Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Recipe for Punch, Chapter 25

Chapter 25:
Gotta Get Out Sometime

Robert yelped a bit as he lowered himself into the bath.  "Hot."

"Baths at Fallbridge Hall are always hot."  Punch sighed, recalling the baths he/Julian had taken as a child.  "Mother made sure of it.  She had the tubs specially made to keep the water as boilin' as possible, like a kettle.  I think there's some sort ' metal core under the porcelain what keeps the water hot.  I'm sure Charlie didn't know, when he brought the water in, that it'd 'ave stayed as hot as it did."

"I don't blame Charles."  Robert smiled.

Punch slouched on the chaise across from the rub, arranging his dressing gown to keep himself warm in the cold tiled room.  "Did Charles seem a bit...not 'imself this evenin'?"

"He did."  Robert nodded.  "Gerard, too.  I suspect they're both tired.  It has been a rather long day, furthermore, I wouldn't be surprised if the peculiar...nature of the place hasn't gotten to them, too."

"I don't doubt it."  Punch replied.  "'Sides that, they gotta deal with them downstairs all the time when we oly gotta deal with 'em in little bits.  Still, Chum, I think it a bit worrisome that Charlie said he wanted to speak with us in the mornin'."

"That's not unusual."  Robert shook  his head.  "Charles often wishes to have a bit of a briefing with us at the top of the day.  As first footman, it's quite proper that he should."

"No, this is different.  He wishes to tell us somethin'...somethin' he didn't wanna bother us with tonight."

"Now that you mention it..."  Robert raised an eyebrow.  "Well, there's nothing we can do about it at the moment."

"Right."  Punch nodded slowly.  

"Dinner was quite good."  Robert changed the subject.  

"Mrs. Pepper takes good care of us."  Punch smiled.  "It were even better once we got rid of Jackson.  Strange, after dinner, that he acted so calm-like when I told 'im to see that Miss Blessum keep out o' Lennie's room.  I thought he'd give us a regular argument."

"Perhaps he's finally learning his place."

"That'd be somethin'."  Punch nodded.

"Dear Punch, what exactly does Miss Blessum do here?  I mean, since your mother's death, she's not really needed."  Robert asked.

"I know."  Punch shrugged.  "Dunno what she does."  He laughed.  "I never thought of it.  Tried me best not to think of this place at all, really.  Just let it go on the way it 'as been.  Seems she keeps busy 'nough.  I s'pose she keeps up Mother's things.  But, with Lennie in those rooms, she's gonna 'ave to wait 'til we leave."

"Jackson implied she had other duties to occupy her time.  What could they possibly be?"  Robert shook his head as he scrubbed himself.

"Dunno."  Punch shrugged again, "Ladies' things."  He wrinkled his nose.  "Let's not talk 'bout Miss Blessum anymore.  Don't like her, Chum."

"Very well."  Robert agreed.  "I agree there are more pleasant subjects."  He tilted his head to one side.  "What are you looking at?"

"You.  You're nice to look at."

"Well, now that I've gotten used to this water, I'm rather dreading getting out of it.  The room is cold."

"Gotta get out sometime, Chum."  Punch smiled.

Meanwhile, two floors above them, Gregory carried a candle to the farthest end of the attics.

"Here, Ivy!" Gregory whispered.  "What's been keepin' ya!  Mr. Jackson's gone barmy with worry!"

The candle illuminated Miss Blessum's ghastly face which she cradled in both hands as she staggered through the narrow passage.  She removed her hands.

"Cor!"  Gregory gasped.  "What happened?"

"She scratched me!"  Ivy cried.  "She scratched me, Gregory.  She knows the rules, and yet, she deliberately broke them!"

"I hope you whipped her!"  Gregory snapped.

"I couldn't."

"Well, I'll do it."

"No, you won't."  Ivy shook her head.

"Watch me."  Gregory snarled.  "I don't care what Mr. Jackson says, we can't have that thing scratchin' us no more.  Nor bitin' nor..."

"She's not there, Greogry."

"What?"  Gregory's eyes widened.

"She pushed me."  Ivy answered quickly.  "When I went to get a cloth to stop my bleeding, I turned my back to her and she pushed me."

"So...she was chained...  Yes?"

Ivy was silent.

"Jesus, Ivy!  Tell me you didn't undo its chains!"  Gregory gasped.

"Keep your voice down."  Ivy snapped.

"Don't scold me, you old bitch.  You're the one that let her loose!"  Gregory belched.  "How could you do it?"

"I felt sorry for her."

"How could you?"

"Gregory, you don't look into her face the way I do.  You don't know her as I do."  Ivy replied.

"What's to know?"  gregory spat.  "She's a..."

"Be careful what you say!"  Ivy demanded.

"You mean to tell me she's loose in the house?"

"She can't have gotten far."

"Oh really?"  Gregory shook his head.  "And with the fey Duke and his margery here, too.  And, all them dandy footmen from London.  Ain't it grand, Ivy?  It'd 'ave been one thing for this to 'appen with just us in the house, but...but..."  He turned on his heel.

"Where are you going?"

"To get Mr. Jackson!"

"Oh, no.  Don't bother him with this."

"This ain't a broken candlestick, Miss Blessum!"  Gregory said.  "She's escaped!"

"Help me find her.  Mr. Jackson need never know."

"And if we find her, what's to keep her from killin' us both?"  Greogry asked.

"She won't.  She loves me."

"I can see that."  Gregory smirked, pointing at the bleeding scratches on Ivy's face.

"Just a few minutes."

"Everyone in this house can be dead in a few minutes." Gregory said.  "I don't care so much 'bout the rest of ya, but I do care about me-self, and I'm  not so ready to be dead."

"Please."  Ivy begged.  "Or...or...or I'll tell Mr. Jackson that it was you who left the Burke's daughter with child and no husband to take care of her."

"You wouldn't."

Ivy smiled.

"I hate you."  Gregory growled.  "Fine, you old cow.  But, if that creature of yours and Mr. Jackson's so much as spits on me, I'll cut your throat and say she done it."

Did you miss Chapters 1-24 of A Recipe for Punch?  If so, you can read them here.  Come back tomorrow for Chapter 26.  


Dashwood said...

What fresh hell is this? They speak of this thing as if it were human but I sure hope it isn't.

None of the notable attic loonies in literature that I've ever heard of would scratch like that.

Joseph Crisalli said...

One always wishes one's attic looney to be fresh. No one likes a derivative attic looney. We shall get small glimpses of what she is in coming chapters...though these may be misleading...or, they may not be.

Book Gurl said...

What could it be? Is it a person? I hope it's not a person? If it is a person it's a wild woman. Very frightening especially since Gamilla and Ethel are alone with the baby.

Joseph Crisalli said...

Actually, by this point, time has passed. Dinner is over and everyone has gone to bed or is getting ready for bed. By now, Ethel has gone to the new servants' quarters which were set up for the visiting servants from London's on the far side of the house (purposefully away from the "native Yorkshire" staff). Gerard and Gamilla are in the en-suite bedroom next to the nursery, but Colin is alone. That makes it even worse. Thanks for your comment, Book Gurl.