By Wendy K.
Harlan Garrett was running late for his business dinner. He hurried out of his bedroom and down the stairs, straightening his cravat as he went. His destination was the front hall where Jenkins was waiting with his hat, gloves and cane. The business man was about half-way down when his feet went out from under him and he landed on his behind with a thump.
Jenkins, biting the inside of his cheek in an effort to keep from laughing, scurried up the stairs to assist his employer.
“Mr. Garrett! Are you all right, sir?”
Mortified at having such an embarrassing thing happen in front of a servant, Harlan tried to muster his dignity. He climbed slowly to his feet and proceeded to dust himself off.
“I’m fine, Jenkins,” he replied gruffly. “What in blazes did I slip on?”
Jenkins bent down and retrieved a small, round object from the stair.
“I believe it’s one of Master Scott’s marbles, Sir.”
Upon seeing the small glass orb, Garrett’s eyebrows beetled and his face grew red.
“Scotty!!” he bellowed. “Come here this instant!”
After a few seconds there was the patter of small feet and the seven year old appeared at the top of the stairs, a happy smile on his face.
Harlan took the marble from Jenkins and held it up for his grandson to see.
“Do you know what this is?”
“Yeth, Thir,” Scott replied, brightly. “It’th one of my marbleth.”
“Well what is it doing here?” the old man thundered. “I nearly killed myself tripping over it. Haven’t I told you not to leave your toys lying around?”
The little tow-headed boy nodded, blue eyes wide in his suddenly solemn little face. His previously cheerful mood had completely evaporated in the face of his grandfather’s ire.
“I’m thorry, Grandfather. It won’t happen again. Honetht.”
“You’re right about that, Boy. Go fetch the rest of them.”
Scott turned and scurried back to his room. He grabbed a doe-skin bag off a shelf and brought it to his Grandfather who was still waiting on the stair.
“Give it here,” Harlan commanded.
The little boy placed the small sack into his grandfather’s outstretched hand and looked expectantly at his guardian.
Garrett turned, marched down the stairs and into his study. Scott trailed along behind, growing more and more anxious by the minute. He watched solemnly as his guardian opened one of the drawers of his carved walnut desk and dropped the little bag in. Harlan then slammed the drawer shut and locked it, pocketing the small brass key.
“No more marbles for you, Young Man. I’ll return them to you when and if I feel you deserve them.”
Scott blinked rapidly, determined not to cry. Grandfather didn’t like it when he cried. He was a Garrett and Garretts didn’t cry. Besides, he wasn’t a baby anymore. He was a big boy of seven and big boys didn’t cry, either.
“Yeth, Thir,” he whispered, voice thick with emotion.
Garrett turned and addressed Jenkins who had been hovering at a discrete distance. “He is to be sent to bed immediately. No supper, either.”
With that, the cranky old man was gone.
Jenkins stared down at the forlorn little boy who was toeing the thick Persian carpet and sniffling occasionally.
The servant reached out, placed his hand on the soft blond cap of hair and rubbed gently. “Come along, Lad. Let’s get you something to eat.”
Scott peered up at the man through wheat colored bangs, eyes bright with unshed tears. “But…Grandfather thaid….”
“I know what your grandfather said but it’s always been my philosophy that no little boy should ever go to bed without supper- especially a good little boy. Your Grandfather obviously disagrees so we simply won’t tell him. It’ll be our secret, alright?”
Scott smiled half-heartedly, not completely happy but no longer completely miserable. He wasn’t going to get his marbles back any time soon but at least he wouldn’t be going to bed hungry.
“Yeth, our thecret.”
Jenkins then took Scott’s small hand in his and, together, they walked down the hall towards the kitchen.
- end -