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   Chapter 43 No.43

The Good Time Coming By T. S. Arthur Characters: 6653

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:05


NO sooner was Lyon completely in the power of the men he had wronged to an extent that left no room for mercy, than he made offers of compromise. A public trial involved not only public disgrace, but he had too good reasons to fear conviction and penal retribution. This was the greatest evil he had to dread, and so he made up his mind to part with at least a portion of his ill-gotten gains. Interview after interview was held with the parties representing the Company for which he had been agent, and a final arrangement made for the restitution of about two hundred thousand dollars-his release not to take place until the money, or its value, was in the hands of his creditors. Nearly three months passed in efforts to consummate this matter, and at last the sum of one hundred and eighty thousand dollars was obtained, and the miserable, disgraced man set free. He went forth into the world again with the bitterness of a life-disappointment at his heart, and a feeling of almost murderous hate against the men whose confidence he had betrayed, and who obtained from him only a partial recompense.

Of the sum restored, there fell to Mr. Markland's share about twenty-five thousand dollars. Its possession quickened in his heart the old ambitious spirit, and he began to revolve in his thoughts the ways and means of recovering, by aid of this remnant of his fortune, the wealth which a scheming villain had wrested from his grasp. Mr. Willet, whose marriage with his daughter was on the eve of taking place, had made to him certain proposals in regard to business, that promised a sure but not particularly brilliant return. All the required capital was to be furnished. He had not yet accepted this offer, but was about doing so, when expectation ended in certainty, and his proportion of the money recovered from Lyon was paid into his hands.

A rapid change of feelings and plans was the consequence. On the day that cheeks covering the whole sum awarded to Mr. Markland were received from New York, he returned early in the afternoon from the city, his mind buoyant with hope in the future. As the cars swept around a particular curve on approaching the station at which he was to alight, "Woodbine Lodge" came in full view, and, with a sudden impulse he exclaimed "It shall be mine again!"

"The man is not all crushed out of me yet!" There was a proud swelling of the heart as Markland said this. He had stepped from the cars at the station, and with a firmer step than usual, and a form more erect, was walking homeward. Lawn Cottage was soon in view, nestling peacefully amid embowering trees. How many times during the past year had a thankful spirit given utterance to words of thankfulness, as, at day's decline, his homeward steps brought in view this pleasant hiding-place from the world! It was different now: the spot wore a changed aspect, and, comparatively, looked small and mean, for his ideas had suddenly been elevated toward "Woodbine Lodge," and a strong desire for its re-possession had seized upon him.

But if, to his disturbed vision, beauty had partially faded from the external of his home, no shadow dimmed the brightness within. The happy voices of children fell in music on his ears, and small arms clasping his neck sent electric thrills of gladness to his heart. And how full o

f serene joy was the face of his wife, the angel of his home as she greeted his return, and welcomed him with words that never disturbed, but always tranquillized!

"There is a better time coming, Agnes," he said in an exultant voice, when they were alone that evening. He had informed her of the settlement of his affairs in New York, and reception of the sum which had been awarded to him in the division of property recovered from Mr. Lyon.

"A better time, Edward?" said Mrs. Markland. She seemed slightly startled at his words, and looked half timidly into his face.

"Yes, a better time, love. I have too long been powerless in the hands of a stern necessity, which has almost crushed the life out of me; but morning begins to break, the night is passing, and my way in the world grows clear again."

"In the world, or through the world?" asked Mrs. Markland, in a voice and with an expression of countenance that left her meaning in no doubt.

He looked at her for several moments, his face changing until the light fading left it almost shadowed.

"Edward," said Mrs. Markland, leaning toward him, and speaking earnestly, but, lovingly, "you look for a better time. How better? Are we not happy here? Nay, did we ever know more of true happiness than since we gathered closer together in this pleasant home? Have we not found a better time in a true appreciation of the ends of life? Have we not learned to live, in some feeble degree, that inner and higher life, from the development of which alone comes the soul's tranquillity? Ah, Edward, do not let go of these truths that we have learned. Do not let your eyes become so dazzled by the splendour of the sun of this world as to lose the power to see into the inner world of your spirit, and behold the brighter sun that can make all glorious there."

Markland bent his head, and for a little while a feeling of sadness oppressed him. The hope of worldly elevation, which had sprung up with so sudden and brilliant a flame, faded slowly away, and in its partial death the pains of dissolution were felt. The outer, visible, tangible world had strong attractions for his natural mind; and its wealth, distinctions, luxuries, and honours, looked fascinating in the light of his natural affections; yet glimpses had already been given to him of another world of higher and diviner beauty. He had listened, entranced, to its melodies, that came as from afar off; its fragrant airs had awakened his delighted sense; he had seen, as in a vision, the beauty of its inhabitants, and now the words of his wife restored all to his remembrance.

"The good time for which all are looking, and toiling, and waiting so impatiently," said Mrs. Markland, after a pause, "will never come to any unless in a change of affection."

"The life must be changed."

"Yes, or, in better words, the love. If that be fixed on mere outward and natural things, life will be only a restless seeking after the unattainable-for the natural affections only grow by what they feed upon-desire ever increasing, until the still panting, unsatisfied heart has made for itself a hell of misery."

"Thanks, angel of my life!" returned Markland, as soon as he had, in a measure, recovered himself. "Even the painful lessons I have been taught would fade from my memory, but for thee!"

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