Love Eternal

Love Eternal

LOVE ETERNAL H. RIDER HAGGARD CHAPTER I HONEST JOHN More than thirty years ago two atoms of the eternal Energy sped forth from the heart of it which we call God and incarnated themselves in the human shapes that were destined to hold them for a while as vases hold perfumes or goblets wine or as sparks of everlasting radium inhabit the bowels of the rock. Perhaps these two atoms or essences or monads indestructible did but repeat an adventure or many many adventures. Perhaps again and again they had proceeded from that Home august and imperishable on certain mornings of the days of Time to return thither at noon or nightfall laden with the fruits of gained experience. So at least one of them seemed to tell the other before all was done and that other came to believe. If so over what fields did they roam throughout the aeons they who having no end could have no beginning? Not those of this world only we may be sure. It is so small and there are so many others millions upon millions of them and such an infinite variety of knowledge is needed to shape the soul of man even though it remain as yet imperfect and but a shadow of what it shall be. Godfrey Knight was born the first six months later she followed (her name was Isobel Blake) as though to search for him or because whither he went thither she must come that being her doom and his. Their circumstances or rather those of their parents were very different but as it chanced the houses in which they dwelt stood scarcely three hundred yards apart. Between the rivers Blackwater and Crouch in Essex is a great stretch of land flat for the most part and rather dreary which however to judge from what they have left us our ancestors thought of much importance because of its situation its trade and the corn it grew. So it came about that they built great houses there and reared beautiful abbeys and churches for the welfare of their souls. Amongst these not very far from the coast is that of Monk's Acre still a beautiful fane though they be but few that worship there to-day. The old Abbey house adjacent is now the rectory. It has been greatly altered and the outbuildings are shut up or used as granaries and so forth by arrangement with a neighbouring farmer. Still its grey walls contain some fine but rather unfurnished chambers reputed by the vulgar to be haunted. It was for this reason so says tradition that the son of the original grantee of Monk's Acre Abbey who bought it for a small sum from Henry VIII at the Dissolution of the Monasteries turned the Abbey house into a rectory and went himself to dwell in another known as Hawk's Hall situate on the bank of the little stream of that name Hawk's Creek it is called which finds its way to the Blackwater. Parsons he said were better fitted to deal with ghosts than laymen especially if the said laymen had dispossessed the originals of the ghosts of their earthly heritage. The ancient Hawk's Hall a timber building of the sort common in Essex as some of its premises still show has long since disappeared. About the beginning of the Victorian era a fish-merchant of the name of Brown erected on its site a commodious comfortable but particularly hideous mansion of white brick where he dwelt in affluence in the midst of the large estate that had once belonged to the monks. An attempt to corner herrings or something of the sort brought this worthy or unworthy tradesman to disaster and the Hall was leased to a Harwich smack-owner of the name of Blake a shrewd person whose origin was humble. He had one son named John of whom he was determined to "make a gentleman." With this view John was sent to a good public school and to college. But of him nothing could make a gentleman because true gentility and his nature were far apart. He remained notwithstanding all his advantages a cunning and in his way an able man of business like his father before him. For the rest he was big florid and presentable with the bluff and hearty manner which sometimes distinguishes a /faux bonhomme/. "Honest John" they called him in the neighbourhood a soubriquet which was of service to him in many ways. Suddenly Honest John's father died leaving him well off though not so rich as he would have liked to be. At first he thought of leaving Hawk's Hall and going to live at Harwich where most of his business interests were. But remembering that the occupation of it gave him a certain standing in the county whereas in Harwich he would have been only a superior tradesman he gave up the idea. It was replaced by another--to marry well. Now John Blake was not an idealist nor in any sense romantic; therefore from marriage he expected little. He did not even ask that his wife should be good-looking knowing that any aspirations which he had towards beauty could be satisfied otherwise. Nor did he seek money being well aware that he could make this for himself. What he desired were birth and associations. After a little waiting he found exactly what he wanted. A certain Lord Lynfield from the South of England who lived in London and was a director of many Boards took a pheasant-shooting in the neighbourhood of Hawk's Hall and with it a house. Here he lived ...