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   Chapter 16 No.16

The Good Time Coming By T. S. Arthur Characters: 6376

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:05


MR. MARKLAND went to the city early on the next morning. Fanny had not made her appearance when he left. This fact, at any other time, would have excited his attention, and caused an earnest inquiry as to the cause of her absence from the morning meal. But now his thoughts were too intently fixed on other things. He had suddenly become an aeriel castle-builder, and all his mind was absorbed in contemplating the magnificent structures that were rising up at the creative touch of imagination.

Mr. Brainard, upon whom he called immediately upon his arrival in the city, was not so easily satisfied on the subject of Mr. Lyon's alleged return to the city. He happened to know Mr. Willet, and, while he admitted that there was a general resemblance between the two men, did not consider it sufficiently striking to deceive any one as to the identity of either.

"But I was deceived," confidently asserted Mr. Markland.

"That is not so remarkable under the circumstances," was answered. "You had Lyon distinctly in your thought, from being most positively assured of his recent presence in your neighbourhood, and when a stranger, bearing some resemblance to him, suddenly came in sight, I do not wonder that you were on the instant deceived. I might have been."

"I am sure of it. The likeness between the two men is remarkable."

"But Willet has no hair mole on his cheek; and to that mark, you will remember, Lamar particularly testified."

"The mark may only have been in his mind, and not on the face of the person he met. Believing it to be Mr. Lyon, he saw the hair mole, as well as the other peculiarities of his countenance."

"No such explanations can satisfy me," replied Mr. Brainard. "I have thought over the matter a great deal since I saw you, and my mind is pretty well made up to withdraw from this whole business while I am at liberty to do so, without pecuniary loss or any compromise of honour."

"And let such a golden opportunity pass?" said Markland, in a voice husky with disappointment.

"If you will," was calmly answered. "I am a firm believer in the 'bird in the hand' doctrine. There are a great many fine singers in the bush, but I want to see them safely caged before I neglect the door that shuts in the bird I possess already."

"But you surely cannot be in earnest about withdrawing from this business," said Markland.

"Very much in earnest. Since yesterday, I have turned the matter over in my mind constantly, and viewed it in many lights and from many positions; and my deliberate convictions are, that it is wisest for me to have nothing whatever to do with these splendid schemes; and if you will be governed by an old stager's advice, resolve to act likewise."

"When my hands are once fairly on the plough," answered Mr. Markland, "I never look back. Before engaging in any new business, I thoroughly examine its promise, and carefully weigh all the probabilities of success or failure. After my decision is made, I never again review the ground over which I travelled in coming to a decision, but pass onward with faith and vigour in the accomplishment of all that I have undertaken. More men are ruined by vacillation t

han from any other cause."

"My observation brings me to another conclusion," quietly returned Mr. Brainard. The earnest enthusiasm of the one, and the immovable coolness of the other, were finely contrasted.

"And what is that?" inquired Mr. Markland.

"Why, that more men are ruined by a blind perseverance in going the wrong way, than from any other cause. Were we infallible in judgment, it might be well enough to govern ourselves in all important matters on the principle you indicate. But, as we are not, like wise navigators, we should daily make new observations, and daily examine our charts. The smallest deviation from a right line will make an immense error in the course of a long voyage."

"Wise business men are in little danger of making errors," said Markland, confidently.

"A great many sad mistakes are made daily," returned Mr. Brainard.

"Not by wise men."

"If a man's projects succeed," was rejoined, "we applaud his sound business judgment; if they fail, we see the cause of failure so plainly, that we are astonished at his want of forethought in not seeing it at the beginning. But, sir, there's a divinity that shapes our ends, rough hew them as we will. Success or failure, I am well convinced, do not always depend on the man himself."

"Is there no virtue, then, in human prudence?" asked Mr. Markland.

"I am not prepared to say how far we may depend on human prudence," replied the other; "but I know this, that if we fail to use it, we will fail in most of our undertakings. Human prudence must be exercised in all cases; but, too often, we let our confident hopes take the place of prudence, as I think you are doing now."

"But surely, Mr. Brainard," said Markland, in an earnest, appealing way, "you do not intend receding from this business?"

"My mind is fully made up," was answered.

"And so is mine," firmly replied Markland.

"To do what?"

"To take the whole interest myself."

"What?"

"To invest forty thousand dollars, instead of the proposed twenty, at once."

"You show strong faith, certainly."

"My faith, you may be sure, is well grounded. Mr. Fenwick has already put in that sum, and he is not the man to go blindly into any business. Apart from my own clear intuitions, founded on the most careful investigations, I would almost be willing to take risks in any schemes that Mr. Fenwick approved, in the substantial way of investment."

"A very different man am I," said Mr. Brainard. "Twenty years of sharp experience are sufficient to make me chary of substituting others' business judgment for my own."

"Ah, well!" returned Markland, his manner showing him to be disappointed and annoyed. "I cannot but regret your hasty decision in this matter. So far as it concerns myself, even if I saw cause to recede, which I do not, I am too far committed, with both Fenwick and Lyon, to hesitate."

"Every man must decide in such cases for himself," said Brainard. "I always do. If you are fully assured in every particular, and have confidence in your men, your way is of course clear."

"It is clear," was confidently answered, "and I shall walk in it with full assurance of a successful end."

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