Sebastian could not recall the dreams he'd had prior to his wide eyed sharp wakefulness. But they must have had something to do with it.
The realization woke Sebastian out of deep sleep with a shocking jolt through out his whole body.
Reginald Blackwell is not really my father!'' He'd had nothing in common, neither in appearance nor in temperment, with the stern Englishman. It was why Reginald often grew angry with Sebastian, until the breaking point when Sebastian was fifteen and could stand his attitudes no longer.|
It had been seven years since he'd seen his sweet mother Rachel. He found himself full of a desire to return to the town in which he'd grown up and see her again. A few more attackers like the one he'd met a week ago, purposely lured, and he had enough money to buy a good horse. He was on his way home.
Travelling at night, the stars and moon were kind. He could see the paths very well. It took three nights travel, but at last he'd arrived before the stately house. Reginald had, in addition to inheriting a great sum of money, made quite a bit of it himself. It was his lack of ambition in this himself which was one of the things that angered Reginald.
But Sebastian was going to brave any such possible confrontations and have a nice, long visit with his mama. There wasn't anyone awake at 4:00am, when he arrived, so he waited awhile on the spacious porch, just enjoying the intoxicatingly rich fragrances of the lilac bushes surrounding it.
The ominous glow emerged in the sky, but Sebastian heard sounds of activity in the house. He trembled as he knocked on the door. He hadn't realized how much he missed his mother. A maid who was up early heard the door, recognized him and let him in. ''Oh, you've grown tall!'' she cooed with delight. A slight blush in her cheeks, Sebastian could tell she found him attractive. But, no, he would be good. He'd behave.
He waited on the elaborate floral tapestry sofa for his mother to finish getting dressed. When she floated down the spiral staircase, Sebastian was standing at its foot, waiting for her. They embraced with happy hugs. Yes, he must have grown! His mother was still on the last step! When she lowered herself to the floor, he was surprised at how delicate and fair she appeared, despite a narrow, only slightly hooked nose.
They settled to the sofa, and waited for the maid to bring them tea. ''Oh, you must tell me all your adventures!'' Rachel encouraged. Sebastian began cautiously, ''Oh, I've had a most interesting life!'' But, no, he wasn't about to tell her just how interesting. He found a way to gloss over the sordid details and turned the conversation back to her. Yes, she'd been happy. He was glad to see that.
Yet, she'd been lonely. Reginald was always gone with business, but she had many friends to comfort her, and they had given her great joy. He then confessed his suspicions in a low whisper that only she could hear. He knew the maid would be listening for just such juicy details. A household of gossipy help is awful. She nodded solemnly to his suspicions.
She wouldn't have been so tempted had Reginald made more time for her. But she was lonely and the red haired Irish man was so much fun and so attentive. She couldn't resist his advances. Eventually, via gossipy household servants, Reginald got wind of it. She had to refuse to see him, and a servant delivered that message whenever Andy visited. Eventually, he gave up. After that, she was careful to choose only lady friends, who drew no such suspicion.
''What was his name, Mother? I want to go see him!'' Sebastian implored. ''Oh, I don't know where he is now. That was so long ago. But, oh, Andy Molloy had the most charming smile and laugh. He had your hair, too. I'm not sure where you got your nose from, though.'' She laughed, and Sebastian wasn't about to reveal his suspicions. He was glad she only inherited a more delicate version of 'the hook'.
They visited long, embracing often. She had never viewed him scornfully, but he was careful to reveal no details which might suddenly evoke scorn. Eventually, the bright light coming through the tall living room windows hurt Sebastian's eyes. He was weary and asked to be shown to a dark room, where he might sleep.
The smells of his childhood home were so entrancing, as he settled into the feather bed, with its fluffy down comforter. Wealth did make a nice environment possible. He was glad he'd been well educated. He couldn't hate Reginald entirely. He just wanted to avoid lengthy discussions with him, however. He knew he'd been lazy and a wastrel. He didn't want lectures about it though, for he had no intentions of changing such behavior.
Come sunset, he'd seek at all the taverns, inquiring of an Andy Molloy. He was certain people there could direct him further. To his surprise, the name 'Andy Molloy' was instantly recognized. ''HIM? Oh, yes, we've seen him, and OFTEN! That man likes his drink, he does! But last I heard, he went to parts up north. You'd be advised to head that ways. Any tavern keeper will be sure to have heard of 'im!'' The barkeep laughed, with a deep, low howl.
Sebastian threaded his way northward, until Molloy sightings became more recent. The last reports, however, were growing more dim. The barkeep would report in a low, sad hushed voice of the decline of his health. He'd liked his wine and women a bit TOO much, it seemed. Finally, one knew of the sad hovel of a inn where he was resting.
Smells of old booze rotting in neglected dirty glasses assaulted his nose, as he came up the walkway. Sebastian began to feel rather fearful, but he was determined. A horrible sight greeted him when he'd reached Andy's door. A red nosed, but yellow faced man with hideous swelled ankles greeted him. The smell of stale beer on his lips was revolting. ''Come here, boy! I can't see too well these days!'' And he led him to a filthy chair, pulling a few empty bottles off of it, before letting Sebastian sit there. He faced him on another equally filthy chair. ''Who'd you say who were? Son of Rachel? Oh, I remember sweet Rachel! She was the sweetest thing in my life . . . My life's not been so sweet now. The doctors tell me I should leave off the drink, but I got the hardest time doing so. With the blindess and the tremors, I got to have something to get my mind off of it. But tell me about yourself. You're a tall thing, ain't you?''
Realizing his true father couldn't even see well enough to know his true height scared him. ''Syphilis and bad liver due to the drinking, my God, he's a fright! Would this have been my future if I had continued with the wine and women? I can't give up the women, I can't. But, I thank my lucky curse I can't be tempted with the wine anymore!'' Sebastian thought as he trembled with fear. He gave a detailed report of his past, allowing some descriptions of the women he'd loved. Andy shouldn't judge him on that account.
''Ya likes yer ladies, ya does! You got that from me, ya know!'' Andy laughed. ''So I've heard the reports, as I've went about, searching for you!'' Sebastian tried to sound cheerful. Poor Andy wasn't long for this world. He was glad he'd gotten curious enough to see him in time. Maybe that's what woke him a few days ago. He had been given the message just in time. They talked for a good while, then Andy had to beg off, ''I'm getting weary. I tire so easy this days. It's hell gettin' old!'' Sebastian queried cautiously, ''How old are you?''
The swollen, yellow man took a sip out of a bottle of beer, and then grunted, ''Forty eight! It's hard to believe, ain't it?'' And then he made a small choking sound as he coughed. Sebastian's eyes bulged wide with terror, as he thought, ''Only forty eight? And he looks like THAT? Hard to believe, indeed!'' He gave an uneasy laugh, and then agreed with the poor man. He gave the pathetic man a perfunctory hug, and then left him to get his rest. ''Not long for this world, indeed! Only forty eight!''
Sebastian got back on his horse and headed south to the next town. He would report to his Mother all he'd learned. He was grateful she'd been kept safe from all the effects of Andy's ruination. He was never so wide eyed sober as he was now. He knew, if it were not for his 'curse', he would have ended up like his father. He knew it. He knew he'd always been too tempted by the easy anesthesia of wine. He would try in the future, to be more judicious in the pursuit of women, as well. He knew he couldn't resist that temptation, but he'd try to be careful.