The previous chapter can be found here: http://wp.me/p4EC5E-oa
The call had its desired effect; the young man who answered to that name came running to attend to his mistress, so lately clothed as the sun. Beckersley himself in an indifferently shaped youth, spots having gained the upper hand in their battle for his face gave the impression of a comet or asteroid, battered by the knocks of life. He isn’t overly paid either, this latter fact being key to the actions he will subsequently undertake to such tragic effect. For now though he has to help his mistress with her coat.
Lady Caroline Ferfuffle-Flin, sole remnant of an ancient and proud family, had a face almost as twisted as her family tree. Her sole relative was a step-son whose life she was a blight on; a favour not specifically reserved for him but which she spread around with great impartiality. That someone had been poisoned and not she was for many beyond comprehension and had been entered into at least one bookish individual’s list of great travesties of justice. Now she frowned and grimaced as he helped her into a coat that complimented her face by hanging like some elderly moss cl happily enveloping a particularly scrawny specimen of tree; the one thing spoiling this effect being the fact the animals who had given their lives in this pursuit of poetry had neglected to grow their fur green.
‘You are clumsy today,’ she said in the nasal tones that threatened to send the poor drudge over the edge; ‘and I shall have to insist you stop it.’
The fact that her murder didn’t take place then and there is one of the more puzzling parts of this narrative.
Beckersley, having finished this important duty of the coat, was forced to go and arrange a method of transport by which his mistress could travel. Lady Caroline, being an eccentric and thoroughly unpleasant person, was wont to change her mind at uncertain and unpredictable intervals as to what constituted proper transport. Currently this was sedan-chair, and as the last sedan-chair for hire in the town had retired after woodworm overcame the main frame of the seat and the wooden leg of one of the bearers, this meant Beckersley was under extreme pressure. His solution of recent times was the gardener- an ancient taciturn fellow- and himself carrying one that he had borrowed from a collection. Beckersley whistled, a signal for the gardener to come round to the coach-shed, and then went there himself; unlocking the door with a huge rusty key that rumour had as being originally made for the gates of heaven on strength of its being so large and ornate. Muttering under his breath, he strode into the dim interior; the only light coming from the grimy windows set high-up and too narrow to be of good use for their intended purpose. There was something that bothered Beckersly as he stepped inside, something that gave him a deep-seated anxiety and made him look around nervously. And then, with the merest of movements in the deep shadow near the back he realised what it was. There was someone already in the coach-shed.
‘Who’s there?’ he called out in an unsure voice, and a deep laugh answered him.
‘Your future.’ Beckersley turned to flee, and the gardener walked in, giving him new courage.
‘There’s someone in here trying to play games with me,’ he told his unwitting saviour.
‘Oh, aye?’ The gardener looked at him with mild disinterest; he thought that the lad was too young, too flighty and too useless to be employed, but was a kindly man when he couldn’t be bothered to be nasty. ‘Let’s have a look then,’ he added; for Beckersley was showing a marked disinclination to going any deeper into the shed.
‘Okay,’ came the reply and they advanced together, the gardener fully expecting to find one of the children who played on the remains of the estate. The coach-shed being totally empty surprised him; and after a moment he added ‘borderline insane’ to his list of the lad’s characteristics, before phlegmatically picking up his end of the sedan-chair. They took it round to the front door; Beckersley having made sure that he locked the coach-shed with extra care, and Lady Caroline was fetched and brought aboard. Then, with heaving’s of knees young and arthritic the sedan-chair was hoisted aloft and born down the street, bearing Lady Caroline in triumph towards her final destination.