home
with a man they disapproved of; but .
that she is now very penitent for her '
fault. The priest tells her that If In
deed she is penitent she will go back
to her father and mother and ask
their forgiveness and beg them to re
ceive her and her husband.
Some of the familiar fairy tales are
very siiccessful for children's parties,
acted in the same way as the more
classical scenes represented by the
"grown-ups," but with less elaborate
preparations. The story of the threa
bears excites wild merriment, and is
pretty generally recognized by all the
little guests. This, in the case of
children's parties, is rather desirable
than otherwise, as then no one is dis
appointed when the prizes are given
away. For thi3 little play the stags
ia arranged with three little heaps of
rugs in the background to represent
the bears* three beds; in the fore
ground are set three chairs of differ
ent sizes round a table laid with the
"biff plate," the "middle-sized plate"
and the "tiny little plate." The four
parts are acted by four children — one
little girl dressed in an ordinary pretty
frock, and three little boys of different
sizes for the three bears. They wear
masks like bears* heads and gray,
hairy dresses in the shape of combin
ations, that can either be hired from
a costumer or made at home. The
parts are much better spoken as well
as acted, but if the children are shy
they may be acted In dumb show. The
little girl comes in first and goes round
and sits in each of the three chairs in
turn; tastes the three plates of por
ridge on the table, and finally goes up
the stage and tries each of the three
beds, ending by falling asleep on one
of them. The screams of delight
which greet the entrance of the bear*
returning from their morning stroll
testify to the appreciation cf the
youthful audience.
"All that glitters is not gold." etc.
The apparition of the ghosts between
the tents of Richard III and Richmond
on the night before the battle of Bos-
I worth made an eerie and effective spec
tacle. It requires a large stage and
some skill in the management of lights
to produce a successful Illusion. The
stage was 60 arranged that only half of
each of the tents was visible, with the
, two occupants— Richard III and Rich
mond — asleep within them, the space
between being open for the apparition
' of the ghosts. First the ghost of Prince
Edward, son of Henry VI, rises be
tween the tents; then the ghoet of
Henry VI himself, followed by Clar
ence, the two young Princes killed in
the Tower, Queen Anne and others. To
produce the illusion of the apparition
the stage has to be completely dark
ened while the ghost takes his place be
tween the two tents, then a gradually
increasing light is thrown from the side
"Plaintiff" is a .very good word for
charades, and can be acted in several
Scene I, "Plain."— Servants suspect
ed of giving away food to their, friends
or to beggars. Cold Joints of meat,
eggs, mince pies, etc., | disappear mys
teriously. The master and mistress
have up the servants to the * sittipg
room In turn, and question them as to
the existence of an unusual number of
rats and mice In the larder or pantry,
and if they can give any dew to the
disappearance of the enumerated arti
cles. The cook talks a good deal about
being a good plain cook, and boasts of
having lived in high families as a plain
cook. At last the mistress discovers
that the cook has a friend to see her
rather frequently, and he occasionally
brings a bag with him, which does not
seem quite empty when he leaves. Cook
is closely questioned, and it becomes
"plain, too plain," wheje the missing
articles go. She begins to cry, and
says It Is very plain they all have a
Eplte against her. The mistress tells
her she has nothing else to complain

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