Saturday, April 27, 2013

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 314

Chapter 314 
Aunt Orpha

Now, now,” Orpha smiled, patting Fern on the head with her stump. “You must be a good girl. You know?”

“I…I…” Fern stammered.

“Don’t think you’re the only person who misses the Baron Lensdown. I lost him, too.”

“You killed him.”

“No, I didn’t.” Orpha shook her head. “I was in no condition to do so. Miss Rittenhouse and Mr. Iantosca did all the really enjoyable work.”

“They did it because of you.”

“Well, yes, that’s true.”

“So…you didn’t lose him. You made him…uhm…be lost.” Fern coughed.

“Well, I did order it, yes. But, not because I wanted to—entirely.” Orpha sniffed. “Remember, girl, you didn’t even know him. I knew him. I loved him! He was my brother, and my lover and the father of my child.”

Fern coughed again. “You say it with such pride.”

“I know it’s not a conventional association, but how could it be. Look what it produced!” She gestured with her stump toward Marduk who stared back with his four eyes.

Fern wiped her eyes and nodded. “Yes. Look at what it produced.”

“You do like him, don’t you? Your little half-brother…s. I remember how gentle you were with them and how well he responded to you.”

Fern didn’t answer.

“Honestly, little girl. Don’t you think you’re overreacting? As I said, you didn’t even know the man. He didn’t care about you. He denied your existence. He wouldn’t give you his name. He wouldn’t even help your poor hanged mother with your expenses. As far as he was concerned, you weren’t even alive. You owe him nothing, but certainly not your tears and grief especially since his death puts you in line to be the Queen Consort.”

Fern frowned. “Prince Bertie is next in line for the throne. His bride will be the Queen Consort.”

“Not the throne of England, you insufferable little thing. The throne of the world! Marduk will be the Demon King! He will rule all and you will sit at his side—the most powerful woman in the world. You should be rejoicing. The last stage has been completed. Marduk is now strong and will be made stronger. He has ingested his father, as was written, now he can truly be king! You will be his Queen and his bride.”

“You want me to marry my brother?”

“Half-brother, dear. If only he was really your brother. But, one can’t quibble about these things.” Orpha replied dryly.

“You want me to marry that?” She pointed to Marduk.

“Well, not right now, you’re too young. That would be wrong.”

“That…that would be wrong?” Fern groaned.

“Darling, you’re very lucky. Most men only have the one head. Your husband will have two. So, when you tire of the conversation of one, you can just look past him to the other.”

Fern stared with disbelief at Orpha.

“I’d have been very pleased to marry a two-headed man.” Orpha frowned. “You are a very ungrateful girl. You turn your nose up at your own blood.” She snorted. “You’d rather not be the queen of all the world.”

Fern sighed.

“Perhaps you’d rather stay as you are?” Orpha continued. “The forgotten, orphaned bastard of a Baron and a Lady. You’ve no family. You’ve no home. You don’t really even exist. I can make you exist. I can make you real. I can make you powerful.”

“If I grow up to marry my two-headed brother.”

“Yes. See…see how lucky you are?”

Fern inhaled.

“You know what your problem is?” Orpha asked..

Fern nodded.

“You’re weak! You were too long with Lady Constance. She had no spine, no fight. Your grandmother had her too, too tamed. You need to learn strength—as I did. Under fire.”

Fern blinked a few times.

“You were also too long with those mandrakes, I think. They couldn’t have been a very good influence on you. The Duke is a simpleton and the doctor is too handsome to be very bright. You’re better off here. You will learn strength from me, and Miss Rittenhouse is a delight. Don’t you think?”

“No.” Fern scowled. “I think she’s mad.”

“Isn’t that the pot calling the kettle black?” Orpha smiled. “After all, you came screaming to this house covered in soot. I can’t imagine that you came by those stains without doing something just a trifle unorthodox.”

Fern looked startled. “I’m…I’m not like her.”

“You are, dear. Just like her. And, since Miss Rittenhouse is a good deal like me, so are you. Which, I suppose, is understandable considering I’m your auntie.”

“You are. Aren’t you?” Fern replied, continuing to look shocked.

“That’s what I’ve been telling you.” Orpha nodded. “Now that you understand, are you ready for your first lesson?”

“In what?”

“Strength.” Orpha smiled.

“What would you have me do?”

“To begin with, you can help me reassemble what we can of your father. We’re going to need to try to preserve him as best we can.”


“For future use.” Orpha sighed. “No, no, I mustn’t become agitated. You’ll learn…in time.” She clapped her hand against her stump. “Now, I thought we’d work from the bottom up. Help me find his toes. I think they’re under the sideboard.”

With that, Fern sank to the floor in a dead faint.

Did you miss Chapters 1-313 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square? If so, you can read them
here. Come back on Monday for Chapter 315.

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