Friday, February 14, 2014
A Recipe for Punch, Chapter 60
"Lennie!" Punch shouted as he rushed toward his sister, breaking away from the little group who had gone off in search of her.
Robert, Charles and Violet followed closely behind.
"Oh, I'm ever-so glad to see ya!" Punch declared.
"Brother, dear." Lennie embraced him.
"Wherever ya been?" Punch choked back tears. "We been worried."
Lennie inhaled. "What is the long, pale room with all gilt mirrors? The one with the many chandeliers which hang from an arched vault painted with light frescoes?"
"That's the Quartz Room. It's the smaller of the reception rooms. Why?" Punch raised his eyebrows.
"That's where I've been." Lennie smiled.
"Whatever for?" Punch asked.
"Well..." Lennie sighed.
"What is it, Lennie?" Robert asked as he, Charles and Violet caught up. "What's happened?"
"I've just had a...conversation. I...I don't really know what to call it. Leave us say, my dear brothers, I've just been introduced to the Duchess of Fallbridge."
"What's this?" Punch exclaimed.
"Our mother. I've just seen her."
"You didn't go out to the crypt, Lennie." Robert said quickly. "Oh, I wish you hadn't. You don't know what happened when..."
"No, Robert." Lennie interrupted. "Here...in the Quartz Room, as Punch called it,"
"How could you 'ave?" Punch asked frantically.
"M'Lady," Violet stepped forward. "Are you quite well?"
"I am, Violet." Lennie nodded.
"You saw her here?" Punch continued. "How'd it get back in?"
"Not her body, brother dear." Lennie shook her head. "A shade. Her spirit. Something like it. She spoke to me. Not pleasantly."
"That's about right." Robert whispered to Charles.
"I'd heard a voice call out, 'Ellen,' and so I followed it. It led me to that room. There, I saw her. A terrible mask-like face. Beautiful, but frozen, surrounded by a blaze of light. She mocked me. I told her I did not fear her, that this was no longer her home, and to be gone."
She paused. "I just realized how utterly mad I must sound."
"Not to me." Punch smiled.
"Not to any of us, Lady Fallbridge." Charles added. "Violet didn't see some of the things that His Lordship and His Grace and Gerard and Gamilla and I saw in America..."
"Still, I've seen my share o' things." Violet chimed in.
"And, that is exactly my point." Charles smiled. "There's more in heaven and in earth than we can explain. Just this very day, even, we...well...perhaps I should let His Grace explain."
"Let's just say for now that forces worked terrible hard to make sure you was alone for a spell." Punch said. "We'll talk 'bout it. Only, for now, I'd like for us to get back toward Auntie Morgana and to the nursery."
"Was there trouble in the nursery?" Lennie asked nervously.
"No." Punch shook his head. "Not really. Gamilla has returned there--though she did wish to know you were safe. Ethel and Georgie are there as well."
"What of Auntie?" Lennie asked.
"Gerard and standin' at her door to see that nothin' happens." Punch explained. "Only, I'd feel better knowin', we was all in one place for now."
"Pardon me for interruptin', but..." Violet began.
"I know, Violet." Lennie nodded. "Lord Cleaversworth will be here any moment. I do need to prepare myself." She smiled. "First I should like to tell Miss Morgana that I'm all right."
"Of course, M'Lady."
"She has been very concerned." Robert nodded as they walked. "She wanted to come with us, however, the pace at which we were walking proved to be too much for her...given..."
"Certainly." Lennie said. "I shall put her mind at ease." She took a deep breath. "Or, try as best I can."
Meanwhile, on the other side of the house, Gerard had been distracted by the sound of a woman's cries. He could have sworn that the sobs were those of his own wife, so, naturally, he left his post to investigate.
When the specter appeared before Morgana--in an almost-blinding sputter of light--the poor woman thought she was dying.
She blinked quickly and cried out. "Gerard! Gerard!"
"He won't come." The duchess laughed.
As Morgana's eyes adjusted to the light, she backed up, covering herself with the bedcovers. She held her pincers over her face and squinted. "What...what are you?"
"A better question, I think," The shade laughed, "is what are you?"
Did you miss Chapters 1-59 of A Recipe for Punch? If so, you can read them here. Come back on Monday for Chapter 61.