Monday, March 24, 2014

A Recipe for Punch, Chapter 81

Chapter 81
Keep Them

"Gamilla?"  Maudie looked up as the governess came into the kitchens.  "I thought I smelled your perfume.  The scent Gerard got for ya on your wedding trip.  It's so pretty.  Strange to have somethin' pretty in the middle o' all this mess.  Can I get you somethin'?"

"Thank you.  But, don't mind me, honey."  Gamilla shook her head.  "I just come for some biscuits for young Colin to gnaw.  He's got a tooth comin' in and poor lamb is just beside himself wantin' to chew.  Been too long with the teethin' ring, so I figured I'd put that new tooth to good use."

"There's a tin of biscuits..."  Maudie began.  She walked over to the hutch in the niche behind the range.  "Mrs. Pepper jus' made 'em last night."

"Oh, I'll get 'em."  Gamilla said quickly.  "I know you got your hands full with gettin' set for luncheon."

"I don't think there's gonna be any upstairs luncheon today."  Maudie shook her head.  "They hardly touched breakfast.  Only the earl ate anything."

"Lord Cleaversworth ain't got any worries in this."  Gamilla nodded.  "Not like the rest o' us."

"I s'pose not, but you'd think he'd be more sensitive of Her Ladyship."  Maudie clucked her tongue.

"Ain't the place of a man like him to be sensitive to nothin'."  Gamilla smiled.  "Make no mistake, I ain't sayin' he's a bad man.  He's just fine, jus' what you'd 'xpect him to be.  But..."  She shrugged.  "He ain't family.  Is he?  Not like we all become.  To him, Georgie is just a young footman in training.  And, he don't even know William at all."

"Still, all that's goin' on with the masters and Her Ladyship.  Miss Morgana is missin', too!"

"What's the earl know of Miss Morgana?"  Gamilla answered sensibly.  "He left London and his fiancee didn't have an auntie.  He got  her a few days later, and she did.  He ain't the sort of be upset over someone he ain't never seen."

"And, then with...with all the trouble with...with the..."  Maudie sighed.  "I don't even want to say the word.  Don't know what word to use.  Ghost?"

"Don't speak of her."  Gamilla said quickly.

Maudie nodded. 

"Let's not even give her a thought."  Gamilla continued gently.  "Let's give our thoughts to the livin' and those who've gone in peace.  The bad ones want us to think o' them.  It gives 'em power.  Honey, we gotta keep the power for ourselves.  Ain't nobody gonna take it from us.  We got the strength o' life in us."

"You got double the strength."  Maudie smiled slightly.  "What with havin' a baby in you."

"All the more reason to keep our thoughts on life."  Gamilla nodded.  "And, honey, I just wanna say I'm real proud o' you."


"Sure, His Grace mentioned to me how  you took up Mrs. Pepper's duties and how you was goin' to help William come to him and His Lordship, how you was encouragin' the young man to speak up 'bout all he knew.  Just a pity that the boy never had a chance to speak to the masters before he..."  Gamilla shook her head.  "I wish I could see 'em, honey.  I wish I could."

"How did ya know?"  Maudie asked.  "How'd ya know I was gonna ask ya?"

"Saw it in your eyes.  Besides, that's what I'd ask myself if I were you--knowin' how I got the  visions I got sometimes.  When I try to picture George and Miss Morgana and William, all I see is fog--thick, gray fog.  Like smoke."  Gamilla sighed.

Maudie did, too.

"I'd like to stay an' chat with ya..."  Gamilla began.  

"I gotta get back up to Colin."

"Listen, Maude, I'm gonna send Ethel down to stay with ya for awhile.  She ain't doin' so well--worried 'bout Georgie as she is.  And, you, all alone down here--with only them Yorkshire folks 'bout--maybe it'd be good for ya both to be together."

"Thank you."  Maude nodded.  "Sure you don't need her?"

"Not for now."  Gamilla smiled.

"But, then, you'll be alone." 

"Honey, I'm never alone.  I got Colin and Dog Toby to keep me company, and...well..."  She patted her stomach.  "I always got my little one nearby.  Besides, I got all sorts o' folk I can talk with...near me all the time."

Maude squinted.

"Just like you seen Mrs. P. and Ethel talk to our Jenny.  I talk to my sister and my mama.  That's what I mean 'bout talkin' to the peaceful lost.  Them spirits who found peace finally.  They help give us strength where the bad ones take it."

"So, Jenny's at peace?"  Maudie asked.

"Oh, sure."  

"Even after how she died?  So brutal like that?"  Maudie raised her eyebrows.

"It was awful how we lost our Jenny--to have her life taken like that by such wicked folk.  Jus' know she's at peace because she was loved in life and even though she left us in a terrible way, she done it while tryin' to do somethin' noble."

"Ethel's told me how it she and Jenny had snuck off to try to help the Duke and His Lordship with them awful women what was tormentin' them.  And, and how they killed her.  Ethel still feels guilty because it was her idea to leave the house that night."

"She feels guilty, too, because she lived and Jenny didn't."  Gamilla nodded.  "Only, there ain't no use in that.  Ethel only wanted to help.  Just as you were tyin' to help when you suggested William talk to the masters."

"I wish I could do something to help now."  Maudie muttered.

"You can."  Gamilla replied.  "Take care.  Take care o' Mrs. Pepper and Ethel and those who are worried 'bout Georgie.  Take care by makin' small things for the masters and her Ladyship to eat--to keep up their strength."

Maudie smiled.  "I can do that."

"I know you can."

"Must be awful for the Duke and Lord Colinshire and Lady Fallbridge.  They're worried 'bout George and William and their poor Auntie.  Gamilla, you've talked to her.  Ethel says you and Miss Morgana become friends.  You must feel terrible, too."

"I do."  Gamilla nodded.  "But, I know I gotta carry on and keep myself up.  It's the only way I can help."  She took the biscuit tin.  "I'll send Ethel down.  You two take some time for yourselves to chat."

"Thank you," Maudie nodded.

Gamilla smiled as she left,  but paused.  "Honey, remember Ethel can be headstrong."

"Oh, I know."  Maudie replied.

"She's--she's all heart, ya see?  Sometimes her feelin's, well...they get the better of her thoughts.  She may want to do somethin'..."  Gamilla tried to choose her words carefully.  "She may want to do somethin' which seems like it's a good idea, but, maybe not the best choice.  She's a fighter, our Ethel.  Help her keep her wits."

"I think I understand."  Maudie nodded.  

"Remember, honey, like I said, the best way to fight is through peace."

Maudie nodded again though she didn't really grasp what Gamilla was saying.

Gamilla knew it, too.  As she walked away, she whispered.  "Jenny, Jenny...look after those two girls.  They both love Georgie so, and, love can make reason small.  Help me, keep 'em."

She listened to the air around her.  Hearing nothing but the echoes of the great house, Gamilla inhaled and climbed the stairs to the nursery.

Did you miss Chapters 1-80 of A Recipe for Punch?  If so, you can read them here.  Come back tomorrow for Chapter 82.

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