Dispatch from the Austrian Court
Here is the second part of Jayne Barnard's wonderful post concerning a duel according to the infamous Hungarian Imperial Parasol Duelling Rules, popular in the Astro-Hungarian Empire.
An account of intrigue and death, by parasol duel, in the court of the Empress of Austria Hungary!
Part one is here.
Keep your sightglass full, your firebox trimmed and your water iced.
Ed: Warning to those of a sensitive nature that this document contains descriptions of possibly disturbing violence.
The Duel Begins
|A Hungarian Imperial Rules|
Parasol Duellist *
Ah! My fickle mind returns the question: was this to be a timed bout, as exhibitions were, and as I had seen the novices do? But no, my answer must wait upon events, for no word was uttered in all that vast, echoing room, so silent that the slip and pad of the leather-clad feet was clearly audible. The combatants moved around their perimeter, perhaps ten feet apart, parasols shifting in their hands, gliding through rudimentary Twirls or resting a fraction in a Plant. The first minute passed. I expected a chime, and a pause, but neither arrived. The silence, and the circling, continued, with a gradual decrease in the distance between the two. The tension was immense. I confess I would have daubed my brow with my handkerchief had I not feared to disturb the mesmerizing ritual.
By my estimate two and a quarter minutes had passed before the first contact was made. Fraulein F_’s parasol whipped neatly into an incipient Snub by Madame S_H_, leaving a two-inch slit in the fabric. Madame gave no ground, but followed up speedily with an attempted Ankling, which caused Fraulein to hop backward. More circling ensued, but faster, and with feints and parries almost a blur. My breath held for long moments, awaiting a decisive thrust, but still they continued. A Cut down Fraulein’s left sleeve exposed her sturdy forearm, and was returned to Madame’s thigh, leaving several inches of pale skin in view. (The woman has freckles there, Aubrey! What decent woman would expose that part of her anatomy to the sun?). Madame repaid that slash with one that drew blood – the Cut Direct – through the leather and into the skin of Fraulein’s meaty buttock. They fell back, circling.
When they closed again, Fraulein thrust out a truncated Snub. Madame Twirled into it, body and parasol both, and caught Fraulein a hefty smack on the cheek with the lead collar. Whether she was intent on a Cut Direct down the cheek, I cannot be sure, but by no change in demeanor did she betray either satisfaction or disappointment. Fraulein rubbed a hand over her cheek but briefly, before attacking once more, stabbing downward in a vicious Plant. Madame slid that foot neatly out of the way and, in a lunge that would have done credit to an Oxford fencing don, put the Coup into Fraulein’s upper left arm, to the full depth of the tip. Fraulein stepped unsteadily backward, clapping her right hand to the wound, bright red blood staining her fingers. The Doctor stepped forward.
I was more than ready to see it end there, for Fraulein was bleeding now in two places and her face was flushed, even sweating. This is no sport for ladies, dear fellow, and for a moment I seriously considered withdrawing from the hall. But the wounded Fraulein waved off the Doctor and saluted Madame across the circle, and the duel was on again. It was so fast I did not fully follow the events, a mere flurry of parasols before Fraulein fell to one knee with blood streaming from a second Coup, this to her right thigh. The Doctor rushed forward to examine her, but before he could reach Fraulein, she waved him off again.