It was a few years later, and Izzy thought he was dying. Again. We were mostly grown by then. You see, Izzy was getting feeble, and his eyesight was fading. Esse was out raiding. He swore that he’d bring himself home a wife this time. Izzy told Becca to call Esse off from his ‘hunting’ so he could provide his father’s blessing and patrimony, ‘for his eldest’. Something he never had from his father, old Idol-Hunter, if I recall that tale a rightly.
Becca told me, and then folded her arms, as if waiting for something.
“What will he do with it?” I asked.
“Waste it. Throw a big party for his band of ‘friends’,” she said. “You know your brother as well as I do.”
“Better,” she added, after a second.
“But—” I started.
“But nothing. If you had half an ounce of brains and the balls of a conie, you’d get into Izzy’s tent right now and do what you need to do, to preserve this family.”
Becca had a brusque way of speaking. I still miss her.
“But he is hairy and I am smooth. I have bathed and he never does. Izzy will know as soon as I walk in there that it is not Esse before him. And Esse will kill me if I even try, after he finds out.”
“And you and I will starve this winter if you don’t try. I have a coarse hair rug I was making. Put it on. He can’t see hardly at all any more.”
I put it on and bound it around my chest with some threads. I went in to Izzy’s bedside. I said, “Father, I am here.”
“Who comes to me?” he asked.
“Your eldest son.” It was true, in a way.
“You sound like Jake,” he said, coughing.
“I think I caught a cold from hunting in the rain,” I said.
“Let me feel your hairy chest,” he ordered.
I let him feel. Then he gave me his blessing, the word of patrimony. And I ran out into the night, weeping and cursing myself.