Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 365

Chapter 365
The Accident

"You horrible little girl!"  Ulrika shrieked, rushing toward Fern.  "What have you done?"

"Stay back!"  Johnny Donnan aimed the pistol at Ulrika.  "Don't touch her."

Maudie ran forward and took Fern by the hand, pulling the child back to the protection of the group.

"The murderous little bitch!"  Ulrika howled.

"Are you referring to Orpha Polk?"  Robert asked.

"That's enough from you!"  Ulrika screamed.  She came toward them.

"If ya don't keep away, lassie, I'll shoot ya in the heart."  Johnny barked.

"If she has one,"  Lennie muttered to Gamilla.

"Go ahead and shoot me!"  Ulrika moaned.  "What have I to live for now?  Do you realize what that hideous girl has done?  She's killed Marduk!  Through  him, I would have been all powerful.  Through him, I would have been immortal."

"No, ya wouldn't."  Punch squinted.  "Best you'd 'ave gotten is free tickets to the sideshow."

"Make your jokes, lunatic.  I've lost everything, really.  But, go on and have your fun.  I've nothing now."  Ulrika coughed.

"Miss Rittenhouse, as I recall, you're an heiress."  Robert shook his head.  "I'd say you've much to live for."

"Sure, you got a fine plantation and another big house in New Orleans.  You got a rich papa who gives ya all the money ya want.  Ya even got that wicked man what's passed out downstairs."

"All of these terrestrial things are meaningless.  I would have been the Queen of the gods.  How...oh, mercy...how will I tell 'The Fifty'?"

"You'll tell 'em that the poor creature wasn't no god."  Punch replied plainly.  "And, then, you'll go back to America and leave us in peace."

"Not without seeing that wretched little girl punished!"

"Hasn't she been punished enough?"  Lennie asked.  "Haven't you made her face horrors that no one should ever see?"

"She just murdered Orpha and Marduk!"  Ulrika screamed.  "She has not been punished for that!"

"It was an accident."  Punch said firmly.

"Oh?"  Ulrika growled.

"Your Grace,"  Gerard interrupted.  "I hear a commotion outside."

"Go and look, would you?"  Punch asked.

Gerard and Gamilla went to the window.

"The palace guards are here and a crowd done gathered 'round the...accident."  Gamilla said quickly.

"It was no accident."  Ulrika scoffed.

"Ulrika,"  Robert began, "you and your lover are complicit in much of the atrocities which have taken place in this house."

"Her Majesty knows all about them."  Punch added.  "You're on English soil, you are, and subject to English law.  You could leave this country a free woman, or, me and me chum and all our friends here can say just what part you and Giovanni played in Orpha's fiendish plans."

"We'd also be happy to share what else we know about Giovanni."  Robert continued.  "No one has ever been convicted in the murder of His Grace's father, Sir Colin Molliner.  We have quite a lot of evidence which proves that Giovanni was the killer."

"We also have witnesses in Gerard and Gamilla what attest to your abduction of our son while we were in America."  Punch smiled.

"So, Miss Rittenhouse,"  Lennie spoke up, "you can leave England a free woman or..."

"You can be buried here after your hangin'."  Punch nodded.

"It all depends on your account of what happened in this room this morning."  Robert added. "We have many witnesses.  In fact, let's hear from them.  Gerard?  What did you see?"

"I saw Miss Polk stumble.  She tried not to drop the baby, what with havin' only the one hand, and she lost her balance and fell into the window."  Gerard answered.

"Gamilla?"  Punch asked.

Gamilla looked at Fern who still held Maudie's hand.  Fern looked nervous, recalling the horrible things she'd done to Gamilla.

Gamilla smiled.  "Miss Polk stumbled and fell into the window."

Tears rose in Fern's eyes as she nodded her thanks.

"Aye, that's what I saw."  Johnny nodded.

"Same for me,"  Maudie spoke up.

"We're in agreement then."  Robert said.  "Aren't we, Ulrika?"

Pounding on the front door made Ulrika's response more urgent.

"That'll be Her Majesty's men."  Punch smiled.

"I could have had everything."  Ulrika shivered.

"Look out that window!"  Gerard demanded, growing impatient.  "That thing ain't no god!  It was a sick, mortal creature what could have had a chance if you two sour cows hadn't abused it so!  And, underneath it is a soul of pure evil!  You're no gold medal, Miss Rittenhouse, but she was pure wickedness.  I seen you at your worst.  Oh, yes.  Don't forget I was at the Place Congo that night when Marie Laveau got ya finally, I know you got some small piece of ya, some small part that's a human woman.  But, Orpha Polk was the demon and she was pullin' your strings like you was her puppet..."

"Here..."  Punch snorted.

"Sorry, Your Grace."

"No matter.  Can't trust marionettes."  Punch nodded.

Gerard pointed to the window again as the knocking downstairs continued.  "Look!  Look at what you worshipped!  You ought to thank Miss Fern for savin' ya from it.  Now, I ain't no admirer of Miss Fern's, but she was justified in doin' what she done, and, she proved herself a heroine today.  She's gonna make somethin' of 'erself.  If she can, after livin' through all she's done, you--with all the blessin's ya got--can do the same."

"All you gotta do is say it was an accident."  Gamilla added.

"They're gonna break in the door, Ulrika, less someone answers it."  Punch said.  "So, what'll it be?  What happened here today?  Your answer will decide whether or not you hang."

Ulrika inhaled deeply.

Finally she smiled, tossing her auburn hair so it danced around her thick neck.  "It was an accident, really."

Johnny sighed with relief, handing the pistol to Robert.  "I'll go and answer the door."

"Dr. Halifax,"  Ulrika began.  "I understand that Giovanni's been struck with a pistol.  Would you look at him and make sure that he'll be able to sail as soon as possible?"

"With pleasure."  Robert nodded.  "However, it'll have to be fast."

"That's right,"  Punch interjected.  "We've a wedding to attend."

Did you miss Chapters 1-364 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square?  If so, you can read them here.  Come back tomorrow for Chapter 366.

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