I had intended to return to the tour of the manor today, but the arrival of a thing most curious has prompted me to postpone that propitious event. A parcel arrived recently by courier, a delivery most especial, not the least cause for saying so being that it came packaged as a returned item from our commonwealth cousins across the pond. Seems the Postmaster General of Ottawa, which is down in Canada, drawing upon his great skill and knowledge, has determined that this parcel, posted to one Mr. A. Doggett of Hamilton, Ontario, should, for the reason of remaining unclaimed for an extensive period exceeding the peculiar limits placed upon the Post Office for holding such items, be delivered (he used the term ‘returned,’ which made no sense to me, for I never had ought to do with it) unto me.
Now, I immediately informed the courier that I knew nothing of the package or its origins, yet he asserted his instructions were quite clear and came from the highest levels of British Post; that, under no circumstances was he to deliver this item into any hands but mine own and, furthermore, he was not to accept refusal of delivery. Nonplussed at his insistence and baffled as to what this could possibly have to do with me, I allowed my curiosity to gain sway over my best judgement and signed his receipt.
I examined the package, it’s wrappings, seals, stamps and such, closely, but found little of interest. Having no particular knowledge in the subject of postal delivery, these things all seemed normal enough to my eye and gave me no hints as to its contents, the cause of it remaining unclaimed or, most significantly, why anyone imagine my having any hand in its origination. It seemed remarkable only in its ordinariness. It had no great heft when lifted, nor any shifting of its contents when turned about; no markings unusual to my eye, or scent detectable by my nose.
Having exhausted my faculties upon the exterior, I determined to proceed within. Unsealing the heavy paper wrapping and drawing forth a box from within, I found this more notable in only the smallest degree. Certainly its construction was common, of a plain wood and broad-headed nails, yet an architect’s compass, albeit a simple one to be sure, ornamented its lid. A simpler clasp to hold a thing shut could hardly be asked for, yet I did hesitate to open it, a sudden unease making itself known in the pit of my digestion. I considered the possibility that opening this box might not be an act of wisdom but of rank inquisitiveness, that, having confirmed the contents were nothing of mine, it followed that it was therefore no business of mine to delve further into the matters and belongings of another and that all parties would be best served by my returning the un-opened box and its wrappings to the offices of British Post and declare the strange puzzle closed.
But a puzzle it remained, and my curiosity did insist I continue. I knew, after all, nothing of import which I had not known from the moment the courier pressed the parcel upon me, that a package unknown to me was believed to be so by the postal authorities. I would need further information were I to have any hope in seeing this matter to its proper conclusion. And so I opened the box.