Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 384

Chapter 384

"You're awful quiet, Charlie."  Violet smiled, sitting down next to Charles who had settled in at one of the tables at the reception.

"Am I?"  Charles looked up.  "Sorry."

"No reason to be sorry."  Violet said.  "Just looks like you got a lot o' things in your thoughts."

"I suppose that I do."  Charles nodded.

"Weddin's do that to a body."  Violet nodded.  "Makes ya think."

"Oh?"  Charles raised his eyebrows.  "And, what are you thinking about Violet?"

"Dunno."  She smiled.  "Maybe about how me and Gamilla are 'bout the same age and how I wonder if I'll ever be married."

Charles nodded.

"Same for you and Gerry, right?  You're 'bout the same age?"

"Gerard's a little older than I am."

"Ah..."  Violet said.  "But, it ain't being married that you're thinkin' 'bout.  Is it?"

Charles inhaled.  "That's part of it."

"You're thinkin' 'bout your brother."  Violet nodded.

"In part."  Charles shook his head.  "Oh, I don't know.  I've so many thoughts right now I can't sort them out."

"I don't mean to bother you."

"You're not."  Charles said quickly.  "Not at all.  I rather like having you nearby."  He took a deep breath.  "Yes, I am thinking about my brother...a little.  He's...well...  All these weeks he was just a few doors away and I have no feelings for him.  Not any I'd repeat to a woman."

"You don't have t'like your siblings.  I know I don't like all mine.  At the end, they're just people like anyone else.  Ya don't have to approve o' 'em.  You don't even have to speak to 'em."

Charles smiled.  "I suppose that's true."

"Look, Charlie.  He's made his path for 'imself.  Taken a dangerous road, done awful things.  It's nothin' to do with you."


"But, that ain't all you're thinkin' of."  Violet smiled.  "You're thinkin' of a girl."

Charles looked away.

"You can tell me, Charlie."

"I am."  Charles nodded slowly.

"The Duke's other sister?  The one no one speaks of?"

"That's right.  Barbara."  He spoke softly.

"You loved her?"

"I thought I did.  But, sitting here just now, I realize that she was only...she was...I was just a pawn to  her.  I don't think the woman is capable of loving anyone."  He sighed.  "But, who knows what's happened to her?"

"The masters say she's dead, but we all know she ain't."  Violet replied.

"She could well be by now."  Charles whispered.

"You worry 'bout 'er?"

"That's the funny thing, Violet.  I used to.  But, sitting here just now, I realize that I feel nothing for her anymore.  I suppose it rather shocked me.  I did care for her...quite a lot, so much, in fact, that it made me act in ways which were not...were not me."

"Love does that."  Violet nodded.

"No, it doesn't."  Charles shook his head.  "Love is steady.  Love is quiet and comforting.  Love is..."  He looked at Violet.  "Love is reliable."

She blushed and looked away.

"Well, then," she said finally.  "I'm looking forward to going to Yorkshire."

"Oh, yes."  Charles cleared his throat.  "As I am.  And, congratulations on your promotion."

"Thank you."  Violet replied.

"Violet..."  Charles began.  "Tomorrow is my afternoon off.  And, I think it's yours, too."

"It is."

"Perhaps...maybe...well, I was thinking that I'd like to spend the afternoon at one of those tearooms.  You know, nice and quiet.  I thought...if you'd like...perhaps you'd like to go with me."

Violet blushed again.  "I should like to very much, Charles."

Did you miss Chapters 1-383 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square?  If so, you can read them here.  Come back tomorrow for Chapter 385.  

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