Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 366

Chapter 366
Stepping Over

At the suggestion of the Queen's Guards, Lennie, Maude, Gamilla and Fern were escorted by Gerard from Hamish House via the garden door.  Punch instructed the women to try to put the events of that morning out of their minds, and, smiling at Gamilla, reminded them that they had a wedding for which to prepare.

Gerard took Gamilla's hand.  "Unless you want to wait, 'Milla."

"Never."  Gamilla shook her head.  "I don't want to wait one more minute than I gotta."

With that, the women left the house and returned to No. 65 as Punch, Robert and Johnny poke to the guards.  After Robert confirmed that Orpha and Marduk were very much dead. the group was joined by Ulrika Rittenhouse and Giovanni both of whom confirmed that what had happened was an accident.  Punch wasn't sure when or how Ulrika had convinced Giovanni to cooperate, but he was glad that the man did.  In a way...  Part of Punch wished for Ulrika and her lover to be uncooperative so that he might have a chance to give the litany of their crimes to the guards.

The men from the palace sent for the police and a mortician.  Ulrika even volunteered to pay for the burial of Marduk and Orpha.  Certain that all questions had been answered, Punch and Robert, arm-in-arm, stepped over the battered corpses and made their way toward No. 65.

Johnny Donnan followed them.

Punch knew that the man would.  He hoped, in fact, that Johnny would follow, though he wasn't sure what he'd tell the man.

Punch stopped, patting Robert's arm and turned.

"Mr. Donnan, I want to thank ya for what you done for us."

"I tried to warn Gerard,"  Johnny said.  "I wager he didn't read me letter."

"I'm sure he didn't,"  Robert shook his head.  "The fact is, Mr. Donnan, you're not well-liked in our household."

"I know it."  Johnny looked down.

"Today you showed yourself a changed man,"  Robert continued.  "You bravely helped to protect us, and we really are grateful.  His Grace and I would like to offer you a token of our thanks."

"Oh, Sir, I don't want nothin'.  All I need is a place to sleep and some food in me stomach."

Punch sighed softly.  "I'm sorry, Johnny, only we can't offer ya that, and you know well why we can't."

"My daughter."  Johnny nodded.

"That's just it.  My sister ain't nobody's daughter.  That's the way she wishes to think of it.  She's Lady Fallbridge now.  She's got the family she always wished for.  She's engaged to be married to an Earl.  If you were to work in our household, it would be...well, Johnny, it'd be strange for her.  We can't have that.  You understand?"

"I do, Your Grace."  Johnny replied.  "I'd not wish for a moment to make the girl unhappy."

"I'm glad."  Punch smiled.

"Perhaps, though, you could maybe recommend me for service elsewhere.  Someplace maybe her Ladyship would be unlikely to be?"

Punch and Robert looked at one another.

"All the folk what we know,"  Punch began, "are courtiers, and, really, they're folk what Her Ladyship is bound to see."

"Not all of them."  Robert shook his head.  "There's a club, specifically for physicians.  I am a member though I've no reason to go now that I have a home and a family.  Still, I'm sure they could always use an able man downstairs.  I'm not suggesting anything in livery, but something like working in the gardens or with the heavy work in the scullery."

"Oh, Your Lordship, that'd be fine indeed!"  Johnny nodded.  "And, then, I could stay here and look for poor Mr. Stover."

"Ah, yes."  Robert nodded.  "Well, then, I'll send a letter to them in the morning.  Why don't you come by--downstairs--the day after tomorrow and we'll have an answer for you as well as a gift thanking you for your recent service."

"Will you be able to find a place to sleep until then?"  Punch asked.

"I'll get by, Your Grace."  Johnny nodded.  "Thank you."

"And, thank you, Johnny."  Punch nodded.

With that, they turned and walked away.

Speaight opened the door for them before they even reached it.

"Ah, Speaight."  Robert smiled.  "Thank you."

"Finally, Speaight,"  Punch said as he entered the house, "I think our ordeal is over."

"Not quite, Your Grace,"  Speaight shook his head.  "I'm sorry to say there's still the issue of Ruthy."

"Ruthy?"  Punch raised his eyebrows.

"Yes, Your Grace."  Speaight replied.  "It seems it was she who gave entrance to Miss Rittenhouse and Mr. Iantosca so that they might take Gamilla."

Punch's shoulders sagged.  "One of our own..."

"Where is she now?"  Robert asked.

"Locked in a cupboard downstairs."  Speaight admitted.

Punch took Robert's hand and headed for the service stairs.  "Come on, Chum.  You can help me bash 'er head in."

Did you miss Chapters 1-365 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square?  If so, you can read them here.  Come back tomorrow for Chapter 367.  

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