Monday, November 25, 2013

A Recipe for Punch, Chapter 20

Chapter 20:

Jackson stood at the farthest end of the grand dining hall, framed by the architecture of the monumental room like a desiccated saint in a gothic reliquary.  He watched with pointed eyes as Gregory and William served the dinner, a dinner, of course, of which he did not approve at all.

Mrs. Pepper had prepared many of the Duke's favorite dishes in addition to those preferred by Lady Fallbridge and Lord Colinshire, hoping that familiar tastes and smells would make that strange and foreign place seem somehow more... livable.

The late Duchess would never have allowed such food to have been served below-stairs let alone in the banquet hall.  Chicken and turkey, rustic breads, compotes of berries and creamy sauces, sharp cheeses.  He wrinkled his nose.  Unrefined!

Lady Fallbridge and Lord Colinshire carried on as if they were not aware that the food on which they dined was wholly unsuitable.  Jackson studied the Duke.  Surely--mad as he was--he knew that his cook, this woman he had intentionally brought all the way from London...well...Her Grace would never have stood for it.

Jackson narrowed his eyes and waited.  Staring, staring.  He knew the Duke could feel his eyes cutting into him.

Finally, the Duke looked up and met Jackson's stare.

"Is something troubling you, Jackson?"  The Duke asked.

"I?"  The butler asked.

"Yes."  The Duke replied.

"Why do you ask, Your Grace?"  Jackson replied.

"Because you are staring at me."  The Duke responded dryly.

"I am only trying to anticipate your needs, Your Grace."  Jackson answered.

"I need not to be stared at."  The Duke replied.  "You are not serving any particular purpose.  Gregory and William are functioning well without you.  Why don't you retire downstairs for awhile?  After dinner, however, I would like to speak with you."

"You Grace, it is customary that I..."

"Jackson...please go."  The Duke sighed.

"Very well, Your Grace."  Jackson growled, turning on his heel and heading for the service stairs.

If only Mr. Punch had known that Violet and Charles were about to enter Jackson's pantry, he'd never have sent the man back so soon.

Did you miss Chapters 1-19?  If so, you can read them here.  Come back tomorrow for Chapter 21 of A Recipe for Punch.

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