Saturday, June 1, 2013

Mastery of Design: Brooch with a Miniature of a Child, 1894



Brooch with a hand-colored photograph
English, 1894
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection 
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II



From the Nineteenth Century British School, this brooch of gold, diamonds, enamel and hair is set with a watercolor-ed photograph miniature of a child. The piece is engraved May 3rd 1894, but was first recorded in the inventory of the Royal Collection during the present reign.

This hand-colored photograph of a young child is set into a heart-shaped frame of gold and red guilloché enamel. An applied gold and diamond foliate wreath is inset with a lock of hair on the glazed reverse.


Antique Image of the Day: The Strange Case of Lulu, El Niño Farini, the Gender-bending Aerialist



Sam Wasgate as El Nino Farini, c. 1870
Guy Little Theatrical Photography Collection
This and all images depicted here are from:
The Victoria & Albert Museum



With the rise of photography in the Victorian era, came a desire to collect photographs.  Having a photograph of a family member was a rather costly endeavor, but purchasing a souvenir or novelty photo of a celebrity was common practice.  “Cartes de visite” and, later, “cabinet cards” were eagerly collected by people from all walks of life. 

The photograph seen above, dating to 1870, comes from a sizeable and important collection of “cartes de visite” and “cabinet cards” which were removed from their backings and mounted in albums by Guy Tristram Little (d.1953) who bequeathed them to the V&A. The photograph depicts “Lulu” (known as “El 
Niño Farini”) on a trapeze.

William Leonard Hunt and his adopted son, Sam,
as El Nino Farini and Guillermo Antionio Farini,
known as "The Flying Farinis"
So, who was Lulu?  We can tell that he was an aerial artist, but there’s a lot more to the life of this handsome, golden-haired lad.  He was born in 1855, an orphan, and first performed at the age of ten at the Alhambra Theatre in London alongside his adopted father, Guillermo Antonio Farini--an acrobat and tightrope walker of good repute.  
The elder Farini was not really Spanish or Italian--as his name suggests.  Farini was actually called William Leonard Hunt.  His stage name was meant to suggest exotic romance.  No one is quite sure where exactly Farini found the boy.  We do know, after careful research, that the child was born Samuel Wasgate somewhere in Maine, USA.
It has been suggested that William Hunt adopted the boy because he demonstrated no fear of heights and was stunningly handsome.  Little Sam appeared with Farini at Chelsea Pleasure Gardens for the first time in 1866, performing an act that they called “Le Tambour Aerial” (“the aerial drummer”) wherein, the boy, swung through the air balancing on his neck, banging a drum. 
Audiences at that 1866 performance were aghast by how young the boy was (Farini claimed that Sammy was only eight, though he was closer to eleven).  Nevertheless, the fears of the crowd were assuaged when they noticed that Sammy never lost his handsome grin throughout the act.  He appeared to be enjoying himself.  Farini also had employed a safety net to protect his investment, er…son. This is actually the first recorded use of a safety net in an aerial act.  From then on, the duo performed in music halls across the England billed as ‘The Flying Farinis’.
Three years later, at the Crystal Palace (which had gone through a series of other purposes after the 1851 Exhibition and before its decay and destruction by fire) in 1869. William Hunt carried Sammy on his back on a tightrope--180 feet above the audience.  “Farini” hoped to emulate the famous performance of Blondin who, seven years earlier, had carried his daughter in a similar manner.
Sam as "Lulu"
Sammy retained his youthful handsomeness.  Lean and small with peachy skin, the boy was considered very beautiful.  This beauty, “Farini” noticed, was more feminine than it was the look of a teenage boy.  And, so, William Hunt devised a scheme. El Niño, suddenly, was billed as “Lulu”—a girl.  But, Hunt couldn’t pass his famous boy off as a girl in London.  So, off they went to Paris.
In Paris in 1870, Sammy first appeared as ‘The Beautiful Lulu the girl Aerialist and Circassian Catapultist.” After some time, they returned to London where Hunt encouraged his adopted son to continue to perform as Lulu.
At the Holborn Amphitheatre in 1871, “Lulu” was given top billing.  Sammy was such a smash that he/she was soon billed as “The Eighth Wonder of the World.” “Her”famous act consisted of “being catapulted from the ground up to a trapeze and turning three full somersaults.”  Lulu/Sammy also wowed audiences by appearing to fly.
In reality, “Lulu” “flew” by being fired into the air by a contraption hidden under the stage.  It was this contraption which was soon to be the end of “Lulu”
At a performance in Dublin, in 1878, the contraption malfunctioned.  “Lulu’s” legs were terribly injured by the force of the explosion which propelled her.  In fierce pain, Lulu flew through the air, but, instead of her usual graceful landing on a plank suspended between two trapezes, she fell—bouncing off the edge of the safety net.  This blow caused further severe injury.
Discovered to be a male,
Sam reverted to wearing men's clothes.
He would, after this photo was taken,
cut his hair.
“Lulu” was rushed to hospital.  Once admitted, however, Farini saw his act go up in flames.  Lulu was immediately discovered to be a male.
Sam eventually recovered.  He continued performing for Farini, but as a male.  The duo suffered terrible embarrassment when Lulu’s gender was discovered.  Furthermore, there was, as was reported, “much embarrassment amongst male admirers” when it was revealed in 1878 that Lulu was in fact a man.

Gifts of Grandeur: Frame and Photograph of the Grand Duchess Elizabeth, 1905


Frame by Fabergé, 1903
Two-color gold, silver-gilt, guilloché enamel,
pearls, and mother-of-pearl
Photograph: Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna
1905
Purchased by Tsar Nicholas II
The Royal Collection

In this frame of two-color gold, silver-gilt, guilloché enamel, pearls, and mother-of-pearl (by Fabergé), lies a curious photograph of a woman with a noble face in the guise of a cleric. Is it a souvenir of a fancy dress ball? No, it’s an actual photograph of the Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna (Grand Duchess Sergei) from around 1905.

After the assassination of her husband, Grand Duke Sergei, Governor of Moscow in 1905, Elizabeth, along with her sister, founded a religious order which they called The Community of Martha and Mary. She appointed herself the abbess—as one does.

During the First World War, The Community of Martha and Mary tended to wounded soliders. The frame (which actually dates to 1903) was purchased by Tsar Nicholas II who later used it to display this photo.

At the Music Hall: If I Had a Talking Picture of You, 1929



If I had a talking picture of you,
I would run it every time I felt blue.
I would sit there in the gloom of my lonely little room
And applaud each time you whispered, "I love you; love you."

On the screen the moment you came in view
We would talk the whole thing over, we two.
I would give ten shows a day,
and a midnight matinee,
If I had a talking picture of you. 


"If I Had A Talking Picture Of You" was written in 1929 by Ray Henderson with lyrics by B.G. De Sylva. The popular song nodded to the then-somewhat-new-ish novelty of moving pictures with synchronized sound. The song was featured in the 1929 motion picture, “Sunny Side Up” starring Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell. 


Enjoy this version performed by Marvin which was recorded on October 8, 1929.




Getting Organized




The past two weeks have been exceptionally busy, disjointed and hectic.  Usually, as far as Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square is concerned, I'm ahead of schedule, so that you won't miss a chapter when you expect it.  However, this week, I've just not been able to do that.  So, I beg for your patience.  On Monday, we'll be back to normal.  I'm spending a large portion of today getting things back into queue and we will proceed in the manner to which you've become accustomed.  



Drawing of the Day: George Cooke's Carl Hertz Caricature, 1905



Carl Hertz
George Cooke, 1905
The Victoria & Albert Museum



Here’s another delightful Edwardian Music Hall caricature by George Cooke. Dating to 1905, the drawing of pen and ink, and wash on paper depicts the performer Leib Morgenstern, when as he looked when performing at the Grand Theatre of Varieties, Hanley, during the week of January 9, 1905.  He's shown defeating the devil and holding up his watch to show the time of his triumph.

Of American-Jewish descent, Morgenstern was billed in the U.K., as “The Famous Carl Hertz” and performed a monumentally-scaled show of “Marvelous Illusions and Surprises.” At the time, the display was considered to be “the most elaborate and sensational conjuring show ever presented,” including animals, hand tricks, and other spectacles which required audience participation.

The caricature is part of the many albums of his drawings which Cooke amassed in the early Twentieth Century. 

Object of the Day, Museum Edition: A Photograph from the 1902 Coronation



Photograph
Sir Benjamin Stone, 1902
The Victoria & Albert Museum



In many ways, the Shrine of Edward the Confessor is the heart of Westminster Abbey. King Edward ruled Britain from 1044-1066 and, in the Anglican Church, is considered a saint for what has historically been regarded as his pious nature. Since the Confessor’s shrine is near the altar and is in plain view of important events, it has been historically draped with an embroidered cloth for occasions such as coronations.

Here, we see a photograph by Sir Benjamin Stone taken at the 1902 Coronation of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra. The Confessor’s tomb has been draped, according to tradition, with an elaborately embroidered textile.

Friday, May 31, 2013

An Unexpected Hiatus





Hello, all.

Thus far, my day has shaped up as being very busy, and as much as I hate to do it, I won't be able to go about our usual Friday business here today.  My apologies, and, especially to those who look forward to Mr. Punch's Puzzles.  I'll try to make it up to you with some fun stuff over the weekend.

More to come...

Joseph, Bertie and Mr. Punch



Thursday, May 30, 2013

Gratuitous Bertie Dog Picture: Armrest

"Stare all you want.  I'm not giving up the chair."







Image:  The Orphan, Creator: Sir William Allan (1782-1850) (artist), Creation Date: Signed and dated 1834, Materials: Oil on panel, Dimensions: 85.7 x 72.4 cm, Acquirer: William IV, King of the United Kingdom (1765-1837), Provenance: Exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1834, probably acquired from there by William IV or Queen Adelaide.  Crown Copyright.  The Royal Collection.  Image courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.



Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection




You, too, could have a cup of tea with Bertie. Or, you could wear his picture proudly. Visit our online store to see our range of Gratuitous Bertie Dog products.


Mastery of Design: Queen Victoria’s Charm Bracelet, 1840



"Locket" Bracelet
1840-1857
Gold Enamel Hair
Presented to Queen Victoria by Prince Albert
November 24, 1840
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
We know, of course, that one of Prince Albert’s greatest joys was giving jewelry to Queen Victoria. He’d often create reasons to present her with tokens of his affection. However, in 1840, a definite reason presented itself with the birth of their first child, Victoria, the Princess Royal.


Three days after the birth of Victoria, on November 24, 1840, Prince Albert presented his wife with this simple chain bracelet engraved with the date. Hanging from the bracelet was a heart-shaped gold locket, adorned with bright enamel. The locket contained a lock of their first child’s hair. Prince Albert added an enameled locket to the bracelet on the event of the birth of each of their subsequent children—each containing a lock of the infant’s hair.



Bertie's Pet-itations: Praise





Here's Bertie's weekly opportunity to share his ideas for creating our new "Beautiful Age."  Bertie's advice, I'm sure, can be applied to many different areas of our lives.

And, so, I happily hand the computer over to him.


Bertie says:

Even if I didn't do anything extraordinary, it's I like to be reminded that I'm good.



Painting of the Day, "The Dame School," Isaac Cruikshank, 1790-1810



The Dame School
Isaac Cruikshank
1790-1810
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Isaac Cruikshank, the famed caricaturist, always had a keen interest in social and political issues. This interest was instilled into his son, George Cruikshank who offered us some of the earliest drawings of Mr. Punch.

Cruikshank, here, shows the world of education prior to The Education Act of 1870 which was the first measure in Britain aimed at providing a universal state system of elementary schools. Prior to the Act of 1870, most children, especially those from lower class families, learned the fundamentals of literacy in “Dame Schools. These school were so-called because they were run by unmarried, often elderly, women.

In Cruickshank's sketch, the teacher listens to a child reading aloud. His point was to show that clearly her pupils were learning something. Critics often dismissed the Dame, equating them to nothing more than a child-care service for working parents.

In this scene, the schoolroom was the old woman's kitchen—as was often the case. Though the scene looks to be awash in warm domesticity, there is one sinister detail—the inclusion of a bundle of birch twigs on the table which would have been used by the teacher to beat a slow or naughty child.

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 334




Chapter 334 
The Middle One 



You may leave us, Ulrika.” Orpha gestured to the parlor door with her stump.

“I don’t think I should.” Ulrika shook her head.

“I’m not frightened of this man.” Orpha replied. “Furthermore, I need you, Ulrika, to see to it that Fern hasn’t managed to free herself again.”

“She couldn’t possibly.” Ulrika shook her head. “I wouldn’t make the same mistake twice. Who knew, really, that there was a false wall between those two wardrobes? However, I’m delighted to say that Fern will not find a way out this time.”

“Still, I’d be relieved.” Orpha nodded.

“Very well.” Ulrika sighed. “You just cry out if this wretch lays one hand on you.” She chuckled. “One hand. At least it would be an even match.”

“Clever.” Orpha nodded.

“I shan’t be long.” Ulrika replied.

“Take your time.” Orpha answered.

Finally alone with Johnny Donnan, Orpha raised her eyebrows. “Here we are, Mr. Donnan. Reunited. Why have you come?”

“What’s happened to ya?” Johnny pointed to her missing hand.

“Nothing that I didn’t earn.” Orpha smiled. “So, have you come to take the other one?”

“I came to see ya because I thought maybe ya might like to…” He paused.

“What?”

“Let me be your da’.”

Orpha laughed. “You do remember that I’m not really your daughter?”

“My own don’t want nothin’ to do with me.”

“She’s a strange one.” Orpha nodded. “All that time I spent with her was excruciating. She’s so sweet and gentle. She seems to have been made all the more cloying by her association with those mandrakes. You’re fortunate she wants nothing to do with you.”

“Aye, but you’re not so sweet, are ya?”

“Not at all, no.” Orpha grinned.

“We’re a good match.”

“Even I have limits, Mr. Donnan.”

“I ain’t suggestin’ an’thing romantic. I just need some kin. I got no one. Maybe I could be of use to ya. If ya don’t want me as a pa, maybe I can work in the house for ya. I see ya got no servants. I ain’t nowhere to go. I could work here.” Johnny suggested.

“We could use the help.”

“So, you’ll take me on?”

“It’s not my decision to make. The lease is Miss Rittenhouse’s. It’s really her house.”

“I see.”

“Furthermore, how can I be certain that you’ve not come to exact some sort of fuzzy Scots revenge on me?”

“I can’t fault ya for what ya done, Miss Polk. I’d ‘ave done it me-self. Done worse in me lifetime, aye. I could be of use to ya. Revenge is in me heart, but not for you. No, it’s that Duke of Fallbridge. He’s taken me girl and turned her against me.”

“I rather think you’ve done that yourself. You did give the girl away at birth.”

“Only because her ma made me.”

“Oh, dear.” Orpha moaned. “Must we talk about those people?”

“Sorry, Miss.” Johnny answered. “Aye, I’d like to be of ‘elp to someone. Ya got babies, in the house. I’m good with wee ones.”

“Oh, yes, Finlay was the perfect example of that.” Orpha laughed. “Actually, your particular style of child-rearing may be of use to us.”

“For the babies?”

“Why do you keep saying, ‘babies’?”

“I heard two cries.”

“You did.” Orpha nodded. “However, there’s only one baby here. The other child is a girl. I don’t know how old she is. Maybe seven. She’s the one that I’d like you to…influence. I take care of my own child.”

“That would be the one called Marduk?”

“’One’ is such a limiting word.” Orpha muttered. “Perhaps you’d like to see him?”

“I would, Miss.”

“If he likes you, you may stay on here.”

“I thought you said Miss Rittenhouse is the decision-maker of the household.”

“We all defer to Marduk.” Orpha answered.

“To a babe?”

“As you would say, “aye.” Orpha replied. “Do come and see him.”

Johnny followed Orpha to a corner of the parlor where Marduk’s bassinette was hidden by a screen.

“My son, Mr. Donnan.” Orpha pointed with her stump.

Johnny tried not to gasp. He bit his lip and nodded. “A fine lad.”

“Shake his hand, then.” Orpha grinned.

“Which one, Miss.” Johnny gulped.

“The middle one.”





Did you miss Chapters 1-333 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square? If so, you can read them here. Come back tomorrow for Chapter 335.




Sculpture of the Day: “The Laughing Child,” 1498




The Laughing Child
Possibly a bust of Henry VIII
Guido Mazzoni, 1498
Polychrome clay
The Royal Collection
This startlingly realistic polychrome bust of painted clay has been attributed to Italian sculptor Guido Mazzoni who was also known by the name “Paganino.” In the 1490’s, Mazzoni was working on the tomb of French King Charles VIII when he submitted designs for the tomb of English King Henry VII which was to be built in Westminster Abbey. Royal records indicate that the designs of “Master Pageny” were rejected in favor of those of Pietro Torrigiano. However, it’s likely that this bust was commissioned by King Henry VII at that time or was presented to Henry VII as an example of Mazzoni’s life-like work.

The bust is crafted of an extremely thin layer of clay which was pressed into a very detailed mold. The child’s open mouth, nostrils and ears allowed steam to escape while the piece was fired. Removal of Victorian-era overpaint revealed the original painting scheme which was rendered over a layer of foil—giving the piece a natural glow.

The subject of the bust has been a matter of debate for centuries. William III had the sculpture removed from Whitehall Palace and placed in storage during his reign—perhaps it didn’t go with his décor or perhaps he found it unnerving. At that time, the bust was listed in the Royal inventory as “Head of a Laughing Boy.” By 1815, the inventory referred to the bust as “Head of a Laughing Girl.” Later, it was changed to simply, “German Dwarf.” However, historians now suspect that the bust is actually a portrait of a young Henry VIII—aged about seven years. This makes sense. The child does have Henry VIII’s features and the distinctive Tudor coloring. However, his true identity will never be certain. He is, most certainly, not, however, a German dwarf.

Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Object of the Day, Museum Edition: An Antique Rose-Cut Diamond Child’s Ring


Ring
Seventeenth Century, England
Gold and a Rose-Cut Diamond
The Victoria & Albert Museum

I have always been fascinated by jewelry, as anyone who reads this site with any regularity can tell.  I like to learn the way different cultures and eras have chosen to adorn themselves and the social rules which govern who can wear what and when.


This ring from the V&A is the oldest that I’ve found thus far. Created in England at some point in the Seventeenth Century (probably between 1650 and 1680), this ring is a little worse for wear, but is still in remarkably good condition for its age. A gold band has been set with a small rose-cut diamond (which appears to be foil-backed as most rose-cut diamonds of the era were).

Designed specifically for a child, this ring is inscribed on the inside with the phrase, “This spark will grow,” which is really quite sweet. It makes me wonder for whom this ring was made and how long he or she wore it. We’ll never really know, but I’m thrilled that this dear piece of jewelry has survived for over three hundred years.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Mastery of Design: The Ralli Portrait Miniature Bracelet, 1850


Bracelet with Portrait Miniatures
French, 1850
The Victoria & Albert Museum

When Her Serene Highness Princess Mary of Teck married her cousin, Prince George of Wales, she had already become a favorite of her husband’s grandmother, Queen Victoria (or, as Queen Mary called her, “Aunt Vicky.”) The two women shared a passion for jewelry and spent much time talking about their favorite jewelers and gems.

Queen Victoria’s love for jewelry contributed to an increase in business for both English and French jewelers as members of London Society tried to win the favor of the reclusive Queen by adorning themselves with the best jewels.

Victoria, and her granddaughter-in-law both favored R. & S. Garrard as a jeweler. However, they would often find beautiful items created by Parisian jewelers. One of these was Pierre-Jules, Chaise.

Here’s an example of the work of Chaise from about 1850. This bracelet of enamelled gold, rose and brilliant-cut diamonds, and painted ivory backed by mother of pearl, feautres alternative central pieces. One is a miniature portrait of Mr. Pandeli Ralli, the other shows his wife—for whom the bracelet was made. When one miniature was set in the bracelet, the other could be worn as a brooch. The bracelet shows the maker's mark: "JC" aboce the symbol of a bird.



Treat of the Week Double Feature





Not only was this past weekend Memorial Day in the U.S., it was also my mother's birthday, so, on Sunday, we celebrated in high style thanks to the twice-a-year cookery of my father (the other event for which he cooks is Mothers' Day).  He treated my mother to a lovely dinner of roast beef made on the rotisserie, spinach linguini with fresh herbs, a homemade bread (from scratch even) and a luscious salad of beefsteak tomatoes, fresh herbs, a lemony vinaigrette and mozzarella.  








This was followed by a beautiful cake--one that my father made from scratch complete with mocha icing and a homemade ganache filling.  I will say, it's the best cake he's ever made.




The following day, though it was really my mother's birthday, we celebrated Memorial Day.  My mother prepared a gorgeous glazed pork tenderloin, sugar snap peas (a favorite of mine), corn on the cob topped with a beautiful compound butter of herbs and citrus zest, another of my father's breads, and a new kind of potato salad.  We're not fans of mayonnaise-based salads.  So, my mother concocted a flavorful and tangy potato salad using white balsamic vinegar and scallions!  It was a very welcome addition to the meal.







The Memorial Day festivities concluded with two long-time favorites of mine:  my mother's brownies atop shortbread crusts and blondies full of chopped nuts and chocolate chips.  Piped in red, white and blue, they were as patriotic as they were tasty.





Unfolding Pictures: Queen Alexandra’s Photographic Fan, 1871




Photographic Fan
Wooden sticks and guards, mother-of-pearl and silver pin
1871
Possibly decorated by Princess Alice.
The Royal Collection
This unusual fan was presented to Queen Alexandra (while still Princess of Wales) in 1871, on the event of her thirty-seventh birthday. Though the donor of the gift is unrecorded, many suggest that the fan was a gift from Princess Alice—Queen Victoria’s third child—as a hastily-made gift for her sister-in-law. 

Alexandra’s thirty-seventh birthday was not a happy one. Her husband, the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) was terribly ill with Typhoid fever and was not expected to live. The entire family gathered by his bedside and Alexandra’s birthday was all but forgotten. Later, when Edward recovered, the family decided to celebrate Alexandra’s birthday. Princess Alice, who was quite crafty and artistic, had, in her possession, a collection of plain brisé fans which had been imported from Austria for the purposes of being decorated later. The fans featured wooden sticks with mother-of-pearl details. Though its’ not certainty, it’s believed that Princess Alice decorated this fan herself with photographs from her own collection of images of Alexandra and Edward’s children
The fan features painted swags of garland which spell out the name, “Alexandra” and the guard is inscribed, “Many happy returns of the day, Dec. 1, 1871.” The painting and application of the photographs is rather sloppy. If Princess Alice did, in fact, assemble this piece, she clearly did so in a hurry as her work was usually crisp and unparalleled.




Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
All Images Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Antique Image of the Day: Peasants of Coburg, 1857



Coburg Peasants at the Rosenau
Francis Bedford, 1857
The Royal Collection
Prince Albert left behind his native country when he married Queen Victoria. His love for Victoria outweighed everything else, however, he did miss Coburg and spoke of it often. Albert and Victoria traveled to Coburg together in 1845, and the Prince delighted in showing his bride all the sights that he so adored.


For Prince Albert’s birthday in 1857, the Queen commissioned photographer Francis Bedford to produce images of Coburg that the Prince could display in his suite of rooms at the Palace. Amongst those images were photographs of peasants from Coburg. These were some of the pictures that the Prince most cherished. The people who sat for the photographs were so honored to do so that they refused any sort of payment for their time. Queen Victoria rewarded them with gifts—sending silk kerchiefs to the women and embroidered waistcoats to the men. 


Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 333




Chapter 333 
Let Him In 



Yes?” Ulrika smiled as she opened the door of Hamish House.

“Pardon me, Miss, I’m lookin’ for Miss Polk.” Johnny Donnan nodded, his hat in his hand.

“Miss Polk doesn’t receive visitors.” Ulrika replied, beginning to close the door.

“She’ll see me. Aye, she will. I’m called Donnan. Johnny Donnan.”

“Oh, yes. I know your name.” Ulrika grinned. “You’re chief among the list of those whom Miss Polk will not see.”

“Why is that?”

“Really?” Ulrika squinted. “I shouldn’t think I’d have to explain that to you.”

“Once she called me, ‘father.’” Johnny answered.

“And, that’s precisely the reason she shouldn’t see you.” Ulrika laughed. “You’re not her father.”

“I’m no one’s father now.” Johnny shook his head.

“Oh…” Ulrika leaned in. “You’re sad. How exciting.”

“My son is dead. My only livin’ kin won’t speak to me even when I done ‘em a good turn. Seems that’s good ‘nough reason for a man to be sad.”

“It’s a glorious reason.” Ulrika cooed. “Your only living family? Would that be the Duke of Fallbridge’s sister?”

“Aye.” Johnny nodded. “The one Miss Polk told me she was.”

“She did a splendid job of it, didn’t she?” Ulrika nodded.

“Fooled me, she did.”

“Brilliant.” Ulrika sighed contentedly. “So, there, you’ve rather answered your own question as to why I can’t let you see Miss Polk. Surely you must hold a grudge against her for her deception…and…the beautiful result therein.”

“Miss, I just come from the kitchens of the Duke of Fallbridge after doin’ a good turn for Lady Fallbridge and the Duke and his doctor wouldn’t even let me speak to the girl. Aye, in fact, she showed no interest in wantin’ to see me at all. Turned her back, she did. Like I weren’t even there.”

“It gives me shivers to think of it.” Ulrika widened her eyes with delight. “You must have been utterly dejected.”

“Aye.”

“But, why come here?”

“Miss Polk was more of a daughter to me than me own blood.”

“Ah.” Ulrika nodded. “Still…didn’t you blame her for the death of your son?”

“I did. But, that was wrong. It was me own cruelty what sent Finlay wrong.”

“I’d love to have seen that.” Ulrika hugged herself. She turned around slightly and peered into the house.

“Do I hear the cry of babies?” Johnny asked.

“In a way.” Ulrika laughed. “That’s Miss Polk’s son.”

“I thought I heard two cries.” Johnny squinted.

“You did.” Ulrika smiled.

From within, a deep, weary voice—Orpha’s—called out. “Ulrika, let him in. I want him to meet Marduk.”

“Marduk?” Johnny asked.

“That’s the child’s name.”

“What sort of name is that?” Johnny asked.

“Royal.” Ulrika said proudly.

“I see.” Johnny nodded. “The lady said I could come in.”

“And so you shall, you sad little man. So you shall.” Ulrika opened the door wider.



Did you miss Chapters 1-332 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square? If so, you can read them here. Come back tomorrow for Chapter 334.