Last of the line of the reduced noble house of Fox (or so his mum
tells him) and raised by Lord Lucky Leatherette as his
own. It would seem that Lady Lovely Leatherette, a famous
beauty in her day, struck a deal with Lucky to preserve her reputation
and give the child legitimacy.
Educated at Barchester Boys Academy for Correction of Culpable Characters,
where he learnt the three Fs: Fencing (both types), Filching
He is half brother to Lady Lavinia to which he is very close so close
in fact that he does most anything she asks. The dutiful sibling once
became involved in a midnight foray to the neighboring Girls
Academy on the insistence of his sister (resident at the time), to
lift the confiscated spirits, tobacco and chocolates and er, literature,
locked up in the Headmistresss private cupboard. This unfortunate
excursion went somewhat awry when Gabriel, somewhat overconfident
after smoking his first Turkish oval, knocked a priceless alabaster
statuette of Venus down three flights of stairs, and promptly burst
out laughing. Lavinia, in desperation, hustled him into her wardrobe
until the coast was clear. From this position Gabriel was able to
witness, perfectly innocently naturally, the other young ladies in
the dorm comparing corsetry. He remembered one particularly sullen
brunette girl, but only had a glimpse of her commanding profile before
being hustled away by Lavinia with the dire injunction never to show
his clumsy carcass in the school again. At least not until he was
sober and could learn to keep his mind on the job.
After the Barchester incident, Gabriel went on to Magdalen College,
where he joined the Varsity fencing team, 'The Bloody Marys': so called
for that memorable historical dust-up with the visiting Heidelberg
team, when one of the Blues fell over after a single shot of schnapps
and red, and pinked himself painfully in the posterior with a poniard.
The snide Teutonic comment 'Vot ein bunch of bloody Mary's' from the
visiting Prussians led to such a fracas that during the competition
fencing masks were worn more to cover the black eyes and broken teeth
more than for any other reason.
This was way before Gabriel's time, but the Varsity kept the moniker
as a perverse badge of pride. Gabriel was well on his way to achieving
his First in Fine Art when a jealous rival contrived to get him thrown
out by planting badly forged postal orders and exam certificates in
Gabriel's rooms and effectively ended Gabriel's academic career. Protestations
of innocence notwithstanding, (the forgeries simply were not good
enough to be his) and his previous behaviour at Barchester Boys' (and
Girls') being known, even intervention by his father Lord 'Lucky'
Leatherette failed to save him and Gabriel was thrown out on his ear,
with nothing but a Banker's Draft for £1000, a boat-train ticket
for the continent and a curt note from 'Lucky' that Gabriel had better
be on it.
After a flying visit to say goodbye to his mother, an emotional whisk
round to bid farewell to his beloved sister Lavinia (and a sadly thwarted
hope of seeing that brunette again) Gabriel left for Europe with a
straight back, lipstick on his cheek and a Gladstone bag full of the
university fencing trophies for pawning, which in a fit of spite,
he dropped overboard halfway across the channel.
Long having adopted the attitude of 'start as you mean to go on,'
Gabriel fetched up in Paris, taking rooms off the Elysee, and dining
at Voisins regularly, tipping handsomely and making himself generally
popular with the establishment. However, having no legitimate employment,
and £1000 not stretching too far, when the creditors began to
give Gabriel meaningful looks and harrumphing (Gallically), Gabriel
hightailed it for the Gare de l'Est with just enough cash to hop on
the Orient Express for Vienna, where events were going to take an
unexpected and decidedly interesting turn.....
Reform Club (standards are slipping)
Whites (blackballed for taking too much interest in the silver plate)
Boodles (extremely popular among the female members for his
skills as a raconteur, thank you - and finds it a convenient bolt
hole from the law)
Smiths Kitchen (has a key to Greek Street entrance)
Can be found at The Albany, occasionally.