Wednesday, May 7, 2014

A Recipe for Punch, Chapter 106

Chapter 106
Cup o' Tea

"I thought you might like some tea,"  Charlotte smiled as she came into the room where she had allowed Jackson and Ivy to hide Morgana.  She carried a plain-looking tray with a brown teapot and a shabby cup.

"I been thinkin'."  The woman went on.  "Well, I been listenin' to Mr. Jackson and Miss Blessum, and, seems to me maybe they've not been..."  She coughed.  "Well, I just gotta do what they say.  I gotta.  You understand?"

Looking away, Morgana nodded slightly that she did understand.

"But, that don't mean we gotta treat ya like...well, like some kind o' beast.  See...I had a brother once.  He were born with a clubfoot and a hunch.  Now, I know he didn't do nothin' to deserve that, and I figure you didn't neither.  I feel...well, I just think you oughta have some tea."

She sighed, looking at Morgana.  "You ain't gonna have such an easy time drinkin' it.  Are ya?  Not with your han...your...not tied up like you are."

Morgana stared back at the woman.

"I can hold the cup up to your lips so you can take a sip."  Charlotte volunteered.

Morgana shook her head weakly.

"Maybe later, then."  Charlotte nodded.  "Listen, while Miss Blessum and Mr. Jackson are havin' their vittles, why don't ya try to relax?  You ain't gonna have long by yourself."  

Morgana inhaled.

"You don't gotta be afraid o' me."  Charlotte smiled again.  "I know I talk a hard streak, and maybe I seemed like I was heartless when ya come in.  But, I gotta do that.  See...I gotta."

"What did they make ya drink?"  The woman continued.  "I dunno.  I feel a trifle peculiar about all this.  Mr. Jackson said they gave ya somethin' so you couldn't talk.  Is that right?"

"I...I..."  Morgana rasped, her throat still raw from the cruel elixir which Ivy had forced upon her.

"No, no.  Don't strain yourself."  Charlotte shook her head.  "Don't seem very..."  She paused. "Well, it ain't my place to say nothin', but, it don't seem right what's happenin' here.  I've gotta do what they tell me.  A woman in my position, well, she don't got much choice.  I gotta follow their rules or else it could be the end o' me.  Quite a lot of the farm wives on the estate would like to see me not only gone, but strung up.  Only thing keepin' me here since the duchess died is that Hargrave, Causer, Quick and Jackson let me stay.  Oh, it ain't just me I'm worried 'bout.  I got my girls to think of.  It ain't easy.  Is it?  No."

Charlotte leaned forward.

"Don't think I don't understand,"  She went on.  "I do.  I know what it's like.  I had some men what treated me terrible.  Done awful things, they did.  Thought I'd never get 'way from 'em."

Morgana let her head droop forward.

"Oh, dear.  You're gonna have to take somethin' to keep up your strength."  Charlotte studied the ropes which bound Morgana's pincers.  "Can you hold things?  Ya them?"

Nodding slightly, Morgana groaned.

Charlotte glanced at the door.  

"If I...if I loosen them a bit,"  Charlotte suggested, pointing to Morgana's pound wrists,  "maybe you'll have some tea."

Looking up hopefully, Morgana nodded.

"You ain't gonna do nothin'.  Right?  We're friends.  I just wanna help ya."  Charlotte smiled.  "Well, then."  She reached forward and started to loosen the ropes.  "Just for a minute, then.  Just for a cup o' tea."

Did you miss Chapters 1-105 of A Recipe for Punch?  If so, you can read them here.  Come back tomorrow for Chapter 107.

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