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   Chapter 30 No.30

The Good Time Coming By T. S. Arthur Characters: 9192

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:05


THE shock received by Fanny left her in a feeble state of mind as well as body. For two or three days she wept almost constantly. Then a leaden calmness, bordering on stupor, ensued, that, even more than her tears, distressed her parents.

Meantime, the anxieties of Mr. Markland, in regard to the business in which he had ventured more than all his possessions, were hourly increasing. Now that suspicion had been admitted into his thought, circumstances which had before given him encouragement bore a doubtful aspect. He was astonished at his own blindness, and frightened at the position in which he found himself placed. Altogether dissatisfied with the kind and amount of information to be gained in New York, his resolution to go South was strengthened daily. Finally, he announced to his family that he must leave them, to be gone at least two or three months. The intelligence came with a shock that partially aroused Fanny from the lethargic state into which she had fallen. Mrs. Markland made only a feeble, tearful opposition. Upon her mind had settled a brooding apprehension of trouble in the future, and every changing aspect in the progression of events but confirmed her fears.

That her husband's mind had become deeply disturbed Mrs. Markland saw but too clearly; and that this disturbance increased daily, she also saw. Of the causes she had no definite information; but it was not difficult to infer that they involved serious disappointments in regard to the brilliant schemes which had so captivated his imagination. If these disappointments had thrown him back upon his home, better satisfied with the real good in possession, she would not very much have regretted them. But, on learning his purpose to go far South, and even thousands of miles beyond the boundaries of his own country, she became oppressed with a painful anxiety, which was heightened, rather than allayed, by his vague replies to all her earnest inquiries in regard to the state of affairs that rendered this long journey imperative.

"Interests of great magnitude," he would say, "require that all who are engaged in them should be minutely conversant with their state of progress. I have long enough taken the statements of parties at a distance: now I must see and know for myself."

How little there was in all this to allay anxiety, or reconcile the heart to a long separation from its life-partner, is clear to every one. Mrs. Markland saw that her husband wished to conceal from her the exact position of his affairs, and this but gave her startled imagination power to conjure up the most frightful images. Fears for the safety of her husband during a long journey in a distant country, where few traces of civilization could yet be found, were far more active than concern for the result of his business. Of that she knew but little; and, so far as its success or failure had power to affect her, experienced but little anxiety. On this account, her trouble was all for him.

Time progressed until the period of Markland's departure was near at hand. He had watched, painfully, the slow progress of change in Fanny's state of mind. There was yet no satisfactory aspect. The fact of his near departure had ruffled the surface of her feelings, and given a hectic warmth to her cheeks and a tearful brightness to her eyes. Most earnestly had she entreated him, over and over again, not to leave them.

"Home will no longer be like home, dear father, when you are far absent," she said to him, pleadingly, a few days before the appointed time for departure had come. "Do not go away."

"It is no desire to leave home that prompts the journey, Fanny, love," he answered, drawing his arm around her and pressing her closely to his side. "At the call of duty, none of us should hesitate to obey."

"Duty, father?" Fanny did not comprehend the meaning of his words.

"It is the duty of all men to thoroughly comprehend what they are doing, and to see that their business is well conducted at every point."

"I did not before understand that you had business in that distant country," said Fanny.

"I am largely interested there," replied Mr. Markland, speaking as though the admission to her was half-extorted.

"Not with Mr. Lyon, I hope?" said Fanny, quickly and earnestly. It was the first time she had mentioned his name since the day his cold allusion to her had nearly palsied her heart.

"Why not with Mr. Lyon, my child? Do you know any thing in regard to him that would make such a connection perilous to my interest?" Mr. Markland looked earnestly into the face of

his daughter. Her eyes did not fall from his, but grew brighter, and her person became more erect. There was something of indignant surprise in the expression of her countenance.

"Do you know any thing in regard to him that would make the connection perilous to my interest?" repeated Mr. Markland.

"Will that man be true to the father, who is false to his child?" said Fanny, in a deep, hoarse voice.

He looked long and silently into her face, his mind bewildered by the searching interrogatory.

"False to you, Fanny!" he at length said, in a confused way. "Has he been false to you?"

"Oh, father! father! And is it from you this question comes?" exclaimed Fanny, clasping her hands together and then pressing them tightly against her bosom.

"He spoke of you in his letter with great kindness," said Mr. Markland. "I know that he has been deeply absorbed in a perplexing business; and this may be the reason why he has not written."

"Father,"-Fanny's words were uttered slowly and impressively-"if you are in any manner involved in business with Mr. Lyon-if you have any thing at stake through confidence in him-get free from the connection as early as possible. He is no true man. With the fascinating qualities of the serpent, he has also the power to sting."

"I fear, my daughter," said Mr. Markland, "that too great a revulsion has taken place in your feelings toward him; that wounded pride is becoming unduly active."

"Pride!" ejaculated Fanny-and her face, that had flushed, grew pale again-"pride! Oh, father! how sadly you misjudge your child! No-no. I was for months in the blinding mazes of a delicious dream; but I am awake now-fully awake, and older-how much older it makes me shudder to think-than I was when lulled into slumber by melodies so new, and wild, and sweet, that it seemed as if I had entered another state of existence. Yes, father, I am awake now; startled suddenly from visions of joy and beauty into icy realities, like thousands of other dreamers around me. Pride? Oh, my father!"

And Fanny laid her head down upon the breast of her parent, and wept bitterly.

Mr. Markland was at a loss what answer to make. So entire a change in the feelings of his daughter toward Mr. Lyon was unsuspected, and he scarcely knew how to explain the fact. Fascinated as she had been, he had looked for nothing else but a clinging to his image even in coldness and neglect. That she would seek to obliterate that image from her heart, as an evil thing, was something he had not for an instant expected. He did not know how, treasured up in tenderest infancy, through sunny childhood, and in sweetly dawning maidenhood, innocence and truth had formed for her a talisman by which the qualities of others might be tested. At the first approach of Mr. Lyon this had given instinctive warning; but his personal attractions were so great, and her father's approving confidence of the man so strong, that the inward monitor was unheeded. But, after a long silence following a series of impassioned letters, to find herself alluded to in this cold and distant way revealed a state of feeling in the man she loved so wildly, that proved him false beyond all question. Like one standing on a mountain-top, who suddenly finds the ground giving way beneath his feet, she felt herself sweeping down through a fearfully intervening space, and fell, with scarcely a pulse of life remaining, on the rocky ground beneath. She caught at no object in her quick descent, for none tempted her hand. It was one swift plunge, and the shock was over.

"No, father," she said, in a calmer voice, lifting her face from his bosom-"it is not pride, nor womanly indignation at a deep wrong. I speak of him as he is now known to me. Oh, beware of him! Let not his shadow fall darker on our household."

The effect of this conversation in no way quieted the apprehensions of Mr. Markland, but made his anxieties the deeper. That Lyon had been false to his child was clear even to him; and the searching questions of Fanny he could not banish from his thoughts.

"All things confirm the necessity of my journey," he said, when alone, and in close debate with himself on the subject. "I fear that I am in the toils of a serpent, and that escape, even with life, is doubtful. By what a strange infatuation I have been governed! Alas! into what a fearful jeopardy have I brought the tangible good things given me by a kind Providence, by grasping at what dazzled my eyes as of supremely greater value! Have I not been lured by a shadow, forgetful of the substance in possession?"

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