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else's higher offer. It is generally said, too, that the widow, through being more wide awake than a bride, not infrequently tries to improve her position when marrying a second time ; and hence this proverb
“Having lost her first husband, again she's a bride ;
And so she gets higher at every stride.”
Making every allowance, however, for a widow's position, we are reminded that, as “A good horse will not turn back to eat grass, a good wife will not marry a second husband,” which is much to the same purport as the following: “A loyal minister will serve but one Prince; a virtuous woman but one husband.”
“ The over curious are not over wise.”—Massinger.
CCORDING to an old French proverb,
Curiosity is so nearly akin to craftiness, that it can disfigure the most handsome faces." Both history and social romance afford many a striking instance of the dangerous and fatal effects of over-inquisitiveness, for, according to a Spanish proverb, “No woman sleeps so soundly that the twang of the guitar will not bring her to the window.”
Under a variety of forms the well-known tradition of “Peeping Tom ” survives in our midst to-day, who, at any cost, would gain a glimpse of Lady Godiva, as she rode on her noble errand through the streets of Coventry, and nursery literature perpetuates the gruesome spectacle that was revealed to the curious maiden who, despite warning, persisted in prying into the forbidden chamber of Bluebeard.
But stories of this kind have their counterpart in our family folk-lore. Dalton Hill Head, for instance, once the property of the family of Hedley, of Newcastle, has a strange story associated with it. Some years ago a woman named Mary Henderson—a connection, it is said, of George Stephenson, the engineer, had charge of the house. The gardener lived close by and kept a mastiff called “Ball.” Mysterious and uncanny
“ tales seem to have been told of this house, and when Mary Henderson asked the gardener to lend her “Ball” as a protection, he specially warned her not to look into a certain closet in the house.
“Curiosity, however, prompted her to disregard his warning, for, said she, what can there possibly be that I should not see?' Hence to the cupboard she went, when, on entering it, she discovered to her horror a quantity of children's bones—some in hat-boxes and some wrapped in articles of clothing. She understood now the gardener's advice, and wondered what the meaning could be. With her companion 'Ball
· Ball’ she retired to rest, but was soon aroused by strange sounds of dancing and singing upstairs. Being a courageous woman, she determined to investigate the matter, but the dog was terrified and unwilling to accompany her.
her. She accordingly took him in her arms and went round the house. As is usual in such cases, all was still and undisturbed, but an attic window stood open. Further particulars respecting this strange affair are wanting, neither are we informed whether the music and dancing were resumed on succeeding nights.
Many a story, again, of the tragic results of woman's curiosity has been recorded from time to time, more or less resembling the romance of George Lillo, entitled, “Fatal Curiosity.” We are told how young Wilmot, supposed to have perished at sea, returns to this country, and in disguise pays a visit to his parents, with whom he deposits a casket.
But his mother, out of curiosity, opens the casket, and finding that it contains articles of great value, she agrees with her husband to murder its owner. Scarcely had they committed the fatal deed, when they discovered that it was their own son whom they had killed.
It would seem, too, that woman's curiosity has been equally distasteful to all beings of supernatural order, and it may be remembered how the fairies of our old ballads have frequently withdrawn their favours on this account from mortals. In a variety of cases, for instance, the treasures of some enchanted castle suddenly disappear, owing to the recipient's curiosity leading her to open a prohibited door. Such an act of disobedience is never allowed to pass with impunity, in most cases causing the inquisitive woman more or less personal injury. Oftentimes, also, in folk-tales and romance, curiosity is repaid by some unwelcome surprise, as in Grimm's tale of Fitcher's Bird, where the unhappy heroine finds, in a room which she was specially warned not to approach, the bodies of her sisters hacked in pieces.
Thus among the fairy tales in which woman's curiosity holds a prominent place, we are told how a young Welsh girl went one day to a hiring fair, where she was addressed by a gentleman dressed in black, who asked her if she would undertake the management of his children.
“Yes, she would gladly do so," was her reply. “
Her new master made one condition, which was that she should be blindfolded before starting on their way to his home. .
She consented, and on reaching their destination the handkerchief was removed from her eyes, when she found herself in a beautiful mansion, in the presence of a number of little children. These were put under her charge, her master at the same time presenting her with a box of ointment, which she was to put on their eyes, giving her strict injunctions always to wash her hands immediately after using it, and to be particularly careful never to let a bit of it touch her own eyes.
She obeyed his rules, and for a time was very happy in her new home, until one morning, when putting the ointment on the children's eyes, curiosity induced her to touch one corner of her own with it. But no sooner had she done so than the children appeared to her like so many little imps. Getting frightened, and anxious to leave what she felt was an uncanny place, she took the first opportunity of asking leave to go and see her friends, a request which was readily granted her. Accordingly, a handkerchief was put over her eyes, and she was escorted some distance towards the neighbourhood of her own home, where on her arrival she took care to remain.
Strange to say, many years afterwards, when