Monday, December 10, 2012

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 208

Chapter 208

Gertrude?” The Baron Lensdown sighed. “You’re staring again.”

“Am I?” Lady Lensdown replied.

“Yes, dear.” The baron sniffed. “I’ve been speaking to you and I don’t think you’ve heard a word I’ve said.”

“I’m terribly sorry, my dear.” Lady Lensdown responded. “I thought I saw someone I know.”

“It’s not inconceivable.” The baron rolled his eyes. “However, I’d prefer if you’d lend me some of your attention.”

“Of course, Victor.” Lady Lensdown said quickly. “After all, you’ve been so kind to take me out this afternoon. So thoughtful. You know how I love the tearoom here.”

“Yes, I know.” Baron Lensdown replied curtly. “I’ve made this effort to bring you all the way to Mivart’s for tea and…”

“You know,” Gertrude said brightly. “I’ve heard that Mivart’s is going to combine operations with the little hotel adjacent. What’s it called?”

“Claridge’s.” The baron replied dryly. “They’re working out the details of the sale.”

“Oh, is Mivart’s selling completely?”

“That’s the talk.”

“I wonder if they’ll change the name? I can’t imagine this being anything other than Mivart’s.”

“Mivart’s at Claridge’s,” The baron mumbled. “I believe that’s the proposed moniker.”

“Claridge—such an odd name. It doesn’t sound nearly as…well, as elegant. I wonder if the business will suffer for it. I hope not. I do love to come to the tearoom.”

The baroness looked up again and her eyes wandered to the corner of the room where she focused on the profile of a woman whose face was somewhat difficult to see with the bright afternoon light streaming on it through the window.

“Gertrude,” The baron shook his head.

“My apologies, my dear.” Lady Lensdown answered. She paused and took a deep breath. “Where were you this morning?”

“I’d some business which needed my attention.”

“With whom?”

“I don’t see how that’s any of your concern, my dear.” Baron Lensdown replied.

“I’m just curious, Victor.” Lady Lensdown said softly. “You’d left so early. It’s not like you.”

“You’re the one who has been encouraging me to be more involved with my investments.”

“Yes, yes.” Gertrude answered. “Mrs. Havens said you didn’t even take breakfast.”

“I wasn’t hungry.”

“Where is there to go before daybreak?”

“Many men spend most of the hours of a day in their offices, Gertrude. I’ve been quite busy, yet, I’ve taken this time to bring you here for tea.”

“And, I’m grateful.” She glanced toward the corner of the room again.

“What is so fascinating over there?”

“Well…I hate to mention it. However, doesn’t that woman in the corner—the one alone—look just like the woman who had tried to impersonate the sister of the Duke of Fallbridge? His former governess?”

The baron’s face flushed slightly. “It couldn’t be. She’s lost. Most think she died in Scotland.”

“Well, no one knows that for certain. The woman just disappeared.” Gertrude answered.

“I’m sure it’s not the same woman.” Victor said authoritatively.

“Perhaps I should go and see.” Gertrude replied.

“You will not.” The baron snapped.

“Why not?” Lady Lensdown asked.

“Her companion is joining her.” The baron said quickly as a woman in mourning was escorted to the corner table.

“Why, Victor! That’s Lady Constance. I’ve not seen her out since we returned to London. Poor dear, she’s still in such deep mourning over the death of her mother.”

“So, you see, the woman there couldn’t be the Duke’s former governess. Why would Lady Constance wish to be seen with such a woman?” Victor said. “We must be going.”

“We really should say something to Lady Constance. I’d like her to know that if she needs anything…”

“Have you forgotten that the woman accused me of murdering her mother?” The baron hissed.

“Darling, please.” Gertrude answered softly. “We swore we’d never say a word of that.”

“I just don’t see a need to speak to Lady Constance.”

“But, all of that is in the past. I saw the note she sent you, saying that she’d been acting out of grief and that she didn’t mean to…”

“You will not speak to either of those women.” The baron said firmly.

“As you wish, Victor.” Gertrude shook her head. She looked to the corner of the room again.

Despite what her husband had said, she knew that Lady Constance was meeting with the woman who’d claimed to have been Fallbridge’s sister—the one who was said to have been lost in Scotland, the murderess and imposter. She knew.

She knew much more than her husband thought.

As the baron led his wife from the tearoom, she decided that when he went to his club, she would have to pay a visit to the Duke of Fallbridge.

Did you miss Chapters 1-207 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square? If so, you can read them here. Come back tomorrow for Chapter 209.

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