Thursday, May 9, 2013

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 322

Chapter 322 
Amongst Peers

Miss Molliner,” Queen Victoria smiled. “We are pleased to see that you’ve enjoyed luncheon.”

Lennie looked across the opulently-set table and smiled sheepishly. “Yes, Your Majesty. I’ve enjoyed it very much.”

“Much of our foodstuffs are grown at Sandringham. My husband even puts our children to work on their own little plots. He believes that it will instill in them an understanding of how our empire truly functions.” The Queen nodded.

“A very sensible idea,” Robert smiled.

“I think so, too.” The Queen replied. “Unless anyone would like another serving, perhaps we should bring in the pudding.”

“Oh, yes, pudding, please.” Mr. Punch answered eagerly.

“Oh, dear Mr. Punch, you do delight me so.” Queen Victoria grinned. “We are so pleased that you feel that you can be yourself with us. The false pretense of acting as you think a Duke should must be a terrible bore for you. I know you must do it elsewhere, but, here, you are safe and may do as you please.”

“Thank you, Your Majesty.” Mr. Punch whooped.

“We are also glad to see Miss Molliner so at ease with us.” The Queen continued. “I feared you would be timid and ill at ease.”

“I feared so, too, Your Majesty.” Lennie replied. “I must confess that throughout the carriage ride from Belgrave Square, my heart pounded so that I was sure that my brothers could hear it.”

“You consider Dr. Halifax your brother as well?” The Queen raised an eyebrow.

“I do, Your Majesty.” Lennie answered honestly.

“How wonderful.” The Queen nodded. “Equally wonderful is that upon meeting us, your nervousness abated.”

“Well, Your Majesty, my dear brother speaks of you so affectionately and so loyally that upon seeing Your Majesty, I saw at once just my brother’s close friend and not a Queen and Empress.” She blushed. “I hope Your Majesty does not mind my saying so.”

“Not at all.” The Queen shook her head. “Millions bow to me. Only a few do so out of affection instead of fear or tradition. I’m glad to count you among the former. Which leads us to something I’ve been wishing to discuss with you.”

“Oh?” Mr. Punch raised his eyebrows.

“Of course we are aware of the unpleasantness with this woman who impersonated Miss Molliner and who has caused such death and havoc. We will assuredly address this. However, it’s not a talk one should have over pudding. Before we must entrench ourselves in pitiful talk, we should like to address something which has troubled me since I first received Mr. Punch’s letter informing me that he’d found his half-sister. Yes, and even before.”

“Your Majesty is most kind.” Lennie nodded.

“I cannot say whether or not that is true, but we do like to think of ourselves as fair.” The Queen replied demurely. “To begin with, Mr. Punch, allow me to ask you a question.”

“Anything you wish, Your Majesty.” Mr. Punch said eagerly.

“Your sister, Lady Barbara…as you’ve explained, she’s not deceased as most people understand.”

“That’s true, Your Majesty.”

“Yet, she has renounced her title?”

“Yes.” Punch nodded.

“And, she’s unlikely to return.”

“She will not return to England, Your Majesty.” Punch shook his head.

“Good. We never cared for her.” The Queen replied dryly. “Too much like the late Duchess of Fallbridge.” She turned to Lennie, “Miss Molliner, we were heartened to know you’d taken your brother’s surname, and pleased to know that His Grace had offered it to you. Yet, we do not feel that it is enough. The circumstances of your birth are not your doing. The plain reality is that you are the offspring of the Duchess of Fallbridge, and, as such, I should like to create you Lady Fallbridge, if you are so willing.”

Lennie’s mouth opened slightly.

“You must say yay or nay, my dear.” The Queen smiled.

“I would be honored, Your Majesty.” Lennie replied softly, overwhelmed.

“As the former Lady Barbara is, ostensibly deceased, you are due the honor, and we shall start the process to see it bestowed upon you.”

“I don’t know what to say, Your Majesty. I am humbled.” Lennie answered.

“You needn’t be humbled, my dear. It is your right.” Queen Victoria replied. “Don’t you agree, Your Grace…or, I should say, Mr. Punch.”

“I love my sister and I’m that glad she’s with us. I would want only the best for her and, to be sure, would be ever-so ‘appy to see her receive the title she deserves.”

“And, so be it.” The Queen declared. “You will receive correspondence to that effect within the day, Lady Fallbridge.” Her Majesty grinned. “This leads me to my next concern.” She leveled her eyes at Robert. “It’s not right that the beloved companion of the Duke of Fallbridge—a well-respected physician without whom my dear Leopold would not have been brought into the world—should not be a peer of England.”

“Oh, Your Majesty.” Robert shook his head.

“We do not accept arguments.” The Queen grinned. “We have already initiated a writ of summons to create Dr. Halifax as a baron, a life peer of England.”

“A baron, Your Majesty?” Robert gulped.

“Yes.” The Queen nodded. “You shall be a lord of parliament and will be addressed as Your Lordship.

“I’m honored, Your Majesty. I cannot express how deeply. However, I own no land. I have no barony.” Robert replied, choking back his emotion.

“Yes, yes you do.” Punch exclaimed.

“Dear Punch.” Robert shook his head.

“No, listen, Chum. There’s a small estate which abuts Grange Molliner. I own it. Sir Colin purchased it just before he was killed. I didn’t do a thing with it ‘cause I wasn’t sure what to do with it. Only, now I do. I know our pa bought it so it would remain as it was for always and ever. Pretty land, it is, Chum. You saw it. Just to the North of the Grange…with all them lovely pines. It’s yours. I’ll write the deed over to you. I’ll do it this very day.”

“I can’t…” Robert began.

“You must.” The Queen interrupted. “We rather thought His Grace would respond thusly.”

“I…” Robert coughed.

“Now that you have your barony, Dr. Halifax, what is it called?” The Queen asked.

Robert looked at Punch.

“Dunno.” Punch shrugged. “Long ago it were called Greenshire. But, you can call it anything what you like.”

Robert took a deep breath. “I should like to call it Colinshire.”

Punch grinned broadly, and Lennie dabbed her eyes.

“So be it.” The Queen declared. “You shall be, Dr. Robert Henry Halifax, The Right Honorable Lord Baron Colinshire.”

“Huzzah!” Punch whopped.

Robert swallowed. “Your Majesty…I am deeply honored. How can I express…”

“By enjoying your pudding, Lord Colinshire.” The Queen smiled. “Ah, and here it comes.”

Did you miss Chapters 1-321 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square? If so, you can read them here. Come back tomorrow for Chapter 323.


Dashwood said...

When Victoria passed away it left a hole in the heart of almost every Englishman. Your chapter today brings out the sense and sentiment of the Queen as a person that those people must have known.

Joseph Crisalli said...

Thank you very much, Dashwood.