The Calm After The Storm
Percival bound up Charles' motionless body and carried him to a horse which had been left on the path to Tuckerby Bay. He mounted the body on top of the horse, secured him to the saddle, then came out of the suit. He directed the suit to hide in the bushes of the woods around Tuckerby Bay with the aid of the remote. Next, he hid the damaged Nautilus suit in the alcove in which he had first found it, covering it with sand. Then, he mounted the horse and ushered the horse to move, but not before taking one last look at the bay. Percival sighed as he reminisced about all what had happened there just a short while before. He had a melancholy look on his face, with his eyes staring listlessly at the waves of the sea.
''Come on; let's go,'' he mumbled to the horse before he turned and headed home.
As he neared Comerton Hall, he saw the carriage that was used to take Valerie, Garth and Chess to his home.
'Good, they got home safely,' he surmised. He went to the stables around the back of Comerton Hall, dismounted from the horse, and tied the horse to a post. He took hold of Charles' body and hid him inside the stables, tying him to a post inside a den.
''Right. That should do it,'' Percival said to himself after ensuring that Charles was fastened securely to the post. When Percival looked up around the stables, he noticed another carriage a few metres away from him. He scrutinised it for a moment, before realising that it was an indication that his mother, brother and father had returned from their outing.
''Oh no!'' Percival gasped, knowing that they would have seen Valerie, Garth and Chess in a dishevelled state. Percival ran out of the stables and to his home quickly. He knocked on the door voraciously, and didn't hesitate to stop to talk to Parsons as he was let in. He heard voices coming from within the drawing room, and once he had reached the room, he swung open the door instantly.
''Oh, you poor things!'' Percival heard his mother say once he entered. Percival beheld the sight of Valerie, Garth, Chess and Valerie's coach driver Rudyard Merrysmith sitting on the sofa opposite Victoria, Algernon and Alfred, who were sitting on the chaise longue and arm chair respectively.
''Oh, Percival! What took you so long? You look awful!'' Victoria sprung up from her chair and came over to him whilst he stood at the doorway, somewhat bewildered. Percival had forgotten that his face must've look bruised and battered to the others.
''Uh...I-I was just-'' he struggled to answer.
''He was just letting my family know that we were safe,'' Garth interjected. Percival looked at him and nodded.
''Yes. They were worried...'' Percival began to say, walking into the room.
''Garth was telling us that you all had met with an unfortunate accident at Tuckerby Bay. The horses were rattled by something and ran rampant on the shore before you all were flung into the waters. Very unfortunate,'' Victoria explained pitifully. Percival sat down on the chaise longue.
''Ah, yes. It was...a terrible thing,'' Percival went along with the lie. He looked over at Valerie and Chess.
''Oh, and it was a very terrible thing to have happened to you, Francesca. I hope this hasn't put you off riding,'' Algernon piped up. He spoke to Chess, who returned a small smile.
''It hasn't. But I will have to return to my home very soon; I need to rest,'' Chess replied to Algernon. Percival looked slightly puzzled.
''Oh, of course. Ah, Percival. We've met your lovely friend Francesca from America. She is a very sweet girl. I didn't know you had met already,'' Alfred said. Percival looked wide-eyed at his father.
''Ah, I...forgot to mention it. I'm very...sorry,'' Percival directed his last sentence to Valerie, who had glanced over at him.
''Well, we must get going to bed. We ate before we left, so we are all right. Have you guys eaten anything yet?'' Alfred asked the group. Percival looked at all of their faces.
''No. We will be fine. Besides, we ought to be leaving now. Thank you very much for your hospitality, Aunt Victoria, Uncle Alfred,'' Garth replied as he stood up. Victoria and Alfred followed suit.
''You are more than welcome, Garth. I shall arrange for you to be taken home right away,'' Alfred said before he left the group alone.
''Good night to you all, then, and have a safe journey back. I hope to see you again, Francesca,'' Victoria said as she smiled at Chess.
''Good night, mother,'' Percival said warmly before he kissed his mother on her cheeks. She smiled, gently caressing his face with her hand. He winced slightly as her hand went over his slightly bruised cheekbone, but he smiled through the pain so as not to alarm his mother.
''Come along, Algie,'' she ordered Algernon. Algernon got up straight away and followed his mother silently out of the room. Percival glanced over to the door, then back at the group.
''Are you all all right?'' he asked, unable to mask the apprehension in his voice.
''We are fine, Percival,'' Garth responded. Percival exchanged a hesitant expression. He then turned his attention to the girls.
''Valerie...I-I am so sorry for...everything. For not telling you...what I had been doing. For...lying to you,'' Percival apologised sincerely to Valerie. Valerie exhaled lightly before standing up.
''Percival...it is all right. I am...also sorry for doubting you. I thought...you had...been with her,'' Valerie said, gesturing to Chess.
''...You thought...I had been unfaithful to you? I would never have done anything like that, Valerie. I would never want to upset you. I love you, and I don't want to lose you,'' Percival reassured her. She smiled at him before they ardently embraced each other. Chess raised her eyebrows then jumped up from her seat.
''Well, this has all been very exciting, but I'm stumped. I need to rest, Percy,'' Chess said as she stretched her arms. Percival smiled at her then came over to her.
''I have a spare room for you to stay for the night. I believe Jasper's body should be here by morning, so you will be able to take him back with you,'' Percival said to her. Chess grinned warmly. Valerie and Garth looked at each other in puzzlement.
''Thanks, Percy. I appreciate all that you've done. You're a great friend,'' she said to him, softly squeezing his right shoulder with her hand. Garth's expression was suddenly beset with confusion.
''Where is...Charles, Percival? What did you do with him?'' he asked him. Percival turned to Garth with a solemn demeanour.
''I am keeping him in the stables for now...but I must get him out before anyone else discovers him,'' Percival replied.
''Where else would you keep him?'' Chess questioned, folding her arms.
''I'm...not sure. I could hide him in the tunnel,'' Percival suggested. Chess rubbed her chin with her hand.
''It could work. But...what next? What will you do?'' she queried further. Percival pondered for a moment.
''I will have to see,'' he answered, looking up at her. Percival then directed his attention to Garth, but before he could say anything, Parsons entered the drawing room.
''Arrangements have been made for you four to go home now,'' Parsons announced as he came in.
''Thank you, Parsons, however Ch- I mean, Francesca will be staying here tonight, if that is all right,'' Percival turned to him and responded.
''Very well, sir,'' Parsons said, before he quietly left them alone. Valerie came up to Percival once again, and looked longingly into his eyes.
''I shall see you again tomorrow,'' she said to him, before kissing him. Percival looked at her and smiled.
''I cannot wait,'' he said. He watched her take her leave, and sighed with satisfaction.
''What have you done with the suits?'' Chess asked Percival, coming up to him.
''I've hidden your suit in the woods, and I hid the other suit in the alcove where I had first discovered it. I need to return to it as soon as possible to remove it from the bay,'' Percival replied.
''Alrighty then. Oh, by the way, I'm going to need to take the suit back, of course. You didn't...go overboard with it, did you? I sort of need it intact, so I can take Jasper back with me inside it,'' Chess said. Percival looked at her nervously.
''Ah...well...I tried not to break it apart...too much,'' Percival said before laughing. Chess shook her head and scoffed lightly.
''You're glad the suits can repair itself,'' Chess said, gently pushing him.
''It can do that?'' Percival asked, surprised. Chess chuckled.
''There's still so much you don't know about the Nautilus, Percy,'' Chess said to him.
''I know...I've only had it for a short while, after all,'' Percival responded. Chess smiled at him.
''Well...I must bid you gentlemen good night; I am soooo tired, I could sleep for two hundred years. See you guys in the morning,'' Chess said before she headed out of the room.
''Good night, Chess,'' Percival said to her. He waited for a moment before turning his attention to Garth. Garth looked at him, unsure of what Percival was going to say to him.
''Percival...'' Garth started.
''Garth. Why...didn't you tell me what you were doing in America?'' Percival questioned him, his voice full of solemnity. Garth saw that Percival was upset. Garth looked down sheepishly.
''I'm-I'm sorry. I wanted to tell you...but I knew...what you would say. I know you wouldn't approve,'' Garth answered.
''Of course I wouldn't approve! Garth...you are my best friend. I have known you all my life! How could you go into that business? Why would you...it is innocent people! England no longer has business with slavery. Why would you relish in the profit gained from people's suffering?'' Percival interrogated Garth. Garth looked up at Percival, seeing how upset he had become. Garth felt guilty.
''When I had got to America...I got caught up with it all. The money schemes and the like. Unfortunately, all investments I put my money into fell through. I-I had nothing. I was foolish enough to go along with my cousin's ideas. He...told me about how lucrative the slavery business was. And...I knew it was wrong to even think about it, but I just wanted to make money. I wanted to make up for what I had lost. I hadn't even thought about...the suffering of those poor people,'' Garth explained. He looked at Percival, his eyes becoming watery.
''I am so sorry Percival...I never thought that...it would get this far. I wanted you to come with me because...I was naïve to think that you would want to aid me. That you would be attracted by the allure of riches as much as I had been. But...I was stupid. It won't ever happen again. I promise,'' he continued. Percival looked at Garth hesitantly. He slowly came over to him, then sighed.
''We all do some idiotic things sometimes. But I never would want to harm people in the process. Garth...I forgive you, and I am sorry about what has happened. I also need to apologise for keeping the truth from you about...the suit, and about Charles. I just...didn't want to tell you yet,'' Percival reciprocated. Garth produced a small smile.
''It's all right, old chap; I would've done the same if I found a piece of machinery from the future,'' Garth mused. Percival guffawed lightly with his friend. Garth then remembered something that he ought to ask Percival.
''Percival, who is...Jasper? I heard you mention that person's name whilst you were in conversation with your American companion?'' Garth asked, curiosity in his voice.
''Ah. Jasper was her friend; he was also from the future. It was his body I had found in the depths of Tuckerby Bay. He was the former owner of the suit that I originally found at the bay, and...he was the one who had been murdered by Charles,'' Percival answered.
''Oh...he was the one I had seen you bring up from the waters that day...'' Garth mumbled to himself in realisation. Percival heard what he had said and pondered on what he meant.
''You...had been spying on me? From the woods, I guess?'' Percival questioned him. Garth looked up at him.
''...Yes, I had been. Unfortunately...I got a bit carried away with myself and jumped to the wrong conclusion about you. I had implied to Valerie...that you were not being truthful about your actions, and that...she must be careful,'' Garth replied. Percival looked at his friend, knowing how they both had misunderstood each other.
''I believe we are both ashamed of the truth...we cover ourselves with the blanket of lies that we thought would keep us in comfort, but inflicted the consequences of undue harm onto others. We are quite a pair, aren't we?'' Percival ruminated aloud. Garth nodded to him, and produced a small smile.
''Well, I must get going now. I shall see you tomorrow again, dear friend,'' Garth said as he held out his hand for a handshake. Percival looked down at his hand, then smiled.
''Yes, tomorrow we shall meet again,'' he said, ignoring his hand and embracing him tightly. Garth was caught off-guard, and smiled as he returned the embrace.
''Good night, Percy,'' Garth said.
''Good night, Garth,'' Percival returned. Garth left the room, leaving Percival alone, and he smiled whilst he reminisced about his friend. His expression changed to one of seriousness, however, when he remembered Charles.
Percival grabbed a lantern from the table, headed to the book case at the back of the drawing room, took hold of the Tempest, and proceeded to go down to the tunnel once the book case contracted. He walked briskly through the dark tunnel, and came upon the door to the stable quite quickly. When he opened it and entered the stables, he walked over to the den where he had left Charles bound.
''...No...it can't be...where has he gone?'' Percival gasped, as he looked around and saw no trace of Charles. He guided his light around the stables, but saw nothing except for the rope that he had used to tie Charles' hands together on a pile of hay. He slowly bent down and picked up the rope, examining it.
''Oh, Charles,'' Percival said to himself. As he slowly stood up, he saw pieces of straw on the floor blowing across his feet. He saw that the stable door was ajar slightly.
'He's escaped...but he should know that if he was to go back to Tuckerby Bay, he would not be able to control the suits any more, since I have hidden them, and I have the remote devices in my possession, and neither can he try to enter my home; he would not risk being caught,' Percival reasoned in his mind. Percival did not think to pursue Charles now, as there was no immediate cause for concern.
'He is powerless; he is a threat to us no more,' Percival concluded.