#Unearthed: A Skating Romance

When you dig through skating history, you never know what you will unearth. In the spirit of cataloguing fascinating tales from skating history, #Unearthed is a once a month 'special occasion' on Skate Guard where fascinating writings by others that are of interest to skating history buffs are excavated, dusted off and shared for your reading pleasure. From forgotten fiction to long lost interviews to tales that have never been shared publicly, each #Unearthed is a fascinating journey through time. This month's #Unearthed is a story called "A Skating Romance", which appeared in the Chicago daily newspaper "The Day Book" on December 11, 1912. Its author, Augustus Goodrich Sherwin, was a cloth salesman who moonlighted as a writer for extra money. F. Scott Fitzgerald he was not, but he certainly penned a charming tale I think you'll enjoy reading!


The ice on the river was burnished by the bright sunlight till it shone like a sheet of gold. Half a hundred happy persons hovered about, and Nelly Blair was the center of her own little group of select friends.

There was a pout upon her lips and a discontented, almost angry expression in her eyes. She stamped her little foot until the skate blade rang.

"I will never speak to Lisle Jordan again!" she declared. "I have a good mind to send him back the engagement ring."

"Don't be foolish, Nelly," advised her sister. "You are making a great big mountain out of a very small mole hill."

"Big? Little?" gasped Nelly, her eyes full of tears. "I saw him skating away from everybody with one of the new academy girls. His arm was around her, and I am sure I saw him kiss her.

"Did he see you, Nellie?" enquired her sister.

"He acted as if he didn't want to see me," cried the vexed girl. "He was to be here to skate with me two hours ago and-"

"Why, there he is now, Nelly; there is some mistake. He must have just come from home."

But Nelly was not in hearing now and soon she was out of sight. She had glanced just once at an approaching figure. It was her lover, with his skates over his shoulder.

Nelly was soon far from the general throng. Every moment she felt more absurd and perverse. When she came to where the river divided, she took the far western branch.

Here the ice was a clear, brilliant sheet, scarcely marked. Nelly rested for a moment. Then she casually noticed a man coming her way. He wore a very fancy skating costume and his progress was the rarest poetry of motion.

Nelly drew back timidly. The stranger was a foreigner, with jet black eyes and a waxed moustache. He lightly kissed the tips of his fingers, he smiled and bowed with an excess of courtesy.

"Beautiful, very beautiful," he said, and Nelly was more astonished than ever. He described a wonderful circle on one foot, and then with a flourish, made a series of quick whirls.

Nelly gasped and flushed at the audacity of the man. Plainly he had written on the ice with wonderful skill a name.

It was: "Nelly."

"How dare you?" flashed forth the little lady, but, with a delighted laugh, the expert skater was off on a long glide, and farther away Nelly him once more write that name on the glassy surface of the ice.

"Oh, dear! I am the most friendless and forlorn bing the world!" burst forth Nelly. "Everybody is cruel to me."

The expert skater was manoeuvring between the spot where Nelly was and the junction of the rivers. Nelly was really frightened at the impertinent, airy fellow, as she judged him. She got out of his way by skating on. Finally she espied a cut-off leading to the other river branch. It had steep clay sides, and Nelly started along it.

Crack-swish-crack, crack! Nelly uttered a sharp, sudden cry of dismay. The frail rubber ice was bending under her weight. Then one foot went through it to the ankle. She darted for shore, but though at every step her feet broke through, she gained the bank.

A driftwood log was there, and Nelly sat down on it, breathless and with wet feet. All her sudden temper was subdued. How lonesome it was! How foolish she had been! In regaining the main river she might incur no actual danger, but her feet might sink in deeper.

"There is no Lisle to find me," mourned the dejected maid. "I suppose all men flirt. I wish - I wish I hadn't run away. Oh, dear!" and Nelly burst out crying.

She looked up at the sound of clanging skate blades and crackling ice. Her lover was coming towards her. She could read the anxiety and solicitude in his pale, earnest face. In his expertness he evaded breaking through the ice.

"Why, Nelly," he cried in a glad, relieved tone. "I feared I should not find you. If it were not for a skater I met who had seen you come this way, I might have searched for hours. And in trouble, too, poor little girl!"

"Yes, I am in dreadful trouble," sobbed Nelly. "Was it a man in a fancy costume you met?"

"Yes - a stranger - looked like a foreigner."

"He is a bold, bad man," blazed out Nelly. "He smiled at me - and deliberately wrote my name on the ice. I was never so affronted in my life."

"He did, eh?" flared up Lisle, in his turn. "Well, we'll see about that. Now, little girl, I'll carry you over the rubber ice here, and we'll just go and bring that impertinent fellow to time."

Nelly nestled in his arms so gladly that he forgot all her pet grievances.

"Now you must skate to keep from freezing," advised the thoughtful lover. "I must get you home just as quickly as possible."

"Oh - I am not the least bit cold, and I don't mind the wet one bit," declared Nelly, with a joyous thrill at being under such lovable protection again.

"Ah, there is that insolent fellow!" exclaimed Lisle, as they came to a bend in the river and the man who had so frightened Nelly was in view. "You wait here while I attend to the gentleman."

"How strong, how brave is Lisle," enthused Nelly, as she watched her lover approach the object of her complaint. Then, to her astonishment, instead of a stormy collision there was a perfectly friendly meeting. The stranger bowed and showed the most extravagant courtesy. Lisle skated back to Nelly, his face in a broad smile.

"Why," he observed, "there is, of course, only one Nelly in the world for me, but there are two Nelly's mixed up in this skating experience."

"What do you mean, Lisle?" asked Nelly bewilderingly.

"That gentleman yonder and his wife are a roller skating team who are here with a vaudeville company. He was simply practicing on ice skates. His wife's name is the same as yours, and he was delighted to find he was able to write it on the ice."

"Oh, dear! What a foolish girl I have been," said Nelly.

"Your sister told me of your mistake about myself," pursued Lisle.

"Mistake?" repeated Nelly.

"Yes, dear. The person you mistook for me was a college friend, Jack Delmar. I loaned him my outfit this morning."

"Oh, Lisle! Can you ever forgive me for doubting you?" almost sobbed Nelly. "That Jack Delmar, though, is a bold fellow - I saw him kiss the girl with him."

"Why not? She is one of the seminary girls, and Jack is engaged to her. I tell you, Nelly, Jack is a fine fellow."

Nelly nestled closer to her lover, subdued, contrite, but immensely happy. Then she glanced up archly, and said: "And you are a fine fellow, too, Lisle!"

He was not adverse to the delicate hint, and their kiss of reconciliation was as well the kiss of peace and perfect understanding."

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