“Good afternoon, Orpha.” Ulrika chirped. “Isn’t the fog beautiful?”
“Quite.” Orpha nodded.
“Giovanni wants to know what you’d like for luncheon.” Ulrika continued.
“Just a cold plate.”
“With anything on it?” Ulrika asked with a sincerity which even startled Orpha.
“Yes.” Orpha forced a smile. “Whatever Giovanni chooses will suit me.”
“I’ll tell him.” Ulrika said.
“He isn’t getting weary of doing the cooking?” Orpha asked.
“I think he enjoys it, really. Carving meat, and the like—it pleases him.”
“Still surely you must feel out of sorts without a staff.” Orpha sighed.
“Orpha, no. Really. I’m much more independent than one would think of an American heiress. I find servants to be more of a bother than anything else, really.”
“I just know the sort of life to which you’re accustomed.” Orpha shook her head.
“I’d trade it all for the honor of being here with Marduk and his mother.” Ulrika grinned.
“You’re too, too dear.” Orpha replied, scratching her eyebrow with her stump.
“Oh, it’s too marvelous.” Ulrika cooed.
“How beautifully you’re functioning without your hand. It’s delicious.”
Orpha shrugged slightly.
“So modest. Really, you are so lovely.” Ulrika sighed. “You now, Giovanni’s been working on your new hand. He should be finished soon.”
“Pity he can’t make one with a clockwork mechanism which would allow you some function.” Ulrika continued.
“I need only one hand.” Orpha replied.
“So brave. So mangled and brave. It makes salivate.” Ulrika answered. “Oh! That reminds me. Should we feed the girl?”
“No.” Orpha shook her head.
“Wonderful!” Ulrika clapped her hands. “She was very naughty, after all. And, not even in an enjoyable way.” She shook her head. “Trying to sneak out of the house. I do hope Fern learns to use her skills for gain and not loss.”
“She will. She’s my niece.” Orpha smiled. “Have you spoken to her since she was punished?”
“No.” Ulrika shook her head. “She’s been locked in the cupboard in her room. It’s scrumptious! I thought about tying her to the column from which her mother hanged herself. But, I thought we’d save that for later.”
“Good thinking.” Orpha nodded.
“Should I look in on her?” Ulrika asked. “It’s such a delight to taunt her.”
“No. She should be isolated for now.” Orpha replied, unaware that Fern had escaped and made her way back to No. 65.
“So wise. So, stumpy and wise.” Ulrika licked her lips. “Well, then, I’ll just go and tell Giovanni to prepare a plate for you.”
“Oh, Ulrika…first would you bring Marduk to me?”
“I’d be filled with the most pure ecstasy to do so.” Ulrika moaned.
“Well…good.” Orpha nodded slowly. “Thank you.”
Ulrika sashayed across the parlor to Marduk’s bassinette and picked up the conjoined twins.
“Look at all his little fingers! I could just bite them all off.” Ulrika exclaimed.
No, no.” Orpha shook her head. “You musnt’t.”
“Of course.” Ulrika nodded.
She placed the…child…on Orpha’s lap. “There you go, you four-eyed dear. Go to your mummy.”
“He’s putting on weight.” Orpha nodded proudly.
“And, just look how they look at you. His eyes are filled with such hatred. It makes my heart beat faster.”
“Mine as well.” Orpha said.
“I won’t be long.” Ulrika grinned. “Enjoy the little devil.”
“I always do.” Orpha nodded.
With Ulrika out of the room, Orpha leaned in and whispered to the child/children. “How’s Mummy’s little monster? Did you feed well? Look how fat you’re getting!” She paused. “I wonder how many stomachs you have in there.” Sighing, she continued, “Perhaps you even have two hearts. I know you have two brains. You’re so small already. If only your young betrothed was as clever as you.” She shook her head. “But, no, she’s locked in her cupboard.” Orpha smiled. “I should lock you in there with her. You could teach Fern a thing or two. And, you’d have room to play. It’s a lovely, big cupboard. I should have taken that room as my own. Deceptively large cupboard, yes. I think it’s because it’s tucked in next to the chimney between the two rooms. The cupboard on the other side isn’t as large. I think the wall must have been moved at…”
Orpha stopped speaking. She thought for a moment as the blood rose in her cheeks. Marduk gurgled in appreciation. Closing her eyes, Orpha spasmed with anger.
“Ulrika!” She shouted. “Come here at once!”
Did you miss Chapters 1-322 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square? If so, you can read them here. Come back tomorrow for Chapter 324.