Thursday, October 6, 2011

Punch’s Cousin, Chapter 360

Well?” Edward Cage barked as his man, Ty Odo, returned from upstairs.

“She ain’t good, Sir.” Odo said with mock concern.

“I know that!” Edward snapped. “What’s wrong with her?”

“Zettie thinks she got the Yellow Jack,” Odo said, biting his cheeks to keep from smiling.

“Damn.” Edward grunted, shaking his head. “Of all the times for her…” He paused. “What do we do about it?”

“Ain’t a lot of doctors gonna come and see her. Most o’ them’s scared o’ the Yellow Jack.” Odo continued.

“Surely there’s got to be one.”

“Only one I can think of is that Doctor Halifax. See, he got that nurse that helps folk that got the fever--Marjani.”

“I can’t have either of those two people in this house!” Edward growled. “You know that!”

“I know, Sir, what with the baby back and all. You don’t want them knowin’ you got their boy.”

“Quiet!” Edward shouted. “Don’t say another word about it.”

“Yes, Sir.” Odo smirked.

“Well, then, what do we do?”

“I reckon, then, we just wait for Mrs. Cage to die, Sir.” Odo’s eyes flashed with glee as he said those words.

“I can’t very well do that.” Edward grumbled. “Can’t Zettie or one of the girls look after her?”

“Zettie’ll stay. She ain’t scared o’ nothin’. But, them other girls, Sir. They don’t want nothin’ for to do with no Yellow Jack. Can’t say as I blame ‘em. But, don’t worry, Sir. A lady as fragile as Mrs. Cage—she ain’t gonna hang on long.”

Edward scowled at his man. “And, you say there’s no one except that Halifax and his nurse who will tend to Mrs. Cage?”

“That’s right, Sir.” Odo nodded.

“The child is in the nursery?”

“Yes, Sir, with Master Orman.”

“Make sure he stays there. Don’t let either of the children into Mrs. Cage’s room. Keep them as far from her as possible. And, send for that Halifax man and his nurse.”

“Is that wise, Sir?”

“Do we have another choice?” Edward shouted. “Just don’t let them see the child. Make no mention of the child and tell the others not to say a word about him!”

“What about Mrs. Cage?” Odo asked. “She’s sure to say somethin’.”

“You leave Mrs. Cage to me.” Edward grumbled. “Now, go! Do as you’re told!”

“Yes, Mr. Cage.” Odo nodded as he backed out of the room.

“One more thing!” Edward shouted.

“Yes, Sir.” Odo bowed.

“If you come back without Halifax and that woman, Mrs. Cage isn’t the only one in this house who will die! Do you understand?”

“I do.” Odo nodded before running from the room.

“Damn it!” Edward hollered, throwing a glass across the room. “Damn you, Corliss! You’ve always ruined everything. I ought to let you die. But, as it is, I need you to live.” He shook his head as he thought about his situation. Should his wife die, he’d be free of her simpering ways and her delicate cooing. But, if she died before her father, he’d have no hope of getting his hands on her inheritance. He counted on that money. The profits from the wax museum hadn’t been what he’d expected, and the plantation was hemorrhaging the coins from his pockets. He needed his wife’s money, and to get it, he needed his wife. “How I loathe you,” he growled.

Lumbering toward the window, Edward thrust open the curtains and watched as Odo ran up Royal Street to fetch Robert Halifax. “I just have to keep them away from the child. I won’t lose him again!”

Marjani answered the kitchen door as Odo knocked on it wildly.

“What you want?” Marjani shook her head at Odo.

“You and the doctor gotta come to Mr. Cage’s. Mrs. Cage done got the Yellow Jack. She needs your nursin’.”

“Can’t.” Marjani said, pushing Odo out of her kitchen.

“Why not?” Odo belched.

“We got troubles of our own here.” Marjani said.

“Like what?”

“None of your business, Odo.” Marjani said firmly. She didn’t see any point in telling him that Cecil and Adrienne were out in the cold looking for their son or that little Colin had also been taken. She didn’t know that the child was back at the Cage’s again. She also didn’t see any reason to share with Odo the fact that Meridian was ailing after being attacked by Agnes Rittenhouse or that the Duke was still lying unconscious on the parlor floor after being struck by Marie Laveau.

“Mr. Cage ain’t gonna like this.” Odo snarled.

“I don’t care what Mr. Cage likes.” Marjani answered.

“That woman’s gonna die!” Odo argued.

“She’s gonna die whether I help her or not.” Marjani shook her head.

“What’s this?” Robert asked as he came into the kitchen.

“Doctor!” Odo shouted past Marjani. “Mrs. Cage, she got the Yellow Jack!”

“I’m sorry to hear that,” Robert nodded absent-mindedly. “Marjani, I need you in the parlor.”

“You gotta come to her!” Odo continued.

“I’m sorry, but I cannot.” Robert shook his head, thinking only of Julian/Mr. Punch and how—when or if the man regained consciousness—he would explain that Agnes had taken both Colin and Fuller.

“You gotta!”

“You heard the man, and you heard me!” Marjani said, pushing Odo again. “We can’t!”

“He’ll kill me if I don’t come back with ya!”

“That’s not our problem.” Marjani replied sternly.

Robert sighed. “Listen, man. There’s not much we can do for her. We just nursed a man with the fever and he didn’t survive. Just try to keep her comfortable and…” He paused and shook his head. “I’m sorry, but I just can’t leave this house right now.”

“Is it cuz the child is gone? The Duke’s nephew? The one that Iolanthe Evangeline sold to Mr. Cage all them week’s ago?” Odo asked desperately, knowing he shouldn’t.

“How did you know about that?” Robert asked.

“People talk.” Odo said quickly. “Ain’t nothing that goes on with these folks that I don’t know ‘bout. I know that baby has been taken from this house.”

Robert narrowed his eyes.

“What else do you know?” He asked.

“I know that Mr. Cage’’ll kill me if I don’t come back with ya.”

“What do you know about the child? Two children were taken from here tonight! What else do you know?” Robert stepped forward.

“I don’t know nothin’ ‘bout the other one. But, I can tell you where the Duke’s nephew is.”

“Do it!” Marjani howled.

“Only if the two of you come with me right now.” Odo smiled.

Did you miss Chapters 1-359? If so, you can read them here.

No comments: