Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Recipe for Punch, Chapter 82

Chapter 82:

They Shall Protect Us

Hargrave stormed into the vicarage, giving Mr. Quick and Mr. Jackson a start.

"Damn it, man."  Jackson snarled.  "You have no respect for anyone, do you?"

"Now's not the time for gentility, Jackson."  Hargrave glowered.

"What if we had had Her Grace laid out here?"  Quick gestured to the table. 

"Vicar, there ain't a bit o' Pauline what I ain't seen."  Hargrave snapped.  "Besides, I'd hardly be looking at her with lust in her present state.  Now, would I?"

"One never knows."  The vicar replied dryly.

"What is it that you want?"  Jackson grumbled.  "Now that you've interrupted us, tell us why."  He smirked, looking to Quick.  "Convenient how Hargrave always appears when the heavy work has concluded.  We could have used you when we carried Her Grace here.  At least your beast of a bailiff helped us part of the way.  Nonetheless, it was tiring work to carry our lovely all the way from the crypt on our own.  We're quite exhausted now."

"Well, then, you're going to have to rally your strength, gentlemen."  Hargrave laughed.  "Because back she goes."

"Whatever do you mean?"  Jackson snapped.

"His Grace and Lord Colinshire have told me that they intend for me to meet them here in one hour's time."  Hargrave announced.  

"Why?"  Quick frowned.

"They're turning the estate on its head looking for the missing lads and that monster o' theirs."  Hargrave explained.  "I'm to tell the farmers to join in the search."

"Why would they wish to search my home?"  Quick sniffed.  "How could I be involved in any of this?"

"Vicar!  You've got two young men stripped, drunk on some potion and tied up in your cellar.  You've got the Lobster Woman detained here, and you got the duchess waitin'--I'm guessing in your very bed.  And, you ask me how you could be involved?"

"What I mean is why they would think that I'm involved.  What did you tell them?"

"I told them nothing, only they don't believe me.  They accused me of bein' a part of this.  Rightfully, they also concluded that you, me, and Jackson are workin' together.  I didn't say a word.  Came right here, I did, and I'm tellin' you, you got less than an hour to empty this house of what they're lookin' for."

"It would be easier just to kill them."  Jackson growled.  "It was one thing to carry the duchess from the crypt to the vicarage.  We had the cover of the pines.  But, where will we take Her Grace and...the others...without being seen in the middle of the day?"

"And, you, Mr. Jackson.  Recall, you've been banished from the estate.  Also, what of Miss Blessum?"

"Gentlemen, gentlemen,"  Quick interrupted.  "Stop your panic.  There's no cause for alarm."

"Oh?"  Hargrave bellowed.  "The two of you are as old as dust.  If you go to gaol, you can die and release yourselves from that suffering.  I'm young."

"You're not so young."  Mr. Jackson spat.

"Please,"  Quick raised his hand.  "Silence.  There's no reason to worry.  No one is going to gaol."

"We abducted three people, and, Jackson is trespassing.  Not to mention whatever charge they'd force on us for movin' the duchess about."  Hargrave snorted.  "The law don't look kindly on that, especially when the person making the charge is a favorite of the Crown."

"The only Sovereign to whom you must consideration is God."  Quick answered.

"God don't got a hand in this."  Hargrave snarled.

"As much as it pains me,"  Jackson shook his head.  "I must agree with Hargrave.  We are in a bind."

"No, no..."  Quick smiled calmly.  

"Unless your God is about to sweep in on some heavenly machine and clear this house o' what them from the Hall are lookin' for..."

"We don't need God for that.  We have Her Grace."  Quick grinned.  "God has already filled the duchess' head with His love and knowledge.  Together, they shall protect us."

"What's he sayin'?"  Hargrave looked at Jackson.  "Last I saw Pauline she was dead.  She ain't in the place to protect anyone.  I know you both fancy that you can speak to her spirit, but..."

"Years ago,"  Quick grinned, "Her Grace put in motion a means by which we can escape this minor trouble.  Such was her wisdom, though she may not herself have even known it at the time."  He looked at Jackson.  "Don't you recall?"  Stamping his foot on the floor, Quick repeated.  "Mr. Jackson--don't you recall?"

"Of course!"  Jackson threw back his head.  "Oh, yes...how could I have forgotten?"

Have you missed Chapters 1-81 of A Recipe for Punch?  If so, you can read them here.  Come back tomorrow for Chapter 83.

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