“How’re you feeling?” Charles asked softly as he came into Violet’s rom. He stood with his hands behind his back. Violet lay on her bed, her bandaged arms at her sides. She looked pale and pained.
“Not so good,” Violet replied quietly. “Feels like me arms are still burnin’.”
“Did that salve that Dr. Halifax help you at all?”
“Oh, sure it did.” Violet nodded. “Only it smells like the docks when the boats from India come in.”
Charles smiled. “Well, maybe this will help.” He revealed from behind his back, a small posy of pink and red carnations.
“Oh.” Violet smiled.
“Now, I don’t know what these mean. I’m not like Miss Lennie’s suitor. I’m not sure of all the meaning of all the flowers, but, I thought they were pretty and that they might make you smile when you looked at them. And, the smell nice.” He looked away bashfully, and added. “I almost bought you a bunch of violets, but I figured that since your name is violet…well, I didn’t know.”
“They’re very pretty.” Violet replied. “Thank you.”
“I’ll get you some water for them.”
“Oh, not yet.” Violet shook her head, sitting up slightly. “If you don’t mind, I’d like you to stay for awhile.”
Charles nodded. “Mr. Speaight will have my head if he knows I’m in here. I’m not supposed to be on the girls’ side at all, not to mention in your room with you abed and all.”
“I won’t tell.” Violet shook her head, settling back onto the cushions. “I’m a wee lonely. And…scared.”
“That girl’s not here. She’s not going to hurt anyone here again.” Charles replied. “You’ve no cause to be frightened now. Still, I can see how you’d be rather shaken by what happened.”
“Horrible girl.” Violet frowned. “She made me feel sorry for her and then when I saw that fire on the bed, all I could think was that the nursery was just next door and that Master Colin and Gamilla and Ruthy…”
“You’re the heroine, Vi.” Charles said. “You kept them safe. All of us. Had you not acted as quickly as you did, the whole house would have caught ablaze. All these fine mansions attached to one another. Can you imagine what could have happened?”
“I don’t dare think ‘bout it.” Violet sighed. “I try not to think about her at all. But, I can’t help wonder what she’s doin’. Least when she was in the house, we could sort of tell where she was. Now, she’s out there with them two witches and who can tell what’ll happen?”
“I’d still rather her there than here where she has access to the masters and young Colin.” Charles answered.
“What did the Duke say when Dr. Halifax told him that Fern was at Hamish House?”
“I don’t know exactly.” Charles shook his head. “I wasn’t in there. All Dr. Halifax said was that I wasn’t to try to get Fern back and that the His Grace took it quietly.”
“I thought for sure he’d say we should go get her.”
“I think when Dr. Halifax told the doctor you’d been hurt and that there was a fire, he realized that she couldn’t come back here.”
“It’s sad, really. She’s just a child. I know how the Duke wanted to help her.”
“I’m sure His Grace will do something to try to help. Just because he’s that way. Gerry was sent with a message for the Queen just now. I passed him when I came back from the flower seller.”
“What was in the message?” Violet asked.
“That I don’t know. Gerry didn’t know either. I imagine His Grace will ask the Queen for help somehow. Not just with Fern but with Orpha Polk and the American woman who snared my brother—not that he doesn’t deserve it.”
“Do you think Her Majesty will help?”
“Oh, I do,” Charles nodded. “The Queen has offered her aid in the situation with Orpha Polk before, but His Grace preferred to address the problem on his own so as not to put the Crown in any danger. Knowing how fond she is of the masters, I’ve no doubt she’ll do whatever she can to help.”
“Let’s just hope that the girl doesn’t set the whole square ablaze meanwhile.” Violet shook her head. “You know, this ain’t the first time she’s started a fire.”
“Ethel told me what Maude said.” Charles nodded.
“Poor child.” Violet shook her head.
“That’s what Miss Lennie said.” Charles replied.
“Don’t you feel sorry for her?” Violet asked.
“If I ever do, I remember how she hurt the Duke, how she made Gamilla cry, and, now, how she hurt you, and I just can’t feel pity for her.” Charles clenched his fist. “I…when I heard that she…”
“Well, when she said she’d gotten away from you, I feared that she’d killed you. And, she could have, Vi. I don’t know what I’d have done.”
“Help train the new maid, I s’pect.” Violet smiled.
“Don’t joke.” Charles shook his head.
“Don’t tell me that you…” Violet paused. “It’s just Gerard and Gamilla…hinting at making a match of us. They’ve tricked you into thinking you like me.”
“I do like you.” Charles looked away. “I always have.”
“You sure never did anything about it, if you do.” Violet replied.
“I’ve thought about it.” Charles blushed.
“Have you?” Violet blushed as well.
“I’d best go before Mr. Speaight has my hide.” Charles stood up.
“Probably best.” Violet smiled. “Thank you for the flowers.”
“It’s my pleasure.” Charles nodded. “May I come back and visit you again later?”
“I hope you do.” Violet answered.
“Can I bring you anything?” Charles asked
“No.” Violet responded. “You’ve brought me quite a lot already.”
Did you miss Chapters 1-311 If so, you can read them here. Come back tomorrow for Chapter 313 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square.