“Victor….” Roger muttered as he stumbled through the City of Westminster. “Victor Geddes. Victor Geddes. Find Victor Geddes.” He stopped and sniffed the air, looking around wildly. “Oy!” He shouted at a passerby, some well-groomed gentleman in a taupe jacket and breeches. “Oy! You!”
The man kept walking.
“Victor Geddes!” Roger shouted, running toward the man, his thin, wispy carrot-colored curls blowing in the wind like the flame of a nearly extinguished candle. “Stop! Victor Geddes!”
Roger pounced on the man, grabbing him by the shoulders.
“Unhand me, Sir!” The man bellowed.
“Victor!” Roger growled.
“I do not understand you!” The man shouted. He looked from side to side, “Someone, please, assistance!”
“You’re not Victor!” Roger released the man. “Where’s Victor?”
“I have no idea of what you speak!” The man spat, starting to walk off.
“Please!” Roger hollered.
“Sir, you…you’re vexed. Do leave me in peace.” The man said firmly.
“Where’s Victor?” Roger repeated.
“I do not know the man of whom you speak.” The man said. “Now, good day!”
“Where’s Ellen?” Roger ran toward the man again.
“Ellen?” The man squinted.
“Ellen!” Roger demanded.
The man shook his head.
“Ellen Barrett. She is my sister. She takes care of me. She has a different face again and says she is not my sister, but my cousin and her name isn’t Ellen. She was Ellen. She was once. She was Ellen twice, but the second time she was a different Ellen with a different face. Did you know a woman can have a different face sometimes and not others?”
The man chuckled. “That I did. There’s one statement you’ve made which isn’t utterly barmy.”
“Good, then. You’ll take me to Ellen.”
“I don’t know the woman.” The man said more gently, realizing that Roger was more ill than he was dangerous.
“My sister, but not…” Roger pleaded.
“You see, the woman with ginger hair came to the house with an Italian man. They took the little plant.”
“The girl, the girl. The plant girl. Small and wet. Curly ends. The plant, the plant. The girl.”
“Wretched man.” The stranger shook his head.
“They took the girl and they hurt the man.”
“The Italian man?”
“No, no.” Roger sighed in exasperation. “The Italian man took the plant girl. They hurt the man who looks after me. Mark. Or John.” He scratched his head. “Paul, Luke, Job, Joel, Ezekiel, Ecclesiastes. Him. With the spectacles. Hurt him and left open the door. So out I walked to find Victor Geddes only you aren’t he and you aren’t Ellen or even Ellen with the different face.”
“Does someone look after you?” the gentleman asked.
“Mathew, Mark, Luke, John, Judas, Paul, Peter, Saul. Good Samaritan and Judith and Holfernes. Joseph and his coat.”
“Ah, him.” The man nodded.
“They hurt him.” Roger sighed again. “I am a man named Rum.”
“No.” Roger shook his head. “Rum was the man who brought the plant. Fern! That’s her. Rum was his name. Rum Luskin. Or…no. Lum Ruskin. I dunno. Where’s Ellen?”
“My cousin sister. She didn’t want to be my sister, so now she’s the Duke’s sister. Yes?”
“Yes, yes, the Duke with all the puppets.” Roger nodded.
“I see.” The man replied. “Can you tell me more about this Duke?”
“The Duke?” Roger smiled. “You know the Duke?”
“I may.” The man nodded. “Do you have a name?”
“My name? Roger.”
“Oh, I’m glad to know it. However, I was asking for the name of the Duke. Is he your relation?”
“No. He’s my sister’s brother.”
“So, he’s your brother?”
“No.” Roger shook his head. “My brothers live away. Left. Moved away. Left Pa with Ellen, and, then, other face Ellen.”
“So, the Duke is no relation to you?”
“Not that I know.”
The man nodded. “What’s the Duke called?”
“Punch.” Roger answered.
“The Duke of Punch?”
“The Duke of Fallbridge. He also has ginger hair, but not like the American woman who hurt David. Goliath? Isaac. Abraham. His is dark. Not dark like the doctor’s. But, dark.”
“You know the Duke of Fallbridge?”
“I know a man called that. Do you know him?”
“I know of him.” The gentleman replied. “His city home is on Belgrave Square. A favorite of the Crown, the Duke is.”
“He doesn’t wear a crown.” Roger squinted.
“Do you want me to take you to the Duke?” The man asked.
“No. I want you to take me to Victor Geddes.”
“He…” Roger leaned in and whispered. “He hurt me.”
“He hurt me and he gave my sister a baby.”
“Your sister Ellen?”
“Yes.” Roger nodded emphatically. “But, not the Ellen who visits now. The other one with the other face.”
“Mmmm.” The man nodded, confused.
“The Ellen who visits now is the first Ellen who has no baby. She lives with the Duke.”
“A woman lives with the Duke?” The man chuckled. “From what I know of the Duke of Fallbridge…”
“She’s his sister.”
“The Duke’s sister, Lady Barbara, was lost in America.”
“No, no. She calls herself Lennie.”
“Oh, of course. I did hear that the Duke has another sister who has recently come home.” The man smiled. “How foolish of me. An acquaintance of mine has spoken of being quite taken with her.”
“Will you take me to Victor?”
“I don’t know the man.”
“You’re very fortunate, then.” Roger answered. He frowned. “There’s a man over there who has been watching us.”
“Pay no mind.” The gentleman shook his head. “Poor soul,” He whispered.
“No. He’s been watching. He’s a bearded man.”
“Many are.” The gentleman replied.
“But, he’s watching.” Roger leaned in again. “He doesn’t belong here. He’s not like you. He looks very rough.”
The gentleman looked about. “I see no one.”
“Oh.” Roger muttered. “They always watch me.”
“I see. Shall I take you to the Duke, then?” the man asked.
“No.” Roger shook his head. “He won’t want me.”
“Sir, I must take you somewhere. I fear you may be…you may… Let’s say that I’d rest better tonight knowing you were safe. Where shall I take you?”
“You don’t need to take him nowhere?” A gruff scotch voice growled from behind them.
The gentleman turned around. “Oh? Do you know this man?”
“I’m his Uncle.” Johnny Donnan nodded.
“You are?” Roger’s eyes widened.
“I’m your mother’s brother.” Johnny said.
“Is that true?” The gentleman asked.
“Aye.” Johnny replied. “Thank you, Sir, for lookin’ after our Roger. I’ll take ‘im home.”
“If you’re quite sure.” The gentleman responded.
“Very. I’ll make sure he gets what he needs.” Johnny smiled.
Did you miss Chapters 1-328 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square? If so, you can read them here. Come back tomorrow for Chapter 330.