Punch's Cousin, Chapter 241

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Cecil and Mr. Punch tried—as best they could—to explain the series of events that had led them to that moment. Barbara listened—wide-eyed—as she was told of Edward Cage’s demands, the danger from Marie Laveau and Iolanthe Evangeline, and, finally, of Ulrika Rittenhouse’s interference.

“It’s all too horrible,” Barbara whimpered.

“It is,” Mr. Punch said softly. “Here, I know you’re upset with what we done—takin’ Colin from you, but you got to know that we only want the best for the boy. That’s why we done what we did.”

“I was upset, Julian.” Barbara began.

Charles interrupted. “Miss Allen,” he began.

“You don’t have to pretend, Charles.” Barbara smiled. “I’m sure that Mr. Halifax and my brother know that we’ve become close.”

“’Spected so.” Mr. Punch nodded.

“Very well,” Charles blushed, “Barbara, perhaps we should make an effort to call this gentleman by his proper name. Though he looks like the Duke of Fallbridge and though they share a body, he is not the Duke. I don’t understand how it works, only that it does.”

“I know,” Barbara nodded slowly. “But, it’s quite a lot to take, isn’t it?”

Mr. Punch grinned. “I’d say so.”

“What do you prefer to be called?” Barbara asked.

“Mr. Punch. Or, just Punch.”

“Punch, thank you for all that you’ve done.” Barbara said, her eyes welling up with tears.

“You’re thanking me?”

“I am.” Barbara nodded. “Your love for my son is astounding. And, that you continue to offer me familial comfort despite all I’ve done to you and your friends and…well, if you’re two different people, to Julian.”

“I s’pose we are kin.” Mr. Punch sighed. “That’s the way to do it. Isn’t it?”

“It is.” Barbara said. “I never thought that I would admit it, but I admire you. Who would have imagined that I’d learn how to be human from…”

“A puppet?” Mr. Punch chuckled.

“Yes.” Barbara smiled softly. “I do not wish to be diverted from it, either. This is my chance—perhaps my final one. I will never be able to blot out the horrible things I’ve done, but I can improve my circumstances and those of the people around me, from this point forward.”

Charles patted Barbara’s shoulder. “That’s wonderful, Barbara.”

“I wish to assist you in rescuing Colin.” Barbara said.

“Why should we trust you?” Cecil interrupted.

“Because I am changed. I am sincere.” Barbara responded, her eyes widening.

“I recall a Christmas visit to my house in Marionneaux when you filled my wife’s head with such claims and then left with our silver and jewels.” Cecil scowled.

“Then, I will have to prove my sincerity to you.” Barbara replied softly.

“Will you be able to do it in the presence of your husband?” Cecil snorted.

“My husband is at sea.” Barbara replied quickly. “Or possibly dead.”

“No, he ain’t.” Mr. Punch shook his head. “He’s up the street with Ulrika Rittenhouse right this very minute.”

Barbara coughed.

“Does that change things, Miss Allen?” Cecil snarled.

Did you miss Chapters 1-240? If so, you can read them here. ads

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