Wednesday, November 6, 2013
A Recipe for Punch, Chapter 8
She Ain't Here
"Stupid girl!" Jackson snapped.
"Pardon me?" Maudie looked up from her work.
"What are you doing?"
"Makin' the sandwiches for upstairs tea." Maudie frowned.
"Egg? Chopped boiled egg?" Jackson growled.
"His Grace always has chopped egg and streaky bacon sandwiches at tea. Them and chicken with rosemary and stilton. That's what he likes. His Grace and His Lordship and His Ladyship. Them's the savories they like for tea."
"You little idiot. That's not what we serve here!" Jackson continued.
"I'll thank you not to speak to my assistant that way!" Mrs. Pepper shouted as she entered the kitchens carrying a rack of freshly-baked scones.
"This is my household, Mrs. Pepper. I'll address the staff as I wish." Jackson answered.
"You may be in charge of your staff, Mr. Jackson. But, these are my kitchens and Maude is my responsibility. Furthermore, this is the household of the Duke of Fallbridge, not the household of bleedin' Mr. Jackson. I believe I heard His Grace remind you of that very fact just his mornin' when we all arrived. In these kitchens, I am the authority, and I take my orders from His Grace, not from you. I know the masters will not be happy to learn that you've spoken to Maude so harshly."
"I am only trying to communicate that egg sandwiches are unacceptable. We do not serve such things here." Jackson continued.
"His Grace likes them, so, we do." Mrs. Pepper replied. "It's as simple as that."
"The Duchess of Fallbridge would never allow..."
"She don't gotta eat them, does she?" Mrs. Pepper smiled. "She's dead."
"How dare you?" Jackson sputtered.
"She is dead, ain't she?" Mrs. Pepper shrugged. "Best you all here start to realize that. And, best you remember to stay outta my kitchen."
"I am the butler..."
"That's fine." Mrs. Pepper nodded. "We got one at home, too. He's also full o' bluster, our Mr. Speaight, but he's a kind man who wouldn't dream o' an unkind word. He also knows his place. Knows when he should keep his nose outta somethin'. Maybe you been here alone for too long, so, let me tell ya how a household what's got a master works. What the Duke, His Lordship and Lady Fallbridge eat is my business. Their well-bein' is the business of Mr. Iantosca, Mr. Gurney and Violet. Mrs. Gurney and Ethel look after the baby. My son is the support for all of them and the master's dog. Maudie looks after me. You, Mr. Jackson can carry on as you always do and pay us no mind. I'm sure you got plenty to do lookin' after this place. So, I'll thank you to go on 'bout your business and we won't bother you as long as you don't bother us. And, you get the added benefit o' the fact that I'm here to feed you and your staff, too. So, looks to me like you're gettin' the better end o' the bargain. Only if I ever 'ear you speakin' harshly to my Maudie or any o' us from London again, I'd take careful bites o' your supper, I would."
"Are you threatening me?" Jackson growled.
"I wouldn't dream of it." Mrs. Pepper smiled. "Now, if you'll pardon me, we got egg sandwiches to finish. No use havin' His Grace and them lovely gentlefolk wait for their tea--'specially after that long walk they took earlier. Besides, if their tea is late, so will be downstairs tea, and that'd be a terrible shame what with this bein' the first day you've got a proper cook here again."
Defeated, Jackson snorted and left the kitchens.
"Cor!" Maudie grinned. "You told him proper."
Mrs. Pepper winked. "He had it comin'." She surveyed the sandwiches Maudie had made. "Fine job, Love. Maybe a few more with the stilton, you know how His Lordship tends to wold 'em down."
"Right." Maudie nodded.
"Oh, I'd love to add some more rosemary to this chicken." Mrs. Pepper sighed. "Only there wasn't any more. Terrible to think a house like this would have such a poor larder."
"You know," Maudie began. "There's a queer sort of angle back in the larder--in the dark there. Spotted some shelves and such back there. And cupboards. Maybe they got some herbs dryin' back there."
"Be a lamb and go look, would ya?" Mrs. Pepper said. "I'll finish up with the stilton."
Maudie hurried off.
After a few minutes without Maudie returning, Mrs. Pepper wiped her hands on her apron and walked toward the larder.
"Maudie?" Mrs. Pepper called. "Did ya get lost in there?"
"No." Maudie answered, coming out. Her hands were shaking, and she held something in her apron.
"No. Candles and some things..."
"Little...pictures. Like little paintings of a lady. And this..." Maudie opened her apron to reveal a glittering notebook with a hard cover of enamel and gold, inlaid with diamonds in the shape of an "F" surmounted by a coronet.
"Blimey." Mrs. Pepper exclaimed.
"What is it, Mrs. P.?"
"Dunno." Mrs. Pepper shook her head.
"Should we oughta bring to His Grace?" Maude asked.
"I think we'd best." Mrs. Pepper nodded.
Did you miss chapters 1-7 of A Recipe for Punch? If so, you can read them here. Come back tomorrow for Chapter 9.