Be very quiet, and watch very carefully, what you are about to see probably didn’t happen. It was probably a local myth, a tall tale that has grown with the telling, but this is the version of history that the story-teller in me chooses to believer.
Things were shaky for a while. He bounced out a solicitor’s firm, had a spell as a clerk for a wine merchant, he bought out the company on the retirement of the partners and seems to have made a success of it. Then a strange series of tragedies began. Thom’s mother was taken ill to a lunatic asylum, where she died. Thom’s business premises was burned down, but he seemed determined to rebuild, and the business recovered well. Thom, less so. He was treated, briefly, for a bout of insanity, himself.
It is sometime in the 1950s and a pathologist, working for the coroner, somewhere in Kent is having a clear out. He finds, amongst decades of accumulated junk, that their predecessor has left of the shelves a large specimen jar containing a preserved heart. He studies the handwritten label, dated 1838. He studies the heart that floats in the murky yellow fluid, and adds it to the other materials to be destroyed.
That heart once belonged to a man who called himself John Nichols, also known as Sir William Courtenay. He died in what is generally considered the last armed uprising in England, and was, according to legend at least, preserved in safe keeping just to be sure an immortal crusading knight didn’t come back to claim it.
Let’s start at the beginning…
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