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   Chapter 7 No.7

The Good Time Coming By T. S. Arthur Characters: 5718

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:05


ONLY a few minutes had Mrs. Markland been in her room, when the door opened quietly, and Fanny's light foot-fall was in her ears. She did not look up; but her heart beat with a quicker motion, and her breath was half-suspended.

"Mother!"

She lifted her bowed head, and met the soft, clear eyes of her daughter looking calmly down into her own.

"Fanny, dear!" she said, in half-surprise, as she placed an arm around her, and drew her closely to her side.

An open letter was in Fanny's hand, and she held it toward her mother. There was a warmer hue upon her face, as she said,-

"It is from Mr. Lyon."

"Shall I read it?" inquired Mrs. Markland.

"I have brought it for you to read," was the daughter's answer.

The letter was brief:

"To MISS FANNY MARKLAND:

"As I am now writing to your father, I must fulfil a half promise, made during my sojourn at Woodbine Lodge, to write to you also. Pleasant days were those to me, and they will ever make a green spot in my memory. What a little paradise enshrines you! Art, hand in hand with Nature, have made a world of beauty for you to dwell in. Yet, all is but a type of moral beauty-and its true enjoyment is only for those whose souls are attuned to deeper harmonies.

"Since leaving Woodbine Lodge, my thoughts have acquired a double current. They run backward as well as forward. The true hospitality of your manly-hearted father; the kind welcome to a stranger, given so cordially by your gentle, good mother; and your own graceful courtesy, toward one in whom you had no personal interest, charmed-nay, touched me with a sense of gratitude. To forget all this would be to change my nature. Nor can I shut out the image of Aunt Grace, so reserved but lady-like in her deportment; yet close in observation and quick to read character. I fear I did not make a good impression on her-but she may know me better one of these days. Make to her my very sincere regards.

"And now, what more shall I say? A first letter to a young lady is usually a thing of shreds and patches, made up of sentences that might come in almost any other connection; and mine is no exception to the rule. I do not ask an answer; yet I will say, that I know nothing that would give me more pleasure than such a favour from your hand.

"Remember me in all kindness and esteem to your excellent parents.

"Sincerely yours,

LEE LYON."

The deep breath taken by Mrs. Markland was one of relief. And yet, there was something in the letter that left her mind in uncertainty as to the real intentions of Mr. Lyon. Regret that he should have written at all mingled with certain pleasing emotions awakened by the graceful compliments of their late guest.

"It's a beautiful letter, isn't it, mother?"

"Yes, love," was answered almost without reflection.

Fanny re-folded the letter, with the care of

one who was handling something precious.

"Shall I answer it?" she inquired.

"Not now. We must think about that. You are too young to enter into correspondence with a gentleman-especially with one about whom we know so little. Before his brief visit to Woodbine Lodge, we had never so much as heard of Mr. Lyon."

A slight shade of disappointment crossed the bright young face of Fanny Markland-not unobserved by her mother.

"It would seem rude, were I to take no notice of the letter whatever," said she, after reflecting a moment.

"Your father can acknowledge the receipt for you, when he writes to Mr. Lyon."

"But would that do?" asked Fanny, in evident doubt.

"O yes, and is, in my view, the only right course. We know but little, if any thing, about Mr. Lyon. If he should not be a true man, there is no telling how much you might suffer in the estimation of right-minded people, by his representation that you were in correspondence with him. A young girl can never be too guarded, on this point. If Mr. Lyon is a man worthy of your respect, he will be disappointed in you, if he receive an answer to his letter, under your own hand."

"Why, mother? Does he not say that he knows of nothing that would give him more pleasure than to receive an answer from me?" Fanny spoke with animation.

"True, my child, and that part of his letter I like least of all."

"Why so?" inquired the daughter.

"Have you not gathered the answer to your own question from what I have already said? A true man, who had a genuine respect for a young lady, would not desire, on so slight an acquaintance, to draw her into a correspondence; therefore the fact that Mr. Lyon half invites you to a correspondence, causes doubts to arise in my mind. His sending you a letter at all, when he is yet to us almost an entire stranger, I cannot but regard as a breach of the hospitalities extended to him."

"Is not that a harsh judgment?" said Fanny, a warmer hue mantling her face.

"Reflect calmly, my child, and you will not think so."

"Then I ought not to answer this letter?" said Fanny, after musing for some time.

"Let your father, in one of his letters, acknowledge the receipt for you. If Mr. Lyon be a true man, he will respect you the more."

Not entirely satisfied, though she gave no intimation of this, Fanny returned to the seclusion of her own room, to muse on so unexpected a circumstance; and as she mused, the beating of her heart grew quicker. Again she read the letter from Mr. Lyon, and again and again conned it over, until every sentence was imprinted on her memory. She did not reject the view taken by her mother; nay, she even tried to make it her own; but, for all this, not the shadow of a doubt touching Mr. Lyon could find a place in her thoughts. Before her mental vision he stood, the very type of noble manhood.

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