Thursday, November 21, 2013

A Recipe for Punch, Chapter 18

Chapter 18:

"You look just like a sunrise."  Mr. Punch exclaimed as he followed Robert into Lennie's room.

Lennie giggled.  "That's just what Violet said."

"Indeed that golden silk  is just the thing on you."  Robert agreed.  

Punch stepped closer to his sister.  "Lemme see those earrings."  He nodded, looking at the large orange-hued diamonds.  "Yes, they needed you."

"What's that, brother dear."

"A million years, them stones sat in the earth before they came to me.  Sure, I cut 'em and polished 'em and set 'em and gave 'em friends to glitter with.  But, they needed you.  Now, they're really, truly treasures."

"Oh, you are too much."  Lennie blushed.

"Isn't he just."  Robert affectionately put his arm around Punch's shoulders.  He gestured with his chin toward Charles and Gerard who had followed them into Lennie's suite.  "Our men said you ladies wished to see us."

"We do,"  Lennie nodded.

"If Your Grace doesn't require us any further,"   Charles spoke up.

"Actually,"  Lennie waved at Charles.  "Unless His Grace objects, I'd prefer you and Gerard to stay."

"I have no objection, I don't."  Punch replied.  He raised an eyebrow.  "Is somethin' afoot?"

"Well, we're not entirely sure."  Lennie answered.  "Violet, would you like to tell His Grace what you observed?"

Violet nodded.  "I don't like to complain, Your Grace, Your Lordship."

"We know that, Violet."  Robert smiled.  "We don't take anything you say as a complaint.  However, if something's happened that's bothered you, we should know."

"It's just that someone's been in M'Lady's things.  The whole of Her Ladyship's wardrobe's been rearranged.  All of it's been touched and moved about."  Violet said.

"Is that so?"  Punch frowned.  "We know who done that.  Ivy."

"She was in here when I came up from the library."  Lennie nodded.  "She claimed she was returning one of," Lennie paused, still uncomfortable with the word, 'Mother."  Instead she said, "One of the Duchess' gowns.  She said she's been working to restore all of the late Duchess' dresses for posterity.  She spoke of Pauline as if she were living.  Then--this is the queerest thing of all, she showed me a brooch containing a lock of...the duchess' hair which she claimed to have put in the locket after the Duchess died.  Claiming it was from her brush."

"That is odd."  Robert squinted.

"She all but begged me to take it--to wear it, so I might have my mother 'at my throat.'  I don't mind telling you that it gave me chills."  Lennie sighed.  "And, then Vi discovered that my wardrobe had been disarranged."

"After I already told Jackson that Violet wasn't to be bothered as your maid."  Punch scratched his head.

"They're an odd lot down there, Your Grace, if you'll pardon me sayin' so."  Violet said.

"I know they are."  Mr. Punch nodded.

"Gerard's already had some trouble with one of the footmen."  Robert frowned.

"We don't know that for sure."  Gerard shook his head generously.  "I might have misheard what he said."

"Well, we do know that Gregory gave Ethel and George a bad time."  Punch said firmly.

'Oh?"  Robert raised his eyebrows.  "When?"

"Earlier.  Seems Gregory made some advances toward our Ethel and George came to defend her honor and nearly got in a tangle, he did."  Punch shook his head.

"How do you know this?"  Robert asked.

"Gamilla told me,"  Punch confessed.  

"When?"  Robert asked.

"Oh, when you were nappin'."  Punch sighed.  "I shuffled off for a bit to look a Julian's old rooms.  Gamilla found me and told me 'bout it."

"Is Ethel all right?  What of George?"  Lennie asked.

"Both are quite fine.  But, it still shouldn't 'ave happened, it shouldn't."  Punch replied.

"We had a chat with William earlier,"  Charles began.  "He told us quite a bit about what went on here when he was brought on 'temporarily.'  It's an unusual place."

"That it is."  Punch nodded.  "And, Jackson's the leader o' 'em.  Mrs. Pepper's already had n'ough trouble with 'im an' we've only been 'ere one day.  Well, let's see if we can't get through dinner, and, then I'll 'ave a talk with Jackson 'bout his staff."

"I don't mean to cause a fuss, Your Grace."  Violet said.  "I just don't like the idea of someone touchin' M'Lady's things is all."

"I appreciate that,"  Punch nodded.  "And, you ain't causin' a fuss.  Not at all.  I just gotta put a stop to some things before they get worse.  I ain't lookin' to cause big changes 'ere.  If we was gonna stay 'ere forever, I would.  Only, we're gonna go home in a few weeks.  They can carry on as they wish.  But, for the time we're here, they just gotta be respectful.  It is my house, after all.  I just wish for a few weeks 'o peace, then they can do as they please.  Seems fair, yes?"

"More fair than they deserve, if you ask me."  Gerard grinned.

"No one asked you."  Charles teased.

"I asked all of you."  Punch laughed.  "Well, here's one good thing 'bout bein' here.  Least you two won't have to wait at table.  You can actually get a rest before your own dinner.  Gerry, you can go see your wife.  See if she's feelin' all right.  Make sure she rest for 'erself and that baby what's comin'.  And, Charlie--maybe you and Vi might like a walk before dinner?"

"Maybe."  Charles smiled.

Violet blushed.

"Lennie?"  Robert offered his arm.  "May we walk you to the drawing room."

Punch offered his arm as well.

"How could I resist being escorted downstairs by two such fine gentleman?"  Lennie smiled.

Mr. Punch looked over his shoulder.  "Thank you, all for takin' the time to tell us what you think.  And, thank you, Violet, for lookin' after our sister."

"It's me pleasure, Your Grace."  Violet nodded.

With the masters out of the room, Gerard clapped his hands.  "Think I will go check on my girl.  See you in the Servants' Hall?"

"Right."  Charles nodded.  "Our lot is going to meet by the fire.  We're gonna stay clear of the natives, then."

"Good thinking."  Gerry nodded.

Alone, Violet winked.  "So, Charles, are you taking me for a walk, then?"

"I am."  Charles grinned.


"How about Mr. Jackson's pantry?"

Did you miss Chapters 1-17 of A Recipe for Punch?  If so, you can read them here.  Come back tomorrow for Chapter 19.

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