Box of Rodents
“Darling,” Ulrika whispered into the ear of her lover, Giovanni Iantosca. “I think your brother was quite rude today. I loved every minute of it.”
Carlo has changed,” Giovanni moaned in his Italian baritone. “He used to have such…such passion per la vita. Such a bright…brightness. Now, what has be become. Uno smidellato. He’s been too much with those…”
“Mandrakes?” Ulrika winked.
“I don’t know this word.” Giovanni shrugged. “I am only seeing my brother become something he is not.”
“What is he, really?”
“He is an Iantosca. He is like me!”
“I don’t think he is.” Ulrika sighed. “Why, his reaction to poor Marduk was positively delicious. He was horrified, darling. Isn’t it something? How could his dear, little faces frighten anyone? Really, darling, do you understand it?”
“I understand nothing.” Giovanni pounded his thigh with his fist.
“Oh…that’s not true. You understand many things, but best of all, you know how to give me a green dress…”
“What is this? I have never given you a gown.”
“No, darling.” Ulrika winked, pulling up her skirts to her knees.
“Orpha is just in the next room.”
“Call her in.” Ulrika cooed.
“Delightful.” Ulrika moaned reaching for Giovanni.
Just as he was about to embrace her, they both stopped as the sound of the front bell ringing interrupted.
“Ignore it.” Giovanni shook his head.
“I might be the delivery I’m expecting.” Ulrika pushed Giovanni away.
“Orpha can get it.”
“The mother of the messiah?” Ulrika frowned. “Certainly not. Darling, really…”
“Of course, of course.” Giovanni sank to the floor. “Why have we no servants?”
“Who exactly?” Ulrika laughed as she straightened her skirts. “Servants talk, darling. You know that.”
“It is not right you should open your own door.”
“I’ll survive.” Ulrika winked.
She hurried to the front hall to open the door. A messenger trembled as she did. “Miss Rittenhouse?”
He handed a crisp white envelope to her.
Without a word of thanks, Ulrika closed the door on the boy.
“That is not the box of rodents.” Giovanni frowned as Ulrika returned to the parlor.
“What is it?”
“It’s a hurdy gurdy. Really? Darling, what does it look like?” Ulrika snapped.
“I love when you shout at me.”
“I know.” Ulrika nodded. She turned over the envelope. “The Duke of Fallbridge’s seal.”
Ulrika ripped open the letter. She read it silently and began to laugh throatily.
“Well, morbida, empia bestia?” Giovanni asked. “What is funny?”
“It’s an invitation.” Ulrika chortled. “To tea with His Grace, the puppet Duke and his fancy lover.”
“Non ci posso credere” Giovanni shook his head.
“It’s true, really.” Ulrika tossed the letter at him.
She turned and began to walk away.
“Where do you go?”
“To dress for tea, darling. You should do the same.”
Did you miss Chapters 1-280 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square? If so, you can read them here. Come back tomorrow for Chapter 282.