Saturday, March 17, 2012

St. Patrick's Day Special: Carol Channing in Alice in Wonderland, 1985

No, this doesn't have anything to do with St. Patrick's Day, really.  But, if you're enjoying a few drinks to celebrate, you might not want to watch this scene from the 1985 made-for-television film of "Alice in Wonderland" starring Carol Channing as The White Queen.

It defies explanation.  My gift to you...

Mastery of Design: The "J. A" Diamond and Ruby Earrings, 18th C.

One of a Pair of Rose-Cut Diamond and Ruby Earrings
Eighteenth Century
The Victoria & Albert Museum

This pair of earrings shimmers with rose-cut diamonds and rubies set in silver.  Made in the Eighteenth Century, they are backed with gold which is engraved with the maker's mark “JA.”

Unfortunately, the identity of this maker is unknown.  However, the earrings show the growing fashion which arose around 1720 for long, elegant earrings—a fashion which has remained in style to this day.

Drawing of the Day: Morris and Morris, 1904

Morris and Morris
The VIctoria & Albert Museum

This caricature is of comic/acrobatic Music Hall act, “Morris & Morris.”  It was drawn when the duo was performing at the Grand Theatre of Varieties, Hanley, during the week first week of August 1904.

Morris and Morris was billed as “a pair of real good comedians.”  A 1903 review of their act read, “Their fun in the trapeze is equal to anything that has been seen here.”  Edwardian caricatures such as this were quite popular at the time and served as an excellent means of advertising an act.   This one was drawn by the artist George Cooke when he was based at the Grand Theatre. Cooke compiled a series of albums of his Music Hall caricatures which were later given to the V&A. 

At the Music Hall: The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze, 1867

Jules LéotardFrom the Guy Little Theatrical Archive
The Victoria & Albert Museum
Once I was happy, but now I'm forlorn
Like an old coat that is tattered and torn;
Left on this world to fret and to mourn,
Betrayed by a maid in her teens.

The girl that I loved she was handsome;
I tried all I knew her to please
But I could not please her one quarter so well
As the man upon the trapeze.

He'd fly through the air with the greatest of ease,
That daring young man on the flying trapeze.
His movements were graceful, all girls he could please
And my love he purloined away.

This young man by name was Signor Bona Slang,
Tall, big and handsome, as well made as Chang.
Where'er he appeared the hall loudly rang
With ovation from all people there.

He'd smile from the bar on the people below
And one night he smiled on my love.
She wink'd back at him and she shouted "Bravo,"
As he hung by his nose up above.

Her father and mother were both on my side
And very hard tried to make her my bride;
Her father he sighed, and her mother she cried,
To see her throw herself away.

'Twas all no avail, she went there every night,
And would throw him bouquets on the stage,
Which caused him to meet her; how he ran me down,
To tell you would take a whole page.

One night I as usual went to her dear home,
Found there her father and mother alone.
I asked for my love, and soon they made known,
To my horror that she'd run away.

She'd packed up her box and eloped in the night
With him, with the greatest of ease;
From two stories high he had lowered her down
To the ground on his flying trapeze.

Some months after this I went to the Hall;
Was greatly surprised to see on the wall
A bill in red letters, which did my heart gall,
That she was appearing with him.

He'd taught her gymnastics and dressed her in tights,
To help him live at his ease,
And made her assume a masculine name,
And now she goes on the trapeze.

She'd fly through the air with the greatest of ease,
You'd think her the man young man on the flying trapeze.
Her movements were graceful, all girls she could please,
And that was the end of my love.

"The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze" was originally published under the title "The Flying Trapeze.”  This longtime favorite is also known as "The Man on the Flying Trapeze.   The famous son is tells the tale of the celebrated acrobatic circus performer, Jules Léotard.

The song was first published in 1867, with words written by the British lyricist and singer, George Leybourne, and music by Gaston Lyle which was arranged by Alfred Lee.

Enjoy this version by the always-enjoyable Eddie Cantor.

Unusual Artifacts: Equipment from Aerialist Pansy Chinnery, 1900

Hook from an Acrobatic Act
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Here we see a rather fierce-looking hook with a leather mouthpiece.  This odd item was once used by the aerialist and variety performer Pansy Chinnery (1879-1969).  Chinnery dutifully collected a wide range of items from her illustrious career--including posters, playbills, newspaper cuttings, hooks and pulleys, printing blocks and costumes.

Chinnery was born in Suffolk, England, beginning her theatrical career with The Zedora Sisters, when she was billed as “Alar the Flying Arrow.”  Together, they went on tour with Barnum and Bailey's Circus for their 1897 tour.  During these performances, she was shot from a giant crossbow above the circus ring.

This iron hook, now rusty, still shows remnants of cream paint.  It is attached with a bolt and nut to an iron plate which allowed the hook to rotate. The plate attaches to a mouthpiece which still shows the indentions of her teeth-marks.  Used in her act around 1900, Chinnery would hang from this hook (attached to a rope) by her mouth.

Punch’s Cousin, Chapter 490

 Who could that be?”  Adrienne asked, startled by the sharp knocking on the front door of Marie Laveau’s low, long house.

“Darling, why don’t you go in the back with Marjani, Gamilla and the children?”  Cecil said quickly.

“No.”  Adrienne shook her head.  “If more trouble has come to our doorstep, then, I’m going to face it with the three of you.”

Robert chuckled.  “I’d advise you, as a physician, brother dear, not to argue.”

Cecil sighed exaggeratedly and playfully.  “I’m sure you’re right.”

“Not for nothin’,”  Punch interrupted, “but they’re only gonna keep knockin’ ‘less someone answers the door.”

“I’ll go,”  Robert rose and walked through the parlor to the narrow front hallway.

Opening the door, he greeted the young, nervous man who had been knocking.


“I’m lookin’ for Mr. Julian Pulcinella.”  The young man croaked, mispronouncing the name as “pool-see-nella-ah.”

“State your business, please.”  Robert smiled, amused.

“I’m from the ship line, Sir.  Is Mr. Pulcinella here?”

“Well, actually, he is.”  Robert nodded.  “Come in.”

“I was sure they gave me the wrong address.”  The young man replied nervously, cautiously entering the house.

“No.  This was the address we gave the captain.”  Robert responded as he escorted the boy into the parlor.

“But, ain’t this…”  The boy chirped.

“Yes,”  Robert nodded.  “This is Marie Laveau’s house.”

“You know her?”  The young man asked.

“Well, we’re in her house.  So, I would have to say that we do.”  Robert chuckled.

The young man carefully studied Robert, and, then, Mr. Punch, Cecil and Adrienne—loooking for signs of fiendishness or Voodoo.

“We’re not going to hurt you,”  Adrienne smiled.

“Can’t be too careful, Miss.”  The boy said earnestly.

“We know that all too well.”  Cecil grumbled.

“What brings you here?”  Robert asked, hoping to hurry the boy along.

“Well, Sir, we got a new ship comin’.  It’ll depart for England in two days.”

“Excellent.”  Robert smiled.  “We’ll be ready to depart.”

“There’s a problem, Sir.”


“Yeah.”  The young man nodded anxiously.  “Says here you got eleven in your party including two male servants, two colored female servants, one colored child, a married couple, two adult men and two children.”

“That’s right.”  Robert replied. 

“Additionally, we’ll be including several colored gentlemen also.”  Cecil spoke up, regarding Pete and his travelling companions.   “We’ll need to accommodate them as well.”

“That’s just it, Sir.  Ain’t room.”

“Surely we can find room for them below decks.”  Cecil raised his eyebrows.

“Not just them.”  The young man answered quietly.  “We only got space for five.”

“Five colored men?”  Robert asked.

“Five people--total.” 

“What do you mean?”  Robert shouted.  “This is outrageous.  We booked this passage days ago.”

“On another ship.”  The young man answered.  “That one ain’t ever gonna sail again—not after that fire.  This is a different ship.  It’s just as nice, but it’s smaller.”

“Well, then, you’ll just have to find the space.”  Cecil snapped.

“We can share cabins.”  Mr. Punch suggested.  “Me and Robert and Colin.  Gerry and Charles.  You and Adrienne and Fuller…”

“I ‘preciate what you’re sayin’, Sir.”  The young man waved his hand.  “But, we got rules.  We can only have so many people in one cabin.”

“This won’t do!”  Cecil grumbled.

“Will it make any difference that we’re traveling incognito?”  Robert asked.  “The man called ‘Pulcinella’ is really the Duke of Fallbridge—a close associate of Their Majesties, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.  My brother is a celebrated sculptor and I’m a physician.  Surely, knowing that, you can make room on the ship.”

“Couldn’t make room even if your friend was Prince Albert himself.”  The young man shrugged.

“Nothing can be done?”  Adrienne asked.

“No, Miss.”  The young man shook his head.

“Do you need an answer now?”  Robert asked.

“Will need one by tomorrow morning.”  The young man responded.

“We’ll send word.”  Robert sighed.  “Let me show you out.”

The group sat in silence until Robert returned, finally, Punch spoke up.

“Well, that settles it, don’t it?  We can’t go.  Not yet.”

“Dear Punch, for once, circumstances are in your favor.  Edward Cage is satisfied that the boy in his care is the one that he thought he’d purchased from Iolanthe.  Barbara Allen has made her peace with you.  Colin is safe.  We can’t endanger that.  You must go.”  Cecil protested.

“I don’t wanna leave me chums here!”  Punch began to cry.

“I agree,”  Robert nodded.

“You must.”  Adrienne said gently.  “You must go—for Colin’s sake.  Robert, you and His Grace must take Colin to England.  You can take Charles and Gerry with you.  The man said there was space for five.”

“But, what of you?”  Punch asked.

“Well, there is the matter of our house in Marionneaux.”  Cecil smiled.  “It’s not as if we don’t have a home.  I’ve been worried about settling matters there anyway.  If we wait and join you later, that will give me and Adrienne a chance to handle business in Marionneaux.”

“Here, you ain’t gonna work for Mr. Cage ‘gain, are ya?”  Punch asked.

“Not at all!”  Cecil laughed.  “He can invite me all that he wants, but I will never work for the man again.”

“But, you’re his neighbor in Marionneaux, too.  He’ll always be botherin’ ya.”  Punch argued.

“No—he got what he wants.  I’m sure he’’ll find something else to obsess about.”  Cecil smiled.

“It will only be for awhile.”  Adrienne added, encouragingly.  “We can join you and Robert in a few months.  In the meantime, as Cecil said, we can conclude our affairs in Marionneaux.  

And, I’m sure Fuller will be glad to see his old room again—just for awhile.”

“We’ll take Gamilla back with us, of course.”  Cecil nodded.  “And, Marjani and Columbia if they’d like.”

“I don’t know how eager Marjani would be to return to Marionneaux.”  Robert sighed.  “There are many bad memories for her there.”

“We can discuss it with her.”  Cecil nodded.

“Oh!  Bullox!”  Punch shouted.  “And…and…that Ulrika Rittenhouse.  She’s got a home there, too, she does.  All the same folks what are torturing us here—they can  be there, too.”

“It won’t be for long, Punch.”  Adrienne said.  “We can handle those people—we have for many years now.  Besides, it’s really you that they’re after.  That’s all the more reason that you need to get on that ship and go home.”

“As much as I hate to leave them behind—even temporarily—my brother and his wife have a valid point.”  Robert said softly, sitting next to Mr. Punch.  “They’ll join us later.  But, we do need to take Colin and leave as quickly as we can.  We never know if Edward will notice that we tricked him.  So, I think we should take the boy, Toby, Gerard and Charles and leave.”

“I liked it better when we was all goin’.”  Punch sniffed, wiping his nose on his sleeve.

“So did we,”  Adrienne sighed.  “But it is for the best.”

“Don’t you see?”  Cecil smiled.  “We’ll be fine.  In fact, it will give me a chance to do some sculpting of my own.  Pete and his friends can assist, if they’d like to come along.  And, soon, we’ll be in England, too.  I’ll wager we’ll get there before our first letter to you will.”

Mr. Punch lowered his head.  “I got a bad feelin’.”

“What is it?”  Robert asked.

“I think maybe they won’t come.  I think they’ll want to, but…well, life gets in the way.”
“Dear Punch,”  Robert put his arm around his friend’s shoulders.  “You mustn’t think like that.”

“Even if it’s true?”  Punch asked.

“I’ll tell you what’s true,”  Cecil smiled.  “I’m so very thankful—every day—that I can now call you my brother.  I’m grateful that you and Robert have found one another and that Colin will have a good home.  I…”  he paused uncomfortably.  “I love both of you—all three of you.”

“We all do.”  Adrienne added.

“Even Toby?”  Punch asked quietly.

“Especially Toby.”  Cecil chortled.

“Don’t you see, Punch?”  Robert asked.  “It’s for the best.”

“I spose.”  Punch sniffed.  “But, I still don’t like it.”

Just ten more chapters remain of Punch’s Cousin.  If you’ve missed any, you can always catch-up in the Chapter Archive.  Come back on Monday, March 19, 2012 for Chapter 491 of Punch’s Cousin.  The conclusion of this story, with Chapter 500, will be posted on Thursday, March 29, 2012.  On Monday, April 2, 2012, a new online novel—Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square—will debut in this spot.  

Antique Image of the Day: The Strange Case of Lulu, El Niño Farini, the Gender-bending Aerialist

Sam Wasgate as El Nino Farini, c. 1870
Guy Little Theatrical Photography Collection
This and all images depicted here are from:
The Victoria & Albert Museum

With the rise of photography in the Victorian era, came a desire to collect photographs.  Having a photograph of a family member was a rather costly endeavor, but purchasing a souvenir or novelty photo of a celebrity was common practice.  “Cartes de visite” and, later, “cabinet cards” were eagerly collected by people from all walks of life. 

The photograph seen above, dating to 1870, comes from a sizeable and important collection of “cartes de visite” and “cabinet cards” which were removed from their backings and mounted in albums by Guy Tristram Little (d.1953) who bequeathed them to the V&A. The photograph depicts “Lulu” (known as “El
Niño Farini”) on a trapeze.

William Leonard Hunt and his adopted son, Sam,
as El Nino Farini and Guillermo Antionio Farini,
known as "The Flying Farinis"
So, who was Lulu?  We can tell that he was an aerial artist, but there’s a lot more to the life of this handsome, golden-haired lad.  He was born in 1855, an orphan, and first performed at the age of ten at the Alhambra Theatre in London alongside his adopted father, Guillermo Antonio Farini--an acrobat and tightrope walker of good repute.  
The elder Farini was not really Spanish or Italian--as his name suggests.  Farini was actually called William Leonard Hunt.  His stage name was meant to suggest exotic romance.  No one is quite sure where exactly Farini found the boy.  We do know, after careful research, that the child was born Samuel Wasgate somewhere in Maine, USA.
It has been suggested that William Hunt adopted the boy because he demonstrated no fear of heights and was stunningly handsome.  Little Sam appeared with Farini at Chelsea Pleasure Gardens for the first time in 1866, performing an act that they called “Le Tambour Aerial” (“the aerial drummer”) wherein, the boy, swung through the air balancing on his neck, banging a drum. 
Audiences at that 1866 performance were aghast by how young the boy was (Farini claimed that Sammy was only eight, though he was closer to eleven).  Nevertheless, the fears of the crowd were assuaged when they noticed that Sammy never lost his handsome grin throughout the act.  He appeared to be enjoying himself.  Farini also had employed a safety net to protect his investment, er…son.  This is actually the first recorded use of a safety net in an aerial act.  From then on, the duo performed in music halls across the England billed as ‘The Flying Farinis’.
Three years later, at the Crystal Palace (which had gone through a series of other purposes after the 1851 Exhibition and before its decay and destruction by fire) in 1869. William Hunt carried Sammy on his back on a tightrope--180 feet above the audience.  “Farini” hoped to emulate the famous performance of Blondin who, seven years earlier, had carried his daughter in a similar manner.
Sam as "Lulu"
Sammy retained his youthful handsomeness.  Lean and small with peachy skin, the boy was considered very beautiful.  This beauty, “Farini” noticed, was more feminine than it was the look of a teenage boy.  And, so, William Hunt devised a scheme. El Niño, suddenly, was billed as “Lulu”—a girl.  But, Hunt couldn’t pass his famous boy off as a girl in London.  So, off they went to Paris.
In Paris in 1870, Sammy first appeared as ‘The Beautiful Lulu the girl Aerialist and Circassian Catapultist.” After some time, they returned to London where Hunt encouraged his adopted son to continue to perform as Lulu.
At the Holborn Amphitheatre in 1871, “Lulu” was given top billing.  Sammy was such a smash that he/she was soon billed as “The Eighth Wonder of the World.” “Her”famous act consisted of “being catapulted from the ground up to a trapeze and turning three full somersaults.”  Lulu/Sammy also wowed audiences by appearing to fly.
In reality, “Lulu” “flew” by being fired into the air by a contraption hidden under the stage.  It was this contraption which was soon to be the end of “Lulu”
At a performance in Dublin, in 1878, the contraption malfunctioned.  “Lulu’s” legs were terribly injured by the force of the explosion which propelled her.  In fierce pain, Lulu flew through the air, but, instead of her usual graceful landing on a plank suspended between two trapezes, she fell—bouncing off the edge of the safety net.  This blow caused further severe injury.
Discovered to be a male,
Sam reverted to wearing men's clothes.
He would, after this photo was taken,
cut his hair.
“Lulu” was rushed to hospital.  Once admitted, however, Farini saw his act go up in flames.  Lulu was immediately discovered to be a male.
Sam eventually recovered.  He continued performing for Farini, but as a male.  The duo suffered terrible embarrassment when Lulu’s gender was discovered.  Furthermore, there was, as was reported, “much embarrassment amongst male admirers” when it was revealed in 1878 that Lulu was in fact a man.

Object of the Day: Another Trade Card for J. & P. Coats Thread

Here’s another trade card from my collection which advertises for J. & P. Coats Thread.  This one doesn’t involve Machiavellian cats, but it does depicts a rosy-cheeked tot who, of course, is dressed like the Kaiser—as one does.

This is weird—even by Victorian trade card standards.  The child is labeled as “The Champoion.”  Pinned to his or her salmon tunic are a host of ribbons and, resting on a giant spool of J. & P. 200 YDS. BEST SIX CORD THREAD (in white, of course) is a silver loving cup.  The child holds a rifle—as one does—which is taller than he or she.  It all makes sense.  The targets at the rear of the scene coincidentally resemble spools of  J. & P. 200 YDS. BEST SIX CORD THREAD.  Branding at its best.

The reverse of the card lists J. & P. COATS’ Needle and Thread Numbers.  Now, usually I reproduce the copy on the reverse for you, but not this time.  I’d go blind, and I don’t really care to do so.  Besides, unless you’re familiar with Nineteenth Century thread numbers, it wouldn’t really be too interesting.

Nonetheless, it’s an attractive card, albeit a confusing one.  Still, nothing beats the colors of these antique chromolithographs.  How they remain so bright after all this time is a mystery.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Mastery of Design: The Davies Indian Necklace, 19th C.

Necklace of gold, silver, white sapphires, emeralds, pearls, rubies, rock crystal and enamel.
Northern India, Nineteenth Century
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Made in the Nineteenth Century, This North-Indian necklace consists of a double string of pearls and emeralds which support a circular pendant of gold and silver, set with rubies, emeralds, natural white sapphires and rock crystal.  The gorgeous pendant is enameled on the reverse.  The necklace closes with ties of silk covered with gilt silver metal, and is bound with strings of silk threaded with seed pearls.

The Art of Play: The Puppet Placemat, 1992

The Victoria & Albert Museum
*Click for Detail"

This fun printed placement shows illustrations of various people's puppet figures. It was printed in 1992 for The Puppets Museum in the Netherlands.  The original art is by Hetty Paërl who has depicted the international puppet characters of Gioppino, Paprika Jancsi, Jan Klaassen, Guillaume, Hanswurst, Gnafron, Punch, Pulcinella and Tekening.

The Home Beautiful: The Mrs. Wood Bed Cover , 1875-85

Bed Cover
This and all related images from:
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Made between 1875 and 1885, this bed cover (or wall-hanging) was able to be dated due to the fashionable dress of the characters depicted. The cover was made using a piecing technique, known as “inlay” or “intarsia” wherein cut-out fabric shapes are inlaid into an identical cut-out space in another fabric.  The pieces are then stitched from the reverse side, using extremely small stitches that are not visible on the front.  Sometimes the pieces are further adorned with appliqué.

In this example, the central panels depict the various rituals and emotions associated with courtship.  The scenes move from “Admiration” to “Zingari” (an archaic Italian term used in England for the Romany community (that’s Gypsies, you know)).   The themes depicted are:  Admiration, Beauty, Cupid, Doves, Eyes, Flowers, Guardian, Hopes, Introduction, Jealousy, Kisses, Love letters, Matrimony, Nonsense, Offers, Papa, Quakings. Refusal, Spells, Tiffs, Uncle, Valentine, Wedding, Expression, Yes, and Zingari.

A decorative border frames these romantic images.  The border depicts a variety of popular cultural figures including our Mr. Punch.

This cover came to the V&A from Beckenham, Kent where it was long in the family of the donor who stated that the object was made by a male ancestor while on a long sea voyage.

Mr. Punch's Puzzles: The Riddle of the Week

Once, again, Mr. Punch, with my help, is offering up a true Victorian riddle.  The first person to answer correctly--by posting in the comments--will receive public congratulations.  Be on the look-out!  Sometimes--not today, because, frankly, again, I don't feel like it--the winner will receive a fabulous prize from our online store.  Next week, you can expect a great prize!

So, here's this week's riddle.  We ask that you don't Google the answer.  Mr. Punch would not like that and it might get you a slapstick across the noggin.  Give it a shot and see what you can come up with.  Here we go...

If a goat should swallow a rabbit what would be the result?

And the answer is...

A hare in the butter.

Many thanks to all of you who answered.  Your responses were a lot of fun!  Come back next Friday for another of Mr. Punch's Puzzles!

And, remember, if you want to remind people “That’s the way to do it,” one of our exclusive designs is just the thing you’re looking for!

Punch’s Cousin, Chapter 489

Mr. Punch couldn’t help but flinch as Barbara Allen and Marie Laveau returned.

“Steady on, dear Punch,”  Robert said gently, but his words fell on deaf ears as Mr. Punch hurried nervously toward the two women—one his sister, the other his new, unlikely ally.

“Did ya…”  Punch began.

“It’s all fine, Your Grace,”  Marie interrupted.  “Miss Allen was true to her word.”

“And, Mr. Cage—he didn’t think nothin’ of it?”

“He had no idea that the boy that I brought to him was not the same child who had previously lived in his home.”  Barbara sighed.

“A fine parent, indeed.”  Robert grunted.  “Still, I’m glad it’s done.”

“Where’s Lily?”  Marie asked.

“She’s gone.”  Punch answered.  “Said she had to work.”

“Ah, yes.  She’s a good girl—a good worker, at least.  She remembers her appointments better than the others.”

“I gave her a letter.”  Punch said.  He blushed.  “Me chum wrote it, he did.  But, I signed it.  It said I gave Lily the diamond to sell and that I would answer any questions.”

“I’ll go with her to Mrs. Cloutier tonight.  I’m sure we won’t have no problems.”  Marie nodded.

“So,”  Punch turned back to Barbara.  “That man—Mr. Cage what claimed to love Colin so much—did not know he was looking at a different child?”

“No.”  Barbara responded. 

Punch noticed how tired she looked.

“What of Mrs. Cage?”  Robert asked.

“Oh, she knew.”  Barbara sighed.  “She seemed relieved.  She didn’t say a word.”

“So, it’s really finished?”  Robert smiled, putting his arm around Punch’s waist.

“Seems it is.”  Punch exhaled.  “Only now we gotta get everyone on a ship and back to England.”

“You all intend to still leave?”  Barbara asked.

“Yes.”  Robert responded.

“Even your brother and his family, Doctor?”

“Of course.”  Robter squinted.  “Why?”

“Mr. Cage sent me with a message.  Two actually.”

“What are they?”  Punch asked.

“First, he told me to thank you, Julian.  I convinced him that you’d ‘come to your senses.’”  Barbara smiled.

“I had.”  Punch laughed.

“What was the other message, Miss Allen?”  Robert wondered.

“Mr. Cage told me specifically to convey to your brother, Cecil, that he is welcome to return to the Cage Waxworks whenever he likes and at any salary.”

“He certainly will not!” Robert spat.

“You speak for your brother as well as mine?”  Barbara smirked.

“In some cases, yes.”  Robert frowned.

“Well, perhaps you should at least tell your brother that an invitation has been extended.”  Barbara chuckled.

“Thank you for your advice.”  Robert scowled.

“Not to interrupt,”  Marie Laveau said quickly, “but, Miss Allen, won’t Iolanthe be wonderin’ where you got to?”

“Probably.  I’m sure Mala has reported my absence by now.  Besides, the evening is nigh and…”

“That’s your busiest time.”  Marie muttered.  “Well, you’d best get on, then.  I don’t want Iolanthe or any of her goons nosin’ ‘round here lookin’ for ya.  She’s already done enough to all of us.”

Barbara nodded.

“If she questions you, just do as we done talked ‘bout when we was walkin’.  Mr. Cage—though he didn’t know it—gave ya a good idea.  Let Marie think you brought the same baby to Mr. Cage.  She’ll treat ya like royalty for keepin’ her deal for her.”

“I shall.”  Barbara sighed.  She added, muttering, “At least someone will treat me like royalty.”

“You could have always been,”  Punch shook his head sadly.  “You could have always been Lady Barbara of Fallbridge Hall.  You could have always been comfortable.”

“Well, if I had, Julian, you wouldn’t have your handsome family.  So, I can’t mourn too much for my loss…losses.  There have been many.”

Mr. Punch looked at Robert who shook his head.

“Don’t bother asking me.”  Barbara smiled softly.

“Here, what ya mean?”  Punch frowned.

“You were going to suggest that I could come back with you.”

“Maybe.”  Punch grumbled.

“Oh, Julian.  You truly are mad, and it is beautiful that you are.  Even after all I’ve done, you’re willing to forgive me and try to help me.”

Punch nodded.

“Incidentally,”  Barbara added, “I know you’re not Julian.  Julian’s in there somewhere.  You’re someone else, yet still him.  I don’t know how it all works, but it does.  And thought I don’t know who or what you are, I’ve always known you.  You were the lovely, dear creature who sang to me when I was a little girl, the man who humored me even when I was being beastly—which was usual.  Perhaps you—and Julian both—were the only person to ever really love me.”

Punch shrugged.

“I wish I could say that I loved you, too.  But, I didn’t.  And, I don’t.  I’m not capable of loving anyone.  However, and I do mean this honestly, I am sorry for the pain I caused.  I only hope that whatever good that’s come from it is enough to combat any bad memories you may have of me.”

Mr. Punch began to speak, but Barbara raised her hand and shook her head.  “Say nothing except ‘farewell.’”

Punch’s lip quivered.  “Farewell.”

“Goodbye, Julian.”  Barbara nodded.  “And goodbye to Mr. Punch.”  She looked at Robert.  “Take care of him—them.  And, my…your boy, Colin.”

“I will spend my life doing so.”  Robert nodded.

Without another word, Barbara walked out of Marie Laveau’s house and disappeared into the misty street.

“She didn’t even want to see Colin again before she left.”  Punch sniffed, wiping away a tear.

“She couldn’t,”  Marie shook her head. 

“I can’t blame her.”  Robert whispered.

Did you miss Chapters 1-488?  If so, you can read them here.