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LPBS Masthead: Roland as a Musketeer

Les Petites Bêtes Soyeuses

Being a correspondence game of En Garde! run by Pevans since April 1986 and now published as part of To Win Just Once.

If you'd like to play, you'll need to subscribe to TWJO (follow the link for details). You will need a copy of the rules to En Garde! - or at least access to a copy. The additional rules for LPBS are available as a PDF document. (You will need Adobe Reader to view this: it is available free from Adobe.)

Orders for December 1668 to LPBS, 180 Aylsham Drive, UXBRIDGE UB10 8UF or the LPBS orders e-mail address by Friday, 5th August 2016.

Game Report for December 1668

Sections: Duels, Trials, Appointments and Regiments, What happened in Paris, What happened at the front.

There's a certain crispness to the air as December starts in Paris. Or, to put it another way, a freezing easterly wind that forces everybody who goes out to dress warmly. Thus the socialites on their way to resolve matters of honour are bundled up even more than usual. Two of these piles of clothing turn out to be Etienne Brule and Terence Cuckpowder, who are in opposing regiments. Both are carrying sabres and Brigadier-General Brule has the company of his number two in the Dragoon Guards, Lieutenant-Colonel Frele d'Acier (who has his own, later appointment with Cuckpowder).

As the two duellists shrug off their outer layers, it's clear that they are of very similar build, which should make for an even fight. However, Cuckpowder is still carrying injuries from last month, making him the underdog. His only advantage is that he is much more skilled at twirling his sabre. He starts with a parry, which is wasted as it takes Brule a while to draw his sabre. Cuckpowder then blocks, stopping Brule's slash. However, Brule's delay means that his cut comes just after Cuckpowder's jump. The sabre thumps home as he regains his balance and Cuckpowder has to admit defeat.

The fresh wound debilitates Cuckpowder further and he declines his meetings with Acier and DG Major Jean Ettonique with a doctor's note.

Florent Sans de Machine has challenged Sebastian de la Creme for his lack of nobility and brings his rapier to take him on. However, Creme has a sabre (he is a Cuirassier, after all) and the support of (Field Marshal) Pierre le Sang. Working in Sans de Machine's favour is that Crème is still suffering from old injuries. Sans de Machine starts with a lunge; Creme with a slash. Both blows strike home and the effects are pretty even. However, while Sans de Machine prepares a second lunge, Creme's slash is the start of a furious slash. His cut smacks into Sans de Machine while he's still preparing. The sabre's edge does much more damage than the previous blows and Sans de Machine quickly surrenders.

There should be a few more duels, but they are all with Felix Anton Gauchepied'er. Philippe Yerbouttes finds just a note at their meeting place. "Make love, not war," it says and is signed, "Love & kisses, Felix x x x". Creme and Xavier Four-Hollandaise would have found the same note, had they turned up.

FAG on trial

The next order of business in Paris is the trial of the elusive Gauchepied'er. The Commissioner of Public Safety, Terence Cuckpowder, is prosecuting and the retiring Minister of State sits as judge. Gauchepied'er is last to arrive, bustling into the courtroom in the full ceremonial uniform of the Crown Prince Cuirassiers: shining cuirass, polished boots, well pressed tunic etc. Clustered around him is an entourage of individuals fussing about: several hairdressers, a make-up lady, a seamstress, a couple of florists carrying bunches of flowers and two exasperated looking CPC subalterns plus, of course, Trissy. His entry is greeted by a group of men adorned in frocks & wigs in the public gallery, who vigorously wave 'FREE FELIX' banners and cheer loudly - much to the annoyance of the ordinary Parisians who have come in to get out of the cold (and see the show).

On spotting CPS Cuckpowder and the Minister of State, Felix smiles and waves. "So sorry, darlings," he flutters, "it's been a nightmare this morning - there's been so much to do. I mean my hair wouldn't go right and the wrong perfume was sent so I had to send Trissy off to fetch the proper one, then I had one of my heads come on again so I had to lie down for a few hours... oh, everything that could go wrong did! Still I'm here now sweethearts and where do I sit?"

Having been directed to what he calls the 'defendant's box', Felix looks around, clearly in search of someone. Interrupting the proceedings before the Commissioner can begin, he says, "Cucky, dearest, I'm afraid we must wait for a bit as my lawyer doesn't appear to have arrived. He's such a sweet chap and I'm sure he'll be here in a minute or two. I'll have someone go and look for him." Felix turns to one of his subalterns and sends him scurrying from the courtroom to locate the said lawyer.

 "While we're waiting, darlings, I have a little gift for you both," he continues, indicating the Commissioner and Minister. "Cucky, sweetie pie, these are for you in thanks for last month's little experiences in your Bastille thingy place and, Minister," he gives a wink and a nod to the MoS "these red ones are for you in thanks for that note you sent me asking about joining my ARSE club once you've retired from office." The two florists march across to present their flowers to their respective targets.

Before the trial: aonymous hands exchange a purseIgnoring this, Commissioner Cuckpowder clears his throat loudly. "Harrumph... Felix Anton Gauchepied'er is on trial, my Lord, for conduct unbecoming a Frenchman." However, his speech is interrupted as the courtroom door flies open. In bursts a man wearing a tight-fitting black basque, vivid red bloomers and a pair of high heeled shoes. He is clutching a bundle of papers under his arm and touching up his hair as he enters, bright pink fingernails contrasting sharply against the paperwork.

 "Your Grace," he cries, "I declare this trial a farce! As lawyer for the defendant I proclaim his innocence and demand his immediate release. It is the Commissioner who should be in the dock and not my client!" He jogs around the courtroom for a few moments before taking his place beside Felix - still jogging on the spot.

 "Edy!" cries out Felix, "I knew you'd make it." He blows a host of air kisses. "Cucky, this is my lawyer, Monsieur Edy L'Izard, head of the legal practice 'Long distance Lawyers'. I'm sorry that he's a bit late but he's just run all the way from Brussels, where he was defending his previous client."

Cuckpowder ignores the new arrival and repeats, "...conduct unbecoming a Frenchman! It is not for dress or manner of speech, but for his lack of duty to his Majesty. I can accept that a man be a coward and prefer to remain a civilian. But I cannot accept a man who joins a Regiment and asks for preference (which is granted), at the first call to serve his Majesty decides to run away. This is unacceptable, and is why this man is before you now. If you find him guilty, I request that you send him to the front for 3 months so he may expunge his actions in His Majesty's service."

Monsieur L'Izard then turns to address the Minister. "Your Honour," he begins, "as I said earlier, I declare this trial to be a farce!" Suddenly, a side door flies open and a red-faced, middle-aged man totters into the courtroom, his hose around his ankles. Desultory clapping from the public benches causes him to do a double-take. Then a young lady wearing just her underwear emerges from the doorway, grabs him by an arm and ushers him back out. The door closes and, over the laughter, the judge can be heard to mutter; "Now it's a farce."

 "My client..." shouts the cross-dressing attorney, trying to re-establish order, "My client is an upstanding man of impeccable character. He has not been notified of the charges for which he was arrested or, indeed, why he is in this courtroom today. Upon such clear grounds of ministerial incompetence and irregularity by the CPS, these proceedings should be immediately halted. Furthermore, I have evidence to suggest that it is nothing more than plain envy that sees my client in this court: envy and bitterness on the part of the CPS and I have several witnesses to call." With that, he gives a swift - if somewhat precarious - run on his high heels to the door, turns and makes a quick lap of the courtroom before returning to his place and jogging upon the spot once again.

The only witness who attends is Sebastian Adis II, the Adjutant General, who explains that the Army must be open to recruiting all, regardless of their appearance and manners, as a progressive, diverse and inclusive army is his idea of a new model army for France. He concludes, "Major Gauchepied'er may be a queer fellow in many ways, but he is an awfully gay chap and a credit to the Crown Prince's Cuirassiers and the Heavy Brigade - in the name of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity, we are all brothers in arms and I call, no demand, for the Major to be acquitted to show that our army is open to all!"

His rousing speech is greeted with a high-pitched cheer from the Felix supporters on the public benches. The Minister lifts his head out of his hands - where it's been during most of the proceedings. "Can't I just retire?" he asks, plaintively. Urged to complete his duties by the CPS, the Minister finally agrees and sums up proceedings. "Notwithstanding Sir Sebastian's evidence - and his attempt to influence me (not enough, by the way) - I have to concur with Sir Terence - and Count Shitacks, whose 'advice' I received - and find the defendant absolutely ridiculous. I mean guilty. The appropriate sentence for one of his kind is, umm, let me see: ah yes, a fine. Let's say 800 crowns and may God have mercy on his soul."

The sentence doesn't leave anyone particularly happy: Cuckpowder wants the wretch sent on active service, Gauchepied'er doesn't have that much money. However, no appeal is made, so the sentence is not commuted and Gauchepied'er pays as much of the fine as he has. Unfortunately, this leaves him strapped when the Shylocks' boys come to call and his overdue debts mean he's leaving for the front after all.

Who's Minister?

Elsewhere in Paris, new boy Gaston le Somme is trying to join a regiment. His first application is to Cuckpowder's regiment, the Queen's Own Carabiniers. It is not so much refused as just ignored. Instead, he submits his credentials to the Royal Marines, where Gaz Moutarde is happy to accept him. Funds from his new commanding officer (plus what he's borrowed) see le Somme buy his way to the rank of Major.

The other new arrival, Henri Dubois, makes his application to Etienne Brule, who is quick to sign him up for the Dragoon Guards. Dubois settles for being a trooper in the premier cavalry regiment.

Bill de Zmerchant has been having a word with the Third Foot Brigadier. It must have been substantial as the Brigadier resigns his position. Nobody has applied for it, so it remains vacant for the time being.

However, the big job up for grabs is Minister of State. Count Euria Humble has applied, but is ruled out as he's already had one go this year. The other applicant is the Field Marshal, Pierre le Sang, and he has the fervent backing of Count Jacques Shitacks, the Minister of War. Yes, Shitacks pulls every string, calls in every favour and even dips into his purse to get le Sang the job. Count Pierre Cardigan (Minister without Portfolio) adds the icing to the cake by throwing his weight behind le Sang as well. And Uther Xavier-Beauregard tries to chip in too. His Majesty is overwhelmed and gratefully appoints such a popular candidate. He further rewards le Sang with an Earldom.

Minister le Sang's first act is to offer the job of Commissioner of Public Safety to his Aide, Sir Duncan d'Eauneurts, now Colonel of the King's Musketeers. Sir Duncan declines, pointing out that the position is already held - his success in this month's trial having assured Sir Terence Cuckpowder's tenure for his full term.

Moving slightly down the social scale, Rick O'Shea's support ensures that Félix Subercaseaux takes the appointment as Brigade Major of First Foot Brigade. Subercaseaux's own influence doesn't reach as high as the commanding Brigadier-General.

Bernard de Lur-Saluces, Second Foot Brigadier and still head of the 13th Fusiliers, appoints Le Poutine Noir as Regimental Adjutant.

Another Brigadier, Sebastian de la Creme, commander of the Heavy Brigade, gives his men their marching orders. Yes, the Crown Prince's and Archduke Leopold's Cuirassiers are off to the front for the winter. The only person for whom this is good news is Felix Anton Gauchepied'er. He's the Brigade Major, so now he gets a nice, warm Brigade HQ tent rather than bivouacking in the cold with the Frontier troops. On the other hand...

Pre-Christmas party

The death of Philippe Lesueur in action last month reduces the number of organised social events in Paris to just two. This doesn't stop Charles Louis Desapear from trying to Toady to the dead man in the first week of December. Most Parisians have chosen to visit their own clubs instead, taking their favourite female companion with them. In the Fleur, we find Ali Vouzon accompanying Angelina di Griz. Bill de Zmerchant escorting Mary Huana. Etienne Brule brings Belle Epoque. Frele d'Acier has Freda de Ath on his arm. Madelaine de Proust is Jacques Shitacks' companion. Edna Bucquette accompanies Pierre Cardigan. The new Minister of State, Pierre le Sang, brings Guinevere d'Arthur. And Uther Xavier-Beauregard escorts Henrietta Carrotte.

Bothwell's garners its share of socialites in attendance. Beau Reese Jean Seine brings Maggie Nifisent. Chopine Camus escorts Sheila Kiwi. Jacques As has Thomasina Tancenjin on his arm. Jean Jeanie attends with Jacky Tinne. Sebastian Adis II accompanies Marie Antoinette, carrying a lot of shopping bags.

There are some more in Hunter's. Alan de Frocked brings Lucy Fur and entertains the members with a few wagers on the gaming tables. Two wins and one loss leave him ahead on the week. Jean d'Ice is there to see this, along with Ava Crisp. So, too, are Was Nae Me and Vera Cruz.

Coeur De Lion takes Ada Andabettoir to Blue Gables, while Félix Subercaseaux and Ulla Leight are in Red Phillips. Only the Frog & Peach remains empty, though a couple of gentlemen are spending quality time at home with their ladies: Gaz Moutarde and Leonard de Hofstadt (keeping an ear open for any hopeful suitors).

It's party time again in Paris! Revellers pop champagne corksWeek 2 is the King's Musketeers Christmas Ball at Hunter's, hosted by Guards Brigadier Was Nae Me. With Vera on his arm, Was welcomes his guests. Top of the list (in alphabetical order) is Con d'Masses, who is unaccompanied after his unsuccessful courting the week before. Charles Louis Desapear brings Josephine Buonoparte and is grateful to get in to a party. Claude Talon escorts Anna Rexique, fresh from a week's tomahawk practice. (That's him, not her.) Félix Subercaseaux has Ulla on his arm. Gaston le Somme is another man who's courting didn't go to plan and is thus alone. Following a week's sabre practice, Jean Ettonique attends with Alison Wunderlandt. Jean Jeanie accompanies Jacky and Maurice Essai Deux makes up the numbers (alone after his previous week etc etc). The arrival of Maurice is noticed by Alan de Frocked (with Lucy) and Jean d'Ice (plus Ava), who are in their club for a second week. They are both members of the Cardinal's Guard (it's almost like they planned it!) and accost Maurice as the only actual King's Musketeer in attendance. They exchange challenges.

Apart from the crowd at Hunter's, Coeur De Lion and Ada are back in the Blue Gables. They are the witnesses to Florent Sans de Machine's new conquest, Charlotte de Gaulle, who he brings to his club to show off. Not everybody was unsuccessful the week before. Beau Reese Jean Seine takes Maggie to Bothwell's again. And there's a decent crowd in the Fleur, of course.

Ali Vouzon and Angelina, Etienne Brule and Belle, Frele d'Acier and Freda, Jacques Shitacks and Madelaine, Pierre Cardigan and Edna and Pierre le Sang and Guinevere all visit the Fleur for a second week. Duncan d'Eauneurts is there as well, Toadying to his boss, Field Marshal le Sang. Richard Shapmes brings Kathy Pacific along after his one week of rapier practice. Terence Cuckpowder intends something similar after his week with his sabre. However, he is on his own after Katy Did was wooed away from him by Amant d'Au. This seems like a high-risk strategy: court the mistress of the CPS! To add further insult, Terence is accosted by two regimental enemies while in the Fleur: Etienne and Frele. That will be another round of duels next month.

Christmas party

The main social event is in week three when Frele d'Acier and Freda hold court at the Fleur to celebrate Christmas. Most of Paris is there. The guests start with Alan de Frocked and Lucy. Next are Bill de Zmerchant (following a week of two-handed sword practice) and Mary. Beau Reese Jean Seine brings Maggie. Chopine Camus (his previous week was with his sabre) accompanies Sheila. Con d'Masses is still on his own. Charles Louis Desapear escorts Josephine. Claude Talon brings Anna and takes the opportunity of a visit to the Fleur to try its gaming tables. He cuts his first 500-crown bet, but wins the following two to leave rather wealthier than when he entered.

King's Musketeer Duncan d'Eauneurts arrives on his own and takes exception to Cardinal's Guardsman Alan de Frocked. It's reciprocated. Etienne Brule brings Belle. Félix Subercaseaux has Ulla on his arm. Florent Sans de Machine proudly escorts Charlotte, of course, but takes exception to the presence of nouveau riche riff-raff like Claude. He applies glove leather to cheek (his glove, Claude's chops, just to be clear). Gaston le Somme makes an appearance amongst his superiors and causes no trouble before heading off to win the affections of a certain young lady. The Dragoon Guards' latest recruit, trooper Henri Dubois, is also over-awed by the company, but the party is hosted by a colleague and a welcome break from his regimental duties.

Jacques As (after a week with his sabre) escorts Thomasina. Jean d'Ice arrives with Ava and backs up his fellow Cardinal's man, Alan, against Musketeer Duncan. Jean Ettoniqe accompanies Alison, completing the roster of the Dragoon Guards - and Terence's duelling opponents. However, he is then the second recipient of Florent's glove for his lack of nobility. Musketeer Maurice Essai Deux tries to sneak in quietly, but then spots Alan and Jean and mixes in with Duncan against the Cardinal's Guards. Richard Shapmes brings Kathy and they dodge the commotion. Sebastian Adis II escorts Marie and they do the same. Then Terence Cuckpowder arrives and is both admitted and challenged by his host. The rest of the Dragoon Guards pile in on the hapless Terence, allowing Was Nae Me and Vera to arrive unnoticed.

Keeping out of the way of the fracas at their own tables in the Fleur are: Ali Vouzon and Angelina; Jacques Shitacks and Madelaine; Pierre Cardigan and Edna; and Pierre le Sang and Guinevere. The party has emptied all the other clubs. Except for the Blue Gables, where Coeur De Lion continues to entertain Ada.

December ends on a note of calm as the various squabblers nurse their bruises - or practice their swordplay. However, there are still a few members in the clubs. The list at the Fleur starts with Ali Vouzon and Angelina, as usual. Etienne Brule and Belle are next. Then there's Frele d'Acier and Freda. Jacques Shitacks and Madelaine follow. Pierre Cardigan and Edna come next. Pierre le Sang and Guinevere have the added bonus of a Toady: Duncan d'Eauneurts again. Finally, Richard Shapmes and Kathy are there.

The list in Bothwell's is much shorter: Beau Reese Jean Seine and Maggie plus Jacques As with Thomasina. Alan de Frocked and Lucy are in Hunter's. So are Jean d'Ice and Ava. Not to mention Was Nae Me and Vera. Coeur De Lion and Ada are back in the Blue Gables, as are Florent Sans de Machine and Charlotte.

Who does that leave? Well, Jacques de Gain, for one. He is in the gyms with his rapier all month. Bernard de Lur-Saluces would match him, but succumbs to other needs at the last moment and heads to the Bawdyhouses at the end of December. Rick O'Shea makes his visit to the red lights in week 3, but otherwise puts in three weeks with his rapier. Le Poutine Noir and Pepé Nicole do the Bawdyhouses first and then practise for three weeks, both on rapier again.

Leonard de Hofstadt and Uther Xavier-Beauregard retire to the gyms for three weeks after just one week partying. It is rapier for Leonard, but sabre for Uther. After his success courting, Amant d'Au feels like some practice and puts in three weeks with his daggers. And a week with his lady is enough for Gaz Moutarde. The other three he spends with his cutlass. Two weeks' practice suits Chopine Camus (sabre), Claude Talon (tomahawk), Jean Jeanie (rapier) and Terence Cuckpowder (sabre) and a few others show up for the odd week in the gym.

Footpads lie in wait as a drunken Musketeer staggers along the road

Being turned down by a young lady at the start of the month, Maurice Essai Deux heads for the Bawdyhouses at the end. The footpads decide he looks a likely lad and apply their cudgels to his head, extracting a decent reward from his pockets. Con d'Masses finishes his December in the red light district, too, but keeps out of trouble - and away from the women. Ali Vouzon is to be seen on the banks of the Seine, organising work parties to tidy up the river - banks and contents. He's hoping for some Snowball Fighting. Or organising his proposed Ice Fair.

Warfare on ice

If it's nippy in Paris, it's frosty on the frontier. The Frontier regiments' mission this winter is to lay siege to a recalcitrant Spanish garrison. At least this means the troops can establish decent quarters for themselves while they try to starve out the enemy. It's not quite so useful for the Heavy Brigade, though, as they're not really suited to siege warfare and none too happy about cold conditions. Their job is scouting and foraging - as far as their stiff cuirasses will let them.

Major Percy Mistic in the Archduke Leopold Cuirassiers does this quite well. So well, in fact, that he makes a profit of 1,200 crowns on the month. The irrepressible Felix Anton Gauchepied'er is serving as Brigade Major. He insists on visiting the Frontier troops "at the sharp end", as he puts it. His flamboyant dress makes him a clear target for the enemy snipers. Several near misses end with a musketball burying itself in his breastplate and he is carried back to HQ in a flurry of handkerchiefs and wailing. A collection amongst the men raises 700 crowns and prompts a cheery cry of "I'm fine, darlings." Brigadier Sebastian de la Creme makes a point of leading patrols in person, despite the treacherous conditions. He forages his way to 800 crowns' worth of booty.

The cold weather makes things tough (even tougher than usual) for the troops in the Frontier regiments. 69A Major Philippe Yerbouttes does well, though, prompting some success for Frontier regiment 1 - to which he's attached - and promotion to Lt-Colonel. The disgraced Euria Humble is assigned to Frontier regiment 4 and carefully supervised. Assigned to guard duty overnight, his sergeant is pleased to see him still at his post in the morning, alert and upright. "Well done, Humble," booms the sergeant and claps him on the shoulder. The corpse pitches forward, frozen completely stiff. RIP.