Thursday, June 7, 2012

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 56

Chapter 56: 
Away for Awhile 

I think it went well,” Mr. Punch smiled as he and Robert entered the front door of No. 65 Belgrave Square. “Her Majesty seemed pleased.”

“She was more than pleased.” Robert nodded. “In fact, I think she was beside herself with joy. My dear, you were very clever. I’ve never seen a more enjoyable puppet show.”

Mr. Punch shrugged. “Just did what came to me.”

“And, with two puppets. And no fit-up! Did you write down your routine beforehand?”

“No.” Punch blushed. “I kinda jus’ let the puppets do what they wanted.”

Robert chuckled. “I’m so proud of you.”

“Me?” Mr. Punch chirped. “What ‘bout you? After you examined Her Majesty, she confessed to me that you were, undoubtedly, the most gentle physician she’s ever known.”

“I assured her that her pregnancy is quite normal. Still…”


“I had to be honest with Her Majesty.” Robert sighed.

“Was there a problem?”

“Not really…” Robert shook his head. “It just seemed to me that the fetus was quite small given the advanced stage of her pregnancy.”

“That don’t sound good.” Mr. Punch squinted

“Dear Punch, there’s no cause for alarm. Some children are small. Considering the size of the Queen and Prince Consort, it’s not unsual that they should have a diminutive child.”

“Oh.” Punch nodded. “Good.” He reached for Robert’s hand and led the man up the stairs. “Let’s go to the drawing room, then. It’s tea time. We earned it.”

“We most assuredly did.” Robert agreed.

“Yes,” Punch continued as they entered the sumptuous drawing room. “I’d call it a success. Her Majesty was pleased, Prince Albert enjoyed talkin’ with me ‘bout gold and teeth and killin’ stags. The Queen is in good health and she spoke with Sir Richard on our account about the…” he paused. “About the incident. I think we’re finally getting’ back to our quiet life.”

“I certainly hope so.” Robert sighed as he rang for Speaight.

“I been thinkin’, Chum.” Punch said brightly as he sat down.

“As have I.” Robert nodded. “I wonder if our thoughts match up.”

“They usually do.” Punch grinned. “We need to make plans, we do.”

“When do you want to have it?” Robert replied.

“Come again?”

“Colin’s christening.” Robert smiled. “That’s what you were thinking, yes?”

“Oh…well, in part.” Punch nodded slowly.

“In part?”

“Yes.” Mr. Punch continued. “I think we ought to put that off ‘til after her Majesty’s child is born.”

“That’s good thinking.” Robert agreed. “But, you said, ‘in part.’ What’s the other part?”

“Well, chum, I been thinkin’ maybe we ought to get away for awhile.”


“Sure, out of London. Not for long—maybe just a fortnight. I sent me designs for the Queen’s birthday jewels to the goldsmith and they won’t be ready for at least a fortnight. Colin’s getting’ bigger each day and is strong ‘nough for travel. I reckon you could find someone from the clinic to look after your patients for a few days.”

“I’m sure I could.” Robert answered.

“Then, while we’re away, we could plan Colin’s christenin’. And, get some rest.”

“Are you proposing that we go to Fallbridge Hall?” Robert asked.

“Well, no.” Mr. Punch shook his head. “The other day, when we was talkin’ to Miss Barrett ‘bout Scotland, I got thinkin’ ‘bout Grange Molliner. I’d love to take you there. After all, it’s your home, too. Lots of land for Dog Toby to explore and places for us to play with Colin. Weather’s getting’ warmer each day, so, it’s the best time to go.”

“It’s a long journey to Aberdeenshire.” Robert raised an eyebrow.

“Sure, but Colin did so well on the ship from America. Poor lad’s gone there and back before he was one year old. Surely a carriage ride to Scotland wouldn’t bother ‘im.”

“I don’t suspect so.”

“’Course, we’d have to take some of the staff. The grange ain’t got a full staff since no one lives there. We’d certainly gotta take Charles and Gerry. Probably Speaight, too. Mrs. Pepper, ‘course. I’d wager we’d need Gamilla. And, we gotta take Miss Barrett. We could leave Vi and Hutchinson here to look after the place. Vi could use Jenny and Ethel.”

“How can we leave Hutchinson here?” Robert asked playfully. “You’re not going to sit atop the carriage are you?”

“No!” Punch snorted. “I thought we’d hire carriages and drivers. One for me and you and Colin and Dog Toby. One for Speaight, Charles and Gerry and one for Mrs. Pepper, Gamilla and Miss Barrett.”

“You have given this quite a lot of thought.” Robert tilted his head to one side.

“I have.” Mr. Punch sighed. “The last week—well, since the whole kerfuffle with Mr. Stover—it’s been a burden. I thought maybe a trip to Scotland might rejuvenate us.”

“Wouldn’t it appear suspicious?” Robert squinted. “While the Queen has assured Sir Richard that there’s no legal issue, there are still rumors flying around London.”

“They’re gonna fly whether we’re here or not.” Punch nodded.

“I suppose so.” Robert frowned. “However, what if her Majesty should…well…what if the child comes earlier than expected?”

“Oh—I hadn’t thought of that.” Punch sniffed.

“She may wish me to be available. Prince Albert hinted that Their Majesties would like for me to attend, but, nothing was concluded.”

“Do babies come early?” Punch squinted.

“Often.” Robert chuckled.

“Didn’t know that.” Punch sighed.

“I do like the idea of taking Colin to Scotland.” Robert said quickly. “I truly do. And, I’d like nothing better than to see your father’s ancestral home and spend some quiet time with you. It’s a wonderful idea.”

“But, you’re correct. We’d best wait.” Punch smiled. “I understand. Furthermore, I ‘spose Miss Barrett wouldn’t be eager to be too far from her brother presently. Sides, we should probably have another man in the house before we go. If we take Speaight, Gerry and Charles, we should at least leave a page here.”

“That’s true.” Robert replied. “We’d best fill the position as soon as possible. I’ll talk with Speaight about it in the evening.”

Just as Robert said this, Speaight entered the drawing room. “My apologies, Sirs, for taking so long.”

“We were just talking about you, Speaight.” Robert smiled.

“Favorably, I hope, Sir.” Speaight smiled.

“Course!” Mr. Punch chirped. “We were just discussing that we need a new page.”

“Oddly enough, Your Grace, that’s why I was tardy.” Speaight grinned.

“Oh?” Mr. Punch smiled.

“Yes, Sir. It seems an excellent candidate for that very position has arrived unexpectedly downstairs.”

“Hmmmm…” Punch narrowed his eyes. “Historically, unannounced visitors to this house don’t work out so well for us.”

“I think this young man will be an exception.”

“Why’s that, Speaight?” Robert asked.

“This young man had impressed me greatly.”

“Does he have references?” Robert inquired.

“One very influential one.” Speaight grinned.

“Who is this?” Punch asked.

“His mother.” Speaight nodded.

“Well, I think it’s safe to say that the majority of mothers would give their sons a favorable recommendation.”

“This one is special.” Mr. Speaight continued.

“What’s his name?” Punch asked.

“George Pepper.” Speaight replied happily

Did you miss Chapters 1-55 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square? If so, you can read them here. Come back tomorrow for Chapter 57.

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