Monday, February 13, 2012

Punch’s Cousin, 461

Hearing Adrienne’s cries of terror, Cecil’s frantic shouting and the confused wail of Fuller, Pete turned his attention to the scene which Ulrika created further up the ship’s deck where she viciously pressed Adrienne and Fuller against the ship’s rail.

Hoisting Giovanni high over his head with a grunt, Pete casually tossed the man over the side of the ship into the cold water below.  Giovanni shrieked as he splashed into the filthy water. 

“Sorry,”  Pete mumbled as he hurried toward Ulrika.  Gently pushing Cecil aside, Pete lifted Ulrika up and dangled her over the side of the ship.

“You the Doctor’s brother?”  Pete nonchalantly asked Cecil as Ulrika howled. 

“Yes.”  Cecil replied, flabbergasted.

“Pretty wife.  Nice baby.”  Pete smiled.

“Thank you,”  Cecil rasped, confused.

“This lady botherin’ you?”  Pete continued.

“Yes.”  Cecil nodded, grabbing his wife and child and pulling them away from the rail.

Pete nodded slowly.  “I see.”  With that, he dropped Ulrika over the side.  She screamed all the way down.

Two of the ship’s officers, alerted by the screams of Giovanni and Ulrika in the water, rushed on deck.

“What’s this?”  One of them shouted.

“We got two folks overboard.”  Pete shrugged as the officers hurried to the rail.

“How did this happen?”  the other officer asked.

Pete shrugged again.

“They fell,”  Cecil said quickly.

“Dear God!”  The first officer grumbled.  He paused he looked at Pete.  “You don’t belong up here.  You and your friends, get back below.”

“Yes, Sir.”  Pete nodded.  “Come on, boys.”

Pete’s friends followed him—as did Cecil and Adrienne who held Fuller close to her.

“How do we ever thank you?”  Cecil panted as he struggled to keep up with Pete.

“Ain’t no need.”  Pete winked.

“Who are you?”

“New friend of Marjani and Gamilla.”

“Thank heaven for them.”  Adrienne smiled.

“Now, Mr. Halifax, ain’t my place for to tell ya what to do, but I think maybe you better get back to the Duke and the doctor.”

“Is there trouble?”  Cecil asked.

“That Italian man—he was botherin’ them.  And, a little African called Odo was after Marjani and Gamilla.  We got rid o’ the three of ‘em, but the Duke thinks there might be others on the ship who might do harm.”

“Darling, we must go to them.”  Adrienne said.  She looked at Pete.  “Thank you so very much.  We owe you our lives.  If you ever need anything—anything at all, just let us know.”

“Where are you headed in England?”  Cecil asked.

“Goin’ to work in a factory.”  Pete nodded.  “Me and my brothers and our friends.”

“What sort of factory?”

“Porcelain.”  Pete smiled.  “I’m a modeler.  See, I done sent some o’ my work to dat place in Staffordshire.  Had a friend write the letter for me.  She done work for a fine family and learned to read and write.  Them folks tol’ me and my friends they’d take us as apprentices.  They don’t know we ain’t white.  But, since our master done freed us, we ain’t got nothin’ to lose.  I always liked them little figures on the mantelpiece and I learned how to copy ‘em.  Taught my brothers, and they taught our friends.  I read ‘Staffordshire’ on ‘em—them little people with the pink cheeks.  So, my lady friend, she found out where them little figures come from and we wrote, well she wrote.  They liked our work and said we could come there if we could get passage.  We was ‘fraid to tell ‘em we was not white.  Guess we’ll see.  If they don’t want us when they see us, we’ll see what else we can do.”

“If they don’t want you, I do.”  Cecil smiled.  “If you can work in soft paste, you can work in wax.  My name is Cecil Halifax.  I’m a sculptor.”

“I know who you is.”  Pete nodded eagerly.  “Your work is very fine.”

“When we arrive in England, my wife and I—well, we’ve dreamed of opening our own waxworks.  All of you are welcome to come and work with us if you like.  If you’re rejected at Staffordshire, we’ll very gladly take you—we’ll even help you find a place to live.”

“I don’t know what to say,”  Pete grinned.

“That makes us equal, then.”  Cecil shook Pete’s hand.  “Now, if you’ll excuse us…”

“Sure, sure.”  Pete said.  “But, we’ll come with you, Sir.  We done tol’ the Duke we’d come back for to check on ‘em.”

“Certainly.”  Cecil nodded.  “Let’s go, then.”

When they arrived at Julian’s cabin, they were surprised to find Gamilla, Columbia and Marjani with Colin and the dog Toby.

“Dr. Halifax done gone to look after Gerry and Charles,”  Gamilla explained.

“And, the Duke went to find you, Sir.”  Marjani said to Cecil.

“Ulrika forced us out of our cabin.”

“Oh?”  Marjani’s eyes widened.

“So, I’m sure His Grace found any empty room.”

“Where’s Miss Rittenhouse now?”  Marjani asked.

Cecil smiled slightly.  “Your friend Pete threw her overboard.  Ulrika and Giovanni both.”

“The last we saw,”  Adrienne interjected, “the crew was helping to fish them out.”

“Too bad,”  Gamilla muttered.

“So where has Julian gone?”  Adrienne asked.  “If he didn’t find us…”

“Surely, he went to join Robert with the men.”  Cecil thought aloud.

“Or he went looking for us.”  Adrienne sighed.

“Or…”  Marjani squinted.

“What is it, Marjani?”  Cecil asked.  “Are you having one of your…thoughts?”

“I see a woman.”  Marjani answered.

“Who is it?”  Adrienne asked.

“Miss Allen.”  Marjani exclaimed.

“Damn.”  Cecil grumbled.

“Who dat?”  Pete asked

“The Duke’s sister.” 

“That bad?”  Pete wondered.

“Sadly, yes.”  Cecil replied.

“Don’t you worry none, Mr. Halifax.”  Pete grinned.  “We’ll help ya.”

Did you miss Chapters 1-460?  If so, you can read them here.  

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