Baskergrand The Nautilus

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Reminiscence

The next day, at Comerton Hall, Percival sneaked away to the drawing room after breakfast to go to the tunnel and meet with Chess. He had under one arm a grey bulging sack, and in his other hand he held up a lantern to direct his path. When he had reached a part of the tunnels where Chess was staying, he found her asleep on a pile of blankets, with a dark green blanket covering her to keep her warm. She had a lantern beside her head, which had been blown out.

''Francesca! Francesca!'' Percival whispered to her. Chess slowly opened her eyes in long blinks.

''Agh!'' she let out, surprised to see Percival hovering over her.

''Oh, sorry to scare you. I didn't mean to wake you so soon, but I thought I would bring you a change of clothes, so that people would not think you...odd, when you go outside,'' Percival said in a quiet tone. Chess stretched and yawned as she gathered her bearings.

''Oh, I thought this was a dream. I thought I would wake up and I would be back in 2051. Alas, it wasn't to be,'' Chess droned in a monotonous tone. Percival set down his lantern and opened the sack.

''Here. I thought you were of a similar size to my mother. These are some dresses she no longer wants,'' Percival said as he passed a green dress to Chess. Chess pushed the blanket away from her and sat up. She took the dress and blinked long and hard at it.

''This is a horrible colour. I hate green. Got anything in pink?'' Chess mused sarcastically.

''Oh, no, I am sorry, but that is all she had,'' Percival said, unaware that Chess was only joking. She chuckled lightly to herself then got up.

''Ah, Percy, Percy, Percy. What am I going to do with you, eh? Anyway, what's happening today? Are we going into London then?'' Chess said. She began to undress in front of Percival, whose cheeks flushed red before he quickly spun around.

''Uh-uh, er, yes, we are. We are going to see your friend, take him back with us, and then...'' Percival said quickly before coming to a stop.

''Then see about getting Garth Mason,'' Chess finished off his sentence while she dressed herself. Percival looked down, disheartened.

''...Yes, I suppose so,'' he said sadly. Chess noticed the change in his tone.

''Look...I know you don't want to do it, but it's for the greater good,'' Chess said to him. Percival wondered if there was another way.

''You can turn around now, I'm finished,'' Chess said to him. Percival slowly turned around as an idea came to him.

''What if we somehow...convince Garth to stop his dealings in the slave trade? It could work, couldn't it?'' Percival suggested. Chess looked at him, and pondered on it.

''Maybe. But...that's a risk I don't think I'm willing to take. What if I go back to my time and it still hasn't changed?'' Chess retorted. Percival was unable to counter her point.

''But...there has to be another way,'' Percival pleaded. Chess sighed and straightened her dress out.

''If there was, I would have told you,'' she responded. ''Right, have you brought me something to eat?'' Chess asked him, changing the subject.

* * *

''Did I really have to wear this on my head?'' Chess complained, looking up at the cream bonnet on her head. She and Percival were sitting opposite each other in a coach which was taking them to London.

''Of course you must. It is the fashion for ladies of this time. The male clothing you were wearing earlier from your time is not acceptable here, I'm afraid. Why would you wear men's clothes any way?'' Percival said. Chess cast him a bitter look.

''You have much to learn about the future, my friend,'' she remarked.

''Oh, yes, I do,'' Percival seconded. The carriage jostled from left to right as it negotiated the cobbled roads of London.

''I think we are here,'' Percival said once he looked out of the window.

''London town, Master Percival, and your lady friend,'' the coach driver yelled out after the carriage came to a standstill. Percival opened the door, came out, then assisted Chess out.

''Thank you, Wallace,'' Percival said to the coach driver. The coach driver saluted to him with his top hat.

''London sure is different in my time,'' Chess observed. She was looking at all the sights of street beggars, people walking from one place to another, and the plethora of shops in the vicinity.

''But I guess the hustle and bustle never changed,'' she commented. Percival guided her to the doctor's practice he had been to earlier with Charles, Edwin Carter. They knocked on the door, and were led inside by a servant to the doctor.

''Doctor Carter! Remember me? I was the fellow who came with Charles, with the mysterious corpse of a man we had found in the sea?'' Percival greeted the doctor. Edwin had been sitting at a table, engrossed in examining some object. When he heard Percival, he immediately looked up and sprung from his seat.

''Ah, yes! I remember! Did you manage to find a relative? The police had no luck with him, I'm afraid,'' Edwin responded.

''Yes, I did. Which means we no longer need to go to Southend. Anyway, this is...'' Percival started to speak, but his mind went blank when he could not think of an excuse for why Chess was there.

''His...cousin...thrice removed on his...uncle's side. He went off with a Chinese slave, and had me illegitimately,'' Chess interjected, feigning an English accent. Percival pulled a shock expression as she came forward.

''Oh...all right, then. Thrice removed is...quite distant,'' Edwin mentioned.

''Yes...well...he was an only child, and...his mother and father are dead,'' Chess pretended.

''Oh...so sorry. Well, since you are here to claim the body, I just need you to sign a document to say you are now in possession of the deceased and that you are indeed the closest next of kin,'' Edwin explained.

''Of course. But where is my...distant cousin?'' Chess asked the doctor.

''Ah yes, I will fetch him for you now,'' Edwin said before he disappeared out of the room for a moment.

''I did not know you had a mastery over the mimicry of my natural accent! I could have mistaken you for an English migrant!'' Percival said to her. Chess looked at him and rolled her eyes.

''Here we are,'' Edwin said as he came back in, wheeling a coffin in to the room. He proceeded to open it up whilst covering his nose and mouth with a handkerchief. Chess looked at Percival, somewhat nervous of seeing Jasper. Percival clutched onto her hand and gave it a soft squeeze to reassure her. Chess then went towards the coffin, and took a handkerchief from Edwin to cover her mouth and nose.

''What was his name?'' Edwin asked. Chess' expression saddened when she saw Jasper's pale face. He was perfectly still as he lay in his wooden resting place. Chess reminisced on all the times she shared with Jasper, and how he must have felt when he died.

''Ja...Jack. His name was Jack,'' Chess lied. Her voice had nearly turned into a whisper.

''I'm very sorry for your loss, Miss,'' Edwin spoke to her in a low, solemn tone.

''Thank you,'' she managed to say before she looked away. Percival met her gaze before he realised she had been crying.

''Right, well, after the paper work is done, all I need to do is send the body over to you. You should receive him in no less than a few days' time. Once again, my condolences to you,'' Edwin said, before he covered the coffin. Percival noticed Chess' crestfallen expression.

''If I had met him, I'm sure we would have been great friends,'' Percival attempted to encourage her. Chess managed a small smile when she glanced over at him.

''Thank you, Percy...for bringing me here,'' Chess said to him. Percival began to smile.

''Anything for a friend...from the future,'' he mused.


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