This month saw a significant shift in Paris drinking patterns, as several of Red Phillips' regulars were seen for the first time in the Frog and Peach. Not unexpectedly, it was Pierre de Fromage and his new lady friend who were the centre of attention. Toadying to him were several of Paris' finest; M. Petit Cochon d'And, M. Laurent de Lambe, and newcomer M. Robert Baronne, who has been exceptionally active in this, his first month in Paris.
M. Baronne seems to be setting out to gain a reputation as a gambler, and he has already caused quite a stir with the size of his bets, not only in the Frog and Peach, but also, in week two, in Hunter's. In week one, M. Baronne wagered several hundred crowns, sufficient to bring gasps of surprise from certain of his compatriots, and by the end of the evening the tension round the gaming table was palpable. However, by then it was also quite apparent from M. Baronne's glum demeanour that most of the luck had gone the house's way. His footsteps were lighter by the end of the evening, but that was only because he was lighter - to the tune of several hundred crowns. Plainly his gambling system, whatever it is, needs further refinement.
Nevertheless, Red Phillips was not completely deserted in week one; this reporter observed M. Disab le Toilet present in a quiet corner, mumbling over a cribbage board early in the evenings and switching to carousing later on. His reasons for practising cribbage became apparent later in the month, but his careful preparations for the courting of Mlle. Hétique are continuing to come to naught.
In week two, Louis de Choux, resplendent in his new Captain's uniform was buying the drinks in Red Phillips to celebrate his commission. M. Disab le Toilet was the only man in the position to take advantage of this unexpected generosity. M. le Toilet also now seemed sufficiently confident of his cribbage skills to venture a few small wagers in both weeks two and three, but even after a couple more weeks' practice his luck was patchy at best. At worst one might charitably call him 'intensely competitive' but it seems that the mutterings of 'poor loser' from several of the observers are going to be the description that actually sticks.
In the second week the Frog and Peach saw M. de Fromage again, but with only one member of his entourage accompanying him. This was M. Laurent de Lambe, apparently one of the few in Paris able to match M. de Fromage's drinking capacity. M. de Lambe tried his own luck at the gaming table, but his small stake was quickly taken from him by the Frog and Peach's experienced croupier. Still, at least M. de Lambe only dropped a few crowns rather than a few hundred!
Meanwhile, M. Robert Baronne was on to much bigger and better things. He was conspicuously present in Hunter's, toadying to another Paris newcomer, M. Napoleon Blownaparte. Both gentlemen tried their hand at the gaming tables, M. Blownaparte being the more cautious of the pair. M. Baronne wagered 600 crowns, gaining a couple of raised eyebrows for the size of his bets even at Hunter's. His fortunes improved as well, and he seems to have broken even for the session, more or less. The night was concluded with both gentlemen drinking (with some fervence) to better fortune in the future.
In week three, the busy and indefatigable M. Baronne was once again out and about in Paris. This time he chose the quite the opposite end of the market from Hunter's, and was seen in a sleazy dive accepting toadies from M. Vincent de la Maison. In his first month in Paris, M. Baronne's energy and determination have made a lasting impression, and the main question that occurs now is whether he will have the stamina to sustain this level of activity.
As the warm summer nights continue, yet more Paris gentlemen are turning their hand to attracting the fairer sex. The most notable courtship this month has been the public battle of wit and wills between the influential Mlle. Anne Ode and the courtly M. Napoleon Blownaparte. The bons mots dropped like rose petals as the two of them fenced with words, and while M. Blownaparte was on several occasions seen mopping his brow (unobserved by his intended) as the tension of the contest mounted, in the end Mlle. Ode decided to accept him, despite his few rough edges. 'Aha,' riposted M. Blownaparte, not twenty minutes later, 'My edge is not rough, but razor sharp!' and he drew his sabre to both confirm and demonstrate. In reply, Mlle. Ode merely rolled her eyes skywards and heaved a sigh.
Other gentlemen seen courting (or trying to) included M. le Toilet, who is still being thoroughly ignored by Mlle. Pat Hétique, Vincent de la Maison, whose ruse of claiming to Mlle. Stique that he was a dungeon inspector could have backfired horribly if he hadn't lost his nerve and fled at the very last second, and M. Laurent de Lambe. M. de Lambe has been seen several times stepping out with Mlle. Bottle, so he is really the only gentlemen of the three who can truly be said to be courting, even if Mlle. Lotte has not yet chosen to accept his advances.
Several people have reported seeing a mysterious figure riding through Paris, its boots unpolished, its sword dull, its clothing soiled. Wherever it goes, there is the clank of chains and the distant sound of guns and cannon fire. The doorman of the Frog and Peach tells that on several occasions in week one he had to turn away a mysterious figure who was not on his guest list. What is this apparition? Is this some hoax by a Paris jokester, or are we truly witnessing something supernatural?
Over the course of the summer an increasing seriousness of purpose has become apparent among the gentlemen of Paris. Most of them have been heard to state their intent to sign up with the military and do their bit for France. In fact, almost all the gentlemen currently in Paris have been seen presenting themselves at the recruitment offices of the various regiments at one time or another, and of those who have volunteered, about half have been signed up. This organ is pleased to see that the current Paris social circle do not stint from doing their patriotic duty.
Uncharitable pundits elsewhere have sniped that those who left joining up until August have ensured that it was too late to take part in this year's campaign season, but Toady does not subscribe to this scurrilous viewpoint. While not all gentlemen who have applied have been successful, it is ultimately the regiments' business who they accept and who they reject. If a gentleman offers his life in the service of his country, we feel it is churlish to blame him for his own rejection and perverse to imply cowardice on his part.
Soon the first brave warriors will be returning from the front and we extend our welcomes to them. Overall the conflict with Austria this year resulted in a stalemate. The worst casualties were suffered in the First Division which was in most places driven from the field, while the Second and Frontier Divisions made shallow gains.
At Brigade level, Brigadier General Accidente achieved an exceptional result in command of the second Brigade. He succeeded in driving off the Austrian forces, and he receives a well-deserved brevet promotion and a knighthood. The Fourth Brigade held its own; the Third and Frontier Brigades suffered badly and were driven from the field - hence the disgrace of 3 Brigade's commanding officer.
Regimental casualties were highest in the 53rd Fusiliers, the Royal North Highlanders, both of which were driven from the field, and the Gascon Regiment, which was crushed totally. It is quite miraculous how few officer casualties were suffered in the Gascons. Quite the reverse happened in the 69th Arquebusiers, where most of the officers were wiped out early on, but the regiment actually acquitted itself quite well. Most other regiments, including the various volunteer forces, held their own.
Regimental vacancies currently stand as follows:
I am delighted to say there are some new debutantes in the list this month. I was fortunate enough to be able to interview the new ladies briefly, all except the mysterious Anne Onne.
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 can drink a pint of sherry in 4½ seconds. She plays the viola and the crumhorn, sometimes both together.
The Serb says: As for July/August, the Paris newcomers have been inserted in last month's sequence in their correct order and the rankings of the other gentlemen adjusted accordingly. The rankings that the new additions would have had are in brackets. The late M. Char has now been removed from the rankings. M. Nomlesse has also now been kind enough to inform us of the correct spelling of his name.
Alas, France has lost a valuable and dedicated officer in M. Char. We of the 53rd Fusiliers shall miss him greatly and wish his family well.
May his spirit rest in peace.
Captain Mer de Mystère, 53rd Fusiliers
On Tuesday evening last, when we were walking through Paris late at night, we saw a ghastly apparition! All in white it was, and it lurched through the streets like some shambling monster, leaving a white trail behind it wherever it went. What a terrible waste of tapioca, and why can't the bawdy houses be compelled to curb this sort of perverted behaviour in their guests and clients? A girl isn't safe to solicit!
Mlles. Daphne, Maxime, Charlotte