Today, Valentine’s Day is a popular and highly commercialised celebration.
However, in 1888, Valentine’s Day in Australia was regarded by one colonial journalist as declining in popularity, although he provided no explanation as to why.
“This day is by no means so generally observed as it used to be. Even the custom of sending those highly sentimental missives called valentines appears in a great measure to be falling into disuse.
A few years ago the 14th of February occupied a much more prominent position in the calendar than it does as present.
The manufacturers of this description of stationery began their preparation for the next festival soon after the last was past. Hundreds of women and girls found occupation in the construction of these dainty trifles, their fingers being found specially skilful in putting together the different parts of which they are composed. A heart from this box, a cupid from that, a wreath, some lace-edge paper and a scrap of tulle – this last to soften the effect and perhaps suggest wedding veils – a few paper springs to make the
figures or flowers stand out, and then a daub of gum here and there, and with a few deft touches the valentine is competed, lightness of touch and rapidity of construction being essential to produce a fresh appearance.
For weeks before the day itself the shop windows are crowded with them, valentines of every sort, size or description, pretty ones, ugly ones, expensive ones, cheap ones, valentines for the upper ten, valentines for the million, valentines for everyone to choose from as they will.
And choose they did; the shop counters were besieged with eager buyers some wanting one kind, some another….
And when the eventful day arrived what an important man the postman became, how he was watched for …”*
The death knell was rung too soon and I'm not sorry he was wrong. I love to receive Valentine’s cards and gifts. I hope your day is happy and brings you all the tokens love that you desire!
Source: *South Australian Register, 14 Feb 1888, p. 6.
“Lady Helena, I have come with a proposal.”
“For a business venture?” She acted intentionally obtuse.
“No – of marriage, your ladyship.”
“But we have just established we are barely acquainted. How can you propose marriage?”
“It’s for that very reason that I believe we should marry.”
She must have looked askance at him because he explained, “Marriage is a great journey through life, during which two people come to know each other intimately. The difficulty, I believe, is that when people marry knowing each other well already, they ruin the journey. Whereas, if we were to marry knowing nothing about each other, then we would have our whole lives to discover the other person.”
He seemed perfectly serious in his belief.
“I take the opposite view, I’m afraid, Sir Hercules. I believe that people marry before knowing the right things about each other.”
However, his was an intriguing argument. One she had not heard before from any of the army of fortune-hunters who had pursued her wealth and proclaimed a great love for her.
She made a spur-of-the-moment decision – not something she did often – and decided to assess his suitability, although she knew nothing about him.
He looked about to argue their differing viewpoints so she forestalled him. “You haven’t yet proposed to me,” she reminded him.
“Would you consider me if I did? If not, I won’t take that honour upon myself.” He gave a cheeky smile.
Intriguing though he was, she kept her manner sombre. “Should you propose, I will take your offer seriously and give you a considered answer after we have gotten to know each other better.”
“In that case…” He dropped to one knee in front of her and taking her hand in his said, “Lady Helena Tremoyne, will you do me the honour of becoming my wife?” He smiled in his beguiling way.
This time, she couldn’t help but return his smile. “As soon as I have made my decision, I will inform you, but it may take a week or two. Now we must get to know each other and to achieve that there are some social events to which I would like you to accompany me.”
“I am at your disposal, Lady Helena.” He flashed another charming smile.
“Good. Do you have a carriage?”
“Never mind, I have two. This afternoon you will accompany me in my landau for the circuit around Hyde Park, at the fashionable hour.”
“I will?” He looked bemused.
“You shall. Please arrive promptly.”
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Thanks to readers' generous support through purchasing copies of All Quiet on the Western Plains and Journey's End on the Western Plains while they were on sale for 99c during November, I was able to bank $40 into the Western Queensland Drought Appeal.
It's been heartening to see that rain has been falling in drought-effected areas of Queensland. See: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-01-04/qch-drought-affected-queensland-graziers-welcome-weekend-rain/7065816
Royalties from my forthcoming novella, Journey's End on the Western Plains and its prequel, All Quiet on the Western Plains - both set in Western Queensland in 1924 - will be donated to the Western Queensland Drought Appeal until the pre-order period concludes on 30 November 2015.
I'm hoping that this usually popular selling period will yield a good donation for the Western Queensland Drought Appeal. There's been some rain in the last week around Ilfracombe in central western Queensland, but nowhere near enough to break the drought. Western Queensland still needs a lot of support. I hope you'll help out by buying these two novellas and thereby donating to a worthy cause.
I'll check the sales to 30 November, print and publish the Amazon report showing the royalties earnt, and pay them to the appeal fund soon afterwards. Thanks for your support.