This story dates from 1 April 1898 when the manager of a shop in Sheffield, along with his assistants, decided to play a prank on Mary, the cook of the establishment, who was unable to read or write.
They wrote on a paper ‘April Fools’ Day’ and gave it to Mary, together with sixpence, and told her to go across to the chemist and get “sixpennyworth.”
The chemist’s assistant told her they were out of it, but she would get it at the shop higher up the street.
The second chemist asked her if she could read, and on being told no, told her what was written on the paper.
She took back the money and told the manager she could not get the stuff anywhere but gave them no idea that she had discovered the trick.
All went well during the day, the fellows enjoying the lark they had with Mary.
About half an hour before closing time, she came down to the manager, told him that supper was ready and the table laid, but begged to be excused as she had a headache, and allowed to go to bed.
In due course the men sat down to supper, and the cover was taken off the dish; but there was nothing but the paper they had given her in the morning with the words on it, ‘April Fools’ Day.’