Scott Lancer sat straight up in bed and knew, too late, that moving so quickly had been a bad idea.
He massaged his temples and groaned.
Why had he ever thought it was a good idea to drink so much tequila?
Trying to keep up with Johnny was NOT a good idea when it came to tequila.
Johnny could tolerate it, quite a lot of it.
Scott could not.
Scott pivoted his head slowly to the side and blearily eyed the clock on his bedside table.
Oh Lord, he had ten minutes to get himself ready and down to the breakfast table!
Murdoch hadn't exactly dictated that his family all join him for meals when home, but everyone knew his feelings on the matter.
He liked visiting with his children and discussing the upcoming day over breakfast.
Scott crawled out of bed and stumbled toward his dresser. He blinked at himself in the mirror.
God, he looked like hell! He was pale and his eyes were bloodshot.
He looked like he'd been ridden hard and put away wet.
He couldn't even remember getting home last night.
He supposed that Johnny had been responsible for that.
Scott had no idea whether he got home under his own power or if his brother had had to drape him across Remmie's saddle and lead him home.
The only thing he could vaguely remember was Johnny half-pulling, half-pushing him up the back stairs.
It wasn't as if they were afraid of Murdoch, not exactly, but why wake the household up so late at night?
It was just common courtesy, after all.
Scott picked up his straight razor, looked in the mirror, sighed and laid it back down. His hands weren't exactly steady so he feared cutting off his head.
He'd have to skip one day of shaving which he hated. He was fastidious about his appearance but safety overruled vanity this morning.
God, his mouth was dry! Coffee, he needed coffee and lots of it – the stronger the better!
He ran a comb quickly through his tangled ash-blonde hair and threw on his work clothes.
Taking one last look in the mirror, he shook his head.
If his grandfather could see him now, he'd spin in his grave...that is if Grandfather were actually dead.
Scott picked up his boots and tiptoed towards his bedroom door. He supposed that Johnny had beaten him downstairs, but maybe there was still a chance.
There was an unspoken competition between Scott and Johnny. Each of them tried to be the first down to the breakfast table.
Scott usually won the contest, but he was operating under a severe handicap at the moment.
He also knew he should be setting a good example for Johnny. After all, he was the older and more responsible brother.
However, sometimes their inner children came out to play. Scott supposed it might be due to the fact that they weren't raised together as kids.
It was fun to joke around and play tricks on one another, and who could blame them? Johnny had to grow up fast and Scott was a little adult by the age of five.
Neither of them had ever had much of a chance to be children.
Stepping outside his door, Scott came face-to-face with his younger brother.
They gaped at each other, narrowed their eyes, then raced for the stairs, side by side.
Of course, Johnny was getting ready to slide down the bannister, as usual, but Scott had his own plan.
He was tall and long legged. There weren't that many stairs so he figured he could take a flying leap and land at the bottom a split second before Johnny.
However, the road to hell was paved with good intentions as he soon found out.
Scott landed squarely, but felt his feet slip out from under him and he hit the wall with a resounding thud, bruising his backside in the process.
Johnny also landed squarely but the same thing happened to him.
His feet slid out from under him and he pitched backwards into the same wall with an equally loud thump, resulting in a nice goose egg on the back of his head.
Scott and Johnny laid sprawled on the floor, Scott seeing stars. The bellow that came from the great room made his poor head pound even harder.
“What in the Sam Hill is going on in there? It took me years to build up this hacienda and I think the two of you are determined to tear it down in a matter of months!”
Their father came rushing around the corner, stopping to stare at his sons, a scowl on his face. Scott could almost take it for a smile from his upside down position on the floor, but he knew better.
Two pairs of blue eyes looked up at Murdoch dumbly. The slate-blue pair of eyes looked suspiciously glazed over and unfocused.
Murdoch's frown turned into a smile and he began to laugh.
Extending his hand to Scott, he said, “Son, you know you can't keep up with your brother when it comes to drinking tequila. Why even try?”
Scott accepted his father's hand and was hauled to his feet, not exactly gently.
“How did you know we were drinking tequila?” he inquired.
“The next time you try sneaking up the back stairs, I would advise you not to sing *'Fair Harvard' at the top of your lungs.”
Just then there came the sound of feminine laughter resonating from the kitchen.
“¿Hijos de la patronal son como niños, no lo cree, Teresa? ¿Has oído el canto fuerte ayer por la noche? Yo creo que señor Scott tuvo demasiado tequila!” snickered Maria.
(“The Patron's sons are like children, are they not, Teresa? Did you hear the loud singing late last night? I believe that Senor Scott drank too much tequila!”)
Scott rolled his eyes. He didn't know a lot of the language yet, but he knew enough spanish to catch Maria's meaning and he blushed a deep red.
Raising his eyebrows and looking over at Johnny who had been able to get up from the floor under his own power, he asked, “Did I?”
Johnny's sapphire blue eyes twinkled as he smirked and nodded his head.
“Yuh, Brother, you did. I kept trying to get you to shut up and you sang even louder!”
“Sir, you asked me why I even bothered to try to keep up with Johnny? Well, I couldn't get him to come home with me, so I figured if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.”
Johnny snorted and Murdoch grinned.
“Son, that's a fine proverb, but not when it comes to you, Johnny, and tequila. You see, while you were out, Maria waxed the floors. So, I have another proverb you may wish to keep in mind.”
Scott shook his head and said, “I know I'll regret asking this, but what is it, Sir?”
Murdoch looked at Scott, winked at Johnny, then looked back at Scott.
“Boys, next time look before you leap! Now, let's have breakfast.”
At the mention of breakfast, Scott turned an interesting shade of green as he slipped and skidded his way hastily out the front door.
by Samuel Gilman (Class of 1811) written 1836, revised 1997
(The first and fourth verses)
“Fair Harvard! We join in the jubilee throng,
And with blessings surrender the o'er,
By these festival rites, from the age that is past
To the age that is waiting before.
O relic and type of our ancestors' worth,
That has long kept their memory warm,
First flower of the wilderness! star of their night!
Calm rising through change and through storm.
Farewell! be thy destinies onward and bright!
To thy children the lesson still give,
With freedom to think, and with patience to bear,
And for right ever bravely to live.
Let not moss-covered error move thee at its side,
As the world on truth's current glides by,
Be the herald of light, and the bearer of love,
Till the stock of the Puritans die.