“Quite Pretty” Wife Catches “Fairly Good-Looking” Husband With Woman

Stories like this are always amusing. With a headline of “How She Caught Her Husband” in The Washington Post, how could we not delve deeper? This was printed in the September 25th, 1886 edition of the newspaper.

A scene was enacted just outside the National Theatre last night at the close of the performance which may end in a divorce suit. There was no excitement because it was enacted so quickly and so adroitly that probably not a dozen people in the crowd noticed it.

A gentleman who lives on Capitol Hill left his home last evening, saying that he was going down town. Soon after his departure, his wife while arranging his discarded clothes shook a paper out of his pocket. She picked it up, opened it and found a note from a woman of easy virtue accepting an invitation to go to the National Theatre with her husband. The couple have been married but a short time, and are in comfortable circumstances, and at first the young wife could scarcely believe the evidence of her husband’s duplicity and unfaithfulness. After the first outburst of anger and tears she related the story of her discover to her brother-in-law and his wife, her sister, and it was determined to catch the delinquent.

How she caught her husband
Newspaper headling

This is where the story gets interesting … and good. It continues below. And appropriately includes a Herdic cab (remember earlier this week?).

Accordingly the indignant wife and her two relatives hired a herdic cab and, driving down to the theatre, waited patiently until the end of the last act. The first few people passed unnoticed, but all at once the wife caught sight of her husband coming down the steps talking sweetly to the girl leaning on his arm. Jumping quickly from the cab she pushed her way through the crowd and with a torrent of indignant words and many expletives for the benefit of the girl, seized her husband and dragged him towards the cab. The girl, a diminutive woman, dressed in black and wearing a black bonnet, uttered a scream as soon as she saw the wife, and hurried off towards Thirteenth street.

The 1885 National Theatre building is seen in this photograph from about 1918
The 1885 National Theatre building is seen in this photograph from about 1918. Source: Library of Congress via Streets of Washington

I’m sure you can imagine what a scene this caused. It’s hard to believe that few noticed it. It did after all end up in the newspaper.

Meanwhile, the brother-in-law, who had followed the wife from the cab, had secured the disengaged arm of the husband and assisted in dragging him towards the vehicle. “Get into the cab quickly or I’ll get this policeman to arrest you,” said the brother-in-law sternly. In this ignominious manner the husband was bundled into the cab, the other parties followed and the cab drove rapidly away.

Of the two most interested parties in this little rehearsed drama the husband was a fairly good-looking young man, wearing a dark cutaway coat. The wife was of medium height, quite pretty and was dressed in a gray suit.

How great and tabloid of the time to close with how the husband and wife appeared. Times never change. This was like the TMZ article of the time.

Don’t forget to check out other crazy stories like this, including the nutty husband who drowned his wife in Georgetown, or the Capitol Hill wife murdered by her drunk lover. History is full of crazy tales like these.