Three years later........
Jamie had just turned three, he is growing up fast. Sarah couldn't stop smiling as she watched her baby boy running around in the garden next to the pond, which was his favourite spot. He is the spitting image of his father, except he had her nose and chin.
His doting grandpa had thrown him a grand party with lots of presents to last a lifetime. “He knows how to spoil a child,” she said to herself.
Thomas had been more excited than her son, behaving like a child, having fun running around playing with all the kids at the party, much to the amazement and delight of their other grown-up guests. Everyone who was invited was there, except Marcus, who had excused himself from the festivities saying he had an important errand to run in the neighbouring town. He was gone for two days.
Marcus returned after two days laden with gifts for his little nephew. Jamie was delighted to see his uncle again after an absence of two days.
Marcus was making steady progress. He had a plan, and he had to gain everyone’s trust for it to work. He felt that despite his father's tough exterior, he is starting to mellow a little as he has been spending a lot of time bonding with the wretched little thing. He had no problem with his younger brother, as he foolishly thought they could work together. Frank was making all the decisions now that their father had taken a step back letting his youngest son take care of the business and the running of the estate, with him acting as his lapdog.
He didn't even bother with Sarah, he knew just how to handle her when the time came. “Yes, all I have to do is play the part of the dutiful son, the loving brother, the doting uncle for a little while longer and I can crush the whole damn lot of them!”
He recalled the promise he made to them the night he stormed out of the house and away from this wretched town “I will make them pay, I will make them suffer as they have made me suffer if it's the last thing I do!” he screamed, glaring into the mirror, burning with rage.
Two weeks later........
Frank was planning to go away on business for a few days, Sarah insisted that she and Jamie should join him, much to her husband's surprise. “why, my darling, are you feeling bored?” He asked her teasingly. Sarah turned slightly red at his comment.
“No, I am not bored. I think it will be a good idea for the three of us to get away for a few days. It's been a while. we haven't gone anywhere together ever since the honeymoon. Besides, it will be good for Jamie, oh! darling please say yes,” she pleaded.
Frank sighed and finally gave in to his wife’s pleadings.
They set off on a glorious summer morning. To Sarah's delight Gertrude, her best friend, agreed to accompany them as she had an aunt living in the city where Frank is having the business meeting.
Reluctantly Thomas bid them farewell and send them off on their way. He didn't like the idea of not seeing his grandson even for a while. “Papa, we'd be gone only for a few days, it won't be forever, you will see your grandson soon enough!." Frank yelled as the coach started to pull away.
Marcus was watching the entire spectacle from his bedroom window. “So long, Frankie boy,” he said watching the coach disappear through the trees and out of sight.
His plan was in motion. It began with him arranging this business trip for his brother. His wife and son joining him were a bonus. With the three of them out of the way, things will be much easier. Tomorrow he will talk his father into going out riding with him.
The next morning at breakfast Marcus engaged his father in some pleasant conversation, talking about how the business is going and pretending to give his younger brother credit for his smooth running of things. Thomas was surprised to hear his oldest son paying his younger brother a compliment. “Maybe he has truly changed," he told himself.
Marcus interrupted his father's thoughts by asking whether he would like to come out riding with him.
“Sure why not? I'll join you. It’ll do both of us a lot of good to get some exercise and spend some time together. I’ll meet you down at the stables son” he said as he got up to leave.
“Yes, one of us will be getting much more than some good exercise," Marcus muttered under his breath.
An hour later they set off on their way, Thomas on his favourite horse. A brown Mare called “Chestnut” and Marcus riding on his pride and joy “Shadow" a beautiful black stallion. They started at a slow pace trotting along through the grounds of their vast estate with thick growths of woods inhabited by wild animals such as rabbits and foxes. Which they hunted from time to time. But, this morning, he was on a slightly different hunting expedition.
Marcus kicked his horse into a gallop, which took his father by surprise. He quickly followed suit, setting Chestnut off sprinting across the fields. Up ahead, he saw Marcus disappear through the trees and out of sight. By the time he neared the thicket his son was nowhere to be seen, he called out, “Marcus!, Marcus! Where are you son?” He received no answer.
Thomas dismounted and started down the footpath through the woods.
He was halfway through when he heard a noise behind him, he turned and saw his son, pistol in hand pointed directly at him.
He called out saying,” Son what are you doing?”
Marcus replied, “what I should have done years ago when you passed me over for that good for nothing pathetic excuse for a brother! Did you think that I was going to just stand by and watch him take over what is rightfully mine? I should be the one running the business. I should be Master of this estate, not Frank!” He practically growled, his anger rising as he cocked the pistol and took aim, with his finger on the trigger.
Thomas took a step back, as Marcus stepped forward, in total control. His father pleaded with him to see reason. But Marcus was not prepared to heed his pleas. He pulled the trigger and shot him, twice in the chest without hesitation. When the shots rang out Chestnut bolted neighing loudly.
He walked over to where his father lay, bleeding from the chest, to make sure that he’s dead.
The deed was done. He quickly ran to where he left Shadow tethered to a tree, untied him and mounted and galloped in full speed toward the Manor. As he passed the pond he threw his pistol in, getting rid of the murder weapon once and for all.
As he neared the stables he called out to one of the stable boys saying, “quick, the Master has been shot. I need someone to fetch the doctor. He's out there in the woods. Please hurry!”
The stable boy mounted a horse and sped to fetch the doctor as ordered. But deep down Marcus new that no doctor could help his father now. He made sure of that. “One down, three to go,” he muttered to himself with a satisfied grin as he galloped towards the woods again.
A week later.........
It has been a week since he buried his father. Frank couldn't believe he's gone. His father was no more. The whole town was in shock and mourning as his father was well-loved by the community. They had just finished lunch at the hotel when he received a cable from Marcus informing him of his father's demise.
They had reached home early the next morning. Jamie hadn't stopped crying. He missed his grandpa dearly. His poor darling Sarah was beside herself.
The Police had come to the Manor to question Marcus who told them that it was a poacher who shot his father.
“My father and I decided to race each other. I took off ahead of him and was leading. Sometime after I slowed down and turned back to realise that he was no longer behind me. I turned my horse around and started back, in search of him. As I neared the woods, I heard gunshots. I had a near collision with Chestnut as she galloped past me spooked by the noise, almost knocking me and my horse over.”
Marcus continued, “I quickly dismounted and ran into the woods to where the shots came from only to find a haggard middle-aged man with a pistol in his hand standing over my father who was lying on the ground. The moment he heard me approaching he took off, I pursued him for some distance but lost him somewhere deep in the woods.
The Sergeant believed that his father may have run into the poacher who panicked because he was out there trespassing and poaching illegally on his father's property and shot him accidentally.
This puzzled Frank, "why would the poacher shoot his father twice?" he said to himself. Somehow it didn't make sense.
“But, why was he shot twice?” he directed the question at the sergeant.
“Maybe once he recognised your father, he may have panicked and shot him a second time,” replied the inspector.
Frank started to have doubts about Marcus’s story, so he asked the Sergeant to have the weapons in the estate checked thoroughly, to which the sergeant agreed and set about doing so.
Marcus expected this. He knew his brother will come to suspect him and not buy the poacher story. That's why he purchased an extra pistol, which now lay at the bottom of the pond. His other pistol was safely in its case unused. This is the one he produced for inspection, while his bedroom was being subjected to a thorough search. They didn't find anything as he had taken the trouble to dispose of all incriminating evidence well before the search.
Frank was duly informed by the Sergeant that his brother’s weapon was examined and that they had found no evidence whatsoever that it had been fired lately. That it couldn’t be the murder weapon as the bullets found on his father didn't match the calibre of bullets used for the type of pistol Marcus possessed. Which cleared him of all suspicions much to his relief.
The police have combed the woods and the surrounding areas looking for the alleged poacher or any evidence relating to the shooting on the day of the incident, but they haven’t been able to find anything or anyone.
Marcus went into the study. Walked over to the liquor cabinet and poured himself a celebratory drink.
“So far so good,” he said, as he raised the glass in triumph.