What follows is a section from the upcoming book. It’s a conversation between Isaac Martin – a fictional creature and one of the main characters in the book – and Bertha Von Suttner, who is a real, historical figure and is here fictionalized to play a role in one of the story’s romances. I’ve written it so that Von Suttner is the aunt and primary guardian of princess Rebecca (not sure of a last name for her, yet) and it is to Von Suttner – and to Rebecca’s father – that Martin must make his case (Remember, this all takes place in 1910 or thereabouts and we are dealing with European aristocracy.) It’s presented here, as it was recently written, in two parts. This is the second part of the fateful conversation. If you haven’t read the first yet, just click back one post on this blog. By the way, I’m encouraged that these sections from the book are getting a pretty wide readership. A couple of them have been translated into French and appear in a French on-line magazine. Ed.
Mr. Martin, as certain as I am this this world of mine is about to end; as sure as I am that we have signed our own death warrant; I am every bit as certain that there is much here that is worth saving and that is in danger of being lost in the flood waters that are at our very door.
I would save all that I see, if I were able. Martin responded.
No. That is not possible and not even desirable. For too long we have been worshipping the wrong god and that lust has carried us down the wrong road in every aspect of life. Our art is false in glorifying battle; our music has taken on the tone of marches; our architecture is that of the conqueror; we race for the bigger and grander and we have forgotten ratio and proportion and beauty. We are too far gone, and we shall soon be judged. But there was once something here that held together. Something that came before the wars; something that created the nation and that allowed us to flourish for nearly a thousand years.
What can I save? What would you have me try to save?
First and foremost, you must save Rebecca. Her father and I have seen the decadence around her and we have undertaken to educate her outside of the common conventions that now hold sway. She knows the Bible and the Greek and Roman poets. She knows the history of our race. Her tastes and desires are attuned to the highest ideals. In some way you already know these things. This is why she has captivated you. Have you not thought – have you not said to others – that she is unlike any other woman you have ever met. You must save her and that means that she must be given a life that allows her to prosper; that allows all that is in her soul to flourish. By saving her in this way you may preserve and even continue all that has been good and great in our culture. She must go with you to America, but she can never be a common housewife. She must have position and means and opportunity and society. She must be surrounded by beauty. Is this too much to ask of you?
These were the words that inspired the building of Maple Hill. Before