Monday, 21 May 2007

Un Peu Loufoque and the callers in the night

There was great excitement last night Chez Nous prompted by the unexpected return home, in the early hours, of Chief Patissier and Antoine from Paris, their arrival being heralded by much honking on the car horn and hoots and hubbub from the two travellers as the automobile drove up the lane, thus setting the dogs off a barking and waking us all up and no doubt the entire village aussi. It was a delight, of course, to have them back ,but really 4 am is not a terribly convenient time to be stirred from ones sleep by such a loud commotion and I was not at my best. I could not help but feel it might have been more considerate had they stayed in Paris a few hours longer, allowing us to welcome them at a respectable hour and for me to gird my flagging enthusiasm a trifle.

The whole household , alerted by the commotion, ,stood at the door to greet them. Henri rushed out, hurriedly buttoning his breeches, to unload the luggage and Madame Grognonne bustled behind him adjusting her robes and went straight to the kitchen to prepare warm soup and a late supper for all who might be hungry. The children ecstatic to see their father returned in such good spirits, clambered over the motor and its occupants and were carried in by him shoulder high. All of course except Eldest who is at that awkward age between childhood and womanhood, and stood slightly at a distance watching, until Antoine, ever the gallant, offered her his arm , and led her regally out of the nights shadows and into the light of the kitchen, where the boys were already fighting amongst themselves to be the first to discover their presents.

Madame Grognonne presented Chief Patissier with a welcome glass of cognac, at which my heart missed a slight beat and she and I exchanged furtive glances. I need, of course not have feared, for I had been perfectly right in my supposition, He and Antoine could no more tell the difference between the best cognac, which they presumed themselves to be imbibing, and the rough mixture we had hastily concocted to replace that inadvertently knocked over by the chickens, than our wine merchant himself. Sometimes I do wonder that such a vast fortune was spent on his education yet his palate remains that of a pig.

However at least I may now, with clear conscience, instruct the wine merchant to supply us with a less expensive cognac and save on housekeeping. The fact of which I shall keep secret , in case I should have occasion to require some funds of my own to call upon if necessary without having to account to my husband. Although I have never really considered it before I have of late found it a trifle irksome that, despite bringing a not inconsiderable dowry to the family coffers upon our marriage, I am afforded no control of the purse strings and am wholly at the whim of Chief Patissier when it comes to finance. Alas that is the lot of a married woman of stature in our society!

As always on such excursions Chief Patissier had procured lavish gifts for all and the air was thick with thrilled ejaculations from every quarter.

Our treasure trove included, a small chest of Ceylon tea, assorted chocolates and sugared bonbons, a rather exotic perfume called “Chu Chin Chow” for me, Several cases of notable champagne. A monstrous wooden crate , which turned out to contain a crocquet set for the garden, A set of lead farm animals for youngest and for middle a metal clockwork toy in the form of a motorcar which when wound traveled across the floor at a rapid speed. And for Eldest a traveling vanity set, with silver brushes, mirrors and accoutrements with bottles of silver topped crystal , all presented in a large black leather case lined with purple silk. Strangely enough there was no sign of either flour or oats despite the length of time they spent at the Moulin Rouge, perhaps he had sensibly heeded my advise and decided to remain with our local supplier. There were numerous other things besides , but nothing amongst the remaining packages as yet to be unwrapped that might conceal art materials.

In fact despite a few inquisitive glances on my part, there was no mention of my painting supplies at all and I began to think he had completely forgotten why he had gone to Paris.

By now all awake and with very little hope of returning to our slumbers we proceeded with our day as best we could after such an unexpected interruptions to our anticipated routine. Madame Grognonne ushered the children off to hot chocolate and bread in the kitchen. Henri retired to the stables and Chief Patissier and Antoine consumed a restorative breakfast of chilled white wine and oysters which they had brought down with them. I declined gracefully and retired to my boudoir there to enjoy a cup of tea and to ruminate.

At lunch for which Antoine stayed, Chief Patissier, complimented me quite unexpectedly me on my far sight in obtaining a fine horse such as Marron and declared it a splendid idea all round that I should have a pony and trap, pronouncing that he intended to maintain Henri to care for the horse. After this display of bonhomie he and Antoine and Henri disappeared out in the aforementioned trap for a jaunt into the village at which I felt just a trifle peeved that they had done so without even a by your leave as it is after all my governess cart.

I felt an irrational melancholy as I watched them depart together in such high spirits, and a yearning to be gadding off myself , abandoning the cares of married life and domestic duty. Wearily but with the forbearance of a stoic, I took myself off to the Grenier to stare a while out across the view and imagine myself doing just that.

As I opened the door I was instantly distracted from my despondency to find not the empty space I had left the day before but a room filled with all the trucs an aspiring artist could ever dream of laid out in my once bare studio for me like some great box of delights! I do not think I could ever love the Chief patissier more than I did at that moment! The dear thoughtful man, he must have instructed Henri and Madame Grognonne to transport all the heavy and cumbersome painters paraphernalia up the four narrow twisting flights of stairs to my fledgling studio whilst we lunched! Did ever a husband go to such trouble for his wife! I am, I vow, a terribly lucky woman to be thus blessed!


The illustration shows a the rather flamboyant woman scantily clad and advertising champagne. Although we purchase our wine at the local merchant Chief Patissier always endeavors to stock up with several cases of champagne whenever he visits Paris. He attests it is impossible to procure decent champagne in Brittany. One imagines that, the local populace preferring cidre as they do, there is likely to be little call for it in our village. That being the case, it is wise to remember that, although what is available hereabouts may be perfectly serviceable for cleaning ones teeth, it might be rash to consider it potable.


Blossomcottage said...

Oh UPL like me you are blessed with a man of such love and kindness even if they awaken you at terrible hours, mine has such delight putting his very cold hands on my back when he returns from a foaling in the early hours!!
Enjoy you new art paraphernalia.
Love Blossom

MaidofKent said...

My husband, too, is made of gold ( he is my 2nd. The first was made of , how do you say? merde - I believe.
No you are not now allowed to feed hippoes with loaves of bread. It is not a problem if hippoes eat a few small children a week, but too many cause constipation, and a constipated hippo is not a good thing. Well of course they do not know when they have had enough and will eat as many children as come within chewing range. Also there is a problem regarding the bread itself, due to high incidence of Candida in hippoes, they are all advised to be on 'yeast free' diets.

Suffolkmum said...

Just doing a big blog catch-up. How wonderful to have the master of the house back.

Cait O'Connor said...

How I love your tales..
My husband brought me back a bottle of chocolate milk shake yesterday ... but then it is one of my weaknesses...
Love your writings,

Frances said...

What a triumphant return!
With such an early beginning to the day, will it be necessary for family members to have an afternoon rest, or perhaps an early evening? Or will the joy of being reunited carry them energetically for hours of creativity?

Inthemud said...

Ah, how inconsiderate to arrive home at such an unearthly hour and to wake every one up!

Glad the Cognac went down well, best they don't find out.

Must be good to have CP back again. Have a lovely day!

Pondside said...

Well, Un Peu, you are indeed a lucky woman - another one of our purple crowd's 'best husbands in the world' I think! You'll no doubt soon be decorating your site with no end of original oils and water colours. M le Chef is so thoughtful!

sally's chateau said...

Chief Patissier and Antoine sound to me like they may need a firm hand in future, fancy coming back from the Moulin Rouge without supplies, how confusing for you my dear ? (Swines)

Fennie said...

And still no camel!!!! How can you tempt us with a Moroccan tent and all that and still no camel!

Never mind in the wonderful bonhomie engendered by the homecoming scene all is forgiven - It reminds me of a cross between Baba the Elephant and the Beastly Beatitudes of Balthazar B - that expansive, elegant Edwardiana. A lost age: all gastronomy and countryside, hampers and hand made presents and (I bet) motor cars with proper brass horns. Toot, toot!

Milkmaid said...

great tale as usual, what a lovely surprise about the painting supplies