Punch's Cousin, Chapter 243 (Reposted from May 12, 2011)

Saturday, May 14, 2011


Iolanthe’s fingers curled into fists so tight that blood rose on her palms as her fingernails dug into her flesh. Even beneath the thick layer of waxy makeup on her frightfully pallid face, the crimson flush of anger was evident.

Her body shook as she spoke and Ulrika quivered with raw delight at seeing Iolanthe’s rage.

“They ain’t dead?” Iolanthe growled.

“No.” Ulrika grinned, enjoying the spectactle.

“Not yet, they ain’t.” Iolanthe hissed. “Tell me what you know.” The ogress demanded.

“I know that the Duke, the doctor and the baby are alive. I believe, in an effort to escape with the child, they planned this ruse.” Ulrika answered.

“I know they were up to no good when I saw Adrienne Halifax dressed in my image.” Iolanthe trembled. “I never thought them capable of such a deception.”

“They were quite successful with the execution of it, but not keeping up the charade.” Ulrika shrugged. “Several people have seen the Duke as well as Dr. Halifax.”

“You must tell them…” Iolanthe unclenched her fists to point to the door of her cell. “Tell them out there that those men are alive—that I’m innocent.”

“You’re hardly innocent.” Ulrika winked.

“Of this I am!” Iolanthe exclaimed.

“Oh, calm yourself, really.” Ulrika sighed. “Why do you think I’ve come here? I’ll tell your captors that you’re innocent. But, really, Iolanthe, a day in prison for all of the crimes you’ve committed without punishment seems to me to be more than fair.”

“Spare me your opinions of my guilt,” Iolanthe groaned. “Now, go an’ get me out of here!”

“In a moment, Iolanthe.” Ulrika shook her head. “I simply want to discuss something with you first. Arthur and I both do.”

Meanwhile, in the Routhe’s tiny apartment above the dress shop, Adrienne cradled little Colin while Robert sat nearby, impatiently tapping his foot.

“Robert,” Adrienne began, “You must try to be patient. I’m sure that they’ll come for us. Jedidiah said that Cecil and Mr. Punch received our message.”

“That’s right,” Marjani added from the corner where she sat playing with the Routhe’s two daughters. “You gotta give ‘em time. You know they’ve got eyes watchin’ ‘em from all sides.”

“I can’t help but think that something is terribly amiss,” Robert mumbled.

“I get no sense of it,” Marjani replied gently.

“Well, that’s some reassurance,” Robert nodded. “I suppose I really should relax.”

“Yes.” Adrienne smiled. “Do.”

“My apologies.” Robert stood up and began pacing the floor.

“That’s really not the behavior of someone who’s trying to be calm.” Adrienne chuckled.

Robert paused. “True. I’m sorry.” He shook his head. “I just have a feeling.”

“We’re safe here, Robert.” Adrienne responded softly.

“I hope that’s true.” Robert sighed.

Marjani frowned. Her shifting expression caught Robert’s attention and he gazed at her for a moment—questions in his eyes.

“There’s somethin’ in what you say.” Marjani whispered. “Don’t know why I didn’t feel it before. Maybe she dulled my senses with…”

“With what?” Robert asked. “Who?”

“Marie Laveau.” Marjani said softly. “I feel that she’s near.”

Did you miss Chapters 1-242? If so, you can read them here. ads

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