[The narrator writes from Paris.]
Amongst the upper classes it is not an unknown thing for Madame to have un ami, and, as for Monsieur, he very frequently has his chere amie.
This is not considered scandalous in Paris, and I am bound to mention it — to ignore it would be to ignore actuality. The fact of having a lover does not make the Parisienne neglect her home or children or husband, and Monsieur’s petite affaire de coeur does not make his treatment of his wife any less charming. Sometimes the whole world knows of these “friends,” and the virtuous Anglo-Saxon shrivels up with horror when they are casually mentioned. Apropos of this common acceptance of the state of things, I must tell here a story that set tout Paris chattering last year.
The Comte and Comtesse X were excellent friends, well-known Society leaders, and very delightful people. The Comtesse’s “friend” was a man of their set, tres smart, tres distingue. One day Madame was very sad, and her husband noticed it — she and her “friend” had quarrelled. The next day the X’s were at the horse show. As they sat in their places, laughing and chattering with their friends, something happened which had the effect of a bomb thrown in their midst — Monsieur A, Madame’s friend, walked slowly by chattering with a notorious demi-mondaine. There was a concerned and embarrassed silence, then the Comte rose, walked up to Monsieur A and boxed his ears — for had he not insulted his wife! The resulting duel created an enormous amount of interest.
My Parisian Year, Maude Annesley, 1912
Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Although dueling had been outlawed by King Louis XIII, the authorities, sympathetic to outraged honour, generally looked the other way. Mrs Daffodil can only imagine what the harvest might have been if such a thing had happened in England: the husband would have sued his unhappy wife for divorce, then plunged into a life of reckless dissipation, probably ending with a bullet to the head in a sordid hotel room on the Continent, while the wife, who bitterly regretted her indiscretion and wished herself dead, was barred from decent society and Court Drawing-rooms. While Mrs Daffodil cannot altogether approve of their taste for snails or the Impressionists, the French really do manage their domestic affairs more efficiently.
Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes
You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.