Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 66

Chapter 66: 
The Announcement 

The announcement that the family and most of the staff would depart for Grange Molliner seemed to be the elixir that Punch required. With each passing hour, he grew stronger. Yet this newfound strength did not banish the specter of his recent infirmity—especially for Robert who continued to insist that they should call for the beadle.

“And tell him what, Chum?” Mr. Punch chirped.

“Tell him that you’ve been poisoned!” Robert urged.

“We got no proof o’ it.” Mr. Punch shrugged.

“A household of people who witnessed your weeks-long decline is not enough proof?”

“I coulda been ill.”

“You know that you weren’t.”

“But, it stopped as quick as it started.” Mr. Punch smiled.

“Because we threw those sugar cubes in the rubbish and replaced them with new ones.” Robert snorted.

“And, in doing so, gave up any evidence we mighta had.” Mr. Punch nodded firmly.

“That was Gerard’s doing…” Robert frowned.

“He didn’t mean no harm.” Punch grinned, walking over to put his hands on Robert’s shoulders—an act which Punch knew always calmed his companion. As always, it worked.

Robert sighed. “How can you be so steady?”

“Dunno.” Punch giggled, shrugging. “But, what kind of world is it? I mean, really? What kind of world is it when Mr. Punch is the voice of reason and the picture of steadiness?”

“The world that I love.” Robert mumbled.

“Listen, Chum. I feel better, I do.”

“I can see that.” Robert began.

“Eh…eh…” Punch extended his index finger. “I’m not finished. I feel better. Now, that don’t mean I forgot what just happened. But, I also know that we don’t got no proof that no one did any’thin’ to me. So…there ain’t much we can do ‘bout it. I know you believe that Mr. Barrett’s behind this. But, I ain’t so sure. I’m more of the mind that it were Tom workin’ for Hortence and Miss Stover. But, Tom’s gone. And, we ain’t gonna let no bad folk in the house no more. The folks we got are all good folk. Georgie is a good lad, yes? And, we know Gerry and Charles ain’t gonna do us no harm. Speaight and Mrs. Pepper—they’re gonna look after us. Even Vi, Jenny, Ethel and Hutchinson. We can trust all of ‘em. Besides that, we got Miss Ellen to look after Colin. We ain’t gonna let no one else in. Not no one. ‘Cept maybe the Queen.” He winked.

“Fine. I see your point. Well, one good thing to come of this is that we all have a better sense of how to keep the house secure.”

“Sure.” Mr. Punch said.

“And, now, we’re ‘bout to go to Scotland. This is our boy’s first time goin’ there.” Mr. Punch squinted. “Though, our boy is no stranger to travel. Think o’ it. Not even christened yet and he’s been to America and back already. He’s seen more of the world than most folks in London ever dream o’ seein.”

“Pity he won’t remember most of it.” Robert smiled.

“Here, you don’t know that.” Mr. Punch shrugged.

“You’re right, dear Punch.” Robert nodded. “In fact, I’m beginning to wonder if I know much of anything. All these weeks you’ve been suffering and it never once occurred to me that you’d been poisoned. And, now that we know, I don’t have a clue as to how to deal with it. Ever since William Stover’s death, I feel as if I have no control over anything. It’s not a feeling that I much enjoy, my dear.”

“You got control over quite a bit.” Mr. Punch smiled.

“Such as?”

“Me. Colin. Dog Toby.”

“Oh!” Robert laughed. “Now, that’s a lark. You, Colin and Dog Toby—each more stubborn than the last. I have no more control over any of you than I do the seasons.”

Mr. Punch chuckled. “Maybe so.” He paused, looking serious for a moment. “Chum, I reckon you got as much control as I got. Maybe we don’t need to control things. Maybe we jus’ need to share our moments with those what we love and take what comes together. I s’pose that’s the best anyone can do.”

“You continue to astound me.”

“That’s my aim.” Mr. Punch nodded. “Listen, you’re gonna like Grange Molliner, you are.”

“I am excited.” Robert smiled. “I’ve never been to Scotland. I would feel more at ease if I knew that the ordeal that you just endured was over. Dear Punch, won’t you consider…”

“Chum.” Mr. Punch said sternly.

“Very well.” Robert grumbled. “But, you should know that I’m going to watch your every move. I’m going to monitor every bite of food you take and every sip of drink. I’m going to sit up nights and watch you slumber and I’m going to wait in panic for you to take each breath—until I am entirely convinced that you’re out of danger.”

“Don’t s’pose I’ll be able to say anything to stop ya?”


“Well, then, I’ll just have to find ways to entertain ya while you’re watchin’ me eat and drink and sleep.”

“Such as?” Robert smiled.

“Dunno. Off the top of me head, I’m thinkin’ o’ makin’ a puppet out of a potato.”

“I think we can do better than that.” Robert nodded.

“You think ‘ bout it, then.” Punch laughed.

“Oh, I will, dear Punch.” Robert teased. “I will.”

Did you miss Chapters 1-65 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square? If so, you can read them here. Come back tomorrow for Chapter 67.


Darcy said...

Hmm, Grange Molliner in Scotland, another new place to explore. New place, most likely some more new people. And that cryptic smile on Ellen's face at the end of the last chapter. This is going to be very interesting.

Joseph Crisalli said...

Thanks, Darcy. There is most definitely something new afoot. The question is, what does it have to do with what has already happened? Ellen's smile said a lot.