IX. Monty

From Prosper or Perish in the Attempt: A Gentleman’s Journey to Music Hall Stardom, the collected letters of F. Montgomery Skaldon, Hardaker Press

1868 fashion.4

F. Montgomery Skaldon, demonstrating his trousers

Dear Bunnie,

What holds, good fellow? I trust you’re capital? I sold the family some gammon about the coin incident, but I’m up for a little more lark if you get my meaning, and would appreciate your advice. Funds are flowing, the music is free, and my muse is ignited by the most wonderful companion I’ve encountered. I feel like Orpheus in the grip of Eurydice! Romance has worked its way under my skin, and the splinter of love is burrowing to my heart!

I have met the most remarkable girl. Found her on my sojourn to Limehouse (Fat Chen’s for a spot of the dragon, then on to Mayfair for a totty-chase). Shapes in all the right places, with blessed puddings that makes a chap wish to bury his head and go ‘burrrrr’! Red of hair but won’t hold it against her, for there’s nothing so spirited as a ginger minx when you return to chambers, what? Cherubic face, with high cheekbones and Roman nose, and the most impudent pillowed lips you could imagine. I suspect she’s a slave to the dragon too, for she was in a tizzy when we met, and (after we decided to venture to a gin palace instead) matched me drink for drink as I tried to get her to slip into something a little more comfortable. No luck so far, but the finest game is always worth the hunt!

She’s got a mouth on her, and that’s part of the attraction. Told me her name was Charlotte, and giggled when I took to calling her Charlie. But just when you think you’re charming her toward the Turkish Two-step, she pulls off like a teasing minx. It was in minutes I found myself spouting the most sentimental thoughts in the hopes she’d keep me company. Why, I’ve even demonstrated the fine pattern of my trousers to her, and she still acts oblivious to my intentions!

I think I’ve caught a fine bit of scrumpet, and know just the activity to encourage her surrender in this game of love. Do you remember the Bishop’s Arms off Holborn? Gaff right in the heart of London, but untouchable from law because of a quirk of ownership? She’s hinted she’d like to go there, as she hears the poppy’s sweet. Well, who am I to refuse a lady? We’ll be visiting next Wednesday.

Which brings me to my line of enquiry. I know you visited there, and said it wasn’t just a poppy den; that something queer was taking place in the back rooms? Some religious rot about jewelry, and so forth? Let me know if I should keep my wits while there, or at least take some form of armament. The creatures of the Establishment are circling for my blood, and I’d much prefer to keep my nose out of affairs of state.

Please give my felicitations to all other acquaintances in the vicinity of your homestead,



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