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   Chapter 13 No.13

The Good Time Coming By T. S. Arthur Characters: 5867

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:05


THIS new testimony in regard to the presence of Mr. Lyon in the neighbourhood, at a time when he was believed to be hundreds of miles away, and still receding as rapidly as swift car and steamer could bear him, might well disturb, profoundly, the spirit of Mr. Markland. What could it mean? How vainly he asked himself this question. He was walking onward, with his eyes upon the ground, when approaching feet made him aware of the proximity of some one. Looking up, he saw a man coming down the road from his house, and only a few rods distant from him.

"Mr. Lyon, now!" he exclaimed, in a low, agitated voice. "What does this mean?" he added, as his mind grew bewildered, and his footsteps were stayed.

Another moment, and he saw that he had erred in regard to the man's identity. It wars not Mr. Lyon, but a stranger. Advancing again, they met, and the stranger, pausing, said:

"Mr. Markland, I believe?"

"That is my name, sir," was answered.

"And my name is Willet."

"Ah, yes!" said Mr. Markland extending his hand. "I learned, to-day, in the city, that you had purchased Ashton's fine place. I am happy, sir, to make your acquaintance, and if there is any thing in which I can serve you, do not hesitate to command me."

"Many thanks for your kind offer," returned Mr. Willet. "A stranger who comes to reside in the country has need of friendly consideration; and I stand just in that relation to my new neighbours. To certain extent I am ignorant of the ways and means appertaining to the locality; and can only get enlightened through an intercourse with the older residents. But I have no right to be obtrusive, or to expect too much concession to a mere stranger. Until I am better known, I will only ask the sojourner's kindness-not the confidence one friend gives to another."

There was a charm about the stranger's manner, and a peculiar music in his voice, that won their way into the heart of Mr. Markland.

"Believe me, sir," he replied, "that my tender of friendly offices is no unmeaning courtesy. I comprehend, entirely, your position; for I once held just your relation to the people around me. And now, if there are any questions to which an immediate answer is desired, ask them freely. Will you not return with me to my house?"

"Thank you! Not now. I came over to ask if you knew a man named Burk, who lives in the neighbourhood."

"Yes; very well," answered Mr. Markland.

"Is he a man to be depended upon?"

"He's clever, and a good man about a place; but, I am sorry to say, not always to be depended upon."

"What is the trouble with him?" asked Mr. Willet.

"The trouble with most men who occasionally drink to excess."

"Oh! That's it. You've said enough, sir; he won't suit me. I shall have to be in the city for a time, almost every day, and would not, by any means, feel safe or comfortable in knowing that such a person was in charge of things. Besides, my mothe

r, who is getting in years, has a particular dread of an intoxicated man, and I would on no account expose her to the danger of being troubled from this cause. My sisters, who have lived all their lives in cities, will be timid in the country, and I therefore particularly desire the right kind of a man on the premises-one who may be looked to as a protector in my absence. You understand, now, what kind of a person I want?"

"Clearly."

"This Burk would not suit."

"I'm afraid not. But for the failing I have mentioned, you could hardly find a more capable, useful, or pleasant man in the neighbourhood; but this mars all."

"It mars all for me, and for reasons I have just mentioned," said Mr. Willet; "so we will have to pass him by. Is there any other available man about here, who would make a trusty overseer?"

"I do not think of one, but will make it my business to inquire," returned Mr. Markland. "How soon will you move out?"

"In about a week. On Monday we shall send a few loads of furniture."

"Cannot you hire Mr. Ashton's gardener? He is trusty in every respect."

"Some one has been ahead of me," replied Mr. Willet. "He is already engaged, and will leave to-morrow."

"I'm sorry for that. Mr. Ashton spoke highly of him."

"His work speaks for him," said Mr. Willet. "The whole place is in beautiful order."

"Yes, it has always been the pride of its owner, and admiration of the neighbourhood. I don't know how Mr. Ashton could make up his mind to part with it."

"I am certainly much obliged to him for yielding it to me," said Mr. Willet. "I regard myself as particularly fortunate. But I will not detain you. If you should think or hear of any one who will suit my purpose, I shall be under particular obligations if you will let me know."

"If I can serve you in the matter, be sure that I will do so," replied Mr. Markland.

Mr. Willet thanked him warmly for the proffered kindness, and then the two men separated, each strongly and favourably impressed by the other.

"That startling mystery is solved," said Mr. Markland, taking a deep breath. "This is the other Dromio. I don't wonder that Mr. Allison and Mr. Lamar were deceived. I was, for a moment. What a likeness he bears to Mr. Lyon! Ah, well!-the matter has worried me, for a short time, dreadfully. I was sure that I knew my man; but this strange affirmation in regard to him threw me into terrible doubts. Thank fortune! the mystery is completely solved. I must go back to the city this very afternoon, and see Brainard. It will not do for him to remain long in doubt. His mind might take a new direction, and become interested in some other enterprise. There is no other man with whom, in so important a business as this, I would care to be associated."

And Mr. Markland, thus communing with himself, moved onward, with light and rapid footsteps, toward his dwelling. A mountain had been lifted from his heart.

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