Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 83

Chapter 83: 
A Little Nip 

Are you aware of what just happened?” Robert smiled, taking Punch’s hand and leading him into the Grange’s soaring Great Hall.

“No?” Mr. Punch replied, wide-eyed with anticipation. “What?”

“We ate a meal on time and without interruption. No governesses rolling about on the floor. No angry countesses ringing the bell, no disgruntled former employees charging into the house. No interruption whatsoever. We were allowed to chew and swallow in peace.” Robert chuckled.

“It truly is a holiday, then.” Punch grinned.

“We must be careful. I might soon come to expect regular feeding.” Robert laughed.

“We can’t have that.” Mr. Punch teased, “I’ll be sure to ask Speaight to charge into the drawing room at luncheon and swat the fork out of your hand.”

“Please do.” Robert nodded with false gravity.

“Speaking of Speaight.” Mr. Punch continued “I told him and Mrs. North that you and I would like to speak with them further about the Servants’ Ball. I’ve asked them to join us in the library before tea.”

“That will be fine.” Robert nodded. “Until then, we have the entire day to ourselves. What shall we do?”

“Might we go fetch Colin?” Mr. Punch asked eagerly. “There’s a pram downstairs. Been there since Barbara were a girl. I wrote to Mrs. North before we arrived and asked her to make sure it was in working order. Saw it the other day, I did. Looks nice and cozy for ‘im. We could take our boy ‘round the estate. Maybe even show ‘im the little cottage. And…there’s a little folly what you and I didn’t see yesterday. I’d like to show it to you and Colin. It’s out by the wee loch what me grandfather Molliner had made.”

“Wee loch, huh?” Robert winked.

“What?” Punch grinned. “I’m just getting’ in the spirit, I am.”

“I should say so.” Robert smiled, pointing to Punch’s knees. “And, in your kilt, no less.”

“I figured since I’m makin’ you wear one, I ought to as well.”

“I think you should wear it every day. You’ve really got very handsome knees.” Robert nodded.

“Have I?” Punch asked, bending over to examine his legs.

“Dear Punch,” Robert tapped Punch’s shoulder. “You might not wish to…uhhh…bend over that far.”

“Uh?” Punch squinted. His face then flushed as he realized that, in arching his back, his kilt had risen up higher than he’d intended—in short, exposing his derriere. “Oh.” He chuckled. “I see what you was complainin’ ‘bout yesterday. Takes some time to get used to, it does.”

“No harm done.” Robert laughed. He walked over to the bell pull which hung to the left of the tall, pointed archway leading to the stair hall.

Speaight arrived within a few seconds.

“How do ya do that?” Mr. Punch smiled.

“Do what, Your Grace?” Speaight asked.

“Always show up so quick after we ring.”

“I run…when no one is looking.” Speaight smiled slightly.

Robert and Mr. Punch both laughed.

“Speaight, would you have Gerard bring up the perambulator? We’d like to take Colin for a walk.”

“Certainly,” Speaight nodded. “I’ll have him bring it here to the Great Hall.”

“Thank you.” Robert replied.

“Speaight,” Punch added. “Please have Gerard come to the nursery after he delivers the pram.”

“Yes, Your Grace.” Speaight answered. “I’ll send him up with the blankets that the maids just finished.”

As Speaight hurried off, Mr. Punch and Robert walked toward the nursery.

“Chum?” Punch began.


“Might it be a good idea if we ask Gerard and Gamilla to come ‘long? After all, with Miss Barrett sick, Gamilla’s spendin’ all her time with Colin and she ain’t got the time what she usually got to see Gerry. I’ll bet they miss each other. Maybe we could ask and Gamilla to follow behind us as we walk. That way, they can get some time together to talk.”

“I think you’re very sweet.” Robert tilted his head to one side. “I’m sure they would appreciate the time together.”

“Good.” Punch whooped. He paused. “Here, Chum. Did you look in on Miss Barrett this mornin’?”

“I did.” Robert frowned. “She’s still feverish.”

Mr. Punch nodded. “Ain’t gonna die is she?”

“Not to my knowledge.” Robert replied. “Not in the near future, at least.”

“Well, that’s good.” Mr. Punch sighed. “I s’pose.”

The pair walked up to the nursery, happy to be together and very much looking forward to their upcoming trek with their boy. By the time they reached the nursery door, from the service staircase they heard confident footsteps.

Expecting to see Gerard round the corner, they looked up with happy faces. However, it was not Gerard’s smiling visage that they saw heading toward them, carrying a stack of freshly laundered baby blankets. It was, instead, Finlay.

“Ah.” Robert nodded. “Finlay, we had requested Gerard.”

“I volunteered to bring these to you, Sir.” Finlay grinned. “I brought up the pram, too.”

“That was kind of you, Finlay.” Punch began, switching to his “Julian” voice. “When you return downstairs, please ask Gerard to meet us in the Great Hall. We’d like him to come along on our walk.”

“Well, Sir…” Finlay said quietly.

“Is there a problem, Finlay?” Robert asked.

“It’s just that Gerard seems a little groggy this mornin’, Sirs.” Finlay said. “That’s why I volunteered to help ya with the baby’s things. Thought maybe he should rest.”

“Groggy?” Robert squinted. “He certainly wasn’t groggy when he dressed me this morning. He was cheerful and bright. In very good spirits.”

“Is he feeling ill?” Punch asked.

“No, Sir.” Finlay said quickly. “Who knows? Perhaps he had a little nip after breakfast.”

Punch and Robert exchanged glances.

Finlay smiled at his masters. “I’d be happy to go along on your walk, Your Grace.”

Did you miss Chapters 1-82? If so, you can read them here. Come back tomorrow for Chapter 84 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square.

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