Thursday, April 10, 2014

A Recipe for Punch, Chapter 90

Chapter 90

"I say!"  Matthew shouted as Robert, Punch and Charles rushed past in him the Great Hall.  "What's all this, then?"

"Lennie is in harm's way."  Robert replied over his shoulder.

Now, Matthew, Earl of Cleaversworth could never have been described as a valiant man, nor a particularly exciting man.  He was, however, a loyal man, and furthermore, he was legitimately and truly in love with Lennie.

His long face fell--if possible--even further, and, if possible, became all the more pale.  "What?" He growled.

"It''s too much to explain right now, it is."  Punch panted, raising up his candlestick.  "Only, let's just say, the circumstances of finding our auntie were more complicated than we let on yesterday."

Matthew trotted after them.  "Where are you going?"

"To the family crypt."  Robert replied without breaking his stride.

"Has this anything to do with the trouble my valet got into last night?"  Matthew asked, keeping up with the other three, younger men with surprising ease.  

"Perhaps...probably, yes."  Punch answered.

"It's all rather a muddy mess at the moment."  Robert added.  "Just now, however, Lennie's safety is our priority."

They burst through the towering doors of the Great Hall and into the gnarled mist of the morning.

"I'm coming with you."  Matthew declared.

"If you wish."  Robert answered.  "The chapel is this way.  The crypt is beneath it."

The four men ran to the chapel--the only sound that passed between them was the crunch of their boots in the gravel and leaves.

When they reached the chapel, Punch's voice echoed throughout the gilded vaults.  "Lennie!"

"We're down here, Your Grace!"  Violet called out from below.

They hurried down the dusty crypt steps.

"Dear Lord,"  Matthew coughed when he saw Lennie laid out on the stone tiles of the crypt floor.

Charles went straight to Violet and unashamedly embraced her.  

"She's still breathin', but it's slow, and shallow."  Violet cried.

"What happened?"  Punch shouted.  "What did he do to her?"

"Scratched her...cut her hand..."  Violet sobbed.  "A deep cut."

"This...this is the result of a cut to the hand?"  Robert knelt at Lennie side, unwrapping the apron from Lennie's hand.  "With what did he cut her?"

"A comb.  The teeth musta been in 'Snow White.'"  Violet sputtered.  "He said it was the Duchess'."

"Pauline would have a poisoned comb."  Robert muttered.

"Who did this?"  Matthew bellowed with a passion that the others would never have thought him capable.

"Mr. Jackson."  Violet answered, wide-eyed.  "He was the butler, here, Sir."

"The one who was dismissed?"  Matthew inhaled.

"Where is he now?"  Charles asked softly.

"Dunno."  Violet replied.  "He ran off."

"He couldn't have gotten far."  Robert replied without taking his gaze from Lennie's hand.  "The man is older than time."

Robert finally looked up.  "This cut is already blistered and becoming infected.  I...I should have had the forethought to bring my bag.  We need to get this poison out of her."

"Chum?"  Punch began emotionally.  "Have you any idea what the poison is?"

"No."  Robert replied.

"What should we do?"  Punch choked.

"I don't...the poison is in her blood.  I can't know how much or how powerful it is.  We must extract the poison from her blood.  There are ways to do it.  However, this...this is not the most...well, this is not the most beneficial environment for it.  We need a clean place.  We should try to get her back to the Hall."

"If I could give her me own blood I would."  Punch gulped.

"As would I."  Matthew declared.

Robert squinted and nodded.

"Is that possible?"  Matthew asked.

Robert looked away cautiously.  "There have  been some successful transfusions of blood from one person to another.  I witnessed two or three at St. George's Hospital.  However, I saw many more which were abysmal failures, resulting in..."  He rose.  "Charles, dear me carry Lennie back to the Hall, please."

"No."  Matthew stepped forward.  He bent down and lifted Lennie in his arms.  "I shall carry her."

Did you miss Chapters 1-89 of A Recipe for Punch?  If so, you can read them here.  Come back tomorrow for Chapter 91.  

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