The laughter of the three echoed around the bay, and the winds answered back with a cool breeze swiftly dancing around them.
''Right, I'm off to go find some shells. Those apple tarts were absolutely delicious, Percy!'' Millicent effused when she stood up.
''I am glad you liked them. Did you like it too, Bene?'' Percival asked Valerie.
''Yes, I enjoyed them very much. I hope they are on the menu when you have your ball,'' Valerie responded with a smile.
''I guarantee it will be,'' Percival responded back with a smile. Valerie blushed slightly, and turned her face away to hide it.
''Oh goody! Now I can't wait! I'll be back soon, I need to find really handsome shells for Algie to see,'' Millicent said excitedly before she flew off down the bay with a small brown woven basket in her left hand.
''Don't go too far!'' Valerie warned after her.
''I won't!'' Millicent shouted back, her voice resonating around the bay.
''She do loves an adventure, doesn't she?'' Valerie quipped.
''Yes, I admire her for that. She is so care-free,'' Percival replied as he watched Millicent bending down in the distance, collecting shells and putting them in her basket. Valerie gazed once more at Percival's content countenance, then sighed inwardly.
''Perci-'' Valerie began.
''Valerie, shall we go for a walk?'' Percival interjected. Valerie looked surprised, but smiled and nodded. Percival stood up first, then held out his hand for Valerie to take. She held on to it firmly as she slowly got up.
''We shouldn't take our eyes off Millie,'' Valerie said to him.
''No need to worry, she will be in our sights. We won't be walking far,'' Percival reassured her. Valerie gave a brief smile and the both of them headed west.
''You seem awfully quiet, Valerie. Is there something bothering you?'' Percival queried. Valerie looked up at him suddenly, discerning the concern in his eyes.
''Oh-uh, oh no, I just...worry about Millie sometimes, that's all,'' Valerie lied.
''Oh, you do? But why? There's not much to worry about, surely?'' Percival pursued.
''Well...no, not really, I just...I am her big sister, after all, so it's common to worry about siblings. Especially when they are growing up so fast,'' Valerie answered.
''Oh, that is true. I do sometimes think about Algie, and about what it would be like when he is older,'' Percival responded.
''See? Then it is an inherent condition for the older sibling to worry about the younger one. We can't help it,'' Valerie said.
''Yes, I believe you are right. We are cursed with sibling apprehension,'' Percival mused. He and Valerie smiled as they walked further along the bay.
''Do you...worry about yourself sometimes?'' Valerie asked as she folded her arms. She looked intently at Percival.
''What do mean?'' Percival questioned back.
''Well...do you...think about...your future. With someone. And who that someone would be?'' Valerie explained her question reluctantly.
''Well...I would like to be married sometime in the future, yes, but...I do not see much pressure to yet. If my mother and father felt that way, I would be seen at more balls than I could care to count,'' Percival answered humourously.
''But...you have given thought to it?'' Valerie reiterated her query.
''Of course. But...can I expect for that person to turn up suddenly?'' Percival asked her a question.
''Maybe...but what if that person...turns out to be someone you've known for years. That you are close with. What about that?'' Valerie asked him. Percival sighed and looked up at the glaring sun.
''I can't answer that. I guess...I am not sure about love. I haven't felt it for me to be sure,'' Percival answered cryptically. Valerie looked down, slightly disappointed by his response.
''I see,'' she said quietly. She folded her arms more into her body, trying to gain warmth from the chill breeze.
''It has gone suddenly cold, don't you think?'' Percival asked her when he looked out to the sea.
''Yes, I dare say it has gotten slightly more bitter,'' Valerie said, looking out in the same direction, but then at Percival. Percival's eyes scrutinized the choppy waves, and observed the greying sky.
''I do believe a storm is brewing,'' Percival remarked.
''Oh, no. I guess we better get back to yours then,'' Valerie said.
''Yes. Let's get going,'' Percival said as he turned back to her.
''All right. I will fetch Millie,'' Valerie said before she left Percival.
''Good,'' Percival said before he looked back out to the sea. He then looked to his left at the rest of the bay, and noticed something jutting out of a small alcove. Percival looked to where Valerie was, then looked back at the alcove, keen to investigate what he had seen. He stepped closer into the alcove, and then bent down to see what the object was. He saw some letters written on the object.
'N A U T' were the letters he saw. Percival looked around the bay, and then to Valerie and Millicent, who were packing up the sack and cloak. He then reached into the alcove, and dusted off the sand that was covering the object with his hand. His eyes then became wider, as he was trying to decipher what it was.
''...Nautilus...'' Percival mumbled to himself as he saw what was written on the rest of the object. It was in black bold writing displayed on a dirtied white background, which Percival was unsure of.
''Percival? What are doing? We have to leave!'' Percival heard Valerie call out to him. Percival suddenly remembered about the storm and got up quickly.
''I am coming!'' he returned. He then turned back to the object, and thought about what to do.
'I should hide it,' he thought to himself as he went over and covered it up with more sand. He then stood up again, and backed away from the alcove.
''Percy! Quickly! It's getting quite bad!'' Valerie shouted to him as she and Millicent were struggling to hold their bonnets on their heads.
''On my way now,'' Percival called back as he started to head towards them. The wind began to howl ferociously while he ran back to the where the girls were.
''Come on. Let's get out of here,'' he said to the girls before they all mounted their horses. Valerie and Millicent went ahead, but Percival stared out behind him.
'What is...Nautilus?' he wondered inwardly before he turned forward and caught up with the girls. The bay became loud and angry; the waves collided with the sandy beach viciously, and the wind roared mercilessly.