Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 44,

Chapter 44:

Hullo, Roger.” Mr. Punch smiled as he knelt on the scullery floor beside Ellen’s brother.  The man’s hands and clothes were caked with dried blood and what, in the dim light of the scullery, appeared to be hair.

“It’s the puppet man.”  Roger mumbled softly.

“Don’t get too close to him, Punch.” Robert whispered from behind his companion.

Punch turned his head slightly and frowned.  “What am I ‘sposed to do?”

Robert shrugged slightly.  “Charles has gone to get…” Robert paused.  “E. L. L. E. N.” He spelled Miss Barrett’s name since Roger’s reaction to his sister was often quite varied—sometimes glad, sometimes violent.

Punch nodded.

“I can spell.” Roger Barrett sniffed.

“Better than I, I’m sure, Mr. Barrett,” Punch said as cheerfully as possible.

Robert looked over his shoulder to make sure that Speaight and Mrs. Pepper had gotten the very-upset Ethel out of the way and kept the others from intruding.

“So, Roger,” Punch continued. 

“Where’s the puppets?”  Roger interrupted.

“Didn’t have ‘em with me when I came down.”  Punch responded.  “They’re upstairs.”

“Let’s go get them.”  Roger grinned eerily.

“Oh, maybe in a while.” Mr. Punch responded.  “Let’s  you and I talk for a bit, eh?”

“I hurt me-self.” Roger replied.

“Did ya, then?”  Mr. Punch answered softly.  “How?”

“Rubbish!  Rubbish!  Rubbish!” Roger shouted violently.

Robert Halifax moved forward protectively, putting his hands on Punch’s shoulders.  But, Mr. Barrett’s eruption had not caused him to move.  He sat weirdly still.

“What’s rubbish?” Punch asked, remaining strangely calm.

“Rubbish is rubbish.” Mr. Barrett replied. 

“Typically.” Mr. Punch nodded.  “Anything else.”

“Rubbish is rubbish is rubbish.”  Mr. Barrett mumbled.  “Take out the rubbish, Roger.  Take out the rubbish.”

“Is that how you hurt yourself?” Punch continued slowly.  “Takin’ out the rubbish?”

“Rubbish!” Mr. Barrett screamed, still not moving anything except his face.

Punch looked up at Robert.  “Going well, this is.” He whispered.  “Maybe, bein’ a doctor, you got somethin’ to add?”

“Mr. Barrett,” Robert began hesitantly.  “How did you get out of your rooms?”

“How does anyone get anywhere?”  Mr. Barrett responded with a queer sort of peace.  “I walked.”

“Where’s your caretaker?”

“Gone ‘way.” Roger grinned.

Punch and Robert exchanged glances.

“So, you know where he is?”  Punch asked.

“Of course.” Roger laughed.  “I know exactly where he is.  Rubbish is rubbish is rubbish.”

“As you mentioned,” Punch nodded.  “Can you tell me where you’re hurt?”

“All over.” Mr. Barrett frowned.  “All over hurt, but mostly here.”  He pointed to his head.  “Me head hurts.”

“I’m terribly sorry to hear that,” Punch forced a smile.  “My companion is a physician.  Maybe he can give you some medicine?”

“No!” Roger yelped.  “No!  Rubbish is medicine is medicine is medicine is rubbish.  You see?”

“Sure,” Punch nodded slowly.  “So, let’s see.  You come here to see your sister?”

“No.” Roger snarled.  “I came for the puppet show.”

“Well, you know, that’s something I only do for you and for my son.  Otherwise I do other things.  It ain’t like Covent Garden here.”'


“I suspected you’d say that.” Punch sniffed.  “See, I’m a jeweler and a Duke and such.  Not just a puppet show man.”

“You’ll do it now for me.” Mr. Barrett said in a strangely clear voice.

“If you like.” Punch smiled.  “In a moment.”


“No, not now.”

“Why not?” Roger began to quake.

“Because first I’d like to find out how and why you’re in my scullery and why you scared Ethel.”

“Who’s Ethel?”

“The girl you made scream.”

“She told me I’m bloody.”

“You are.” Punch replied innocently.

“What?” Roger spat, his whole body shaking with rage.

“Inasmuch as you’re covered in blood.” Punch added quickly.  “See—see your hands?”

Roger studied his own hands.  “Oh.  That.  I hurt me-self.”


“Helpin’ you.  That’s what they said.  I should help.  So, I did.  I took out the rubbish for the puppet man.”

“Who told you that?”  Robert asked, interrupting.

“They did!” Mr. Barrett moaned.

“Who?”  Robert continued.

Mr. Punch reached behind himself and tapped Robert on the leg, shaking his head slightly, “No.”

Robert was silent.

“Can you show me where you’ve hurt yourself?” Punch asked the man.  “I’m your friend.  I’d like to help you.”

“Here.” Robert pointed to his head.

“May I look?” Punch asked, rising slightly and leaning toward Mr. Barrett.

“Steady,” Robert whispered.

“I know.” Punch turned back, winking at his companion.

Robert fell silent, once again overcome by pride and awe in the man with whom he lived.

“Now, first, I’m gonna touch your shoulder, Mr. Barrett.  I’m gonna do this to show ya that I’m gentle and not gonna hurt ya.  Is that all right?”

“Then we can have the puppet show?”

“Then, I will touch your head.” Mr. Punch smiled.  “Then, we’ll have the puppet show.”

Mr. Barrett thought about this for a moment.  “And, no more rubbish?”

“No.” Punch nodded.  “No more.”

“Very well.”

Punch gently put his hand on Roger’s shoulder.  “See, now.  That don’t hurt.  I like you and I’m gonna help ya.”

Mr. Barrett nodded.

Behind him, Robert could feel other eyes.  He turned slowly so as not to alarm Mr. Barrett.  There, he saw Ellen—her hands clutched together—and Charles.

“What can I do?” Charles mouthed.

Robert shook his head.

“Now, then.” Punch continued.  “If you lean forward, I’ll look at where your head hurts.  But, you don’t need to worry cuz I ain’t gonna hurt ya.”

Mr. Barrett cautiously leaned forward.

Punch tried not to gasp at the ugly gash on the back of Roger’s head.  Instead, he said simply.  “I see now that we must make you feel better, Mr. Barrett.”

“Yes.” Roger nodded.

Dr. Halifax turned to Charles and mouthed.  “Get my bag.” He, too, had seen the wound on the man’s head.

“Mr. Barrett,” Punch continued.  “You know me chum, Robert?”

“The one with the eyes like the sky?”

“Yes.” Mr. Punch said.  “Now, you know you’re my friend.  I like you.  And, I’m gonna help ya.  And Robert—well, he’s me…me chum, see.  He’s just like me.  Almost ‘xactly.  He’s loving and gentle and kind and he likes ya ever so much, too.  Will you let him touch you?”


“Just where you’re hurt.”  Punch replied.  “Just to make that heal up and feel nice again.”

“And no more rubbish?”

“No more rubbish.” Punch smiled.

“And, there’ll be a puppet show?”  Roger asked.

“Most certainly.”

Charles returned, panting and sweating with Robert’s bag, handing it cleverly to the doctor so that Mr. Barrett didn’t see.

Robert cleared his throat to let Punch know that he was ready.

“Very well, then, my friend.” Punch nodded at Mr. Barrett.  “I’ll bet you’re quite thirsty.”


“Will you drink somethin’ if I give it to ya?”

“What is it?”

“Just something to make you not feel thirsty.”


“It’s…” Punch began.

“Not you, puppet man!” Roger snapped.

“Pardon me?”

“I was talking to them.  They’re so loud.  They tell me so many things.”

“I know they do.” Mr. Punch nodded.  “I know very well.”

“They want me to drink it.” Mr. Barrett sighed.

Punch held up his hand and Robert placed a bottle into it.

“Take a swig o’ this, then.” Punch smiled.

Mr. Barrett did as instructed.  He swallowed and sputtered.  “Foul!  You gave me rubbish!”  Angrily, the man rose, throwing the bottle across the dark scullery.  It narrowly missed Charles and Ellen who stood at the rear of the dank, narrow room.

Punch sprang to his feet and placed his hands on Mr. Barrett’s shoulders.  “Steady, friend.”

You fooled me!” Mr. Barrett howled.  “I…I…”  He stumbled.

“I ‘spect you’re gonna want to sit back down.” Punch warned.

“Never!” Mr. Barrett moaned. 

Suddenly, Roger sank, falling first to his knees, and then, curling up into a ball on the floor of the scullery.

“He’s out.” Punch sighed with relief.  “Thank you, my Robert.”

“No, thank you, dear Punch.” Robert embraced his friend.  “You were splendid.”

“What can I do, Sir?” Charles interrupted.

“Call for the beadle.” Robert whispered.

“Sir?” Ellen screeched.

“I’m sorry, Miss Barrett, but, clearly your brother escaped his caregiver and came here.  Somehow he murdered William Stover and left him—dead—in front of the house.”

“You don’t know that!” Ellen yelled.

“He’s covered in blood.”  Robert said softly.  “And, he’s clearly been in a fight.”

“He’s covered in his own blood.”  Ellen said firmly.  “You don’t know that he killed that man.”
“And, we don’t know that he didn’t.  Either way, he’s dangerous.”

“Chum…” Punch interjected.

“My dear,” Robert gulped.  “This is the man who choked you.  You know he’s dangerous.”

“But, we promised Miss Barrett…”

“You did, Sir.”  Ellen whimpered.  “You said you’d help us.”

“And, we will.”  Robert raised his hand.

“By calling for the beadle?”

“What would you have me do?”  Robert asked.

"Please, Sir."  Ellen pleaded.  

"Pardon me," Speaight said from behind them.  "I don't mean to interrupt, but we need the doctor."

"What is it?"  Robert asked.  "Is it Ethel?  Is she that upset?"

"No, Sir."  Speaight responded.  "Gamilla has calmed her.  She went up with Vi.  There's another problem."

"Speaight?"  Punch asked nervously.  "Does it got somethin' to do with the wound on this man's head?"

"Possibly." answered nervously.  "I...I found Gerard in the area.  He's passed-out with a nasty cut on his forehead as if he's been scrapping."

Punch looked down at Roger Barrett and then back to Robert.  "Chum, go see what Gerry needs.  Charles, will you and Miss Barrett stay with me here.  We can look after Mr. Barrett."

Robert nodded and slipped from the room, following Speaight.

"Your Grace,"  Ellen began quickly.  "I'm sorry for Gerard, but I don' t think my brother had anything to do with his injury and I know he didn't kill that man."

Mr. Punch shook his head.  "It sure seems just the opposite, Miss Barrett."

"You of all people should understand..."

"Ellen, don't use the Duke's confidence in you against him!"  Charles snapped.

"What would you do if your brother was about to be sent to jail?"  Ellen spat.

"My brother belongs in jail!" Charles growled.

"Stop it!" Mr. Punch shouted.  "We've had enough pain and yellin' in this house!  Now..." He took a deep breath.  "In my home there are two injured men.  And, no matter what anyone's done, we're all a family.  So, we're gonna stop this fussin' and we're gonna clean Mr. Barrett's wounds and I won't hear no more arguin'!"

"Yes, Sir."  Charles and Ellen said in unison.

"For the love of sausages..." Mr. Punch muttered as he began to rip up some rags.  "You're both terrible lucky I ain't still hittin' folk with sticks cuz we'd all have bloody heads..."

Did you miss Chapters 1-43 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square?  If so, you can read them hereCome back tomorrow for Chapter 45.

1 comment:

Marsha said...

I didn't expect that. Poor Gerard!