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The Good Time Coming By T. S. Arthur Characters: 6296

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:05

THERE was not a cloud in all the bright blue sky, nor a shadow upon the landscape that lay in beauty around the lovely home of Edward Markland; a home where Love had folded her wings, and Peace sought a perpetual abiding-place. The evening of a mild summer day came slowly on, with its soft, cool airs, that just dimpled the shining river, fluttered the elm and maple leaves, and gently swayed the aspiring heads of the old poplars, which, though failing at the root, still lifted, like virtuous manhood, their greenest branches to heaven.

In the broad porch, around every chaste column of which twined jessamine, rose, or honeysuckle, filling the air with a delicious fragrance beyond the perfumer's art to imitate, moved to and fro, with measured step and inverted thought, Edward Markland, the wealthy owner of all the fair landscape spreading for acres around the elegant mansion he had built as the home of his beloved ones.

"Edward." Love's sweetest music was in the voice that uttered his name, and love's purest touch in the hand that lay upon his arm.

A smile broke over the grave face of Markland, as he looked down tenderly into the blue eyes of his Agnes.

"I never tire of this," said the gentle-hearted wife, in whose spirit was a tuneful chord for every outward touch of beauty; "it looks as lovely now as yesterday; it was as lovely yesterday as the day my eyes first drank of its sweetness. Hush!"

A bird had just alighted on a slender spray a few yards distant, and while yet swinging on the elastic bough, poured forth a gush of melody.

"What a thrill of gladness was in that song, Edward! It was a spontaneous thank-offering to Him, without whom not a sparrow falls to the ground; to Him who clothes the fields in greenness, beautifies the lily, and provides for every creature its food in season. And this reminds me;" she added in a changed and more sobered voice, "that our thank-offering for infinite mercies lies in deeds, not heart-impulses nor word-utterances. I had almost forgotten poor Mrs. Elder."

And as Mrs. Markland said this, she withdrew her hand from her husband's arm, and glided into the house, leaving his thoughts to flow back into the channel from which they had been turned.

In vain for him did Nature clothe herself, on that fair day, in garments of more than usual beauty. She wooed the owner of Woodbine Lodge with every enticement she could offer; but he saw not her charms; felt not the strong attractions with which she sought to win his admiration. Far away his thoughts were wandering, and in the dim distance Fancy was busy with half-defined shapes, which her plastic hand, with rapid touches, moulded into forms that seemed instinct with a purer life, and to glow with a more ravishing beauty than any thing yet seen in the actual he had made his own. And as these forms became more and more vividly pictured in his imagination, the pace of Edward Markland quickened; and all the changing aspects of the man showed him to be in the ardour of a newly-forming life-purpose.

It was just five years since he commenced building Woodbine Lodge and beautifying its surrounding

s. The fifteen preceding years were spent in the earnest pursuit of wealth, as the active partner in a large mercantile establishment. Often, during these busy fifteen years, had he sighed for ease and "elegant leisure;" for a rural home far away from the jar, and strife, and toil incessant by which he was surrounded. Beyond this he had no aspiration. That "lodge in the wilderness," as he sometimes vaguely called it, was the bright ideal of his fancy. There, he would often say to himself-

"How blest could I live, and how calm could I die!"

And daily, as the years were added, each bringing its increased burdens of care and business, would he look forward to the "good time coming," when he could shut behind him forever the doors of the warehouse and counting-room, and step forth a free man. Of the strife for gain and the sharp contests in business, where each seeks advantages over the other, his heart was weary, and he would often sigh in the ears of his loving home-companion, "Oh! for the wings of a dove, that I might fly away and be at rest!"

And at length this consummation of his hopes came. A year of unusual prosperity swelled his gains to the sum he had fixed as reaching his desires; and, with a sense of pleasure never before experienced, he turned all his affections and thoughts to the creation of an earthly paradise, where, with his heart and home treasures around him, he could, "the world forgetting, by the world forgot," live a truer, better, happier life, than was possible amid the city's din, or while breathing the ever-disturbed and stifling atmosphere of business.

And now his work of creation at Woodbine Lodge was complete. Everywhere the hand of taste was visible-everywhere. You could change nothing without marring the beauty of the whole. During all the years in which Mr. Markland devoted himself to the perfecting of Woodbine Lodge, there was in his mind just so much of dissatisfaction with the present, as made the looked-for period, when all should be finished according to the prescriptions of taste, one in which there would be for him almost a Sabbath-repose.

How was it with Mr. Markland? All that he had prescribed as needful to give perfect happiness was attained. Woodbine Lodge realized his own ideal; and every one who looked upon it, called it an Eden of beauty. His work was ended; and had he found rest and sweet peace? Peace! Gentle spirit! Already she had half-folded her wings; but, startled by some uncertain sound, she was poised again, and seemed about to sweep the yielding air with her snowy pinions.

The enjoyment of all he had provided as a means of enjoyment did not come in the measure anticipated. Soon mere beauty failed to charm the eye, and fragrance to captivate the senses; for mind immortal rests not long in the fruition of any achievement, but quickly gathers up its strength for newer efforts. And so, as we have seen, Edward Markland, amid all the winning blandishments that surrounded him on the day when introduced to the reader, neither saw, felt, nor appreciated what, as looked to from the past's dim distance, formed the Beulah of his hopes.

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