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The Gift by Bryan M. Litfin

The Gift by Bryan M. Litfin

Author:Bryan M. Litfin [Bryan M. Litfin]
Language: eng
Format: epub
ISBN: 978-1-4335-2519-3
Publisher: Crossway
Published: 2010-06-14T16:00:00+00:00


CHAPTER

9

It was a pleasant spring morning. Count Federco Borromo sat on the terrace of his lakeside palace, nibbling figs from a bowl. Of course, every day at Greater Lake was pleasant. The climate here was mild in both summer and winter, and the variety of plant life provided a lush environment that was excellent for gardening. The count’s lavish estate boasted a diverse array of flowers, shrubs, and trees, all of which thrived in the temperate setting. On this sunny morning the winds flowed off the northern peaks and ruffled the water’s surface. Later they would switch directions and blow from the plains in the south. It always happened like that. Having attained a state of near perfection, everything in this paradise was notoriously reluctant to change.

Count Federco had arrived at his palace only a week earlier. Though he had enjoyed his extended wintertime visit to Likuria with all its glitz and glamour, he felt glad to be home. The servants who stayed behind had taken good care of the place under the watchful eye of the majordomo. Still, having the lord of the manor back on the premises would tighten up operations even more.

The voice of a servant girl interrupted the count’s thoughts. “Good morning, m’lord,” she said with a submissive nod of her head. She was a heavyset lass of childbearing years, no doubt nursing an infant of her own in addition to the baby she held on her hip. “I’ve brought the boy as you instructed. He just ate. Quite an eater, that one.”

“Very good. Give him to me and leave us.”

Count Federco took the squirming child in his arms, cuddling him awkwardly until he realized what the little fellow really wanted was to be set down. As soon as Count Federco released him, the baby scooted across the terrace and began to investigate the base of a large urn. The boy’s hair was a shock of black curls that Count Federco knew hadn’t come from him. The boy had received that hair from his mother, Benita, who had died almost a year ago after a long and arduous childbirth. Though the silky curls were his mother’s gift, the other trait with which Federco’s son had been born was a curse: the blotchy port-wine stain that covered the left side of his face. Because of this blemish, the boy would be raised as a slave—never to leave the estate, never to inherit, never to be acknowledged as the beloved son he was. Though a few palace servants knew the truth, everyone else would assume the little Defective running around in their midst was just a deformed slave. Only the boy’s name might have suggested otherwise to those who gave it some thought. Count Federco had named his son Benito after his cherished wife, who was now in the arms of Deus.

The count stroked his mustache as he watched the inquisitive Benito explore the vast universe of the patio. The baby crawled around the flagstones, reveling in his newfound freedom.



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