Monday, March 11, 2013

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 277

Chapter 277 
Like Gamilla

Your Grace?” Gerard knocked on the door of the library. Punch looked up from his preferred spot at the writing desk near the window.

“Yes, Gerry.” He smiled.

“May I speak with you, Sir?”

“Sure,” Punch nodded, come in. He pointed to the chair next to the table “If you move Dog Toby over, I’m sure he’ll let you sit with him.”

The terrier looked up from his cozy spot on the chair and with a canine yawn indicated otherwise.

“Oh, no, Your Grace. Little fella looks too comfortable.”

“He does at that.” Punch chuckled. “Listen, then, let’s go by the fire and leave Dog Toby to his before-tea nap.”

“I hope I’m not takin’ you from your work.” Gerard pointed to the velvet palette on the table upon which Mr. Punch had been arranging diamonds of various sizes and colors.

“I could stand to rest me eyes.” Mr. Punch shook his head. “Just plottin’ out a new piece and seein’ if I need some dif’rent stones.”

“They’re beautiful, they are.” Gerard stared at the gems. “I know them clear ones is diamonds. What’s the other ones?”

“They’re all diamonds.” Punch looked at the sparkling lot.

“All them colors?” Gerard’s eyes widened. “I knew they come in blue, too, but…”

“Would you like to have a look, then?” Punch asked.

“I would, Your Grace.”

Punch stood to make room for Gerard. He pointed. “This here is what’s called a mandarin. See, it’s orange. And, this one’s pink. And these yellow ones is called ‘canary.’ Them small ones is a yellow-green.”

“You got ‘em in a shape, Sir.”

“I do.” Mr. Punch nodded. “What’s it look like?”

“Rather like a bird. One o’ them big fancy birds what talks.”

“Sure,” Punch grinned. “And, that’s what I’m doin’. Thought I’d make a bodice ornament what looked like a parrot.”

“You’re so clever, Your Grace.”

“Don’t know ‘bout that.” Mr. Punch shrugged. “Just do what comes into me head. Now, come and talk with me. What’s on your mind, Gerry?”

“Lot o’ things, Sir.”

“Tell me ‘bout ‘em.”

“Dunno where to start.”

“It ain’t unusual,” Punch began as he sat across from Gerry in the center of the room, “for a bloke to feel nervous and have questions ‘fore he gets himself married.”

“Maybe I’m a little nervous.” Gerry admitted. “Were you nervous, Your Grace, before you and Dr. Halifax came to live here together?”

“Well…” Punch thought for a moment. “In a way, no. From the minute Dr. Halifax and I saw one ‘nother again on the ship to America, we was together almost every moment from then on. Didn’t seem right that we shouldn’t remain together. So, no, I didn’t feel scared ‘bout that. I did feel scared ‘bout other things. But, they ain’t problems what you got.”

“I don’t understand.”

“There’s only one of you, Gerry. You ain’t got other blokes inside ya what fight to come to the surface sometimes. What’s more, you don’t gotta pretend to be someone else like I do when I’m out o’ the ‘ouse or in front o’ new folk. I gotta let people think that, as the Duke of Fallbridge, I ain’t unchanged, that I’m still Julian, and not Mr. Punch. You don’t gotta hide who you are. You’re Gerry, always. So, to answer your question, no, I wasn’t ever doubtful of bein’ with my Robert. I had doubts about me own self…or selves.”

“I got them, too, Your Grace.”

“Because of your fondness for the drink?” Punch asked gently.

“Yes, Sir.” Gerard nodded.

“Only right you should worry ‘bout it. Only, look how well ya done. You recovered from a terrible would without one drop of medication or whiskey to ease your pain.”

“I done that for Gamilla.”

“I know you did.” Punch replied.

“I love ‘er so much, Your Grace. I ain’t ever gonna do a thing to hurt or disappoint ‘er.”

“You answered your own question, then.” Punch winked.

“I wager I did.” Gerard smiled.

“Just know, Gerry, no matter what you do, no matter how much you love one another, there’s gonna be times when you make each other angry, when you bother one another, when you make a decision what you think is good at the time, but what was just plain wrong. Everyone does, and, when you do, it’ll only make you love each other even more in the end.”

“Thank you, Sir.”

“Gerry, you ain’t got a pa. I know that Charles is like your brother, and though we’re close in age, I hope you can think of me or Dr. Halifax as a pa o’ sorts—someone you can come to and talk when you need to.”

“I ‘preciate it, Sir.” Gerard blushed.

“You feel better?”

“I do.” Gerard nodded. “Only that ain’t the whole reason I come to talk to you, Your Grace.”

“What else, then?” Punch smiled.

“Well, Sir, I wanted to thank you for all you done for us. For the church and for the party and for givin’ Gamilla her trousseau, and for buildin’ us the rooms by the nursery, and, even, for lettin’ us get married.”

Punch shrugged. “Dr. Halifax and me…we just want ya both to be ‘appy is all. You and Gamilla, you been with us through thick and thin and we love ya.”

“I can’t tell ya how grateful I am, Your Grace.”

“You don’t gotta.”

“Only…I come to ask ya for one more thing. I know I shouldn’t…but…it seems Gamilla ought to have what all brides have…”

“Oh.” Punch nodded. “Your weddin’ trip. Dr. Halifax and me, we talked ‘bout it, and we’d like to send you both somewhere for a spell…”

“Your Grace, we couldn’t let you…”

“We insist.”

“Well…” Gerard swallowed.

“That weren’t it, were it?” Punch laughed.

“Well, no,” Gerard shook his head. “See, brides…they get a ring. Some o’ them even get a ring when the fella asks for her hand in marriage.”

“Oh, I see.” Mr. Punch nodded. “And, you want a ring for Gamilla?”

“Yes, Sir.” Gerard blushed. “I figured, who better to talk to ‘bout that than you, Your Grace? Now, I’ll pay for it, I will. I’ll pay for it outta me wages for as long as it takes and I’ll do things…more things ‘round the house to help pay for it, too. Only, I think it would be right for Gamilla to have a ring made by the Duke of Fallbridge, what makes the jewels what Her Majesty herself wears.”

“Here, come with me…”


“Come with me.” Punch repeated. He looked to Dog Toby. “You wait here, furry Chum. I won’t be but a tick.”

Gerard followed Mr. Punch up a flight of stairs to his chamber. Punch opened his wardrobe and removed a box which Gerard had not seen before.

“I only just took this case outta the vault this mornin’. Couldn’t think why I would at the time, but now I know I musta been thinkin’ the same thing you was.” Mr. Punch explained.

He set the case on the bed and opened it. The afternoon sunlight made the jewels inside sparkle with unrivaled fire.

“Sir…” Gerard gasped.

“These gems…” Mr. Punch began. “Julian’s been collectin’ ‘em for years. Sir Colin helped ‘im, he did, at first. See…most is set into rings so you can see the stone. Pick one.”

“Your Grace?”

“Go on, pick one.” Punch pointed to the case.

“These are all…they’re terrible dear, I couldn’t.”

“Gerry, they ain’t doin no good sittin’ in this box. Gems wanna be worn. They wanna catch the light and be alive, not stay hidden in the dark. And, sure, they’re dear, but you said yourself Gamilla deserves that and more.”

“I’d never be able to pay you back.”

“Just by bein’ strong and healthy, and stayin’ off the drink. That’s the only payment I want, Gerry. That, and bein’ a good husband to Gamilla what means the world to us for the way she looks after our Colin and for the friendship and loyalty she’s given us since the day we met.”

“You’re sure, Sir?”

“Very.” Punch nodded. “Now, go on an’ pick one.”

“I wouldn’t know which…” Gerard shook his head. “Can you…can you help?”

Punch studied the box. Finally he selected one of the rings…a clear white diamond of about two carats set in a raised, filigree mount of rose gold.

“This one,” Punch declared. “It’s strong, and delicate, and independent and bright and beautiful. Like Gamilla.” He handed the ring to Gerard.

“Are you…”

“Yes, Gerard.” Mr. Punch nodded.

Gerard took the ring.

“Now, you keep that safe for the next weeks.

“I will, Sir.” Gerard nodded emotionally. “I…I…”

“You don’t gotta say more.” Mr. Punch smiled.

Gerard sniffed.

“Now, back to my table for me. Unless…unless there was somethin’ else.”

“No, Sir. Only wanted to tell ya that Charlie’s gone out for them collars you wanted.”

“Fine.” Punch answered. “There weren’t no hurry for ‘im to do that.”

“You know Charlie.”

“I do.” Punch chuckled. “I know he done it to walk past Hamish House and see what’s happenin’ there.”

Gerard was silented.

“It’s all right, Gerry.” Punch smiled. “Now, go put that ring away. You can tell Charles to come to the library when he’s back.”

“Yes, Your Grace.” Gerard replied. “And…though it ain’t enough…thank you.”

“Thank you for lookin’ after our Gamilla.” Punch nodded.

Did you miss Chapters 1-276 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square? If so, you can read them here. Come back tomorrow for Chapter 278.

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