Mr Carter arrived at the meeting in the custody of Mr Southville, who had had him arrested on suspicion of receiving stolen goods.
General Perisson was wearing a particularly fine medieval sword strapped about his waist.
Mr Giffard was again in disguise.
Miss Kincaid displayed the physical perfection of a mannequin.
The Archbishop of Canterbury was in full episcopal regalia, including
mitre and crozier.
"I come here as a rich man. But this just means I have much to give. Some of you may have heard of the new charity I have set up the Tenth Givers. I urge you all to join - make your million ,or thousands or even mere hundreds count. We can help eradicate poverty - bring decent education to all men and make life for all less brutish and short. This is good for them, good for the country and most of all good for you. I thank you."
"Fellow Members. May I take this opportunity to give my support to Georg von Seyffert, our esteemed Vizier, and say that I hope he will stand for re-election in the coming year."
Mr Giffard stood up, removed his disguise, and spoke thusly: "Members of the Inferno Club, the past few years I have acted as Earth Elemental, and it ha been both an honour and a pleasure to act as a servant of the Club. I have always, when the situation arose, worked tirelessly to gather the opinions of all the members of the Element, and acted in accordance with their wishes. I am not power-hungry (unlike some members who wish the Elemental post to be theirs); I have always made every effort to attend the Club even when doing so has put me at risk with the authorities, and I have carried out my duties at all times.
"I wish to remain as Elemental, as I feel the role gives me the opportunity to converse with the membership of the Club and ensure a spirit of cooperation exists between the scientific Houses and the rest of the Club,. Those of you who have had dealing with me in the past know that when acting as Elemental I am always impartial.
"I hope that all Members will feel that I have made an excellent Elemental
and that you will vote for me. I also wish to ask that all members take
time out of their busy schedules to vote, as the turnout in the last elections
was very disappointing. I thank you for your time in listening to me."
With that Mr Giffard moved to the back of the room and replaced his disguise.
"I would like to announce my candidacy for re-election to the office of Inner Saluter. I have become intimately familiar with the powers and responsibilities of this office and believe I can perform the duties required to the equal benefit of all club members."
"Dear fellow-members, it was my intention to devote all my energies to the modernization of Russia for the benefit of the Inferno Club, but some other Members thought a little bit different about it and destroyed all my reforms. I am not rancorous because I know it's nothing personal (at least I hope not), just a conflict of ideas, but I really hope for the future of our Club and Europe as a whole that those guys very well realize which destructive powers they have unleashed on the world.
"OK, that was the past. We have to look at the future. It's my vision
that MAGIC has to become better integrated in the operation of Inferno
politics, otherwise terrible disasters may descend on the Inferno Club
as a whole. That's the reason that I am announcing my candidacy for the
post of WATER ELEMENTAL. Thank you for your attention."
"In response to Miss Valiente's and others' comments on the threat of demons to us and our world, I have taken a little time to look at the matter. Miss Wells has provided the Water Houses with details of the activities of the 'East End Slasher' and from this and discussions with my colleagues, I surmise that a powerful entity from another dimension has managed to break into our world and is carrying out ritualistic murders to strengthen its presence here. The unfortunate demise of the late Mr Nightingale of this club should underline how dangerous this being is and we should act to destroy and/or banish it as quickly as possible. I have a very simple plan: we organise a task force containing as many combat personnel (preferably Arieans) as possible, several members of the Water Houses and enough hardware to level Switzerland; we then use our combined magical and investigative skills to track this thing down and blast it with whatever weapons we have to distract it, so that the Water House members can banish it. I suggest that a British member, preferably with steam-mail [OOC: this is the in-game term for email - Mo] co-ordinates this. Provided at least five other mages and plenty of kit is involved, you can count me in; any less and we simply risk getting ourselves killed."
"My fellow club members, as you may recall I asked for information last year on the uprise in crime here in London. Unfortunately no information has been forthcoming. This gang is hindering some of my business concerns with its protection rackets. I assume that the gang is being operated by one of our members, who is presumably a little protective of their privacy. As such I request that demands for 'insurance' cease in South Molton Street. If this does not occur by next year, then I will assume that the gang or gangs are not run by one of our members and that I can try to eliminate them without having to worry about our charter."
"If it pleases the club, I would like to stand for the post of Water Elemental. While I am sure that Peter Darkenford has done a good job in his term, he has been quite modest in revealing the results of his actions. In the meantime, I am worried by the upsurge of demonic activity on our world. Already we have a Demon Lord stalking London, sacrificing people to strengthen his presence here. In the meantime, I have heard disturbing reports about other such entities leaking through as a result of the recent actions in Europe, following the cowardly and somewhat excessive murder of Mr Disraeli. These creatures are no small threat to both our club and humanity itself. In fact research of the prior European Cell indicates that they were nearly destroyed by a similar being. While House Pisces is best equipped to combat this menace, the advice we can give Mr Darkenford restricted by our Hermetic Oath. With a Piscean in charge of the water houses, our hands will be freed and a more unified, informed approach can be taken to dispatching this common enemy. Thank you."
Miss DuQuesne-Black was wearing the striking sash and medal of a Dame Commander of the British Empire, and sporting a large solitaire sapphire ring. Combined with her youth and attractiveness, the overall impression was both elegant and stateswoman-like. "Ladies and gentlemen, I wish to announce my intention to stand at the next Inferno Club elections for the post of Inner Saluter. As you know, the function of this post is to act as liaison with other high cells of the Club. Recently we have faced a crisis in this regard, with a representative of the French Cell making personal threats against our members. This situation, and the war which provoked it, arose from a condition inflicted on the Prime Minister by reckless individuals. This situation was intolerable to me and harmful to us all. Therefore, after consultation with me House, I put an end to it. Some risk and effort was required which, even here, I think it unwise to detail. This country has now concluded an advantageous peace with France and our conflict with the French Cell is also ended. I hope you will consider that this is a clear demonstration of my fitness for the post of Inner Saluter, and favour me with your support. I shall be available for discussion during the courser of this evening. Thank you."
The intrepid impresario's announcement was brief and to the point: he wished to stand for the office of Lower Saluter. The beauteous Frenchwoman declared that she also wished to stand for this illustrious post.
"My friends. Strange and cryptic as this message may seem at the dawn of 1871, I do already want to wish all of you, including the Inferno staff and a strange guy named Mo, all the best for the 1999. [Champagne is brought in]. May all our plans be successful! Cheers! [ting ting ting] Friends!... My friends. And especially my friends of the Air Element. I think you can all agree that in my position of Air Elemental I have not been abusing your trust, nor have I been using this power for my own agenda, quite the contrary. I think I've more than proven my neutrality at the last Council meeting where I actually voted against my own interests because I had been ordered that way by a majority of you, the people I represent. Yet, despite this heavy burden of constant manoeuvring through troubled waters and trying to preserve peace in our own ranks I would not object of serving the Element of Air, you my friends, for yet another period. I do indeed hope to gain enough of your support to, once again, represent you all at the Council meetings and promise, once again, to be open for all suggestions and to strictly obey what you wish me to stand up for. Thank you and cheers again!"
"Ladies and gentlemen, I wish to make a short statement. In recent years there have been certain questions raised regarding the character of one of our associates, Miss Monique Sue. Those questions have specifically been in regard to her ongoing absence from the annual meetings of the Club and her distance in general from the affairs of our association. Since questions of Club procedure fall within the purview of House Libra, I have investigated the matter. I may now inform you that it is my opinion that Miss Sue is acting entirely within the regulations of our Club; her reclusive behaviour is within the rules to which I am sure we all cleave with resolute strength. I would also personally observe that Miss Sue maintains an entirely blameless life of devotion to her business interests. Speculations into her activities beyond that sphere are gossip-mongering, to which I am firmly opposed. I suggest she be allowed her to go about her business in peace."
Sir Derek Ross, in his capacity as Inner Saluter, introduced the Members of the Twelve for Houses Cancer and Scorpio, Mr Eliphas Levi and Mr McGregor Mathers. The former was a neat, dapper, elderly Frenchman wearing flowing Chinese robes and a pillbox-shaped embroidered silk hat. The latter was a tall, thin Scots gentleman wearing a dark suit, with a rather wild beard. It was clear to the perceptive Members that there was some tension between the two.
Mr Mathers appeared extremely angry as he mounted the podium. "These slurs against my House must stop! I will not have outsiders, no matter how venerable or esteemed, criticizing House Scorpio and the way it operates. We reserve the inalienable right to conduct our affairs as and how we choose, without let or hindrance, without fear or favour!"
Mr Levi, attempting to edge onto the podium next to the irate Scotsman, put in gently "House Cancer, too, greatly regrets the recent criticisms that its members have come under in recent years. Publicly within this forum, and also within private communications and claques, our ways and practices have been maligned." He casts a surprisingly malign glance towards Miss Kincaid, who receives it with serene indifference.
By this point several Members were staring blankly at the two, clearly without the foggiest idea of what either was talking about, but Mr Mathers seemed in no mood to explain. He shouted "Ours is one of the oldest Houses of the Inferno! And we will not be bullied, cajoled or coaxed by Johnny-come-latelies! Before the Inferno called to us, we had power already!" A baleful yellow fire started to play about his head, and he seemed to grow taller and more menacing.
Mr Levi finally managed to elbow him aside and grasp the lectern. "But, Infernals, we come not to threaten, but to warn. There are dark forces in the world, that much is true. But only House Cancer knows how to control them and prevent them from harming humanity. You work against us at your peril and the peril of every man and woman alive."
"Havers!" exclaimed Mr Mathers, his accent thickening. "It's House Scorpio which best knows how to tame and bind the dark entities, ye irkit wee mon!" He raised his hand as if to strike down Mr Levi, who merely folded his arms and regarded him balefully, the air above his head starting to shimmer and twist.
Benson, the Club butler, cleared his throat delicately and suddenly
both gentlemen remembered where they were and calmed themselves. Together
they stalked from the podium and left the Members excitedly discussing
what had occurred.
Mr Midwife, the House Libra procedural expert, reminded Members that elections were to be held at the next meeting, and he encouraged everyone to vote. He suggested that for convenience's sake the count should be overseen by the current Counter, Mr Southville, and that those elected to posts conferring more or fewer votes than they currently had should not gain / lose the benefit of those votes until after the whole of the elections were concluded. He suggested that if a post was uncontested it should stay with the incumbent, although there were arguments for it falling vacant instead: it was for the Cell's House Libra to decide.
The Infernal Mail system was once again busy, with more bulky dossiers
for those Members who had passed the level of 5 Sinister. This level also
seemed to confer a new House badge, one of a yellow colour.
Just before midnight, the Infernal Mail tube released two letters, which Benson passed round. The first was in 0001's familiar script and style:
Ladies and gentlemen,
Congratulations on another successful year. It is now time that lower Cells were reinstituted: this will be the task of the new Lower Saluter. I will instruct him or her personally as to how it must be done. The Council should decide which countries are sufficiently advanced and powerful to merit Cells of their own.
Happy New Year!
The second note was on the usual 3" x 5" card, but was in copperplate handwriting in a gold ink that glowed with a slight phosphorescence.
If he is foolish enough to trust in evil then evil will be his reward.
The True 001
Hope you all had a good Christmas and New Year!
Collaboration - if you wish to collaborate with another character, both of you must say so in your orders. If one says 'I work with character Y to do such-and-such', and player Y makes no indication that she wishes to do likewise, then it won't happen.
Elections - are next turn. You can vote for as many or as few of the ten posts as you wish, it's up to you. Everyone can vote for every post. And you can vote for people whether or not they've announced their candidacy.
Price rise - note that the price has now gone up to £3.50 per turn, which is what you were charged for this turn and will be from here on in.
Deadline - back to fortnightly deadlines now as per normal.
Meet - as previously announced, this is going ahead on Saturday 23rd of January, ie. a few days after the next deadline. So far it looks as though about half the players will be able to make it, so should be a good atmosphere. It's in Oxford, at the Mitre Inn on the High Street (the same place as we had our UNEXPLAINED meet last summer, those of you who came to that). It's right in the centre of town, about ten minutes walk from the railway station, easy to find whether you arrive by train, coach, car or whatever. Parking cars in central Oxford is extremely expensive, so I'd recommend that you use the Park & Ride services on the edges of the city. Contact us for more precise directions if you think you might need them. We'll be in the room behind you to the left as you go into the pub, with the UKG logo prominently displayed. This is going to be a low-key, relaxed affair, not too organized: just chat, drink and perhaps a few light board or card games or something towards the end of the day. Anyone who would like to stay in Oxford on the Friday and /or Saturday, we can help you find accommodation if you like, or you're very welcome to crash here at the UKG nerve centre.
Convention - enclosed is a flier about next year's London Play-by-Mail Convention, at which we will have a stand. It's the postal / email gaming hobby's most important get-together - a great chance to meet GMs and players, see the newest games, play in demonstrations, take part in panel discussions, win prizes... lots of good stuff basically, and thoroughly recommended.
New GMing addition - as of next turn the Inferno GMing team will be augmented by the very wonderful Emma Stuttard, who was a player in the earlier version of the game and knows all there is to be known about wheeling and dealing. She will be helping me keep track of the multifarious plots and NPCs who throng the Inferno world.
Your turn should be with us by:
Midnight Monday 18th January 1999
ELECTION OUTLOOK In 1873 Great Britain will once again be gripped in election excitement, with the Conservatives currently looking good to hold on for another term. No figures of any significance have yet emerged on the Opposition benches, with Mr Gladstone looking a spent force. The only danger for Lord Shaftesbury is if the crime issue blows up in his face - Mr Southville has staked a lot on success in this policy area. And what of the new Equity Party, do they stand any chance at all? Only time and the fickle voter will tell (by our Political Correspondent).
PATENTS LEATHERED The charges against Mr William Stone and Mr Henri Giffard, being brought by Hamilton Industries, have been dropped, to the satisfaction of all parties. It is believed that some sort of ex gratia payment was made, but the upshot is that Hamilton's will produce MATAVs and is licensing the steam tractor technology back to Stone.
GET THE URGE, SAYS ARMSTRONG Armstrong Industries has developed a new weapon, the latest creation of its noble proprietor's fertile mind, the Underground Raiding and General Eradication vehicle, or URGE. It tunnels through the ground and can bear weapons as well as convey infantry to the point of attack: it is hoped by Armstrong's that it will swiftly be taken up by the Army.
'GREEN FAIRY' CASTS HER SPELL The new 'absinthe' drink, made popular by a hefty advertising campaign last year, seems to have caught on thoroughly in Britain, particularly among the poor. Medical persons are asking worried questions about its long-term health effects, though, with stories about blindness, madness and death caused by the drink in circulation. The Times says: stop scaremongering! A drop of what you fancy never did anyone any harm. Bottoms up!
FRENCH BOOST SCIENCE The French government is offering a large sum of money (the equivalent of one thousand pounds) to the best inventions in the categories of Agriculture, Military and City development, advertised throughout Europe: the deadline is the end of 1873. Winners will also get a Seat of Technology at La Sorbonne [sounds rather uncomfortable - ed.] Is this the best way the French can think of to drag their nation towards the 20th century? If they wish to emulate Britain's glorious success, they must train up a cadre of native engineers, not merely buy in talent.
METEORS RAVAGE AMERICA! The American night sky was lit up during the course of the year by a succession of blazing green meteors, some of which are thought to have crashed to ground in the remote and uncivilized New Mexico area.
FOREIGN SUPPLIES The British Government has announced that henceforth any British engineer or industrialist wishing to supply military-sensitive goods or technology to a foreign power must first seek permission from the relevant department of Her Majesty's government, and that this permission is unlikely to be forthcoming for any goods apart from those already in common use. 'Britain intends to preserve her lead in the arms race!' said Lord Shaftesbury, stout fellow that he is.
PERISSON ACCLAIMED General Perisson, who defended France against the Italians with what can only be described as mixed success, has been hailed a hero of France and was awarded the Legion d'Honneur in a brief but moving ceremony yesterday. Media analysts put this down to the campaign waged by Le Soir, which has certainly taken up the cudgels on Perisson's behalf. As France has no real heroes, she has to make the most of the feeble figures she does manage to produce.
IL MESSAGERO TAKEN OVER The Florentine newspaper Il Messagero has been seized by the city's Committee for Public Security, and its editor Paolo lo Altro flung into the Bargello. It seems that lo Altro insisted on sticking to his pro-Medici line, and firmly resisted attempts to buy the newspaper made by bodies more friendly to the new government. The new editor, Pico Conte, is seen as a fair-minded man who will be more than just a mouthpiece for the CPS, and that body has been giving the paper away for free to improve circulation.
USA AT WAR WITH JAPAN Following the loss of last year's Perry expedition with all hands, the United States under President Lincoln has declared war on Japan, 'with extreme prejudice'.
MORIARTY FLEET Professor Moriarty, proprietor of the Hampstead & Highgate Gazette, has invested in a small fleet of battleships, with six keels laid down at Portsmouth. The Government has assured opposition MPs concerned about such a fleet existing in private hands that they do not represent a threat to Britain's security, being of outmoded design and rather small.
FRENCH CRIME GETS MORE ORGANIZED The new breed of criminal infesting Paris and France's other cities now seems to have something of a stranglehold on them, with the so-called 'Steam Mafia' controlling a large proportion of various important rackets and the law enforcement agencies seemingly powerless to act against them. Where is the French Southville? Come to that, where is the English Southville? - he has notably failed yet to deliver on his promise to clean up London's streets.
AMERICA MOURNS LINCOLN US President Abraham Lincoln has been killed as he sat watching the theatre, by a curious star-shaped piece of metal propelled with what must have been extreme force, which entered his chest and ruptured his heart. The assassin escaped without a trace. Vice-President Andrew Johnson was sworn in as his successor, and has vowed to continue the war with Japan despite the loss of the US 6th Fleet off the Midway Islands.
'PATHFINDERS' GET MILITARY Professor Moriarty's admirable Pathfinders organization, for young lads of a healthy outdoor disposition, has strengthened its ties with the Army, with joint training exercises and talks from famous commanders. The Times says: jolly good show! If we can breed up a new strain of keen young officer for the Army of the 1870s, all to the good.
PEACE IN ARMENIA The Russians and Turks have agreed to partition Armenia along lines of convenience, with neither side really having the stomach for the war: the Russian Communists are too busy stamping out pockets of resistance, with their rule looking increasingly secure.
WHAT'S YOUR PREFERENCE? A new company, Margaret Bancroft & Co Public Satisfaction Surveyors, has been set up to provide survey information to commercial organizations dealing directly with the general populace. Miss Bancroft, a graduate of Laing College in Cheltenham, spoke capably and concisely about her plans: to allow manufacturers and marketers to ensure that they genuinely know the minds of those to whom they seek to sell. We at The Times can only admire the vision that has launched such a scheme, although we feel it is bound to take some of the skill of guesswork out of marketing. Data from the surveys has also been offered to the Government's Project Cyclops, and to political parties wishing to know voting intentions.
*** FLORENTINE ELECTIONS FAVOUR PROGRESSIVES Republicans, democrats and advocates of Italian unity were swept into power in Florence on a tide of popular enthusiasm, with de'Medici supporters barely scraping a handful of seats on the new Council.
NEW DIRECTOR Mr Peter Darkenford has been appointed to the board of Tripp-Trapp Bridge Holdings GmbH, his family firm in Prussia: 'I felt it was time I stepped forward,' said the modest fellow.
UN-CONVENT-IONAL DEPARTURE Vienetta, only daughter of Don Pedro Galshozo of Madrid, escaped from the Santa Andromeda convent, where she was to undertake her noviciate at her father's wish in gratitude for his son's recovery from influenza. She is believed to have fled to Britain, where an English Milord with whom she had been in secret correspondence had promised to make her a Protestant.
I SEEK NEWTON The model mining community of Newton continues to grow, with a thoroughly modern and efficient health and hygiene system now in place, supervised by Baron Klaus Wolfgang von Poelzig: the backwoods Bavarian seemed impressed with the facilities laid in place by the Braithwait Corporation.
*** 'IL MOSCO SCHIACCIATO' TAKES THE BISCUIT The southern Italian rebels continued to prosper in the field, with the army suffering two major reverses. It was noted that the rebels were now equipped with modern arms, and also augmented by a large number of Giant Steam Men - King Frederick has lodged a complaint with the Florentine government for their support of the rebels, although it seems obvious that democrats and supporters of Italian unity are likely to help each other out.
JIM THE SLASHER WALKS AGAIN London was once more convulsed with terror as the end of the year saw a new Slasher killing, identical in style to the others, in Whitechapel's Bile Alley. Can nothing be done about this vile menace?
POLLY-MORPHISM! The latest addition to Mr Ferdinand Gaboon's Big Top, the Spectacular Multi-Hued Avians, is wowing audiences across Bavaria and Austria: it consists of a number of oddly-coloured and -shaped parrots, who clown and perform aerobatics, all the while conversing in a curious mix of vernacular English and quotations from Goethe's The Sorrows of Young Werther. This new act more than makes up for the disappointment caused by the absence of Elasto, the India-Rubber Boy, who is currently absent in London receiving specialist medical treatment.
*** PRINCE BERTIE TO WED Buckingham Palace has declared that the Prince of Wales is to marry Miss Kathy Drall, a spinster of good birth closely associated with Church affairs, in the summer. This announcement stunned the nation, as it was thought certain that the Queen intended His Royal Highness to marry into one of the royal families of Europe - Grand Duchess Adriana Sforza of Milan was one favourite. For him to marry a commoner, no matter how accomplished - readers may recall that Miss Drall is also an architect, although not a notably successful one - is a step unprecedented in constitutional history. His parents have withdrawn to the seclusion of Sandringham and are making no comment. The Prince himself, looking somewhat dazed, haggard and shaky, merely said that he hoped to make his bride-to-be very happy indeed. Details of the courtship are being kept closely secret, leading to a certain amount of speculation in some quarters.
...so-called 'Prince' Bertie, that well known homosexual and laudanum-abuser, was stumbled on in flagrante with Miss Drall in a drug-induced haze, by a party of nuns touring Lambeth Palace - but who set the scene up? Surely none other than our beloved Archbishop, whose 'protégée' the gorgeous Kathy has long been. Perhaps Fortescue can't get his own Dome erected any more. (from Eat the Rich magazine, the scurrilous journal of the London Society of Anarchists)
MILITARY ADVISOR BARRED Mr Morgan Leman, the King's military advisor, has been banished from Court, for accidentally breaking two antique Ming raspberry-bowls of which His Majesty was particularly fond. 'I never touched them!' exclaimed Mr Leman plaintively as he was hustled out. The Suddeutsche Zeitung can only say: we told you so. We have nothing against Mr Leman personally, of course, but inviting foreigners into the place can only do harm, as they do not respect Bavarian values. Mr Leman seems to be trying to raise his stock among the Bavarian people, but we are too wise for him. (from the Suddeutsche Zeitung)
NEW CRIME WAVE After last year's rather horrid series of burglaries of prominent society figures, 1871 has seen a much more extensive string of robberies of less notable properties of the upper middle classes, all across London. Once more, the modi operandorum have baffled police (not that that is saying a great deal these days), although leading detectives are convinced that one mastermind is behind the whole string. This figure, known as 'Robin Goodfellow', seems to have extraordinarily accurate information on security arrangements. If Mr Southville is to retain any credibility as Home Secretary, he must catch Goodfellow.
COSIMO STRIKES DEAL Peace has broken out in Tuscany, with the deposed Grand Duke agreeing terms with the new Florentine government, aided by two experienced Prussian negotiators sent by the Chancellor as a gesture of good faith. Under the deal Cosimo will return as Grand Duke, but in a purely titular and ceremonial role, with considerably less power than that enjoyed by our own dear Queen. This deal has produced angry mutterings among more radical sectors of the city, who wished to see the de'Medici flung out for good and all, but it has certainly saved the bloodshed that a siege of their citadel of Siena would have entailed, and all right-thinking persons should applaud it.
MORIARTY RESEARCH FOUNDATION Professor Moriarty has endowed a new Research Foundation at the new University of Manchester, its inventions to be jointly owned by the inventor, the university and himself. It is rumoured that the Foundation was first offered to Oxford and to Cambridge, who rejected it.
ENGINEER SOUGHT to work on personal safety project with potential benefits to all. Experience of working with compressed air / high-pressure steam a bonus. Salary negotiable. Apply to Miss Julianne Fulbright, Box 54.
IT'S AN EQUITABLE LIFE HENRY! The Equity Party, founded on principles of Chartism and female suffrage after the conference at Laing College in 1869, has scored its first success, with Mr Henry Wilding being elected to Plymouth Council. Mr Wilding, a former Liberal and a well-respected local solicitor, declared 'Only the Equity Party offers true democracy to Britain's subjects.' As its first elected official, he can no doubt be sure of a bright future in the party should it continue to prosper.
GIFFARD IN THE STATES Rogue inventor Henri Giffard has fled Europe altogether now, turning up in New York. He visited Dublin briefly during the year, and was reported to have a marked American accent. Does this villain have no shame, that he hauls his scrawny carcass from one realm to another?
NEW ASYLUMS OPEN A new chain of mental asylums has opened for business across the country, relieving pressure on existing facilities: the number of madmen in Britain seems to be on the rise. Reports that this new chain are using absinthe to treat the afflicted can surely have no basis in fact, or so we hope, at least.
PEACE IN SAVOY The French and Milanese have agreed peace, broadly along the lines described last year but with the concession of Grenoble to Milan. This north Italian grand duchy is now an appreciable power in Europe, with a land area little inferior to Bavaria's, a relatively high-tech army, and possession of the important cities of Nice and Toulon added to Milan, Turin, Genoa and Parma.
NEAPOLITANS LOSE THEIR STRIPES The rash of mutinies and rebellions in the army of the Two Sicilies has led to a rash of demotions, floggings and even executions, but this has not stopped the steady haemorrhaging of troops and, at times, entire units to the rebel cause, fomented by an underground newspaper being circulated among their ranks, appealing to their sensibilities as Italians to help overthrow the Austrian-imposed monarchy.
LADY NOT FOR TURNING Lady Chelmsford showed that her marriage has not drawn her away from the issues dear to her heart, volunteering in Mr James Derothshire's soup kitchens during the cold winter months. This liaison sits curiously with the article she wrote in her Minerva Times attacking the new absinthe drink, seeing that Mr Derothshire is this country's chief manufacturer of the wormwood-based spirit. Is the Lady seeking to have her cake and eat it?
ANARCHISTS IN CRISIS It is reported that the anarchists of Britain, who recently seemed to be leaguing together into a dangerous faction, have divided amongst themselves once more. Fortunately, the squabbling and ill-disciplined nature of these factitious men militates against them ever becoming a serious threat to national security.
*** ECUMENICAL COUNCIL TO MEET In a move unprecedented in Church history, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Pope and the Archbishop of Thessaloniki (number two in the Greek Orthodox church) met in Jerusalem to study the newly-arisen Temple and to discuss ecumenical proposals. It has been decided to establish a Council of representatives from all three faiths, to discuss their differences in a cooperative and constructive environment. As for Jerusalem itself, tension in the city is mounting, with Christians, Muslims and Jews all but at each others' throats over the significance of the new development.
PRUSSIAN VISITOR The dashing Count Manfred Fritz von Essen, a colonel in the Prussian Army and the Kaiser's cousin, is currently gracing these shores with his presence as the guest of relatives, paying his respects to Her Majesty and the Court of St James, and attending a number of shoots, balls and other events - including a private affair at Balmoral, fancy! Is the charming (albeit not very tall) 'Fritzy' here to seek a bride, perhaps one of the little Princesses? (from How Do You Do? magazine)
SLOVENIAN PLEBISCITE APPROACHES Next year sees Slovenia going to the polls over its future, and all the signs are that it will vote to remain with Venice, rather than rejoining Austria or seeking independence. There is a growing Yougoslav voice in the province, though, which cannot be ignored: now that a federated Yougo-slavia stretching from the Adriatic to the Black Sea looks possible, we can be sure that sentiment for it will grow not only in Slovenia but also in the Austrian-held regions of Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina (by our Diplomatic correspondent).
BULGARIA NO LONGER BEHIND THE TIMES The Bulgarian army has been entirely re-equipped with modern weaponry from Krupp Fabrik, at the command of Prime Minister Vasil Levski and the Swedish mercenary 'Olaf' who has been advising him on matters military. Together with the intensive training programme Olaf has introduced, it looks as though Bulgaria will possess a rather decent fighting force within a few years. Quite how these purchases were paid for is not at all clear, as it is estimated they were to the value of about half Bulgaria's current Gross National Product. The Prussian government has made no comment on Krupp's supply of such large quantities of armament to a volatile and potentially-hostile near neighbour.
GIRLS NEED ORGANIZATION TOO Lady Chelmsford is establishing a club for young girls, similar in concept to the Pathfinders. The Times can only strongly recommend that its readers not allow their daughters to join. It is well known that outdoor pursuits are highly damaging to the female physique and the organs of childbirth (by our Medical correspondent).
DUST TO DUST Mr William Stone has invented the Stone Dust Burner, for use in libraries: it draws in the dust that often infests such places and burns it to a fine ash, which can then be removed. The device is highly efficient, although it generates rather a lot of heat, and is being marketed to regional libraries and private bibliophiles, as the intended client the British Library expressed no interest in it.
AUSTRIA WEIGHS IN Franz Josef has sent troops to help out his beleaguered cousin in Naples, but it may be too late for the monarchy unless he decides to commit more fully. In the greatest indignity of all, the famous Masked Man of Florence broke into the palace, rode a magnificent black destrier up the main stairs, fought his way past sixteen guards, and carved the letter 'M' into the chest of the terrified king's pyjamas before thundering off into the night the same way he had arrived.
JUDGE DREAD Not only is crime on the rise, the time cases are taking to get to trial is rising even faster, as Mr Southville has seen fit to retire or offer positions elsewhere to more than half of the existing judiciary. What is the man playing at? Apart from the Goodfellow burglaries, the organized gang running prostitution, gambling and protection rackets is also still thriving.
VIENNA ROLLS OVER Austrian foreign policy is in what can only be described as a shambles, with wavering over hostility with Venice, wavering over support for Naples, and wavering over ambitions for Slovenia. Is the sleeping giant of Europe destined to be put to rest by its more active neighbours? (by our Diplomatic correspondent)
IT MAKES THE HEART GROW FONDER Prominent socialite Mr James Derothshire has opened a distillery making absinthe, the latest drinking craze, specializing in a pure and refined variety aimed at the upper end of the market. 'Why should we drive ourselves mad with Prussian booze?' inquired one connoisseur of the viridian fluid, going on to add 'Moo, moo, I'm a helicopter.'
*** PM TO WED The Prime Minister, Lord Shaftesbury, has announced his engagement to Dame Elizabeth DuQuesne-Black, the prominent charitable worker and daughter of the noted military man. Dame Elizabeth is a long-standing friend of the Prime Minister, having helped him recover from his long illness. The wedding has been set for April.
BAVARIAN RECLUSE SLAIN Mr Brice Eberlicht, the former high-ranking civil servant, has been murdered in the most horrific circumstances, brutally tortured to death in what police are describing as 'some sort of sick perversion'. The Government have requested that a Mr Edward Carter, an antique dealer based in London, come to Munich to answer questions in connection with the case, and have said that if he does not come forward voluntarily they will apply for his extradition. (from the Suddeutsche Zeitung)
GRAAF REAPPEARS, DISAPPEARS ONCE MORE Unsuccessful liberation hero Niels Graaf came back to Wilhelmsland to be granted an honorary colonelcy in the new army, then faded away as mysteriously as he had arrived. In the new Wilhelmsland, prosperous and united under King Leopold's rule, Graaf looks increasingly like yesterday's man.
'FENCES' DERAILED Police carried out a dawn raid on the properties of several London 'fences', suspected of receiving stolen goods from the 'Robin Goodfellow' burglaries. Among those arrested was prominent West End antique dealer and society figure Mr Edward Carter. There had been rumours that Mr Southville's wife was so concerned for her husband's lack of success that she had hired a psychic to aid in the Goodfellow case: if it was that that led to this breakthrough, then we take back all the critical remarks we have made against the crystal-ball-brandishing charlatans, says The Times.
FOREIGN SECRETARY TO BE FATHER Lord Chelmsford has announced that his wife is in the happy condition of expecting a baby in the Spring.
COLONIES INTEGRATED Sir Derek Ross, Colonial Secretary, has been working like a demon to integrate the colonies newly received from France into the British Empire. Apparently they were, unsurprisingly, in a shocking state of disarray. Sir Derek has impressed this newspaper with his industry since his accession to the post, and we can only say that he will make an admirable successor to Lord Chelmsford, should that gentleman ever have to step aside as Foreign Secretary.
SAVAGE PROSPERITY Mr Claude Savage seems to be rising fast in the ranks of Britain's industrialist, with a series of shrewd investments and considerable respect in Government circles. Friends attribute part of his success to his new wife, the former Miss Aramintha Grey, close friend of the Prime Minister, who with her alternative medical practice has shown that the fine head she bears on her shoulders more than compensates for her rather plain looks.
*** IT'S A BOY... AND A GIRL! Queen Irena has given birth to a pair of twins, one of each sex, named Prince Paul and Princess Perdita. Mother and both babies are doing well, no thanks to the Queen's medical advisor Baron von Poelzig who has been absent from Court throughout the pregnancy. The Suddeutsche Zeitung says: sack this parasite! But we have nothing but congratulations for the proud parents and the two children, especially the young lad who will doubtless usher Bavaria into a new era of greatness.
MAGUIRE GOES ON A SPREE Colonel Maguire has announced the Army's big spending plans: Aeromines from Armstrong Industries, MATAVs from Hamilton Industries, Steam Tractor Weapons from Mr William Stone, and Flamethrowers from Dr William S Bang. With such a varied portfolio of goods from British manufacturers, the Colonel is amply repaying the confidence the Government have placed in him, by ensuring that Britain remains ahead in the international arms race. Huzza for Maguire, and for the designers!
BLACK CLOUD PUZZLES SWISS Residents of St Moritz have been bemused by the curious black cloud hanging over their mountain, which has persisted throughout the summer despite winds.
BANG EMBARRASSES STEAM DRIVERS The inaugural Steam-Powered Automotive Conveyance Challenge, organized by Mr Simon London around Hyde Park this summer, was won with ridiculous ease by Dr William S Bang's Gel-Car, which had completed six laps of the course before any other competitor had started its fourth. Spectators were agog as the automobile, which ha a rocket-like engine burning a mixture of a gel fuel and air, bucketed around the course, its brilliant red paint dazzling the eye as its throaty roar caught the ear, reaching speeds as high as a belief-defying thirty miles per hour. The Gel-Car is not steam-powered, of course, with led to objections from some of the other competitors, but Mr London had no such objection, saying that his intention was solely to entertain and to provide a stimulus to automobile design along whatever route. It is believed that Dr Bang has been inundated with requests for Gel-Cars from wealthy would-be speedsters.
BANK STEADIES The Florentine State Bank, formerly the Medici Bank, seems to have put its troubles behind it, with reserves now as high as they were before the revolution. Confidence in Florence as an international finance centre seems likely to return swiftly now.
NEWTON IS HAMILTON-TON Lord Alexander Hamilton has come out as the man behind the Braithwait Corporation, builders of the model community Newton. It is believed he revealed himself in response to newspaper complaints that contraception was being provided to residents: if Lord Hamilton is behind it, it cannot be bad, we are supposed to think. Well, we at The Times are as great respecters of His Lordship as any, but here we think he has gone too far. We are no Catholics, holding that the act of procreation is a sacred one which must not be interfered with - although we do not seek to belittle that view - but we feel that to encourage working people to indulge in sexual relations without fear of the consequences can only lead to moral degeneracy of the worst and most irresponsible kind.
ARMSTRONG GETS RELIGION Lord William Armstrong, apparently strongly affected by the recent events in Jerusalem, has turned to regular Church attendance, and has also set up a new charity, The Tenth Givers, members of which must donate ten per cent of their income to good works. The charity is administered by a selection of local clergymen, all of profoundly good character, who are paid from Lord Armstrong's own pocket. The Times says: we already liked Lord Armstrong, but now we love him to bits. Is there no end to his good qualities?
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