Friday, April 25, 2014
A Recipe for Punch, Chapter 100
A Certain Sort of Mind
"I don't like this, I don't." Punch paced the floor in front of the fireplace in the bedchamber he shared with Robert. "Too many risks. We oughta just go on with what we'd planned."
"There are, dear Punch, risks inherent to that scenario as well." Robert answered. "Very real and very serious risks. Perhaps we should try Gamilla's suggestion."
"You surprise me." Punch raised his eyebrows. "I...well, Chum, I thought you'd be the first, I would, to tut-tut such a thought and to call it stuff and nonsense. You're the man of science. It is we, me and Lennie and Gamilla and the rest, who are the one's what believe in magic and superstition. I always been the first to trust in Gamilla's visions and such, but, you've been the one to look for other answers, you have. But, this...this, what you're suggestin' is...it's a weddin' of voodoo and Mesmer and a front-parlor séance."
"Dear Punch, you and I have seen the very same things together. We have sat together with Marie Laveau. We have witnessed the same strange visions. We have experienced the same miracles. I cannot deny that, at first, I was skeptical. However, I also cannot deny that I've seen a vast array of amazing and inexplicable events. Furthermore, Gamilla's visions have proven right more often than not. I trust in her instincts."
"But..." Punch shook his head. "What she's suggestin' is too...extraordinary! Mightn't it just waste time, Chum? Mightn't just give the poison in Lennie's blood more time to grip her whole body and stop her heart from beatin'? Hadn't we better use that time to replace Lennie's blood with me own, knowin' that by doin' so we have a real chance o' savin' her?"
"I've thought exactly the same thing. Still, there's merit in what Gamilla says. We cannot be sure what it was on that teeth of that comb. Gamilla's assessment that it was some sort of sleeping tonic wherein she's susceptible to some sort of internal spiritual or mental manipulation."
"The battle with my mother?"
"We know her spirit roams these halls. We've seen the chaos that it's caused."
"Well, yes, we have. But, if it's a sleeping tonic, then, Lennie will awaken--like when Fern gave me that sleepin' tonic when we were at home. Sure, she gave me too much, but I awakened...in time. I was sick after for awhile, but..." Punch paused. "Or is that not what you mean?"
"I'm not sure exactly what I mean." Robert answered honestly. "Perhaps it was the residue of some sort of powerful tincture that put her in a death-like state..."
"Are there such things?"
"There are..." Robert nodded. "Chemists have toyed with them since antiquity. The notion of a 'living death,' was quite a popular idea in the sixteenth century. Just look at the work of Shakespeare. Juliet, for example."
Punch looked around the room. "So, just about the time this house was built, that's what folk were thinkin' 'bout."
"Not exclusively." Robert answered. "However, the idea would have interested a certain sort of mind."
"Someone like Jackson or my mother."
"Pity they wasn't around with Queen Elizabeth and fat Henry. Though, given Jackson's dusty, brittle looks, we can't be sure. Horrid little ghoul." Punch threw up his hands. "I don't say you're not correct, Chum. We already seen that Jackson has an interest in all manner o' strange chemistry what with how he preserved my mother's body and so on." He frowned slightly, "Also...well..."
"What is it, my dear?"
"Oh, I was just recallin' somethin' what Julian 'ad forgotten, is all--about how Pauline liked to experiment with different herbs. She'd have Mrs. Foster bring 'er all sorts o' herbs and flowers and she'd boil 'em down into a kind o' tea. Sometimes she'd make...she'd make Julian drink 'em. Sometimes he'd get terrible sick, he would."
Robert put his hand on his stomach. "I'm so sorry. I cannot express just how much I loathe that woman. I detested her in life, and I despise her even more in death."
"She's just as destructive in both states, it seems." Punch shrugged. "She hated you, too. Knowin' that made me happy. All the folk she fancied were just as hideous and wicked as she. So, knowin' she hated you pleased me because it was just one more thing to show me how wonderful you are."
"Dear Punch..." Robert smiled. He sighed, shaking his head. "Nonetheless, sometimes I am physically sickened by the thought of what you...Julian...well...you and Julian endured in this house at the hands of that monster and her minions. Sadly, testing out her herbal brews is the least of what she did to you."
"It is." Punch nodded slowly...his eyes wandered across the room as he remembered. "She grew tired of it, she did. Bored. I think it bored her--herbs and medicines and such. It wasn't bloody enough. I remember Jackson taking all those little bottles and things away and packing them up all nice and neat. Bottles and flasks, tins and jars, all labeled--all smellin' strange. I'm sure they're all still here in this house--preserved along with all her other stuff, along with her, in fact. Who knows? Jackson probably used some of it to preserve her. Auntie Morgana says they used to give her somethin' what made her groggy and sleepy. Who can say? It all may 'ave been the same tinctures Pauline made all them years ago. Who can say what was on the teeth o' that comb?"
"So, it is possible that what Gamilla's saying could be true." Robert continued.
"Oh, sure, it is. I got no doubt o' that. I ain't sayin' that. It ain't that I don't trust Gamilla, Chum. Ya know I do. Just as much as I do you and Lennie, even. Part o' what bothers me is that she's suggestin' that she put herself in...what's it? Oh...some kind o' trance. So...so she can somehow get into Lennie's thoughts. Well, that can't be safe for her--not bein' with child as she is. I can't risk another life of someone we love. And, with her, it's two folk. Gerard'd never forgive us if somethin' happened. He'd be ruined, he would. At least if we were to go ahead with the transfusion, it's me what's riskin' me own life, not Gamilla's nor her baby's nor anyone else's."
"I don't want you to risk your life either. Our son doesn't deserve that." Robert said.
"None o' us deserve any of this!" Punch answered.
"There's less risk to Gamilla than there is to you." Robert responded.
Punch scratched his head, and ran his fingers trough his thick auburn hair. "I s'pose discussin' it further's only gonna waste more time."
"You already got your mind made up, then?" Punch asked.
"I do." Robert replied. "I'd like it, however, if we were in agreement."
Punch inhaled. "We are." He sighed and turned away, walking toward the corner of tall, diamond-paned windows. He looked out, studying the courtyard below. "I wish I knew where Auntie Morgana and Georgie were, too."
"We have every man on the estate looking for them by now." Robert said. "And for William...and..."
"I haven't had a chance to tell you yet."
"Oh, no..." Punch's shoulders sagged as he turned around.
"Matthew's valet--Perkins." Robert answered. "Matthew noticed that he'd gone missing. He mentioned it to Gerard. When I was about to come in here to see you,, I overheard Gerard say something to Charles. I had Charles inquire downstairs. Perkins is nowhere to be found."
"You know Gregory must know somethin' about all o' this!" Punch declared.
"He insists that he does not." Robert answered. "I don't believe him. Yet, he has an alibi. Someone or other can account for his whereabouts all morning. There are several people downstairs who claim they've seen him at each point in the day and that he's not been out of sight."
"The whole lot o' them are frightened of him." Punch shook his head.
"I have no doubt." Robert walked over and took Punch's hand. "I am worried for Morgana and Georgie, too. For William and Perkins as well, but especially for Georgie and your aunt. We shall find them before any harm come them. But, first..."
"First we must rescue Lennie." Punch nodded.
"Just know, my dear Punch, that she will survive this." Robert said softly.
"How can you be so sure?" Punch asked. "Is it 'cause you're a doctor?"
"No, it's because I know this family. She is your sister. She's very much like you."
"We got different fathers." Punch mumbled sadly.
"That doesn't matter." Robert smiled. "Who your parents were, in this case, doesn't matter. What matters is what you both became. That's the part that both of you share--the part of you which survives. Just like you, she will not only survive this, she'll emerge stronger than ever."
"Oh, Chum, I hope you're right."
"I know that I am. I insist upon it." Robert put his arm around his companion as the left the room.
Did you miss Chapters 1-99 of A Recipe for Punch? If so, you can read them here. Come back on Monday Chapter 101.