The Return Of The Prodigal Son (The Chadwick Saga - Part 1)

Submitted into Contest #64 in response to: Set your story in a Gothic manor house.... view prompt

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Drama Suspense

Sarah ran from room to room, frantically, searching for her child, with tears streaming down her face. Her long auburn hair, soaking wet, hung loose about her shoulders. Her pale skin glistening in the candlelight she was holding. Her long blue satin dress dripping with water, clung to her slender form. The sound of her son crying had woken her up in the middle of the night. When she went to check on him, she found, to her horror, an empty crib.


The storm was still raging outside. The rain coming down in torrents. The wind howling like an invisible monster with the occasional clap of thunder, which illuminated the hallway as she ran searching for Jamie, whose cries were echoing through the hallway. “Where are you my darling? Where has he taken you?” She called out in anguish. “What have you done to my boy you monster, answer me!” She screamed into the darkness. 


A few years ago.........


Thomas Chadwick was the master of Chadwick Manor, which stood on a hill overlooking the sea on one side and a landscape on the other, stretching for miles. The manor, Thomas's pride and joy, was built by his grandfather when his business flourished years ago.


Thomas Chadwick had made Frank, his youngest son, sole heir to the Chadwick fortune, which did not sit well with his oldest son Marcus. It was a bitter pill to swallow. He never forgave his father for what he called the “ultimate betrayal.” He had sworn to exact revenge on both of them, seething with anger, his emerald green eyes glowing in the candle lights burning in the study.


Marcus Chadwick was a force to be reckoned with, unlike his younger brother he was sly and ruthless. A master manipulator. Everyone in the town feared him. He had no empathy, no respect for anyone. Marcus was six years older than Frank. They were opposites, both in character and in appearance. His oldest son was the spitting image of himself, tall and ruggedly handsome, well built, with ebony hair and the same green eyes, while Frank resembled his mother, with sandy blonde hair and light blue eyes, equally handsome, with a good physique.


Thomas gazed at the portrait of his late wife who had died giving birth to his youngest son, and said, “Oh! Martha where did I go wrong with Marcus? I gave them everything they asked for, loved them both equally. Yet Marcus has always resented me, resented his brother, for the life of me, I don't know why!” he continued still looking at his wife's portrait, “I had no other choice, I had to chose Frank over him, for the sake of the family, for the sake of the business. Tell me I did the right thing, please tell me” he said, as he cried out in anguish.


Neither Thomas nor Frank ever heard from Marcus again, he disappeared into the night without so much as a whisper, until one day he suddenly reappeared at the doorstep on the day of Frank's wedding to Sarah Williamson, whom he had been engaged to, for several months. He claimed to have had a change of heart and begged them to forgive him and let him back into the fold. 


His father however, was skeptical, he didn't quite believe that his oldest son had changed. But he decided to give Marcus a chance at the behest of Frank and Sarah, his soon to be daughter-in-law. He was not about to deny her anything, beautiful Sarah, he loved her like a daughter, so he finally agreed to forgive Marcus and welcome him back into the family.


Several months later........


Sarah had given birth to their first baby, a boy. They named him Jamison Arthur Chadwick. Jamison after Thomas’s father and Arthur after her father, who had died two year ago due to a long illness, she never knew her mother who had abandoned both her and her father when she was a baby. 

As she gazed into the tiny face of her new born son, her mind drifted to the past. She did not come from wealthy and accomplished stock like the Chadwicks. Her father had been Thomas's legal advisor before he fell ill and had to go into an early retirement. He had been poor and had come up in life the hard way, her mother Alice, she learned had been a school teacher at the local school before she ran away with a traveling salesman, leaving her husband to take care of the baby all by himself. 


She went to the same local school, as the Chadwick boys. She did not associate with them in the beginning as she was somewhat intimidated by them, especially Marcus, there was something so dangerous, almost diabolical about his demeanour toward others, which was frightening. As for Frank, he was the quiet type, kind, considerate and friendly. They became friends gradually, which annoyed Marcus terribly.  


These were the same qualities that attracted her to him years later as an adult, as well as his handsome good looks and great physique. She had been a little nervous at first when Frank started to pay attention to her romantically. She was a teacher by then just like her mother had been, year's ago, teaching at the same school. The Chadwicks were one of the prominent and wealthy families in town. Almost all of the wealthy and not so wealthy young ladies were after them or at least after their money. But Frank chose her.


              ....................


Frank stood at the entrance to the nursery looking at his beautiful wife, who was totally unaware that he was standing there watching her nursing their baby. He considered himself to be the luckiest man, to have been able to win her heart before anyone else.


She was the most beautiful girl in town, tall and slender, pale skin with long auburn hair and brown eyes. She was different from the rest, kind and thoughtful unlike some of the rich uppity girls his brother opted to waste his time with. Sure, he told himself, there were plenty of other girls who came after him but he only had eyes for Sarah, who in turn was sought after by other eligible young men in town. But he was the one who swept her off her feet in the end. 


Frank had grown up happy and content in the life that his father had provided for him and his brother. He admired, respected and loved his father very much. After his mother’s death he had been both a father and a mother to the two of them. He was away most of the time on business, but whenever he was with them he had given them his undivided attention.


His was brought back from his reverie by the clearing of a throat, he saw his wife standing near the baby's basinet, looking at him with a playful yet accusatory look in her eyes with her hands clasped behind her back in a typical school teacher fashion as if she was disciplining one of her students.


“What are you doing hovering around in the hallway Mr. Chadwick?" She asked playfully. He walked in to the nursery with his eyes downcast, embarrassed that his beloved wife had caught him spying on her. “Oh, I was busy gazing at my beautiful wife who I believe, was equally busy day dreaming” he replied with a smile. “Tell me my darling, is it me that you were day dreaming about?” he asked. Sarah gave him a teasing look as she walked past him, as she reached the doorway she turned back and replied, “Of course not, I was day dreaming about this handsome sailor I met last week, while on a walk in the park with Gertrude!” She bolted down the hallway with trails of laughter as her husband chased after her.


             .....................


Marcus stood at the terrace shuddering with disgust at the thought of his brother being married to that no good school teacher. What did she bring into the family? Nothing, except give birth to a creature who howled all day and night. Frank could have done better, he could have married into a wealthy family like theirs, instead he chose her, that gold digger! Not only did she mange to ensnare his gullible little brother, she had his father wrapped around her little finger too, “The miserable little wench!” He muttered under his breath.


He expected nothing less from her, considering the kind of woman her mother was, running off with a man while being married to another. He knew her kind so well. He had been with a few like her, himself. Slithering her way into his little brother's life like a snake. It wasn't a complete shock to him, when he read the announcement of their engagement in the papers.


            .......................


Their wealth came from whiskey and tobacco. His grandfather had started the business and his father had developed it into a thriving enterprise, which fell on Thomas's shoulders upon his passing. He was busy travelling, so involved in the business that he did not get married until he was well into his mid thirties. He had been courting Martha for nearly two years, until she lost her patience and threatened to end the relationship. 


Thomas chuckled to himself remembering the look on her beautiful face, the woman was feisty and relentless, which is why he fell in love with her in the first place. Martha came from a wealthy family, which satisfied his father very much. She was accomplished, well mannered and kind hearted, which were some of the traits his younger son inherited from her. In some way, Sarah reminded him of his late wife. His daughter-in-law had that same feisty spirit, which is why he came to love her.


His thoughts drifted to his new born grandson as he stood at the edge of the cliff looking out into the ocean. The Chadwick line was secure, with him at the helm, and Frank waiting in the wings. He had total confidence that Frank will show Jamie how the business is run once he comes of age, which gave him a sense of relief as he continued to gaze at the sun, setting in the horizon.


October 16, 2020 19:05

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60 comments

Philip Ebuluofor
09:40 Oct 22, 2020

Well written piece. You seen to know how to organise very thing perfectly. I am learning.

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Melissa Hassan
12:31 Oct 22, 2020

Thank you.😊

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