Friday, January 17, 2014
A Recipe for Punch, Chapter 43
"Auntie Morgana?" Lennie entered the Vermillion Suite after knocking, "Are you awake?"
"Y...yes." Morgana answered.
"Were you able to rest?" Lennie asked.
"I'm glad, Auntie."
Morgana looked up emotionally.
"Is something troubling you?" Lennie asked.
"No, no. Just having you...hearing you call me, 'Auntie.' I...I am...everyone has been so...so kind. I am not used to it. To think that you would like to call me 'Auntie.'"
"Well, you are my auntie," Lennie smiled. "And, I'm most pleased to have an auntie. In this last year, I've discovered a brother I never knew I had, a nephew, and, well...I think of Robert as a brother, too."
"I suppose you must." Morgana nodded. "They are like...like married people Punch and Robert, are they?"
"They are." Lennie smiled.
"This is not something...not something of...of which people approve? Is it?"
"No, not generally, though I can't think why." Lennie replied.
"Nor can I." Morgana sighed. "People don't approve of me either."
"I can't imagine why they don't approve of you either, Auntie." Lennie patted Morgana's pincer.
Morgana wept happily again.
"To be honest with you, people don't generally approve of me. I was born of a noblewoman and a groundsman--illegitimately. When Punch discovered my existence he gave me his family name, Molliner, in order to give me some legitimacy. Furthermore, because of his friendship with the Crown, I was created Lady Fallbridge. In fact, Her Majesty created Robert a Baron to show her approval of his union with Punch. It's all because of our dear Punch that we're accepted at all." Lennie explained.
"I was illegitimate, too." Morgana nodded.
"All the more reason that you and I should be close." Lennie smiled. "And, all the more reason that our Mr. Punch will fight to see that you are looked on with favor and with respect."
"He is a fine gentleman...a good man."
"Yes. A man who has had much struggle in his life." Lennie replied. "He knows how it feels to be different."
"Because he loves a man and not a woman?" Morgana asked.
"That, and for other reasons." Lennie replied.
"Because he is named for a puppet?"
"Why is he named for a puppet? Did my sister name him for a puppet?"
"No, she named him 'Julian.' He...named himself 'Punch.'"
"I like that better than Julian." Morgana smiled. "He...he was clever to do it. But, why?"
"It's a very complicated thing, Auntie. I shall let him and Robert explain it to you one day. Today, we wish for you to rest and be well-fed and taken care of. Which is why I've come up to see you. The boys--that is Punch and Robert--have taken on Jackson's pantry to see what horrors the old boy left behind..."
"They...they are many, I'm sure..." Morgana shuddered.
"No doubt." Lennie nodded. "I joined them for awhile, but I found there to be a peculiar smell in there, and it rather overpowered me after a spell. So, I decided I'd much rather visit with you. There are some things which we need to address."
"Yes, to begin with...your wardrobe."
"I don't suppose you have much of one."
"No." Morgana shook her head. "The...the...one shift."
"What of shoes?"
"I have none."
"You have no shoes!" Lennie exclaimed.
"You've seen my leg." Morgana looked away, ashamed.
"Nonetheless, you must have shoes of some sort. You'll be much more comfortable, Auntie." Lennie said gently. "We shall sort something out. As for breakfast today, I thought you could wear one of my tea dresses. They're very loose and I think they'll accommodate your particular figure."
"Yes." Lennie nodded.
"Mr. Punch and Robert thought you'd like to take your meals with the rest of the family."
"I...I...couldn't...I couldn't let you see me...I couldn't...let you see me eat."
She held up her pincers. "I...I can't hold...It's...I'm..." She shook her head. "I can't let you see me eat."
"Auntie, we would not..."
"I know, I believe you are all very kind and loving. But, but...I would be..."
"I understand." Lennie smiled. "Still, we're going to have to have a wardrobe prepared for you. I thought you might not like seeing a dressmaker..."
"So, I was thinking...our governess, Gamilla..."
"Gamilla, oh, I know her..."
"Oh, yes. She came to visit me. She's so very pretty. So very, very pretty. She's so kind and sweet. She came to see me and sat with me and smiled. She is going to come back to see me later."
"She couldn't stay long. She said her husband would worry if she was gone long because she is with child. Isn't that...isn't that...sweet?" Morgana smiled. "I liked her so much. She said she was going to be my friend."
"You could not ask for a finer friend. I consider her a friend as well. Perhaps my dearest outside of the family. She and Violet."
"She put her hands on me so gently and whispered something sweet and when she did, I felt so peaceful." Morgana continued. "She...she...she is a special woman. So pretty."
"Well, then, you wouldn't mind if she helped to measure you for some dresses?"
"No." Morgana answered. "I wouldn't mind."
"You see, when my brother and Robert met Gamilla in America, they met a friend of hers, a powerful and brave woman named Marjani who is a very talented maker of fine textiles. She taught Gamilla much about making gowns. Gamilla and Violet could make patterns which we could take to the dressmaker in the village, and then, we could have a new wardrobe made for you."
"For...for me?" Morgana's eyes widened. "A wardrobe of dresses?"
"Yes." Lennie nodded. "Pretty, comfortable dresses. Dresses which will make you feel beautiful because you are beautiful. Dresses which will allow you to join the rest of the family whenever you like, wherever you like."
Morgana's eyes filled with tears again, happy tears. "Could it be true?"
"Oh, yes, it's true." Lennie nodded. "Look at me, Auntie." She stood up. "What do you see?"
"I see...I see a pretty girl with dark blonde hair in a light green gown...with pearl earrings and a necklace of green stones which glitter...and pearls and gold."
"Only months ago, I was in rags, cleaning the blood and sick of people who loathed me." Lennie sighed. "Now, I am Lady Fallbridge. Now, I am to be wed to an Earl. Now, I am a beloved sister and an Aunt and, now, a niece. My dear Morgana, anything can happen."
Lennie removed a lace handkerchief from her sleeve and wiped Morgana's cheeks. "With your permission," she continued, "I shall send Violet in to help you fix your hair and she and I will assist you with the tea gown I mentioned earlier. You needn't come down for breakfast. I'll ask Mrs. Pepper to prepare a tray for you. However, I think you should get dressed. You'll feel better. And, you can eat in your sitting room. Gamilla will visit you once she's gotten Colin settled and, Punch, Robert and I will visit you after breakfast. My fiance is arriving this afternoon. So, I may be busy around teatime, but I shall never be far off and will make a point to check on you throughout the day."
"I don't know what to make of all this...this...this kindness. I've never...I'm not accustomed to..."
"Auntie..." Lennie smiled. "Just rest. Violet will be in shortly, and I'll be back with the tea gown."
She turned to leave, and paused. "Oh! And, this afternoon, if you like, Mr. Punch mentioned something about a puppet show."
"Puppet show?" Morgana's eyes widened excitedly.
"Yes, Robert's brother is a sculptor and crafted Punch a lovely set of puppets which, of course, he brought with us from London. My brother delights in performing puppet shows for his son, and, he thought you might enjoy coming to the nursery this afternoon to watch."
"You've been invited." Lennie nodded.
"I'd like to see the baby." Morgana grinned. "But, I won't hold him. I'll look at him. That's for the best. Yes, that's for the best. Don't you think? I think that's for the best. Yes. Don't you?"
Lennie thought for a moment. "Well...yes, I think so."
"Oh, but, a puppet show. How nice! And, to see a baby. How lovely!"
Lennie smiled. "You know something, Auntie?"
"Everyone has always told me how beautiful my mother was. I think they were wrong. Looking at you just now, clearly, you are the more beautiful sister."
Did you miss Chapters 1-42 of A Recipe for Punch. If so, you can read them here. Come back on Monday for Chapter 44.