Seth stood by the gate and wondered about the world beyond it. He knew the town with cobbled streets, barber shop, grocer, mercantile and his father’s drapers, but wanted to leave home.
Seth sighed, stuffed hands in pockets, and leaned against the open door, the sun shining on his skin, the breeze cool on his forehead. He gazed past the iron gate flanked by two hedges, past the trees on the lane and beyond the cobblestones and toward the mountains in the distance. Seth took a deep breath and could almost taste the marshmallow clouds floating on the azure sky.
“Seth!” Grandmother called. She’d been an invalid since he was a child and didn’t mind tending to her; she told the most fascinating stories and adventures.
Seth turned his back to the blue expanse of the unknown and sauntered into the tidy house. Grandmother sat on the high-backed chair by the window.
“I know what you want,” she said as he came in, “you want your birthright; to walk out and make your own way. They took it from you and I am sorry.”
“What do you mean?”
“The first-born son takes care of the family business and the estate, the second inherits the ship and the last son must find his own fortune.”
“But I’m the only child.”
“You’re the only surviving child.”
Seth stared at Grandmother, amazed. He opened his mouth to speak, but Grandmother continued,
“Oh yes, didn’t you know? There were two boys before you. Neither survived infancy.”
Seth sat down on the floor, next to Grandmother and gave her his full attention, like when she told her stories of witches and pirates.
“Your brother Joseph was a year old when the influenza took him. He was the first and the oldest. Then, years later, William succumbed to the measles when he was five. You were a baby then, and we were frightened you’d sicken too. But here you are, stepping in for your older brothers and longing for what you’ve always known was your right. It’s your fate to leave and not come back.”
“But Grandmother, who will mind the shop?”
“Your father, it’s his responsibility.”
“For how long? He is old now.”
“The hills are old!” Grandmother threw her arms in the air, “He can still do it for several years.”
“I have no money.”
“Yes, you do,” she produced a letter from under her shawl, “this arrived yesterday. Your Uncle Charles died. He left you everything.”
“Who’s Uncle Charles?”
“My son, your father’s younger brother; he left for Africa long ago and made a fortune. My sons had a falling out, and as long as I lived here, your father forbade any mention of him, but Charles and I still wrote one another in secret. He knows all about you and now he’s made you his sole heir. You have money to leave and never worry about the shop again.”
“Why not use it for the shop?”
“Because your father will gamble it away, as he does every spare cent he gets his hands on.”
“Why didn’t you leave with Uncle Charles?”
“I couldn’t leave you here. Now stop asking silly questions and making excuses. It’s time for you to live your own life and start your own adventure! I’ll be fine, now go!”
Seth glanced out the window and heard the siren call of adventure blowing down from the mountain.