Rufus squinted into the distance and wondered when the day would come to an end. His father’s estate was vast and he was charged with overseeing all the servants. As a young boy, he had dreamt of travelling and living the life of a merchant; seeing different cities and meeting new people. Dreams that came to a sudden halt when Toby, his younger brother had left.
“You must be mad!” Rufus had told Toby with an incredulous look “Papa will disown you!”
“There’s a whole life for me to live out there” Toby responded with more determination than Rufus had ever seen him have his entire life. His brother was stubborn and had caused their parents considerable stress growing up. However, it was usually nothing they couldn’t blame on hormones and boyish excitement. But this! This was extreme even for a wild child like Toby. To ask your father for your inheritance was akin to wishing him dead. Was he seeking to dishonor the entire family name?
Rufus was shaken back to the present when he heard excited murmurs among the workers of the field. They all went quiet abruptly as soon as he approached. Rufus was a diligent worker. His father’s estate was his entire life. He was also known as a no nonsense man who had a tendency to rule with an iron hand. He continued towards the house when he noticed more workers leaving the fields. There were still about three hours left to sunset.
“Abu!” Rufus called to one of the servants “Why are you heading out at this time?”
“Your father has sent for everyone to get back to the house, master” the servant responded.
Rufus rushed to the house thinking it strange that his father did that. He usually left all matters up to him. He hadn’t been the same since Toby had left. Every morning he sat in the front yard facing the road that led into the city.
“Maybe today will be the day” he always mumbled to himself.
Rufus thought the old man had lost his mind. Why couldn’t he just consider Toby dead and move on with his life? Why was he letting him bring him this much grief even in his absence? Rufus braced himself for the worst. He was afraid the day he had been dreading since the night Toby had dishonored their father had arrived.
As he approached the house, Rufus was confused with what he heard. Music and laughter coming from the house.
“What is going on?” he asked the first servant he found.
“Your brother is back” the servant said cheerfully “and your father has ordered that the fatted calf be killed for him.”
Rufus looked into the house just in time to witness his father put a ring on Toby’s hand and embrace him excitedly. He felt tears burning in his eyes and stormed off towards the fields.
“Did you see how the master ran towards him?”
“I thought he had finally lost it”
On any other day, he would have chided the servants for what appeared to be careless gossip and freely disrespecting their master. On any other day, he would be focused on being the good son. The one who would bring joy back to his father’s eyes. That day wasn’t today.
“Rufus! Rufus!” he heard his father call after him, “come celebrate with us Rufus for this your brother was dead but now he lives again. He was lost but now he is found!”
“Why, Papa?” Rufus cried making no attempt to keep his voice down, “This fool wasted your wealth with prostitutes and has caused you nothing but grief and yet you killed the fatted cow for him. Yet I, even after remaining and being loyal to you, have never been given a goat to celebrate with my friends!”
His father’s face fell and he moved towards him with open arms.
“My son” the father said tenderly, “all that I have is yours. You can celebrate all day if you want. You are my son.”
All original illustrations by SketchKlanUG