“Gerry! Gerry!” Gamilla exclaimed as she hurried into the room in the attics Gerard shared with Charles. “Did she hurt ya, my love?”
“No, no.” Gerard said quickly.
“I’m sorry to just bust in, Charlie.” Gamilla apologized to Charles who sat next to Gerard on the bed. “But, I done heard what happened and I…”
“It’s all right, Gamilla.” Charles smiled. “I can leave you two alone.”
“You don’t have to.” Gamilla shook her head.
“Who told ya, ‘Milla?” Gerard sighed. “Did you see Dr. Halifax?”
“No. Miss Rittenhouse tol’ me and Miss Lennie when we was walkin’ home.”
“You saw her?”
“She was on the street. We done had a scuffle with the Baron Lensdown on the way home and we had to walk past her.”
“What kind of scuffle?” Gerard stood up. “Did he hurt you?”
“Just grabbed my arm.” Gamilla shook her head. “Ain’t nothin’.”
“I’ll kill ‘im!” Gerard barked.
“Now, honey, it ain’t as bad as all that.” Gamilla stood, too, putting her arms on Gerard’s shoulders. “Didn’t hurt me at all. He was teasin’ us and Miss Lennie’s had ‘nough. So, she told him all ‘bout Orpha bein’ his sister and how that poor, sick, deformed child is his son.”
“I imagine he didn’t take it well.” Charles shook his head.
“No. Got his back all up. Told Miss Lennie she was a liar and she dared him to go look at the baby’s faces for his own self. Well, he got even madder still, and grabbed me.”
“Ain’t nobody gonna hurt my wife!” Gerard growled.
“Ain’t nobody did.” Gamilla smiled. “Miss Lennie, she punched him right in the jaw.”
“Did she?” Gerard laughed.
“Knocked him on his…well, knocked him down. In front of a bunch of men, too.” Gamilla answered. “A nice gentleman…Earl of somethin’ or other, walked us home. I think he took a shine to Miss Lennie.”
“Is that so?” Charles smiled.
“’Bout time someone did,” Gamilla nodded.
“You sure you ain’t hurt, then, ‘Milla?” Gerard asked.
“No, honey. I’m just fine.”
Gerard sighed and settled back on the bed next to Charles.
Gamilla joined them.
“Honey, I’m just worried ‘bout you. Is it true you cut off that Orpha woman’s hand?”
“I did.” Gerard confessed, tears welling up in his eyes. “I didn’t even know I was doin’ it ‘til after it happened. She was sayin’ awful things.”
“Don’t matter.” Gerard shook his head. “I just wanted her to be quiet. I saw the cleaver on the floor and I…”
“What was you doin’ in that house to begin with?”
“That’s my fault.” Charles answered. “I…I convinced Gerry to come with me. I wanted to scare them into leaving. I’d seen my brother earlier and Miss Rittenhouse and they were so cruel.”
“I know.” Gamilla nodded. “But, I didn’t know you were going over there.”
“It wasn’t until after you and Miss Lennie left. It was stupid, I know. I regret I ever thought of it, and I regret most of all that I brought Gerard.”
“Charles, all them wicked folk, they’re makin’ all o’ us do things we wouldn’t do usual. Remember how I was in Scotland with Finlay? That wasn’t me…that was just because I…I wanted him to stop. I understand.”
Gerard wiped his eyes. “Can you forgive me, ‘Milla?”
“What’ve I got to forgive you for, honey?” Gamilla brushed a tear from his cheek.
“For bein’ bad. For hurtin’ a woman.”
“That ain’t no woman.” Gamilla shook her head. “She’s as much of a monster as that poor child o’ hers.”
“That’s…” Gerard began to shake.
“Is that what troubled ya? That I’d be upset with ya?”
“Oh, my love, she done stabbed ya. I almost lost ya, Gerry. If you’d died, well, I just don’t know what I’d have done. My lamb, you’re my whole world. You didn’t hurt her nearly as bad as she hurt you. I ain’t sayin’ that revenge is the way, but it ain’t like you just jumped upon some poor, innocent lady who never done you or no one else no harm.”
“I didn’t mean to hurt her.” Gerard sighed. “I swore when Arthur died and the Duke took me in that I’d never, ever do nothin’ to hurt nobody ever again.”
“It ain’t your fault.” Gamilla said confidently. She looked at Charles. “And, it ain’t your fault neither.”
“I just wish it was all over and they’d all go away.”
“Maybe they will.” Gamilla replied.
“I don’t see it happening any time soon.” Charles shook his head.
“Could be though. Miss Lennie done tol’ Miss Rittenhouse that the baron was back. That Italian man…” Gamilla paused. “Sorry, Charles. Your brother. He done went and got the baron and brought him to Hamish House. Miss Ulrika said there was to be some kind of ‘ritual.’ Maybe it’s the thing that’ll make ‘em all go ‘way.”
“Or make them stronger.” Charles sighed.
“Where’s Miss Lennie now?” Gerard asked.
“I left her talkin’ to that gentleman what walked us home. But, I ‘spect by now she’s gone to talk to the Duke and Dr. Halifax.”
“Good.” Charles nodded. “They’ll know more than we do about what to do next.”
At that very moment, Lennie had, in fact gone inside to speak to her brother and Robert. Not finding either of them in the morning room or drawing room, she went upstairs to the library where Punch spent most of his time. She searched the room and, not seeing anyone, decided to go to Robert’s study on the floor above.
However, as she walked out of the library, she noticed the Duke’s shoes sticking out from under the center table. Knowing her brother often liked to crawl under furniture, she knelt down to address him.
First, she saw Dog Toby who looked up at her and let out a low whimper.
The terrier crawled out from under the table and whined again.
“What is it?” Lennie asked gently.
Peering under the table, Lennie said, “Punch?”
He didn’t respond.
“Brother, dear.” She said again, a little louder, thinking he’d fallen asleep.
Still, Punch did not answer.
Lennie began to feel a nervous sweat rise on her brow.
Shaking one of Punch’s feet she said more loudly, “Mr. Punch! Wake up!”
But, Punch did not move.
“Dear God!” Lennie gasped, rising.
Followed by Dog Toby, Lennie ran from the library shouting, “Robert! Robert!”
Did you miss Chapters 1-296 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square? If so, you can read them here. Come back on Monday for Chapter 298.