"Oh, little Chum." Punch shook his head. "Look at you sittin' there with your toys. You don't know what's downstairs. Nor should ya."
Colin looked up and smiled at his father. "Punch!" He giggled.
"That's right." Mr. Punch nodded. "I'm Punch, I am."
Colin crawled toward his father, followed closely behind by Dog Toby who always kept a protective eye on the child.
Punch picked up his son.
"Hullo there." Punch nodded. "Didn't mean to interrupt your play, I didn't. Only just talkin' aloud, I am. You should be..." He paused. "Well, if you want your papa to hold ya."
Dog Toby sighed with content and curled up and Punch's feet.
"That's right, Toby, you rest. Before ya know it, our Colin'll be walkin'." He swallowed. "We'll be well out of this house by then and back home at No. 65 where we belong." He hugged the baby. "We've had 'nough travel, haven't we? Well--you, you and Toby both've been all over the world. Colin, you started out here and went to America, then to London, and to Scotland, to London again, back here. Toby--found you in America and you been all over with us, you have. You both done 'nough travelin' for this part of your lives."
Punch shook his head again.
"'Course, some folk don't even 'ave to be 'live to travel."
"I am glad you won't remember your grandmother. Nor your mother. We won't speak o' neither. 'Course, when you're older, you'll wonder where you come from. We'll 'ave to tell ya. You'll know, of course, that you ain't the son o' two blokes. We'll tell ya the truth, then, that your ma was me sister Barbara, and your true pa...well...we don't know for sure. But that none o' that matters because for all the world you're my son--mine and Robert's, and you're to be the next Duke of Fallbridge, and you grew up loved by me, and Robert and your Auntie Lennie and a whole household of friends, and Dog Toby, and even, now, your Great Auntie Morgana, I s'pose. But, we don't never need to speak of your grandmother. You don't need to remember her."
The child clapped his hands innocently and called out again, "Punch!"
"Yes." Punch nodded. "I am. And, because I am, I gotta remember her. See--I gotta remember things. It's my job. It's why I'm here, it is. It's why I exist. It's why I were born in this body. It's why I were made. Julian let his mind make me so he wouldn't 'ave to remember her nor the 'orrible things she and her people done to 'im and others. So, I 'ave to. Only you don't. And, I don't want you to. Never, never, never."
Dog Toby yawned.
"Borin' ya, am I?" Punch sniffed. "Here," Punch lowered the child to the floor. Go and play with Dog Toby and keep 'im awake."
Colin crawled off.
"Just when I think, I might be at a place when I might be past thinkin' 'bout those times when Julian were small--all the time anyway--somethin' 'appens to remind me. Comin' 'ere--well, it weren't a mistake in itself, I s'pose. We done it for Lennie, and that were good. Only--weren't it bad 'nough that there were paintin's of the woman everywhere without her bein' hanged up in Jackson's pantry?"
Coughing, Mr. Punch shut his eyes. "I wonder if my Robert and Charlie and Gerry 'ave got 'er outta the house yet. How they'd do it without the staff seein'..."
Suddenly, the door to the nursery creaked open.
"Chum?" Punch rose. "I thought I'd locked that door. Did you manage to..."
Walking toward the door, Punch felt a chill.
"Hullo?" He called out. "Gamilla? I thought you were still with my Aunt Morgana."
Standing in front of the door, Punch could see that no one was there.
Just as quickly as it had opened, the door slammed shut.
As Dog Toby began to bark wildly, Mr. Punch rushed to pick up his son.
"She's still in the house, little one." Punch said anxiously.
Did you miss Chapters 1-47 of A Recipe for Punch? If so, you can read them here. Come back tomorrow for Chapter 49.