Cecil stormed about their borrowed house on Royal Street, rummaging through drawers and cursing loudly.
Meridian, hearing the man’s ire, hurried into the drawing room and politely cleared her throat. “Anything I can do for ya, Sir?”
“Is it too damned difficult to keep my snuff box in the same place that it always is!” Cecil spat.
“I’ve not seen your snuff box, Sir.” Meridian smiled.
“Haven’t you. It was a gift from a particular member of the peerage. Enamel and gold set with gems! Perhaps one of those groomsmen has come in here and stolen it.”
“I doubt that, Mr. Halifax,” Meridian replied calmly. “They ain’t got no use for such a thing.”
“I wonder.” Cecil growled.
“Have you checked your pockets, Sir?” Meridian asked.
“My pockets! Of course, I’ve bloody checked my…” he patted the side of his coat. “Oh.” His face fell as he reached into his pocket and withdrew the glittering snuff box. He blushed. “I’m terribly sorry, Meridian.”
“Ain’t no matter, Sir.” Meridian smiled. “You got a lot of troubles weighin’ you down.”
“As do we all.” Cecil sighed. “How’s Gamilla?”
“Much better.” Meridian said. “She’s back at her duties. Right now, she’s upstairs with Fuller and little Columbia.”
“Poor children,” Cecil shook his head. “I’m sure Columbia is wondering where her grandmother is. And, I know that my son misses his mother.”
“You miss her, too, Sir.” Meridian nodded.
“I do.” Cecil said sharply. “I’m beside myself.”
“Then, go to her, Sir.” Meridian smiled gently. “I can take you to where the Routhes live.”
Meanwhile, in Marie Laveau’s angular and cruel house, Charles narrowed his eyes at Nellie. “So, then, you’ll help me?”
“Do I have a choice?” Nellie asked.
“No.” Charles replied firmly. “Tell me, who else is in this house?”
“I don’t know. Some of the men, I’m sure.”
“Any other women?”
“The daughter,” Nellie answered quickly. “The other ‘Marie.’ She’s upstairs.”
“Go to her.”
“Go to her and tell her that Mr. Iantosca has taken a turn for the worse.” Charles replied.
“Don’t bring me into this, Carlo.” Giovanni spat.
“You owe me this,” Charles hissed. He turned to Nellie. “Tell her to inform her mother that Giovanni is asking to see Marie. That he needs her. And, that he needs someone with a true knowledge of the human body. I guarantee that both Marie and Iolanthe will come quickly. Iolanthe Evangeline never misses an opportunity to see a man suffer. I can deal with Ulrika on my own and spirit Barbara away.”
“I can’t give orders to young Marie!” Nellie said. “She’d never take it from me.”
“It’s not an order.” Charles answered. “It’s an urgent request.”
“Listen,” Nellie began.
“Do it!” Charles interrupted her. “Go, now!”
At that very moment, in the tidy, but small apartment above the Routhe’s dress shop, Robert gasped.
“What is it?” Adrienne rushed to Robert’s side. Marjani joined them.
“His eyes are moving,” Robert replied, still gazing at Julian’s unconscious body.
Suddenly, Julian’s eyes sprung open.
“Good evening,” Robert smiled.
“Hullo, Chum.” Mr. Punch answered weakly. “Sorry to scare ya, but, we made some decisions me master and I.”
“Did you, now?” Robert said with relief.
“Sure did.” Punch said, sitting up. “And, we need your help.”
Did you miss Chapters 1-293? If so, you can read them here.