“Look at you, Eudora,” Hortence grinned wickedly, “entertainin’ two fine gentlemen in your very own home. They’re a right better lot than them blokes what ya usually got sittin’ in your parlor.”
“Well, it’s time, then, ain’t it?” Eudora winked. “And, ain’t you a grand lady? To think, you was once scrubbin’ the grates in their house and now you’re taken tea, all equal.”
“We’re not equal.” Mr. Punch replied. He spoke in Julian’s voice even though he was so angry that the affectation was quite difficult for him.
“Maybe we ain’t rich, but…” Eudora began.
“It’s not a matter of wealth which makes us unequal.” Mr. Punch shook his head.
“What is it, then?
“I don’t see how that’s true.” Hortence snapped.
Mr. Punch took a deep breath and almost gagged from the rancid smell in Eudora’s filthy front room.
“Seems to me,” Eudora began, “we four is the same. Ain’t we all the sort to do whatever needs doin’ to see we get what we want?”
“No.” Robert spoke up.
“Says the man who murdered my brother.” Eudora growled.
“I did no such thing.” Robert replied. “Your brother was murdered by Orpha Polk—the woman to whom you’re still referring as ‘Ellen.’”
“She says different.” Eudora snarled. “Even if that were so, she told me that the Duke—the precious Duke—tried to kill both her and her late brother. So, don’t go puttin’ on airs with me like you’re so high and mighty and pure.”
“This woman from whom you take your information,” Mr. Punch replied, “is a butcher and a liar and a thief.”
“She ain’t no such thing.” Hortence shouted. “You’ll see. She told us all about you and the awful things you done. Sure, she ain’t no liar. She told us that she weren’t really your sister. But, can you blame her for tryin’.”
“She’s only told you a portion of the truth.” Robert shook his head.
“And who are we to believe? The two of you? This poor girl come to us in her hour of grief. She lost her brother because of you two and so did I. We’re just alike she and us. We all been mistreated by men. We all gotta fight for our own selves. And we aim to do it.”
“How exactly do you…” Mr. Punch began.
“You ain’t in no place to ask questions.” Hortence barked. “You were right ‘bout one thing, Duke, we ain’t equals. We got all the power now.”
“So it seems,” Robert said coolly. “How did you manage to turn Hutchinson against us?”
Eudora shrugged. “Didn’t need turnin’. Already hated ya both.”
“I see.” Robert nodded.
“But, I ain’t one to speak for someone else. You can ask ‘im yourself when he returns with Ellen.”
“Her name is not Ellen.” Mr. Punch sighed.
“That’s what she likes to be called. So, why shouldn’t it be her name?” Hortence spat. “You men in your big houses. You think you can tell all of us what to do.”
“I wouldn’t dream of it.” Robert laughed.
“Are you making me your fun?” Hortence hissed.
“I wouldn’t dream of that either.” Robert shook his head.
Mr. Punch spoke up. “Just what is it that you want?”
“We ain’t prepared to discuss that yet,” Eudora answered airily.
“Oh…” Hortence chirped. “Here she comes.”
Eudora and Hortence both stiffened up as Hutchinson ushered Orpha Polk into the room. The woman who called herself Ellen sauntered in as if she was the Princess Royal.
“Ain’t ya gonna stand for a lady?” Hortence growled.
“We will when one arrives.” Mr. Punch answered.
“Don’t bother with them, my dears.” Orpha cooed. “The one comes from filth and the other comes from insanity. You can’t expect them to act like gentlemen.”
“What’s this all about,” Robert asked as levelly as he could.
“I want money.” Orpha replied simply.
“I would assume that most people do.” Mr. Punch scoffed.
“I’m not most people, Mr. Punch.”
Punch bristled upon being called by his own name. He didn’t like the way she said it.
“And, neither are you,” Orpha continued. “That’s why you’re going to give me what I want.”
Did you miss Chapters 1-202 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square? If so, you can read them here. Come back tomorrow for Chapter 204.