Revere Beach by Suzanne

Word Count 3,261

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He’d always liked watching the waves. When he was a child, Nanny Aldridge would bring him down here. “You’ve been a good boy, Master Scott. I think you deserve a treat. What say we go down to Revere Beach?”

She was a wise woman, Nanny Aldridge. There was no better place to take a restless child. He’d play on the beach for hours, collecting shells and building sandcastles. Only he’d never admit to her that it wasn’t actually a castle he’d built. Far, far away, was a land you travelled through in a covered wagon, where you’d find chunks of gold in river beds and men on horseback with long moustaches and wild hair; and there were Indians and buffaloes and all manner of things that were as far away from Boston as princesses in castles surrounded by moats.

“That’s a fine castle you’ve built, Master Scott,” Nanny would say. “All it needs is a flag.” And she’d go off on her stout legs and find a stick and a piece of seaweed. Bless her, he never had the heart to tell Nanny it was a ranch house, not a castle. And the shells clustered together were cows in the paddocks, not knights on horseback.

Who knew—of all the times he’d been here—that this was the best time of day to be on Revere beach? He’d watched the sun slowly make its way above the horizon. It glowed a golden yellow, then the rays reached out and tinged the clouds with a splash of colour that was so vivid they looked to be on fire. Above the orange and red, the pale blue of the sky was beginning to show but a crop of dark clouds had splattered across the blue, almost like a black lace overlay. Why had he never been here at dawn before?

Red at night, sailors delight. Red at morning, sailors warning.

He used to imagine his father lived across the sea. Probably because Grandfather told him it would take many months to travel to California, and the seas would be rough and deep and cold.

“Would there be pirates?”

“It’s a dangerous world, Scotty. There might be.”

“But my mother went there.”

“And she died there.” That was always his sombre reply. Grandfather would poke out his bottom lip and his mouth would draw down and somehow that made it hard to keep asking about the man who came from another country and carried his mother off to a place where Mexicans lived. “She died a lonely death, Scotty—giving birth to you.”

Nanny Aldridge was always quick to point out that it wasn’t Scott’s fault that his mother had died, whenever Scott spoke of it. Which wasn’t very often. But he’d lay awake at night and stare at the ceiling and just wonder…and wonder…and wonder…until he decided he was too old to be wondering and it was time to put Murdoch Lancers and dying mothers, out of his mind.

Until tonight.

The first oddity had been hearing the name after all these years. It was almost an unwritten law that his name was never mentioned in the house.

“Scott Lancer? Son of Murdoch Lancer?”

The gentleman, well, he clearly wasn’t a gentleman, not in that badly cut suit, had virtually popped out of the bushes. No, now he came to think of it, Scott was the one who’d been in the bushes.

“So I’m told. Never met the gentleman myself.”

That was his usual line whenever anyone asked. He’d learned to keep his answer short—with just the right amount of polite hostility that would deter an inquisitive soul from enquiring further.

The Pinkerton man wasn’t easily put off—but then, he was paid to be assertive.

“Your father wants to see you. And he’s ready to pay for it. All expenses to California—and a thousand dollars for one hour of his time.”

The whole event seemed preposterous now. Almost as nonsensical as building a ranch house in the sand, believing that one day, his father would send for him to come. 

“So you live with your grandfather?” they’d ask him at school. “But where’s your real home?” 

“Where’s yours?”

That usually worked. Grandfather had told him answering a question with a question could get you out of most sticky situations.

“’Scuse me, sir. Will you be much longer?”

Scott turned around. The cab driver had been pacing up and down, probably to stay warm in that thin jacket he wore. He’d now come onto the hard sand where Scott stood. Damn the man.

“I’m paying you handsomely for your trouble aren’t I?”

“Begging yer pardon, sir. I was just a’wondering, that’s all.”

Scott squinted at the man. “And what do you think I’d be worth, if you were paying me for my time?”

“I don’t quite understand, sir.”

“A thousand dollars? For one hour of my time? Does that sound reasonable to you?”

The driver took off his cap and scratched his head. “I don’t rightly know, sir. What exactly is it that you’d be doing?”

“My good man, I haven’t the faintest idea.”

The man looked completely befuddled. Well, he’d take pity on him. “Go and sit in the cab. You can throw my cape about yourself.”

The driver clearly thought he’d lost his mind. And who could blame him? After meeting the Pinkerton man, Scott had hailed the cab to take him home—there was that word again. But when he’d pulled up at Grandfather’s house, he just couldn’t go in. Not that Grandfather would be awake this time of day but Scott’s thoughts were all over the place. On the one hand, the Pinkerton man had said the very words Scott had longed for when he was a child. On the other hand, he felt almost guilty that he’d even stopped to hear what the Pink had to say.

“Revere Beach,” he’d snapped instead, through the trap door.

“What sir? This time o’night?” He could hear the dismay in the driver’s voice. “Why, it’s over five miles from ‘ere, sir.”

“I’ll pay you triple your usual fare.”

“Right you are, sir,” was the prompt reply. Then Scott heard a chuckle. “For that price, I’d ride into hell itself.” 

So, here he was, in his dress clothes, watching the sun come up over the water and wondering what the devil he was meant to make of all this. It all seemed too ludicrous for words. Why on earth would Murdoch Lancer send for him now? 

He took a few more steps along the sand. The tide was on the turn. Rushes of water were starting to make their way up the beach.

It was a long trip to California. Oh yes, he knew exactly how long. It had been some years, but he’d traced his exact route. Of course, he wouldn’t be travelling by covered wagon, and he very much doubted he’d have to pack flour, bacon, coffee and other sundry items, as prescribed in ‘The Emigrant’s Guide to Oregon and California.’ Grandfather didn’t like books about California but Scott just couldn’t seem to help himself. But that was a long time ago. The war had drummed all that nonsense out of him. He was a Bostonian and his legacy was here. And he had his grandfather to thank for the life he’d had. No-one else. Certainly not Murdoch—.

“Watch out, sir.”

Too late. The icy cold of the water made him jump back but the goose was cooked by that time. The wave had drenched his shoes, not to mention the hem of his trousers. He gave the driver a wave to say thanks. The man nodded with a bemused look on his face and was it any wonder? He was probably wondering if Scott should be locked up in an asylum. How many other men were standing on the beach in suit and tails and…he even had the red carnation still in his button hole.

He shook his foot. His dress shoes were now covered in sand and the water had seeped into his socks. Well, he wouldn’t be needing dress shoes in—.

Good God. He yanked the flower out and tossed it into the sea. As if Murdoch Lancer could bribe him to go to California for a thousand dollars! Yes, it was a tidy sum but was that all he was worth? Was that the going rate for a son you’ve ignored for twenty-four years?

“Well, I think not, Murdoch Lancer. I damn well think not.”

“Did you say something, sir?” the driver called down.

“No.”

“Do you think you should go ‘ome now, sir? I don’t like the look o’ that sky.” There was a hint of concern in the old man’s voice.

Scott looked up. He was right. The hint of grey-blue that had been there before was now a deep grey. Scott walked up the beach, closer to the man.

“Are you a sailor, perhaps?”

The grin was broad. “Aye, I was at that, Captain. In a past life. Before my missus made me settle down. But this pretty gal is my darlin’ now and I’ll not be going to sea no more.” He ran his hand down the mare’s nose, then let it nuzzle his hand.

It seemed rude to ask what had happened to ‘the missus’. Instead he said, “Is there a storm coming?”

“Oh, aye, Captain. There’s always a storm coming somewhere.” And he crossed himself, not once, but twice.

Seafaring men were a superstitious lot. He’d seen the horse-shoes they nailed to their masts and you had only to spend an evening at the hotel to hear their stories of strange signs at sea.

The poor driver was cupping his hands and blowing on them, now. Well, maybe the sky was an omen and it was telling Scott it was time to go. The grizzled face looked relieved in the dawn light as Scott got into the cab.

“Yer might be needing this, sir.” The driver handed him a thick blanket before closing the wooden doors over his legs and feet. It was a bit humbling; the driver had stood in the cold for who knew how long waiting for Scott and not once had he jumped in the cab and wrapped the rug about himself. Scott settled down into the seat. Thankfully, he’d chosen a cab with a glass window. Now that he was wet, he didn’t want to be chilled to the bone by the wind as well.

The driver mounted up behind on his seat and with a flick of his reins, the pretty filly started off.

It had been quite a while since he’d been up at dawn. Grandfather decreed a gentleman shouldn’t arise before eight. Anything earlier was uncivilised. Clearly, the other road users they hadn’t heard his decree; certainly not the travellers in carriages nor the farmers headed to market with their wagons of fruit and vegetables. 

All the same, the morning was dreary. It was probably going to rain. It rained a lot in Boston. And always when you were about to leave the house. And you’d find yourself ducking between awnings and porticos and trying to avoid the pointy end of numerous umbrellas…

California.

California was warm and sunny. That’s what the advertisements said.

Would Murdoch Lancer have a long moustache and carry a pair of pistols on his hips?

Perhaps he wore a kilt? He was Scottish after all. So strange. His only link to his father all these years had been his name—Scott for a Scot. It had been an embarrassment at school. Their fathers had been lawyers and politicians and writers and erudite men of learning like Grandfather. None knew anything of Scotland, other than having read Rob Roy. Indeed, when Scott first read it, he’d dreamed four nights in a row of a burly red-headed Murdoch Lancer as a kilt wearing fiend, with a sword and shield.

He nestled himself further into the corner. His eyes were feeling heavy now.  As to his thoughts…they were like tiny shreds of ripped paper, scattered by the wind, in a thousand different directions, and he didn’t have the strength to gather them up again. It was probably that last glass of champagne he’d had with the lovely Barbara.

On the whole, California sounded like a damned uncomfortable place—and he’d had enough of discomfort to last a lifetime, hadn’t he?

Yes, he most definitely had.

And he’d never been particularly fond of cows. Not that he knew many. 

What a well sprung carriage this was. The fields, then the houses, were racing by…

“We’re here, sir. Sir?”

It took a while, but eventually he realised the voice from above was the driver speaking to him through the trap door near the rear of the roof. He took out his watch. Thank heavens, it was only seven. Grandfather would be still asleep. The last thing Scott wanted to do was face a barrage of questions as to why he was out all night. Grandfather turned a blind eye to a lot of things but he expected Scott to be home and ready for work on a weekday. 

He grabbed his cloak and cane and hat. Had the soirée been only the evening before?

He paid the driver through the hatch then waited for him to release the wooden doors.

“Thank you, Captain, thank you, kindly, sir.”

At least the delight in the old man’s voice was a positive note in a very strange, discordant, start to his day. Or was it the finish to the end of a long night? Either way, he was glad he’d made the driver happy.

Scott had just alighted from the cab and was about to put a weary, and rather soggy foot, on the first step of the house, when another cab pulled up in front. How odd. Why would grandfather be receiving visitors this hour of the morning? He put his top hat on, rather jauntily if he said so himself. If he was going to be the talk of the town, thanks to one of Grandfathers gossipy cronies, then he might as well look his best for the inevitable telling. Well, Martha, I was on my way to see Harlan Garrett, when who do you think I saw returning home at a most disrespectful hour!

“Scott. Oh, thank heavens. Scott.”

Good Lord. It couldn’t be. “Barbara?” And now she was all but tumbling from the carriage. All those gold curly locks were certainly tumbling. He looked at her. He felt fuzzy. “Barbara.” For once he was at a loss for words. This must have been the storm the driver had talked about. Or one of those bad omens.

Speaking of bad omens—if Grandfather should see her—! 

In Grandfather’s book, you didn’t dally with the daughter of one of your major clients. He had a point. Pity Scott didn’t realise that until she’d turned up on his doorstep.

“Oh, Scott. It’s been dreadful.”

He darted a look at the windows. The front ones were still in darkness which meant so far, no-one had come into the parlour to light the fires. “Barbara, has something happened?” He was all innocence and hopefully sounded kindly concerned—in a most brotherly fashion.

“It’s my father, Scott. He suspects.”

“Suspects what exactly?”

She came up close to him, no doubt to the interest of the cab driver who’d deposited her here.

“About us,” she whispered. “Oh, Scott. Can’t we tell him?”

An extremely large hole was suddenly yawning in front of him. Or perhaps a lit canon was more likely? “Tell him?”

“About us, of course.”

There was a park across the way. With trees. And grass. And thankfully, no-one walking there as yet. He took her by the arm. “I think we need to talk.”

“Exactly, that’s what I’ve been saying.”

He led her across the road, making sure they were behind the trees that would shield them from the house. “I thought you understood,” he began.

“I’m sure my father will be more understanding about last night when he knows I was with you. He likes you, Scott. He always has.”

“That’s wonderful, Barbara but…”

“But what, Scott?”

He could see the first inklings in her eyes that all wasn’t as she imagined it to be between them. And it had been her imagination. He’d never said anything to her that would warrant this type of misunderstanding. Surely not. They were both adults. She’d enjoyed a dalliance with other men. He knew that for a fact. At least, he thought he did—.

Good God, what if she really was an innocent? He’d never been in the business of breaking hearts. That’s not what he intended at all.

“Scott?” 

The pleading tone was unmistakable. She was going to be crushed, there was no doubt about it. And it was his fault.

“Barbara…the thing is…” He took both her hands. It was usually safer that way. “Barbara…” And he didn’t know where the thought came from but it was as if all those scattered pieces of paper had somehow joined together and formed words. Words that came out of his mouth. “I had some news after I left you. Bad news. Possibly.”

“Oh no, Scott. Not your grandfather?”

“My grandfather? No, no, it’s not my grandfather.”

“Then, what is it?”

“Barbara. I’m sorry. Truly. But I’m leaving for California.”

“What!” She stepped back but he tried to keep a grip on her hands.

“My father has written to me and I’ll be leaving for California. On the morrow.”

At any other time, he’d be flattered by the effect his words had on her and he’d sweep her into his arms. If her father hadn’t arrived home early, he would have—would have possibly not met the Pinkerton man, now he came to think of it.

“You’d leave me for a man you’ve never even met before?” Tears were starting to gather in her eyes. He was no fiend. He never meant to do this to her.

“I’m sorry, Barbara but this is something I have to do.” 

He’d been slapped in the face before but he had to hand it to Barbara, hers was one of the better ones. The strange thing was, it brought about the first moment of clarity he’d had since the Pinkerton man had shown up; he’d actually told her the truth. It turned out, going to California—to meet his father, of all people—really was something he just had to do.

“I hate you, Scott Lancer. And it’s my sincere hope that I never see you again. I hope…I hope you go West and get trampled by a herd of buffalo.”

His billfold was empty by the time he’d paid off the second cab and sent Barbara home, again.

It was only when he once again placed his soggy shoe on the first step leading to Grandfather’s house, that the truth of what he’d told her truly hit him.

He looked up at the glossy black door with the shiny brass knocker that had entranced him as a child, and rubbed his cheek. Hopefully Grandfather’s reaction would be less violent.

Benson let him in, with the same kind smile he’d given Scott since he was old enough to remember.

“Mr Scott. You’re home sir.”

Scott stopped on the threshold. Home? Perhaps.

But then again, perhaps not? 

He handed Benson his cape and cane as he walked inside.

Only time would tell.

THE END
June 2022

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12 thoughts on “Revere Beach by Suzanne

  1. Great Scott story. You gave an excellent excuse for Scott to come to California. I loved his thoughts on going to see his father for the first time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Patricia, well, the Scott we saw in Boston didn’t appear to be someone interested in making the very uncomfortable trip to California, so I figured he must have had a reason for leaving – or perhaps a little prod in the right direction would be more accurate. Thanks so much for the feedback! It means a lot to me. 🙂

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    1. Hi Caterina, lovely to hear you enjoyed this short story. It’s fun to wonder why Scott chose to go to Lancer, isn’t it. Ah yes, the very patient cab driver – at least he was well paid, lol! Thanks so much, I always appreciate hearing from you!

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  2. Poor Barbara her attempt to lure Scott into marriage foiled, the invitation gave Scott a perfect reason to go to California and meet his father, something he deep down needed to do. I can just imagine her saying she hoped he got trampled by a herd of buffalo.

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    1. Hi Moo11ey, yes, clearly the lovely Barbara was more smitten with Scott, than he was of her – and I felt that Scott possibly needed a little prodding to to make such a profound decision to leave Boston. Hee, that line about the buffaloes was a favourite of mine! 🙂 Thanks so much for the feedback!

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  3. Suzanne, I enjoyed having this bit of insight into Scott’s head as he decided to go to California. That little interlude with Barbara and her father bursting in must have added to his reasons to leave. I like how you handled the events that led up to his decision to leave Boston and go to California. Thanks for a lovely story.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Sherry, it’s a pity we didn’t see more of ‘man about town’ Scott in the series, isn’t it. He didn’t appear nearly as honorable as the Scott we saw in the series! We both enjoy writing stories based on the episodes don’t we. It was fun weaving plot points from the pilot into Scott’s thoughts on his decision to leave Boston, in this short story. So lovely to hear from you! Thanks so much. 🙂

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    1. Thanks so much for taking the time to let me know you enjoyed this story, Tina. Much appreciated! 🙂

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    1. The writers didn’t give us any inkling as to why Scott would leave the comforts of Boston. With Johnny, it was easy to understand. I actually didn’t start out having Barbara turn up like that, but as so often happens when writing, somehow Barbara showed up on the scene and I think she gave Scott the excuse he was actually looking for. So lovely to hear from you! Thanks so much. 🙂

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