Friday, May 25, 2012

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 46

Chapter 46:
The Latter

You have a lot of cheek, you do.” Charles frowned at Ellen who was seated across from him in the Duke’s carriage.

“Really?”  Ellen scowled.

“Yes, really.  The way you spoke to His Grace was deplorable.  You take advantage of his kindness.”

“I do?” Ellen’s eyes widened.  “Is that so?  I’m not the one with all the sly smiles and winks.  I’ve seen you with the Duke!  You pathetic sycophant.  You’re a flirt.  With His Grace and the doctor both!  You act more as if you’re the Duke’s friend than you are his valet.”

“We are friends!”

“You’re a servant.” Ellen spat. 

“I see.”  Charles nodded stiffly.

They sat in silence.

“At least I never tried to put a wedge between them for my own selfish purposes.”  Charles mumbled.

“What was that?”  Ellen snapped.

“You heard me, Miss.”

“At least I never had relations with the Duke’s sister.”  Ellen grinned wickedly.

“How dare you?”  Charles snarled.

“So, tell me?  We know that Colin is really His Grace’s nephew.  Are you the boy’s father?”

“You do have an ugly side!”  Charles barked.

“I’ve had to grow one.  Do you know why?  Because of men!  Men just like you!”

“What have I ever done to you?”  Charles said.

“Given the opportunity, I’m sure you would do plenty.”  Ellen growled.

“Don’t flatter yourself, Governess.”  Charles smirked.  “You’re a little too brittle for me.”


“Sure.  You know your kind—governesses.  Dried out spinsters, the lot of you.”

“I’m younger than you are, I’d wager!”  Ellen gasped.

“Who could tell?”

“Why are you speaking to me so?”  Ellen asked.

“You started it.”


“Back at the house.  When you implied the Duke was mad.  How could you do that?  And, it ain’t the first time either.  I’ll tell you this.  I’ve got you figured out.  You act all sweet to the masters so they’ll take care of you, but you’re only out for yourself and your damn brother.”

“Who else is going to look after us?”  Ellen bellowed as the carriage clattered on.

“You’ve got other brothers.”

“They gave up on Roger long ago!”  Ellen said.  “I’m all he’s got.  Should I cast him aside as you did with your brother?”

“Do you think that was easy for me to do?  Do you think I enjoyed realizing that my only brother is a murderer and a thief?”

“No.  I don’t.”  Ellen sighed.

“Well, I’ll tell…” Charles paused.  “Oh.”

Charles and Ellen stared at one another for a moment.  Finally, Ellen shook her head. 

“I’m so sorry.”  She said.  “Whenever Roger is in trouble, I get my back up.  I’ll lash out at whoever I think is in my way.  You don’t deserve this.  I apologize.”

“I understand.”  Charles muttered.

“I owe the Duke another apology.”

“I’m certain he understands, too.”  Charles nodded.

“Still.  The hurt look in his eyes…”

“He’s given me that look, too.”  Charles shrugged.

“I thought you were ‘friends.’”

“Well…not always.”  Charles shook his head.  “It seems you know more than I told you about my relationship with the Duke’s sister.”

“Yes.”  Ellen replied.  “Gamilla told me about it after you mentioned it to me  the once.  Charles, I’m not in a position to judge you.  I’m sorry I said anything about it.  I really don’t know what gets into me.  Sometimes I think that maybe I’m the one who’s mad.”

“You’re not.”  Charles chuckled.  “You’re just—taking care of yourself.”

“I’m glad you see it that way.”  Ellen sighed.  “I really just want Roger to be safe.”

“But, Miss, if he…”

“He didn’t kill William Stover!”  Ellen said firmly.

“How can you be sure?”

“I’m just sure.  He’s not a killer.”

“And, when we get to his rooms,” Charles began.  “What if we find that he’s murdered his keeper in order to escape?”

“We won’t.”  Ellen replied.

“How’d he get out?”

“Well, I don’t know.”  Ellen grumbled.  “That’s why His Grace sent us to investigate, isn’t it?”

“You really don’t think he did it?”

“No.”  Ellen answered.

“Even though he tried to kill the Duke—for no reason at all?”


“Fine, Miss Barrett.”  Charles nodded.  “I believe you.”

“Do you?”

“I do.”  Charles said.  “Well, at least I want to.  We can either carry on like we just were or we can be friends.”

“I’d prefer the latter.”

“So would I.  But, you’ve got to keep your temper.”

“I’ll try.”  Ellen smiled gently.  “And, you’ve got to be less quick to criticize.”

“I’ll try as well.”  Charles nodded.  “We owe it to His Grace and Dr. Halifax to try to get along.  Our bickering won’t help them through this.”

“No, no, certainly not.”  Ellen answered quickly.

“Besides, you’re rather pretty…for a dried-up governess.”

“And, you’re rather handsome for a pathetic sycophant.”

Again, they sat in silence as the carriage rolled to a stop outside of Roger’s rooming house.

Did you miss Chapters 1-45 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square?  If so, you can read them here.  Come back tomorrow for Chapter 47. 

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