Thursday, October 3, 2013
Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 392
An Adventure for Fern
Lennie sat down in her favorite chair in the morning room and sighed triumphantly.
"Can you feel it?" Robert asked as he sat across from her.
"What's that?" Lennie asked.
"No Fern." Robert smiled. "The atmosphere in the house is already lighter."
"I think perhaps it is." Lennie chuckled. "Poor, sad Fern."
"And a good reason to be sad, she's got." Punch shook his head.
"No one denies that, dear Punch." Robert agreed.
"I know you don't care for her much, Chum..." Punch began.
"That's not the case," Robert protested. "I've grown to appreciate her. She's an interesting little person...in her way. And, I certainly to pity the poor thing. I simply feel that we're better off with her on the way to school."
"I s'pose. I only hope that it's a good time for her. Maybe she'll enjoy her studies, form some friendships with the other girls, and be able to, I dunno, put some distance between 'erself and the horrid pain she was dealt." Punch concluded. He sat next to Robert.
"I trust that she will, dear Punch. In time. But, you must admit, our Colin is better off without her here all of the time." Robert said gently.
"That's true." Punch nodded.
"Brother dear, you mustn't look so sad. Fern's off on an adventure." Lennie smiled.
"I know. Only I ain't so sure she was ready for an adventure just yet. That doll of hers...Myra with the two heads...I...it disturbed me."
"I think that was just her way of coping with the memories of the ordeal with Marduk." Robert answered. "My dear, you mustn't worry too much. She's a very strong girl. Consider all that she endured. When she left, she seemed quite ready to face her new life."
"Right." Punch said. "Only it ain't so good to do so when you've not quite faced the old life. That can make a person...different." He sighed. "Just look at me."
"I am looking at you." Robert took Punch's hand. "What do I see?"
"A bloke with auburn hair and brown eyes. And the mind of a puppet."
"No. I see my companion, a truly loving, caring, wonderful man. An intelligent, sensitive man possessing enormous talent and an ingenuity as great and as deep as the compassion he has for other people."
"Our Robert is correct, brother dear." Lennie added. "With your guidance, and ours, Fern will be able to live a happy, comfortable life. I've no doubt of it. Furthermore, the skills she'll acquire at school will only give her more freedom." She leaned forward. "None of us has enjoyed an easy life. I can't say that I know all of what you endured, but I know that it was...cruel. Still, you've risen above it--granted, in your own unique way, but risen above it all the same. Robert has done the same. He took an uncertain life of poverty and sadness and made it into a grand existence. And, thanks to both of you, I've been able to do the same. There's no reason that Fern can't do the same. Compare the girl who departed from this house today to the girl who first set foot in these halls. In a few short weeks, in a place where she felt safe and cared for, she transformed from a wicked child who set fires to a timid young lady who obviously wants to return the generosity that she's been shown."
"Which reminds me..." Robert stood up and walked to Lennie writing table. "She left this gift for us."
"Oh, yes! Do open it, Robert." Lennie exclaimed. "I'm curious to see what she's done."
"I think our Punch should do it."
Punch shook his head. "No, Chum. You go on."
"There's a note." Robert took a folded page from the top of the box. He read aloud. "Dear Uncles Punch and Robert and Auntie Lennie...I have nothing of my own of any value, but I wanted to give you something to thank you for all you've given me. I am grateful for the kindness you've shown me even when I was not deserving of it. I have never been certain what the word 'love' meant, however, I've begun to understand it. I will write to you from school and look forward to my first holiday when I will return to the first real home I've known. I am your obedient 'niece,' Fern Halifax."
Robert smiled. "She's using my name, as I'd hoped."
"How sweet of her." Lennie nodded.
"Open the box, Chum." Punch squinted.
Robert carefully opened the box. "Oh, would you look at that? She's made a lovely bouquet of paper flowers on wire stems. How surprisingly lovely."
Punch walked over and looked at the faux bouquet. The flowers had been carefully assembled from cut pieces of colorful crepe. It truly was a superb job. He looked more closely.
"What are them little black dots drawn on the petals?" He asked.
"I..." Robert narrowed his eyes. "Oh. It seems she's drawn little spiders on them."
"Hmmm..." Lennie nodded slowly.
"It's...nice." Robert inhaled. "Very realistic."
Punch took a deep breath. "Oh yes, she's begun an adventure. And so have we all."
Did you miss Chapters 1-391 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square? If so, you can read them here. Come back tomorrow for Chapter 393.