“I have no idea,” Robert shook his head.
Punch paced the library floor. “We can’t just go and knock on the door of Hamish House and ask for Fern.”
“How could that Rittenhouse woman possibly know where Fern had been taken?” Lennie began. “As Mr. Ruskin described it, she and Mr. Iantosca pounced upon the house before Fern had a chance to remove her cap.”
“Upon realizing that Fern had escaped, they must have been watching the house and followed the carriage when Mr. Ruskin came for Fern.” Robert grumbled.
“And, poor Roger….” Lennie said sadly. “He can’t look after himself. Heaven knows where he’s ended up. I doubt he can survive this.”
“Now, Lennie.” Robert began. “Roger is more resourceful than that.”
“Resourceful, yes,” Lennie shook her head. “However, his perception of things is his enemy. Who can say what he sees?”
“Charles and Gerard are out looking for him.” Punch began.
“He could have gotten anywhere by now.” Lennie pressed her hands together. “Oh, this is all my fault.”
“How can you possible think that?” Robert’s eyes widened.
“Had I been stronger…had I not let Orpha fill my head with doubt those years ago, I’d still be taking care of him.”
“Lennie, this is hardly your fault.” Robert argued.
“It ain’t fair to yourself to think like that. Think o’ the good things what’s come from your life now. If you go back and think o’ everything you coulda done, you never could do anything else. By that logic, it’s my fault. Or Julian’s. When Julian were a boy and he saw Roger atop the tower at the Grange with Victor, he shoulda shouted, stopped the struggle. Maybe then Roger wouldn’t ‘ave fallen, wouldn’t have ended up like he is.”
“Brother dear…” Lennie began. “This isn’t your doing. Neither yours nor Julian’s.”
“See?” Punch raised his eyebrows. “Thinkin’ like that don’t do anyone any good.”
“You’re correct, of course.” Lennie nodded.
“What we oughta do is begin Her Majesty’s plan.” Punch started.
“The circumstances have changed.” Lennie replied.
“Not really.” Robert interrupted. “When we worked out the plan with Her Majesty, we did so thinking Fern was at Hamish House. We were not aware that she’d come here. I can only assume that she’s been returned there.”
“I’d assume so.” Lennie muttered. “So the poor girl can be made the bride of her monstrous half-brother.”
“But, that don’t help Roger.” Punch frowned.
“We must, of course, worry first for the child.” Lennie replied.
“Why?” Robert scowled. “She’s in a better position to protect herself than Roger. If anything, she can simply start a blaze at…”
Robert stopped as Speaight entered the library.
“Yes, Speaight?” Punch looked up.
“Your Grace, I wanted to inform you that Mr. Barrett has been found.” Speaight answered.
“Oh, thank goodness.” Lennie exclaimed. “Do you know where he is?”
“Downstairs, my lady.” Speaight nodded.
“How? Did he come here on his own?” Lennie stood up.
“No, my lady.” Speaight replied.
“How did he get here?” Robert asked.
“Dr. Halifax…oh, pardon me, Your Lordship, Mr. Barrett was brought here by…by Mr. Donnan.”
“Oh dear.” Punch grumbled.
“Is he….Mr. Donnan here?” Lennie asked.
“Yes, my lady.” Speaight nodded. “In the servants’ hall. I’ve taken the liberty of installing Mr. Barrett in my pantry. He seemed a bit flushed and feverish. George and Mrs. Pepper are helping him to wash his face and cool off.”
“Is he lucid?” Robert asked.
“As much as is possible, Your Lordship.” Speaight replied.
“I must go to him.” Lennie inhaled.
“Lennie…” Punch began. “Johnny’s down there.”
“I don’t have to speak to him.” Lennie said firmly.
“At least let us go down first so we might get him out of your path.” Robert suggested.
“My only concern is Roger. If Mr. Donnan found him and brought him here where he’d be safe, I’m grateful to him. However, beyond that, the man is nothing to me.” Lennie replied.
“But, you ain’t nothin’ to ‘im. He wants to be a pa to ya.” Punch shook his head. “Mrs. Pepper told us how he’d been here before, askin’ for ya.”
“He may ask anything he wishes. He shall not receive an answer. Now, I’m going to Roger…”
“Not without us.” Robert took Punch by the arm.
“That’s right.” Punch nodded.
Lennie smiled. “That’s the way to do it.”
Did you miss Chapters 1-329 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square? If so, you can read them here. Come back tomorrow for Chapter 331.