March 7, 1893
Emily is being kind to me. She gave me an extra blanket and a slug of whiskey in my water jug. The drink helps with the pain in my side but I stay cold. The cold lives in my bones pushing everything aside. Well that’s alright. I am grateful to Emily for taking me in.
To think it all started with an apple on a string. Catherine was the clever one. Young and bright and a hellion in braids, little Kate came up with the idea to scare momma by tapping our bedroom floor with an apple on a string. Silly old woman was already convinced our house was haunted. When momma brought the neighbor lady in to hear the tapping I encouraged Kate not to stop. It was so much fun to scare and fascinate the old tabbies. Momma loved to control us, remake us into the perfect ladies. Everything was a lesson or a lecture. I’m older today than my mother was at her desk.
The night time was our time. Soon we invented a code to give answers from the great beyond. Kate and I could barely keep the laughter quiet. Leah wanted us to take our gift on the road she said. Leah, the big sister, was the one who knew all the angles. Leah made us the Famous Fox Sisters, Kate never trusted Leah, not really.
We were houseguests in the wealthiest homes. Sipping sherry in crystal goblets. Making up stories in seances across the nation.
I figured out the toe snapping to make mysterious tapping sounds. We were what do you call it the cat’s pajama. I loved the attention. Until I didn’t. It was the weight of those grieving mothers I guess. Their eyes pleading with me to hear just another word from a long gone child. I begged Leah to stop.
They never forgave me when I went to the press. I just needed to be clean. I needed to do right before I married Elisha. I blazed my reputation with a headline.
After I lost Elisha I wanted to go back to the spiritualism circuit. But there was too much competition, other fresh innocent faces who had copied our act. I worked the carnivals; did some cold reads in church basements. The drink made my hands shake and my reputation made people close doors on me.
Now it is just me. Emily put a lump of coal in the heater. She knows I’m a fraud but she believes in me still I thank her even though the cold has overflowed my body dripping down my cot, dribbling on the floor. I hope I can come back and tap tap tap….
Margaretta Fox Kane, Brooklyn
The Famous Foxes
March 7, 1893