Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Punch’s Cousin, Chapter 389

I ain’t touchin’ either one of ‘em.” Gerry shook his head as he and Charles watched in shock as Ulrika Rittenhouse and Barbara Allen continued to strike each other.

“Stop it!” Charles shouted. “Look at you! It’s a disgrace! Brawling like men.”

The two women did not stop.

Charles rushed toward Barbara and grabbed her by the waist, pulling her away from Ulrika.

“Braver than I am,” Gerard muttered.

“Stay out of this!” Ulrika shrieked.

“She tried to kill me, Charles!” Barbara spat.

“Charles?” Charles smiled. “You know me?”

“Well, yes.” Barbara growled.

Charles grinned.

“What are you looking at?” Ulrika sniffed. “This doesn’t concern either of you.”

Gerard began to laugh. “The two of you are somethin’.”

“Shut your mouth.” Ulrika barked.

“She tried to kill me,” Barbara repeated.

“I didn’t do a thorough enough job of it.” Ulrika snapped.

“Come with me, Barbara.” Charles whispered, just relieved that Barbara seemed to have finally come to her senses. However, his relief turned to terror as Barbara began to rant.

“I’ll come with you, Charles. For now.” Barbara began. “However, this is far from concluded. Ulrika, I’ll make you suffer. And once I’m satisfied that you’ve had enough agony, I’ll send you to blazes! Not just you, but anyone who treads upon me. From this moment on, I will dedicate my life to pain! Any soul I deem deserving of suffering…I…”

“Do your worst!” Ulrika howled with laughter.

“I shall.” Barbara grinned and with that grin, Charles realized that though Barbara Allen was finally in the present, he had lost her forever. She had changed into a creature of pure cruelty. All of Arthur’s influence had taken hold and any remaining shred of gentility was gone. Gone also was the last shred of softness and human kindness that had once shown so clearly in Barbara’s eyes—that gentle flicker that had weakened Charles’ heart—it was replaced with a sick, orange glow of unadulterated contempt.

“At least,” Barbara continued, “My son has been returned to people who will love him. Now, I have not one thing about which to worry. I can devote my life to cruelty knowing that I have no impediments.”

“You don’t mean that,” Charles said softly, knowing, still, that she did.

Barbara looked at him gravely. “You know that’s false. But, I will leave with you. For now.”

Charles led Barbara from the workshop leaving Gerard alone with Ulrika.

“So,” Gerard said uncomfortably. “Are ya hurt?”

“No.” Ulrika grumbled, feeling her face and mouth with her fingers.

“You fight good.” Gerry nodded.

Ulrika sneered at him.

“Guess I’ll be goin’, then.” Gerard nodded after awhile. “Unless you need somethin’.”

Ulrika continued to sneer.

“Well, then,” Gerard snorted. “Off I go.” With that, he left.

Alone in the workshop, Ulrika leaned against a table and sighed. “So close. Still, I’ll triumph. I still have one weapon in my armory.”

At that very moment, the elder officer, Robert and Mr. Cage quietly entered Corliss Cage’s room.

“Corliss, dear,” Edward oozed false gentleness. “Are you awake?”

Corliss gurgled, looking up in confusion.

“Good evening, Mrs. Cage.” Robert said. “I’m sorry to bother you again. There’s some confusion downstairs and…”

“I will speak to my wife.” Edward interrupted. “Corliss, just tell these men that you were delivered the boy we call Holt. Tell them that you are his mother, than you gave him life.”

“I…” Corliss rasped.

“Yes, my dear.” Edward grinned.

“I did not…”

Did you miss Chapters 1-388? If so, you can read them here.

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