Thursday, May 29, 2014

A Recipe for Punch, Chapter 114

Chapter 114

Morgana tried to wriggle free from the strips of canvas which bound her arms behind her.  Ivy Blessum had made sure to make her binds as tight as possible.  Not only were the canvas shackles too tight, so tight that she could no longer feel her pincers, but the position was unbearable.  Morgana's hump was already a constant source of discomfort, but to have her arms pulled at such an angle, tucked under her hunched back as they were, was proving excruciating.

Similarly, Morgana's legs were bound.  This wasn't so much of a problem as she had little feeling in her deformed leg anyway.  Furthermore, Morgana knew that because of the cylindrical shape of her leg, she'd have less trouble freeing her lower extremities.  She extended her club-like foot, causing a contraction in what should have been her ankle and calf, and the canvas strips slipped right off.

She knew that the door was locked.  She'd heard Ivy and Jackson fumbling with the lock and key when they left her.  Still, the edifice in which she'd been imprisoned--whatever it was--was so derelict and crumbling that surely there had to be another way out, even if it had to be one of her own making.

Morgana shook her head and sighed, recalling her years with the traveling show.  How many times had she seen Calif, the Human Skeleton, wriggle free from the ropes which bound him?  It was part of his act--the escape.  Ah well, she thought, Calif's ropes were tied in such a way that he could easily break free from them through trickery.  There was no such carnival magic for her.

Where was she?

She tried to recall what she'd been told about the estate.  Punch had mentioned a chapel and the catacomb beneath it.  He'd spoken of the farmers and their cottages, and even of the small village which served them.  What other buildings would be on such land?

Lennie had mentioned a large glass structure which had served as a year-round garden--a spot where flowers could bloom even on the coldest winter's day.

This was not that place.

Was it somewhere near the stables?

Violet had gone on about the stables.  As she'd brushed and arranged Morgana's hair, she told her new friend all about the beautiful horses she'd seen when Punch took everyone for their tour of the estate.

"Oh, Miss,"  Violet had said.  "I never knew such a large plot of land uninterrupted as it is.  Not even in Scotland when His Grace took us all to his father's ancestral home.  Strange as it is here, it is beautiful."

Morgana had thought that Violet's final appraisal seemed fitting.  Hadn't Pauline been beautiful, but strange.

She glanced at the shabby casket in which Pauline's body waited...waited for her resurrection, for Morgana's death.

Strange and beautiful.

" have made a diabolical land here, Pauline."  Morgana said aloud.  "Rolling green hills to your wicked, w...w...wicked band of lunatics."

Again, she recalled Violet's spirited talk of the estate.  "Yes, Miss, it is lovely.  There's these buildings like you've never seen before.  One is like a temple like you'd see in a place like Rome--all made of marble.  There's another what's got a big, shallow pool of water in front of it what reflects the whole of it like a giant mirror.  Then, up high on the east hill is a wee castle of stone.  All covered in ivy, it is, with a tower.  His Grace says that when he was a boy, he...well...sure he used to go up to the tower and look out at the whole estate.  They're not built for no reason other than to be pretty, Miss.  Folk don't live in 'em or nothin'.  Oh, what was it His Grace had called 'em?  Oh, I can't think of the word.  Wait.  Folly!  That's it!  He called 'em follies.  Fancy that, then.  A perfect word for a buildin' what ain't got no use other than to be pretty."

That's where she was, Morgana concluded.  She was in one of the follies--the one which Violet had called a "wee castle."  

Morgana looked to the tilted, crumbling spiral of stone steps.  That, surely, led to the tower.  If she could make her way to the top, she could scream and call out.  Someone, certainly, someone would see or hear her and come to her aid before Jackson and Ivy returned with the stuff of their mysterious game.

Lace, oil, a basket and a torch--wasn't that what Jackson was grumbling about when he and Ivy skittered out?  For the amusement of the duchess?  What were they planning?

Morgana limped toward the staircase and set her bloated foot upon it.  Bits of stone crumbled away under her weight, puffs of dust rising from the broken edges.

She looked up.  There was a wooden cover at the top of the stairs, but, she could see light through it.  

She would deal with that obstacle when she reached it.

Slowly, and painfully, she began to climb the stairs.

Did you miss chapters 11-113 of A Recipe for Punch?  If so, you can read them here.  Come back tomorrow or Chapter 115.

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