As a mark of respect for all the officers fallen in the recently-concluded campaign season, a memorial service was held at the cathedral of Nôtre Dame. The impetus for this service came from the Regiment of the 53rd Fusiliers, and in particular the newly-appointed Regimental Adjutant, one Captain de Mystère, a gentleman already quite well-known to the readership of this journal. The regiments usually hold these services for the fallen at their own churches or chapels, but it is good that they occasionally come together at a more prominent location, as this serves to remind the less politically-aware members of French society of the sacrifices made by the brave few.
Attendance was practically universal, there being present a Colonel or a Lieutenant Colonel from almost every unit. The only regiments not sending representatives were those currently battling at the front. A number of staff officers were also present or sent their proxies - among them Field Marshal Ôpital, who sent his aide, and Generals Failure and Ize of the Second and Third Field Armies, and Lieutenant General Sergeant of the 1st Division, all of whom were there in person. Space forbids listing all the worthies present, as the congregation was swelled by about a hundred members of various military units and the general staff.
At the conclusion of the service, Captain de Mystère had organised a smaller and less formal wake at Red Phillips in honour of one particular departed gentleman, the sadly-missed Captain Char. Almost every member of the Paris social élite attended, the exceptions being Captain Bint and Messrs. Blownaparte and d'And. A creative and generous touch was Captain de Mystère's offer to each guest of a modest wager at the gaming tables at his expense; a gesture that was particularly appreciated as most gentlemen who took advantage of it seem to have profited from it. Much beer was drunk, and the disgraceful cowardice and unsportingness of the perfidious Austrians was dissected at length. After all, who but a coward or knave would find it necessary to face but twelve ounces of French steel with twelve pounds of iron?
Also at the wake, Captain de Mystère announced that he had arranged for the creation of a suitable memorial to his former comrade in the form of a silver tankard. This he had had inscribed «The Captain Alexander Montpelier Xavier Char (Deceased) Esquire Memorial Drinking Tankard,» which legend encircled the tankard in a graceful spiral of about 2½ revolutions. All gentlemen present agreed that this was a fitting tribute to the late Captain Char.
M. Laurent de Lambe, who had worked as M. Char's loyal batman for many weeks, was of course present, and he had a number of anecdotes about his former employer. He also expounded at great length about ghosts and the unknown, and his tales left a definite atmospheric chill in the air. At least one member of the audience seemed cynical about these tales, as there was a susurrus of sotto vocce heckling, but when this reporter attempted to track down the doubter to canvass him further on his contradictory views he proved more elusive than a ghost. Several men were seen to shudder visibly as de Lambe continued his tales, including this reporter, but in my case it was become some puerile prankster I was not able to locate blew cold air in my ear.
One thing which could have been a bone of contention was the presence of both Captain de Fromage and Captain de la Maison, who are regimental enemies. However, the two gentlemen agreed that for them to duel at a gathering dedicated to the memory of fallen officers would be a shameful travesty. Sadly, I am unable to report which wag commented, «What about a bit of company for the departed?» at this point. Several people looked round to see who had spoken, presumably including the culprit, who thereby covered his tracks.
In September, no fewer than four gentlemen found themselves with cause to duel. The results of these duels were not available at the time last month's issue went to press, and thus we present them now, with an apology for their tardiness. First, Captain Robert Baronne and Major Jean-Luc Picoq fought for the attentions of the lovely and influential Marcie Panne, and Major Picoq was convincingly vanquished. Indeed, if chance had been any further against him he could easily have lost his life. Then Captain de Fromage of the 27th Musketeers upheld his regimental honour in a close and bloody fight against Captain de la Maison of the 13th Fusiliers.
We now report the first duel of September, which was the fierce contest between Major Picoq and Captain Baronne for the affections of Mademoiselle Marcie Panne. The two gentlemen had been seen chatting pleasantly not five minutes before, as they walked down the Rue d'Awakening together, Major Picoq struggling with a bunch of flowers nearly as big as he. But all semblance of bonhomie disappeared in a trice as they both stepped up the driveway of la maison Marcie and realised they were courting the same lady. Major Picoq laid down his flowers in a safe spot, then without further ado the two gentlemen saluted one another and engaged.
M. Baronne, plainly fuming at not having spotted before how his place in Mlle. Panne's affections had been so endangered by his social superior, opened the proceedings with a furious lunge. And powered by his anger it was indeed a furious lunge, and his first blow pierced Major Picoq just a split second ahead of the latter's counterstroke. But whereas Captain Baronne in his fury seemed hardly to notice the blood seeping into his fine tunic, Major Picoq was plainly staggered by the force of Baronne's attack, and his face went pale. Alas, if Captain Baronne had struck him just slightly harder, we believe the fight would have ended there and then, as the brave Major Picoq's own jealousy would have died instantly in the face of such an overpowering blow and he would have surrendered after but one stroke. But malheureusement for Major Picoq, this was not to be, and Captain Baronne continued with an inelegant but effective cross-cut. This struck Major Picoq's right shoulder, and a good thing too, for had the blow been an inch higher or a scruple shrewder his throat would surely have been cut. This second blow was truly decisive, for it was as fury-driven as the first, and in the face of such an onslaught Major Picoq had no alternative but to surrender immediately. Indeed, after the second hit, he was so sorely wounded that even an aggressive child with a wooden sword might have bested him.
At this point, Mlle. Panne rushed out of the house, and it was plain that most of her sympathies lay with the downed Major Picoq. «Brute!» she cried at Captain Baronne, and «Ruffian!», tears starting in her eyes, and then directed her servants that the stricken Major Picoq should be conveyed to a doctor by the most expeditious route. Naturally Captain Baronne protested at this partisan treatment of the losing party and Mlle. Panne, recalled to her womanly duties - and noticing belatedly that he too was wounded - rather coolly asked him inside so that she could hear his suit. So it was that the two disappeared inside, she instructing him in unsympathetic tones not to bleed on anything valuable.
However, as the events of October showed, Mlle. Panne must have reconsidered her position, and thinking back over the first week of September she must eventually have decided that a robust and formidable fighter such as Captain Baronne would in the long run be preferable to a more fragile (even if also more eligible) noble's son.
The next duel was at the tail end of the month, at Hunter's, at an evening hosted by M. Blownaparte. Captain de la Maison arrived slightly later than the others, proudly wearing his new Captain's uniform, and only belatedly realised that this would inevitably place him in conflict with two other prominent members of Paris society, namely Captains de Fromage and Baronne. Do not forget that at this time, while Captain Baronne's formidable capabilities as a duellist had been amply demonstrated on the body of the unfortunate Major Picoq, they were not yet a matter of public knowledge. However, Captain Baronne naturally deferred to his senior officer and so it was that the first fight of the evening was between Captains de Fromage and de la Maison. De la Maison losing, he then was able to honourably refuse Captain Baronne on the grounds that he was too badly wounded to carry a second fight.
In the assessment of this reporter, both opponents were quite evenly matched, Captain de Fromage having only a slight edge in skill and strength over de la Maison. However, it took some time for his superior skill to tell and to begin with it looked like the fight would be de la Maison's. Early on, de la Maison was striking twice to Captain de Fromage's once. But after two such exchanges it was plain that Captain de Fromage's attacks were biting deeper, his use of parries and ripostes was more tactically astute than his opponent's, and in the end it was a well-timed riposte that won Captain de Fromage the bout. By this time, both gentlemen were bleeding from several minor wounds, and they both required treatment for their injuries before M. Blownaparte's party could begin.
It is always hard to place people precisely in this sort of scheme, and one can never take account of disparities in how much people have been practising, but as I believe the results would be of general interest, I have tried to rank the Paris duellists who have thus far revealed their form. These rankings are my opinion of who would beat who, and good or bad tactics, extremes of willingness to engage (whether high or low) or a spate of secret training since last they fought would certainly generate deviations from this list. (M. L'Editeur notes that not one staff member in the Toady office agrees with any other about the correct rankings.) Nevertheless, I offer you:
Of these, certainly the most newsworthy duels would be between those of adjacent rankings who have yet to fight; M. Baronne is plainly quite strong, but Captain de Fromage is probably the more skilled. While they were of the same regiment, combat between them was unthinkable, but now M. Baronne has moved on, perhaps circumstances will conspire to place them in opposition at some point. Naturally, the publication of this list is not intended as an exhortation to fight to any of the gentlemen thereon.
Many riders and drivers have complained of unexplained behaviour from formerly docile mounts, so much so that news has reached the ears of our ever-vigilant reporters. While in a city the size of Paris there are so many horses that a certain amount of equine misbehaviour is always to be expected, this month the four-legged beasts have excelled themselves. There have been widespread reports of horses bolting, or suddenly rearing up and throwing their riders, and on several Rues and Avenues the beasts have as one animal flatly refused to walk over a perfectly innocuous patch of road or pavement. Much chaos was caused at the Restaurant «Les Rosbifs» where a succession of horse-drawn carriages took exception to the road just outside the place and the beasts decided - despite the enraged exhortations of their drivers - that through the tables of M. le proprietor was a far more auspicious route to take.
One horse entered L'Église de St. Michel et St. Monique and took the chance to eat some floral offerings before continuing on its way, and two others spent over an hour refusing to make right turns before their normal training reasserted itself. Another steadfastly walked backwards for half the length of la Rue Fraque both without prompting from its astonished rider, and certainly without any prior dressage training.
While the random boltings and rearings might be ascribed to the actions of an unobserved trickster - or group of tricksters - armed with pea-shooter or slingshot, the marksmanship required to provoke the gyrations performed by certain Parisian horses would surely be beyond anybody. The best theory we have for such a wide range of odd behaviour is perhaps that something noxious in the horses' feed caused a shortlived mania in the animals. Horses are notoriously sensitive to tiny dietary changes, and we can only be glad that no beast appears to have been fatally poisoned by this narcotic agent, whatever it was.
As should be easy to infer from reports elsewhere, Red Phillips was absolutely packed out in week three, as that was where Captain Mer de Mystère held the wake for his popular comrade, Captain Char, and in fact only three Paris gentlemen found themselves unable to attend. But the Blue Gables was also busy, and there was significant activity in Hunter's as well, at least at the start of the month. A fair amount of custom also passed the way of various Paris bawdy houses.
In week one, Captain Bint was the host for a series of pleasant evenings at Hunter's, attended by M. Blownaparte and Captains de Fromage and de Mystère, while Major Picoq was «slumming», if you will forgive the phrase, at a bawdy house (the Festering Cyst) with M. d'Orcey and Captain de la Maison. Major Picoq then hosted a second soirée at Blue Gables in week four for all those unable to attend the week one festivities - and indeed for all those who were able to attend, and so Captain de Mon was also present along with Captain de la Maison and M. d'Orcey. This time everything went without a hitch and there were no embarrassing quibbles from the Blue Gables doorman about club membership.
Week one was also quite busy at Red Phillips - a thoroughly-depressed (lovesick?) M. de Lambe was seen with M. le Toilet, while M. d'And was seen toadying to Major Louis de Choux.
Captain de Fromage was present in Blue Gables in week two, with four guests. These included Captain de Mystère, Captain Robert Baronne, and M. William de Gascoigne d'Orcey. Captain Baronne had by this time persuaded Marcie Panne to accept him and she attended along with her beloved.
Meanwhile at Hunter's, M. Blownaparte seems to have hit on a safe and reliable way to double the amount of female company he can enjoy at any one time. By telling his beloved she can invite whom she pleases, he can then enjoy the company of not one but two lovely Paris ladies. Not doubt Mlle. Anne is more than capable of ensuring he does not take undue advantage of such a pleasant arrangement.
By week four, M. de Lambe was back in the Red Phillips, and the change in his demeanour was astonishing. From his depressed and downtrodden state in week one, now we saw a man sitting on top of the world with a rainbow round his shoulders. There were knowing smiles from staff and other guests - this could surely only mean success at long last with the lovely Mlle. Bottle - and on this success M. de Lambe is greatly to be congratulated. And curiously, by the effusive way with which M. de Lambe shook the hand of his drinking partner, M. le Toilet, we might infer that the latter gentleman had some hand in M. de Lambe's success. Precisely how is a matter for speculation, but if M. de Lambe had shaken his companion's hand any harder, he might perhaps have dislocated M. le Toilet's shoulder!
As a final note, the unofficial competition for Paris' most assiduous drinker has already seen its second change of leadership. M. le Toilet's record of last month has now been beaten by M. d'Orcey. In fact, we hear that the Red Phillips club is now keen to have M. d'Orcey as a member, in the understandable hope that his great thirst will benefit the club coffers.
This month, les belles de Paris seem to have been taking full advantage of every beautiful woman's prerogative - to be naturally contrary - and as temperatures plummet several of them, so cool and aloof in the summer months are now warming to the advances of certain handsome Paris gentlemen.
As the weeks of October slipped past one by one, a number of illustrious fellows have met with gratifying success in courting, in sharp contrast to past failures. Congratulations are due to former-Captain Baronne who eventually succeeded in charming Mlle. Marcie Panne after winning a duel for her affections, the lucky M. Laurent de Lambe who has showcased the virtues of persistence and is now delightedly stepping out with Lotte Bottle, and Captain de la Maison, whose kindness and generosity were sufficient to melt the heart of the poor widow de Lande and persuade her to gently put aside the tender memory of her dear departed husband.
Certain other Paris ladies have also been seen in the company of their beaux but it seems their hearts have not yet thawed. Most notably, these include Mlle. Claire de la Lune and Mlle. Pat Hétique. In fact, Mlle. Hétique spurned the attentions of her would-be suitor in favour of an apparently more enticing invitation to visit Hunter's from her girlfriend Anne Ode. She and Anne spent several evenings in Hunter's, gossiping with one another under the indulgent eye of Mlle. Ode's true love, M. Blownaparte.
After various internal promotions and transfers, and a couple of regrettable early casualties at the front, the current regimental vacancies are:
Candide collects Dutch impressionists, jongleurs and clowns, and has the finest croquet lawn in the Isle de Cité.
Adèle likes giggling, filing her nails, fluttering her eyelashes and peeking at prospective suitors over the top of her fan. Her favourite stones are diamonds, rubies and emeralds.
Mlle. Bea is an accomplished dancer and calligrapher and practices lacemaking. She also enjoys knitting, crochet and metalwork.
In her spare time, Ruth rules over the Paris Sewing and Tapestry Circle with an iron fist. She is also secretary of the Paris Flower-Arranging Society and likes finding witches.
The three Ode sisters share their late father's interest in natural philosophy and alchemy. Anne likes catching butterflies, Di collects cute little fluffy kittens and Cath likes fox-hunting, bear-baiting and cock-fighting.
Mlle. Panne likes wearing beautiful clothes and jewellery. Her interests are shopping, flirting, dancing and archery. If Marcie was a tree she would be a rowan tree; if she was an animal she would be a duck.
At the time of writing, the mysterious Mlle. Onne has refused to give an interview. All we can say is that when travelling around Paris, she is seen always in a silk veil - a different colour every day.
Pat is waiting for a handsome prince to sweep her off her feet and carry her away on a white charger. In the meantime she plays a formidable game of cribbage.
Sadie's hobbies are giggling, filing her nails, fluttering her eyelashes and torture.
Eileen is interested in contortionism, horse-riding and escapology. She has studied ballet since the age of 2½.
Laura de Lande is from Brittany and came to the capital only recently with her two aunts. Laura likes fishing and falconry and also breeds rabbits. (For the falcons). She loves the open air and all of God's creatures, especially veal, venison and foie gras. Mme. de Lande is a widow; her husband was the late M. Wintewun de Lande, who died tragically in a skating accident a little over a year ago. (He drowned.)
Claire is the elder daughter in the de la Lune family; it won't be long before her younger sister enters the social circuit as well. The de la Lunes are well-known for their big round eyes and enviable ability to party well into the night. Sadly, the family is occasionally touched by insanity but there has not been any history of that for several weeks.
May studies philosophy, theology, astrology and taxidermy. She is a Libran and her favourite colour is yellow.
Lotte could drink a pint of sherry in 4½ seconds, but she has since improved on this record and can now perform the feat in 4¼ seconds. She plays the viola and the crumhorn, sometimes both together.
The Serb says: Congratulations are due to those who have advanced their way up the ladder this month; I note that M. d'Orcey is now eligible to join the Red Phillips club, Blue Gables now has three members or potential members and the Frog and Peach has two new recruitment possibilities. Messrs. d'Orcey, de la Maison and Captain de Mystère are definitely on a roll, and they are not the only gentlemen whose status has advanced! The provisional October rankings have now been updated and inserted. Please note also that the 'demotion' of former Captain Baronne is due solely to his transfer to another regiment and not to any failing on his part.
From M. Christophe Baronne, Senior partner, Poursuive, Encavateur et Course
It has been brought to my attention that your scurrilous rag has been slandering the good name of my son, Captain Robert Baronne. If you were a gentleman I would challenge you to a duel and be done with the matter. As however, your occupation precludes the possibility of being a gentleman then I shall warn you that any persistence in the publishing of such slanders and I shall seek recourse in the law, which as you might imagine, I have no small experience in.
M. Christoph Baronne
M. L'Editeur replies:
It has never been the intention of this paper to publish anything apt to provoke such a vigorous response from relatives of our readership. May we withdraw «studly» in favour of «corpulent» and apologise unreservedly for any distress or embarrassment caused by this evidently inappropriate word? Please be assured that we will waste no time in correcting any further infelicities that you bring to our attention.
Mon Dieu, my heart beats quick
Today I shall court Sadie Stique
Will my efforts meet with approval
or result in my removal?
Failure could land me in the ordure
Yet success could be refined torture
Too late to panic, I press my suit
I think this romance could cost some loot
I hear her basement is dark and gloomy
I wonder why it is so roomy?
My heart belongs to Sadie
Soon perchance, the rest will too, maybe?
Captain Mer de Mystère
Investor seeks others to share in a lucrative enterprise aimed at
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contact (no timewasters please)
Bulk tapioca at trade prices. Please contact the Paris Mill. We also do flour and porridge. Delivery free in local area!
Given the copious, nay prodigious, quantities of alcoholic beverages
consumed by Monsieur Fromage this summer I find it difficult to believe him
capable of mounting his horse, let alone a mademoiselle such as Eileen
Let it be noted that M. de Lambe's continual drinking has had a marked
effect on his wedding tackle. It has shrunk to such an extent that all
eligible Mademoiselles in Paris should beware of this small p-
signed: W. d'