Monday, April 28, 2014

A Recipe for Punch, Chapter 101

Chapter 101
Gone Mad Again

Quick threw open the trapdoor and climbed into a back passageway of the parsonage.  This particular hallway was not often used and essentially led to a cupboard used for the airing of linens a small sleeping nook meant to give sanctuary to traveling pilgrims.  A central doorway led to the main passage.  From there, Quick stumbled into the front parlor and called for Hargrave and Causer.

"What's the trouble now?"  Hargrave bellowed.

"Just come with me," Mr. Quick snapped.  "The Lobster Woman has gone mad again."

"You're surprised by this?"  Hargrave laughed.

"Cor,"  Causer added, lumbering behind the land agent.  "What's it matter now?  Come nightfall, we're just gonna take 'er head.  The rest o' her is for the worms.  It'll be a treat for 'em.  I don't 'magine they get a lobster feast very often."  He chortled at his own joke.

"She ain't really a lobster."  Hargrave growled.

"Well, I know that."  Causer grunted.  "I were only tryin' t'..."

"Would you both please..."  Quick inhaled, pausing.  "I need your help.  We can't have her shrieking and panting like a madwoman.  She's contorting her face into all manner of strange expressions.  We need the muscles of the face to be relaxed and beautiful before we remove her head.  We cannot give Her Grace a face that's wretched and twisted with madness."

"What do ya want us to do about it?"  Hargrave shrugged.  

"Yeah, you brought down more o' that elixir, didn't ya?  So...give her some o' that.  That oughta shut 'er up."

Quick snorted in frustration.  "That will make her sleep, yes, but, it won't calm her.  She won't relax, it will only serve to freeze her in her current state."

"Dunno what you want me to do,"  Hargrave shook his head.  "Shall I go whisper in 'er ear?  Maybe tell 'er how I fancy 'er?  Give 'er a little peck on the cheek?"

"Cor!"  Causer laughed.

"You two brutes take nothing seriously!"  Quick barked.  "No!  Ivy and Jackson, if you'll recall, created a sort of pacifier for the woman..."

"Right."  Hargrave nodded.  "That big glass jar o' oil, all filled up with them dolls' heads."

"Yes,"  Quick nodded.  "She was always fascinated by it, and would stare at it for hours.  We need to get it."

"Can't."  Hargrave shook his head.

"And, why not?"

"'Cause it's in the the big bouse, Mr. Quick."  Hargrave replied mockingly.  "Because it's up there..."  he pointed toward Fallbridge Hall.  And, so is the Duke and Lord Colinshire and their men, and their folk and some visiting earl and a bunch o' folk who're already suspicious o' us.  So, mightn't it look a little queer if we went in there and said, 'oh, we just need this thing what your missin' auntie likes even though we don't know where she is, Your Grace'?"

"Then, go in and get it without being seen!"  Quick ordered.

"Dunno where it is!"  Causer answered.  "Case you haven't noticed, it's a big place.  Could be anywhere.  As could any number of people who'd be more than 'appy to tell the Duke we ain't where we're s'posed to be."

"Ivy will know where it is.  Ask  her, and, then, figure out a way to get it!"  Quick demanded.

"Mr. Quick,"  Hargrave began.

"No arguments..."

"There's gotta be another way to..."  Causer interrupted.

Quick wouldn't listen.  "I've left them too long."  He said.  "I must return to them and prepare Perkins for this evening."

With that, he walked away and exited to the little passageway wherein the trapdoor to the cavern was hidden.  Descending the ladder, he could already hear Morgana's mad chatter.

"Heads, heads, heads, h...hea...heads."  She continued, feigning her obsession.  

"Yes, yes."  Quick spat.  "We'll see what we can do for you."  

He turned to Fred.  "I see, you've finally fully undressed."  His face blanched.  "Where's George?"

"George took a drink o' that water there."  Fred pointed to the jug which Quick had brought down earlier, "and, he felt sleepy, so he curled up under his blanket and went to sleep."

"I see."  Quick nodded.

"He's over there."  Fred indicated to a lump in the fetal position in the corner, under a blanket--just behind Morgana.

"Take off your blanket."  Quick growled to Fred.

Morgana began to screech and moan.

"Quiet, you!"  Quick bellowed.  "Make yourself useful.  Go...go and fold the lad's clothes.  Fred, where are your clothes?"

Fred blushed.

Quick narrowed his eyes.  "Fred, where are your clothes?"

"I..."  Fred stammered.

"He...h...he used them to dress Will...William."  Morgana spoke up.

"I thought you'd gone mad."  Quick said snidely.  "Is that so?  You dressed the corpse?"

"For his dignity."  Fred nodded.

"Show me."  Quick smiled.

"We...we moved him."  Fred answered.

Quick looked around the cavern.  Indeed, William's body was not where it has fallen.

"Where?"  Quick demanded.

"Further down the tunnel."  Fred lied.

Quick clenched his fists.  He then ran over to "George," and pulled the blanket from him.

"This isn't George Pepper!"  Quick shouted.  "This is little, dead William!  And, he's not dressed!"  Panting, Quick flew into a rage.  "Where is George?"

"By now, l...long...gone."  Morgana said triumphantly.  "He dressed in Fred's clothes and escaped when you left us alone.  Surely he's made it back to the house by now."

Quick shook with anger.

"H...he...he'll be back for us!"  Morgana declared.  "He will.  My nephew and Robert--they'll come for us.  In just a few m...minutes."

"Maybe so."  Quick sighed.  "But, they'll never find you."  He grabbed Morgana by the arm.  "Not in one piece."

Did you miss Chapters 1-100 of A Recipe for Punch?  If so, you can read them here.  Come back tomorrow for Chapter 102.

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