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   Chapter 40 No.40

The Good Time Coming By T. S. Arthur Characters: 7700

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:05


A FEW weeks prior to the time at which the incidents of the preceding chapter occurred, a man, with a rough, neglected exterior, and face almost hidden by an immense beard, landed at New Orleans from one of the Gulf steamers, and was driven to the St. Charles Hotel. His manner was restless, yet wary. He gave his name as Falkner, and repaired at once to the room assigned to him.

"Is there a boarder in the house named Leach?" he made inquiry of the servant who came up with his baggage.

"There is," was replied.

"Will you ascertain if he is in, and say that I wish to see him?"

"What name, sir?" inquired the servant.

"No matter. Give the number of my room."

The servant departed, and in a few minutes conducted a man to the apartment of the stranger.

"Ah! you are here!" exclaimed the former, starting forward, and grasping tightly the hand that was extended to receive him. "When did you arrive?"

"This moment."

"From-?"

"No matter where from, at present. Enough that I am here." The servant had retired, and the closed door was locked. "But there is one thing I don't just like."

"What is that?"

"You penetrated my disguise too easily."

"I expected you, and knew, when inquired for, by whom I was wanted."

"That as far as it goes. But would you have known me if I had passed you in the street?"

The man named Leach took a long, close survey of the other, and then replied-

"I think not, for you are shockingly disfigured. How did you manage to get that deep gash across your forehead?"

"It occurred in an affray with one of the natives; I came near losing my life."

"A narrow escape, I should say."

"It was. But I had the satisfaction of shooting the bloody rascal through the heart." And a grin of savage pleasure showed the man's white teeth gleaming below the jetty moustache.-"Well, you see I am here," he added, "boldly venturing on dangerous ground."

"So I see. And for what? You say that I can serve you again; and I am in New Orleans to do your bidding."

"You can serve me, David," was answered, with some force of expression. "In fact, among the large number of men with whom I have had intercourse, you are the only one who has always been true to me, and" (with a strongly-uttered oath) "I will never fail you, in any extremity."

"I hope never to put your friendship to any perilous test," replied the other, smiling. "But say on."

"I can't give that girl up. Plague on her bewitching face! it has wrought upon me a kind of enchantment. I see it ever before me as a thing of beauty. David! she must be mine at any sacrifice!"

"Who? Markland's pretty daughter?"

"Yes."

"Better start some other game," was bluntly answered. "Your former attempt to run this down came near ruining every thing."

"No danger of that now. The ingots are all safe;" and the man gave a shrug.

"Lyon-"

"My name is Falkner. Don't forget it, if you please!" The speaker contracted his brows.

"Falkner, then. What I want to say is this: Let well enough alone. If the ingots are safe, permit them to remain so. Don't be foolhardy enough to put any one on the scent of them."

"Don't be troubled about that. I have sacrificed too much in gaining the wealth desired ever to hold it with a careless or relaxing grasp. And yet its mere possession brings not the repose of mind, the sense of independence, that were so pleasingly foreshadowed. Something is yet lacking to make the fruition complete. I want a companion; and there is only one, in the wide world, who can be to me what I desire."

"Fanny Markland?"

"Yes."

"You wish to make her your wife?"

"She is too pure to be happy in any other relation. Yes; I wish to gain her for my bride."

"A thing more difficult than you imagine."

"The task may be difficult; but, I will not believe, impossible."

"A

nd it is in this matter you desire my service?"

"Yes."

"I am ready. Point the way, and I will go. Digest the plan, and I am the one to carry it out."

"You must go North."

"Very well."

"Do you know how her father is situated at present?"

"He is a poor clerk in a jobbing-house."

"Indeed! They stripped him of every thing?"

"Yes. Woodbine Lodge vanished from beneath his feet as if it had been an enchanted island."

"Poor man! I am sorry for him. I never contemplated so sweeping a disaster in his case. But no one can tell, when the ball leaves his hand, what sort of a strike will be made. How does he bear it, I wonder?"

"Don't know. It must have been a terrible fall for him."

"And Fanny? Have you learned nothing in regard to her?"

"Nothing."

"Did you keep up a correspondence with the family whose acquaintance you made in-?"

"The family of Mr. Ellis? No; not any regular correspondence. We passed a letter or two, when I made a few inquiries about the Marklands, and particularly mentioned Fanny; but heard no further from them."

"There are no landmarks, then?" said Lyon.

"None."

"You must start immediately for the North. I will remain here until word comes from you. Ascertain, first, if you can, if there is any one connected with the Company who is yet on the alert in regard to myself; and write to me all the facts you learn on this head immediately. If it is not safe to remain in the United States, I will return to the city of Mexico, and we can correspond from there. Lose no time in gaining access to Miss Markland, and learn her state of mind in regard to me. She cannot fail to have taken her father's misfortunes deeply to heart; and your strongest appeal to her may be on his behalf. It is in my power to restore him to his former position, and, for the sake of his daughter, if needful, that will be done."

"I comprehend you; and trust me to accomplish all you desire, if in human power. Yet I cannot help expressing surprise at the singular fascination this girl has wrought upon you. I saw her two or three times, but perceived nothing very remarkable about her. She is pretty enough; yet, in any company of twenty women, you may pick out three far handsomer. What is the peculiar charm she carries about her?"

"It is nameless, but all-potent, and can only be explained psychologically, I suppose. No matter, however. The girl is necessary to my happiness, and I must secure her."

"By fair means, or foul?" His companion spoke inquiringly.

"I never hesitate about the means to be employed when I attempt the accomplishment of an object," was replied. "If she cannot be prevailed upon to come to me willingly, stratagem-even force-must be used. I know that she loves me; for a woman who once loves, loves always. Circumstances may have cooled, even hardened, the surface of her feelings, but her heart beneath is warm toward me still. There may be many reasons why she would not voluntarily leave her home for the one I promised her, however magnificent; but, if removed without her own consent, after the change, she may find in my love the highest felicity her heart could desire."

"My faith is not strong," said Leach, "and never has been, in the stability of love. But you have always manifested a weakness in this direction; and, I suppose, it runs in the blood. Probably, if you carry the girl off, (not so easy a thing, by-the-way, nor a safe operation to attempt,) you can make all smooth with her by doing something handsome for her father."

"No doubt of it. I could restore Woodbine Lodge to his possession, and settle two or three thousand a year on him beside."

"Such arguments might work wonders," said the accomplice.

A plan of operations was settled during the day, and early on the next morning the friend of Mr. Lyon started northward.

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