Monday, June 18, 2012

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 65

Chapter 65: 
No Right

Charles returned to the Duke’s bedchamber with a very confused Miss Barrett.

“Why won’t you tell me what this is all about?” She hissed at Charles as they approached the Duke’s door.

“It isn’t my place,” Charles grumbled. “I was sent to fetch you and that’s what I’ve done.”

“Is His Grace worse?” Ellen croaked.

“Let’s just go inside, then.” Charles frowned. He took a deep breath and opened the door.

“Miss Barrett,” Robert began immediately. “Do, come in.”

“Good evening, Doctor.” Ellen said hesitantly. “Good evening, Your Grace. I trust there’s nothing wrong.”

“There’s much wrong.” Robert snapped. “Miss Barrett, I have a question for you.”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Has Colin been given any sugar cubes?”


“Sugar cubes!” Robert yelled. “At nursery tea! Have you given any sugar cubes to Colin?”

“No…no, Sir.” Ellen stammered nervously.

“Are you certain?” Robert barked.

Ellen looked from face to face—from the doctor, to the Duke to Gerard to Charles.

“Don’t look at them.” Robert said firmly. “Answer me. Think carefully. Are you certain?”

“I am.” Ellen nodded.

“Good.” Robert sighed.

“Why?” Ellen squinted. “May I ask why, Sir?”

“Miss Barrett,” Mr. Punch spoke up wearily, “it’s just that we been thinkin’, we have. And, it seems like maybe I’ve not been sick like we thought, but rather, maybe I been poisoned.”


“Yes,” Robert narrowed his eyes. “Poisoned.”

“I…I…c…can’t believe it,” Ellen replied nervously. “Who would do such a thing?”

“You ask who?” Robert snapped. “Since you’ve lived in this house, what have you seen? You’ve seen threatening letters, you’ve seen contentious countesses, you’ve seen vicious maids and vengeful pages, you’ve seen a man murdered and left at our door. And, yet, you ask who would do such a thing.”

“It’s simply that I cannot imagine that anyone would wish to hurt His Grace.” Ellen answered softly.

“Nor can I.” Robert bellowed.

“Chum…” Punch whispered. “She’s scared, she is.”

“With good reason.” Robert snorted. “Miss Barrett, you say that you can’t imagine that anyone would hurt His Grace, yet did not your own brother put his hands around my companion’s throat and try to squeeze the life from him?”

“Sir…” Ellen spoke up.

“I’m not finished!” Robert said.

“And, what…what was his reason for doing this?” Robert continued.

“I…I don’t know, Sir.” Ellen answered emotionally. “As best I can figure, Roger thought that His Grace was someone else. The poor man doesn’t even know his own mind, how is he to recognize another man? He has no idea what he’s doing, Sir.”

“I disagree.” Robert shook his head. “I think that there are times when your brother knows exactly what he’s about.”


“I think that when your brother was in this house—the day that William Stover was killed, the day that Gerard was attacked and injured right here in our area, the day that he terrified Ethel in the scullery—I think that he crept into our pantry and poisoned the sugar cubes.”

“Sir, how would Roger know that only His Grace used the sugar cubes?” Ellen snapped.

“It’s something that you seem to know.” Robert scowled. “So, why would he not? I imagine that he knows what you do. Or, perhaps he didn’t know. Perhaps he didn’t wish to murder only His Grace, but instead wished to see us all dead in our beds.”

“Where would Roger get poison?”

“Miss Barrett,” Gerard spoke up. “A man can get anything he wants if he wants it bad ‘nough.”

“I wasn’t speaking to you, Gerard.” Ellen snarled.

“Don’t shout at him,” Charles spoke up. “Fact is, we all know that your daffy brother jumped poor Gerry in the area. Probably murdered that Stover bloke, too! What a lot of trouble when all these gents have done is try to help you! And, you ask where he could have gotten poison? I was at his flat, Miss, I saw all the medicines and chemicals there. And, whatever happened to his first caregiver, Miss? We still don’t know.”

“How dare you?” Ellen growled. “I won’t be spoken to in such a manner by a servant!”

“Stop!” Mr. Punch howled mournfully. “Stop all this shoutin’! Stop at once!”

Robert put his arm around Punch’s shoulders, sitting next to him on the bed.

“Me head’s splittin’ open with pain, it is, and all you’re all doin’ is shoutin’.” Punch moaned, his eyes filling with tears. “I want me dog. Where’s me Dog Toby? And me puppet! I just want to be still.”

“I’m sorry, dear Punch.”

“Just protectin’ me, you are.” Punch whispered. “I know it. And, Miss Barrett’s upset cuz it’s her brother what she’s tryin’ to protect. Now, I don’t know if he’s the one what poisoned me or not. I don’t. To be sure, I don’t think he’s got ‘nough sense to do somethin’ so…intricate. We don’t even know that it’s the sugar cubes what’s been poisoned. We’re just guessin’.”

Gerard and Charles looked at the floor.

“I don’t know what to do, Punch.” Robert said softly.

“You’re tired, Chum.” Punch smiled. “Tonight, you sleep.”

“Should we send for the beadle?” Charles asked.

Ellen scowled at him.

“I dunno.” Punch sighed. “I’ll think on it. But, there is somethin’ I want you to do for me—you and Charles. Tomorrow, I want you to start packin’ for us, for yourselves.”

“Packing?” Charles squinted.

“We’re goin’ to Grange Molliner.” Punch smiled. “My father’s ancestral home in Aberdeenshire. You and Gerry, Miss Ellen, Speaight, Mrs. Pepper and Gamilla. And, of course, me and Dr. Halifax, Colin and Dog Toby.”

“We are?” Gerard smiled.

“Yes.” Punch nodded. “Unless you object, Chum?”

“I do not.” Robert replied. “I think it’s a good idea.”

“Fine.” Punch concluded. “I want to leave in two days. Charles, please tell Speaight that we’ll discuss this with him first thing in the morning.”

“Yes, Sir.” Charles nodded.

“Well, then, that will be all for tonight. You’re dismissed.” Punch coughed.

“All of us?” Ellen asked.

“All of you.” Punch nodded. “Dr. Halifax and I must talk now. We will see you in the library at ten o’clock tomorrow morning. Make arrangements for Gamilla to watch Colin.”

“What will we discuss?” Ellen asked cautiously. “My brother? Because I’m sure he’s not poisoning…”

“You’ll know tomorrow.” Punch interrupted her, “First, as I said, Dr. Halfiax and I gotta talk.”

“Yes, Your Grace.” Ellen replied.

“Good night.” Robert said tersely.

“Good night, Sir.” Ellen answered, scurrying out of the room behind Charles and Gerard.

“Still cheeky…” Charles hissed at Ellen. “I’ll bet it is your brother…”

“Don’t speak to me.” Ellen snapped, turning her back on the footmen.

“You got no right, Miss.” Gerard added. “You got no right to…”

“Go pack for our trip,” Ellen chuckled as she walked away. She climbed the stairs to the nursery, her grin growing with each step.

Once inside the night nursery, she pressed her back against the door and squealed. “It worked! Thank God, it worked!”

Did you miss Chapters 1-64? If so, you can read them here. Come back tomorrow for Chapter 66 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square.


Marsha said...

I knew it! It's Ellen isn't it? I hate her!

Matt said...

I was afraid of this. Nobody better mess with Punch!