Wednesday, May 28, 2014
A Recipe for Punch, Chapter 113
"Miss Lennie?" Gamilla leaned over. "How are ya feelin'?"
"You shouldn't be looking after me, Gamilla. You should be resting. You've been through the same ordeal that I have."
"Not quite," Gamilla smiled. "Don't forget, you done been cut and given some kind o' poison. It's likely still in your body, Miss."
"That's not the only poison which flows through my body." Lennie muttered.
"What's that, Your Ladyship?" Gamilla asked.
"Oh...nothing." Lennie shook her head, sinking deeper into her pillow. "Gamilla, do sit. Gerard will be furious if he sees you up and about."
"Well, I did promise him I'd stay in my place." Gamilla answered. "If you don't mind, maybe I will sit. Just for a moment."
"I insist that you do. You really should be in bed."
"Too much for to do." Gamilla shook her head. "Besides, I gotta get back to Master Colin soon enough. Poor Ethel's had to take on my duties as well as her own. Ain't fair."
"Ethel is strong." Lennie replied softly. "Not to suggest that you're not, Gamilla."
"I understand, Your Ladyship." Gamilla looked compassionately at Lennie. "Oh, Miss, you got such worry on your face. Don't give in to it. You gotta let all that worry just wash over ya. Ain't gonna be no good to ya. You need to think about bein' well."
"I can't help it." Lennie pulled her blankets up to her chin.
"I know you're worried 'bout Miss Morgana."
"I am," Lennie nodded. "And my brother, and Robert...and Colin. And George and poor Mrs. Pepper. I'm upset that you were harmed and that Gerard was so heartbroken when he though he lost you. I'm sad for William. Though we didn't know him, he seemed like such a nice lad, and, really, no one should die the way he did--and, so young."
"Worryin' ain't gonna put the breath in William's lungs again. Nor is it gonna bring Miss Morgana back to the house or stop Jackson, and Miss Blessum and the vicar from their strange, frightenin' scheme."
"I know. As I said, it can't be helped." Lennie mumbled. "I just feel so...helpless. And, well, to be honest, Gamilla, I feel guilty."
"You mustn't." Gamilla patted Lennie's hand.
"Had I not pressed Punch into learning more about...about from where I came, well..." She pressed her lips together for a moment. "We'd not have come here were it not for me. Had we just stayed in London, George wouldn't have been in peril, you wouldn't have suffered, nor would have Gerard. Everyone is in turmoil. Mrs. Pepper, Ethel, Maudie, Charles and Vi. My brother and Robert. Because I've been so selfish, I've out everyone in danger. Even Lord Cleaversworth."
"Ain't selfish to want to know where ya come from." Gamilla shook her head. "And, you didn't put no one in danger, Miss Lennie. If we'd not come here, your poor Auntie'd still be locked up in the attic."
"She's not in any better place now." Lennie replied.
"Maybe not in the flesh, but, in her heart and in her mind, Your Ladyship, she's much better off because she knows she's got a family. She knows she's loved and that there are folk who ain't gonna look down on her because she's...she's not like everyone else. Even if she only knew that for a few days, Miss, she's that much better because you come here."
"Thank you for that." Lennie nodded. "Nonetheless, everyone else..."
"You'll pardon me sayin' it, Your Ladyship, but you can't torture yourself this way. None o' this is your doin'. Mr. Jackson and Miss Blessum and the vicar, they'd still have their mad plan to bring the duchess back to life whether you was here or not."
"I think you let your mother's spirit make ya feel badly, Your Ladyship. We can't let her have that kind of power over ya. All that's gonna do is give her more and more strength. In life, she was a nightmare of a person. I know this for true. I seen it for myself before she died. In death, all that's left of her is that horror. You want to call someone selfish, Miss, it's she."
"But, I'm her daughter, aren't I?"
"Well, yes. But, that ain't got a thing to do with it." Gamilla answered.
"Doesn't it? Think of the two people who gave me life. Johnny Donnan--a brute of a man. And, Pauline. That's my heritage, Gamilla. That's what's inside of me. Surely I'm just the same. Wicked to the core."
"Now, Miss Lennie, you don't believe that. His Grace had the same mother. You don't think him wicked, do ya?"
"No. Remember, though, that my brother had a different father. Sir Colin was a fine, decent man. His Grace takes after his father. I don't have the luxury of one kind parent. I'm wicked throughout."
"There's nothin' to what you're sayin'." Gamilla argued. "A child don't have to be like her parents. Wickedness ain't somethin' what's passed on in the blood like the color o' your eyes."
"Gamilla, I do appreciate what you're saying..."
"I ain't just sayin' it, Miss Lennie. I mean it for true. Now, you listen to me. I've known ya for as long as you been with this family, and I've only known ya to be gentle, and thoughtful and generous."
"You didn't know me in the decades before." Lennie inhaled softly. "I've done some awful things."
"Just look at what came of my weakness. I let Orpha Polk take my name and my life." She shook her head and repeated. "Just look what came of that. In the last year, I've brought nothing but sorrow to the family because of my selfish ways."
"That ain't so!" Gamilla said firmly.
Lennie closed her eyes. "Gamilla, I do think you should go back to your room and rest. Gerard will be looking for you soon enough, and, you don't want him to have to scold you for not taking care of yourself."
"I ain't leavin', Miss. Not until you see that what you're sayin' is wrong."
"I'm tired, Gamilla. I think I shall just sleep for awhile. You'd do me a tremendous favor if I could know you're resting. For you and the baby."
"But, Your Ladyship..."
"I don't want to leave you alone." Gamilla replied.
"I'll be fine. Lord Colinshire will be in soon."
"Yes, but, I think I'll stay with ya. Just until His Grace comes back, too. You'll see. He'll come back before goin' the folly, and, you'll see he's safe and that he didn't fall into the trap that them..."
Lennie interrupted. "I really just want to sleep."
Gamilla sniffed. "Very well, if that's what ya want."
"I do." Lennie answered.
Gamilla nodded. "I'll come back soon."
"Yes, of course."
Without another word, Gamilla left. Instead of going back to her room, she went, instead, to look for Robert--hoping that somehow he could find a way to convince Lennie that she was wrong.
Alone in her room, Lennie cried softly. "My blood is diseased. Whatever shall I do?" Looking across the bed to the writing table, she saw a gleaming answer to her mad question.
Did you miss Chapters 1-112 of A Recipe for Punch? If so, you can read them here. Come back tomorrow for Chapter 114.