Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A Recipe for Punch, Chapter 74

Chapter 74

"Mr. Perkins,"  Gerard narrowed his eyes, taking the younger valet by the arm.  

"Mr. Gurney,"  Perkins rasped.  "Unhand me.  I've got to get my master's things in order before he wakes."

"You could 'ave done that if you'd 'ave awakened with the rest of us this mornin'."  Gerard answered, tightening his grip.  

"Oy!  You're hurtin' me.  What's this all about?"  Freddy snapped.

"This is all about your just now arrivin' home."  Gerard replied. 

"I don't 'ave to answer to you.  You got no authority over me."  Freddy pulled his arm away.

"I certainly do.  You're a guest, just like your master, in my masters' house."

"Your master is the the Duke's maryann, from what I understand.  Maybe I'd take orders from Mr. Iantosca, but not from you."  Freddy growled, straightening his vest.  "Now, I got me duties."

Gerard pulled back his hand and slapped Freddy soundly across the face.

"If I hear you ever speak such vile words about His Grace or Lord Colinshire again, you'll get far worse than that!"  Gerard hissed.

Freddy looked as if he might fight back, but thought better of it.  "You are mad, aren't ya?  I'd rather talk to Mr. Iantosca.  At least he's a gentleman."

"Did I hear my name?"  Charles smiled as he joined the men in the passage leading from the south end of Fallbridge Hall to the main part of the house.

"I've found Perkins."  Gerard inhaled.  "He's got some trouble listenin'.  And too much freedom in his talkin'."

"So I understand."  Charles nodded.  "Where have you been, Mr. Perkins?"

"Does it matter?  I'm here now, and I don't want to keep Lord Cleaversworth waitin'."

"It does matter."  Charles said firmly.  "First off, Gerard and I are in charge of the running of the household whilst we're away from our London home.  The staff here at the Hall is useless.  Why do you think we were brought all the way to Yorkshire?  Your visit here is no different than a visit to Belgrave Square.  You will not speak to us so rudely.  Second of all, you have been gone all night."

"What of it?"  Freddy squinted.

"What were you thinkin'?"  Gerard exclaimed.

"I'm young and I want to have a bit o' fun.  Maybe you're married and dim, but I ain't."  Freddy bellowed.  "Now, kindly let me go on about my duties."

"Not until we finish.  It's not just you who is involved."  Charles sighed.

"Who else does it concern?"  Freddy smirked.

"Well, then, the Baron Colinshire was none too pleased to hear it.  Nor will be the Duke when he learns of it."  Charles answered.

"Does my master know?"  Freddy asked, finally showing a bit of anxiety.

"He will."  Gerard and Charles answered in unison.

"Now, come on, there ain't no reason for's me own business."  He rubbed his cheek which still stung from Gerard's hand.

"Not when you take our young footman with you."  Charles asked.  "Then, it becomes our business."

"So, he told you.  That boy..."  Freddy shook his head.

"He's told us nothing.  I haven't seen him.  No one has seen him!"  Gerard snarled.  "You mind tellin' us where George is, then?"

"You mean he didn't come back?"  Freddy exclaimed.

"Eh, you still stink of whiskey."  Charles turned his head.  "What do you mean by asking if he came back?  He didn't return with you from wherever you took him, idiot?"

", he left on his own well before sunrise."  Freddy said quickly.  "Said he was comin' back here.  He didn't want to stay with us."

"Us?"  Gerard asked.  "Who else was with you?"

Freddy didn't answer.

"Come on, lad!"  Charles demanded.

"I can't say."  Freddy replied, rubbing his temples.

"You got a headache?"  Gerard shouted.  "It's too bad.  But, that's what happens when you..."  He softened a bit.  "Look, mate, I been there  me-self.  Wasn't so long ago that I was doin' the same kinds of things.  Just tell us where you went and with whom, and we'll carry on in findin' George before his mother cries herself into a fit."

"I don't know, Mr. Gurney.  I told ya, he left.  Said he was comin' back here."

"Well, he didn't make it."  Charles frowned,  he glanced at his pocket watch.  "Listen, you'd best go take care of Lord Cleaversworth."

"You ain't gonna tell 'im?  Are ya?"

"I'm not."  Charles smiled.  "I have no doubt that the Duke and Lord Colinshire will--especially since you seem to have lost our George."

"I can find 'im."  Freddy shook his head.  "Just let me take care of Lord Cleaversworth, then, me and Gregory will..."  He began to blush.

"So, it was Gregory who led you astray, was it?"  Gerard sighed.

"I...I..."  Freddy stammered.

"Get out and go to the earl.  Steady on, mate, if you can.  You're still a but drunk."  Gerard grumbled.  

"However, be ready to continue this when you've finished your duties.  In the meantime, we'll be speaking with Gregory."  Charles scowled.

"Oh, Mr. Iantosca, be a mate.  Don't..."

"On with you!"  Charles ordered.

Freddy skittered off.  

"Don't that figure?"  Gerard spat.  "Now what, Charlie?"

"We talk to Gregory.  He knows he's already about to be tossed into the cold.  He'll talk if he knows what's good for him."

"What if he don't know where George is?"  Gerard asked.

"We'll find him."  Charles said confidently.  "He likely had too much to drink and found a spot where he could sleep it off somewhere on the estate."

"I hope that's all it is."  Gerard muttered.  "We'd best go tell the masters."

"Let's give them a moment's peace."  Charles smiled.  "Why don't you and I talk with Gregory first."

"Right,"  Gerard nodded.  "You know, I should have guessed he'd 'ave a hand in this.  I could hear his poison drippin' from Freddy's lips."

"I'll tell you this, Gerry."  Charles inhaled.  "If any harm has come to our George, Gregory will get that poison back a thousand fold."

Did you miss Chapters 1-73 of A Recipe for Punch?  If so, you can read them here.  Come back tomorrow for Chapter 75.

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