Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A Recipe for Punch, Chapter 109

Chapter 109

After calling for Violet, Robert returned to the bed where Gamilla and Lennie, side-by-side, returned to the living.

Gerard, who refused to release Gamilla's hand, wept happily as he made soothing noises at his wife.

"Gerry,"  Gamilla rasped, "you don't understand.  You gotta get me up, honey."

"Not yet,"  Gerard shook his head at his wife.  

"She speaks the truth,"  Lennie coughed.

"Lennie, dear," Robert answered gently, "you've been through a terrible ordeal.  Please save your strength.  Inhale.  Fill your lungs with air."

Lennie tried to sit up.  "Robert, you're..."  She fell back onto her pillow.  "You must listen."

"Please,"  Robert pleaded.  "Dear Lennie, you are as much my sister as you are Punch's, and I must insist that you..."

"She's here, Robert."  Lennie sputtered.

"Stronger than ever before, Your Lordship."  Gamilla nodded weakly.  She pulled on Gerard's hand and tried to right herself.  "We done got free, but, at a price."

Robert and Gerard exchanged glances.  

"Love,"  Gerard began.  "I don't understand.  Let's just rejoice that you and Miss Lennie are well and..."

"None of us are well!"  Gamilla answered, gaining strength.  "None of us are safe until we rid this house of her."

Robert looked to Lennie.  "Your mother?"

"Yes."  Lennie answered.

Before Lennie could say more, Violet came into the room.  Her eyes flashed with joy when she saw the two women.

"Glory be!"  Violet exchanged.  "I can't believe it."

"Violet, will you bring that pitcher to me?"  Robert pointed.

"Of course, Your Lordship."  Violet nodded.

"Robert, please..."  Lennie began again.  "Where is my brother?"

"He will return soon."  Robert responded vaguely, not wishing to further upset the two women.

"Certainly he will,"  Violet nodded, bringing the pitcher to Robert.  "You'll see, Miss.  His Grace will be back before you know it.  And, overjoyed he'll be, too."

"Where is the duke?"  Gamilla asked.  "He's in danger."

Gerard bit his lip and forced a slight smile.  "Love, His Grace is quite safe.  He's with Charles and Lord Cleaversworth."

"Punch is in horrible danger!"  Lennie reached out for Robert.  "For the love of..."  She coughed again.  "Please, Robert, tell me where he is."

"He's gone in search of Aunt Morgana."  Robert answered finally.  "There's been trouble, as you remember.  You and Violet and the girls went to the..."

"The crypt, yes!"  Lennie managed to sit up.  "William is dead."

Robert gasped.  "However could you know that?"

"I saw him. He appeared to us."  Lennie replied.

"Guided by who we done thought was Naasir."  Gamilla began.

"Naasir?"  Violet whispered to Gerard.

"We've spoken of him.  He was the duke's valet before Charles, and African gentleman."  Gerard replied.  "He was killed in New Orleans."

"Oh, yes.  His Grace speaks of him from time to time."  Violet nodded.  "His death was a terrible sadness for the poor duke."

"I thought Naasir done come to help us!"  Gamilla moaned.  "I thought my callin' to him brought him to us.  I begged for him to come so he might guide us back to you when I done got stuck.  He came all right, came with William.  I thought he done come to take William away, to peace.  Only..."

"It wasn't Naasir."  Lennie continued for Gamilla.  "It was some other thing, some demon who done took his form.  Wasn't takin' William away.  William was tryin' to fight it so we might come back."

"You're both becoming overwrought."  Robert shook his head.  

"Punch is walking into a trap!"  Lennie said.  "My mother's spirit has fed, Robert.  She's grown stronger.  She's taken in William, and..."

"And?"  Robert leaned in.

"A woman...I don't know who she was."  Lennie coughed.

"A woman with brown curls.  Charlotte was her name."  Gamilla explained.  "She tried for the help Miss Morgana, but, Mr. Jackson cut her life short."

"I don't know...we...there's no one called Charlotte here."  Robert answered.

"Gregory knows...get Gregory."  Gamilla begged.  

"Robert, my brother is about to be snared in a horrible trap."  Lennie said, her voice quavering.  "You must find him before he goes into the castle...the little castle.  Quick, the parson, is causing all of this.  They're guiding him to the little castle."

"What little castle?"  Robert asked cautiously.

"It was where His Grace first knew about Lady Barbara goin' to New Orleans."  Gamilla answered, her head listing to one side.

"Could you mean the folly?"  Robert asked.

"Yes."  Lennie gasped.

"Dear Lennie, Punch has gone to the parsonage.  He's nowhere near the folly.  He's on the other side of the estate."

Suddenly, Lennie began to shake.

"Violet, help me, please."  Robert rose.  "Help me put more cushions behind her head so she won't injure herself."

Gamilla cried out.  "Oh, it's too late."

"What is it, 'Milla?"  Gerard asked.

"It's done."  Gamilla muttered.  "The duchess done got her way."

Did you miss Chapters 1-108 of A Recipe for Punch?  If so, you can read them here.  Come back tomorrow for Chapter 110.

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