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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/535

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SUDDEN WHITENING OF THE HAIR.

whitened by care and anxiety. "While Hanover was waging an unequal contest with Prussia, a lady in attendance upon the consort of the brave, blind king, wrote thus of her royal mistress: "In the last two months her hair has grown quite gray, I may say white. Four months since one could scarcely discern a gray hair; now I can hardly see a dark one."

A similar change has often taken place in the course of a single night. One of the witnesses in the Tichborne case deposed that, the night after hearing of his father's death, he dreamed he saw him killed before his eyes, and found, on awaking, that his hair had turned quite white. An old man with snow-white hair said to Dr. Moreau: "My hair was as white as you see it now, long before I had grown old. Grief and despair at the loss of a tenderly loved wife whitened my locks in a single night when I was not thirty years of age. Judge, then, of the force of my sufferings." His white hairs brought no such recompense with them as happened in the instance of the gay gallant who had the hardihood to hold a love-tryst in the palace grounds of the King of Spain. Betrayed by the barking of an unsympathetic hound, the telling of the old, old story was interrupted by the appearance of the king's guard. The scared damsel was allowed to depart unchallenged; but her lover was held captive, to answer his offense. Love-making under the shadow of the royal palace was a capital crime; and so overwhelmed with horror at the idea of losing his head for following the promptings of his heart was the rash wooer, that, before the sun rose, his hair had turned quite gray. This being told King Ferdinand, he pardoned the offender, thinking he was sufficiently punished.

When the Emperor Leopold was about to make his grand entry into Vienna, the old sexton of St. Joseph's Cathedral was much troubled in his mind. Upon such occasions it had been his custom to take his stand on the pinnacle of the tower and wave a flag as the imperial pageant passed by; but he felt that age had so weakened his nerve that he dared not again attempt the perilous performance. After thinking the matter over, he came to the conclusion that he must find a substitute; and knowing his pretty daughter had plenty of stalwart suitors, the old fellow publicly announced that the man who could take his place successfully should be his son-in-law. To his intense disgust, the offer was at once accepted by Gabriel Petersheim, his special aversion, and the special favorite of the girl, who saw not with her father's eyes. On the appointed day Vienna opened its gates to the new-made emperor; but it was evening, or near upon evening, when the young flag-bearer welcomed the procession from St. Joseph's Tower. His task performed, Gabriel would have descended from the airy height, but found his way barred. Two wretches had done the treacherous sexton's bidding, and closed the trap-door of the upper stairway, leaving the brave youth to choose between precipi-