Baskergrand The Nautilus

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The Errand

'What am I going to do? I want to go back to Tuckerby Bay to collect the suit, but...how am I going to collect it without being noticed? And where should I hide it?' Percival thought to himself as he went back inside his home after lunch.

''What are you thinking about, old chap?'' Garth asked Percival as he came up behind him and put his arm around his neck.

''Just about...what are you doing now?'' Percival asked him back to deter him.

''Oh, me? I am to go to London now to see someone about business. Were you planning on something?'' Garth responded while they conversed in the hallway.

''Oh, no, not really. You are staying here for five months, so there's no rush to take you everywhere. I will see you at the ball if not before then,'' Percival replied.

''Yes, I will see you then. You only have ten days left,'' Garth remarked.

''Coming fast upon us. Good-bye, Garth,'' Percival said as he walked his friend to the door. A servant opened the door for Garth to leave.

''Good-bye, Percy,'' Garth returned as he saluted his friend. Percival smiled at him before he left and the door was closed. He stood at the door for a while, pondering on what to do next.

''Are you going out as well, Master Percival?'' Parsons asked from behind him. Percival looked at the door for a moment.

''Yes...I think I am going to go out now Parsons. Fetch me my top hat, please,'' Percival answered.

''As you wish, sir,'' Parsons replied before he went upstairs to retrieve Percival's hat. When Parsons returned, Percival took the top hat and placed it on his head.

''Are you going far, sir?'' Parsons queried. Percival looked lost in thought for a moment before he answered.

''Yes. I am going to commute to London. Ready the coach, please, Parsons,'' Percival ordered as he turned to face his servant.

''Right away, Master Percival,'' Parsons acquiesced before he left Percival's presence and went to do as he requested.

''I think I know the perfect place to hide the Nautilus,'' Percival mumbled to himself before he procured a smile.

* * *

''We've arrived in Hackney, sir,'' the coachman yelled to Percival when the carriage stopped in a busy, cobbled street.

''Hackney?'' Percival repeated, swinging the carriage door open, and hopping out onto the ground. He marvelled at the sight of the bustling area; people moving around in between each other, market holders yelling above the din of the people.

''Will you be gone for long, sir?'' the coachman asked Percival. Percival looked up at the man, who was dressed head to toe in black.

''Possibly for half an hour. I need to go on an important errand,'' Percival answered.

''Right, sir. I will wait for you here then,'' the coachman responded. Percival nodded to the man, then went off up the street. He weaved in and out of the crowd of passers-by, all the while searching for a particular business.

'The perfect place to find something big enough to hide the suit...,' Percival thought as he scanned the buildings in the area until he set his eyes on the one he wanted, '...is a funeral parlour!'

''Excuse me. Sorry, sorry,'' Percival said to people he passed through in order to get to Samuel Worthy's Funeral Parlour across the road. When he emerged out of the crowd, he sighed, entered the business and surveyed his surroundings, looking at the different coffins displayed around him. He took off his hat as he observed his environment, coming towards the counter at the front of the parlour.

''Hello, Sir, can I help you?'' a man who had been bending down behind the counter in front of Percival stood up to meet him. The man was shorter than Percival, was quite plump, had greying hair and a greying moustache. He was wearing a black suit with a white waistcoat and black cravat, and black shoes. He was wearing spectacles, which sat on the end of his nose.

''Ah, yes, you can. I was wondering if I could purchase a coffin,'' Percival said to the man.

''All right. What is your name, sir?'' the man asked. The man began to write something down on a piece of paper in front of him.

''Percival Baskergrand,'' Percival replied.

''What is the name of the deceased?'' the man queried. Percival stood stunned for a few moments as the man looked at him.

''Uh...Jonathan...Kingsbury...the third,'' Percival lied. The man continued to write down on the paper.

''For how long has the person been deceased?'' the man asked him.

''Err...three days,'' Percival lied.

''And how long in feet do you want the coffin to be measured at?'' the man queried. Percival looked at the man with a blank expression.

''Um...I believe...six feet and...five inches...no, six inches,'' Percival replied slowly. The man returned a baffled look.

''The deceased is six foot six inches?'' the man questioned.

''Yes...it's a relative-distant relative-he...comes from...Australia,'' Percival continued to lie. The man looked Percival up and down quickly.

''Right. And your relative...how large was he? How wide should the coffin be?'' the man kept on questioning.

''Uh...possibly...this big...?'' Percival held out his hands and showed the man how big. The man's face grew increasingly puzzled by Percival's responses.

''So let's say...sixty to seventy centimetres across including arm width?'' the man clarified.

''Yes, yes, let's say that. He was quite...a large man,'' Percival lied further.

''All right. And are you to have the body delivered here tomorrow?'' the man asked. Percival's face turned white.

''Delivered? We-well, I'm afraid...we...the family...wish to keep his body. Is it possible to...have the coffin delivered to our home instead?'' Percival responded. The man looked at Percival in a confused manner once more, before sighing and shaking his head.

''Yes, that is possible. It will be two hundred pounds for the coffin, sir,'' the man said as he tore off a receipt from a book for the purchase and handed it to Percival. Percival reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out paper notes amounting to two hundred pounds. He handed it to the man, and cleared his throat.

''It should be with you by tomorrow midday. Where is your address?'' the man asked another question. Percival thought about it for a moment, then had an idea.

''My parents do not know about this visit. I wanted to do all the arrangements. It might upset them to see the coffin. Bring back bad memories, you know. So...could you send it to this address,'' Percival took the pencil from the man and scrawled his address on another piece of paper, ''but go around to the left side of the building, to where the stables are please,'' Percival directed. The man took the piece of paper, and looked at Percival.

''Very well, sir. My condolences to you and your family,'' the man replied.

''Oh, thank you very much. Good day to you,'' Percival said, saluting his hat towards the man before putting it back on and heading out of the parlour. He sighed in relief as he got out, then headed towards his carriage around the corner.

''Did you manage to do what you wanted, sir?'' the coachman asked Percival once he had arrived, before the latter climbed into the carriage.

''Yes. Yes, I did,'' Percival responded with a smile before he closed the door and sat down. The coachman ordered the horses to move as Percival looked out of the window of the carriage.

'I need to see Charles immediately. He would love to see the suit,' Percival thought to himself. He also decided he should send Charles a letter to come to Tuckerby Bay tomorrow night with his carriage.

'I'll send it once I return to Comerton,' Percival resolved.


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