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   Chapter 42 No.42

The Good Time Coming By T. S. Arthur Characters: 5385

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:05


FANNY had not hesitated a moment on the question of communicating to her father the singular occurrence at Mr. Willet's; and Mr. Markland was prompt not only in writing to two or three of the principal sufferers by Lyon in New York, but in drawing the attention of the police to the stranger who had so boldly made propositions to his daughter. Two men were engaged to watch all his movements, and on no pretence whatever to lose sight of him. The New York members of the Company responded instantly to Markland's suggestion, and one of them came on to confer and act in concert with him. A letter delivered at the post office to the stranger, it was ascertained, came by way of New Orleans. A requisition from the governor of New York to deliver up, as a fugitive from justice, the person of Lee Lyon, was next obtained. All things were thus brought into readiness for action, the purpose being to keep two police officers ever on the track of his accomplice, let him go where he would. Inquiries were purposely made for this man at the hotel, in order to excite a suspicion of something wrong, and hasten his flight from the city; and when he fled at last, the officers, unknown to him, were in the cars. The telegraph gave intelligence to the police at New Orleans, and all was in readiness there for the arrival of the party. How promptly action followed has been seen. On the day after Lyon's arrest, he was on his way northward, in custody of two officers, who were already well enough acquainted with his character to be ever on the alert. Several attempts at escape were made, but they succeeded in delivering him safely in New York, where he was committed to prison.

On the day, and almost at the very hour, when the iron doors closed drearily on the criminal, Fanny Markland was alone with Mr. Willet. At the earnest desire of Flora, she had gone over to spend the afternoon at Sweetbriar. The brother came out from the city at dinner-time, and did not return again-the attractions of his fair guest being more than he could resist. There had been music and conversation during the afternoon, and all had been done by the family to render the visit of Fanny as agreeable as possible; but she did not seem in as good spirits as usual-her eyes were dreamy, and her voice had in it a shade of sadness.

Toward evening, she walked out with Flora and her brother. The conversation turned on the beautiful in nature, and Mr. Willet talked in his earnest way-every sentence full of poetry to the ears of at least one absorbed listener. In a pause of the conversation, Flora left them and went back to the house. For a little while the silence continued, and then Mr. Willet said, in a

tone so changed that its echo in the maiden's heart made every pulse beat quicker,-

"Fanny, there is one question that I have long desired to ask."

She lifted her eyes to his face timidly, and looked steadily at him for a few moments; then, as they fell to the ground, she replied-

"You can ask no question that it will not give me pleasure to answer."

"But this, I fear, will give you pain," said he.

"Pain, you have taught me, is often a salutary discipline."

"True, and may it be so in the present instance. It is not unknown to me that Mr. Lyon once held a place in your regard-I will go farther, and say in your affections."

Fanny started, and moved a step from him; but he continued-

"The question I wish to ask is, does there yet remain in your heart a single point that gives back a reflection of his image? In plainer words, is he any thing to you?"

"No, nothing!" was the emphatic, almost indignant, answer.

"It is said," resumed Mr. Willet, "that you once loved him."

"He came to me," replied Fanny, "a young, artless, trusting girl, as an angel of light. Nay, I was only a child, whose ears were unused to warmer words than fell from the loving lips of parents. Suddenly, he opened before me a world of enchantment. My whole being was on fire with a delicious passion. I believed him true and good, and loved him, because, in my eyes, he was the embodiment of all human perfections. But time proved that I had only loved an enchanting ideal, and my heart rejected him with intense loathing."

"Enough," said Willet; "I feel that it must be so."

The two remained silent for the space of nearly a minute; Mr. Willet then resumed-

"Forgive me if my question has seemed indelicate, and be assured that I asked it from no idle curiosity. Let me go a little farther; and, my dear young lady, retain your calmness of spirit. Look into your heart, but keep every pulsation under control. Since our first meeting, I have felt a deep interest in you. What you have suffered has pained me seriously; but the pain has given way to pleasure, for out of the fire you have come up pure and strong, Fanny! I have but one word more-there is a sacred place in my heart, and your image has long been the inhabitant. Here is my hand-will you lay your own within it, that I may grasp it as mine for life?"

Willet extended his hand as he spoke. There was only a moment's hesitation on the part of Fanny, who stood with her head bent so far down that the expression of her face could not be seen. Raising her eyes in which joy shone through blinding tears, she extended her hand, which was seized, grasped tightly for an instant, and then covered with kisses.

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