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  • Victorian Urban Legend: The Missing Clock December 3, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern , trackback

    urban legend

    This story came out in the Pall Mall Gazette, in early January 1885. It has that sharp cordite smell of urban legend and is, truly, as the journalist says, ‘an amusing story’. Massive kudos to anyone who can send in other nineteenth or twentieth century examples: drbeachcombing AT gmail DOT com

    An amusing story reaches us from Paris. A lady, having paid her hotel bill, sent away her boxes cab and sallied off on foot. No sooner had she departed than the landlord discovered that the clock had disappeared from the mantlepiece of the room which his late lodger had been occupying, though he remembered to have seen it there subsequent to her trunks being despatched. Convinced that she must be the thief, he rushed out in hot pursuit and, overtaking her he charged her with the robbery and gave her into custody, the lady meanwhile protesting loudly against the indignity offered her, and vowing vengeance against the traducer. She was, however, taken before the juge d’instruction, to whom she resumed her torrent of indignant denial with the extraordinary volubility peculiar to the daughters Gaul. The indignation was at its height when, lo! 12 o’clock rang forth in clear tones from the region of the dress improver. The expression of consternation depicted upon the fair pilferer’s countenance, together with the appositeness of the quaint phenomenon, were too much for the gravity of the officials, who burst into tit of uncontrollable laughter. Five minutes later a female warder returned the tell-tale timepiece to its owner. Will Mr. Oscar Wilde still insist upon ‘the utter uselessness of that hideous monstrosity, the bustle’

    How could a Victorian gentleman respectably bring a woman’s underwear into an urban legend. Long time strangehistory readers will know that the answer is simple: set it in Paris.

    BTW if you were as mystified by dress improver, follow the link and note the pilfered picture at the head of this post. ‘Bustle’ was not entirely unfamiliar. In fact, it has a slight erotic charge dating, Beach suspects from reading Edwardian novels in his teens.

    Dec 3 2017: Roberto Labanti ‘you wrote: ‘This story came out in the Pall Mall Gazette, in early January 1885.’ Actually, the story appeared in the Pall Mall (pdf) ​32(846) of December 12, 1884​, p. 26 under the title “An Amusing Story”, under the section ‘Occasional Notes’. Relevant page attached. The story was carried by many UK newspapers, but all of them after PMB first appearance. A curious story, apparently true, appeared in various newspapers few decades later. See the second attachment.