Monday, July 8, 2013

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 351

Chapter 351
The Groom

"Oh, pardon me, My Lady."  Gerard blushed as he nearly ran into Lennie in the grand front hall of No. 65 Belgrave Square.

"Think nothing of it, Gerard."  Lennie smiled.  "I imagine you've much on your mind today which might be distracting you."

"That's still no excuse for not watching where I'm going."  Gerard blushed.  "Especiaslly when at my duties."

"I think it's forgivable, Gerard, at least today.  After all, you are to be wed tomorrow.  I can't imagine what sort of state will overtake me on the day before I'm to wed Earl Cleaversworth."  She shook her head slightly.  "My gracious, I'm still not used to saying that."  She giggled.

"Well, Your Ladyship, His Lordship only just proposed last night."  Gerard smiled.

"True."  Lennie nodded.  "Speaking of last night, Gerard, I do hope my little fright didn't startle you too much.  You look a bit tired.  I hope I didn't give you any worry that might have interfered with your sleep."

"No, My Lady."  Gerard shook his head.  "As you said, I've much on my mind."

"You've nothing about which to worry, Gerard.  If any two people were well-suited for marriage it is you and Gamilla."

"Thank you, Lady Fallbridge."

"Now, I don't mean to keep you from your duties."  Lennie smiled.  "I was just on my way upstairs to look in on my nephew and the bride-to-be.  They are in the day nursery, I trust?"

"Yes, My Lady."  Gerard nodded.  

"Good."  Lennie smiled.  "And, Gerard, do take some time to rest today.  I know His Grace and Lord Colinshire will understand."

"I will, My Lady.  By the way, are the masters still in the morning room?"

"Oh, no."  Lennie shook her head.  "They were just departing by the time I'd come down.  So, if you're on your way there to clear, you need not worry about disturbing them."

"Do you happen to know where they are, Your Ladyship?"

"They'd told me they would be in the library for most of the day."  Lennie said.

"Thank you, My Lady."

"You're not thinking of..."  Lennie paused.  "Well, I...I don't think they wish to be disturbed."


"Was there something about which you needed to speak with them?"

"Yes, Miss.  I mean...My Lady."

"Perhaps I might be able to assist you?"

"No, no, Lady Fallbridge."  Gerard shook his head.

"Gentleman's issues?"  Lennie smiled.  "The sort of thing one discusses before a marriage?"

Gerard blushed.

"Oh dear!"  Lennie laughed.  "I just realized how that might have sounded.  Do forgive me."

"It's quite all right."  Gerard replied.

"However, Gerard, if there's something on your mind, I'm sure I'd like to listen."

"I couldn't, Lady Fallbridge."  Gerard answered.  "However, I am grateful."  

"You see, I'm afraid all of them men in the house are occupied at present."

"My Lady?"

"Speaight, Charles, Georgie and even the borrowed coachman are in the library with His Grace and His Lordship."

"Without me?"  Gerard looked disappointed.

"Well, Gerard...I shouldn't say this, but, do consider that since you're the only male in the house not there, and you're the one who is to be wed tomorrow, that the two realities may be related."

"Oh?"  Gerard smiled.  "Surely...well, they wouldn't.  Really?"

"I do believe it is tradition for men to gather the day before one of their own is to be married.  Interestingly enough, His Grace and Lord Colinshire, being rather unfamiliar with these things, are relying solely on Speaight and Charles to coach them as to what is usually done at such meetings.  I can't quite say what you'll be in for.  But, don't let on that I ruined the surprise.  It's only that you looked so hurt not to be included."

"I shan't say a word, My Lady."

"Since I'm ruining secrets, I'll tell you that, I've got something planned for Gamilla this evening as well.  Mrs. Pepper, Violet, Ethel and Maudie have colluded with me."  She smiled. "The house will be full of much activity this evening."

Gerard laughed and glanced at the sparking canary diamond on Lennie's finger.  "Soon, My Lady, this fuss will all be for you."

"I dare not think of it now."  Lennie smiled.  "Now, are you sure, given that the men are all occupied, that there's nothing you should like to talk about?  Remember, I've lived with men all of my life.  There's nothing I've not heard before."

Gerard scratched his eyebrow.  "Usually, Lady Fallbridge, I'd talk this over with His Lordship or His Grace first, but..."

"It's something about me, isn't it?"  Lennie spoke up.  

"Yes, My Lady."

"Something to do with my...with Mr. Donnan's appearance in the garden?"

"Yes."  Gerard sighed.  "I saw 'im last night, Your Ladyship, when I went to lock the garden gate."  He reached into his pocket.  "You see, Mr. Donnan heard of your engagement to Earl Cleaversworth and...he wished to speak with you."  He added quickly.  "He knew he couldn't, of course, so he wrote this note for you.  He asked me to give it to you, but I wasn't sure if I should.  That's why I wished to speak to His Grace."

"Poor Gerard."  Lennie shook her head.  "All of this burden on a day when you should be very happy."

"It's no burden, My Lady.  I only wish to do what's best for you.  His Grace and Dr. Halifax, they're...they're very protective of you, as you know.  We all are."

"I'm not a china doll."  Lennie laughed.  "However, I do appreciate the fact that everyone looks after me.  In the future, if Mr. Donnan bothers you in an attempt to get to me, you may come right to me.  That's not to say it's a secret from my brothers, but, you needn't feel you can't speak to me about it."

"Do you want this, Lady Fallbridge?"  Gerard held up the grubby note.

"No, I do not."  Lennie shook her head.  "You may burn it in the morning room fire."

Gerard nodded.

"Mr. Donnan knows my opinion of him.  He has been told repeatedly that he is not to think of himself as my father."  She inhaled.  "In fact, let's just say that if he ever gives you a note for me again, you may simply go ahead and burn it.  I do not wish to see it."

"Yes, My Lady."  Gerard replied.  "I hope this ain't troubled you."

"Not at all."  Lennie smiled.  "Now, let's get back to our happy business.  Shall we?"

"I think so, Your Ladyship."

"These next two days, after all, shall be spent in celebration."  Lennie answered gleefully."

Gerard grinned, and, carefully went about his work.  He tossed the note into the fire and watched it burn for a moment before beginning to clear the breakfast things, his thoughts turning solely to Gamilla.

Did you miss Chapters 1-350 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square?  If so, you can read them here.  Come back tomorrow for Chapter 352.

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