The Last Day of Isaac Martin

Dear Readers; If you’ve been following these last posts along, you know that they are all a part of a novel in progress, one part of which has to do with the story of Isaac Martin who lived in the early part of the 20th century.  In the last post we left good old Isaac with his wife, princess Rebecca, in the sylvan paradise of Henley Creek.  That day was a good day for old Isaac and his new wife.  But it was his last day.  This is my meditation on the passing of Mr Martin.  Thanks for reading.  Ed.

 

The fate of men is a great mystery.  

No one sees or understands the day or the hour of his own passing or of the passing of men, like Isaac Martin, who might have been great men.  There were those who were sure of the destiny of Isaac Martin. Foremost of whom was Countess Bertha Von Suttner. In all her prescience and wisdom, this woman who saw beforehand the coming war; who saw that her nation, this thousand-year-old empire, would perish in its flames; who had discerned perfectly the sin of her people, that they had abandoned the God who created the cosmos and has defeated the lesser and the evil spirits they call gods; who so profoundly urged repentance on those in her nation who had worshiped the god of war; she saw in Martin a new hope.  This man, she believed, had all that was needed to save her beloved niece, princess Rebecca, from the horror and impoverishment that surely awaited them all in the old country. He carried destiny on his shoulders like a light and momentary trouble. She had hoped for, yet had never before seen, a man like this who rode the current as it served and never cowered or erred. She believed that her niece was safe, more than safe, with him; that as Isaac Martin’s wife she would inherit the abundant life for which she was surely born; the life she was equipped to fulfill.

Likewise, all the men who depended on Martin for their livelihoods – the men in the great cities with whom he traded the bounty of the earth and who changed that bounty – the timber and the minerals – into ever spreading wealth that lifted the lives of every citizen – and the men who worked for Martin; men who would have otherwise spent short lives eking out subsistence on thirty acres and who under Martin’s supervision were now building cities and their own homes and fortunes within those cities.

All these good people were confident in Isaac Martin.  He was the man in whom ability and opportunity met. There would be no end to his industry and influence, they believed.

But the fates of men are a great mystery.  Even the fates of men, like Isaac Martin, who might have been great men, no one foresees, no one understands.

Isaac Martin had met good fortune at every turn.  He had begun an empire of hope and prosperity that might have borne rich harvests, year upon year, long after the long life that all presumed he would lead.  He had found and married the last jewel of the Austrian Empire and in her he would have not only the desire of his heart, but a lasting house and a home of unparalleled dignity and charity.  Every sign, every bit of evidence pointed his way.

And on this sunny Monday, June 2, 1913, as he lay with his beloved beneath the fragrant evergreens and listened to the clear stream laugh as it rushed over the stones and as his body relaxed in the first mild warmth of summer, Isaac Martin felt his own good fortune: the health in his still-young bones; the rapturous beauty of the princess beside him; the promise of unending and multiplying returns on his endeavors in the city and the town.

But the fates of men are a mystery.

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