Monday, June 24, 2013
Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 344
"Well, uh..." Matthew stammered.
"Perhaps I should exit and enter again." Lennie smiled. "I seem to have taken you by surprise."
"Not at all." Matthew shook his head.
"Lennie," Punch interrupted. "I think you look very lovely this evening. You're wearing one of your new gowns, yes?"
"I am, and I thank you for it, brother dear."
"Aw." Punch raised his hand. "I like to see ya lookin' as you should. After all, you're Lady Fallbridge. Wouldn't do to have you dressed in nothin' less than the latest fashion."
"How you ladies manage to get about in those tight corsets," Matthew blurted out, "is just beyond me...I...well, I say, if I had to wear one, I think I'd..." He blushed and trailed off.
Punch squinted uncomfortably.
"Lennie, do sit." Punch gestured to her favorite chair. "Robert should be about shortly."
"The poor dear." Lennie sighed.
"Your brother was telling me that Lord Colinshire was treating that monstrous child..."
"He's not monstrous." Lennie said firmly, recalling the conversation she had earlier shared with her brother. "He cannot...well, to be more accurate, they, cannot help what nature has dealt them."
"I...I...I apologize." Matthew replied.
Lennie blushed. "I didn't mean to be harsh, Matthew."
"I think it's fine of you to be so aware of the feelings of all." Matthew nodded. "It's one of many fine qualities of which you are in possession."
"You're too kind." Lennie shook her head.
"Ah," Punch rose again. "Here's my Robert. Hullo Chum. Don't you look smart in your dove velvet? My favorite of your suits. Come join us, my dear."
"I'm terribly sorry to be so late." Robert smiled as he walked toward Punch. "Good evening, all. Matthew..."
"Good evening, Lord Colinshire."
"Robert." Robert smiled.
"Yes, yes, of course."
"What are we discussing?" Robert asked as he sat next to Punch.
"My sister's many fine qualities.""A worthy subject indeed. May I add that your new gown is stunning?"
"Oh, thank you." Lennie grinned. "My brothers treat me as if I'm a great beauty. I worry about their eyesight."
"Oh, but you are." Matthew said quickly. "You're the most beautiful woman I've ever seen."
Lennie opened her mouth slightly, unsure of what to say.
"I'm...I...I shouldn't have said that."
"Why not, Matthew?" Robert chuckled. "I think it's a very fitting description for our Lennie."
"I say," Matthew blushed again, "it's simply that you're such a fine person, Your Ladyship. It's not just your handsome face, but the honest affection and caring spirit that you have. Even the smallest words and gestures are endearing. That you refer to both His Lordship and His Grace as your brothers, that you would defend a poor, ill child, the way you show such genuine excitement about the wedding of a servant. You're...well, certainly, you're the grandest, most gentle woman I've ever had the pleasure of knowing. I..."
Matthew suddenly rose and reached into his pocket.
"I...I...I've spoken to your brother." Matthew began.
Lennie looked quickly at Punch and returned her gaze to Matthew, looking at him as if she couldn't believe what was happening.
"You see, well...I say, this is rather more difficult to say. I've rehearsed it many times, alone in my rooms, but...well..." He removed a box from his pocket. "I've carried this with me the last three times I've visited here." He turned to Mr. Punch. "I'm sorry, old man, but I...I had to go to Garrard & Co."
"I understand." Punch smiled.
Lennie's eyes widened. She took a deep breath.
Matthew stumbled forward a bit, and then, dropped to one knee before Lennie.
"Oh...oh..." Lennie mumbled.
"Lady Fallbridge..." Matthew began. Would you...I say, would you do me the honor of becoming my wife?" He opened the box to reveal a large, glittering canary yellow diamond ring.
Robert and Punch exchanged happy glances. Punch nodded his approval of the stone.
Lennie opened her mouth and made no sound again.
Matthew's hand began to shake.
Did you miss Chapters 1-343 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square? If so, you can read them here. Come back tomorrow for Chapter 345.