Friday, September 20, 2013

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 386

Chapter 386
The Bouquet

"Your Grace?"  Georgie said sheepishly as he approached Mr. Punch.

"Yes, George?"  Punch smiled.

"Shouldn't we send someone up to Gamilla's room to fetch one of her stockings?"  George blushed.

"Should we?"  Punch raised his eyebrows.

Robert laughed loudly.  "I don't think His Grace is familiar with that custom."

"Oh.  I'm very sorry."  George looked at his shoes.

"No, no!  Tell me.  I like to know things."  Mr. Punch said in a fast effort to avoid further embarrassment for the boy.

Georgie looked at Robert who nodded his permission.

George grinned.  "Well, Your Grace.  I've heard that at weddin's sometimes the men go get one of the bride's stockings.  Seems a shame to steal 'em off the bride..."

"Which has long been part of the custom, Dear Punch."  Robert interjected.  "Long ago, many thought that snatching a bit of the bride's clothing off of her would bring good luck."

"I don't think I like that."  Punch shook his head.

"Well, see, Your Grace, that's why I thought we'd get a stocking what Gamilla wasn't wearing."  George continued excitedly.

"And, and...what are we to do with this hosiery?"  Punch asked.

"We toss it."  George replied.  He then turned beet red and looked down again.

"Toss it?"  Punch giggled.  

"At the bride and groom, Your Grace."  George chuckled.

"Georgie, my lad, I been tryin' to stop throwin' things at folk these days."

Robert guffawed.  "Dear Punch, I believe the intention is that the man who gets the stocking closest to the nose of the groom is the next man to marry."

"Oh."  Punch nodded.  "Well, we already know who the next to marry is--Lord Cleaversworth.  So, it's best to leave Gamilla's hosiery in its place."

George nodded with disappointment.

"There is another tradition which doesn't involve undergarments."  Robert suggested.

"What else are we to throw at 'em?"  Punch winked.

"This actually involves the bride throwing things at us."  Robert laughed.  "Specifically, the women."

"Oh, yes!  She tosses her flowers, yes?"  Punch chirped.

"That's right!"  Georgie exclaimed. 

"The bride will throw her bouquet and the lady who catches the largest portion of it will marry next."  Robert nodded.

"Hmmmm, but still...that's Lady Fallbridge."  Punch smiled.

"Beggin' your pardon, Your Grace, only maybe not.  Maybe the flowers'll tell us somethin' different."  George said hopefully.

"Well, then, George, do you think that's something that the party would enjoy?"  Robert asked.

"I do, Your Lordship."

"Very well, why don't you and your mother ask Gamilla if she'd like to partake in the custom?"  Robert nodded.

"I shall, Sir!"  George exclaimed.  "Thank you!"

Robert and Punch exchanged amused glances as George scurried off to grab his mother by her hand.  They skittered toward Gamilla who was visibly enchanted by the idea. 

"Oh, but Ethel's gone upstairs.  It wouldn't be fair."  Gamilla teased.

"I don't think Ethel'd mind much."  George urged.

"If you say so, young Mr. Pepper."  Gamilla grinned.  

Gerard stood up.  "Ladies, if you'll gather 'round.  Violet, Mrs. Pepper, Maudie..."

"Go on, darling."  Matthew whispered.  "It'll be a lark."

"Matthew, I already know I'm to marry.  I shall let the others go ahead."  Lennie replied.

"You're so sensible.  Just one of the many things about you which I admire."  Matthew replied affectionately.

"Oh, Matthew."  Lennie smiled.

Violet, taking a reluctant Mrs. Pepper by the hand, rushed toward Gamilla.  

"My time for marriage has passed, now."  Mrs. Pepper laughed.

"You never know, Mrs. P."  Violet teased.  

"Maudie!"  Gamilla called out.

"Ethel ain't here."  Maudie said.

"She won't mind."  George called out confidently.

The girls gathered in front of Gamilla.  

"What am I meant to do?"  Gamilla giggled.

"Turn around, Dearie, and throw the bouquet over your shoulder."  Mrs. Pepper shouted.

Gamilla nodded and turned around.  "Get set, ladies.  One, two..."

Without warning she tossed the bouquet into the arms of Violet.

The party-goers howled with laughter and cheers as Violet blushed.

Gerard affectionately elbowed Charles.  "Well, about that?"

Did you miss Chapters 1-385 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square?  If so, you can read them here.  Come back on Monday for Chapter 387.

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