Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Taranaki elopement

This from the Taranaki Herald, 2 March 1886.

An elopement, attended with more than the usual degree of the romantic, is reported to have occurred in this district a day or two ago. It seems that a settler in one of the out settlements became enamoured of a young lady whose daily avocations were performed in some humble sphere in the village inn. His affection was reciprocated, and the parental consent and blessing were solicited. But family pride was up in arms at the bare thought of such a union, and Betsy Jane's young man went dejected away.

However, the pair put their heads together to contrive a plan to overcome the obstacles, and the result was that an elopement was arranged. Suspecting something of this sort, the mother and one of her sons took horse one day and hastened to prevent the consummation of the design; and they arrived on the scene just in time to catch the pair leaving in a trap. An altercation at once ensued between the brother and the lover, and it ended in a pitched battle between them.

The lover got the worst of this engagement, and unheroically offered £5 to be allowed to carry out his intentions unopposed. This was refused, and the bid was raised to £10, and then to £15. The mother, desiring to get her daughter once more beneath her own roof, craftily suggested that they should all journey back to her house and talk the matter over. The mother's horse was placed at the disposal of the lover, while she herself took a seat beside her daughter in the trap, and in this way — the mother and daughter driving in front and the brother and the would-be brother-in-law bringing up the rear — they journeyed to the parental mansion.

Arriving opposite the gate, the two men dismounted, and the mother alighted from the vehicle. "Are you clear of the stops, mother dear ? " asked the daughter, and on being assured she was, the young lady struck the trap horse, while at the same time the swain jumped up, and they drove with all haste through New Plymouth and on to Waitara, where they caught a steamer just on the point of leaving. The saddle horses being too much jaded by their double journey were useless in the pursuit, and the address of the pair is now somewhere in the Auckland provincial district.
Well, maybe not to Auckland Province after all. The fair damsel of the story wrote to the Taranaki Herald, and gave her side of the story, 2 April 1886.


To the Editor, Sir –
The paragraph in your paper headed "Elopement extraordinary" was somewhat inaccurate. The facts are as follows: —

I went to stay with some friends so as to be able to get away easily on Sunday. A buggy was sent for me, and a very urgent letter. On reading this I quickly bid my friends good-bye and started. My lover, the driver, and myself were in the buggy. When we had gone about four miles on our way we met my brother and another relation, whose name we will call Thomas. Here a most laughable scene commenced, as my brother forbade the driver to proceed further, and we told him to drive on, which he did. My brother soon gave the chase best, with the excuse that his horse was lame and he had to return to a blacksmith to get a new shoe on, so we only had Tom to contend with.

We drove for some miles at a quick pace till we had to change horses, when another troublesome scene occurred when Tom wanted to help mo out of the buggy, and my lover dared him to lay hands near me. With this high words ensued, and at last coats were thrown off to fight, only that I interfered, and told Torn I would not go. Thus matters were settled peaceably, and we then agreed to go and see my mother and sisters over it.

When I arrived there I found what I expected —my mother in a violent temper. We tried to talk her over, but did not succeed, so at last we consented to go and see my father. This was agreed to, and my mother left her horse behind and took a seat with us in the buggy, and we all proceeded home to my father's house. When we arrived there it was between one and two in the morning, so of course the poor old gentleman was in the land of dreams. I, like a dutiful daughter, I thought it not right to disturb him, so when my mother got out of the buggy I told her perhaps it would not be wise on my part to see the old gentleman that night so I bade her farewell, much to her surprise.

With this she threatened to send my father after me, but knowing the only good horses were away, I told her there was a £5 note in my box that my father might console himself with. That was all the mention of money matters during the whole time, and the coats being thrown off was all the fighting done. I hope you will give as much publicity to this version as you did to the other. —l am, &c,
A Runaway Damsel,
Wellington, March 24th, 1886

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