Tuesday, November 12, 2013
A Recipe for Punch, Chapter 11
"Dear Punch?" Robert said softly. "You look a little tired. Perhaps you should lie down for awhile."
Punch nodded. "Perhaps I will. Carriage rides always rattle me so."
Lennie and Robert exchanged quick glances, surprised that Punch didn't put up a fight as he usually did when anyone suggested that he rest.
Punch looked from side to side. "I suppose I can stretch me-self out here."
"Your feet will hang over the side," Robert chuckled. "This settee was not built for masculine legs."
"No." Punch sighed. "Maybe on the floor."
"Brother, dear." Lennie smiled. "You really should go upstairs. We'll come for you in a little while. We've quite awhile before dinner."
"Upstairs?" Punch squinted, looked toward the library door. Though he said nothing, he didn't much like the idea of walking through the Great Hall alone just then--not with the cold touch of his mother's notebook still stinging his hands. "Chum? You should come, too. You know, I can't sleep without you next to me."
"It isn't a bad idea." Robert smiled.
"I'll go to my room in a few moments as well," Lennie nodded. "I just want to write Matthew before I do. I promised I write to him the moment I arrived and I rather forgot all about it during the pantomime which played out when we set foot in this house."
"You wish to stay here?" Punch tilted his head to one side. "You can write...I mean, there's a fine writin' desk in your suite, Lennie. And, I'm sure Vi's got the hearth lit up there, and..."
"I'll be fine here," Lennie shook her head. "Such a handsome room."
Punch nodded. "Ya know, Chum?" He looked at Robert. "Maybe, I'll just look in on Colin and see how our boy is doin'...and Dog Toby...and Gamilla and Gerard. Ya know...before I go lie down. How 'bout you stay here with Lennie and walk up with 'er in a bit? I'll meet ya in our rooms."
"Very well." Robert replied. "Give our Colin a hug for me."
"I will." He paused. "Don't stay too long, sister. We all could use some rest before dinner."
"Don't worry about me." Lennie smiled.
"But, I do. It's what I'm for." Punch replied. He took a deep breath and with a deliberate hand, opened the library door, exiting into the Great Hall.
As he headed for the stairs, he tried not to look at the monumental portraits which lined the marble walls. Centuries of Dukes and Duchesses of Fallbridge stared at him as he hurried up to the nursery, glowering over portions of familiar faces.
Meanwhile, in the library, Robert scanned the shelves as Lennie wrote. After awhile, she set aside her pen and looked up.
"She was a monster, wasn't she?" Lennie said quietly.
"I couldn't say, Lennie." Robert replied.
"You knew her, Robert." Lennie continued.
"Only briefly. Certainly, I knew of her for many years, but I only knew your mother for a brief time before she was killed." Robert answered honestly.
"Punch won't speak of her." Lennie inhaled. "He did--at the first, when we met. He spoke vaguely of her coldness and cruel heart. But, as we grew to know one another, he spoke of her less, and now, he will say nothing of her. When he does, it's only something I could find myself in a history book. Only when he's not guarded will something slip, and, then, he covers. Why is that?"
"As you two grew to know one another, he naturally developed the sort of protectiveness an elder brother feels for his younger sister. It's important to him that his experiences not color your opinions. He wants you to develop your own impression of your mother. You never knew her. He wishes for you to paint your own picture of her. I concur that his is a fair thought." Robert replied.
"She was a monster, though, wasn't she?"
"I shall say only that your mother did not care much for me--as a man, as a physician, and as her son's lover." Robert nodded. "And, I did not care much for her."
"She made Punch suffer terribly."
"It's not my place to answer that." Robert shook his head.
"He won't answer."
"Have you asked him? Have you asked your brother as simply as you just asked me?"
"Perhaps you should, dear Lennie." Robert smiled.
"Perhaps I should." Lennie replied.
"Have you finished your letter?" Robert asked.
"Do hurry." Robert said. "Perhaps we can catch Punch in the nursery."
"That would be delightful." Lennie chirped.
Robert chuckled, reaching for a book, he paused and looked over his shoulder--unaware that Jackson was watching their entire conversation from behind the farthest bookcase, the entire time.
Did you miss Chapters 1-10 of A Recipe for Punch? If so, you can read them here. Come back tomorrow for Chapter 12.