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Across the Ocean

1. The Birthday Present


The Lewis family had just finished eating their dinner.


Mr. Lewis said, “Larry and Lisa, before we tell you where we are going for your birthday this summer, Grandpa would like to give you both a special birthday present. He asked if we could come over to his house this evening for a short time. I told him we would come over about 8 o’clock.”


Larry said with great excitement, “What is Grandpa going to give us? I can hardly wait! Actually, I’m about ready to explode!“


Lisa said, “Come on, Mom and Dad, you have to give us a clue.”


Mrs. Lewis responded, “We are not saying anything. We want you to be surprised.“


Lisa said, “So, you do know what the surprise is, right?“


Mr. Lewis said, “Kids, it’s not going to work! We are not going to tell you what the gift is, and we are not even going to give you a clue, so stop asking.”


It was about 7 PM. The family was sitting in the family room. Larry started staring at the clock on the wall.


Lisa said to Larry, “If you are going to just sit there staring at the clock, you will go crazy.”


Larry said, “I am going to watch the clock, so that we won’t be late.“


While they were waiting, Mr. and Mrs. Lewis watched the TV. Lisa went into her room by herself. Larry just kept staring at the clock.




It was almost 8 o’clock. Grandpa’s house was just down the street from where the Lewis family lived. It would only take them a few minutes to get there.


All of a sudden, Larry said, “OK! We need to go now! We don’t want to be late!“


Mr. Lewis said, “It’s not like a doctor’s appointment. If we’re a few minutes late, Grandpa will still give you your birthday gift.“


As the Lewis family arrived on Grandpa’s front porch, Larry rang the doorbell. And then he rang the doorbell again, because he was extremely impatient.


Mr. Lewis said, “Larry, I’m sure Grandpa heard the doorbell. Give him a couple of minutes.”


When Grandpa opened the front door, Larry and Lisa started dancing around and making a lot of noise.


Grandpa said, “You better get in the house before the whole neighborhood gets upset with all this ruckus.”


Grandpa led the Lewis family into his living room.


Larry was always a very observant and curious boy. No one could pass anything by him.


Larry said to Grandpa, “I don’t ever remember seeing that picture of a castle hanging on the wall over there. When did you put that up?“


Mrs. Lewis said, “Larry, let Grandpa tell you what he wants to tell you.”


Larry said, “Tell me!? I thought Grandpa was going to give us a birthday gift.”


Mr. Lewis said, “Larry, you’re going to have to calm down and be more respectable. Grandpa invited us over.”


Larry said, “I am very sorry, Grandpa. I am almost seven years old now. I need to act like a young man, and not some silly little kid.”


Lisa said, “I think you’re going to be a lot older than seven before you stop acting like a silly little kid.“


Mrs. Lewis said, “That’s enough, Lisa.”


Grandpa said, “OK. It’s time for me to make my presentation.”


Grandpa got up and went over to where the picture of a castle was hanging on the wall. He picked something up off the floor underneath the picture. He was surprised that Larry didn’t see that, too.


Larry said, “Grandpa, is that a rock?!”


Grandpa responded, “Actually, it’s a very special rock that has a piece notched out of it. This was part of an old castle that was knocked down. A new castle was built in place of it about 400 years ago. This picture on the wall is the new castle. You’re probably wondering why I’m drawing your attention to it? The original owner of this castle was one of my ancestors.“


Lisa said, “Before Larry says anything, I would just like to say ‘thank you’, Grandpa. This is very exciting.”


Larry said, “Yes, Grandpa. That’s a very nice castle. Where is it?“


Grandpa said, “This castle is in Scotland. Do you know where Scotland is?”


Larry said, “I think so. It is on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean from us.“


Grandpa said, “You’re right, Larry. Do you think it would be interesting to visit this castle?“


Larry said, “Sure! I’ve never been to a castle before. And one in Scotland would be really cool. But how are you going to get there? It probably would take a lot of money. And what would you do when you got there? Just look at the old castle?”


Grandpa responded, “Very good lead in, Larry. I just want to let you know that some of the people who own castles in Scotland have renovated them. They look very authentic from the outside. But they have some sections of the castle that they have made into something like a hotel suite on the inside. A person can actually go over there and stay in the castle for a little while. There are a lot of really interesting things to do at the castle and in the little town close by.”


Lisa said, “Oh, Grandpa, that would be really exciting. When are you planning to go there? Take some pictures and videos. And show them to us when you get back. Is that our gift?“


Grandpa said, “Oh, no! Is that really what you wanted? I have a different gift for you. And I think you’re going to like it even better.”


Larry said, “Better? What could be better than that?”


Grandpa said, “My gift to you, Larry and Lisa, and your parents, is to go with me to the castle.“


Larry usually has no problem figuring what to say. And he has no problem with just saying it, whether it’s appropriate or not. But Larry was speechless.


Lisa finally said, “Grandpa, that is a really nice gift to bring us to the castle. I have no idea how expensive it would be. But I think maybe it might be too much for you to bring our whole family with you.”


Mr. Lewis interrupted, “Lisa, you’re absolutely right. This would be a very expensive trip for all five of us to go. And for Grandpa to pay for the whole thing himself. But he has something else he wants to tell you that’s also exciting.“


Grandpa said, “Since I already told you the story about my family, including my son and his best friend, you will understand what I’m about to tell you, now. My son‘s best friend really was Alex. I mean, that is his real name. My son died when he was ten. But when Alex grew up, he became an author. He has written several books and he’s doing very well. He decided to write a book specifically about his adventures with my son. When I went to the candy store recently, I ran into him and he told me that he was planning to contact me. He received an advance for this new book. He’s going to share some of that with me. He wanted to do something for his best friend’s family. The amount of money that he is going to give me for the sales of this new book is more than enough to cover the expense for all of us to go to Scotland, and stay in my ancestor’s castle.”


Grandpa pointed to the picture of the castle on the wall, again.


Larry said, “Oh, Grandpa. That is so exciting! And Alex being so generous!”


Mrs. Lewis added, “And it was very difficult for us to not tell our kids anything until we got here.“


Grandpa said, “I know this is a lot for you all to take in, in such a short period of time. There is still a few more weeks before we go. Larry and Lisa, you’re really going to have a lot of fun when you get to the castle. They have horse races. They have cattle. They have sheep that you can talk to. I’m not sure if they’ll talk back or not. And there are a few other things that I have planned while we’re there. And yes, we will be staying inside the castle while we’re there.”


Mr. Lewis said, “Thanks again, Grandpa. We really appreciate your generosity. I guess we better get going. We’ll be talking to you about the trip.“


As the Lewis family walked back to their house, Larry and Lisa were in a daze. Their parents were amazed that their children were able to walk that far without saying a single word.

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