Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A Recipe for Punch, Chapter 120

Chapter 120
A Stain on the Blood

Mr. Quick inhaled sharply, his long, thin nostrils vibrating beneath his slender, fin-like nose.  "Nothing but problems," he despaired.  Shaking his head, he repeated it.  "Nothing but problems."

He walked over to the low sofa where he had bound Mr. Punch.  "Your mother, I'm sure, is quite frustrated with me.  I can hear her curses carried on the breeze.  Still,"  he ruffled Punch's hair, "now, I think we have everything as it should be.  Truly, this most recent change of plans should delight her so."

Punch looked up, his eyes wild above his gagged mouth.

"Do try to keep yourself calm, little mandrake."  The parson continued.  "There's no point in becoming upset.  I know how you nancy men enjoy a good tantrum, but it won't do you any good."

Pulling a chair over from another corner of the back parlor of the vicarage, he saw next to Punch.  

"Can you feel it?"  Quick asked.  He paused to wait for a response that he knew couldn't come because of the messy gag in Punch's mouth.  "You can thank Mr. Jackson for that.  It was he who perfected that elixir.  Your mother and I--for all our studies of the powers of plants and herbs--could never quite find the right balance.  It was Jackson who deduced the right measurements.  The dosage he used on your sister...your half-sister...was too strong.  This, I think, was just enough.  Furthermore, it really should be taken orally, as opposed to directly into the blood.  That was the mistake he made with your sister.  Just so you know, he did that all on his own--the comb.  I had no idea he'd dipped the teeth in it.  He must have done that some time ago.  I suppose he meant it as an emergency measure--for security--in case anyone tried to move Her Grace."

Punch groaned.

"It's too much for you, isn't it?"  Quick nodded.  "You're not equipped for the rigors of a Dukedom.  We've all known about your problems for a long time.  I don't just mean your perversion.  No.  Though we've known about that for just as long, that is not to which I refer. No, I mean your affliction.  Your sickness of the mind.  Many is the time I saw you, even as a lad, standing in the folly tower, talking to yourself--dragging that little puppet around with you.  It angered your mother so.  Oh, to have her eldest child and only son exhibit the manner of a madman.  Still, she resolved herself to it in time.  She correctly figured that it was the effects at having mated with someone such as Sir Colin Molliner.  The very thing that had made him passably attractive--his intellect--made him an unsuitable father.   Wisdom is like a stain on the blood. One should never breed with a scholar.  Their minds are peculiarly formed.  It doesn't make for strong children.  Of course, Her Grace had hoped that Lady Barbara might be her recompense--that she might somehow make up for the utter disappointment for her first child.  But, no.  Barbara's just as mad as you are.  I'd hoped that this new girl you'd brought with you might be somewhat more like your mother.  But, no.  You've corrupted her.  She's lost.  The only salvation we have, oddly enough, was brought to us by Barbara.  So, maybe the little harlot wasn't as much of a waste as we thought."

The parson stroked Punch's cheek.

"You feel cooler.  I can tell the elixir is working.  Do you feel as if your limbs are heavy, leaden?  That's what it will do.  You'll be perfectly awake, yet paralyzed.  I'm not sure if you'll feel anything.  In part, I wish you would.  Still, it might be considered inhumane, if you did.  I've no way of knowing.  No one to whom we've ever given it has lived to tell us about the experience.  Just know that you'll be aware of all that transpires."

Quick sighed again.

"I'd not intended to utilize you.  If your aunt and the others had been more cooperative, we wouldn't have had to.  Now, with you here, however, we have all we need.  And, truly, it did work out for the best.  To be able to give your mother a strong heart--one of her own bloodline--will assure us success.  With Charlotte's lovely...femininity and the young skin from that Perkins boy (and, yes, I do think we can salvage some from William), and the addition of some of your smooth, white flesh, we should have all we need.  Except one thing, but that's coming...  Well, two things."

Again, the parson stroked Punch's cheek, this time letting his hand slip down to his shoulder and chest.

"You are an attractive specimen.  I'll give you that.  Though you've got that Molliner ginger hair, and your eyes are certainly wild, the rest of you is rather handsome.  At least you did inherit your mother's beauty."  He leaned in, to look at Punch squarely in the eyes.

"You now of course, that we'll still need your auntie's face."  He shrugged.  "Luckily, Hargrave is strong, and I'm clever.  We'll get it yet.  I'd been worried about some of the signs of age she's begun to exhibit.  She didn't take as much care with her toilette as your mother did.   How could she, of course?  It's amazing she's managed to keep herself clean at all with those horrid claws of hers.  Then, I realized that the condition of her face doesn't really matter because--and this really is clever of me--I concluded that her youth and beauty can be restored.  All we need is new blood.  It'd have to be of the same bloodline.  But, new, fresh, young blood!"

Punch tried to wriggle free of his bondage, but found that, as the Parson had said, he could not move his limbs.  

"You brought the solution to me yourself, you fey, little ginger Duke.  Your son.  Well, he's not really your son since you didn't sire him.  Your whore sister did.  Nonetheless,  you brought him to us.  He'll be perfect!  His blood is just the tonic we need.  Furthermore, we'll be doing him a service by killing him and releasing him into God's hands.  How could he ever expect to have a normal life, being raised by a madman and his maryann?  Besides, he's likely going to be mad anyway.  Yes, it'll be a blessing to him to serve such a noble purpose and then be given to God."  Quick scratched his nose.  "Have you had him christened?"

Punch tried to yelp, but could not.

"No matter, I'll do it before the ritual."

He caressed Punch again.

"What a pity.  When we poured the elixir down your throat, we spoiled your waistcoat and cravat.  Perhaps the stains can be washed out.  Causer had said he wanted your clothes when we'd finished."

Did you miss Chapters 1-119 of A Recipe for Punch?  If so,  you can read them here.  Come back tomorrow for Chapter 121.

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