Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Recipe for Punch, Chapter 17

Chapter 17:
A Proper Sunrise

"Did you have time for a nice rest, M'Lady?"  Violet asked as she brushed Lennie's hair.

"I did."  Lennie smiled.  "Well, at least I was able to lie down for awhile."

"You didn't sleep?"

"No."  Lennie shook her head.

"What a pity."  Violet sighed.  "Still, that just means you'll sleep all the better tonight."

"That's right."  Lennie agreed.

Violet studied Lennie's reflection in the mirror as she brushed Lennie's long, dark blonde hair.

"M'Lady, there's worry in your eyes.  What's troublin' ya?"

"Well, Violet, to be honest, I had a rather...upsetting...well...unsettling encounter with Ivy."

"I doubt there's any other kind."  Violet frowned.  "What'd the old cow do?  Do I need to slap 'er 'round?"

"No, I don't think that's necessary."  Lennie laughed.  "She was in here when I came up from the library.  Just over there in the dressing room.  She claimed she was returning a gown of my mot...of the late Duchess'...and that she's been working to restore all of them.  She went on and on about mother and spoke of her as if she was still living."

"Odd."  Violet clucked her tongue.

"She showed me a memorial brooch that she wears with a lock of my mother's hair in it."

"Well, that, at least, ain't too strange."  Violet shrugged.

"Only she said she plaited the hair after my mother died."  Lennie added.

"How could she have?"  Violet frowned.  "Your mum died in America and there she stayed."

"Ivy claims she took the hair from the Duchess' brush.  It seemed a lot of very smooth hair to have collected from a brush."  Lennie shook her head.  "Show me, if you would, my brush."

Violet offered the brush over Lennie's shoulder.  

"You see, the hair is all matted and tangled.  There's no way that it could be rescued and made into a perfectly smooth braided curl."  Lennie grimaced.

"Not likely."  Violet shook her head.  "But, them folks what work with hair like that--they got ways o' treatin' it."  

Lennie offered the handle of the brush back to Violet.

"Now, M'Lady, don't you worry 'bout it.  Everyone here is a bit peculiar.  If anything, it let's us all see why His Grace stays in London.  Let's not let these things spoil your holiday.  You're goin' t'ave a wonderful dinner with your 'andsome brothers and before ya know it Lord Cleaversworth'll be 'ere.  Tomorrow, His Grace'll show you more o' the estate, and you and he and Lord Colinshire can go ridin' and maybe take Colin out for a pic-nic with Dog Toby.  All the bad is gone, M'Lady.  And, them folk downstairs--they're odd, yes, but, you're Lady Fallbridge.  They can't bother ya.  I won't let 'em, and ya know your brother won't."

"Quite right."  Lennie smiled.  "Thank you."

"The most you should be worryin' 'bout is what dress you want to wear with which jewels tonight."

"I think I'd like to wear the jasmine yellow silk."  Lennie said brightly.  "The mandarin diamond earrings which my brother made for me.  The matching lavaliere.  And the coral and gold bangles over the creme gloves."

"Which slippers?"  Violet asked.

"Let's be daring."  Lennie replied.

"Orange, then."  Violet grinned.

"Oh, I think so."  Lennie answered conspiratorially.

"Miss Lennie,"  Violet began, slipping into the more familiar form of address she had enjoyed with Lennie before the Queen had created her Lady Fallbridge, "wouldn't those slippers look right lovely with them paste clips on 'em?  Ya know?  The ones with them yellow pastes?  Did we bring 'em?"

"We didn't, Vi."  Lennie shook her head, joining her friend, and also falling back into their more casual patter.  "Remember how Punch feels about pastes."

"Right."  Violet laughed.

"But, I do have those buckles with real citrines in them.  Remember?  We packed those!"  Lennie continued.

"Oh!"  Violet squealed.  "Those will look a treat!  Like a right sunset!  I'll go get them slippers, Miss."

"I'll get the jewelry box."  Lennie chirped.  Lennie grabbed the jewelry box and hurried over to the bed where she sat down, sorting through the many, impressive jewels which her brother had made for her since they'd met.  Punch had confessed he was pleased to have a woman in the family for whom he could design opulent and completely decadent jewelry, and, Lennie did not object in the least.

Violet returned from the dressing room carrying the orange slippers, yet, the gleam was gone from her eyes.

"Vi, what's happened?"  Lennie asked.  "You've lost your enthusiasm."

"M'Lady,"  Violet began,"  "Looks to me that someone's been in your things."

"What do you mean?"

"Your dresses and slippers and your...lady's things...they ain't as I left 'em.  Did you rearrange 'em?"

"No."  Lennie shook her head.  "I wouldn't dare.  I know how you prefer to organize the wardrobe yourself.  Just as Charles prefers to do it for His Grace and Gerard does for Lord Colinshire.  We all stay out of it."

"Well, it ain't how I left it."

"Is anything missing?"

"No, but it's all been rearranged."  Violet shook her head.  "And, I know who done it.  That Ivy."

"There's no reason that she should have.  The wardrobe we're occupying was empty.  None of my mother's things were in there.  So, she has no excuse."  Lennie scowled.  "Unless she was just trying to be helpful.  I suppose she is accustomed to being the maid to the lady of the house.  Not that that's any excuse."

"It ain't no excuse.  I'm your maid.  Her lady is dead.  If you'll pardon me."

"I'll talk with His Grace about it before dinner, you can be assured of that, Violet."  Lennie said.  "It will not happen again.  I'll see to it.  No one will invade upon your territory again."

"Oh, Miss Lennie.  Ain't so much that.  Just bothers me to think that that strange old cow had her bony fingers on your pretty things."  Vi shook her head.  "You may not 'ave noticed, but, we're all rather protective o' ya."  She smiled.

"I have noticed."  Lennie nodded.  "And, I appreciate it."

"You ain't just a sister to His Grace and Dr. Colinshire."  Violet continued.  "It's like you're a sister to all of us from No. 65.  Me, and Gamilla and Charlie and Gerry, and George.  The girls, too.  Well, you're a daughter to Mrs. P., I s'pose., cuz she's older."

"I feel the same.  About being a sister to all of you, not about thinking that Mrs. Pepper is old."  Lennie replied.

Violet laughed.

"Tell you what,"  Lennie continued.  "After you've gotten me dressed, why not have you run over to the men's suite and tell either Charles or Gerard that when the lads are dressed they should meet us in here before dinner and we can talk to them about Ivy together?"  

"Good thinking, M'Lady."  Violet smiled.  "Now, let's get you dressed.  Your new corset, then?"

"If we must."  Lennie laughed.

"If you're wearin' that yellow dress, we must."

"Very well."  Lennie smiled.

"Oh, you'll look like a proper sunrise with them mandarin diamonds and them orange slippers miss.  A proper sunrise!"

Did you miss Chapters 1-16 of A Recipe for Punch?  If so, you can read them here.  Come back tomorrow for Chapter 18. 

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