The story you are reading is fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are fictitious and purely for your reading pleasure. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, events, or locality is entirely coincidental.
I hope you enjoy this story. If you do, please let me know. I write to give something back for the pleasure I've had from reading stories online.
I give little credence to people who think that wealth and a good education are what make people who they are. Education is a must, but as so many people will tell you, all types of learning are not an essential part of living. I don't see a person as good or bad with or without an education. Their IQ is usually the part where the recipient decides I am better than any of my acquaintances. People will also tell you to not let your heart rule your head. But if that is the case, when is the right time for the opposite? I think most adults would agree that having a heart and soul is what makes us who we are. Religion doesn't necessitate the right to having a soul, being human does. If having a heart means 'kindness and goodwill', then Christmas goodwill should be something we do even before the holiday arrives.
The house was once a hive of activity. Guests arriving and departing would be a constant reminder of how important the residents were in society at the time. The residence was situated on a remote island way out in the Pacific. The island was rich in greenery and subject to nature's best or worst - as the weather determined. As time went by, the loss of hereditary children, prospective wives for prospective boys led to the decline of the estate. The house and grounds no longer had the beauty that it had once readily possessed. Pathways that were adorned with lawns on either side and flowers of every colour and scent were now long since incapable of being used by foot without great difficulty. The house itself was crumbling with decay, the years and weather had left their mark.
Somewhere in the realms of history, an ambitious man once ruled the house with an iron fist. Families were hired as nothing more than slaves to do the man's bidding. The men worked in the fields while the women slaved away in the house cooking and cleaning. Even so, their work was non-the-less any easier than the men's. Duties that people would find distasteful were given to the children, slopping out the outhouse was the least favourite. Children that worked were paid badly, if at all. Families relying on such income perished quickly. But one soul was destined to end his days, yet continue living in the house that he knew as the house of fears.
The man's riches afforded him luxury most people could never attain in a lifetime. As his riches grew, the man became even more of a tyrant. The luxuries he couldn't afford were the riches of the heart. Those were of little consequence to a man who had everything - if only in material wealth. Even though married, his wife bore only one child. Young David was born on the 12th of June in the year 1881. He was a special child from the moment he came into the world. He was smothered in the luxuries only wealth can provide. But it seems all the wealth in the world could not provide his father with what he desperately lacked... compassion.
David was never going to have a head for business or the skills of his father, which of course eventually led to his suffering. Young David had what his father lacked... a soul, a heart. David's heart was made of pure gold. How can a child so young be a prodigy with no other cause but to help. His unlimited kindness spread to residents and staff alike. Children were his kindred spirits. Children of the island showed no fear of him, their helper, but were wholly terrified of their benefactor, his father. Edward Hartman was a hard man, a devious man, who took every penny he could make by hook or crook and stored it away from prying eyes. Inner treasures are what set us aside from the animals, not wealth, as he found out to his cost.
Over time he chiselled away at his son with words and actions that bore deep into the child, until everything that was his son was gone. David resisted, but was lost against the constant cruelty. Eventually David succumbed to his father's hate, giving up his right to life. One month away from his tenth birthday, David was found hanged in the same house that should have been his protection. The day and year would live long in the memory of all.
Rumours of David's death quickly spread. News also got around of the way the man treated his son, his own flesh and blood. He was ostracised by the very people he deemed friends and colleagues. Slowly the man lost his wealth and sanity. People on all corners of the Island knew of David. Children themselves mourned the death of David, who they considered one of their own. David was now forever in the hearts of the people. David was buried by the people. Plagued by atrocities, never again would this small island have cause to be a home. This is where the story would end, but no, the story goes on with new beginnings.
In the year 1999 a young man of tender years was flying back from what was going to be his final business trip when he noticed the island hiding between two larger islands. Deciding to take a closer look, he made a second pass over the island. What can only be described as an experience. Paradise was the solitary word that came to mind to describe what he was looking at. Its beauty was breathtaking. He was surprised that the island wasn't occupied. There were many small islands that were spread across the Pacific, Australasia being one of them. The island was remote, but the size of a small village in rural England. A trip on his boat was definitely planned within the next few days.
It had been a long day, so after he had freshened up and eaten, he found sleep calling very loudly. Friday after sleeping in late, tea and breakfast were welcomed. The weekend was approaching and he wanted all of his paperwork finished before then, so the rest of the day was spent finalising contracts, investments, and shares.
Saturday morning was the usual routine, shower, tea, and breakfast. He walked to his private harbour staring out to sea. His home being on a remote island in the Oceanias regions that he'd bought through a private auction. The house was built just below a rock face. Fresh water, no bills, with what you could mistake as a hotel was a private residence. Own swimming pool, if it was too cold for the ocean, private airstrip and harbour, which moored an 80ft cruiser.
The sea was calm, the weather was in the nineties as usual, perfect for sailing. He approached the island slowly as the islands had hidden dangers with the coral and rocks. He dropped anchor and dropped the dinghy in the water. He approached the island cautiously. On shore he marvelled at what he was seeing. What he had seen from a distance didn't do the island justice. He wandered up the now eradicated pathways overgrown with weeds, limbs from trees spread almost everywhere. The house stood with stature ahead. He ventured up to the house, walking outside the building, examining all the destruction and deterioration. This house was built for gentry, it shouted regal and class. Even though the house was run-down, near to dilapidation, he saw in his mind's eye it being restored back to its former glory. He had to have this place, what he thought as a realm of beauty. The man was a loner with no need for likes of company, unless the choice was not his own. The man, John T. Wright, was a man of means, but he possessed more than wealth, he had a heart for humanity. Even as he lived a loner's lifestyle, he still gave considerable amounts of his wealth to various charities... hospitals, hostels... but the main one being the underprivileged, be it adult or child. Looking back once more, he made his way back to the boat and his home in New Zealand. John was born to the world on July 21st 1966 in Leigh, in the North of England, UK. His wealth stemmed from his father, who through three decades owned and managed many cotton mills in and around Lancashire. In the early 70's his father could see that his industry was coming to an end, so he sold all his businesses and properties to his competitors. Having a good head for business, he had now secured his families future for years to come.
After the loss of his family, John, being thrifty, invested in computers. Investing in companies such as Atari and Commodore. Income wasn't great but paying dividends. In 1980 IBM were going into the market with its personal home computer. They contacted Microsoft to supply the operating system. John, in his wisdom, waded in with a small investment. Probably with more luck than good judgement, his investments started to pay dividends. In 1985 Microsoft launched its own retail software, Windows [OS2], which was used in all IBM PC's. The partnership between Microsoft and IBM ended in 1991. During the nineties, personal computers were starting to take off in the UK. He invested heavily. In 1994 he added to his shares with IBM and purchased shares in Microsoft, spreading his investments out. Cashing them in before litigations against Microsoft in 1998. His timing was perfect and it paid off generously. Even though shares did increase after the litigation, he was still over and above where he expected to be with his finances. Not counting the monies he'd inherited, he was worth in the region of 50 million dollars.
He moored his boat at the harbour in what was his vast property. Entering his home, his live in housekeeper Mary, who he called his second mother, brought him tea with the promise that sandwiches would be prepared. He went into the study to call Jack Osbourne, his lawyer. He had set his heart on the island, he had to have it.
"Hello, Mr. Wright, what can I do for you?"
"Hello to you, Jack," with a chuckle at the formality he was given.
"I have seen a property that I would love to own. Well, actually it's an island. He gave Jack the coordinates, then went on to explain about the house and grounds, giving further details of the island itself, also the three cottages that adjoined the house. He thought about Mary having a home of her own. She fussed over him as a mother would a child. Often remarking that he should find himself a nice woman to keep him company for when his days of being a young man were over. He often snickered at how she, as a mother, would try to get him hitched. As he would say, "If Grandchildren are what you are looking for, then I must disappoint." John wasn't against children, just with his way of life he didn't think a woman could live with him, even if married.
"Are you still there, John?" It seemed he was having one of his many daydreams.
"Sorry, Jack. Will you find out who owns and has the upkeep to the island and house?"
"Well I must say, John, this has to be one of the easiest assignments you have ever given me. The property belonged to a Mr. Edward Hartman. The island itself has been vacant nigh on a 100 years. Edward Hartman died in 1899, he had considerable wealth. His heir I believe, David Hartman, died 1891. The truth be told the father was a cruel man. The property is owned, or was owned by a former client, an Entrepreneur, and not a very good one at that. It had been vacant for some time before a second cousin removed on his wife's side came forward to claim the estate. The cousin sold it to my former client, who at this moment in time is serving a long stretch, 'a very long stretch' in prison for fraud and corruption. I can't see any reason why they his creditors would want to keep hold of it as it stands. I'll enquire and get back to you about current ownership, but I warn you, they'll probably want a hefty price. I'll ring you tomorrow. Bye, my friend," then click.
The house was draughty and cold. The windows were intact, but the frames didn't hold the same fate. The house, although furnished, was dusty to the point that any movement rendered the inside of the house clouded to the point of being unable to see clearly. Cobwebs adorned every piece of furniture. The ceilings and walls were black with mold and damp. What seemed like strands of pure silk hung from ceiling to floor. The grand entrance and lobby with its marble floors were covered to every entrance with plaster and masonry which had crumbled from the ceilings and walls. The kitchen was still furnished with all the cookware of its day, all corroded badly.
The dining room still had the parched dining table and the full oak shelving for the finest dinner service. Long since had the crockery been removed, the same fate befalling all the wonderful literature that once filled the bookcases in the study that spread over three walls, floor to ceiling. The upstairs only fared a little better. The master bedroom had been stripped of all its treasures. The beds in every room were in a state of dilapidation. What was once young David's room held little to show that it had once been a child's bedroom at all.
David was concerned at how the house had deteriorated, and if it would ever see life again. David you might ask? David was left within the fabric of the house. David had not gone to his final resting. In wisdom it was said that the child be given the chance of the life that had been taken away from him so cruelly. David was alone apart from his memories of his time in the house. His legacy would be retrieved if by good fortune the house was ever re-occupied.
David, as in life, was getting disheartened. He would, as in life, walk around the island and take in its beauty. Depression sometimes forced him to wander no farther than the attic. There he would stand on the balcony, where a passageway led all around the house. His passion had always been for the sea. As in life, he would take to the balcony and slowly make his way round the house looking out over the ocean, which as in life, brought calmness to his very soul. At times the ocean was rough and demanding, but the beauty was still alive.
He had seen the intruder stride around the house and cottages and had wished so much that he could greet him, but David knew that before any chance of life, first the house had to be owned and occupied. No one had set foot on this island in decades, so why now would he rely on his dream to live as was his destiny. Dead or alive, David had more wisdom than his years decreed.
Mary for the umpteenth time called her boss to eat. He had been good to her from the minute she came into his employment. He was more like a son than employer. She had been in this and other households with the man for nigh on ten years. When holidays came around, she would always be asked to accompany him, wherever in the world his vacation might be taken. In goodness she had given years of service, but this was more a pleasure than a chore. She loved the man for his generosity, his nature, attentiveness, and more-so his loyalty. His wealth had never affected the man, quite the opposite, it just seemed to give him another reason to help where needed. As he came into the dining room, he gave a look that would give man or beast a complex. She knew the look was to her being so formal. But you are my boss she would say. I am your family, and that's gives you equal footing he would say.
Saturday, close to lunch, Jack rang to talk details about him purchasing the island. "Are you seated? They want 10 million dollars." He waited for the words of abuse to end before he continued. "I hope you know you now owe me a hearing aid, along with all the treatments?"
"Not to worry, with the fee you'll take from the sale you could probably buy the company that makes them," he retorted back.
"I will not lower myself to justify an answer." Laughing, he went on, "The 10 million would give you the deeds to the island, the house, and a 5 mile perimeter around the island. I warned you to expect them to try and push the boat out, no pun intended. The island/house is going to auction. As of yet they are still processing the information that has been given to them. The creditors were asking 15,000,000, but they won't get more than 10,000,000, that's why you get to guarantee ownership by paying what they value it at, or wait and take your turn.
"Soon as you can get the money together."
"I will have a draft drawn up and sent straight to your office. How's that?"
"It'll be there before 1:30. By the way who do I make the banker's order out to."
"Mr. Barry Ripponoff."
"You're joking, right?"
"Thanks. Bye, Jack."
I hung up and rang my bank, the ASB. After being put on hold for the better part of 10 minutes the manager finally answered. I asked the manager if he could ready and send a banker's order for 10 million dollars to my lawyer, 'which was telling more than asking', no later than 1:30. I gave Jack's details, to which the bank manager tried to stall sending the order with some excuse or other, but given the option of my money staying where it was or being moved, common sense won in the end.
At 1:00 Jack rang saying he had received the money and was going to Mr. Ripponoff's office as it was just across the street. With papers signed and dated, the original deeds were handed over, and the new deeds with the change of name. The island was mine.
"You are now the certified owner of two islands, you'll hate your tax bill."
"No problem. Don't forget my invite to the island, bye."
Mary brought out the dinner and I asked her to join me. "My intentions are honourable, you have my assurance." She laughed at the comment, saying, "I would expect nothing less."