Monday, August 5, 2013

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 361

Chapter 361
Floor Plans

"Ma,"  Georgie squinted, "What's takin' Maudie so long?"

"Dunno, dearie."  Mrs. Pepper shook her head.  

"All she were to do was to go downstairs and grab some fresh nappies."  George shook his head.

"Poor thing don't know where to look, I s'pect."  Mrs. Pepper said.  "We ain't exactly used to the world of the nursery."

"Everyone knows where Gamilla keeps the linens."  George frowned.  "Maybe I'd best go down."

"You're to stay right here, George."  Mrs. Pepper said firmly.  "Leave Ruthy to Charles and Vi."

"That's just it, Ma."  Georgie shook his head.  "I don't want nothin' to do with Ruthy.  I'm scared maybe Maudie somehow got caught up in what's goin' on down there."

"She knows better."  Ethel spoke up from her spot in the rocking chair where she held Colin.  "Besides, she didn't even have to go through the servants' hall to get to the laundry.  Mrs. P were very clear 'bout what she were to do.  Our Maudie's no fool.  She's got a head for gettin' places.  Why, she told me that when she worked at Hamish House, she knew all the cleverest ways in and out.  She'll be right back."

"So don't worry, Georgie."  Mrs. Pepper added.

"Ain't no trick to gettin' 'round a house,"  Georgie muttered.  "'Specially here where all these big houses is just alike."

"On, that ain't true."  Ethel protested.  "Maybe they look the same on the outside, but they ain't at all alike on the inside.  No, not at all."

"Like you know."  George frowned.  "Like you been in any o' these other houses."

"Maybe she ain't, love," Mrs. Pepper smiled, "but our Ethel is right.  They're all different.  Hamish House ain't near as big as ours.  In fact, ours is the biggest on this side of the square. And, they're laid out all different."

"Is that so?"  George asked his mother.

"It is.  I've been in the servants' halls of others, and even the downstairs is all different.  Many've been done over.  Some were built a certain way for a certain family.  Take this house, dearie, ya know that bit behind my range?  Ever gone back there?"


"You ain't?"  Ethel scoffed.

"Why would I?"  George frowned.

"Curiosity, maybe."  Ethel grinned.

"Well, son, if you ever do, you'll see there's a whole fireplace back there and a neat little row o' shelves from before His Grace bought the lease."

"Maudie says she found places in Hamish House that she didn't think no one else knew 'bout."  Ethel nodded.

"Well, clearly she don't know here way 'round this house near as well."  George stood up.  "She's been gone far too long.  I'm goin' to fetch 'er."

Mrs. Pepper squinted and sighed.  "She 'as been gone a bit too long.  Maybe you'd best go look.  But, be smart.  And, stay clear of Charles and Vi--let them take care of the traitorous Ruthy."

"I'll be back in a tick, Ma."

"Georgie!"  Ethel said quickly.  "Be safe, right?"

"I will, Ethel,"  George smiled.

George opened the nursery door, looked up and down the hallway and hurried toward the service stairs.

"I hope Maudie's all right."  Ethel frowned.

"I'm sure she is, Ethel."  Mrs. Pepper nodded.  "She's probably just listenin' to them scream at Ruthy.  Or, maybe Mr. Speaight has returned and he's put her to work.  Who knows?  Could be His Grace and His Lordship are back and are tellin' what the Queen said."

"Or Gerard and Her Ladyship.  Or even...well, dare I think it?  Gamilla."

Mrs. Pepper nodded again.  "If only."

"I feel bad, Mrs. P."  Ethel said softly.

"We all do.  We love Gamilla, each of us."

"But, also...sittin' in 'ere in 'er chair, holdin' this baby.  I feel content, and I know it's wrong."  Ethel admitted.

"Why wouldn't ya, dearie?  You're good with the child.  And, it's not often you get to be anywhere this comfortable.  If I didn't hate the thought of you not bein' downstairs with me, I'd recommend to His Grace that you'd be a good nursery maid.  Heaven knows they'll not be keepin' Ruthy after what she done."

"Me?  A nursery maid?"

"And why not?"  Mrs. Pepper replied.  "But, now ain't the time to speak of it."

"No, of course."  Ethel answered.  She glanced up at the mantle clock.  "Seems Georgie's been gone for awhile, too."

"I was just thinkin' the same thing."  Mrs. Pepper rose.  As she did, the door opened and George rushed in.

"What is it, son?"  Mrs. Pepper asked.

"Maudie's gone!"  George barked.  "Charles and Vi said she didn't even come into the servants' hall.  They been down there the hall time, right by the stairs.  They got Ruthy locked in the cupboard by the area, waitin' to see what the Duke says to do with 'er.  Maudie ain't been down there."

"Where could she 'ave gone?"  Mrs. Pepper gasped.

"Hamish House,"  Ethel shook her head.  "The fool!  I'd bet anything on it.  I wager she's gone to try to get Gamilla!"

Did you miss Chapters 1-360 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square?  If so, you can read them here.  Come back tomorrow for Chapter 362.  

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