Wednesday, December 4, 2013
A Recipe for Punch, Chapter 22
"Insolent boy, little twit." Jackson growled as he stormed past George and into his pantry, slamming the door behind him. "Unsuprising," he continued to mutter. "The whole lot 'His Grace' carried with him are insolent." The words, 'His Grace' dripped with acid.
"How dare he? Barmy Julian." the old man creakily paced his room. "I've stood at that table for thirty-five years. Suddenly, I'm not good enough to serve him, his margery, and the bastard girl."
Suddenly, he dropped to his knees. "Oh, forgive me, Your Grace. Forgive me! Your pardon! Your Grace's pardon! I know you loathed your mandrake son, but you never knew the girl. She's part of you, and I should not have said that of her. Your Grace herself declared Master Julian lost when he was a boy, my contempt for him is just and right, but I should give the girl a fair chance. Oh, please, please forgive me!"
Without shame, he wept--loudly and sloppily.
From within the silver cupboard where they'd hidden when they heard Mr. Jackson's bony fingers scratching at the door to his pantry, Charles grabbed Violet's trembling hand. She slowly turned her head and looked at him with wide, frightened eyes.
Violet shook her head, wondering how anyone could dare call the Duke of Fallbridge mad when people such as Jackson existed.
Through the division of the cupboard doors, Charles could see Jackson, still on the floor in an undulating, sobbing heap.
"Oh, Your Grace!" Jackson looked up. "It's shameful! Your son has taken a man into his bed! Right here in Fallbridge Hall! They act as if they're married. Your grandchild is being raised by two midnight spiders, Your Grace. I saw the child. He looks like his mother. I knew at once when I saw him. He has Lady Barbara's eyes--your eyes. The Duke calls him his own son, he and his nancy man. They call him their son. It sickens me. It's a crime in the eyes of God! I've spoken to Mr. Quick about this. He and I have a scheme. We'll see to it that God exacts his punishment on those mandrakes, and your will, My Grace, will be done. How you loathed him--since the moment he opened his mad, little eyes. He'll suffer for his madness. I'll see to it."
Within the cupboard, Charles and Violet exchanged looks. Violet appeared as if she might burst out of the cupboard and grab the old man by the throat, Charles grasped her hand tighter and pulled her backward a bit. As he did, he brushed against a long, white robe which was hanging on a hook on the back of the cupboard door. The cloak made a swishing sound as it gently swayed.
Mr. Jackson shuddered and heaved, standing up.
Charles and Violet held their breath, hoping he hadn't heard the noise.
Brushing the dust from his knees and elbows, he then wiped his face with the backs of his wrinkled hands. "I don't have much time, but I must look at you..."
He walked toward the cupboard. "But, first, I must make myself presentable."
A knock on the pantry door startled all three of them.
"What is it?" Jackson barked.
"If you please, Mr. Jackson." Ivy hissed through the door.
"What is it, Miss Blessum?" Jackson growled.
"Their cook won't make up the tray." Ivy whispered.
"What?" Jackson opened the door.
"I asked her to make up the tray and she won't do it, that Mrs. Pepper."
"Why not?" Jackson demanded.
"She wanted to know who it was for." Ivy replied.
"It's not her concern." Jackson snapped.
"That's what I told her." Ivy shrugged. "She said that every morsel of food eaten in this house is her concern and that she doesn't mind making up a tray as long as she knows who it's for. But, I couldn't very well tell her that it's for..."
"No." Jackson interrupted quickly. "You could not." He shook his head. "I'll take care of it."
"You've got some dust on you." Ivy smirked.
"Dust?" Jackson squinted.
"Dust." Ivy nodded. "Got yourself tossed out o' the dining room, did ya?"
"That's enough from you, Miss Blessum. Return to your duties. You've things to do while Lady Fallbridge is occupied. Where's her blonde maid?"
"Dunno. Probably off with that Italian footman o' the Duke's." Ivy shrugged.
"Debauched--the whole lot of them."
"You're one to talk." Ivy laughed.
"Be gone." Jackson howled.
"Yes, Mr. Jackson. But, I'll tell you this. If I don't have a tray to bring to...to her...then it'll be the first night since we brought her home and it'll be on your head."
"Have I ever failed?"
Ivy scowled. "Just see that you get the tray, Mr. Jackson."
Did you miss Chapters 1-21 of A Recipe for Punch? If so, you can read them here. Come back tomorrow for Chapter 23.