Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 240

Chapter 240 
The Life From Me 

Ethel…” Jenny whispered as she peered into the scullery.

Ethel dropped the pot she was scrubbing. It clattered as it crashed into the basin. “Cor! What are ya doin’? Tryin’ to scare the life from me?”

“No.” Jenny frowned. “I’m just bringin’ ya the platter from the roast. Mrs. Pepper said to be extra careful with the gildin’ on this one as it’s one o’ them pieces His Grace had brought from Fallbridge Hall.”

“Set it down in the hot water, I’ll do it in a minute.” Ethel nodded absent-mindedly.

“I ain’t gonna set it in that water.” Jenny scowled. “Mrs. Pepper said to be…”

“Come on, then.” Ethel groaned. “Can’t you see I’m that busy?”

“You’re scrubbin’ a pot.” Jenny shrugged. “You don’t look so busy to me.”

“Not here.” Ethel scowled. “Up there.” She pointed upwards.

“In heaven?”

“No, upstairs, ya fool.” Ethel snorted. “I’m tryin’ to hear what they’re sayin’ in the dinin’ room.” She pointed to the open dumbwaiter.

“Dunno ‘bout you.” Jenny shook her head. “Listenin’ at tunnels so.”

“The voices are that clear comin’ from there. Much better than when they’re in the other reception rooms.” Ethel whispered.

“Mr. Speaight’d cuff your ears.”

“Well, he ain’t gonna know ‘bout it, now is he? Seein’ as he’s up there servin’ at table with Charles.”

“Ain’t you given this up yet?”

“No!” Ethel replied defiantly. “Why should I?”

“You seen already we ain’t never gonna get outta here without one of ‘em seein’. Didn’t even make it to the area! Do you really think we’re gonna get all the way to…to that mean part of London where that Stover woman lives?”

“We will.”

“Come on, then. Be reasonable.” Jenny sighed.

“I’d rather be good and kind than reasonable. Would you say His Grace is a reasonable man?” Ethel asked.

“Sure, I would.” Jenny nodded.

“No. He’s a kind man. He’s a good man, the Duke is. But, he ain’t reasonable. Even Dr. Halifax says so. You ‘eard ‘im say it a dozen times,” She spoke in the manner in which she thought Robert spoke, “’Dear Punch, you must be reasonable.’” She smiled, pleased with her effort. “But, the Duke, he don’t do it. The Duke acts outta what he feels. He don’t think it all through. That’s the doctor.”

“So, a body can be kind and reasonable…look at Dr. Halifax.” Jenny smiled slightly.

Ethel sighed theatrically. “I guess you don’t got the same respect what I do for the masters.”

“Crikey, that ain’t a fair thing to say, Ethel. Didn’t I already tell ya that I’d help? I just can’t see as how we can get out, is all.”

“Well, ain’t it why I been tryin’ to hear what they’re sayin’ in the dinin’ room?” Ethel muttered. “I been wantin’ to hear where they’re all gonna be tonight.”

“What’d they say?”

“Not much.” Ethel shrugged, picking up another pot. “Not since the savory. But, before that, Miss Lennie and the Duke was havin’ a disagreement.”

“Not like a fight?”

“No,” Ethel shook her head. “Nothin’ like that. Seems Miss Lennie wanted to do somethin’ what the Duke didn’t want her to do. From all I could tell, seems she wanted to go to that Polk woman herself. His Grace forbade her. And, then, she said, ‘My dear Punch…’ She called him ‘Punch’ like what the doctor does. Well, she said that she had to do it for it were her fault all the trouble what’s come to the family and to Lady Lensdown’s family, too. Then, the doctor spoke up and said it were no one’s fault but the Baron Lensdown and that horrible Polk woman.”

“Cor…” Jenny gasped. “What’d they say next?”

“Well, Miss Lennie said she felt she could put things right somehow, and His Grace told ‘er that he weren’t gonna let no sister o’ his put ‘erself in no bad spot where she’d be hurt. And, Dr. Halifax said he’d see to it she were locked in her room if she even looked as if she might leave the house. Or, worse still, he’d send her to the palace to stay with Prince Albert who’d talk so long ‘bout Germany, she’d be stiff with boredom and couldn’t go nowhere.”

“Say…” Jenny’s eyes widened. “What’d she say to that?”

“She laughed.” Ethel shrugged again. “Then, the Duke laughed. But, then, Miss Lennie said that the Duke were right and she was only tryin’ to be helpful.”

“See?” Jenny nodded. “Miss Lennie said the Duke was right to not want her to go out and get ‘erself in bad with bad folk.”

“She’s his sister.” Ethel furrowed her brow.

“But, he known us longer than he’s known her.” Jenny answered. “So, don’t ya think he’d tell us the same?”

“That’s where Miss Lennie weren’t too smart.”

“Oh?” Jenny smirked.

“She shouldn’t have told ‘im.”


“Here, do you want to hear what else were said or not?” Ethel interrupted.

“Sure, do go on.”

“Well…” Ethel began. “Lady Lensdown said she were relieved that Miss Lennie come to ‘er senses, only she wished that her children were safe at home and not at the mercy o’ that Polk woman.”

“So, the witch has got that nice lady’s children.” Jenny clucked her tongue. “That’s why she come to the Duke for ‘elp.”

“But, that ain’t all. The lock o’ hair was from a girl called ‘Fern.’ They said that Fern were the daughter of Lady Constance Hamish.”

“She ain’t married.”

“Right.” Ethel nodded knowingly.

“She never did!” Jenny gasped.

“Seems she done.” Ethel giggled. “And, I think I know who by.”


“Baron Lensdown.”

“She never did!” Jenny repeated, scandalized. “He’s the husband o’ that nice lady upstairs.”

“But, you seen ‘im. He’s a lecher. Ain’t no good.”

“Weren’t it Hortence what said that Orpha’d had…knowledge of the baron?”

“Yes.” Ethel replied. “So, now you see ‘ow it all fits.”

“I do.” Jenny sighed. “And, the poor, sweet Duke and Dr. Halifax caught in the middle o’ all that terrible sin.”

“Right?” Ethel shook her head. “That’s why we gotta do all we can to see ‘em safe. We don’t want that woman comin’ after young Master Colin, do we? Or tryin’ to do harm to the Duke or the doctor?”

“No.” Jenny answered.

“Now, then. I heard ‘em say, just before puddin’ came—before they all went quiet—that they’re gonna retire early tonight for they got guests comin’ tomorrow.”

“I don’t know nothin’ bout guests.” Jenny answered. “Mrs. Pepper’s not said nothin’ ‘bout a special luncheon or breakfast menu.”

“I don’t think these are sittin’ down for luncheon guests.” Ethel shook her head. “But, still, Dr. Halifax said they should all retire early so they could be rested when the ‘men’ arrive tomorrow. They all said they would. Then, the Duke told Mr. Speaight and Charles to close up the house early tonight, too, and that, Speaight should send us all up to the attics earlier than usual. The Duke said he was gonna wish to speak to Charles tonight in his bedchamber, but that Mr. Speaight should go to bed when we was all cleaned up.”

“Fine.” Jenny nodded.

“Well, since we ain’t stayin’ up at the hearth like usual, nobody’s gonna know we ain’t here. After Speaight sends everyone up to bed, we can sneak out.”

“From where?” Jenny asked. “If we go out the area door, we gotta go past Mr. Speaight’s pantry. He’ll hear us. Same with the delivery door to the mews. It squeaks somethin’ awful He’s sure to hear us. We can’t go out the front door. We can’t climb down the ‘ouse from the attics.”

“The garden door.” Ethel grinned. “The French windows in the mornin’ room. We’ll sneak out into the garden and through the little gate into the mews.”

“The nursery and Dr. Halifax’s study both look out over the garden. Not to mention the drawin’ room nor Miss Lennie’s room above the study…nor, especially Mrs. Pepper’s room in the attics at the rear of the house.”

“What color is your coat?”

“Black.” Jenny frowned.

“And what color is my coat?”

“Black.” Jenny sighed.

“And…what color is…”

“The night. Yes, I know what you’re sayin’.”

“No one’s gonna see us.”

“And, fine, once we get to the Stover’s house, what then? Do we smash her with a warmin’ pan like the Duke done in Scotland. Cuz, that don’t seem to kill ‘er.”

“We ain’t gonna kill ‘er.”

“What’re you thinkin’ we’re gonna do, then?” Jenny asked.

“We’re gonna scare her away.”

Did you miss Chapters 1-239 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square? If so, you can read them here. Come back tomorrow for Chapter 241.

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