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   Chapter 28 No.28

The Good Time Coming By T. S. Arthur Characters: 7224

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:05

FROM that period, Mr. Markland not only avoided all conference with his wife touching their daughter's relation to Mr. Lyon, but became so deeply absorbed in business matters, that he gave little earnest thought to the subject. As the new interests in which he was involved grew into larger and larger importance, all things else dwindled comparatively.

At the end of six months he was so changed that, even to his own family, he was scarcely like the same individual. All the time he appeared thinking intensely. As to "Woodbine Lodge," its beauties no longer fell into thought or perception. The charming landscape spread itself wooingly before him, but he saw nothing of its varied attractions. Far away, fixing his inward gaze with the fascination of a serpent's eye, was the grand result of his new enterprise, and all else was obscured by the brightness of a vortex toward which he was moving in swiftly-closing circles. Already two-thirds of his handsome fortune was embarked in this new scheme, that was still growing in magnitude, and still, like the horse-leech, crying "Give! give!" All that now remained was "Woodbine Lodge," valued at over twenty-five thousand dollars. This property he determined to leave untouched. But new calls for funds were constantly being made by Mr. Fenwick, backed by the most flattering reports from Mr. Lyon and his associates in Central America, and at last the question of selling or heavily mortgaging the "Lodge" had to be considered. The latter alternative was adopted, and the sum of fifteen thousand dollars raised, and thrown, with a kind of desperation, into the whirlpool which had already swallowed up nearly the whole of his fortune.

With this sum in his hands, Mr. Markland went to New York. He found the Company's agent, Mr. Fenwick, as full of encouraging words and sanguine anticipations as ever.

"The prize is just within our grasp," said he, in answer to some close inquiries of Markland. "There has been a most vigorous prosecution of the works, and a more rapid absorption of capital, in consequence, than was anticipated; but, as you have clearly seen, this is far better than the snail-like progress at which affairs were moving when Mr. Lyon reached the ground. Results which will now crown our efforts in a few months, would scarcely have been reached in as many years."

"How soon may we reasonably hope for returns?" asked Mr. Markland, with more concern in his voice than he meant to express.

"In a few months," was answered.

"In two, three, or four months?"

"It is difficult to fix an exact period," said Mr. Fenwick, evasively. "You know how far the works have progressed, and what they were doing at the latest dates."

"There ought to be handsome returns in less than six months."

"And will be, no doubt," replied the agent.

"There must be," said Mr. Markland, betraying some excitement.

Mr. Fenwick looked at him earnestly, and with a slight manifestation of surprise.

"The assessments have been larger and more frequent than was anticipated. I did not intend embarking more than twenty thousand dollars in the beginning, and already some sixty thousand have been absorbed."

"To return you that sum, twice told, in less than a year, besides giving you a position of power and influence that the richest capitalist in New York might envy."

And, enlarging on this theme, Fenwick, as on former occasions, presented to the imagination of Mr. Markland such a brilliant series of achievements, that the latter was elevated into the old state of confidence, and saw the golden harvest he was to reap alrea

dy bending to the sickle.

Twice had Markland proposed to visit the scene of the Company's operations, and as often had Mr. Fenwick diverted his thoughts from that direction. He again declared his purpose to go out at an early date.

"We cannot spare you from our councils at home," said Mr. Fenwick, pleasantly, yet with evident earnestness.

"Oh, yes, you can," was promptly answered. "I do not find myself of as much use as I desire to be. The direction at this point is in good enough hands, and can do without my presence. It is at the chief point of operations that I may be of most use, and thither I shall proceed."

"We will talk more about that another time," said Mr. Fenwick. "Now we must discuss the question of ways and means. There will yet be many thousand dollars to provide."

"Beyond my present investment, I can advance nothing," said Mr. Markland, seriously.

"It will not be necessary," replied Mr. Fenwick. "The credit of the Company-that is, of those in this and other cities, including yourself, who belong to the Company, and have the chief management of its affairs-is good for all we shall need."

"I am rather disappointed," said Markland, "at the small advances made, so far, from the other side of the Atlantic. They ought to have been far heavier. We have borne more than our share of the burden."

"So I have written, and expect good remittances by next steamers."

"How much?"

"Forty or fifty thousand dollars at least."

"Suppose the money does not come?"

"I will suppose nothing of the kind. It must and will come."

"You and I have both lived long enough in the world," said Markland, "to know that our wills cannot always produce in others the actions we desire."

"True enough. But there are wills on the other side of the Atlantic as well as here, and wills acting in concert with ours. Have no concern on this head; the English advances will be along in good season. In the mean time, if more money is wanted, our credit is good to almost any amount."

This proposition in regard to credit was no mere temporary expedient, thought of at the time, to meet an unexpected contingency. It had been all clearly arranged in the minds of Fenwick and other ruling spirits in New York, and Markland was not permitted to leave before his name, coupled with that of "some of the best names in the city," was on promissory notes for almost fabulous amounts.

Taking into account the former business experience of Mr. Markland, his present reckless investments and still more reckless signing of obligations for large sums, show how utterly blind his perceptions and unsettled his judgment had become. The waters he had so successfully navigated before were none of them strange waters. He had been over them with chart, compass, and pilot, many times before he adventured for himself. But now, with a richly freighted argosy, he was on an unknown sea. Pleasantly the summer breeze had wafted him onward for a season. Spice-islands were passed, and golden shores revealed themselves invitingly in the distance. The haven was almost gained, when along the far horizon dusky vapours gathered and hid the pleasant land. Darker they grew, and higher they arose, until at length the whole sky was draped, and neither sun nor stars looked down from its leaden depths. Yet with a desperate courage he kept steadily onward, for the record of observations since the voyage began was too imperfect to serve as a guide to return. Behind was certain destruction; while beyond the dark obscurity, the golden land of promise smiled ever in the glittering sunshine.

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