A Chance

This is my first time participating in the Story A Day challenge. We’ll see how it goes!

Story #01 for Story A Day Challenge May 2016

01 A Chance s

A Chance

It had taken Francis almost a year to get the money for the voyage, stealing bits and baubles from around the manor. He tried to minimize the risk of getting found out by selling them only in places where his father’s name had no hold. Unfortunately, that also meant he got a lower price for the items. When something was discovered as missing, his parents blamed the servants.

Charles, the oldest brother, almost caught him once. Francis lied about the reason the crystal vase was gone, saying he broke it and asking Charles not to expose his secret. The lie wasn’t the problem, it was asking for the favor of a secret that started Charles to suspect something was amiss. There was no bond between Charles and his youngest brother, Francis, and Charles wasn’t stupid. If Francis was asking for something from him, Charles knew there was more to the story. From then on, Francis made sure he stayed out of Charles’ sight as much as possible. That really wasn’t much of a problem, as Charles was spending more time with their father when he attended court.

That had been Charles’ path from the beginning, as the eldest, the heir, as was tradition. Tradition led the second and third sons to their vocations as well: a military appointment and the priesthood. But as the fourth son, tradition would extend none of those advantages to Francis. He would inherit nothing, and his father would lay out no money for additional military or religious posts. His future would always depend on Charles’ generosity. When their father wasn’t around, Charles had made it clear he had no plans to share anything with anyone. Francis would be a pauper for all of his life, surrounded by prosperity he couldn’t touch.

This did not suit Francis at all.

So now it was time. The winds were favorable for the ships and they would soon be leaving England for the colonies. All his planning and efforts were to this end: passage to America. He didn’t know anyone there, wasn’t related to anyone. He’d be on his own with no turning back. That was a better future than living under Charles’ thumb, Francis thought. At least he’d have a chance.

His last theft from the manor was Charles’ shoe buckles, fancy with gold, silver, and gems; some from Italy. This time Francis sold them in the market in town and even hinted to the merchant who might be interested in buying them for a high price. He wanted Charles to have to pay to get them back, knowing Francis had stolen them.


That was a long time ago and Francis kept this story to himself. He thought about it a little more often now, as he rocked his grandson to sleep. After he became a father, he looked back, wishing he had left his parents a note to explain his leaving. That was his one regret. He wondered if Charles made up some frightful story in revenge, causing their mother heartache, making her cry even harder. He’d never know.

He was weary now, Francis was, old and gray. He didn’t live in a stone manor, didn’t have servants, tapestries, crystal vases, or a canopied bed. But he’d made a living, a good enough one in the colonies. All he ever wanted – and needed – was a chance. He readied himself for bed and looked forward to playing with his grandchildren in the morning.

The origin for this story came from my research into my family history. I found that one of my ancestors, Francis Gresham, left England and came to America sometime around 1750. I wondered what his reason was for leaving his home.

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