Tuesday, January 28, 2014
A Recipe for Punch, Chapter 49
"M'Lady." Ivy moaned, wringing her hands. "How...how..."
"For the love of God, Miss Blessum," Gregory hissed, pulling the ancient woman into a dusky corner of the servants' hall. "Steady on. The maids are lookin' at ya."
"I don't care." Ivy groaned. "How could those men have carried her out like that? In a crate like so much rubbish."
"What should they have done, then?" Gregory snapped. "Did ya want the whole house to know she's been in there this whole time--hangin' like meat curin'? Most o' the lot are superstitious simpletons. Do you think they'd stay here knowin' they've been sittin' to supper with the corpse o' the lady o' the house propped up in the butler's pantry just behind 'em for the past year?"
"How can you speak of Her Grace that way?" Ivy took Gregory by the shoulders.
"Don't you touch me, you dusty old hag. I'll break you in half."
Ivy released her grip. She put her hands to her face and rubbed her cheeks, feeling the long, rough, stiff scab from when Morgana had scratched her the night before.
"Barmy..." Gregory sputtered.
"They should have waited until the night when everyone was in bed." Ivy whispered. "Then, they could have taken her out with some dignity."
"Her Ladyship's fiance is comin' this afternoon. I figure they want the duchess outta the house before he arrives. Don't ya think His Grace gave orders for her to be removed as soon as he saw her?"
"Mr. Quick should have been here to do it properly."
"His Lordship's a physician." Gregory shrugged.
"But, where is God?" Ivy's eyes widened.
"Miss Blessum, God ain't got a thing to do with any o' this." Gregory laughed.
"A doctor and two valets." Miss Blessum shook her head. "And one of them a mandrake." She whispered. "Where will they take her?"
"To the crypt, I'd guess--where she oughta been from the start." Gregory scowled. "Go on, then, Ivy--I'm sick o' the sight o' ya. Go up to your room or somethin'."
"Will ya do something for me?" Ivy pleaded.
"Cor." Gregory sighed. "What?"
"Go to the crypt and see they're treatin' her with dignity and respect."
"I can't." Gregory shook his head.
"Just peer in."
"Peer in?" Gregory scoffed. "It ain't a conservatory. There's only the one way in--behind the screen at the chapel. It's all below ground. If I set one foot on them stairs, they're sure to see me."
"Then, go get Mr. Jackson." Ivy begged.
"And do what with 'im?" Gregory laughed. "Bring 'im 'ere?" He shook his head. "I think not."
"Or Mr. Quick."
"The Duke's mary-ann and their men are in the chapel. Quick is sure to notice 'em sooner or later."
"And, what, then?" Gregory growled. "When they come back and see me gone? Ivy, his Grace said you and I are both as good as sacked. We're only here because we have knowledge what they want. If they find us agreeable, they might keep us on. Hell, I don't care about you. But, I need this job. No other estate in Yorkshire'll have me."
"Because you've impregnated most of the maids..."
"Never you mind why..." Gregory interrupted. "Now, I don't suspect that Lord Colinshire and the men are in the crypt dancin' with Her Grace's corpse, so..."
"Bite your tongue..."
"Go do somethin', Miss Blessum...you make me weary." Gregory shook his head. "The woman's dead. Sure she was pretty. But...the way you and Jackson go on...well, I just don't understand it."
"No, you wouldn't."
"Go put somethin' on that cut on your face. I've work to do. If you've got to worry someone, go poke about William there." He pointed to the pantry door where William awkwardly stood guard.
"I don't care for him."
"That surprises me." Gregory chuckled.
"You're useless, Greogry." Ivy barked.
"I'm young and strong." Gregory smiled. "All households need a young, strong man. What good are you? Your lady is dead. The new lady has her own maid. No one needs you. Seems to me you're the useless one. Unless you want to play maid to Morgana now that, overnight, she's gone from savage beast to beloved auntie."
"She ain't yours." Gregory narrowed his eyes. "Nothin' here is yours, nor mine. We're servants, woman." He shook his head again. "If I had any pity in me, I'd pity you."
"I don't want your pity. I want your help."
"You'll get neither." With that, Gregory walked away.
Miss Blessum tilted back her head and moaned softly. "M'Lady."
She looked around. No one was watching her.
Heading for the stairs, she began to mumble. "I feel you here with me. Gregory will pay for all he just said to me. They shall all pay for their crimes. I can hear you, Your Grace. I can hear you. It's not too late. We don't need the men. We don't need them. I can carry on for us. I shall serve you, M'Lady. I shall."
Reaching the Great Hall, Ivy looked up at the grand portrait of the Duchess of Fallbridge which hung just above the main staircase.
"I will do as you ask of me, M'Lady." Ivy whispered.
Climbing the monumental stairs, Ivy headed for the Vermillion Suite...and Morgana.
Did you miss Chapters 1-48 of A Recipe for Punch? If so, you can read them here. Come back tomorrow for Chapter 50.