Friday, June 7, 2013
Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 338
Several days had passed. Happy days, the sort of which Punch had long despaired would not return to No. 65. Lennie found herself being ardently pursued by the Earl of Cleaversworth and finally began to feel comfortable with the attentions of the gentleman. He'd visited the house many evenings, first for a dinner invitation, next during the "At Homes" that Lennie had taken to hosting, and, then, on random evenings to not only engage Lennie in sentimental chat, but also to speak of food and books and history with Robert and Punch. Punch had grown more comfortable with Matthew, too, and slowly let his true personality show, but not so much as to compromise his sister's courtship.
Matthew had already mentioned hearing from a friend of Roger's mad shamble through London, and Punch was cautious to see that the earl did not perceive his sister as being tied to a variety of madmen.
Furthermore, Punch found himself feeling stronger, finally recovering from Fern's administration of the overdose of sleeping tonic in his water. He played with Colin and Dog Toby, teased Lennie and enjoyed the company of Robert. Yet, over it all still hung the palid gloom of the fact that Fern was still in the clutches of Orpha and Ulrika, and, worse, that Orpha and Ulrika were so nearby. The daily reports from Johnny Donnan--cleverly left behind a loose brick in the mews--helped soothe Punch and Robert inasmuch as it gave insight into the bizarre workings of Hamish House. Still, Punch worried for Fern. He knew also that Lennie had similar leanings, and, even Robert had expressed concern for the girl.
As time went by, and the sting of Fern's actions had softened, they realized that the troubled child acted in bizarre ways because she knew no better. Robert, who had long been the girl's biggest detractor, even admitted as much. Still, they had to follow the Queen's plan. To try to send messages to Fern--some sign of hope--through Johnny would have been disastrous. And, so, they left it as it was, each thinking about the girl privately in their own way.
Otherwise, the thoughts both above and below stairs were increasingly cheerful as the day of Gerard's and Gamilla's wedding grew closer.
Violet, Ethel and Maudie were all giggles and smiles as they helped Gamilla with little things for her trousseau. Gamilla tried to restrain herself, but the light from within her was very bright indeed, so much so that even Ruthy--who rarely said a word to anyone--was in high spirits.
The lines of rank faded in the evenings as Lennie frequently joined the other girls downstairs. One could almost smell orange blossoms around the smiling group.
Similarly, Gerard's smile was infectious. He took the teasing from Charles and Georgie in stride and walked brightly through even the most tedious of his duties.
Two days before the wedding, Mr. Punch ordered everyone upstairs to view the completion of the new nursery quarters which would be the home of the soon-to-be married couple. The household brimmed with excitement.
Until the front bell rang.
Did you miss Chapters 1-337 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square? If so, you can read them here. Come back on Monday for Chapter 339. We'll be taking a brief hiatus from the usual Saturday chapter, but the rest of the site will be up as usual. Thanks for reading and "see" you Monday.