Thursday, June 2, 2011

Punch's Cousin, Chapter 259

Tell me more, Doctor,” Scaramouche said shakily, still lying on the floor.

“With this liquid,” Robert replied, forcing himself to smile, “you will be able to silence those other voices which seem to plague you.”

“Those other voices, Doctor,” Scaramouche snarled, “are your beloved friends. Do you expect me to believe you’d wish to see them quieted?”

“I am a physician,” Robert said, shuddering for a moment as he recalled Giovanni Iantosca’s warm blood on his hands. “My first priority is to help the person who is in front of me. My personal feelings have no bearing on my duty.”

Scaramouche looked up at the shimmering vial which Robert held between his fingers.

“I shan’t be taken in by your lies.” Scaramouche coughed. “I’m far too intelligent for the likes of you.”

“As you wish,” Robert nodded. He turned slightly and nodded at Marjani, and then at Cecil. Both Marjani and Cecil spring forward and restrained Mr. Scaramouche. Marjani—with her unusual strength—held the man’s borrowed arms and torso against the floor as Cecil pressed upon his chin to force open his mouth.

Scaramouche squirmed and struggled to no avail.

“My apologies, Scaramouche,” Robert said as he uncorked the vial and poured the liquid into Julian’s mouth.

Cecil clamped his hand over Julian’s mouth so that Scaramouche could not spit out the liquid. When they were certain that he’d ingested the tonic, they released him.

Scaramouche howled angrily. “Murderers! You’ll all pay!”

“I haven’t murdered you,” Robert replied, shuddering again as the image of Giovanni’s crumpled body darted behind his eyes. “All that will do is make you sleep.”

“And what of the others?” Scaramouche asked groggily.

“I do not know.” Robert sighed. “I don’t know what goes on inside of that body. When the body sleeps, I know not if your minds continue. I hope that they do so that they may convince you to retreat from whence you came.”

Julian’s eyelids grew heavy. Before long, the body had fallen asleep.

“Help me,” Robert nodded at Cecil.

Robert and his brother picked up Julian’s body and carried him to his room upstairs. Arranging him on the bed, Robert sat beside the shell of his friend and sighed. Looking at Julian’s face, he said softly, “I wish I understood what happens inside of you, you lovely wretch. If you can hear me, Julian, Mr. Punch, please, take this moment to quiet this savage man. I only wish I could assist you further.”

Robert walked out of the room and down the stairs, followed by Cecil.

In the parlor, the rejoined Barbara and Marjani.

“Doctor, how are my son and Mrs. Halifax?” Barbara asked.

“We’ve left them in a safe place with Marjani’s friends and your Charles.” Robert answered. “However, we must free them soon.”

“We’ll need to ensure that His Grace is in his right mind,” Cecil began, pausing for a moment as he considered what exactly Julian’s “right mind” would be. “Then, we can assist them in fleeing to safety with the child.”

“There’s more to discuss, Brother,” Robert sighed.

“The boy is not ill, is he?” Barbara asked nervously.

“No.” Robert shook his head. “However, we have other dangers.”

Meanwhile, as Arthur raised the green cushion above Ulrika’s face, he muttered a few words of apology to the woman.

“Ain’t it funny?” He mumbled. “I somehow hate to do this.”

“Artie?” Gerard whispered. “Someone’s comin’.”

“What?” Arthur hissed.

Gerard pointed to the door as the handle jiggled.

“Did you lock it?” Arthur mouthed.

Gerard nodded.

“Miss Ulrika?” Someone said softly as a knock sounded against the door. “It’s Odo, Miss. There’s someone at the back door for to see ya.”

Did you miss Chapters 1-258? If so, you can read them here.

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