Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 293

Chapter 293 

Though I’m very sorry that your original dress was ruined, Gamilla, I must say, the new one will be stunning.” Lennie smiled as she and Gamilla walked back to Belgrave Square.

“Yes, Miss.” Gamilla nodded.

“You’re still upset; aren’t you?” Lennie said softly.

“Please don’t think me ungrateful, Miss.” Gamilla shook her head. “I’m terrible thankful that His Grace takes such good care of me, and it was awful generous o’ him to send me to that fancy dressmaker and to pay for my new gown.”

“But, it’s not the gown that you had wanted.”

“No, Miss.” Gamilla sighed. “Sure, it’s gonna be a fine dress, for true. And, that lady sure was…as Dr. Halifax would say, ‘clever,’ in how she plans to make them ruffles on the skirts with the fabric my friend Marjani made for me. But, it’s just…the first dress was…” She shrugged. “I don’t know, Miss. It was special. Not just cuz o’ the special fabric, but because me and Vi done made it together. Even Ethel helped a little, and…well, it felt like family. You know, Miss?”

“I think I do.” Lennie nodded. “I don’t know much of family, Gamilla. However, I’m learning.”

“Me, too, Miss. See…when I was young, I was taken ‘way from what family I knew. My own true sister died young. But, there was folk—I barely remember most o’ ‘em now—but, they was kin to me, and even if they wasn’t, everyone in the village…well, they helped one ‘nother. Then I was taken from Africa and come to America where…well…I had no place. No one. Dr. Halifax’s brother and his wife, they was awful nice to me when I worked at their place. But, nice as Miss Adrienne is, I was still just a servin’ girl. My only true friend was Marjani, and, then, I met His Grace and Dr. Halifax when they come to see Mr. Cecil and Miss Adrienne. From then on, I finally felt like I belonged. Miss, I know I’m a servant, but, your brother and Dr. Halifax done always treated me like I was their equal.”

“They care for you very much.” Lennie replied.

“And I for them. And, then come Gerry.” Gamilla smiled. “Scruff-faced lot of trouble, that one was. But, I loved him from the first. And, Charlie and, then, I come here and, well, I finally feel like I done got a family ‘gain. That’s why the other dress was so special. Makin’ it with Violet and Ethel was like makin’ it with my sisters. Pretty as the new dress is, it’s still a dress some other lady done made.”

“True.” Lennie nodded. “I do understand. All of what you’ve said, in fact, makes perfect sense to me. While I wasn’t trapped and taken from my home in the horrible way you were, I was, in a way, a servant—from birth. I always thought Mr. and Mrs. Barrett were my parents. I thought that Roger and the other two were my brothers. Still, however, I always felt a little separate from them. I thought it was because I was a girl that I was treated differently. Don’t mistake me, please. They were kind. But, I still was tasked with the labor. I looked after Roger. I looked after Mr. Barrett when he fell ill, and Mrs. Barrett before him. When I finally learned of my true parentage, it was more than I could stand, and all of the weariness of the past years overwhelmed me. I suppose that’s why it was so easy for Orpha to fool me into giving her my name.” She shook her head. “And, then, suddenly, here’s this wild-eyed, chestnut-haired man. This gentle, loving, innocent creature who without one hesitation opened his arms and his door to me. Immediately, I felt more like his sister than I ever felt with the Barretts. And, Robert, too—has treated me with such respect and caring. I’ve never known anything like it. By rights, Punch shouldn’t…” Lennie paused and blushed. “I hope you don’t mind that I’m speaking so casually with you.”

“I don’t mind, Miss Lennie.” Gamilla smiled. “I like it. I know you’re a lady and all, but, I like to think of you as my friend, too.”

“But, that’s just it, Gamilla. That’s what I was going to say. I’m not a lady. I’m not titled. I’m the illegitimate issue of the Duchess of Fallbridge and a Scotch groundsman. Most families wouldn’t recognize me at all, let alone welcome me as a sibling. My brother even gave me his surname so I might start anew. I’ve no claim to that name—none whatsoever. Nor, even, to him. He already has a sister…a true sister.”

“Miss, in these last weeks, you’ve been more of a true sister to His Grace than Barbara Allen ever was.”

“Why does she call herself ‘Barbara Allen?’” Lennie asked. “You knew her; didn’t you?”

“Not well, Miss. As I understand it…Lady Barbara, when she went to America, used the name Barbara Allen—after a song from these parts.”

“Cruel Barbara Allen, yes.”

“Suits her.” Gamilla sighed.

“Punch and Robert have only told me a little about her. To think…how could she treat her own child as she did?”

“I don’t know, Miss.” Gamilla shook her head. “But, look at her own mother…” Gamilla froze in place. “Oh…I’m sorry, Miss.”

“That’s quite all right.” Lennie smiled. “I never knew the Duchess of Fallbridge. You’ve not offended me. She may have been my mother, but she was never a mother to me. Does that make sense?”

“Yes, Miss.” Gamilla nodded. “Family is what we make it. That’s what I learned. Some who are full-kin to one another treat each other like dirt. Plain dirt. Look at how poor Lady Gertrude suffers. Remember how the Countess made Lady Constance so miserable. And, let’s not think of the Baron Lensdown and Orpha Polk. I think our family, though we ain’t really kin, is a good, strong family. We look out for one another as it should be. Friends and family ain’t too different one from another.”

“Well, there you have it…” Lennie’s eyes sparkled.

“What, Miss?”

“While we can’t replace your original dress and the love put into it when you and Violet and Ethel made it with your friend…errr…”


“Marjani’s silk.” Lennie grinned. “You could say that you did get to go have the new one made with me…I…” Lennie looked at the sidewalk. “I am your friend, and, I think we’re part of the same family.”

“We are.” Gamilla smiled proudly.

“When we get back to No. 65, well…after dinner perhaps…I can ask Violet to join us in the nursery and we can discuss making you a dress together for your wedding trip. I think we’ve time enough before you depart to finish a nice one. That way, you’d have something which was made by all of us.”

“That’s so awful kind of ya, Miss.”

“Not at all.” Lennie replied brightly. “Oh! Do you remember that lovely silk at the dressmakers? The sky blue that you liked so?”


“I think we should send a message and have that silk delivered right away.”

“Oh, I couldn’t…it was terrible ‘xpensive.”

“My gift.” Lennie sighed. “I’m not entirely dependent on my brother. I do have some savings of my own.”

“You done already showed me too much kindness.”

“No, no.” Lennie shook her head. “We’ve got to do something to combat the wickedness which surrounds…”

“What’s the matter, Miss?”

Lennie pointed up the street. “Speak of the Devil.”

“Oh.” Gamilla sniffed. “That horrible Miss Rittenhouse.”

“Is that Charles’ brother with her?”

“Yes.” Gamilla nodded.

“What’s she carrying?” Lennie squinted. “It couldn’t be…”

“Marduk.” Gamilla shivered. “That’s what they call it.”

“Let’s do wait for them to return to Hamish House.” Lennie said softly. “I don’t think either of us needs to speak to them.”

“Sure.” Gamilla nodded. “But, where will we go? Can’t go to the center gardens. They’ll see us.”

“You could always come with me.” A man’s voice drooled from behind them.

They turned to face the Baron Lensdown who had long been absent.

“My wife has taken the children to the country.” The baron smiled. “I’m all alone in that big, empty house. I’d love to get to know the Duke’s new sister and his pretty, pretty coffee-colored nanny all the better.”

“No.” Lennie said plainly.

“I don’t mean to be impertinent, but I couldn’t help but hear you express a desire to not speak to Miss Rittenhouse. I don’t know the woman, but I know she’s a companion of Orpha Polk, and that speaks poorly of her.”

“You’re also a companion of Orpha Polk’s.” Lennie narrowed her eyes.

“Was, dear. I was. At the time, I thought she was Ellen Barrett. All the while, the real Ellen Barrett was elsewhere. And, now, she’s here in front of me.”

“There is no longer an Ellen Barrett.”

“Of course, you’re called Lennie Molliner now.” The baron winked. “Still, I had one former Ellen Barrett. Why not the other?”

“Because I’m not your sister.” Lennie snapped.

“What did you just say?” The baron’s eyes widened.

“Orpha Polk is your sister.”

His face fell. “My…sister…but…”

“I’m actually pleased to be the one to tell you this. You…knew your own sister, Baron Lensdown. And produced a child.”

“My sister…she d…d… I was told she’d died in the…”

“Workhouse?” Lennie spat.

“How do you know all of this?” The baron growled.

“She didn’t die. She lived and worked for my family and she took my name and ruined it. And while she worked for you, she seduced you, Baron. Out of spite.”

“But…the child. She didn’t think I knew…”

“Have you seen it?” Lennie frowned. “He’s just over there with Miss Rittenhouse. Go look at him. Your son…one of them. This one is doubly special.”

“What do you mean?”

“So…you don’t know as much as you think.” Lennie shook her head. “Go look and see.”

“I…I can’t… Orpha is in that house. I can’t let her see me.”

“Why? You are sickening. So, you’ve heard Orpha is out for revenge against you? You must know that’s why she took your other children, well…at least some of them. Fern—your daughter with Lady Constance who, in case you didn’t know, just hanged herself; your two children with Lady Lensdown.”

“I know of the abduction and that Orpha sought me out.” The baron rasped. “That’s why I’ve stayed away. I saw no need to give in to Orpha again. You know, she’d wronged me, too.”

“While you helped her to torture my brother and his household?” Lennie narrowed her eyes. “You’ll forgive me if I can’t pity you.”

“Women…you’re always so emotional when children were involved. I knew Gertrude would sort it out.”

“With the help of my brother and Dr. Halifax.”

“My presence would have made it worse. She was only trying to get my attention.” The baron protested. “So, it resolved itself. All is well.”

“Not for Lady Constance.” Gamilla spoke up, immediately embarrassed that she had.

“Let’s just say, aside from this newest slander, the situation was ended, then.” The baron growled.

“If you’d been a man, and not a coward,” Lennie began. “Perhaps the ordeal wouldn’t have ended as it did. A woman dead, children traumatized.” She took a deep breath. “Yes, baron, she wanted your attention. She wanted you to know you had another son.”

“As I said, I already knew.” The baron argued. “I knew she’d been…with child. She thought I was unaware, but…”

“I must say, Baron, you’re not a good father. And, you’re not even a good brother.”

“Don’t you think that I’d know my own sister? That Polk woman is so full of lies that she doesn’t have any idea who she is.”

“The girl came to my family from the workhouse, saying she’d been separated from her brother. She ultimately discovered that you’d ingratiated yourself to the upper classes.”

“That doesn’t mean that she’s my sister.”

“When Mr. Barrett hired the girl on, she had but one possession of her own. The only shred of a family legacy left to her.”

“No doubt a locket with my face painted in it.” The baron scoffed.

“No!” Lennie hissed. “A pin cushion with a needlework picture of a single blue…”

“Forget-me-not?” The baron gasped.


“It had been my mother’s.” The baron began to shake. “Dear God! What have I done?”

“The result is just down the square, Baron. Go and see it.” Lennie answered.

“That’s why Orpha is so against me. I’m…”

“Her brother.” Lennie replied dryly. “The brother who left her for dead.”

“I thought it was because I spurned her and, then, refused to continue in her little charade against the Duke once her true identity was revealed. So, she’s not even really Orpha Polk. She’s…” He turned and squinted at Ulrika and Giovanni who were still squabbling on the street.

“That American woman is holding my son?” The baron asked.


“She couldn’t be. That child is too large.”

“No.” Lennie shook her head. “He’s the right size for what he is. A body must be larger to hold up two heads and to sprout three arms.”


“Go look at it!” Lennie spat. “Go and look what your union with your sister produced.”


“I’m sure Orpha would be so pleased to introduce you to him. He’s called Marduk. Apparently, he’s thought to be some sort of deity. I have no doubt that Orpha would love to press you into service for the creature that they’re calling their messiah!”

“This is not true.”

“It is.” Lennie snapped. “In fact, let’s go right now. Gamilla…please go around into the mews and go back to the house. If you would, tell my brother to join us. There’s going to be a reunion of father and son and I’d like him to see it.”

“Miss Lennie, let’s just go.” Gamilla whispered.

“It’s time for the Baron to meet his son.” Lennie shook her head. “And, I shall facilitate the reunion. For as much as the thought of speaking to Ulrika Rittenhouse fills me with dread, I am fueled by my hatred for this man. I want him to see the faces of his son!”

Did you miss Chapters 1-292 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square? If so, you can read them here. Come back tomorrow for Chapter 294.


Darcy said...

Great chapter! The conversation between Lennie and Gamilla was just beautiful .
And then the way Lennie stood up to the Baron Lensdown shows just how strong she is since she became part of the family at 65 Belgrave Square.

Joseph Crisalli said...

Thank you, Darcy. Lennie has gained a lot of strength.