Chapter 1 1900 He would always remember the weather that day. By nightfall, the rain that had started that morning was still whirling across the little town in New Jersey that lay on the brink of the Atlantic Ocean. You could imagine yourself, Adam thought, on a pirate ship with Long John Silver, sailing through high seas on the way to Treasure Island. Meanwhile, you were safe in the kitchen at the supper table next to the coal stove. "Have some more stew, Adam. You must be tired after helping Pa in the store all afternoon." That was Rachel, whom Pa had married after Adam's mother died. She was good to him, and he was fond of her, but he did wish that she wouldn't always be urging him to eat. Pa laughed. "Such a typical Jewish mother, stuffing the children with food. He's not tired. He's a strong man. In three days he'll be thirteen, a man of the new century. Nineteen hundred, Adam! How do you feel about that?" Right now the only thing he felt was relief that the afternoon was over. He was finished with baskets and boxes and bags, loaded with just about everything a human being might ever want to put in his stomach: coffee, sugar, whiskey, and tea, carrots, potatoes, cookies and toffee candy; loaded too with the things men and women wear, the breeches, corsets, fichus, neckties, aprons, and galoshes. One thing was sure, though; one thing he knew. He was not going to follow his father and work in the store when he grew up. Maybe one of the other boys would be willing, but not he. They were odd little brothers--half brothers--different from him, and so different from each other that Adam had to wonder what makes people who they are. What makes Jonathan, at four, so bright and happy that Adam really doesn't mind having to watch over him occasionally? What made Leo, at nine, such a nuisance, with his fresh mouth and temper tantrums that sometimes make you wish a stranger would come along and adopt him? Still, you have to feel sorry for him, poor kid. With a face shaped like an egg, a long curve at the top where the forehead seems to bulge, and almost no chin at the bottom. He's too short and too fat. He always stands alone in the schoolyard. His only friend is Bobby Nishikawa, whose family owns the Japanese restaurant called Fugi on Main Street. Leo's too shy, too smart, and too clumsy. I've tried and tried to show him how to play ball, Adam thought, but I've given up. He only gets angry at me. All of a sudden, Leo interrupted his thoughts. "Adam's a bastard! Did you all know Adam's a bastard?" Rachel's and Pa's coffee cups clattered onto their saucers. "What?" Rachel exclaimed. "What in heaven's name are you saying, Leo?" "Nasty," Pa scolded. "Decent people don't talk like that." "Yes, they do. I heard them." Leo, now the center of attention, hurried along with his story. "They said it at the basketball game in the gym. Those two men behind me said it. When Adam put the ball in the basket and won the game, one said, 'It's too bad he's a bastard, a smart, good-looking boy like that.' I heard him, Pa." "Ridiculous! He ought to be ashamed of himself, whoever he is." Was I seven in second grade, or maybe only six in first grade, when a big fifth-grader told one of her friends that Adam Arnring was a bastard? The way the word was spoken, and the laughing expression on her face told him that it was a shameful thing she was calling him--shameful like throwing up in the schoolyard, as he had done one day. "I'm not!" he had protested. "Yes, you are. Our neighbor told my mother. I heard her." "Absolutely not," Pa had said. "That's nonsense. Don't even think about it." So he had not thought about it. How was it, though, that he so clearly remembered it now? "YPlain, Belva is the author of 'Sight of the Stars' with ISBN 9780385336833 and ISBN 0385336837.