Monday, February 3, 2014

A Recipe for Punch, Chapter 52

Chapter 52

"I never imagined..."  Robert shook his head as they pried open the crate in which they'd transported the preserved carcass of the Duchess of Fallbridge.  

Gerard coughed a bit from the smell and turned away.  

"Gerry, if this is too much for you..."  Robert said gently.

"No, Sir."  Gerard shook his head.  "It shouldn't be.  Dunno.  I..."

"I think we are all a trifle overwhelmed, Your Lordship."  Charles intoned.

"Well, I know I certainly am.  I thought we were well rid of the woman when we found her hanged in the attics in New Orleans."  Robert frowned.  "Who could have guessed that after we entombed her that she'd have been smuggled back into England by her ardent admirers?"

"I wonder how old Jackson managed it?"  Gerard squinted, casting a quick look at the Duchess in the crate.

"That is just one of myriad questions I have."  Robert grumbled.

"Another, Your Lordship, is where to put her."  Charles looked about the crypt.

"I don't know."  Robert sighed.  "I would have thought that she'd have had a place designated for her--as self-indulgent as she was.  I expected when we arrived that we'd find some monument to her down her, but there's not even the slightest trace of a spot set aside for her.  Perhaps she fancied herself immortal.  That's rather more like it.  She was just enough of an egoist to think so."

"Should she be buried with Sir Colin?"  Gerard asked shyly.  "They were married."

"No."  Robert said firmly.  "Sorry.  It's just that the poor man didn't deserve to be with her in life, there's no reason he should be saddled with her bones in death.  Furthermore, he's not interred here.  His Grace had Sir Colin's remains returned to Grange Molliner."

"Sir, there is a free vault over there in the corner.  We would need a mason to come and cover over..."  Charles began.

"A mason..."  Robert sighed.  "And, have them know about this?  I'm not sure."  He took the edges of the crate's heavy lid.  "Help me, then."

"What're you doin', Sir?"  Gerard asked.

"Covering her up again."  Robert replied plainly.  "I say we just leave her in this crate."

Charles stifled a laugh.

"She's been in a cupboard in the servants' hall for a year.  Surely this is no different.  Furthermore, she's not due any greater show of respect than this.  We've more pressing things which require our attention and I don't relish another moment down here surrounded by death."  Robert said quickly.

"I couldn't agree more, Your Lordship."  Charles smiled.

"We need to get back to the house."  Robert nodded.  "Back to life.  It's important that when the Earl of Cleaversworth arrives that we have some semblance of peace..."  He paused.  "What's...?"

Before Robert could finish his question, the creaking sound that had given him pause--the strange grating sound of metal grinding against metal--swelled into the crashing sound of the gate of the crypt being slammed closed.

Robert, Charles and Gerard ran toward the stairs toward the gilt wrought iron screen and gate which stood at the rear of the chapel.

Rattling the gate, Robert shouted.  "It's been locked!"

Did you miss any chapters of A Recipe for Punch?  If so, you can read them here.  Come back tomorrow for Chapter 53.

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