Thursday, February 7, 2013

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 252

Chapter 252 
Strength Renewed 

I don’t understand,” Mr. Punch narrowed his eyes at Lady Lensdown. “What possible objection could I have to two people who love one another wanting to get married?”

“Love…” Lady Lensdown shook her head.

“You listen,” Gerard barked. “I don’t care who you are, you ain’t fit to judge neither me nor my Gamilla.”

“Gerard,” Robert said softly.

“Well, I’m sorry, Dr. Halifax, but, I ain’t gonna stand here and let no one—not even the Queen herself, but ‘specially this one—tell me that I can’t marry Gamilla.”

“Is that what you’re saying, Lady Lensdown?” Punch asked.

“I am merely suggesting that you should not be so fast to give your consent,” Gertrude replied softly.

“Why?” Robert shook his head.

“For a variety of reasons.” Lady Lensdown replied in such a soft voice that she could barely be heard.

“Such as?” Robert coaxed.

“It is not customary for household staff to intermarry.”

“That isn’t what she’s sayin’,” Gerard bellowed. “She thinks it’s wrong because Gamilla is African!”

Gamilla lowered her head.

“Young man…” Lady Lensdown began, but Gerard interrupted her.

“I’ll have you know…it ain’t illegal for folk of two different races to marry here. I asked the vicar after Jenny’s funeral.”

“It isn’t exactly encouraged.” Lady Lensdown replied.

“I don’t care.” Gerard snapped. “Ain’t like I’m some Earl or Marquis and Gamilla’s a duchess. We’re a nursery maid and footman!” He shook his head. “I thought you was different, Lady Lensdown. I didn’t think you was like Lady Constance nor her ma. But, ya are.”

“Now, Gerard, you ain’t done gave the lady a chance to talk. And, it ain’t our place to tell our betters…” Gamilla started.

Gerard sighed. “It is my place. I won’t let no one hurt ya, never. I’d take Prince Albert into the mews if he so much as looked at ya funny. I’d punch the Emperor of France in the eye if he said one unkind word to you, Gamilla.”

Gamilla smiled. “I know you would.” She blinked. “Does France have an Emperor?”

“Oh, I dunno.” Gerard shook his head. “I just know that no matter what, ain’t nobody gonna make you feel bad—not for one minute.”

Lady Lensdown’s eyes filled with tears. “You misunderstand me. I don’t mean to insult you—either of you. I have no issue with your bride being African, though I advise you that many will. I suggested to the Duke that he not allow the union because of my own embarrassment, my own…my own insult. I didn’t doubt you, young man. I doubted the idea of love. I have lost my faith in the concept of marriage. I have lost much.”

Mr. Punch looked up at Gerard and Gamilla. “Go now and post your banns, and come straight back so Gerard may rest. Tomorrow, Dr. Halifax and me, we’ll help ya decide where you’ll be married and make all them decisions what need to be made to keep your place here as comfortable as can be.”

“Thank you, Your Grace.” Gamilla nodded.

“We shall see to it that you have a beautiful wedding.” Robert added.

“All I need is my Gamilla.” Gerard smiled.

“I…I do apologize.” Lady Lensdown interjected quietly.

Gerard nodded.

With that, he and Gamilla left.

“I don’t think your man accepted my apology.” Lady Lensdown whispered.

“He understands more than he appears to.” Robert shook his head.

Mr. Punch bit his lip.

“Dear Punch, are you well?” Robert asked.

“I…am.” Punch answered hesitantly. “I just want…I want Dog Toby.”

“He’s in the nursery, I believe. When Mrs. Pepper brought our trays, she’d mentioned that Vi had taken Toby up there when she went to sit with Colin. Now we know why. Gamilla had plans.”

“I think I’ll go upstairs for a moment.” Punch said firmly. “Will you excuse me?”

“Certainly,” Lady Lensdown looked at the floor.

Robert stood. “I’ll go with you. Pardon me a moment, Lady Lensdown.”

Gertrude nodded.

Once outside the library, Robert put his arms around Mr. Punch allowing the man to cry freely. “I want Colin. I want Dog Toby,” Punch sobbed.

“We’ll go to them.”

“They don’t make trouble. They don’t want nothin’ but to be loved and to love back. All they want—that’s all they want. They ain’t like these folks what make their pain into pain for other people. Don’t matter if it’s on purpose like Orpha or because they can’t help it like that woman in there. It’s all still the same.”

“It is,” Robert agreed.

“You ain’t like that.” Punch shook his head.

“Not everyone is, dear Punch.”

Mr. Punch wiped his eyes.

“When we come across one who is, we must do as we always do, and not judge, but rather offer them the same kindness we would anyone else.” Robert explained.

“I know.” Punch sighed. “But sometimes, it’s harder than others, it is.”

“Sometimes all we need is to hug a dog and a baby, and we’ll have our strength renewed.” Robert patted Punch’s shoulder.

Did you miss Chapters 1-251 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square? If so, you can read them here. Come back tomorrow for Chapter 253.

No comments: