Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A Recipe for Punch, Chapter 78

Chapter 78

"Dear Punch,"  Robert smiled as he pulled on his boots.  "You're quite far away, aren't you?"

"Sorry, Chum."  Punch shook his head.  "Just thinkin', I was."

"About what?"

"You know quite well."  Punch sighed.

"Probably the topic which weighs upon me."  Robert nodded.

"'Bout how you been taken care of by Gerard for so long, it looked like you forgot how to put on your own boots?"  Punch deadpanned.  

"It is rather pathetic, isn't it?"  Robert stood up.  "However, I know that's not what's troubling you."

"No."  Punch answered.  "All I wanna do, Chum, is get home.  We oughta never come here."

"You were trying to do something kind for your sister by bringing her here."

"And look how it come out."  Punch frowned.  "Though...I s'pose I shouldn't complain.  Comin' here did let us find Auntie Morgana."

"That's true."

"Only now we found her, let's go home."  Punch studied his hands, nervously turning his rings on his fingers.  "Let's find George and get out o' this place.  Pack up our family and the staff and get back to Belgrave Square."

"I want nothing more.  Still..."

"I know."  Punch inhaled.  "It'll just follow us, it will."

"It?"  Robert put his arm around Punch's shoulders.  

"The...trouble."  Punch grumbled.  "We fought many things together, Chum, an' we done so quite well, I'd say."

"I have to agree."  Robert smiled.  

"I thought we were done with me mum."  Punch shook his head.  

"Hers was a particular kind of horror which doesn't even know the boundaries of death."

"Still never thought we'd 'ave to contend with her...I don't even know what to call it.  'Spirit' sounds too kind a word.  'Ghost,' too common."

"No matter what we call it, we must contend with it.  My dear, together we've triumphed over...things...which cannot be explained before.  Recall, dear Punch, what we faced in New Orleans, and, even at our beloved home in Belgrave Square.  Orpha Polk and Ulrika Rittenhouse brought all manner of demons, literal demons in a way, to our doorstep.  yet, we survived."

"We ought to send for Fern.  Just send a letter to the school and have her brought here."  Punch raised his eyebrows.

"Whatever for?  We're well rid of her for awhile."  He blushed.  "I mean to say that I wouldn't wish to disturb the studies of our beloved charge."

Punch chuckled a bit.  "Poor, sad, strange little thing.  I only meant that she were the one what finally dispatched Orpha and her wickedness for is."

"By pushing her through a third story window."

"Got rid o' her and that wretched child of hers, it did."  Punch sighed.  "Though, I s'pose Mother's already dead, so ain't much Fern could do for her.  Best to leave her where she is."

"I concur.  Besides, using our adopted..." he paused, saying the next word as if it pained him slightly, "daughter as a mercenary killer probably isn't in her best interest."

"Oh, she enjoys it."  Punch retorted.

"Nonetheless, it's not behavior that we as her benefactors should encourage."

Punch shrugged.  "I s'pose."  Punch walked to the chest of drawers to fetch his pocket watch. He studied it.  "This watch--it were me father's.  Nothin' has changed here since the last time this watch was in this house.  Time may have altered the circumstances, but not the result.  We're still pressed upon by the wickedness o' the Duchess.  Fallbridge Hall is just as oppressed as it ever was.  Even when we leave here, if we don't stop her...reign, nothin'll change ever.  That's what pains me so, Chum.  As much as I just want to take us all away from this, I know I can't leave it like it is.  This is our son's legacy, it is.  I can't let 'im inherit a curse."

"That's why we shall remain and do whatever we must."

"I love you, Chum."  Punch embraced his companion.  "Not many would endure all that you've had to.  I often wonder why you stay.  A handsome man like you, a physician--nor a Baron, you could trot off and find yourself a young earl and be free of all this trouble."

Robert shook his head.  "I wouldn't miss a moment of our life together.  The idea of not being with you and Colin and our family is... unimaginable.  So, my dear Punch, I'm afraid you must endure my companionship until one or the other of us dies."

"That's a bargain."  Punch smiled.

"Now, let us join Matthew and Lennie for breakfast so that we might set about looking for George thereafter."

"Yes."  Punch inhaled.  "First, let's do look in on Auntie Morgana."

"If you wish."  Robert nodded.  

"I just haven't seen her yet today.  We've looked in on Colin and know he's well, but I'd feel more settled seeing that she's content."

"I agree."  Robert replied, escorting Punch into the passage.

Together they walked toward the Vermillion Suite.

"Odd,"  Robert squinted when they found the door open.

Punch gripped Robert's hand, pulling the man into Morgana's Suite.

"Auntie?"  He called out.

"Look."  Robert pointed to the tray on Morgana's bed.  "She's not touched her breakfast."

"Auntie!"  Punch called out again.

Punch and Robert exchanged a quick, anxious glance.

"You don't suppose she's gone downstairs or to the garden or something?"  Robert asked.

"With Matthew about?"  Punch shook his head.  "She barely can stand for us to look at her, she'd not go out to be see by a stranger or even members of the staff she's not met.  When Violet brought that note from Lennie earlier, she mentioned how Auntie wasn't even keen on seeing William when he brought her breakfast."

"The food's still warm."  Robert touched the tureen.  "It hasn't been long since William's been here, then."

"We should go downstairs and ask him if Auntie was here when he left the tray."

"No."  Robert shook his head.

"Why?"  Punch intoned.

Robert walked to the other side of the bed and bent down to pick up a bloodied white glove.  "We know this isn't Morgana's."

Punch took the glove.  "No spirit caused that young man to spill his blood."

Robert shook his head.

Punch took Robert by the arm.  "Come with me."


" the nursery."  Punch replied quickly.

Did you miss Chapters 1-77 of A Recipe for Punch?  If so, you can read them here.  Come back tomorrow for Chapter 79.

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