Thursday, January 16, 2014

A Recipe for Punch, Chapter 42

Chapter 42
A New Reign

The twelve or so members of Fallbridge Hall's staff who'd already risen for the morning and gathered in the Servants' Hall, nervously rose to their feet when the Duke of Fallbridge, the Baron Colinshire and Lady Fallbridge, freshly-dressed for the new day (though at a hideously early hour) stormed downstairs.  Would they all be dismissed as Mr. Jackson had? Rumors had been the order of breakfast--rumors and gossip which fed the nerves of the native staff and the amusement of Mrs. Pepper and Maudie who listened from the kitchens.

Miss Blessum and Gregory greeted them.

"Your Grace,"  Gregory bowed his head obsequiously.  "Is there anything with which I might help you."

"Do you have the keys to the pantry?"  Punch asked bluntly.

"The pantry, Your Grace?"

"Jackson's pantry.  The butler's pantry.  The pantry."  Punch snapped.

"I do."  Gregory nodded.  "As first footman, I..."

"Hand them over."  Punch interrupted him.

"Yes, Your Grace."  Gregory nodded, reaching for the keys.  "Am I sacked?"

Punch looked at Robert and Lennie and smiled.

"Not yet."  He said finally.

Gregory exhaled with relief. 

"Don't look so relaxed yet."  Punch grinned.  "I said, 'yet.'"

"Am I, Your Grace?"  Ivy Blessum asked.

"Nothing would please me more than to dismiss you, Miss Blessum."  Mr. Punch scowled.  "Furthermore, don't think for a moment that I didn't notice you skulking about whilst I was speaking with my family last night.  You are treacherous, and peculiar.  Typically I like peculiar people, but you are peculiar in exactly the wrong sort of way."

Ivy sniffed.

"However, for the time being, you're necessary, as much as it pains me to say it."  Punch continued.  He leaned in.  "The two of you know the most about the situation upstairs and Mr. Jackson's reasons for...all of it.  Miss Blessum, you most of all.  So, you're being given a rare chance.  You can stay, for the time being, provided two things.  The first being that you change your alliance.  Mr. Jackson is not in charge here.  You'd do well to remember that this is my house.  My mother is dead.  If you tell me the truth about what's gone on here since I've been away, there may remain a place here.  If you continue this madness, you'll find yourself out in the cold."

"What is the second provision, Your Grace?"  Ivy asked stiffly.  

"Stay away from Miss Morgana,"  Mr. Punch whispered.  

"Your Grace!"

"She will be attended to by my staff from London.  I wish you nowhere near her."  Punch said firmly.

Gregory smirked at Ivy's obvious agony.  Still, Ivy nodded her agreement.

"As for you Gregory--just stop being such a stirrer.  Mind your place and keep your wits about you."  Punch continued.

"Furthermore, if I hear anymore comments about me and His Grace or Mr. and Mrs. Gurney from you,"  Robert added, "I will personally toss you out of the house."

Gregory blushed.

"Yes, you should blush.  I've heard what you've called me under your breath."  Robert growled.  "It may be that I am what you say, Gregory, but count on this, I could still break every bone in your body and make you swallow your teeth.  So, just keep quiet."

"Yes, Your Lordship."

"I dislike you both, too."  Lennie added brightly.  She smiled.  "I just don't like to be left out." She inhaled.  "Now, to the pantry."

"Maybe Mr. Jackson should be here when we go..."  Ivy said nervously.

"I can't believe I have to repeat this."  Punch sighed.  "This is MY house.  Jackson has been dismissed and he's run off.  I can go wherever I like whenever I like.  Thus far, you're not doing well keeping up your end of our bargain."

"Yes, Your Grace.  I apologize."

Gregory smiled.  "The pantry is this way."

"I know where it is."  Punch grumbled.  "We don't wish to be bothered."  With that, he, Robert and Lennie retreated to Jackson's former lair.

"Gregory, what will we do should they find her?"  Ivy moaned softly.

"I hope they do."  Gregory laughed.  "It'll give 'em a shock, it will."  He guffawed.  "Aw, buck up, Ivy, only Jackson has a key to that cupboard."

"'s too close."  She wrung her hands.  "And, I can't see Morgana."

"Listen, woman, you're not out in the cold.  Count your blessings."  Gregory muttered.

"I don't like this at all."  Ivy shook her head.

"It's a new reign,"  Gregory shrugged.  "I intend to be part of it."

"I will never."  Ivy snapped.

"Stay in your grave, then."  Gregory sighed.  "And, rot, for all I care."  He walked away.

"I'll see you all rot before I do."  Ivy whispered.  "My Morgana and I...we will see you all fall at our feet."

Did you miss Chapters 1-41 of A Recipe of Punch?  If so, you can read them here.  Come back tomorrow for Chapter 43.

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