Friday, September 25, 2009

25 September

Chapter 13 con't.
clipping from The Westminster Gazette

THE WESTMINSTER GAZETTE, 25 SEPTEMBER

A HAMPSTEAD MYSTERY

The neighborhood of Hampstead is just at present exercised with a series of events which seem to run on lines parallel to those of what was known to the writers of headlines as "The Kensington Horror," or "The Stabbing Woman," or "The Woman in Black." During the past two or three days several cases have occurred of young children straying from home or neglecting to return from their playing on the Heath. In all these cases the children were too young to give any properly intelligible account of themselves, but the consensus of their excuses is that they had been with a "bloofer lady." It has always been late in the evening when they have been missed, and on two occasions the children have not been found until early in the following morning. It is generally supposed in the neighborhood that, as the first child missed gave as his reason for being away that a "bloofer lady" had asked him to come for a walk, the others had picked up the phrase and used it as occasion served. This is the more natural as the favourite game of the little ones at present is luring each other away by wiles. A correspondent writes us that to see some of the tiny tots pretending to be the "bloofer lady" is supremely funny. Some of our caricaturists might, he says, take a lesson in the irony of grotesque by comparing the reality and the picture. It is only in accordance with general principles of human nature that the "bloofer lady" should be the popular role at these al fresco performances. Our correspondent naively says that even Ellen Terry could not be so winningly attractive as some of these grubby-faced little children pretend, and even imagine themselves, to be.

There is, however, possibly a serious side to the question, for some of the children, indeed all who have been missed at night, have been slightly torn or wounded in the throat. The wounds seem such as might be made by a rat or a small dog, and although of not much importance individually, would tend to show that whatever animal inflicts them has a system or method of its own. The police of the division have been instructed to keep a sharp lookout for straying children, especially when very young, in and around Hampstead Heath, and for any stray dog which may be about.


4 comments:

HDB said...

A scene echoed much later in Philip Pullman's Northern Lights, with the "Gobbers" rumoured to kidnap children.

I imagine this would be pretty scary for parents.

maurine said...

"bloofer" sounds like it could mean "beautiful" in kidspeak...

HDB said...

Yes - or it could have connotations with Blüt (blood)...

Whitney Sorrow said...

Most annotations seem to agree that the most likely source for the term "bloofer" is from Charles Dickens who in his novel Our Mutual Friend uses the almost identical “boofer lady” as a childlike rendering of “beautiful lady.”