Thursday, August 15, 2013

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 367

Chapter 367

Mr. Punch stood, his fatigue showing, and smiled as best he could at the group who had gathered in the front hall.

"I just wanna say,"  Punch began, "that I'll be brief.  'Specially since Gamilla and Gerard need to get into their weddin' clothes.  In fact, I s'pose, we all do."

The staff, Lennie and Robert chuckled.

"We all been through a terrible time, we have."  Punch continued.  "Not just this mornin', but these many long weeks.  And, I must say, I'm awful proud of all of ya--the way you all supported one another, and me and His Lordship and Her Ladyship.  Today, Charles and Vi did a fine, fine job, they did, of keepin' Ruthy under control while the rest of us was out findin' Gamilla.  I want all of you to know, Ruthy's been taken away and will be put in gaol.  We ain't never gonna see 'er again.  But, that leaves us with somethin' o' a problem, it does.  That means we ain't got a nursery maid, and that, while Gamilla and Gerard are on their weddin' trip, there'd be no one to look after young Colin."  Punch smiled and looked at Robert.  "Chum..."

Robert nodded.  "While His Grace, Lady Fallbridge and I are perfectly capable of looking after Colin ourselves in Gamilla's absence, we do think it best that Gamilla have assistance when she returns, and, in fact, we should take on a new nursery maid while Gamilla and Gerard are away.  We've spoken with Mr. Speaight and Mrs. Pepper about this.  And..."  Robert looked to Lennie.

"We feel, based on Mrs. Pepper's recommendation and with Speaight's approval,"  Lennie began, "that our Ethel should be promoted to the position of Nursery Maid."

"Me?"  Ethel's eyes widened.

"Yes, if you'll agree to it."  Robert smiled.

"You see, Ethel," Punch spoke up, "Mrs. Pepper said that you were very good with Colin this morning and, I 'ave seen how he likes you me-self.  So, we think it's time you're out of the scullery and into a place where you'll be able to 'ave more freedom and thrive as well as be a good influence on our son."

"I..."  Ethel's eyes filled with happy tears.  "I...I...I'm happy to, Your Grace!  Thank you!  All of you, thank you!"

The other staff offered happy noises of congratulations.

"Oh, but..."  Ethel exclaimed, "what about Mrs. Pepper's scullery?"

"Speaight has already lined up a new scullery maid through the service."  Robert answered.

"Is she good?"  Ethel asked.

"She comes highly recommended."  Speaight said dryly.

"Well, then..."  Ethel grinned.  "When do I start?"

"Today, if you like."  Punch answered.

"Cor!  I'd like very much!"  She looked worried for a second.  "But, does that mean I don't get to go to the weddin'?"

"No."  Punch shook his head.  "We're bringing Colin to the church with us and he can stay for a bit during the wedding breakfast and reception.  We'll take turns with him.  But, this evening, you'll begin."

"If you come upstairs with me while Vi and Lady Fallbridge help me dress, I'll be able to tell ya a bit of what you'll need to know."  Gamilla volunteered.

"You wouldn't mind?"

"Not at all, honey."  Gamilla chuckled.

"Now,"  Punch clapped his hands, "we all best get ourselves ready for the weddin' and I know Speaight wants us all out of the hall so he can start gettin' the caterers and servers we've hired for the day into their right spots.  I expect to see everyone out here and ready to go in an hour and a half.  Remember, we've hired carriages to take all of us to the church."

The hall filled with happy chatter and Punch sighed, leaning into Robert as everyone hurried to their rooms.

"Do ya think we might finally have some..."  Punch began, but shook his head.  "Oh, I daren't think it."

"You should indeed dare."  Robert nodded.  "Peace?  Yes, let's hope it's nigh."

"There's no harm in 'opin'."  Punch agreed.

"No harm at all."  Robert smiled.

Did you miss Chapters 1-366 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square?  If so, you can read them here.  Come back tomorrow for Chapter 368.

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