Percival Gray Baskergrand
''Would you hurry up please, Parsons? I am starting to tire miserably from remaining in one position,'' Percival Gray Baskergrand complained. He was standing in a large room facing a long window opposite him, pretending to look out. He was standing stiffly, with one of his hands on his chest and the other resting on his hip. He was wearing a white shirt with a turnover collar and a white waistcoat, a brown neck-tie and a black morning coat, which was worn over charcoal trousers and black shoes. His chestnut brown hair was neatly combed to the side, and his grey-blue eyes glimmered when he observed the sun coming up out of the window.
''Well, it would be of great help if you would stop moving, sir,'' Percival's servant Parsons replied. He was painting on a large portrait canvas, and had a small table beside the canvas that held his painting utensils. Just then, another servant came into the room, followed by a young lady and a young girl.
''Miss Valerie Horace and Miss Millicent Horace, sir,'' the servant announced as he came in, with the two girls entering behind him. Valerie Horace was a tall, slender eighteen-year-old woman who had striking looks. She had soft, red curly hair hanging loosely around her shoulders and back and was wearing a peach-coloured bonnet on top. She was wearing a white and peach gown that covered her feet, with a long cream hooded cloak. The younger Horace girl, Valerie's twelve- year-old sister Millicent, wore a light blue dress and a white cloak with a white bonnet covering her light brown hair, which was puffed out at the sides of her ears. Valerie glided towards Percival quickly, so that by the time he had turned around from the window, she was already at his face.
''Hello, Valerie. I didn't know you were going to come so quickly. Parsons was just finishing my portrait. My mother wants it hung in the library,'' Percival spoke, greeting Valerie with a kiss on each cheek.
''Another portrait? I thought you had too many in that room. Any more and people would think that you owned your own gallery,'' Valerie mused. ''Gray, I always like to come early, you know I do. Besides you are already ready, aren't you?’'' Valerie asked, looking at Percival’s clothes.
''Of course not. I still have to put on my britches and riding coat and boots. Ah, which reminds me – Parsons,'' Percival turned his head swiftly towards his servant, who was packing up his painting utensils, ''Did you have my boots polished? I got them ever so dirty on my last riding trip,'' Percival said.
''Oh yes, sir, they have been polished and are waiting for you in your room. I also took the courtesy of laying out your riding coat and your britches for you to wear, sir,'' Parsons replied.
''Oh, well done Parsons! I can always count on you to care for my attire! Oh, Parsons, would you let mother and father know that I will be out riding with my cousins Valerie and Millicent around Tuckerby Bay; I believe they are in the orangery,'' Percival instructed Parsons. Parsons nodded in agreement and turned around to head out of the room.
''Will you wait here for me, Bene?'' Percival asked playfully as he kissed Valerie’s hand. 'Bene' was short for Valerie’s middle name Benedictina, as she was named after her Italian grandmother. Valerie in turn called Percival by his middle name Gray, as she had always called him when they were little.
''Yes, but don't take too long. I tend to wander around places when I wait too long,'' Valerie said broodingly.
''It's nice of you to be taking Millie out too. She always complains about how she never gets to go anywhere,'' Percival said as he walked towards the door, which Millicent was near to. Percival gave her a large grin and tucked her chin softly with his hand.
''Oh no, my mother and father forced me to take her along. I didn't want her to come,'' Valerie said with slight spite in her voice. Millicent looked her sister with her piercing green eyes and stuck her tongue out rudely back at her sister. Valerie narrowed her eyes at her sister in return.
''Oh how cruel you can be, Valerie! You really should be nice to Millie. And why would you want for us to be alone, I thought you always liked more company,'' Percival said to Valerie.
''Well…I…thought you wanted to discuss…some things…,'' Valerie said slowly, looking at the floor, slightly blushing.
''We can discuss things tonight at dinner. You are coming over still?'' Percival said, not noticing Valerie's blushing.
''Well, yes, of course,'' Valerie said quietly. ''By the way, where is Pryce? Will he also be joining us for a spot of riding?'' As Valerie said this, Millicent perked up and looked to Percival with hushed expectation.
''No, he went on an excursion to London with Hannah and Rosemary Bartlett,'' Percival replied. Pryce Algernon was Percival's younger brother. Millicent looked down at her lap, slightly dejected. Valerie looked at her sister knowingly.
''Oh, that is too bad. Did your uncle Evelyn go as well?'' Valerie asked.
''No, he had some business to attend to in Bath,'' Percival responded. ''Now I really need to get ready Valerie, otherwise I might have to actually go out in these clothes,'' Percival said, opening up the door to leave.
''Alright, but remember not to take too long!'' Valerie told him. Percival closed the door behind him as he went to get changed. Valerie sighed and then looked at her sister.
''Why did you ask for Algernon? You shouldn't have done that. You know I didn't come here for him,'' Millicent spoke accusingly to Valerie.
''Oh, but isn't that the main reason why you came along, my dear sister?'' Valerie teased.
''Well, we both know the reason why you came here,'' Millicent retorted, smiling at her sister with a taunting look.
''Oh do be quiet! Why don't you just mind your own business!'' Valerie snapped at her sister. She strode over to the window and looked out. She sighed inwardly and gazed at her slight reflection on the the glass.
'Will he ever notice me?' she thought to herself as she observed herself. 'Maybe he is not ready...that he wants to wait?' she carried on in thought.
''I'm getting restless,'' Millicent said as she plunged backwards on the chaise longue she was sitting on. Valerie turned around to look at her sister.
''It has barely been five minutes. Maybe you should entertain yourself on the pianoforte,'' Valerie said monotonously.
''I'm still learning how to play. I am not awfully good at it,'' Millicent said as she dragged herself towards it. The pianoforte was at the bottom of the big room they were in. Millicent placed herself on the seat in front of it and began to play.
''Play something cheerful,'' Valerie called to her. Millicent began playing a ditty on the instrument. After a few minutes of playing, Percival came back into the room.
''You play beautifully Millicent! Thank you,'' Percival gushed. Millicent pushed out her seat, stood up and curtsied to Percival. Percival glanced towards Valerie who was staring off in the direction of her sister, but wasn't looking directly at her.
''Valerie, are you alright?'' Percival asked, coming closer to her.
''Oh-oh yes, I was...just thinking about something,'' she replied.
''What were you thinking about?'' Percival pursued.
''Just if…I could ride Mozart today, if you don't mind,'' Valerie replied.
''Well, if you would like, but you always ride Columbus. You two suit each other,'' Percival said.
''Yes, well, sometimes I need a break from him. He wanders off too much,'' Valerie said.
''Well, let's get going then shall we?'' Percival responded with a smile as he clasped his hands together. Valerie and Percival walked towards the door as Millicent skipped towards them.
''Can I ride Rembrandt then? Millicent asked eagerly.
''Of course you can, Millie, Algie won't mind,'' Percival said. All three left the room and headed towards the stables to collect their horses.