Punch's Cousin, Chapter 231

Thursday, April 28, 2011


Charles’ hands shook has he knocked on the door of Marie Laveau’s low, mean house. He was unsure who would come to the door. When it was Marie herself who answered his soft knocking, he was at once relieved and terrified.

“Well, if it ain’t the pretty manservant?” Marie grinned. “Whatchoo want?”

“If you’ll pardon me, Miss Laveau…” Charles began.

“Oh, such pretty talk from the pretty man.” Marie laughed.

“I’ve come to ask you for your help.”

“For true?” Marie chuckled. “With what?”

“Marjani—she’s in a terrible way. She keeps askin’ for you.” Charles explained.

“She’s right to ask for me,” Marie grinned. “I’m the only one that can stop the fire in her belly.”

“How did you know?” Charles asked.

“Boy, who do you think done put it there?” Marie howled.

“Please, make it stop.” Charles pleaded. “She’s in awful pain.”

“Serves her right.” Marie spat.

“Please, ma’am.”

“So polite.” Marie winked. “Treatin’ me like I’m some kind of lady.”

“Marjani is needed, Miss Laveau. The Duke of Fallbridge and Dr. Halifax have been killed. Marjani must help the family. The child is dead, too. The poor lad.”

Marie squinted. “They’re dead?”

“Yes, Miss.” Charles nodded. “Murdered by Iolanthe Evangeline.”

“Is that so?” Marie murumered, squinting into the distance. She shook her head, not believing Charles. Nonetheless, she was curious as to what was happening and thrilled that Iolanthe was in trouble.

“Will you go to her? Please?” Charles begged. “Make her pain stop.”

“Where is she?” Marie asked, stepping out of the house and shutting the door behind her.

Charles told Marie in which hotel Marjani was still lying.

“I’ll go.” Marie grinned. “If you do somethin’ for me.”

“What’s that?” Charles asked.

“Make sure you go an’ tell Barbara Allen that her brother and son are dead. Make it hurt.”

“I have no desire to hurt Miss Allen,”’ Charles growled.

“Whether you wish it or not, it’s gonna hurt her anyway.” Marie chuckled. She slapped Charles on the back. “Now go to her before you do anything else.”

Without another word, Marie hurried off in the direction of the hotel. Charles watched her for a few seconds and then rushed toward the shanty where he’d left Barbara.

When he arrived, he was shocked to find Barbara standing over the bloodied body of his brother.

“Giovanni!” Charles gasped. “What’s happened?”

“He arrived unexpectedly and tried…he tried to…” Barbara began to sob.

Charles wrapped his arms around her. “Have you killed him?”

“No.” Barbara wept. “I’ve only knocked him unconscious. I’d hate to think that I’d killed your brother. You may be estranged, but he’s still your family. I’m sure you don’t wish him dead.”

Charles released Barbara from his embrace. “My dear, I have something to tell you.”

At that moment, Mr. Punch was handing the baby to Robert and rushing out of the carriage after Edward Cage who was dragging Adrienne into the house. She screamed and struggled, but Edward’s grip was too strong.

“Let her go, Cage!” Mr. Punch shouted angrily.

“Give me my son!” Edward barked.

“If you love the boy, you’ll know he’s better off with me than he is with you.” Mr. Punch yelled.

“You—a lunatic! I think not.”

Cecil joined Mr. Punch and took off his coat, throwing it on the ground.

“Edward!” Cecil demanded. “Unhand my wife!”

“Not until my son is returned to me!” Edward said.

“Dear God!” A woman shouted from behind them.

Mr. Punch turned to see Ulrika Rittenhouse approach. In her arms, she carried a wriggling bundle. Mr. Punch squinted at it and recognized it as a child albeit a deformed child.

“I knew you hadn’t really been killed!” Ulrika whooped.

“Help me, Ulrika!” Edward shouted and he squeezed Adrienne’s arm even tighter.

“What do you think I’m here for?” Ulrika smiled.

Did you miss Chapters 1-230? If so, you can read them here. ads

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