Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 48

Chapter 48:
Mr. Molliner 

Mr. Fallbridge,” Eudora grinned as Mr. Punch, wearing the dressing gown which Robert had helped him into when Speaight announced their uninvited visitors, descended the stairs followed by his very disheveled companion.

“You are not to address the Duke as anything other than ‘His Grace,’” Speaight said, clearing his throat.

“That’s his name, ain’t it?” Eudora snapped.

“No, mum.” Tom whispered.

Robert and Punch exchanged glances as they both realized that the boy who had been living in their house as a page was, in fact, the nephew of the man whose corpse was left at the front door.

“My surname is Molliner.” Mr. Punch said firmly, in Julian’s voice—using a strength that Julian alone could never have mustered.

“Mr. Molliner, then.” Eudora scowled.

“Call him, ‘Your Grace,’ ma.” Tom hissed.

“What for?” Eudora snapped. “Ain’t nothin’ so graceful ‘bout ‘im.” She looked at Robert. “And, certainly nothin’ so graceful ‘bout the doctor. Remember when I used to call ya ‘Robbie’?”

“I do not.” Robert grunted. “I think I’ve only met you twice, Miss Stover.  I recall visiting your squalid home--a home filled with children who have no father...”

“Nah, it were more than that, Robbie.” Eudora Stover winked. “You brought my boy into this world.”

Robert looked at Tom.

“No, not Tommy. My littlest.  Remember.  You were ever so gentle.  Better than those other doctors.  'Spose I should thank ya, but really, I was hopin' you'd kill him.  Who needs another mouth?  Guess I had to wait for ya to kill one of my family.” 

"That's 'nough, Ma."  Tom whispered.

“Tom,” Punch glowered. “I had no idea you were related to Mr. Stover.”

“Never asked, Your Grace.” Tom grinned.  "He were me uncle."

"Don't you think..." Punch began.

“All this talk and not one ‘how do ya do’ for me.” Hortence yelped, interrupting.  "What 'bout ol' Hortence?  Don't I rate a welcome home?"

“You have some cheek coming to the front door of this house, Hortence.” Speaight spat.

“Why shouldn’t I?” Hortence laughed. “I’m a lady now. Don’t work here no more—thanks to the doctor. All I got is my friends.”

Robert sighed, running his fingers through his dark hair. “This is beginning to become very clear to me.”

“How’s that, Robbie?” Hortence teased.

“I now know why you spent so much time listening at keyholes.”

“Why’s that?” Hortence smirked.

“So you could report back to your ‘friends,’ the Stovers.”

“Sir,” Speaight interrupted. “I had no idea that Tom and Hortence had any connection to…”

“Shut yer gob, Mr. Speaight.” Hortence growled. “This don’t concern you. Get on back downstairs with the other servants while your betters talk.” 

"That's enough!"  Robert bellowed.

“Please stay, Speaight.” Punch said quickly as he and Robert reached the bottom of the stairs. "No one blames you for any of this."

“So, you want your timid butler to stay?  As you wish, Mr. Molliner.” Eudora shrugged. “Only you may not want the old fool to hear some o’ the things we’re ‘bout to say.”

“We have no secrets in this house.” Mr. Punch replied, still managing to speak as Julian. “Not now that we’ve been rid of these two.” He pointed to Tom and Hortence.

“So, I’m sacked, am I?” Tom laughed.

“You need to ask?” Robert snarled.

“Mr. Molliner,” Eudora began.

“You will address me properly,” Punch demanded. “I am the Duke of Fallbridge.”

“Are ya?” Eudora grinned.

“Most assuredly.”

“I understand it different.” Eudora Stover chuckled. “From what I been told, you’re called ‘Mr. Punch’ in your…intimate moments.”

“What do you want?” Robert snapped.

“Justice, doctor.” Eudora shouted. “My dear brother is dead. Dead at your door. And, dead at your hand.”

“How dare…”

“Dead at your hand.” Eduora taunted. “I was there that day what you threatened my poor William. I know you killed him. I want justice.”

“So you’ve said.” Mr. Punch continued, with a surprising calm. “I don’t know whatever has given you the idea that anyone here had anything to do with it.”

“Maybe you don’t know what your lover’s like when he ain’t caterin’ to ya, Mr. Molliner.” Eudora winked. “But, he’s a real monster, this one. A butcher more than a doctor.  Sure, maybe he looks pretty like an angel with them blue eyes and fine face, but behind that is a man of pure dumb anger and lust.  But, maybe that's what you like 'bout him.  Gentle one minute, a beast the next.  Is that what you like, Mr. Molliner?”

“I’m going to ask you politely to leave now.” Mr. Punch replied.

“Oh, you hear that?” Hortence howled with laughter. “The Duke wants us to leave.  And, he's polite, he is.  The great Duke of Fallbridge.  Friend of the Queen! Or are you the Duke right now? Maybe you ain’t. Maybe you’re someone else. We all know you’re mad!”

“Remove these people.” Robert barked at Speaight. “Ring for Charles and Gerard.”

“Don’t move, Mr. Speaight.” Hortence snarled. "Or you''ll meet the same end that poor William did."

Speaight ignored the woman, walking for the bell.

“There’s a copper jus’ outside.” Hortence snapped. “Jus’ waitin’ for me scream. We brought him with us.”

“I’m surprised you would associate with the constabulary.” Mr. Punch sniffed.

“Why?” Eudora piped up. “I’m not the one what needs to be in an asylum. The two o’ you are!”

“I’ll ask you again,” Robert shouted, hoping his loud voice would signal Charles or Gerard or both. “What is it that you want?”

“We want my brother’s killer to pay for what he done.” Eudora said. “My poor babies. Oh! My poor babies! Their uncle is dead. I got no one to help me now.”

“Because your father is in prison?” Robert sneered.

“Yes, Butcher, he is. Just like yours was. Just like when your mum was in Bedlam!  Or were it Newgate?” Eudora laughed. “Or didn’t you think I knew that? Willy tol’ me lots ‘bout you, Robbie.”

Robert winced.

“So, you want someone to pay for your brother’s death?” Mr. Punch began, somehow managing to remain calm and steady. “Miss Stover, we are terribly sorry that your brother has been killed, but I don’t see what we can do to help you.”

“Don’t ya?” Eudora smiled. “Either we’re paid for our loss or someone is goin’ to jail. Mr. Molliner, as much of a loon as you are, we don’t want you to suffer. It’s the man what threatened our poor innocent William what ought to be punished. We heard every word you said that day, Robbie.  We heard you threaten poor Willy.  Oh, it were awful.  You killed him sure as I'm standin' here.”

“You…” Robert began.

“Robert.” Punch shook his head. 

"Someone has got to pay!"  Hortence screamed.  "My friend is suffering!  We're all suffering!"

Mr. Punch paused and steadied his eyes at Eudora and Hortence. “I don’t think you ask too much. Someone should pay for the murder of Mr. Stover.”

Charles and Gerard—who had heard the raised voices—came clattering down the stairs.

“What the bloody hell?” Gerard barked, rubbing his bandaged head. “What’s Hortence doing here?  Who  is this bitch with her?”

“Look, if it ain’t Gerard and Charles?” Hortence cooed. “What happened to ya, Gerry? Did the doctor take his anger out on you, too.” 

"Your Grace," Charles began.  "What shall we do?"  Charles looked helplessly to Mr. Speaight.

“Help me, men.” Speaight ordered.

“Take another step forward and I’ll shout for the beadle!” Hortence warned.

Mr. Punch smiled. “Stay where you are, men.” With that he walked to the front door, opening it. “Officer!” Punch shouted out of the door. “Come here at once, please.”

“What’s he doin’, ma?” Tom whispered.

“Quiet yourself, boy.” Eudora hissed.  She stepped toward Mr. Punch and shouted to him.  "We don't really got to get the beadle, Mr. Molliner.  We can settle this on our own.  What we want won't hurt ya none.  You won't miss it."

"He's coming, Miss Stover." Mr. Punch grinned over his shoulder.  "You shall have your justice."

"Ain't what I meant, Sir."  Eudora began to shake.  "Your Grace..." She said helplessly.

Mr. Punch opened the door wider as the policeman climbed the stairs.

“Your Grace,” The beadle bowed his head as he entered the house. “What’s this all about, then? These women asked me to wait outside.”

“They’ve come for justice, Sir.” Mr. Punch smiled. “This woman.” He pointed to Eudora. “She is the sister of the man who was found dead just out here.”

“Murdered by the…” Eudora began.

“Silence!” Punch shouted.

Eudora quickly shut her mouth.

“Murdered by me.” Punch smiled. “I killed William Stover.”

“Stop…” Robert began.

“Don’t worry, Dr. Halifax,” Mr. Punch shook his head. “We’ve nothing to fear. Officer, I murdered William Stover. I beat him to death.”

“And, I helped him.” Charles said bravely, joining Mr. Punch’s side.

“Stop this at once!” Robert howled.

“And, I moved the body.” Gerard nodded, also standing at Punch’s side.

“Now,” Mr. Punch grinned at the beadle. “Are you going to arrest me? Will you be the man who brings the Duke of Fallbridge to justice?”

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


Carolyn said...

Oh my God! What's Punch doing? I know he wants to protect Robert, but...? I'm shocked! I hope this doesn't backfire!!!

Sam P said...

Wow! I didn't see that coming!

Matt said...

Good for Mr. Punch!

Book Gurl said...

You're so good at these shocking twists. How clever of Punch, but I hope he can get away with it.

Marsha said...

Oh no! Why would he say that??!?!