An Odd Legacy
“And last do I bequeath to my youngest daughter the contents of the box found on my office roll top desk. It is approximately one foot long, eight inches wide, and four inches tall. It is covered with oriental carving.” Said the barrister in the same somber tone he had been using the entire time he pronounced the will.
Amber’s father’s estate was not very large, but it was large enough to require a will, executor, and formal reading. More people arrived to hear it than she had imagined. It was true, in life her father was well liked and had many acquaintances, but not so many that she expected this. There was even the mayor of the small town of Dinsburg where her father lived. The reading went more-or-less in the manner she expected with a few surprises. The eldest, her brother, maintained control of the family business, a vast factory that manufactured industrial glass items. Her eldest sister and her husband received their family home, and her middle sister the contents other than the furniture. This showed her father’s off-set sense of humor. He knew that each would have items the other wanted and that there would be a long bit of arguing before they settled equitably. He used to say that their arguments were akin to reading a combination of the sports section of the newspaper and the part that spoke about international politics. They would bob and weave, throw punches and dodge. All the while negotiating over what appeared to be nothing at all. Finally they would announce the winner. This many precious heirlooms would take years to squabble over, providing plenty of entertainment for all who observed.
There was the not uncommon allotment of funds to the houseman, cook, and personal secretary. Some bit about the executor settling bills before distributing any money and that he had already been paid. And then there was her gift. She had been mostly absent the last years of her father’s life, checking in occasionally from whichever port or country she was currently visiting. She paid for her own travel by working at each post of call and rarely asked for anything nor expected anything now. Her father enjoyed her stories of her travel or the people at each destination. He especially enjoyed the recounting of the traditions, myths, and history of each place. Her sisters, saying always that the youngest was more favored, insisted that their father was financing her wanderings. They were more than startled to see that there was nothing, anywhere in the books, to say he was. She had not even taken any of her allowance. They would insist that she do that now. Amber had asked a few things from the estate, the contents of her bedroom and her father’s grand roll top desk. These things were willingly agreed upon even before the will was read. Amber mourned the fact that it would mean she must take up a small apartment or cottage to put them in, but they were worth it. She had found the perfect cottage that sat out in the country but within bicycle or walking distance of a small village. There she could obtain what she needed for daily life. The one bedroom home was just large enough for her furniture, a sitting chair by the fire, and a small dining table. She would find it comfortable.
The box. What an odd legacy. It was some type of pale wood, carved with what she thought was Western Chinese figures. Once in a while there would be an accent of what looked like gold. The box was oddly warn, as if it was carried for many miles in some past lifetime. She had seen it in a nook of the large desk, but had never thought to ask her father what it was. It was her only gift. Everyone had expected a small fund, perhaps enough to serve her retirement, but not just a box. With her family and the executor standing about while finding the best place to observe, she slowly slid off the lid. The box was lined with some worn red silk. It carefully cradled an ivory pen with carvings, an ink bottle, ink well, and some paper that had been used for blotting. A shaker whose contents of fine sand were nearly gone completed the set. After everyone got a look at the contents and deemed them trivial, she slid the lid closed and prepared to leave. The barrister had a paper for her to sign acknowledging the receipt of her inheritance and she asked that he arranged a cab to carry her home.
A legacy grows
The light shown bright at the small cottage as Amber hung her coat on the peg behind the door. She wandered to the desk where she again slid open the box to wonder. Taking out the items she arranged them on the desktop in the manner that a left-handed person would need and sat down in the imposing chair. Picking up the pen she pretended to write. Setting the pen back down she looked again in the box, spying the corner of a folded paper in the pocket that ran along the length. Carefully she extracted it to see that it was a letter from her father that was dated more than a year ago.
“Amberly, by now you have likely been given this treasure, probably at the event of my demise. It is the last reminder of a part of my life that has been all but forgotten. You see, I like you spent the great part of my youth traveling. Each place I visited along the way I would write the stories of my journey to my mother which were enjoyed by all. It was in India that I acquired this beautiful pen set and its box. It was with this that I wrote my installments. I had a leather bag that the box and paper rode in, it was never far from my side. I traveled about seven years then got word of my father’s death and the need for me to return to assume his duties with the plant. So I returned home, placing this much loved and much used box in its place in what had been my father’s (and his father before him) desk. So, here it is for you as well. I hope that my passing won’t interrupt your own travels too long. Please continue to write, sending any copy to my barrister as he will hold them safe until you return. With my greatest love, your father.”
Folding the paper back up and returning it to the box, she stared for a moment at the pen. A new understanding and value graced them. Smiling, she turned to her bedroom. A new life was about to begin.
[Someday I will become inspired again and finish this. For now I hope you find it as delightful to read as I do L.A.M.]