Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 357
When last we visited No. 65 Belgrave Square, the residents above and below stairs were celebrating the impending nuptials of Gamilla and Gerard Gurney. The Duke/Mr. Punch and his companion, Dr. Robert Halifax, First Baron Colinshire had organized a little "bachelor party" for Gerard, the doctor's valet. Meanwhile, The Duke's sister, Lennie, Lady Fallbridge, had conspired with the female staff to throw a shower for Gamilla. After the celebrations, with the house quiet, Gerard and Gamilla shared a private dance before parting. Little did anyone know, but the nursery maid, Ruthy, had been talking with the Duke's enemy, Ulrika Rittenhouse who had been urged by Orpha Polk, mother of a pair of conjoined twins whom Ulrika and Orpha considered a "demon god." The twins, known by the single name, Marduk, were gravely ill, and Orpha was convinced that the only salvation was a sacrifice.
The Wedding Morning
"Good heavens, man." Robert laughed as he rubbed his eyes, sitting up in bed. "Don't you know you aren't to be working today?"
Gerard shook his head nervously. "Couldn't help it, Your Lordship. Had to do somethin'."
"Gerard..." Mr. Punch inhaled loudly, rolling over. He patted Robert on the shoulder. "Is that Gerard, chum?"
"It is, dear Punch." Robert smiled.
Punch squinted. "Don't he know it's 'is weddin' day?"
"I suspect that he does." Robert yawned.
"Here," Punch mumbled to Gerard, "Ain't you meant to be gettin' ready for your weddin', then?"
Gerard couldn't help but chuckle. "I'm as ready as I can be, Your Grace. I thought I should carry on with my duties."
"Charles is quite capable of looking after both of us." Robert stretched.
"I know, Sir. Only I'll be gone on me weddin' trip for two weeks and I thought I should like to serve you once more before that." Gerard replied.
Robert smiled. "Very well. You can fetch my dressing gown."
"Good, Your Lordship." Gerard nodded. "I saw Charles in the 'all just a moment ago. He'll be up straight away to get your dressed Your Grace while I look after Dr. Halifax."
Punch sighed. "Lord Colinshire and me are actually able to dress ourselves. You oughta be downstairs with your friends. You and Charles both."
"But, Your Grace. I'm upstairs with my friends." Gerard replied honestly.
Robert and Punch exchanged pleased glances.
"Thank you, Gerry." Punch nodded. "Here, 'ave you had breakfast?"
"Oh, yes." Gerard smiled. "Mrs. Pepper filled me up proper, she did."
"Glad of it." Punch nodded. "What of Gamilla? How is she today?"
"Oh, dear Punch..." Robert shook his head. "Gerard and Gamilla aren't to see one another until Gamilla is delivered to him at the church."
"I forgot." Punch nodded. "Did she eat?"
"Vi brought up a tray. Ruthy's in the day nursery. She said Gamilla's not come out of her rooms yet."
"That's strange." Robert slipped into his dressing gown. "She's usually the first to get to Colin."
"I s'pect she's packin' and re-packin' 'er things or fussin' over her gown." Punch grinned.
"Miss Lennie..." Gerard began, pausing to correct himself, "Lady Fallbridge, that is, was headed up to the nursery as I was comin' in here. Said she and Vi would help Gamilla get herself ready."
"Coo. I can't wait to see how beautiful our Gamilla looks in her gown." Punch replied.
"Nor I, your Grace. Nor I." Gerard beamed.
When the men heard the knock on the door, they expected Charles to enter as he did each morning when he and Gerard helped the Duke and Baron Colinshire respectively prepare for the day.
However, they were surprised to see Lennie enter the room. She looked at the floor. "Is everyone dressed?"
"Yes, Lennie, dear." Punch said. "What brings you in so early?"
"Well...I...I've just been in the nursery suite..."
"How is the bride to be?" Robert asked.
"I don't know." Lennie answered quickly.
"All at sixes and sevens?" Robert smiled.
"No. Well, maybe. She's not there."
"Not there?" Gerard turned quickly.
"No. Her bed's not been slept in either."
Gerard turned around. "Your Grace?"
"I'm sure it's nothing." Robert said quickly. "She might have popped over to pick up something from one of the shops."
"This early?" Punch asked.
"Or just gone on a walk to calm her nerves." Robert continued.
"Gamilla wouldn't leave the 'ouse without askin' permission or at least tellin' Mr. Speaight ot Mrs. Pepper that she left." Gerard shook his head.
"No, she wouldn't." Lennie agreed.
Punch's eyes widened. "That right." He grabbed his dressing gown and headed for the door.
"Wait." Robert said. "I'll come with you."
"So will I." Gerard spoke up.
"No, no." Lennie shook her head. "Why don't you come into the library with me. It's not good luck to see the bride..."
"But, ain't good luck if she's been taken!" Gerard snapped. He blushed. "I'm sorry, Your Ladyship."
"I understand." Lennie said softly. "Just come with me. Let the Duke and Lord Colinshire investigate. As he said, there's probably a very reasonable answer."
"There never is, Miss Lennie." Gerard shook his head. "There never is."
Did you miss Chapters 1-356 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square? If so, you can read them here. I will be getting the Chapter Archive up to date this week. Come back tomorrow for Chapter 358.