Friday, March 7, 2014

A Recipe for Punch, Chapter 73

Chapter 73
A Fascinating Combination

"Chum,"  Punch looked up as Robert entered.

Robert smiled with relief.

From the passage, Charles nodded, also showing relief.  He added softly. "I'll go downstairs, Your Lordship, and see how Gerard is faring with...the other matter."

"Thank you,"  Robert replied.

"Who's out there?"  Punch asked.

"Just Charles."  Robert answered, trying not to let his recent panic show.  He picked up Dog Toby and walked into the suite, looking only at Punch as he did.

"I'd planned on gettin' back before you woke."  Punch said sheepishly.  "Clocks ain't been wound in 'ere--probably since I...err...Julian...we...since we left for America.  I knew it was mornin'.  I just didn't 'xpect ya to be awake so soon."

"I had asked Gerard and Charles to wake us a little earlier than usual so that we might have a chance to talk with Lennie before Matthew rose."

"Oh."  Punch sighed.  "I forgot 'bout that."  He looked up apologetically.  "I 'magine you was pretty upset to be awakened and find me not there."

Robert nodded.  "I was a tad alarmed--given what's transpired of late."

"Sorry, Chum.  Truly.  You know I'd never want to be anywhere other than at your side.  Only..."  Punch raised his hands and gesticulated to the room.  He let his hands fall in disgust upon the arms of the old aubergine velvet chair.

"I understand."  Robert inhaled.  "May I?"  He nodded toward a tall-backed chair with gothic cresting, upholstered in tapestry.  "Toby and I would like to join you."

"Yes, do."  Punch nodded eagerly.

"So...these were your rooms?"  Robert looked around.  "They're lovely."

"They were Julian's rooms.  And, yes, they are lovely--to look at, anyway.  This part of the house is among the oldest parts.  He liked the architecture, he did."

"A fascinating combination of styles--Tudor, Gothic, even a bit of the Classical..." he pointed to the pediment above the cavernous fireplace behind Punch.  "Very nicely appointed, too.  Very much Julian's taste--all these dark, rich colors--the purples, the deep colors of gems."

Punch sighed.  "When you don't leave your rooms, you gotta like the way they look.  Yes, these were his rooms.  See that etagere to the left of the bay?  The gilt one?"

"I do."  Robert answered.

"That was my room."  Punch smiled.  "That cabinet."

"Ah...he kept the puppet there."

"Yep, 'til Barbara took it."

"And, and the blue diamond."  Robert nodded.  "The very diamond which bought us Colin's freedom."

"Also brought us together.  S'pose it gave Julian the peace and privacy what he always wanted, too."  Punch looked down.  "I weren't never gonna come into these rooms again.  Now, I been in here twice.  The first time to tell the 'memory' o' the Duchess that she couldn't hurt us.  She was just a memory.  Dead and gone.  The second time, I come here waitin' for her ghost.  I thought she'd be waitin' here--waitin' for her most hated child.  I thought maybe I could drive 'er 'way.  Fight 'er somehow a Mr. Punch ought."


"She didn't come."  Punch laughed.

"I see."

"Done it on purpose, too.  The ol' harridan never once done anythin' what might've been what Julian wanted.  She knew I was waitin' and she knew I'd 'xpect 'er.  She done it to show me she'll always be the one to make the decisions here--dead or not."  Punch continued.

"Perhaps even her spirit knows she can't do battle with you.  She's only preyed upon those she perceives as weaker than she.  You notice, she didn't appear to me, she only trifled with the lock on the gate.  It could be show knows that you're no longer the same.  After all, she was with us in America for a short while before she was killed.  She saw for herself that your Punchinello side had taken over so that Julian might retreat.  You battled her there in life.  Could it be that she finally realized defeat and her spirit or whatever you wish to call it knows better than to face you?"

"No."  Punch shook his head.  "Never once did my mother accept defeat nor did she think another bein' her better.  That weren't her way.  No, no.  Her way was to toy with folk like they was nothin' but pieces o' fluff what she could just puff upon and get 'em to go her way.  Many was the time--in some foul humor--she'd insist Julian come to this very room and wait for her to come so she might mete out her punishment.  He'd sit in this very chair, Chum, he would.  She'd not come.  A day would pass.  He'd dare not move for fear that if he did, if he left, she'd arrive and be even angrier, and the punishment worse.  He's sit, and sit, and sit.  Days would go by.  It was her way o' showin' that she was the authority.  She done the same to be just tonight.  Whether she knows the difference between me or Julian or not, she done the same."

"Yes,"  Robert said gently.  "However, you're not the same.  Furthermore, you have me.  You have Lennie.  You have our friends.  She is no longer the authority.  As you said, she's no longer even alive."

"I was fooled."  Punch replied.  "Tricked back into the same old..."

"No."  Robert disagreed.  

"I thought she'd..."

"No, no."  Robert put his fingers to his lips.

Punch looked confused.

"You made this decision, not to wait for this spirit to come and punish you, but so you could assert your dominance as master of the house.  By sitting here and waiting, you showed that you remain the master of this house.  And, now, but taking my hand and coming with me, you will continue to show that.  No one--ever--shall challenge your authority in your household, Your Grace."

Punch smiled.  "Our authority.  Together, in our household."  He rose from the chair.  "I'd wager Toby wants his breakfast.

Robert set the dog on the floor.  "I imagine so."

"I could so with some myself."  Punch took Robert's hand.

"And, you shall have some.  First, however, we have one other matter which needs our attention."

"A new matter?"  Punch squinted.

"I'm afraid so."

"Bugger."  Punch sighed.

Did you miss Chapters 1-72 of A Recipe for Punch?  If so, you can read them here.  Come back on Monday for Chapter 74.  

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