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   Chapter 21 No.21

The Good Time Coming By T. S. Arthur Characters: 6808

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:05


OVER ten days had elapsed since Mr. Lyon answered the letter of Fanny Markland, and he was still awaiting a reply.

"This is a risky sort of business," so his friend had written him. "I succeeded in getting your letter into the young lady's hands, but not without danger of discovery. For whole hours I loitered in the grounds of Mr. Markland, and was going to leave for the city without accomplishing my errand, when I saw Fanny coming in the direction of the summer-house. After the letter was deposited in the place agreed upon, and I was making my way off, I almost stumbled over her father, who had just returned from the city. He saw me, though, of course, he did not know me, nor suspect my errand. But my evident desire to avoid observation must have excited some vague suspicions in his mind; for, on reaching a point from which I could observe without being observed, I saw that he was gazing intently in the direction I had taken. Then he stepped aside from the road, and walked towards the grove. But Fanny was a little in advance of him, and secured the letter. I waited to see him join her, and then hurried off.

"I tell you again, Lee, this is a risky business. Two days have passed, and yet there is no answer. I've seen Markland in the city once since that time. He looked unusually sober, I thought. Perhaps it was only imagination. You can think so if you please. Take my advice, and make no further advances in this direction. There is too much danger of discovery. Markland has paid over ten thousand dollars to Fenwick, and is to produce as much more this week. He goes in, you know, for forty thousand. The balance ought to be had from him as soon as possible. Write to Fenwick to get it without delay. That is my advice. If you get his treasure, you will have his heart. Nothing like a money interest to hold a man.

"What I fear is, that the girl has told him all. You were crazy to say that she could do so if it pleased her. Well, well! We shall soon see where this wind will drift us. You shall hear from me the moment I know any thing certain."

Lyon was much disturbed by this letter. He at once wrote to Mr. Fenwick, suggesting the propriety of getting the whole of Mr. Markland's investment as early as possible.

"I hear," he said, "that he is somewhat inclined to vacillate. That, after making up his mind to do a thing, and even after initiative steps are taken, he is apt to pause, look back, and reconsider. This, of course, will not suit us. The best way to manage him will be to get his money in our boat, and then we are sure of him. He is very wealthy, and can be of great use in the prosecution of our schemes."

Two or three days more elapsed, and Lyon was getting nervously anxious, when a letter from Fanny reached him. It was brief, but of serious import.

"I have revealed all to my mother," it began, "and my heart feels lighter. She promises to keep our secret one week, and no longer. Then all will be revealed to father. I gained this much time in order that you might have an opportunity to write and tell him every thing yourself. This, it seems to me, will be the best way. No time is to be lost. The week will expire quite as soon as your letter can reach him. So pray, Mr. Lyon, write at once. I shall scarcely sleep until all is over."

With an angry imprecation, Lyon dashed this letter on the floor. "Mad girl!" he said; "did I

not warn her fully of the consequences? Write to her father? What shall I write? Tell him that I have deceived him! That when he thought me far away I was sitting beside his daughter, and tempting her to act towards him with concealment, if not duplicity! Madness! folly!"

"I was a fool," he communed with himself in a calmer mood, "to put so much in jeopardy for a woman! Nay, a girl-a mere child. But what is to be done? Three days only intervene between this time and the period at which our secret will be made known; so, whatever is to be done must be determined quickly. Shall I treat the matter with Markland seriously, or lightly? Not seriously, for that will surely cause him to do the same. Lightly, of course; for the manner in which I speak of it will have its influence. But first, I must manage to get him off to New York, and in the hands of Fenwick. The larger his actual investment in this business, the more easily the matter will be settled."

So he drew a sheet of paper before him, and wrote:

"MY DEAR MR. MARKLAND:-I have had so much important correspondence with Mr. Fenwick, our managing agent in New York, consequent on letters from London and Liverpool by last steamer, that I have been unable to proceed further than this point, but shall leave to-morrow. Mr. Fenwick has some very important information to communicate, and if he has not found time to write you, I would advise your going on to New York immediately. At best, hurried business letters give but imperfect notions of things. An hour's interview with Mr. Fenwick will enable you to comprehend the present state of affairs more perfectly than the perusal of a volume of letters. Some new aspects have presented themselves that I particularly wish you to consider. Mr. Fenwick has great confidence in your judgment, and would, I know, like to confer with you.

"Do not fail to bring me to the remembrance of Mrs. Markland and Fanny.

Ever yours,

LEE LYON."

"This for to-day's mail," said he, is he folded the letter. "If it does the work it is designed to accomplish, time, at least, will be gained. Now for the harder task."

Three times he tried to address Mr. Markland again, and as often tore up his letter. A fourth trial brought something nearer the mark.

"I'm afraid," he wrote, "a certain hasty act of mine, of which I ought before to have advised you, may slightly disturb your feelings. Yet don't let it have that effect, for there is no occasion whatever. Soon after leaving for the South, I wrote you to go to New York. The next mail brought me letters that rendered such a visit unnecessary, and fearing a communication by mail might not reach you promptly, I returned rapidly, and hastened to Woodbine Lodge to see you. Approaching your dwelling, I met Fanny, and learned from her that you had left for New York. Foolishly, as I now see it, I desired your daughter to keep the fact a secret for a short period, fearing lest you might not clearly comprehend my reason for returning. I wished to explain the matter myself. This trifling affair, it seems, has made Fanny very unhappy. I am really sorry. But it is over now, and I trust her spirits will rise again. You understand me fully, and can easily see why I might naturally fall into this trifling error.

"I wrote you yesterday, and hope you acted upon my suggestion. I proceed South in an hour. Every thing looks bright."

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