Following in his father's footsteps, Alistair Pembroke's ambition is to track him down
Chapter 1 - Pride
With their chin held high to the ceiling and chest swelled with pride, a finely dressed young gentleman stood center stage in a grand ballroom. “Ladies and gentleman, it is with great gratitude that you have joined us this fine morning to learn that today I, Alistair Pembroke, shall receive an assignment from the Royal Exploration Society of London. To embark on the first of many adventures. Following the footsteps of ‘The Great Paxton’, my father before me. Do not fear. For I will return safe and sound. Accompanied with treasures aplenty no less. That will mesmerize and astonish. Today, a dreamer leaves these doors of Paxton Manor to become...”
“Pardon the intrusion,” croaked a voice from the far side of the room. A frail old figure appeared out in the foyer, looking over a sea of empty chairs. “The carriage has arrived, sir.”
Alistair leaped off the stage excitedly. “Excellent, most excellent. You’ve unfortunately missed my last speech, dear old friend. We must make this appointment post haste”. He continued to walk out in the foyer, placing a hand on the elderly man’s shoulder. “The day has finally come, Giles. I cannot thank you enough for all you have done.”
With tears in his eyes, Giles gently pulled Alistair’s grip away. “I wished you’d reconsider this, sir. I really do.”
“You have had that wish for over ten years,” Alistair responded, wearing a comforting smile.
“Is this really wise, sir? Forgive me for speaking out of turn, a private education cannot prepare you for the dangers that exist in this world. I fear one among them will consume you.”
“Father struggled without an education. Clawing through the worst conditions, surviving poverty that sought to kill him, as it did his poor siblings. He went onto become the greatest treasure hunter ever known. That dear, Giles. That makes me believe I can cross the treacherous seas and perilous mountains. To remain strong and able to overcome anything that steps in my path.”
“I see your mind is made up, sir. Please excuse me as I need to wrap up warm for heading outside.”.
“Please collect the case from my room, it is frightfully heavy...”
"As you wish, sir," Gile's replied with a deep sigh.
Brimming with excitement, Alistair clapped his hands together and bounded outside the large double doors to the grounds of Paxton Manor. He caught in the distance a stagecoach being pulled by two enormous bay shire horses making their way to the front of the main building.
While waiting for the stagecoach to make its way to the manor, Alistair took a glance around at his surroundings. All around him servants were tending to the many acres of the manor grounds. He could see them watering, pruning, trimming to make his home the most presentable it could be.
The man's attention then turned to a centrepiece standing looking directly out from the main doors. He looked upon a fountain with a statue in the likeness of an Angel. On its base, a plaque read 'Florence' along with a date of birth and death written beneath it. The stone of the fountain, as well as the metal plague, were kept in pristine condition. It stood situated that no guest could avoid looking up its beauty.
Lost in concentration, Alistair became startled as the stagecoach stopped past his view of the fountain. Behind him, he could hear the shuffling footsteps on the gravel floor as Giles joined him with a fully packed case. The driver of the stagecoach jumped down to speak with both the gentleman. Before addressing them, he took off his tweed hat and placed it against his chest.
"Mr. Alistair Pembroke sir, on behalf of 'Taylor Services of London' I am at your service today," said the driver. His accent held a twang of the common tongue, although seemed to have become blended through driving wealthy clients for a substantial length of time. He stood up straight back perfectly straight, presented in clean clothing, dressed in an assortment of a black suit and trousers with gold trimmings. The driver's head of hair and mustache was also well-groomed.
Spotting Giles holding a case, the driver immediately approached and courteously took hold of it.
"It is a pleasure for our family to be doing business with you again," Alistair announced proudly. He extended a hand, to which the driver exchanged a handshake using their free palm. "We trust there were no issues getting here."
"No issues, Mr. Pembroke, none at all. The roads are as safe as can be. Besides, there's a rifle at the ready if any chancers were to come our way," the driver replied.
"As stated in our letter to your employers, we are to arrive at the Royal Exploration Society by noon," Giles announced.
Giles slowly made his way to the coach and grabbed the door to pull it open. Swiftly, the driver blocked the attempt with his free hand. "Please, allow me to open this for Mr. Pembroke."
"Oh, no young man, you're mistaken. I'll be joining Mr. Pembroke on this journey."
Alistair's eyes widened in surprise. "Giles, when did you decide to come along?"
The old butler turned to his master. "If I am to say goodbye to you today, dear boy, I shall do so at the last possible moment".
With a smile, Alistair joined Giles in the stagecoach. In a matter of seconds, the driver loaded the case and began their ride towards the capital.