Thursday, July 11, 2013
Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 354
"Maudie, you done such a fine job with them cakes." Ethel grinned.
"You think so?" Maude asked nervously.
"Sure, they look almost as good as Mrs. Pepper's."
"Oh, I am glad." Maudie sighed with relief. "I only hope Gamilla will like them."
"I know she will." Ethel smiled.
Mrs. Pepper entered the kitchens and the girls stood straighter.
"We was just takin' a moment to admire Maudie's cakes." Ethel explained quickly.
"We'll get back to it now, Mrs. P." Maudie added.
"Now, am I such a tyrant?" Mrs. Pepper smiled. "I think we're in good order. We got everything prepared for dinner both upstairs and downstairs and the masters and Her Ladyship are enjoyin' their tea. Ain't much more for us to do save for the cookin', so I've come to invite you two to join me in a cuppa in the hall."
"Really?" Ethel's eyes widened.
"That's right." Mrs. Pepper said. "Come on, then. Vi and Ruthy are waitin'."
"Ain't that nice?" Maudie grinned.
"So wash up and come and take a rest. You'll be up a bit later than usual tonight what with our little party for Gamilla." Mrs. Pepper nodded. "I'll see you both in a few minutes." With that, she went back to the servants' hall.
"That's awful kind of Mrs. Pepper." Maudie said excitedly. "Everyone's been so jolly these last two days. With Gamilla and Mr. Gurney gettin' married tomorrow and Her Ladyship to be wed soon..."
"Almost seems like all the bad the masters got to worry 'bout is real far 'way."
"Maybe it is." Maudie suggested.
"It never is." Ethel shook her head. "Still, I'm glad everyone's got some cheer now. I was most worried Mrs. Pepper would be upset what with the wedding breakfast and the reception bein' catered from outside. You know how she hates to have others in her kitchen. But, as long as she's at peace, you and I can be."
"Shall we go 'ave some tea, then?" Maude asked. "It'll be a treat."
"More of a treat if sour-faced Ruthy wasn't there."
"Oh, now." Maudie shook her head. "She ain't so bad. Besides, it's not as if we ever really gotta see her. She's always in the nursery. Her bein' there means we get to see more of Gamilla, and I like that quite a lot."
"I s'pose." Ethel nodded. "Just don't like the way she's always smirkin' at us like she's better'n we are. She's just a nursery maid. Ain't like she's a governess or a nanny like Gamilla. Gamilla don't even have to talk to us if she don't want, but she's does. Ruthy's a maid and she acts like she's the Queen 'erself."
"As long as she does her job and His Grace is pleased, we don't gotta like her."
"Right." Ethel sighed.
"Come on, now." Maudie urged Ethel.
They exited the kitchens and joined Violet, Ruthy and Mrs. Pepper in the servants' hall.
"Have a nice rest, then." Mrs. Pepper gestured. "Violet was just tellin' us about Miss Lennie's ring."
"Oh!" Ethel chirped. "I only saw it from afar when His Grace made the announcement. What's it like?"
"It's quite large." Violet smiled. "A yellow diamond."
"Yellow?" Ethel raised her eyebrows. "There's such a thing?"
"Ethel, diamonds come in a wide range of colors." Ruthy sniffed. "Everyone knows that."
"I didn't know that." Maude said softly.
"I only knew cuz I seen the blue diamond the Duke wears." Mrs. Pepper spoke up. "Go on, Vi, tell us more. How large is it?"
"About the size of a...a..." Violet looked around. She stopped her gaze on her hand. "Maybe the nail on your littlest finger."
"Ain't that beautiful." Ethel sighed, looking down at her chapped hands.
"Gamilla's diamond is a mite bigger, then?" Mrs. Pepper asked.
"Yes." Violet nodded.
"Isn't it something?" Maudie asked. "To think one of us has a ring that's that beautiful?"
"One of us?" Ruthy squinted. "You don't mean Lady Fallbridge?"
"She's speakin' of Gamilla." Ethel replied stiffly.
"You do realize that Mr. Gurney didn't purchase the ring Gamilla wears. The Duke gave it to him to give to Gamilla." Ruthy shook her head.
"So what if that's the case?" Violet snapped. "Just shows how the Duke thinks of us as all the same. And, the ring is Gamilla's and it were given to her by Gerard, no matter where it come from."
"The Duke may think of us all as being the same, but we know we're not." Ruthy set down her teacup.
"Uh..." Maudie mumbled uncomfortably. "Vi, have you seen the cake?"
"I have." Violet nodded, happy to ignore Ruthy. "I have to say, Mrs. Pepper, you outdone yourself. It's as pretty as any Royal wedding cake, I'm sure."
"Well, since His Grace was kind 'nough to give us all the day tomorrow and to have the food for after the marriage brought in, the least I could do was make the cake. It's my gift to Mr. Gurney and Gamilla."
"A fine gift, too." Violet smiled.
"And, don't forget the vittles for tonight!" Ethel chirped.
"Maudie made most of those and did a very capable job of it, too." Mrs. Pepper shook her head.
"Thank you, Mrs. Pepper." Maudie blushed. "I hope you will enjoy them."
"We all will." Mrs. Pepper said proudly. "We'll have a right proper affair for the bride tonight. Her Ladyship has some special things planned."
"Pity our Jenny can't be with us." Ethel said softly.
"But, she is, dearie." Mrs. Pepper replied gently. "She's watchin' us from heaven."
"True." Ethel nodded.
"It's a shame you won't be able to join us." Maudie said, trying to engage Ruthy.
"I have duties. While all of you are making merry, someone must look after the baby. Which reminds me, Mrs. Pepper, I'll need someone to help with the washing while Gamilla is on her marriage trip."
"Take that up with Mr. Speaight, dear." Mrs. Pepper said.
"The only possible choice is for Ethel to help me."
"That may be so, and it may not." Mrs. Pepper replied.
"Who else? Charles?" Ruthy wrinkled her nose.
"It's not my place to make such decisions, Ruthy."
"Why can't anyone in this household just..." Ruthy began.
"Do as you say?" Ethel interrupted.
"I didn't say that!" Ruthy snapped.
Just as Mrs. Pepper was about to intervene, a bell on the call chimed.
"Mornin' room." Mrs. Pepper glanced up. "That'll be Her Ladyship."
"Off I go!" Violet rose. "Thanks for the tea Mrs. Pepper."
"My pleasure, dearie." Mrs. Pepper stood, too. "If Her Ladyship is in the Mornin' room, that means, the masters have finished their tea, too. Ethel..."
"And, that means there's dishes comin' down for me." Ethel smiled.
"Back to my canapes." Maudie also rose. "The break was terrible nice, Mrs. Pepper. Thanks."
Mrs. Pepper nodded.
"Guess that leaves you alone, Ruthy." Ethel grinned as they walked off.
Ruthy grunted and looked around the empty hall.
After awhile she rose, stretched and inhaled. Knowing it to be her last chance for awhile to step outside, Ruthy walked to the area door and poked out her head. She was surprised to see a pair of eyes, framed by auburn hair looking down at her through the wrought iron railing above.
"Excuse me?" Ulrika Rittenhouse cooed.
"Do you remember me?" Ulrika asked.
"Yes, Miss." Ruthy nodded.
"I suppose you've been told to keep away from me."
"No, Miss. No one tells me anything."
"Oh. How grand, really. Come up here and talk with me, then." Ulrika chuckled.
Did you miss Chapters 1-353? If so, you can read them here. Come back tomorrow for Chapter 355.