Friday, June 6, 2014
A Recipe for Punch, Chapter 118
The Promise of Home
"Morgana!" Robert gasped as Maudie and George Pepper led Morgana into the passage outside of Lennie's room. He quickly embraced her, still trying to be gentle so as not to hurt her back, tears springing into his eyes. "However did..."
"Three of the young men from the g...g..gardens helped me to escape."
"Are you harmed?" Robert released the woman. He looked at her arms which were raw from the canvas ties which had bound her. "You are..."
"No, it's no...nothing with which I can't cope. I had far worse in the traveling show, I assure you."
"Still...I'll call for Gamilla or Violet...we..." Robert began.
"Not now," Morgana shook her head. "We must look after Lennie. Please tell me that you were able to save her."
"I hope that I have," Robert answered sadly. "But, however did you know?"
"When those kind young men carried me out, we came upon Mr. Jackson and Ivy who taunted me with the news that Lennie had tried to...to...take her own life." Morgana gulped. "Robert, why...why would she do such a thing?"
"The state of affairs in our household, the ordeal she'd been subjected to thanks to Jackson, everything...she was quite depressed by it all."
"But, it's not like her. Is it?"
"No, not at all. Nonetheless, what's gone on would be enough to drive the strongest of us to such an act. She confessed to Gamilla earlier that she felt as though she was responsible for the whole thing."
"This is talk for family," Maudie interjected from where she and George still stood behind Morgana. "We should take our leave, Sir."
"Do stay." Robert said quickly. "We have all suffered together. That, more so than blood," he winced at the word, thinking of the state in which he'd found Lennie--the life pouring thick and red from her arms into murky pools on the floor. "That, makes us family."
"George was long my companion in our captivity." Morgana looked affectionately at the young man behind her. "Without him, I'd be quite lost."
"I still wish to know how you escaped." Robert leaned in.
"I shall tell you all about it. For now, th...though, let's only say that I'd managed to attract the attention of those kind gardeners who carried me back to the house." Morgana answered softly. "They were shy to take me to the formal entrance, feeling they weren't worthy to knock, even in my company. They br...brought me instead to the kitchens where I was given over to Maude and Georgie."
"We left the men in the kitchens with my mum. She's givin' them quite a feast, I should say." George nodded.
"I'm glad. When they've finished, I want them to come upstairs to me so I might offer them further reward, something worthy of their heroism." Robert responded. "They deserve our deepest thanks for returning our Aunt Morgana to us safely."
"We...we...we are not yet safe, Robert." Morgana shook her head.
Robert's shoulders sagged. "I know, but, still--you're safer now than you were."
"None of us are away from danger until we've stopped those who are working to restore my sister. Where is Punch?"
"Gone out to look for you. His man, Charles, and Lord Cleaversworth are with him."
"So, h...he's not alone?"
"No." Robert replied.
"Thank the stars." Morgana exhaled. "We must find a way to restore him to the Hall immediately."
"I could go..." George volunteered.
"I'd go, too." Maudie nodded.
"No, no. You've both been well enough in harm's way." Robert said firmly. "I won't have it. I shall go myself, with Gerard."
"What of Lennie?" Morgana asked.
"Violet and Gamilla are looking after her. I've done all I could do for now." Robert answered quietly. "Without Punch, we cannot attempt the transfusion of blood which we'd..."
Robert stopped speaking when he saw Morgana's look of confusion. "You've not known of much of what has gone on here--just as I do not know all you have had to suffer through."
"We will soon be able to tell all." Morgana nodded. "For now, I shall help the girls with Lennie."
"If you would." Robert took Morgana by the elbow. "If you're not too exhausted from your ordeal."
"I would endure any fatigue for Lennie or any one of you." Morgana smiled.
"I am also rather concerned for Gamilla for reasons which I can't explain now. Perhaps..."
"I shall entreat her to rest a b...b...bit." Morgana responded.
"I can be of help, Miss Morgana." Maude offered.
Morgana looked to Robert who nodded. "That would be appreciated, Maude. And, George, if you would return to the kitchens and ask the men who saved our Aunt Morgana to please come upstairs and wait for me. When they've finished their meals, please take them to the library and ask them to be comfortable. Offer them whatever they wish to drink and tell them it would mean much to me if they'd truly act as if this was their home as well."
"I'll go now, Lord Colinshire." George nodded, hurrying off.
"If I may, I'll look in on Miss Lennie." Maudie bowed her head.
"Yes, do." Robert stepped aside so Maudie could enter the room.
Alone with Morgana, Robert sighed. "I hate to leave you now, only my dear Punch is..."
"Go, Robert." Morgana held up a pincer without a hint of self-consciousness. "Go and bring our Punch home to us. He is our heart. We need him. You more so, even, than the rest of us. He is, a...af...after all, your..." She paused to think of the right word. "He's really your husband."
"Find him, bring him and Charles and Lord Cleaversworth home so Punch may be reunited with you and your son, so His Lordship may take his place at Lennie's side and so Charles might one day find the happiness that Gerard has found. I ha...have heard the way Violet speaks of him."
"I will return." Robert hugged Morgana again.
"Do so quickly and safely and with your beloved and your friends."
Robert went off to find Gerard so they might search for Punch and the others as Morgana quietly entered Lennie's room.
In the darkened suite, Morgana squinted. Draped limply across the bed, Lennie looked pale and phantom-like--her arms bandaged to each elbow.
Gamilla sat on one side of the bed, holding one of Lennie's hands. Violet stood at attention at Gamilla's shoulder.
The two servants turned as Morgana entered, and, gasped.
Gamilla leapt to her feet with a surprising nimbleness given her state of tiredness and her pregnant condition. Closely followed by Violet, Gamilla rushed to Morgana.
"Oh, Miss, they done let you go!" Gamilla cried, putting her hands on Morgana's shoulders--setting aside rules of servants and the family of the house.
Violet, too, reached for Morgana, and, took a pincer in her delicate hand.
Normally, Morgana would have pulled her claw away in embarrassment. Yet, she felt so at ease and was so touched by the welcome that she received, she did not feel the need to do so.
"They did not let me," Morgana answered. "But, go, I did--with considerable he...help."
"We're ever-so glad you're with us again. I'm only sorry that you had to come home to more sadness." Violet began.
Morgana glanced at Lennie. "My poor niece..."
"Been driven mad by those horrible folk," Violet spat. "This is their fault." She noticed the welts on Morgana's arms. "We shall all soon show the scars of their wickedness." Releasing Morgana's pincer, Violet dabbed her eyes as she began to cry. "This...what she done...this ain't my mistress. This ain't the way Lady Fallbridge acts or things. This house, and those people...they did this to her."
"We're all under the spell of this house and the wickedness of those vipers who done made it their nest. The whole place should be pulled down stone by stone and the earth sown with lavender and salt and sage." Gamilla added. "We done all ought to leave her, throwin' torches behind us to burn the disease off the land, and, go home."
"His Grace had the right idea," Violet nodded. "We was our happiest when we kept to Number 65, kept the doors and windows locked and took our joy in one another. Now, it's all..."
"Honey," Gamilla said gently to Violet. "We shall again. We'll spend out our days in peace, guided by His Grace and Lord Colinshire. Takin' delight in Master Colin growin' up, seein' Miss Lennie wed, watchin' Dog Toby and his rascally tricks, tellin' stories to one another, eatin' Mrs. Pepper's fine vittles, and...and, even watchin' my own child--mine and Gerry's--grow strong and smart. We'll let the evenings fill our hearts with gladness of a day well spent instead of fear and dread. We done got that for to look forward. Evenin's spent by our hearth downstairs, listenin' to Mr. Speaight read to us, lettin' our eyes fill with the beauty of the upstairs when we go. Fillin' our bellies with laughter at His Grace's jokes..."
"And, Miss Morgana's tales o' the circus and her time in the show. We'll all be a fine, quiet family." Violet nodded.
"Today, I'd even be grateful to see Miss Fern." Gamilla sighed.
"We only need to get away from here," Violet agreed. "Now, we got Miss Morgana back."
"Soon, my dears," Morgana smiled, feeling a maternal sensation she'd never felt before. "And, we shall all go home soon."
Suddenly the idea of a home seemed real to her.
"First, w...we must keep up our strength for Lennie." Morgana looked to the bed again. "Is she conscious?"
"Off an' on." Violet answered heavily.
"She might rally to hear your voice, Miss." Gamilla suggested, guiding Morgana to the bed. "Sit and talk with her."
"I'll s...st...stand." Morgana shook her head. "I'd rather you sit so you and your baby can rest."
"I couldn't." Gamilla protested.
"You must. I insist." Morgana answered affectionately. "For well over six decades these mismatched legs ha...have supported me. Sit, please."
Gamilla nodded and returned to her place in the chair.
Morgana stood at the foot of Lennie's bed, gently placing her pincer on the blanket which covered her niece.
"Lennie," She said softly. "I'm here."
Lennie's eyes fluttered and she looked to Morgana. Suddenly, she began to scream in abject terror. "Stay away from me, foul demon! Stay away! You've gotten what you wanted from me. My blood was spilled just as yours was! I did what was asked of me!"
Morgana was shocked for a few seconds, and, then she realized that Lennie thought that she was the specter of her mother.
"Lennie, dear," Morgana said quickly. "It is I...Auntie Morgana."
Lennie fell back onto her pillows. "I will not fall for your trickery. Not you nor the succubus you promised would punish me for the sins you prescribed to me."
Morgana held up her claws. "Look, my d...dear. I am your Auntie."
"Auntie?" Lennie gasped.
"Yes." Morgana nodded.
"Oh..." Lennie wept. "Auntie, I wish to go home!"
Morgana sat on the bed. "We soon shall, my darling niece. We soon shall."
Did you miss Chapters 1-117 of A Recipe for Punch? If so, you can read them here. Come back on Monday for Chapter 119.