Thursday, June 27, 2013

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 346

Chapter 346

"I'll take it, thank you."  Mr. Speaight reached for the large sterling tray laden with sparkling crystal champagne glasses and the finest bottle of champagne from the cellars.

"I wasn't goin' to drink it between here and the drawin' room, Mr. Speaight."  Gerard smiled.

"Oh,"  Speaight shook his head seriously.  "Gerard, I didn't mean to imply that you would."

"I'm only makin' a joke, Sir."  Gerard nodded.

Charles stepped in, "Mr. Speaight, does this champagne mean what I think it means?"

"I don't know what you could mean, Charles."  Speaight answered stiffly.

"I mean that the Earl of Cleaversworth is up there, they've not yet had their dinner..."

"Which they'd best do before it's ruined."  Mrs. Pepper shouted from the kitchen.

"And..."  Charles chuckled.  "The way you hurried down after they rang for you, all red in the face, asking for champagne, makes me think maybe the masters are celebrating something.  Something like...maybe an engagement.  Since His Grace and Lord Colinshire are hitched to each other, that leaves the Earl and Lady Fallbridge."  He grinned.

"It's not our place to speculate what goes on upstairs."  Mr. Speaight frowned.  "If the masters have an announcement to make, it will be they who make it."

"Did you 'appen to notice any new bit of jewellery on Miss Lennie's hand, then?"  Mrs. Pepper asked, coming out from her kitchens, wiping her hands on her apron.

"I'm not in the habit of taking inventory of the jewels worn by Her Ladyship."  He stressed, "Her Ladyship," to remind Mrs. Pepper of the fact that they were not to refer to 'Miss Lennie' as such any longer.

"Oh, now, Mr. Speaight,"  Mrs. Pepper teased, "We all know you see everything and record it in your mind.  So, what do ya say?  Was there a ring on...Her Ladyship's finger or not?"

"She wasn't wearin' one when I sent 'er down," Violet smiled from across the servants' hall.  "Is she wearin' one now."

Speaight blushed.

"She is, isn't she?"  Gerard whopped.  "The earl proposed!"

"If the masters have something to tell us, they will do so!"  Speaight snapped.  "Now, I will not keep them waiting."  With that, he lifted the heavy tray and rushed toward the stairs.

"There's to be another weddin'."  Gerard smiled with satisfaction.  "Won't Gamilla be pleased?  I'd best go up and tell 'er."

"Oh, wait, Gerry,"  Charles shook his head.  "Wait until we know for sure."

"I suppose."

"Furthermore,"  Charles continued, "Mr. Speaight'll have our heads if we're not in place to serve at table when they go into the dining room."

"Right."  Gerard nodded.

"I do hope the Earl proposed."  Violet sighed.

"It'll mean Miss Lennie leavin' us."  Mrs. Pepper shook her head.  "'Appy as I am for 'er, I'd hate to see 'er go."

"And, maybe Vi, too."  Ethel peeked around the corner from the scullery.

"What're you doin', then?"  Mrs. Pepper howled.

"Listenin'!"  Ethel said.  "Come now, Mrs. P., don't I got a right to listen?"

"Eavesdropping, is what it's called."  Charles teased.

"We all do it."  Gerard laughed.  

"You got your dishes done, then?"  Mrs. Pepper asked.

"All of 'em 'cept the ones they ain't used yet."  Ethel grinned.

"Come on, then."  Mrs. Pepper waved the girl into the hall.

"Maudie, too?"  Ethel asked.

"No...she's still got to keep the sauce from curdling."  Mrs. Pepper shook her head.  "She can keep listenin' from the range."

"What of George?"  Ethel asked.  "Where's the lad?"

"In the dinin' room, settin' the puddin' spoons."  Mrs. Pepper replied.

"Oh...I thought he were in the larder..."

"Ethel, what do you mean 'bout our Vi leavin?"  Gerard interrupted.

"Ain't it true that a lady'll take 'er maid when she gets married?"  Ethel shrugged.

"Yeah, it is."  Gerard nodded.

"Oh, I'd hate to leave."  Violet furrowed her brow.  "But, I'd want to stay with Miss...Her Ladyship."

Charles frowned.  "Your place is here."

"It is,"  Violet answered.  "I owe so much to His Grace and Dr. Halifax, or...His Lordship or whatever he's called now.  Besides, I got family here.  You're all my family.  And, I'd hate to be apart from...from...all of you."

"The Earl Cleaversworth only lives a few houses away."  Mrs. Pepper laughed.

"I know,  but..."  Violet began.

Footsteps on the stairs made them all scatter as Mr. Speaight returned.

"Come now, smart-like."  Speaight called from the stairs.  "Everyone, quick quick.  Ethel!  Maudie!  His Grace wants us all in the drawing room."

"Here it comes!"  Gerard whooped again.  "Shall I go fetch Gamilla?"

"I've already sent Georgie to get her.  Ruthy will stay with master Colin."  Speaight answered.  "Now, look smart.  All of you."

Vi and Charles exchanged glances.

"Maybe Her Ladyship will make the earl stay here."  Violet suggested.

"A gentleman will want to take his bride to his own house."  Charles shook his head.

"But...we got plenty of room here."

"Cleaversworth House is just the same size as this one."

"No."  Vi shook her head.  "That side of the square, them houses are smaller.  They was built later."

Charles smiled.

"Aint that true?"  Violet asked.

"No."  Charles shook his head.

"Well, I'd wager anything that ours is prettier and nicer than his.  After all, His Grace is a Duke and the Earl ain't as important."

"Let's not worry on it just yet."  Charles whispered.  "Let's just let Her Ladyship enjoy her night, and be happy for her.  Whatever comes next, we will...we will make the best of it."


"I promise,"  Charles nodded.

Did you miss Chapters 1-345 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square?  If so, you can read them here.  Come back tomorrow for Chapter 347.

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