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Home: The Toast

Previously in this series: Honoré de Balzac.

1. A king trusts you to post a letter that may or may not contain high treason.

2. Your friend picks up the handkerchief that your lady has dropped. You demand retribution for this disgusting act of betrayal.

3. You either have a kind, good-hearted father, who is devastated by your misdeeds, or you have a drunken, Napoleon-sympathizing father whom you killed in order to advance your political career. Hardly anyone seems to have a mother at all.

4. A grizzled old priest tunnels into your jail cell and spends eight years teaching you the finer points of political philosophy.

5. You stage a kidnapping in Venice to impress a fifteen-year-old.

6. You befriend a band of charming and loyal pirates.

7. You are richer than almost anyone else in Europe, and you choose to sleep on the floor instead of in your spectacular bed.

8. You change your name and grow some facial hair– you are now completely unrecognizable to all your old friends and acquaintances. Even your old fiancée is fooled by this impenetrable disguise.

9. On an average day, you fight five or ten duels, just to keep in the habit.

10. You can effortlessly manipulate the shipping market and make great heaps of money, all without raising or lowering your handsome dark eyebrows. This does not satisfy you.

11. In your youth, you had one bosom friend. You devote the better part of your adult life to making him miserable, and systematically stealing away everything he holds dear.

12. There might be a war on. You don’t much care who you’re fighting, so long as it gives you the opportunity to show off your new purple tabard.

13. You show up to your own housewarming party in a hot air balloon.

14. You are in love with a beautiful woman with white hands. She cries all the time.

15. Your cloak becomes tangled with another soldier’s on the street. You surmise that he must be an English spy.

16. You spy on a charming and beautiful lady in her bedchamber. She coughs. You take this as a sign of her undying devotion to you.

17. You twirl your mustache disdainfully, enchanted by your own wit.

18. You’ve run out of wine.

Emily Powers works in publishing. She spends most of her free time getting into scrapes.

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