Monday, October 14, 2013

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 396

Chapter 396
Marble Halls

As had become his habit of late, Matthew joined the Molliner-Halifax family for dinner at No. 65.  Mrs. Pepper had outdone herself, with Maudie's help, making sumptuous feast for both above and below stairs in honor of the return of Gamilla and Gerard.

The spirit of the house was one of joy as the various members of the household enjoyed their meals.  Robert made a point of boasting about the cufflinks which the newlyweds had brought from their wedding trip as a gift for him.  They were inexpensive little things, but Robert cherished them.  Similarly, Lennie wore the beautiful comb of shell and paste-stones which Gamilla had carefully selected for her in Paris.  Punch, too, was moved by the gift that Gamilla and Gerard had brought for him--a stickpin of flimsy gold in the shape of Polichinelle.

After dinner, the two couples retired upstairs to the drawing room where Matthew and Robert enjoyed their brandy and Lennie and Punch chatted about the shopping she intended to do with Violet the following day.

"I say,"   Matthew snorted, "we need some music."  He wandered over to the intricately carved and gilt piano which stood in the middle of the room.  "All the evenings I've been here, I've not seen one person play this piano."

"Our Mr. Punch plays."  Robert smiled.

"I do?"  Punch raised his eyebrows. 

"I've heard you many an evening."  Robert laughed.

"Not well, I don't.  Plinking and plunking.  Were Julian what played.  Not one of 'is skills what I took on so well."

"Well..."  Matthew blushed, "I play."

"Oh, how lovely, Matthew,"  Lennie exclaimed.  "Do entertain us."

"No, no, I couldn't."  Matthew shook his head.  

"Go on, then."  Punch grinned.  "Don't be modest.  You're one of us now--like it or not."

"I do like it, but I couldn't play.  Unless..."

"Yes?"  Robert raised an eyebrow.

"Well...unless Lennie were to sing."  Matthew winked.

"Certainly not."  Lennie shook her head.

"You've a lovely voice."  Robert protested.

"We've heard you singin' to Colin many an evening.  Your voice is sweet and true."  Punch clapped his hands.

"I'd be too shy."  Lennie argued.

"Not with us, you wouldn't."  Punch stood and took Lennie by the hand.  He turned to Matthew, "Do you know, 'I Dreamt I Dwelt in Marble Halls'?"

"I do."  Matthew said happily.

"No, no..."  Lennie squealed as Punch pulled her up.

"Oh, Lennie, please..."  Robert pleaded.

"Very well."  She relented.

Joining Matthew by the piano, Lennie waited for her fiance to play the introduction and, then, in a bright, vibrant voice began...

I dreamt I dwelt in marble halls
With vassals and serfs at my side.
And of all who assembled within those walls
That I was the hope and the pride.

I had riches too great to count, could boast
Of a high ancestral name.
But I also dreamt, which pleased me most
That you lov'd me still the same,
That you lov'd me, you lov'd me still the same,
That you lov'd me, You loved me still the same.

On the floors above and below, as Lennie's voice swept through the house like sweet perfume, everyone paused to listen.

In the kitchens, Mrs. Pepper and Maudie stopped their work.  Speaight put down the silver which he was polishing.  Charles set aside the the box of starched collars which he was organizing.  Violet placed her mending in her lap.  Even Hulda and Dolly fell silent to listen.

Upstairs, Georgie set aside his brush and knelt in front of the library grate as he was overwhelmed by Lennie's clear voice.  In the nursery, Gamilla sat in her chair as Colin slumbered.  A sweet smile crossed her face.  Ethel leaned against the basinette as tears filled her eyes.  That had been, after all, Jenny's favorite song.  Gerard closed the wardrobe door in Punch's chamber and hurried back to his new wife so that they could listen together.

Lennie continued...

I dreamt that suitors sought my hand.
That knights upon bended knee,
And with vows no maiden's heart could withstand,
They pledg'd their faith to me.
And I dreamt that one of that noble host
Came forth my hand to claim.
But I also dreamt, which charmed me most
That you lov'd me still the same,
That you lov'd me, you lov'd me still the same,
That you lov'd me, you loved me still the same.

As they household listened, Punch took Robert's hand and whispered contentedly.  "Finally, Chum, we're all together and safe.  Let's enjoy it while we may."

Come back tomorrow for Chapter 397.   Only three chapters remain in Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square.  

1 comment:

Matt said...

This made me tear up. Thanks for bringing something beautiful to a crazy day full of nonsense. I needed this peace today and now you have me singing this song. I have the Enya recording of it and didn't know it was this old. My day has been full of ugliness and trying to avoid false cr*p and you made it a little nicer. <3