Before becoming editor of ‘The People’s Journal’ W.D. Latto made several contributions to the paper. In 1859 he won the New Year’s short story prize for his effort, ‘Clouds and Sunshine’.
The New Year’s Prize Tale.
By Mr W.D. Latto, Johnshaven.
“What a magnificent dress you have got, Maria! Well, upon my word, you will look stunning to-night at the ball. I am quite distressed about having mine spoiled. I think I shall employ Madam Rampline in future when I want anything particularly well fitted; for that Mrs Clarke is so destitute of taste that she always makes a perfect fright of me—always does.”
“Well, Fanny, there is no accounting for tastes, and certainly our’s are quite opposite to each other in this instance. Why, do you know, I think your’s the neater of the two?”
“No, no, Maria, dear, you are astray as to that—most unmistakeably so. I can assure you, if you could only see how well your dress becomes you, the inferiority of mine would appear in a moment. I am so vexed; for everybody at the ball will be drawing contrasts between us, and noticing my frightful appearance. I don’t think I shall go after all.”
“Not go to the ball! after cousin Bill has kindly consented to escort you thither?”
“No, I don’t think I shall. Bill can take his inamorato to bear him company, if he has one,” said Fanny, making an effort to appear the light-hearted girl which in truth she was not.
“Well, that would be using him rather indifferently, I think. Cousin Bill has no lady-love, never had, and never will have one. His love is too universal for that. Allow me to ask you one question, Fanny—Had Jack Oswald been at home, would you have refused to go to the ball with him?”
“Perhaps I would, and perhaps I would not; but then you know the case would have been altogether different,” said Fanny, with a deep sigh.
“Ay, ay, Fanny, it is pretty evident what your reasons are for not going to the ball. Be truthful now, and say if it is not more owing to your not having a sweetheart handy than to your not having a suitable dress.”
“Suppose it does, Maria, what then? Had Mr Duckworth been at sea in the late dreadful storms which have plunged so many dauntless hearts beneath the angry billows, and had no intelligence of him arrived for a week after his ship was due, would you have been in the best mood possible for a ball?”
“My imagination is not lively enough to enable me to realize what would have been my feelings in a situation such as you suppose, and so I cannot possibly say in what sort of a mood I would have been for the ball; but, dearest Fanny, don’t be in the slightest degree alarmed as to Jack’s safety. Did’nt [sic] you hear Captain Bowline say that the good ship Ben Cruachan would ride out, without danger, a much stronger hurricane than any we have had of late.” Continue reading “‘Clouds and Sunshine’ by W.D. Latto (1 January, 1859)”