Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A Recipe for Punch, Chapter 85

Chapter 85
They Will Try

"Quiet down,"  Georgie shushed William as the latter let out a terrified scream.  "And, cover yourself, for God's sake."

"It's nothing, I've not s...seen before."  Morgana blushed.  "The men in the traveling show were...were...less than modest."

"Still, Miss Morgana."  George shook his head, wrapping the rough blanket that Mr. Quick had given him around himself.  He groggily covered William with the other blanket.  

Whatever elixir Quick and Causer had administered them caused George's head to pound and filled his mouth with bitter cotton.  

"Where are we?"  William slurred, thrashing about on the cold, dirt floor of the cavern where they'd been deposited.  He pulled the blanket around his naked body, but it did little to warm him.  He felt damp to the bone and his skin was slick.  He ran his hand over his nude leg.  "What is this all...all over me?"

"I think we've been coated with butter or lard."  George replied.

William gagged.  "Why?  Are they going to eat us?  Dear, God!"

"Shhhhh...."  George warned the young man.

"They're not going to eat you,"  Morgana replied plainly.  "They want to keep your skin soft."  

"Whatever for?"  William moaned.

"Never mind about it now, lad."  Morgana said softly.

"Do you know, Miss?"  William asked.

"I have an idea."  Morgana nodded.

"Tell me, then!"  William shouted.  He regretted it.  The echo of his own voice made his head pound.

"For God's sake, man."  George growled.  "Be quiet."  He grabbed his own forehead.  "They've put us in here for a reason.  Cor!  You're a fool, you are!  Do you really want them to come back for us so quickly?"

"Why?"  William whispered.  "Why are we in here?  Where are we?  What's happened?  The last I recall I was bringing breakfast to Miss Morgana.  Mr. Causer came in and there was a struggle.  He was grabbing for Miss Morgana and...and...she tried to fight him off and...she cut him with her...uhhh...hands."

"That's kind of you."  Morgana nodded.  "But, they're not hands.  You were very brave to try to help me, William.  I'm terribly sorry that it ended up this way for you."

"Whatever would Mr. Causer want with Miss Morgana?"  William asked frantically.  "Or me?  Or you?"

"Would you please be quiet?"  George snapped.  "Never before have I met a man who went on as you do.  Just be quiet and let me think."

"Think?"  William barked.  "We're in some kind of cave--naked as when we were born.  Trapped and covered in grease.  Only Miss Morgana has her clothing, and she's a lady who, forgive me, has no hands.  We have been given some kind of potion.  We're weak and the three of us are at some great disadvantage.  We are going to die in here.  And, for what?"

"You really don't understand?"  George growled.  "Look at Miss Morgana.  Look at her face!  I know you never really worked for the duchess, but they could be twins.  You know that the duchess' corpse was found in the house.  You know how devoted the lot o' 'em are here.  I heard 'em talkin', William.  I heard 'em say how they want to bring 'er back to life.  We three are the parts they're gonna use."

"That's...that's mad!"  William gasped.

"They're mad."  Morgana nodded casually.

"It's impossible!"  William hugged himself.  

"Nonetheless,"  Morgana sighed, "they...they will try."

"How can you be so calm, Miss?"  William rattled.  

"Lad, when you spend most of your life in a Curiosities Show, you learn how to keep your wits about you."  Morgana replied.  She held up a pincer and snapped it at William.  "Furthermore, though I may be skittish, I'm  not as helpless as I look.  Now, listen to young George and do try to settle down.  And, and...do please close your blanket.  I've seen many things, but, try to remember that I am a lady."

She snapped her pincer again.

William wrapped his blanket more tightly around his body.

"Miss Morgana, do you know what this place is?"  George asked.

"Not exactly."  Morgana shook her head.  "I rather thought it some...some kind of cellar, at first.  But, it's more like a...tunnel."  She pointed to the trapdoor through which they'd been lowered when Mr. Hargrave and Mr. Causer made such a fuss about hiding them.  "There's the way down, but, I listened to them as they lowered us.  It seems, there's also a way through.  Causer spoke of a way to another place.  I kept my eyes shut.  They thought I was still under the spell of that tonic.  They spoke of the way to some woman's house--someone called Lottie."

"Lottie?"  George's eyes widened.

"Do you know the name?"

"She's the woman..."  He paused.  "It was to her home that I was taken last night."

"She runs the notch house."  William scoffed.

"Ah."  Morgana nodded.  "Well, then...this...this is one way to it."  She looked around.  "Somehow."   She smiled slightly.  "Interesting that a tunnel from the vicarage should lead to a bawdy house."

"But, I don't see a  way out of here."  William looked around.

"Blanket."  Morgana snapped her pincers.

William blushed again.

"Nothing worth finding is obvious."  Morgana continued.

"You can't find something that isn't there."  William moaned.

"Do you want to stay here and be flayed so your buttered skin can make a coat for my half-sister's corpse?"  Morgana asked plainly.

"No?"  William whispered.

"Then...then look for a way out."  Morgana replied.

Did you miss Chapters 1-84 of A Recipe for Punch?  If so, you can read them here.  Come back tomorrow for Chapter 86.

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