Monday, January 13, 2014
A Recipe for Punch, Chapter 39
"William's gotten her settled," Mr. Punch nodded as he returned to the drawing room, "in the Vermillion Suite. "Mrs. Pepper was very kind in lending her one of her very own sleeping dresses, she was. I must say, Morgana took quite quickly to Mrs. Pepper and she to her."
"Our Mrs. Pepper is a gentle soul," Lennie smiled. "It doesn't surprise me."
"We should have the staff in to discuss this. By that, I mean our staff from London." Robert muttered.
"Robert, dear, shouldn't we wait until morning?" Lennie asked.
"It's already morning. Everyone's already awake, and they're already discussing it anyway." Robert said.
"I do think we should send 'em all back to bed for a spell, though, we should. After. That'll give 'em a chance to get some rest while I sort out what to do with the staff here. Same for you and Lennie." Punch continued.
"Nothing is going to keep me from you side, dear Punch," Robert shook his head. "I've had many nights with no sleep. One more will not harm me."
"I concur." Lennie replied.
"Lennie, Matthew's due this afternoon..." Punch protested. "We can't 'ave 'im seein' ya on no sleep."
"Brother, dear, the man's going to marry me. He'll see me at worse than this. Furthermore, I'm not the most disturbing thing he's going to encounter here today."
"In an understaffed country estate." Robert added. "Once we get through with the Hall's native staff."
"I don't know that we need to sack all o' 'em." Punch sighed. "Let's first deal with our folk from London and make sure they know that we're all safe."
"Do we know that?" Robert asked.
"Sure, we do." Punch raised his eyebrows. "You sat here and talked with Morgana same as I did. You can see that she's harmless."
"She's killed two people. If not more. And, carried off Violet." Robert replied.
"She got confused." Punch replied softly. He looked at Lennie. "Sister, you don't think she's dangerous, do you?"
"Brother, dear, I...see that she's so grateful for the kindness. I find her rather charming, in a way. When she's not frightened, she's rather dear."
"But, that's the problem. When she's frightened. What's to say what will rattle her." Robert shook his head. "And, then what."
"So you think she's dangerous?" Lennie asked.
"You do, don't you?" Punch raised his eyebrows.
"Dear Punch," Robert began, "Truth be told, she's got Fallbridge blood in her..."
Punch's eyes widened with hurt. "So do I!" He stood up. "So does Lennie!" He looked away. "So does Collin for that matter." "That don't mean that Lennie and me are like our mother. That don't mean that Morgana is like 'er neither. And, it don't mean that Colin is like my 'orrid slut of a sister. Chum...how...how could you say that?"
"Robert, need I remind you that my father is also Johnny Donnan?" Lennie looked away with tears in her eyes.
"Chum, I don't mean to be hurtful, truly, I don't, have you forgotten that your own mum died in a madhouse? Does that mean the same for you and Cecil? Your own pa gambled 'way your family's money and drank himself to death. Will you do the same with my fortune and my whiskey?"
Robert's face flushed with shame. "I wasn't thinking." Tears welled in his eyes. "I'm so ashamed.
"Morgana's hurt folk, yes. She's killed folk. She's been mistreated because she's...she's deformed and sick and ugly. Well, Chum, I'm deformed and sick--inside. Lucky for me I ain't ugly. You love me for my handsome face and my strong body, but those are borrowed. Do you love the sick and deforemed part of me, too?"
"You know I do!" Robert exclaimed. "I've left my practice to make a study of people like you--to understand you. I adore you! All of you! Not just because you're handsome, but because you're...you! All of you!"
"Part of me is Fallbridge!" Punch spat. "And, part of me 'as done some o' the same things Morgana's done. Maybe I don't got pincers and a...hunchback..." He paused. "Good God! She LOOKS like what I really am!"
"Brother dear, calm down." Lennie said.
"Morgana is my aunt." Punch said flatly. "Just as Lennie is my sister. Just as Colin is now my son. If I, Punch, could be tamed into a gentleman, Morgana can be tamed into a lady, she can. Her appearance won't make it easy. But, I ain't gonna hide her 'way. I ain't! And I ain't gonna leave 'er behind nor lock 'er in no attic. Not for you, Chum, nor no one else! The cruelty ends now!"
Punch walked to the door of the Drawing Room. "And, that, Chum, is that it now means to be a Fallbridge. All the rest of 'em are dead and gone. I'm what's left and I'm the head of this family. The Fallbridge name will forever onward be associated with kindness, charity and the arts. Lord Colinshire, if you do not wish to remain with us, make your decision before we return to London. But, Morgana stays. We don't abandon our own."
"Punch, where are you going?" Lennie asked.
"I'm going to address my London staff. Lennie, I suggest you retire for awhile and try to rest, if you can." Punch replied.
"Brother, dear, let me speak to the staff with you." Lennie urged.
"If you wish. I don't mind." Punch nodded.
"Why don't you gather them here?" Lennie smiled.
"I wouldn't want to bother Lord Colinshire with Fallbridge business, I wouldn't." Punch sniffed.
"Dear Punch, please. I'm tired. I wasn't thinking... I didn't mean..." Robert began.
"I ain't like them!" Punch shouted. "I ain't! I ain't like Mother and Barbara! I ain't like Grandfather was! I don't do them things like burn little boys in boilin' water and twist their ears and...tell them that they're going to hell and...and I don't...and don't hit them with whips...I don't lock them in boxes or poke them with needles...I don't..." He feel to his knees and sobbed. "Chum! I ain't like them! I ain't like them! I don't pull their hair and cut their skin! I...I ain't..." He sobs became louder.
"Oh, my dear brother." Lennie rushed to his side.
"I ain't like Barbara neither!" Punch screamed. "I'd never 'ave put our baby boy in a sack and sold 'im. I'd never 'ave hurt 'im not never. And, I ain't like our ma. If I'd known 'bout Lennie, I'd 'ave held onto 'er tight and made sure she grew up loved and knew she was me sister. And, if Morgana'd been me sister, I'd not 'ave sold her to a curiosities show where she'd been treated bad, I'd 'ave given her toys and made her special forks and spoons to use in her claws so she could eat at table. My name's not even Fallbridge! Me name is Molliner! Fallbridge is just a part of me. It's me title, Chum. But, it's in all of us here. All of us, but you, Chum!" He continued you sob.
"I'm so, so sorry." Robert cried.
"How...how could you say such a hurtful...horrid thing to me. When, when I...all...all I ever done was loved ya? All I ever done was held ya and loved ya? I never let ya hurt? I never threw it at ya that your pa was a drunkard and your ma a loon! And, now, ya made me do it. And, now I hurt all the more for it. Why'd ya say it, Chum? Why? Why'd ya do it? Why'd you make me bad?"
"Punch, you're not bad." Lennie whispered.
"My father was a drunkard." Robert nodded. "And, my mother was a lunatic. It's true." He helped Punch to his feet. "Darling, dear Punch, I didn't intend to hurt you. I would never wish to hurt you. I would never intend to imply that you were anything like the late Duchess nor that Lennie was nor Colin. I forget that you are part of them. I do consider you Molliners. I know you're called 'Fallbridge,' yet I consider that such a separate thing--a creature unto itself. I misspoke. I was wrong. I see that I was hurtful and I am deeply, most sincerely sorry. You're right to be upset with me."
"I am right to be." Punch sniffed.
"Yes, you are."
"I ain't like them." Punch shook his head.
"Neither is Lennie."
"No, she isn't." Robert smiled.
"No." Robert nodded.
"And, I don't think Morgana is neither." Punch said firmly. "And, if she is, if she is...well, then, we'll...we'll love her, and tame her, and fix her and protect her. Or at least try!"
"Yes, we will." Robert nodded.
"I don't care if she is a monster." Punch coughed. "We're all monsters in our own way."
"That we are." Lennie whispered.
"We are." Robert agreed.
"We gotta try." Punch said.
"We will." Robert nodded.
"I'll go gather the staff." Lennie said softly.
"Thank you." Punch replied.
"Dear Punch," Robert embraced his companion tightly. "Can you forgive me?"
"Of course." Punch giggled. "Coo! Never been angry at ya before."
"Yes, you have."
"Well, a few months ago, when Fern was poisoning you, you thought I was treating you like a child and not telling you everything..." Robert paused. "Let's not get into that again."
"Best to not." Punch laughed.
"I am terribly sorry." Robert said sincerely.
Punch nodded, kissing Robert.
They hugged again.
"Yes, my dear."
"I just realized something." Punch whispered.
"Our budget for gloves is going to be outrageous."
Did you miss Chapters 1-38 of A Recipe for Punch? If so, you can read them here. Come back tomorrow for Chapter 40.