Thursday, November 7, 2013
A Recipe for Punch, Chapter 9
"I'm quite glad," Lennie laughed as she entered the library to join her brother and Robert, "that you convinced me to have as many new dresses made as you did, brother dear. I had no idea that I would be changing more often in the country than I did in London. Apparently, you had already thought that through."
"When Violet showed at my door to tell me that it was time to change for tea, I thought, I could at least slip on a comfortable tea gown, but, it seems, she'd been sent up with a 'sugesstion' from our late, lamented mother's former maid that I should dress for the occasion."
"Everything was an event." Punch said dryly. "Whether a grand ball or tea. As we've seen, the place still runs under Pauline's rules, it does. For today maybe, at least. I'm surprised Jackson complied with the change in tea time and location. I wonder how poor Mrs. Pepper and Maudie are farin' down there. And, what's more--if it'll be Charles who brings up the trolly as I asked or one o' the native footmen."
"William seems pleasant enough." Lennie commented.
"He ain't been here long." Punch shook his head. "Not long 'nough to be corrupted. In fact, he weren't even hired by Mother. As far as I know it, he were a temporary replacement for my vile former valet Arthur. You know 'bout 'im, right?"
Lennie nodded sympathetically.
"Well, since he died 'round the same time as Mother, I think William were brought in temporary-like, and, then they sort o' forgot 'bout 'im and just left 'im on."
"I suppose that's why he hasn't been corrupted yet." Robert shrugged.
"As far as we know." Lennie sighed.
"I hear footsteps." Punch pointed. "Best straighten me-self up--just in case."
They all paused to wait to see who was going to enter.
"Mrs. Pepper." Punch smiled as the cook and Maudie followed Charles and the tea cart into the library.
"What a nice surprise." Robert stood up.
Punch rose, too. "Only though it's nice for us to see 'em, I don't think it's glad tidings they bring. You had a time gettin' up 'ere, too. Didn't ya?"
"Never before was there such a time, Your Grace." Mrs. Pepper answered honestly. "But, we got past that awful Mr. Jackson."
"I'm glad you did." Robert nodded. "However did you manage?"
"You should have see it." Charles smiled proudly.
"I told 'im that I had the masters' permission to speak to you anytime I pleased. That finally shut his gob, if Her Ladyship will pardon me."
"Do go on," Lennie smiled.
"Yes, I can see by the look in your eyes that something's troubling you." Robert said.
"Has Jackson been that bad?" Punch asked.
"Well, yes, but that ain't we we're here." Mrs. Pepper said. "Go on, Maudie--show His Grace."
Maude unwrapped the glittering notebook which she had concealed in her apron from Mr. Jackson.
"Oh dear." Mr. Punch squinted. "Where'd you find that?"
"In the larder, Your Grace." Maudie answered.
"That's odd." Punch frowned. "That's one o' Mother's...special..." He sighed. "You were right to bring it to me."
"Are you quite all right, Your Grace?" Mrs. Pepper asked.
"I will be, Mrs. Pepper." Punch replied. "Here, why don't the three o' you sit for a moment. If you like, I'll tell ya what this is."
Did you miss Chapters 1-8 of A Recipe for Punch? If so, you can read them here. Come back tomorrow for Chapter 10.