The Good Time Coming
by T.S. Arthur
LIFE is a mystery to all men, and the more profound the deeper the
striving spirit is immersed in its own selfish instincts. How
earnestly do we all fix our eyes upon the slowly-advancing future,
impatiently waiting that good time coming which never comes! How fast
the years glide by, beginning in hope and ending in disappointment!
Strange that we gain so little of true wisdom amid the sharp
disappointments that meet us at almost every turn! How keenly the
writer has suffered with the rest, need not be told. It will be enough
to say that he, too, has long been an anxious waiter for the "good
time coming," which has not yet arrived.
But hope should not die because of our disappointments. There is a
good time coming, and for each one of us, if we work and wait for it;
but we must work patiently, and look in the right direction. Perhaps
our meaning will be plainer after our book is read.
THERE was not a cloud in all the bright blue sky, nor a shadow upon
the landscape that lay in beauty around the lovely home of Edward
Markland; a home where Love had folded her wings, and Peace sought a
perpetual abiding-place. The evening of a mild summer day came slowly
on, with its soft, cool airs, that just dimpled the shining river,
fluttered the elm and maple leaves, and gently swayed the aspiring
heads of the old poplars, which, though failing at the root, still
lifted, like virtuous manhood, their greenest branches to heaven.
In the broad porch, around every chaste column of which twined
jessamine, rose, or honeysuckle, filling the air with a delicious
fragrance beyond the perfumer's art to imitate, moved to and fro,
with measured step and inverted thought, Edward Markland, the wealthy
owner of all the fair landscape spreading for acres around the elegant
mansion he had built as the home of his beloved ones.
"Edward." Love's sweetest music was in the voice that uttered his
name, and love's purest touch in the hand that lay upon his arm.
A smile broke over the grave face of Markland, as he looked down
tenderly into the blue eyes of his Agnes.
"I never tire of this," said the gentle-hearted wife, in whose
spirit was a tuneful chord for every outward touch of beauty; "it
looks as lovely now as yesterday; it was as lovely yesterday as the
day my eyes first drank of its sweetness. Hush!"
A bird had just alighted on a slender spray a few yards distant,
and while yet swinging on the elastic bough, poured forth a gush of
"What a thrill of gladness was in that song, Edward! It was a
spontaneous thank-offering to Him, without whom not a sparrow falls
to the ground; to Him who clothes the fields in greenness, beautifies
the lily, and provides for every creature its food in season. And this
reminds me;" she added in a changed and more sobered voice, "that our
thank-offering for infinite mercies lies in deeds, not heart-impulses
nor word-utterances. I had almost forgotten poor Mrs. Elder."
And as Mrs. Markland said this, she withdrew her hand from her
husband's arm, and glided into the house, leaving his thoughts to
flow back into the channel from which they had been turned.
In vain for him did Nature clothe herself, on that fair day, in
garments of more than usual beauty. She wooed the owner of Woodbine
Lodge with every enticement she could offer; but he saw not her
charms; felt not the strong attractions with which she sought to win
his admiration. Far away his thoughts were wandering, and in the dim
distance Fancy was busy with half-defined shapes, which her plastic
hand, with rapid touches, moulded into forms that seemed instinct
with a purer life, and to glow with a more ravishing beauty than any
thing yet seen in the actual he had made his own. And as these forms
became more and more vividly pictured in his imagination, the pace of
Edward Markland quickened; and all the changing aspects of the man
showed him to be in the ardour of a newly-forming life-purpose.
It was just five years since he commenced building Woodbine Lodge
and beautifying its surroundings. The fifteen preceding years were
spent in the earnest pursuit of wealth, as the active partner in a
large mercantile establishment. Often, during these busy fifteen
years, had he sighed. for ease and "elegant leisure;" for a rural
home far away from the jar, and strife, and toil incessant by which
he was surrounded. Beyond this he had no aspiration. That "lodge in
the wilderness," as he sometimes vaguely called it, was the bright
ideal of his fancy. There, he would often say to himself—
"How blest could I live, and how calm could I die!"
And daily, as the years were added, each bringing its increased
burdens of care and business, would he look forward to the "good time
coming," when he could shut behind him forever the doors of the
warehouse and counting-room, and step forth a free man. Of the strife
for gain and the sharp contests in business, where each seeks
advantages over the other, his heart was weary, and he would often
sigh in the ears of his loving home-companion, "Oh! for the wings of
a dove, that I might fly away and be at rest!"
And at length this consummation of his hopes came. A year of
unusual prosperity swelled his gains to the sum he had fixed as
reaching his desires; and, with a sense of pleasure never before
experienced, he turned all his affections and thoughts to the creation
of an earthly paradise, where, with his heart and home treasures
around him, he could, "the world forgetting, by the world forgot,"
live a truer, better, happier life, than was possible amid the city's
din, or while breathing the ever-disturbed and stifling atmosphere of
And now his work of creation at Woodbine Lodge was complete.
Everywhere the hand of taste was visible—everywhere. You could
change nothing without marring the beauty of the whole. During all
the years in which Mr. Markland devoted himself to the perfecting of
Woodbine Lodge, there was in his mind just so much of dissatisfaction
with the present, as made the looked-for period, when all should be
finished according to the prescriptions of taste, one in which there
would be for him almost a Sabbath-repose.
How was it with Mr. Markland? All that he had prescribed as needful
to give perfect happiness was attained. Woodbine Lodge realized his
own ideal; and every one who looked upon it, called it an Eden of
beauty. His work was ended; and had he found rest and sweet peace?
Peace! Gentle spirit! Already she had half-folded her wings; but,
startled by some uncertain sound, she was poised again, and seemed
about to sweep the yielding air with her snowy pinions.
The enjoyment of all he had provided as a means of enjoyment did
not come in the measure anticipated. Soon mere beauty failed to charm
the eye, and fragrance to captivate the senses; for mind immortal
rests not long in the fruition of any achievement, but quickly
gathers up its strength for newer efforts. And so, as we have seen,
Edward Markland, amid all the winning blandishments that surrounded
him on the day when introduced to the reader, neither saw, felt, nor
appreciated what, as looked to from the past's dim distance, formed
the Beulah of his hopes.
A FEW minutes after Mrs. Markland left her husband's side, she
stepped from the house, carrying a small basket in one hand, and
leading a child, some six or seven years old, with the other.
"Are you going over to see Mrs. Elder?" asked the child, as they
moved down the smoothly-graded walk.
"Yes, dear," was answered.
"I don't like to go there," said the child.
"Why not, Aggy." The mother's voice was slightly serious.
"Every thing is so mean and poor."
"Can Mrs. Elder help that, Aggy?"
"I don't know."
"She's sick, my child, and not able even to sit up. The little girl
who stays with her can't do much. I don't see how Mrs. Elder can help
things looking mean and poor; do you?"
"No, ma'am," answered Aggy, a little bewildered by what her mother
"I think Mrs. Elder would be happier if things were more
comfortable around her; don't you, Aggy?"
"Let us try, then, you and I, to make her happier."
"What can I do?" asked little Aggy, lifting a wondering look to her
"Would you like to try, dear?"
"If I knew what to do."
"There is always a way when the heart is willing. Do you understand
Aggy looked up again, and with an inquiring glance, to her mother.
"We will soon be at Mrs. Elder's. Are you not sorry that she is so
sick? It is more than a week since she was able to sit up, and she
has suffered a great deal of pain."
"Yes, I'm very sorry." And both look and tone confirmed the truth
of her words. The child's heart was touched.
"When we get there, look around you, and see if there is nothing
you can do to make her feel better. I'm sure you will find something."
"What, mother?" Aggy's interest was all alive now.
"If the room is in disorder, you might, very quietly, put things in
their right places. Even that would make her feel better; for nobody
can be quite comfortable in the midst of confusion."
"Oh! I can do all that, mother." And light beamed in the child's
countenance. "It's nothing very hard."
"No; you can do all this with little effort; and yet, trifling as
the act may seem, dear, it will do Mrs. Elder good: and you will have
the pleasing remembrance of a kind deed. A child's hand is strong
enough to lift a feather from an inflamed wound, even though it lack
the surgeon's skill." The mother said these last words half herself.
And now they were at the door of Mrs. Elder's unattractive cottage,
and the mother and child passed in. Aggy had not overdrawn the
picture when she said that everything was poor and mean; and disorder
added to the unattractive appearance of the room in which the sick
"I'm sorry to find you no better," said Mrs. Markland, after making
a few inquiries of the sick woman.
"I shall never be any better, I'm afraid," was the desponding
"Never! Never is a long day, as the proverb says. Did you ever hear
of a night that had no morning?" There was a cheerful tone and manner
about Mrs Markland that had its effect; but, ere replying, Mrs.
Elder's dim eyes suddenly brightened, as some movement in the room
attracted her attention.
"Bless the child! Look at her!" And the sick woman glanced toward
Aggy, who, bearing in mind her mother's words, was already busying
herself in the work of bringing order out of disorder.
"Look at the dear creature!" added Mrs. Elder, a glow of pleasure
flushing her countenance, a moment before so pale and sad.
Unconscious of observation, Aggy, with almost a woman's skill, had
placed first the few old chairs that were in the room, against the
wall, at regular distances from each other. Then she cleared the
littered floor of chips, pieces of paper, and various articles that
had been left about by the untidy girl who was Mrs. Elder's only
attendant, and next straightened the cloth on the table, and arranged
the mantel-piece so that its contents no longer presented an unsightly
"Where is the broom, Mrs. Elder?" inquired the busy little one,
coming now to the bedside of the invalid.
"Never mind the broom, dear; Betsy will sweep up the floor when she
comes in," said Mrs. Elder. "Thank you for a kind, good little girl.
You've put a smile on every thing in the room. What a grand
housekeeper you are going to make!"
Aggy's heart bounded with a new emotion. Her young cheeks glowed,
and her blue eyes sparkled. If the pleasure she felt lacked any thing
of pure delight, a single glance at her mother's face made all
"When did you hear from your daughter?" asked Mrs. Markland.
There was a change of countenance and a sigh.
"Oh! ma'am, if Lotty were only here, I would be happy, even in
sickness and suffering. It's very hard to be separated from my
"She is in Charleston?"
"Is her husband doing well?"
"I can't say that he is. He isn't a very thrifty man, though steady
"Why did they go to Charleston?"
"He thought he would do better there than here; but they haven't
done as well, and Lotty is very unhappy."
"Do they talk of returning?"
"Yes, ma'am; they're both sick enough of their new home. But then
it costs a heap of money to move about with a family, and they haven't
saved any thing. And, more than this, it isn't just certain that
James could get work right away if he came back. Foolish fellow that
he was, not to keep a good situation when he had it! But it's the way
of the world, Mrs. Markland, this ever seeking, through change, for
something better than Heaven awards in the present."
"Truly spoken, Mrs. Elder. How few of us possess contentment; how
few extract from the present that good with which it is ever
supplied! We read the fable of the dog and the shadow, and smile at
the folly of the poor animal; while, though instructed by reason, we
cast aside the substance of to-day in our efforts to grasp the
shadowy future. We are always looking for the blessing to come; but
when the time of arrival is at hand, what seemed so beautiful in the
hazy distance is shorn of its chief attraction, or dwarfed into
nothingness through contrast with some greater good looming grandly
against the far horizon."
Mrs. Markland uttered the closing sentence half in reverie; for her
thoughts were away from the sick woman and the humble apartment in
which she was seated. There was an abstracted silence of a few
moments, and she said:
"Speaking of your daughter and her husband, Mrs. Elder; they are
poor, as I understand you?"
"Oh yes, ma'am; it is hand-to-mouth with them all the time. James
is kind enough to Lotty, and industrious in his way; but his work
never turns to very good account."
"What business does he follow?"
"He's a cooper by trade; but doesn't stick to any thing very long.
I call him the rolling stone that gathers no moss."
"What is he doing in Charleston?"
"He went there as agent for a man in New York, who filled his head
with large ideas. He was to have a share in the profits of a business
just commenced, and expected to make a fortune in a year or two; but
before six months closed, he found himself in a strange city, out of
employment, and in debt. As you said, a little while ago, he dropped
the present substance in grasping at a shadow in the future."
"The way of the world," said Mrs. Markland.
"Yes, yes; ever looking for the good time coming that never comes,"
sighed Mrs. Elder. "Ah, me," she added, "I only wish Lotty was with
"How many children has she?"
"One a baby?"
"Yes, and but three months old."
"She has her hands full."
"You may well say that, ma'am; full enough."
"Her presence, would not, I fear, add much to your comfort, Mrs.
Elder. With her own hands full, as you say, and, I doubt not, her
heart full, also, she would not have it in her power to make much
smoother the pillow on which your head is lying. Is she of a happy
"Well, no; I can't say that she is, ma'am. She is too much like her
mother: ever looking for a brighter day in the future."
"And so unconscious of the few gleams of sunshine that play warmly
about her feet—"
"Yes, yes; all very true; very true;" said Mrs. Elder,
"The days that look so bright in the future, never come."
"They have never come to me." And the sick woman shook her head
mournfully. "Long, long ago, I ceased to expect them." And yet, in
almost the next breath, Mrs. Elder said:
"If Lotty were only here, I think I would be happy again."
"You must try and extract some grains of comfort even from the
present," replied the kind-hearted visitor. "Consider me your friend,
and look to me for whatever is needed. I have brought you over some
tea and sugar, a loaf of bread, and some nice pieces of ham. Here are
half a dozen fresh eggs besides, and a glass of jelly. In the morning
I will send one of my girls to put everything in order for you, and
clear your rooms up nicely. Let Betsy lay out all your soiled
clothing, and I will have it washed and ironed. So, cheer up; if the
day opened with clouds in the sky, there is light in the west at its
Mrs. Markland spoke in a buoyant tone; and something of the spirit
she wished to transfer, animated the heart of Mrs. Elder.
As the mother and her gentle child went back, through the deepening
twilight, to their home of luxury and taste, both were, for much of
the way, silent; the former musing on what she had seen and heard,
and, like the wise bee, seeking to gather whatever honey could be
found: the latter, happy-hearted, from causes the reader has seen.
"WALKING here yet, Edward?" said Mrs. Markland, as she joined her
husband in the spacious portico, after her return from the sick
woman's cottage; and drawing her arm within his, she moved along by
his side. He did not respond to her remark, and she continued:—
"Italy never saw a sunset sky more brilliant. Painter never threw
on canvas colours so full of a living beauty. Deep purple and lucent
azure,—crimson and burnished gold! And that far-off island-cloud—
'A Delos in the airy ocean—'
seems it not a floating elysium for happy souls?"
"All lovely as Nature herself," answered Mr. Markland,
abstractedly, as his eyes sought the western horizon, and for the
first time since the sun went down, he noticed the golden glories of
"Ah! Edward! Edward!" said Mrs. Markland, chidingly, "You are not
only in the world, but of the world."
"Of the earth, earthy, did you mean to say, my gentle monitor?"
returned the husband, leaning towards his wife.
"Oh, no, no! I did not mean grovelling or sordid; and you know I
did not." She spoke quickly and with mock resentment.
"Am I very worldly-minded?"
"I did not use the term."
"You said I was not only in the world, but of it."
"Well, and so you are; at least in a degree. It is the habit of the
world to close its eyes to the real it possesses, and aspire after an
"And do you find that defect in me, Agnes?"
"Where was thought just now, that your eyes were not able to bring
intelligence to your mind of this glorious sunset?"
"Thought would soon become a jaded beast of burden, Agnes, if
always full laden with the present, and the actually existent.
Happily, like Pegasus, it has broad and strong pinions—can rise free
from the prisoner's cell and the rich man's dainty palace. Free! free!
How the heart swells, elated and with a sense of power, at this noble
word—Freedom! It has a trumpet-tone."
"Softly, softly, my good husband," said Mrs. Markland. "This is all
"And but for enthusiasm, where would the world be now, my sweet
"I am no philosopher, and have but little enthusiasm. So we are not
on equal ground for an argument. I I don't know where the world would
be under the circumstances you allege, and so won't pretend to say.
But I'll tell you what I do know."
"I am all attention."
"That if people would gather up each day the blessings that are
scattered like unseen pearls about their feet, the world would be
rich in contentment."
"I don't know about that, Agnes; I've been studying for the last
half hour over this very proposition."
"Indeed! and what is the conclusion at which you have arrived?"
"Why, that discontent with the present, is a law of our being,
impressed by the Creator, that we may ever aspire after the more
"I am far from believing, Edward," said his wife, "that a
discontented present is any preparation for a happy future. Rather,
in the wooing of sweet Content to-day, are we making a home for her
in our hearts, where she may dwell for all time to come—yea, forever
"Beautifully said, Agnes; but is that man living whose heart asks
not something more than it possesses—who does not look to a coming
time with vague anticipations of a higher good than he has yet
"It may be all so, Edward—doubtless is so—but what then? Is the
higher good we pine for of this world? Nay, my husband. We should not
call a spirit of discontent with our mere natural surroundings a law
of the Creator, established as a spur to advancement; for this
disquietude is but the effect of a deeper cause. It is not change of
place, but change of state that we need. Not a going from one point
in space to another, but a progression of the spirit in the way of
"You said just now, Agnes, that you were no philosopher." Mr.
Markland's voice had lost much of its firmness. "But what would I not
give to possess some of your philosophy. Doubtless your words are
true; for there must be a growth and progression of the spirit as well
as of the body; for all physical laws have their origin in the world
of mind, and bear thereto exact relations. Yet, for all this, when
there is a deep dissatisfaction with what exists around us, should we
not seek for change? Will not a removal from one locality to another,
and an entire change of pursuits, give the mind a new basis in natural
things, and thus furnish ground upon which it may stand and move
"Perhaps, if the ground given us to stand upon were rightly tilled,
it would yield a richer harvest than any we shall ever find, though
we roam the world over; and it may be, that the narrow path to heaven
lies just across our own fields. It is in the actual and the present
that we are to seek a true development of our spiritual life. 'Work
while it is to-day,' is the Divine injunction."
"But if we can find no work, Agnes?"
"If the heart be willing and the hands ready," was the earnestly
spoken answer, "work enough will be found to do."
"I have a willing heart, Agnes,—I have ready hands—but the heart
is wearied of its own fruitless desires, and the hands hang down in
idleness. What shall I do? The work in which I have found so much
delight for years, is completed; and now the restless mind springs
away from this lovely Eden, and pines for new fields in which to
display its powers. Here I fondly hoped to spend the remainder of my
life—contented—happy. The idea was a dreamy illusion. Daily is this
seen in clear light. I reprove myself; I chide the folly, as I call
it; but, all in vain. Beauty for me, has faded from the landscape, and
the air is no longer balmy with odours. The birds sing for my ears no
more; I hear not, as of old, the wind spirits whispering to each other
in the tree tops. Dear Agnes!—wife of my heart—what does it mean?"
An answer was on the lip of Mrs. Markland, but words so unlooked
for, swelled, suddenly, the wave of emotion in her heart, and she
could not speak. A few moments her hand trembled on the arm of her
husband. Then it was softly removed, and without a word, she passed
into the house, and going to her own room, shut the door, and sat
down in the darkness to commune with her spirit. And first, there
came a gush of tears. These were for herself. A shadow had suddenly
fallen upon the lovely home where she had hoped to spend all the days
of her life—a shadow from a storm-boding cloud. Even from the
beginning of their wedded life, she had marked in her husband a
defect of character, which, gaining strength, had led to his giving
up business, and their retirement to the country. That defect was the
common one, appertaining to all, a looking away from the present into
the future for the means of enjoyment. In all the years of his earnest
devotion to business, Mr. Markland had kept his eye steadily fixed
upon the object now so completely attained; and much of present
enjoyment had been lost in the eager looking forward for this coveted
time. And now, that more than all his fondest anticipations were
realized, only for a brief period did he hold to his lips the cup full
of anticipated delight. Already his hand felt the impulse that moved
him to pour its crystal waters upon the ground.
Mrs. Markland's clear appreciation of her husband's character was
but a prophecy of the future. She saw that Woodbine Lodge—now grown
into her affections, and where she hoped to live and die—even if it
did not pass from their possession—bartered for some glittering
toy—could not remain their permanent home. For this flowed her first
tears; and these, as we have said, were for herself. But her mind soon
regained its serenity; and from herself, her thoughts turned to her
husband. She was unselfish enough not only to be able to realize
something of his state of mind, but to sympathize with him, and pity
his inability to find contentment in the actual. This state of mind
she regarded as a disease, and love prompted all self-denial for his
"I can be happy any, where, if only my husband and children are
left. My husband, so generous, so noble-minded—my children, so
innocent, so loving."
Instantly the fountain of tears were closed. These unselfish words,
spoken in her own heart, checked the briny current. Not for an
instant did Mrs. Markland seek to deceive herself or hearken to the
suggestion that it was but a passing state in the partner of her
life. She knew too well the origin of his disquietude to hope for its
removal. In a little while, she descended and joined her family in the
sitting-room, where the soft astral diffused its pleasant light, and
greeted her sober-minded husband with loving smiles and cheerful
words. And he was deceived. Not for an instant imagined he, after
looking upon her face, that she had passed through a painful, though
brief conflict, and was now possessed of a brave heart for any change
that might come. But he had not thought of leaving Woodbine Lodge. Far
distant was this from his imagination. True—but Agnes looked with a
quick intuition from cause to effect. The elements of happiness no
longer existed here for her husband; or, if they did exist, he had not
the skill to find them, and the end would be a searching elsewhere for
the desired possession.
"You did not answer my question, Agnes," said Mr. Markland, after
the children had retired for the evening, and they were again alone.
"What question?" inquired Mrs. Markland; and, as she lifted her
eyes, he saw that they were dim with tears.
"What troubles you, dear?" he asked, tenderly.
Mrs. Markland forced a smile, as she replied, "Why should I be
troubled? Have I not every good gift the heart can desire?"
"And yet, Agnes, your eyes are full of tears."
"Are they?" A light shone through their watery vail. "Only an April
shadow, Edward, that is quickly lost in April sunshine. But your
question is not so easily answered."
"I ought to be perfectly happy here; nothing seems wanting. Yet my
spirit is like a aged bird that flutters against its prison-bars."
"Oh, no, Edward; not so bad as that," replied Mrs. Markland. "You
speak in hyperbole. This lovely place, which everywhere shows the
impress of your hand, is not a prison. Call it rather, a paradise."
"A paradise I sought to make it. But I am content no longer to be
an idle lingerer among its pleasant groves; for I have ceased to feel
the inspiration of its loveliness."
Mrs. Markland made no answer. After a silence of some minutes, her
husband said, with a slight hesitation in his voice, as if uncertain
as to the effect of his words—
"I have for some time felt a strong desire to visit Europe."
The colour receded from Mrs. Markland's face; and there was a look
in her eyes that her husband did not quite understand, as they rested
steadily in his.
"I have the means and the leisure," he added, "and the tour would
not only be one of pleasure, but profit."
"True," said his wife, and, then her, face was bent down so low
that he could not see, its expression for the shadows by which it was
"We would both enjoy the trip exceedingly."
"Both! You did not think of taking me?"
"Why, Aggy, dear!—as if I could dream for a moment of any pleasure
in which you had not a share!"
So earnestly and tenderly was this said, that Mrs. Markland felt a
thrill of joy tremble over her heart-strings. And yet, for all, she
could not keep back the overflowing tears, but hid her face, to
conceal them, on her husband's bosom.
Her true feelings Mr. Markland did not read: and often, as he mused
on what appeared singular in her manner that evening, he was puzzled
to comprehend its meaning. Nor had his vision ever penetrated deep
enough to see all that was in her heart.
THE memory of what passed between Mr. and Mrs. Markland remained
distinct enough in both their minds, on the next morning, to produce
thoughtfulness and reserve. The night to each had been restless and
wakeful; and in the snatches of sleep which came at weary intervals
were dreams that brought no tranquillizing influence.
The mother's daily duty, entered into from love to her children,
soon lifted her mind into a sunnier region, and calmed her pulse to
an even stroke. But the spirit of Markland was more disturbed, more
restless, more dissatisfied with himself and every thing around him,
than when first introduced to the reader's acquaintance. He eat
sparingly at the breakfast-table, and with only a slight relish. A
little forced conversation took place between him and his wife; but
the thoughts of both were remote from the subject introduced. After
breakfast, Mr. Markland strolled over his handsome grounds, and
endeavoured to awaken in his mind a new interest in what possessed so
much of real beauty. But the effort was fruitless; his thoughts were
away from the scenes in which he was actually present. Like a dreamy
enthusiast on the sea-shore, he saw, afar off, enchanted Islands
faintly pictured on the misty horizon, and could not withdraw his gaze
from their ideal loveliness.
A little way from the house was a grove, in the midst of which a
fountain threw upward its refreshing waters, that fell plashing into
a marble basin, and then went gurgling musically along over shining
pebbles. How often, with his gentle partner by his side, had Markland
lingered here, drinking in delight from every fair object by which
they were surrounded! Now he wandered amid its cool recesses, or sat
by the fountain, without having even a faint picture of the scene
mirrored in his thoughts. It was true, as he had said, "Beauty had
faded from the landscape; the air was no longer balmy with odours; the
birds sang for his ears no more; he heard not, as of old, the
wind-spirits whispering to each other in the tree-tops;" and he sighed
deeply as a half-consciousness of the change disturbed his reverie. A
footfall reached his ears, and, looking up, he saw a neighbour
approaching: a man somewhat past the prime of life, who came toward
him with a familiar smile, and, as he offered his hand, said
"Good morning, Friend Markland."
"Ah! good morning, Mr. Allison," was returned with a forced
cheerfulness; "I am happy to meet you."
"And happy always, I may be permitted to hope," said Mr. Allison,
as his mild yet intelligent eyes rested on the face of his neighbour.
"I doubt," answered Mr. Markland, in a voice slightly depressed
from the tone in which he had first spoken, "whether that state ever
comes in this life."
"Happiness?" inquired the other.
"Perpetual happiness; nay, even momentary happiness."
"If the former comes not to any," said Mr. Allison, "the latter, I
doubt not, is daily enjoyed by thousands."
Mr. Markland shook his head, as he replied—
"Take my case, for instance; I speak of myself, because my thought
has been turning to myself; there are few elements of happiness that
I do not possess, and yet I cannot look back to the time when I was
"I hardly expected this from you, Mr. Markland," said the
neighbour; "to my observation, you always seemed one of the most
cheerful of men."
"I never was a misanthrope; I never was positively unhappy. No, I
have been too earnest a worker. But there is no disguising from
myself the fact, now I reflect upon it, that I have known but little
true enjoyment as I moved along my way through life."
"I must be permitted to believe," replied Mr. Allison, "that you
are not reading aright your past history. have been something of an
observer of men and things, and my experience leads me to this
"He who has felt the pain, Mr. Allison, bears ever after the memory
of its existence."
"And the marks, too, if the pain has been as prolonged and severe
as your words indicate."
"But such marks, in your case, are not visible. That you have not
always found the pleasure anticipated—that you have looked
restlessly away from the present, longing for some other good than
that laid by the hand of a benignant Providence at your feet, I can
well believe; for this is my own history, as well as yours: it is the
history of all mankind."
"Now you strike the true chord, Mr. Allison. Now you state the
problem I have not skill to solve. Why is this?"
"Ah! if the world had skill to solve that problem," said the
neighbour, "it would be a wiser and happier world; but only to a few
is this given."
"What is the solution? Can you declare it?"
"I fear you would not believe the answer a true one. There is
nothing in it flattering to human nature; nothing that seems to give
the weary, selfish heart a pillow to rest upon. In most cases it has
a mocking sound."
"You have taught me more than one life-lesson, Mr. Allison. Speak
freely now. I will listen patiently, earnestly, looking for
instruction. Why are we so restless and dissatisfied in the present,
even though all of earthly good surrounds us, and ever looking far
away into the uncertain future for the good that never comes, or that
loses its brightest charms in possession?"
"Because," said the old man, speaking slowly, and with emphasis,
"we are mere self-seekers."
Mr. Markland had bent toward him, eager for the answer; but the
words fell coldly, and with scarce a ray of intelligence in them, on
his ears. He sighed faintly and leaned back in his seat, while a look
of disappointment shadowed his countenance.
"Can you understand," said Mr. Allison, "the proposition that man,
aggregated, as well as in the individual, is in the human form?"
Markland gazed inquiringly into the questioner's face. "In the
human form as to uses?" said Mr. Allison. "How as to uses?"
"Aggregate men into larger or smaller bodies, and, in the
attainment of ends proposed, you will find some directing, as the
head, and some executing, as the hands."
"Society, then, is only a man in a larger form. Now, there are
voluntary, as well as involuntary associations; the voluntary, such
as, from certain ends, individuals form one with another; the
involuntary, that of the common society in which we live. Let us look
for a moment at the voluntary association, and consider it as man in a
larger form. You see how all thought conspires to a single end and how
judgment speaks in a single voice. The very first act of organization
is to choose a head for direction, and hands to execute the will of
this larger man. And now mark well this fact: Efficient action by this
aggregated man depends wholly upon the unselfish exercise by each part
of its function for the good of the whole. Defect and disorder arise
the moment the head seeks power or aggrandizement for itself, the
hands work for their good alone, or the feet strive to bear the body
alone the paths they only wish to tread. Disease follows, if the evil
is not remedied; disease, the sure precursor of dissolution. How
disturbed and unhappy each member of such an aggregated man must be,
you can at once perceive.
"If it is so in the voluntary man of larger form, how can it be
different in the involuntary man, or the man of common society?"
"Of this great body you are a member. In it you are sustained, and
live by virtue of its wonderful organization. From the blood
circulating in its veins you obtain nutrition, and as its feet move
forward, you are borne onward in the general progression. From all
its active senses you receive pleasure or intelligence; and yet this
larger man of society is diseased—all see, all feel, all lament
this—fearfully diseased. It contains not a single member that does
not suffer pain. You are not exempt, favourable as is your position.
If you enjoy the good attained by the whole, you have yet to bear a
portion of the evil suffered by the whole. Let me add, that if you
find the cause of unhappiness in this larger man, you will find it in
yourself. Think! Where does it lie?"
"You have given me the clue," replied Mr. Markland, "in your
picture of the voluntarily aggregated man. In this involuntary man of
common society, to which, as you have said, we all bear relation as
members, each seeks his own good, regardless of the good of the
whole; and there is, therefore, a constant war among the members."
"And if not war, suffering," said Mr. Allison. "This man is
sustained by a community of uses among the members. In the degree
that each member performs his part well, is the whole body served;
and in the degree that each member neglects his work, does the whole
"If each worked for himself, all would be served," answered Mr.
Markland. "It is because so many will not work for themselves, that
so many are in want and suffering."
"In the very converse of this lies the true philosophy; and until
the world has learned the truth, disorder and unhappiness will
prevail. The eye does not see for itself, nor the ear hearken; the
feet do not walk, nor the hands labour for themselves; but each
freely, and from an affection for the use in which it is engaged,
serves the whole body, while every organ or member of the body
conspires to sustain it. See how beautifully the eyes direct the
hands, guiding them in every minute particular, while the heart sends
blood to sustain them in their labours, and the feet bear them to the
appointed place; and the hands work not for themselves, but that the
whole body may be nourished and clothed. Where each regards the
general good, each is best served. Can you not see this, Mr.
"I can, to a certain extent. The theory is beautiful, as applied to
your man of common society. But, unfortunately, it will not work in
practice. We must wait for the millennium."
"Yes, that good time coming, toward which the Christian world looks
with such a pleasing interest."
"A time to be ushered in by proclamation, I suppose?"
"How, and when, and where it is to begin, I am not advised," said'
Mr. Markham, smiling. "All Christians expect it; and many have set
the beginning thereof near about this time."
"What if it have begun already?"
"Already! Where is the sign, pray? It has certainly escaped my
observation. If the Lord had actually come to reign a thousand years,
surely the world would know it. In what favoured region has he made
his second advent?"
"Is it not possible that the Christian world may be in error as to
the manner of this second coming, that is to usher in the
"Yes, very. I don't see, that in all prophecy, there is any thing
definite on the subject."
"Nothing more definite than there was in regard to the first
"And yet, while in their very midst, even though miracles were
wrought for them; the Jews did not know the promised Messiah."
"They expected a king in regal state, and an assumption of visible
power. They looked for marked political changes. And when the Lord
said to them, 'My kingdom is not of this world,' they denied and
rejected him. Now, is it not a possible case, that the present
generation, on this subject, may be no wiser than the Jews?"
"Not a very flattering conclusion," said Markland. "The age is
certainly more enlightened, and the world wiser and better than it
was two thousand years ago."
"And therefore," answered Mr. Allison, "the better prepared to
understand this higher truth, which it was impossible for the Jews to
comprehend, that the kingdom of God is within us."
"Within us!—within us!" Markland repeated the words two or three
times, as if there were in them gleams of light which had never
before dawned upon his mind.
"Of one thing you may be assured," said Mr. Allison, speaking with
some earnestness; "the millennium will commence only when men begin
to observe the Golden Rule. If there are any now living who in all
sincerity strive to repress their selfish inclinations, and seek the
good of others from genuine neighbourly love, then the millennium has
begun; and it will never be fully ushered in, until that law of
unselfish, reciprocal uses that rules in our physical man becomes the
law of common society."
"Are there any such?"
"Who seek the good of others from a genuine neighbourly love?"
"I believe so."
"Then you think the millennium has commenced?"
"The beginning must be very small. The light hid under a bushel.
Now I have been led to expect that this light, whenever it came, would
be placed on a candlestick, to give light unto all in the house."
"May it not be shining? Nay, may there not be light in all the
seven golden candlesticks, without your eyes being attracted thereby?"
"I will not question your inference. It may all be possible. But
your words awaken in my mind but vague conceptions."
"The history of the world, as well as your own observation, will
tell you that all advances toward perfection are made with slow
steps. And further, that all changes in the character of a whole
people simply indicate the changes that have taken place in the
individuals who compose that people. The national character is but
its aggregated personal character. If the world is better now than it
was fifty years ago, it is because individual men and women are
becoming better—that is, less selfish, for in self-love lies the
germ of all evil. The Millennium must, therefore, begin with the
individual. And so, as it comes not by observation—or with a 'lo!
here, and lo! there'—men are not conscious of its presence. Yet be
assured, my friend, that the time is at hand; and that every one who
represses, through the higher power given to all who ask for it, the
promptings of self-love, and strives to act from a purified love of
the neighbour, is doing his part, in the only way he can do it,
toward hastening the time when the 'wolf also shall dwell with the
lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf, and the
young lion, and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead
"Have we not wandered," said Mr. Markland, after a few moments of
thoughtful silence, "from the subject at first proposed?"
"I have said more than I intended," was answered, "but not, I
think, irrelevantly. If you are not happy, it is because, like an
inflamed organ in the human body, you are receiving more blood than is
applied to nutrition. As a part of the larger social man, you are not
using the skill you possess for the good of the whole. You are looking
for the millennium, but not doing your part toward hastening its
general advent. And now, Mr. Markland, if what I have said be true,
can you wonder at being the restless, dissatisfied man you represent
yourself to be?"
"If your premises be sound, your conclusions are true enough"
answered Markland, with some coldness and abstraction of manner. The
doctrine was neither flattering to his reason, nor agreeable to his
feelings. He was too confirmed a lover of himself to receive
willingly teaching like this. A type of the mass around him, he was
content to look down the dim future for signs of the approaching
millennium, instead of into his own heart. He could give hundreds of
dollars in aid of missions to convert the heathen, and to bring in
the islands of the sea, as means of hastening the expected time; but
was not ready, as a surer means to this end, to repress a single
selfish impulse of his nature.
The conversation was still further prolonged, with but slight
change in the subject. At parting with his neighbour, Markland found
himself more disturbed than before. A sun ray had streamed suddenly
into the darkened chambers of his mind, disturbing the night birds
there, and dimly revealing an inner world of disorder, from which his
eyes vainly sought to turn themselves. If the mental disease from
which he was suffering had its origin in the causes indicated by Mr.
Allison, there seemed little hope of a cure in his case. How was he,
who all his life long had regarded himself, and those who were of his
own flesh and blood, as only to be thought of and cared for, to forget
himself, and seek, as the higher end of his existence, the good of
others? The thought created no quicker heart-beat—threw no warmer
tint on the ideal future toward which his eyes of late had so fondly
turned themselves. To live for others and not for himself—this was to
extinguish his very life. What were others to him? All of his world
was centred in his little home-circle. Alas! that its power to fill
the measure of his desires was gone—its brightness dimmed—its
attraction a binding-spell no longer!
And so Markland strove to shut out from his mind the light shining
in through the little window opened by Mr. Allison; but the effort
was in vain. Steadily the light came in, disturbing the owls and
bats, and revealing dust, cankering mould, and spider-web
obstructions. All on the outside was fair to the world; and as fair,
he had believed, within. To be suddenly shown his error, smote him
with a painful sense of humiliation.
"What is the highest and noblest attribute of manhood?" Mr. Allison
had asked of him during their conversation.
Markland did not answer the question.
"The highest excellence—the greatest glory—the truest honour must
be in God," said the old man.
"All will admit that," returned Markland.
"Those, then, who are most like him, are most excellent—most
"Love," continued Mr. Allison, "is the very essential nature of
God—not love of self, but love of creating and blessing others, out
of himself. Love of self is a monster; but love of others the
essential spirit of true manhood, and therefore its noblest
Markland bowed his head, convicted in his own heart of having, all
his life long, been a self-worshipper; of having turned his eyes away
from the true type of all that was noble and excellent, and striven to
create something of his own that was excellent and beautiful. But,
alas! there was no life in the image; and already its decaying
elements were an offence in his nostrils,
"In the human body," said Mr. Allison, "as in the human soul when
it came pure from the hands of God, there is a likeness of the
Creator. Every organ and member, from the largest to the most hidden
and minute, bears this likeness, in its unselfish regard for the good
of the whole body. For, as we have seen, each, in its activity, has no
respect primarily to its own life. And it is because the human soul
has lost this likeness of its loving Creator, that it is so weak,
depraved, and unhappy. There must be the restored image. and
likeness, before there be the restored Eden."
The noblest type of manhood! Never in all his after life was Edward
Markland able to shut out this light of truth from his understanding.
It streamed through the little window, shining very dimly at times;
but always strong enough to show him that unselfish love was man's
highest attribute, and self-love a human monster.
WHILE Mr. Markland was brooding over his own unhappy state, and
seeking to shut out the light shining too strongly in upon his real
quality of mind, Mrs. Markland was living, in some degree, the very
life that seemed so unattractive to him, and receiving her measure of
reward. While he wandered, with an unquiet spirit, over his fields, or
sat in cool retreats by plashing fountains, his thoughts reaching
forward to embrace the coming future, she was active in works of love.
Her chief desire was the good of her beloved ones, and she devoted
herself to this object with an almost entire forgetfulness of self.
Home was therefore the centre of her thoughts and affections, but not
the selfish centre: beyond that happy circle often went out her
thoughts, laden with kind wishes that died not fruitless.
The family of Mr. Markland consisted of his wife, four children,
and a maiden sister—Grace Markland,—the latter by no means one of
the worst specimens of her class. With Agnes, in her seventh year, the
reader has already a slight acquaintance. Francis, the baby, was two
years old, and the pet of every one but Aunt Grace, who never did
like children. But he was so sweet a little fellow, that even the
stiff maiden would bend toward him now and then, conscious of a
warmer heart-beat. George, who boasted of being ten—quite an
advanced age, in his estimation—might almost be called a thorn in
the flesh to Aunt Grace, whose nice sense of propriety and decorum he
daily outraged by rudeness and want of order. George was boy all over,
and a strongly-marked specimen of his class—"as like his father, when
at his age, as one pea to another," Aunt Grace would say, as certain
memories of childhood presented themselves with more than usual
vividness. The boy was generally too much absorbed in his own purposes
to think about the peculiar claims to respect of age, sex, or
condition. Almost from the time he could toddle about the carpeted
floor, had Aunt Grace been trying to teach him what she called
manners. But he was never an apt scholar in her school. If he mastered
the A B C to-day, most probably on her attempt to advance him
to-morrow into his a-b ab's, he had wholly forgotten the previous
lesson. Poor Aunt Grace! She saw no hope for the boy. All her labour
was lost on him.
Fanny, the oldest child, just completing her seventeenth year, was
of fair complexion and delicate frame; strikingly beautiful, and as
pure in mind as she was lovely in person. All the higher traits of
womanhood that gave such a beauty to the mother's character were as
the unfolding bud in her. Every one loved Fanny, not even excepting
Aunt Grace, who rarely saw any thing in her niece that violated her
strict sense of propriety. Since the removal of the family to
Woodbine Lodge, the education of Fanny had been under the direction
of a highly accomplished governess. In consequence, she was quite
withdrawn from intercourse with young ladies of her own age. If, from
this cause, she was ignorant of many things transpiring in city life,
the purer atmosphere she daily breathed gave a higher moral tone to
her character. In all the sounder accomplishments Fanny would bear
favourable comparison with any; and as for grace of person and
refinement of manners, these were but the expression of an inward
sense of beauty.
As Fanny unfolded toward womanhood, putting forth, like an opening
blossom, some newer charms each day, the deep love of her parents
began to assume the character of jealous fear. They could not long
hide from other's eyes the treasure they possessed, and their hearts
grew faint at the thought of having it pass into other hands. But
very few years would glide away ere wooers would come, and seek to
charm her ears with songs sweeter than ever thrilled them in her own
happy home. And there would be a spell upon her spirit, so that she
could not help but listen. And, mayhap, the song that charmed her
most might come from unworthy lips. Such things had been, alas!
Thus it was with the family of Mr. Markland at the time of our
introduction to them. We have not described each individual with
minuteness, but sufficiently indicated to give them a place in the
reader's mind. The lights and shadows will be more strongly marked
The effect of Mr. Allison's conversation was, as has been seen, to
leave Markland in a still more dissatisfied state of mind. After
various fruitless efforts to get interested in what was around him,
and thus compel self-forgetfulness, he thought of some little matter
in the city that required his attention, and forthwith ordered the
"I shall not be home till evening," he said, as he parted with his
During the day, Mrs. Markland paid another visit to the humble home
of Mrs. Elder, and ministered as well to her mental as to her bodily
wants. She made still closer inquiries about her daughter's family;
and especially touching the husband's character for industry,
intelligence, and trustworthiness. She had a purpose in this; for the
earnest desire expressed by Mrs. Elder to have her daughter with her,
had set Mrs. Markland to thinking about the ways and means of
effecting the wished-for object. The poor woman was made happier by
It was near sundown when the carriage was observed approaching
through the long, shaded avenue. Mrs. Markland and all the children
stood in the porch, to welcome the husband and father, whose absence,
though even for the briefest period, left for their hearts a
diminished brightness. As the carriage drew nearer, it was seen to
contain two persons.
"There is some one with your father," said Mrs. Markland, speaking
"A gentleman—I wonder who it can be?"
"Your Uncle George, probably."
"No; it isn't Uncle George," said Fanny, as the carriage reached
the oval in front of the house, and swept around towards the portico.
"It's a younger man; and he is dressed in black."
Further conjecture was suspended by the presence of the individual
in regard to whom they were in doubt. He was a stranger, and Mr.
Markland presented him as Mr. Lyon, son of an old and valued business
correspondent, residing in Liverpool. A cordial welcome awaited Mr.
Lyon at Woodbine Lodge, as it awaited all who were introduced by the
gentlemanly owner. If Mr. Markland thought well enough of any one to
present him at home, the home-circle opened smilingly to receive.
The stranger was a young man, somewhere between the ages of
twenty-five and thirty; above the medium height; with a well-formed
person, well-balanced head, and handsome countenance. His mouth was
the least pleasing feature of his face. The lips were full, but too
firmly drawn back against his teeth. Eyes dark, large, and slightly
prominent, with great depth, but only occasional softness, of
expression. His was a face with much in it to attract, and something
to repel. A deep, rich voice, finely modulated, completed his
It so happened that Mr. Lyon had arrived from New York that very
day, with letters to Mr. Markland. His intention was to remain only
until the next morning. The meeting with Mr. Markland was accidental;
and it was only after earnest persuasion that the young man deferred
his journey southward, and consented to spend a day or two with the
retired merchant, in his country home. Mr. Lyon was liberally
educated, bad travelled a good deal, and been a close observer and
thinker. He was, moreover, well read in human nature. That he charmed
the little circle at Woodbine Lodge on the first evening of his visit.
there, is scarcely a matter of wonder. Nor was he less charmed.
Perhaps the only one not altogether pleased was Aunt Grace. By habit a
close reader of all who came within range of her observation, she
occupied quite as much time in scanning the face of Mr. Lyon, and
noting each varying expression of eyes, lips, and voice, as in
listening to his entertaining description of things heard and seen.
"I don't just like him." Thus she soliloquized after she had
retired to her own room.' "He's deep—any one can see that—deep as
the sea. And he has a way of turning his eyes without turning his head
that don't please me exactly. Edward is wonderfully taken with him;
but he never looks very far below the surface. And Fanny—why the girl
seemed perfectly fascinated!"
And Aunt Grace shook her head ominously, as she added—
"He's handsome enough; but beauty's only skin-deep, and he may be
as black as Lucifer inside."
A greater part of the next day Mr. Markland and Mr. Lyon spent
alone, either in the library or seated in some one of the many shady
arbours and cool retreats scattered invitingly over the pleasant
estate. The stranger had found the mind of his host hungering for new
aliment, and as his own mind was full stored with thought and purpose,
he had but to speak to awaken interest. Among other things, he gave
Mr. Markland, a minute detail of certain plans for acquiring an
immense fortune, in the prosecution of which, in company with some
wealthy capitalists, he was now engaged. The result was sure; for
every step had been taken with the utmost cautions and every
calculation thrice verified.
"And what a dreaming idler I am here!" said Markland, half to
himself, in one of the conversational pauses, as there was presented
to his mind a vivid contrast of his fruitless inactivity with the
vigorous productive industry of others. "I half question, at times,
whether, in leaving the busy world, I did not commit a serious
"Have you given up all interest in business?" asked Mr. Lyon.
"Ah!" with slight evidence of surprise. "How do you live?"
"The life of an oyster, I was going to say," replied Markland, with
a faint smile.
"I would die if not active. True enjoyment, a wise friend has often
said to me, is never found in repose, but in activity. To me a palace
would be a prison, if I could find nothing to do; while a prison would
be a palace, if mind and hands were fully employed."
"I lack the motive for renewed effort," said Markland. "Wealth
beyond my present possession I do not desire. I have more than enough
safely invested to give me every comfort and luxury through life."
"But your children?" remarked the guest.
"Will have ample provision."
"There is another motive."
"Money is power."
"And by its proper use a man may elevate himself into almost any
position. It is the lever that moves the world."
Markland only shrugged his shoulders slightly.
"Have you no ambition?" inquired the other, in a familiar way.
"Ambition!" The question awakened surprise.
"To stand out prominently in the world's eye, no matter for what,
so the distinction be honourable," said Mr. Lyon. "Of the thousands
and tens of thousands who toil up the steep and often rugged paths to
wealth, and attain the desired eminence, how few are ever heard of
beyond the small community in which they live! Some of these, to
perpetuate a name, establish at death some showy charity, and thus
build for themselves a monument not overshadowed by statelier
mausoleums amid the rivalries of a fashionable cemetery. Pah! All
this ranges far below my aspiring. I wish to make a name while
living. Wealth in itself is only a toy. No true man can find pleasure
in its mere glitter for a day. It is only the miser who loves gold for
its own sake, and sees nothing beautiful or desirable except the
yellow earth he hoards in his coffers. Have you found happiness in the
mere possession of wealth?"
"Not in its
mere possession," was answered.
"Nor even in its lavish expenditure?"
"I have great pleasure in using it for the attainment of my
wishes," said Mr. Markland.
"The narrower the bound of our wishes, the quicker comes their
consummation, and then all is restlessness again, until we enter upon
a new pursuit."
"Is it not wise, then, to give a wide sweep to our aspirations? to
lift the ideal of our life to a high position; so that, in its
attainment, every latent power may be developed? Depend upon it, Mr.
Markland, we may become what we will; and I, for one, mean to become
something more than a mere money-getter and money-saver. But first
the money-getting, as a means to an end. To that every energy must
now be devoted."
Mr. Lyon's purpose was to interest Mr. Markland, and he was
entirely successful. He drew for him various attractive pictures, and
in the contemplation of each, as it stood vividly before him, the
retired merchant saw much to win his ardent admiration. Very
gradually, and very adroitly, seeming all the while as if he had not
the slightest purpose to interest Mr. Markland in that particular
direction, did Mr. Lyon create in his mind a strong confidence in the
enlarged schemes for obtaining immense wealth in which he was now
engaged. And the tempter was equally successful in his efforts to
awaken a desire in Mr. Markland to have his name stand out
prominently, as one who had shown remarkable public spirit and great
boldness in the prosecution of a difficult enterprise.
One, two, three days went by, and still Mr. Lyon was a lingerer at
Woodbine Lodge; and during most of that time he was alone and in
earnest conference with Mr. Markland. The evenings were always
pleasant seasons in the family circle. Fanny's voice had been well
cultivated, and she sung with fine taste; and as Mr. Lyon was also a
lover of music, and played and sung exquisitely, the two very
naturally spent a portion of their time at the piano. If it crossed
the father's mind that an attachment might spring up between them, it
did not disturb his feelings.
At the end of a week Mr. Lyon found it necessary to tear himself
away from the little paradise into which he had been so unexpectedly
introduced. Every day that he lingered there diminished the ardour of
his ambition, or robbed of some charm the bright ideal he had
worshipped. And so he broke the silken bonds that wove themselves
around him, at first light as gossamer, but now strong as twisted
Mr. Markland accompanied him to the city, and did not return home
until late in the evening. He was then much occupied with his own
thoughts, and entered but little into conversation. Fanny was
absent-minded, a fact that did not escape the mother's observation.
Aunt Grace noted the change which the stranger's coming and departure
had occasioned, and, shaking her wise head, spoke thus within
"He may be very handsome, but he casts a shadow, for all that. I
don't see what Edward was thinking about. He'd better let Fanny go
right into the world, where she can see dozens of handsome young men,
and contrast one with another, than hide her away here, until some
attractive young Lucifer comes along—a very Son of the Morning! How
can the girl help falling in love, if she sees but one man, and he
elegant, accomplished, handsome, and full of winning ways, even though
his hidden heart be black with selfishness?"
But Aunt Grace always looked at the shadowy side. Even if the sun
shone bright above, she thought of the clouds that were gathering
somewhere, and destined ere long to darken the whole horizon.
On the day following, Mr. Markland went again to the city, and was
gone until late in the evening. His mind was as much occupied as on
the evening previous, and he spent the hours from tea-time until
eleven o'clock in the library, writing. If Mrs. Markland did not
appear to notice any change in her husband since Mr. Lyon came to
Woodbine Lodge, it was not that the change had escaped her. No—she
was too deeply interested in all that concerned him to fail in noting
every new aspect of thought or feeling. He had said nothing of
awakened purpose, quickened into activity by long conferences with his
guest, but she saw that such purposes were forming. Of their nature
she was in entire ignorance. That they would still further estrange
him from Woodbine Lodge, she had too good reason, in a knowledge of
his character, to fear. With him, whatever became a pursuit absorbed
all others; and he looked to the end with a visions so intent, that
all else was seen in obscurity. And so, with a repressed sigh, this
gentle, true-hearted, loving woman, whose thought rarely turned in
upon herself, awaited patiently the time when her husband would open
to her what was in his thoughts. And the time, she knew, was not
BEFORE Mr. Lyon's visit to Woodbine Lodge, Mr. Markland rarely went
to the city. Now, scarcely a day passed that he did not order his
carriage immediately after breakfast; and he rarely came back until
nightfall. "Some matters of business," he would answer to the
questions of his family; but he gave no intimation as to the nature
of the business, and evidently did not care to be inquired of too
"What's come over Edward? He isn't the same man that he was a month
ago," said Miss Grace, as she stood in the portico, beside Mrs.
Markland, one morning, looking after the carriage which was bearing
her brother off to the city. There had been a hurried parting with
Mr. Markland, who seemed more absorbed than usual in his own
Mrs. Markland sighed faintly, but made no answer.
"I wonder what takes him off to town, post-haste, every day?"
"Business, I suppose," was the half-absent remark.
"Business! What kind of business, I'd like to know?"
"Edward has not informed me as to that," quietly answered Mrs.
"Indeed!" a little querulously. "Why don't you ask him?"
"I am not over-anxious on the subject. If he has any thing to
confide to me, he will do it in his own good time."
"Oh! you're too patient." The tone and manner of Miss Grace showed
that she, at least, was not overstocked with the virtue.
"Why should I be impatient?"
"Why? Goodness me! Do you suppose that if I had a husband—and it's
a blessed thing for me that I haven't—that I'd see him going off,
day after day, with lips sealed like an oyster, and remain as patient
as a pet lamb tied with a blue ribbon? Oh dear! no! Grace Markland's
made of warmer stuff than that. I like people who talk right out. I
always do. Then you know where to place them. But Edward always had a
hidden way about him."
"Oh, no, Grace; I will not agree to that for a moment," said Mrs.
"Won't you, indeed! I'm his sister, and ought to know something
"And I'm his wife," was the gentle response to this.
"I know you are, and a deal too good for him—the provoking man!"
said Grace, in her off-hand way, drawing her arm within that of Mrs.
Markland, to whom she was strongly attached. "And that's what riles
me up so."
"Why, you're in a strange humour, Grace! Edward has done nothing at
which I can complain."
"He hasn't, indeed?"
"I'd like to know what he means by posting off to the city every
day for a week at a stretch, and never so much as breathing to his
wife the purpose of his visits?"
"Business. He said that business required his attention."
"As to that, he did not think it necessary to advise me. Men do not
always explain business matters to their wives. One-half would not
understand what they were talking about, and the other half would
take little interest in the subject."
"A compliment to wives, certainly!" said Grace Markland, with a
rather proud toss of her head. "One of your lords of creation would
find different stuff in me. But I'm not satisfied with Edward's
goings on, if you are, Agnes. It's my opinion that your Mr. Lee Lyon
is at the bottom of all this."
A slight shade dimmed the face of Mrs. Markland. She did not reply;
but looked, with a more earnest expression, at her sister-in-law.
"Yes—your Mr. Lee Lyon." Grace was warming again. "He's one of
your men that cast shadows wherever they go. I felt it the moment his
foot crossed our threshold—didn't you?"
Grace gave thought and words to what, with Mrs. Markland, had only
been a vague impression. She had felt the shadow of his presence
without really perceiving from whence the shadow came. Pausing only a
moment for an answer to her query, Grace went on:—
"Mr. Lyon is at the bottom of all this, take my word for it; and if
he doesn't get Edward into trouble before he's done with him, my
name's not Grace Markland."
"Trouble! What do you mean, Grace?" Another shade of anxiety
flitted over the countenance of Mrs. Markland.
"Don't you suppose that Edward's going to town every day has
something to do with this Mr. Lyon?"
"Mr. Lyon went South nearly two weeks ago," was answered.
"That doesn't signify. He's a schemer and an adventurer—I could
see it in every lineament of his face—and, there's not a shadow of
doubt in my mind, has got Edward interested in some of his doings.
Why, isn't it as plain as daylight? Were not he and Edward
all-absorbed about something while he was here? Didn't he remain a
week when he had to be urged, at first, to stay a single day? And
hasn't Edward been a different man since he left, from what he was
before he came?"
"Your imagination is too active, Grace," Mrs. Markland replied,
with a faint smile. "I don't see any necessary connection between Mr.
Lyon and the business that requires Edward's attention in the city.
The truth is, Edward has grown weary of an idle life, and I shall not
at all regret his attention to some pursuit that will occupy his
thoughts. No man, with his mental and bodily powers in full vigour,
should be inactive."
"That will altogether depend on the direction his mind takes," said
"Of course. And I do not see any good reason you have for
intimating that in the present case the right direction has not been
taken." There was just perceptible a touch of indignation in the voice
of Mrs. Markland, which, being perceived by Grace, brought the
"Fore-warned, fore-armed. If my suspicion is baseless, no one is
Just then, Fanny, the oldest daughter, returned from a short walk,
and passed her mother and aunt on the portico, without looking up or
speaking. There was an air of absent-mindedness about her.
"I don't know what has come over Fanny," said Mrs. Markland. "She
isn't at all like herself." And as she uttered these words, not
meaning them for other ears than her own, she followed her daughter
into the house.
"Don't know what's come over Fanny!" said Aunt Grace to herself, as
she moved up and down the vine-wreathed portico—"well, well,—some
people are blind. This is like laying a block in a man's way,
and wondering that he should fall down. Don't know what's come over
Fanny? Dear! dear!"
Enough had been said by her sister-in-law to give direction to the
vague anxieties awakened in the mind of Mrs. Markland by the recent
deportment of her husband. He was not only absent in the city every
day, but his mind was so fully occupied when at home, that he took
little interest in the family circle. Sometimes he remained alone in
the library until a late hour at night; and his sleep, when he did
retire, was not sound; a fact but too well known to his wakeful
All through this day there was an unusual pressure on the feelings
of Mrs. Markland. When she inquired of herself as to the cause, she
tried to be satisfied with assigning it wholly to the remarks of her
sister-in-law, and not to any really existing source of anxiety. But
in this she was far from being successful; and the weight continued
to grow heavier as the hours moved on. Earlier than she had expected
its return, the carriage was announced, and Mrs. Markland, with a
suddenly-lightened heart, went tripping over the lawn to meet her
husband at the outer gate. "Where is Mr. Markland?" she exclaimed,
growing slightly pale, on reaching the carriage, and seeing that it
"Gone to New York," answered the coachman, at the same time handing
"To New York! When did he go?" Mrs. Markland's thoughts were thrown
into sudden confusion.
"He went at five o'clock, on business. Said he must be there
to-morrow morning. But he'll tell you all about it in the letter,
Recovering herself, Mrs. Markland stepped from the side of the
carriage, and as it passed on, she broke the seal of her letter,
which she found to contain one for Fanny, directed in a hand with
which she was not familiar.
"A letter for you, dear," she said; for Fanny was now by her side.
"Who is it from? Where is father?" asked Fanny in the same breath.
"Your father has gone to New York," said Mrs. Markland, with forced
Fanny needed no reply to the first question; her heart had already
given the answer. With a flushed cheek and quickening pulse, she
bounded away from her mother's side, and returning into the house,
sought the retirement of her own chamber.
"Dear Agnes,"—so ran the note of Mr. Markland to his wife,—"I
know that you will be surprised and disappointed at receiving only a
letter, instead of your husband. But some matters in New York require
my attention, and I go on by the evening train, to return day after
to-morrow. I engaged to transact some important business for Mr. Lyon,
when he left for the South, and in pursuance of this, I am now going
away. In a letter received from Mr. Lyon, to-day, was one for Fanny. I
do not know its contents. Use your own discretion about giving it to
her. You will find it enclosed. My mind has been so much occupied
to-day, that I could not give the subject the serious consideration it
requires. I leave it with you, having more faith in your intuitions
than in my own judgment. He did not hint, even remotely, at a
correspondence with Fanny, when he left; nor has he mentioned the fact
of enclosing a letter for her in the one received from him to-day.
Thus, delicately, has he left the matter in our hands. Perhaps you had
better retain the letter until I return. We can then digest the
subject more thoroughly. But, in order to furnish your mind some basis
to rest upon, I will say, that during the time Mr. Lyon was here I
observed him very closely; and that every thing about him gave me the
impression of a pure, high-minded, honourable man. Such is the
testimony borne in his favour by letters from men of standing in
England, by whom he is trusted with large interests. I do not think an
evidence of prepossession for our daughter, on his part, need occasion
anxiety, but rather pleasure. Of course, she is too young to leave the
home-nest for two or three years yet. But time is pressing, and my
mind is in no condition, just now, to think clearly on a subject
involving such important results. I think, however, that you had
better keep the letter until my return. It will be the most prudent
Keep the letter! Its contents were already in the heart of Fanny!
"Where's Edward? What's the matter?" queried Aunt Grace, coming up
at this moment, and seeing that all colour had left the cheeks of
Scarcely reflecting on what she did, the latter handed her
husband's letter in silence to her sister-in-law, and tottered, rather
than walked, to a garden chair near at hand.
"Well, now, here is pretty business, upon my word!" exclaimed Aunt
Grace, warmly. "Sending a letter to our Fanny! Who ever heard of such
assurance! Oh! I knew that some trouble would come of his visit here.
I felt it the moment I set my eyes on him. Keep the letter from Fanny?
Of course you will; and when you have a talk with Edward about it,
just let me be there; I want my say."
"It is too late," murmured the unhappy mother, in a low, sad voice.
"Too late! How? What do you mean, Agnes?"
"Fanny has the letter already."
"What!" There was a sharp, thrusting rebuke in the voice of Aunt
Grace, that seemed like a sword in the heart of Mrs. Markland.
"She stood by me when I opened her father's letter, enclosing the
one for her. I did not dream from whence it came, and handed it to
her without a thought."
"Agnes! Agnes! What have you done?" exclaimed Aunt Grace, in a
"Nothing for which I need reproach myself," said Mrs. Markland, now
grown calmer. "Had the discretion been left with me, I should not
have given Fanny the letter until Edward returned. But it passed to
her hands through no will of mine. With the Great Controller of
events it must now be left."
"Oh dear! Don't talk about the Controller of events in a case of
this kind. Wise people control such things through the wisdom given
them. I always think of Jupiter and the wagoner, when I hear any one
going on this way."
Aunt Grace was excited. She usually was when she thought earnestly.
But her warmth of word and manner rarely disturbed Mrs. Markland, who
knew her thoroughly, and valued her for her good qualities and strong
attachment to the family. No answer was made, and Aunt Grace added, in
a slightly changed voice,—
"I don't know that you are so much to blame, Agnes, seeing that
Fanny saw the letter, and that you were ignorant of its contents. But
Edward might have known that something like this would happen. Why
didn't he put the letter into his pocket, and keep it until he came
home? He seems to have lost his common sense. And then he must go off
into that rigmarole about Mr. Lyon, and try to make him out a saint,
as if to encourage you to give his letter to Fanny. I've no patience
with him! Mr. Lyon, indeed! If he doesn't have a heart-scald of him
before he's done with him, I'm no prophet. Important business for Mr.
Lyon! Why didn't Mr. Lyon attend to his own business when he was in
New York? Oh! I can see through it all, as clear as daylight. He's got
his own ends to gain through Edward, who is blind and weak enough to
be led by him."
"Hasty in judgment as ever," said Mrs. Markland, with a subdued,
resigned manner, as she arose and commenced moving toward the house,
her sister-in-law walking by her side,—"and quick to decide upon
character. But neither men nor women are to be read at a glance."
"So much the more reason for holding strangers at arms' length,"
returned Aunt Grace.
But Mrs. Markland felt in no mood for argument on so fruitless a
subject. On entering the house, she passed to her own private
apartment, there to commune with herself alone.
ONLY a few minutes had Mrs. Markland been in her room, when the
door opened quietly, and Fanny's light foot-fall was in her ears. She
did not look up; but her heart beat with a quicker motion, and her
breath was half-suspended.
She lifted her bowed head, and met the soft, clear eyes of her
daughter looking calmly down into her own.
"Fanny, dear!" she said, in half-surprise, as she placed an arm
around her, and drew her closely to her side.
An open letter was in Fanny's hand, and she held it toward her
mother. There was a warmer hue upon her face, as she said,—
"It is from Mr. Lyon."
"Shall I read it?" inquired Mrs. Markland.
"I have brought it for you to read," was the daughter's answer.
The letter was brief:
"To MISS FANNY MARKLAND:
"As I am now writing to your father, I must fulfil a half promise,
made during my sojourn at Woodbine Lodge, to write to you also.
Pleasant days were those to me, and they will ever make a green spot
in my memory. What a little paradise enshrines you! Art, hand in hand
with Nature, have made a world of beauty for you to dwell in. Yet, all
is but a type of moral beauty—and its true enjoyment is only for
those whose souls are attuned to deeper harmonies.
"Since leaving Woodbine Lodge, my thoughts have acquired a double
current. They run backward as well as forward. The true hospitality
of your manly-hearted father; the kind welcome to a stranger, given
so cordially by your gentle, good mother; and your own graceful
courtesy, toward one in whom you had no personal interest,
charmed—nay, touched me with a sense of gratitude. To forget all
this would be to change my nature. Nor can I shut out the image of
Aunt Grace, so reserved but lady-like in her deportment; yet close in
observation and quick to read character. I fear I did not make a good
impression on her—but she may know me better one of these days. Make
to her my very sincere regards.
"And now, what more shall I say? A first letter to a young lady is
usually a thing of shreds and patches, made up of sentences that
might come in almost any other connection; and mine is no exception
to the rule. I do not ask an answer; yet I will say, that I know
nothing that would give me more pleasure than such a favour from your
"Remember me in all kindness and esteem to your excellent parents.
"Sincerely yours, LEE LYON."
The deep breath taken by Mrs. Markland was one of relief. And yet,
there was something in the letter that left her mind in uncertainty
as to the real intentions of Mr. Lyon. Regret that he should have
written at all mingled with certain pleasing emotions awakened by the
graceful compliments of their late guest.
"It's a beautiful letter, isn't it, mother?"
"Yes, love," was answered almost without reflection.
Fanny re-folded the letter, with the care of one who was handling
"Shall I answer it?" she inquired.
"Not now. We must think about that. You are too young to enter into
correspondence with a gentleman—especially with one about whom we
know so little. Before his brief visit to Woodbine Lodge, we had
never so much as heard of Mr. Lyon."
A slight shade of disappointment crossed the bright young face of
Fanny Markland—not unobserved by her mother.
"It would seem rude, were I to take no notice of the letter
whatever," said she, after reflecting a moment.
"Your father can acknowledge the receipt for you, when he writes to
"But would that do?" asked Fanny, in evident doubt.
"O yes, and is, in my view, the only right course. We know but
little, if any thing, about Mr. Lyon. If he should not be a true man,
there is no telling how much you might suffer in the estimation of
right-minded people, by his representation that you were in
correspondence with him. A young girl can never be too guarded, on
this point. If Mr. Lyon is a man worthy of your respect, he will be
disappointed in you, if he receive an answer to his letter, under
your own hand."
"Why, mother? Does he not say that he knows of nothing that would
give him more pleasure than to receive an answer from me?" Fanny
spoke with animation.
"True, my child, and that part of his letter I like least of all."
"Why so?" inquired the daughter.
"Have you not gathered the answer to your own question from what I
have already said? A true man, who had a genuine respect for a young
lady, would not desire, on so slight an acquaintance, to draw her
into a correspondence; therefore the fact that Mr. Lyon half invites
you to a correspondence, causes doubts to arise in my mind. His
sending you a letter at all, when he is yet to us almost an entire
stranger, I cannot but regard as a breach of the hospitalities
extended to him."
"Is not that a harsh judgment?" said Fanny, a warmer hue mantling
"Reflect calmly, my child, and you will not think so."
"Then I ought not to answer this letter?" said Fanny, after musing
for some time.
"Let your father, in one of his letters, acknowledge the receipt
for you. If Mr. Lyon be a true man, he will respect you the more."
Not entirely satisfied, though she gave no intimation of this,
Fanny returned to the seclusion of her own room, to muse on so
unexpected a circumstance; and as she mused, the beating of her heart
grew quicker. Again she read the letter from Mr. Lyon, and again and
again conned it over, until every sentence was imprinted on her
memory. She did not reject the view taken by her mother; nay, she
even tried to make it her own; but, for all this, not the shadow of a
doubt touching Mr. Lyon could find a place in her thoughts. Before her
mental vision he stood, the very type of noble manhood.
WHAT an error had been committed! How painfully was this realized
by Mrs. Markland. How often had she looked forward, with a vague
feeling of anxiety, to the time, yet far distant—she had
believed—when the heart-strings of her daughter would tremble in
musical response to the low-breathed voice of love—and now that time
had come. Alas! that it had come so soon—ere thought and perception
had gained matured strength and wise discrimination. The voice of the
charmer was in her ears, and she was leaning to hearken.
Fanny did not join the family at the tea-table on that evening; and
on the next morning, when she met her mother, her face was paler than
usual, and her eyes drooped under the earnest gaze that sought to read
her very thoughts. It was plain, from her appearance, that her sleep
had been neither sound nor refreshing.
Mrs. Markland deemed it wisest to make no allusion to what had
occurred on the previous evening. Her views in regard to answering
Mr. Lyon's letter had been clearly expressed, and she had no fear
that her daughter would act in opposition to them. Most anxiously did
she await her husband's return. Thus far in life they had, in all
important events, "seen eye to eye," and she had ever reposed full
confidence in his judgment. If that confidence wavered in any degree
now, it had been disturbed through his seeming entire trust in Mr.
Aunt Grace had her share of curiosity, and she was dying, as they
say, to know what was in Fanny's letter. The non-appearance of her
niece at the tea-table had disappointed her considerably; and it was
as much as she could do to keep from going to her room during the
evening. Sundry times she tried to discover whether Mrs. Markland had
seen the letter or, not, but the efforts were unsuccessful; the mother
choosing for the present not to enter into further conversation with
her on the subject.
All eye and all ear was Aunt Grace on the next morning, when Fanny
made her appearance; but only through the eye was any information
gathered, and that of a most unsatisfactory character. The little
said by Fanny or her mother, was as a remote as possible from the
subject that occupied most nearly their thoughts. Aunt Grace tried in
various ways to lead them in the direction she would have them go; but
it was all in vain that she asked questions touching the return of her
brother, and wondered what could have taken him off to New York in
such a hurry; no one made any satisfactory reply. At last, feeling a
little chafed, and, at the same time, a little malicious, she said—
"That Mr. Lyon's at the bottom of this business."
The sentence told, as she had expected and intended. Fanny glanced
quickly toward her, and a crimson spot burned on her cheek. But no
word passed her lips. "So much gained," thought Aunt Grace; and then
she said aloud—
"I've no faith in the man myself."
This, she believed, would throw Fanny off of her guard; but she was
mistaken. The colour deepened on the young girl's cheeks, but she
made no response.
"If he doesn't get Edward into trouble before he's done with him,
I'm no prophet," added Aunt Grace, with a dash of vinegar in her
"Why do you say that?" asked Mrs. Markland, who felt constrained to
"I've no opinion of the man, and never had from the beginning, as
you are very well aware," answered the sister-in-law.
"Our estimate of character should have a sounder basis than mere
opinion, or, to speak more accurately—prejudice," said Mrs.
"I don't know what eyes were given us for, if we are not to see
with them," returned Aunt Grace, dogmatically. "But no wonder so many
stumble and fall, when so few use their eyes. There isn't that man
living who does not bear, stamped upon his face, the symbols of his
character. And plainly enough are these to be seen in the countenance
of Mr. Lyon."
"And how do you read them, Aunt Grace?" inquired Fanny, with a
manner so passionless, that even the sharp-sighted aunt was deceived
in regard to the amount of feeling that lay hidden in her heart.
"How do I read them? I'll tell you. I read them as the index to a
whole volume of scheming selfishness. The man is unsound at the
core." Aunt Grace was tempted by the unruffled exterior of her niece
to speak thus strongly. Her words went deeper than she had expected.
Fanny's face crimsoned instantly to the very temples, and an
indignant light flashed in her soft blue eyes.
"Objects often take their colour from the medium through which we
see them," she said quickly, and in a voice considerably disturbed,
looking, as she spoke, steadily and meaningly at her aunt.
"And so you think the hue is in the medium, and not in the object?"
said Aunt Grace, her tone a little modified.
"In the present instance, I certainly do," answered Fanny, with
"Ah, child! child!" returned her aunt, "this may be quite as true
in your case as in mine. Neither of us may see the object in its true
colour. You will, at least, admit this to be possible."
"And suppose you see it in a false colour?"
"Well?" Fanny seemed a little bewildered.
"Well? And what then?" Aunt Grace gazed steadily upon the
countenance of Fanny, until her eyes drooped to the floor. "To whom
is it of most consequence to see aright?"
Sharp-seeing, but not wise Aunt Grace! In the blindness of thy
anxiety for Fanny, thou art increasing her peril. What need for thee
to assume for the maiden, far too young yet to have the deeper chords
of womanhood awakened in her heart to love's music, that the evil or
good in the stranger's character might be any thing to her?
"You talk very strangely, Grace," said Mrs. Markland, with just
enough of rebuke in her voice to make her sister-in-law conscious
that she was going too far. "Perhaps we had better change the
subject," she added, after the pause of a few moments.
"As you like," coldly returned Aunt Grace, who soon after left the
room, feeling by no means well satisfied with herself or anybody
else. Not a word had been said to her touching the contents of
Fanny's letter, and in that fact was indicated a want of confidence
that considerably annoyed her. She had not, certainly, gone just the
right way about inviting confidence; but this defect in her own
conduct was not seen very clearly.
A constrained reserve marked the intercourse of mother, daughter,
and aunt during the day; and when night came, and the evening circle
was formed as usual, how dimly burned the hearth-fire, and how sombre
were the shadows cast by its flickering blaze! Early they separated,
each with a strange pressure on the feelings, and a deep disquietude
Most of the succeeding day Fanny kept apart from the family;
spending a greater portion of the time alone in her room. Once or
twice it crossed the mother's thought, that Fanny might be tempted to
answer the letter of Mr. Lyon, notwithstanding her promise not to do
so for the present. But she repelled the thought instantly, as unjust
to her beautiful, loving, obedient child. Still, Fanny's seclusion of
herself weighed on her mind, and led her several times to go into her
room. Nothing, either in her manner or employment, gave the least
confirmation to the vague fear which had haunted her.
The sun was nearly two hours above the horizon, when Fanny left the
house, and bent her steps towards a pleasant grove of trees that
stood some distance away. In the midst of the grove, which was not
far from the entrance-gate to her father's beautiful grounds, was a
summer-house, in Oriental style, close beside an ornamental fountain.
This was the favourite resort of the maiden, and thither she now
retired, feeling certain of complete seclusion, to lose herself in the
bewildering mazes of love's young dream. Before the eyes of her mind,
one form stood visible, and that a form of manly grace and
beauty,—the very embodiment of all human excellence. The disparaging
words of her aunt had, like friction upon a polished surface, only
made brighter to her vision the form which the other had sought to
blacken. What a new existence seemed opening before her, with new and
higher capacities for enjoyment! The half-closed bud had suddenly
unfolded itself in the summer air, and every blushing petal thrilled
with a more exquisite sense of life.
Every aspect of nature—and all her aspects were beautiful
there—had a new charm for the eyes of Fanny Markland. The silvery
waters cast upward by the fountain fell back in rainbow showers,
ruffling the tiny lake beneath, and filling the air with a low,
dreamy murmur. Never had that lovely creation of art, blending with
nature, looked so like an ideal thing as now—a very growth of
fairy-land. The play of the waters in the air was as the glad motions
of a living form.
Around this fountain was a rosary of white and red roses, encircled
again by arbor-vitae; and there were statues of choice workmanship,
the ideals of modern art, lifting their pure white forms here and
there in chastened loveliness. All this was shut in from observation
by a stately grove of elms. And here it was that the maiden had come
to hide herself from observation, and dream her waking dream of love.
What a world of enchantment was dimly opening before her, as her eye
ran down the Eden-vistas of the future! Along those aisles of life she
saw herself moving, beside a stately one, who leaned toward her, while
she clung to him as a vine to its firm support. Even while in the
mazes of this delicious dream, a heavy footfall startled her, and she
sprang to her feet with a suddenly-stilled pulsation. In the next
instant a manly form filled the door of the summer-house, and a manly
"Miss Markland! Fanny! do I find you here?"
The colour left the maiden's cheeks for an instant. Then they
flushed to deep crimson. But her lips were sealed. Surprise took
away, for a time, the power of speech.
"I turned aside," said the intruder, "as I came up the avenue, to
have a look at this charming spot, so well remembered; but dreamed
not of finding you here."
He had already approached Fanny, and was holding one of her hands
tightly in his, while he gazed upon her face with a look of glowing
"Oh, Mr. Lyon! How you have startled me!" said Fanny, as soon as
she could command her voice.
"And how you tremble! There, sit down again, Miss Markland, and
calm yourself. Had I known you were here, I should not have approached
so abruptly. But how have you been since my brief absence? And how is
your good father and mother?"
"Father is in New York," replied Fanny.
"In New York! I feared as much." And a slight shade crossed the
face of Mr. Lyon, who spoke as if off of his guard. "When did he go?"
"Ah! Did he receive a letter from me?"
"Yes, sir." Fanny's eyes drooped under the earnest gaze that was
fixed upon her.
"I hoped to have reached here as soon as my letter. This is a
little unfortunate." The aspect of Mr. Lyon became grave.
"When will your father return?" he inquired.
"I do not know."
Again Mr. Lyon looked serious and thoughtful. For some moments he
remained abstracted; and Fanny experienced a slight feeling of
timidity, as she looked upon his shadowed face. Arousing himself, he
"This being the case, I shall at once return South."
"Not until to-morrow," said Fanny.
"This very night," answered Mr. Lyon.
"Then let us go to the Lodge at once," and Fanny made a motion to
rise. "My mother will be gratified to see you, if it is only for a
But Mr. Lyon placed a hand upon her arm, and said:
"Stay, Miss Markland—that cannot now be. I must return South
without meeting any other member of your family. Did you receive my
letter?" he added, abruptly, and with a change of tone and manner.
Fanny answered affirmatively; and his quick eye read her heart in
voice and countenance.
"When I wrote, I had no thought of meeting you again so soon. But a
few hours after despatching the letter to your father, enclosing
yours—a letter on business of importance, to me, at least—I
received information that led me to wish an entire change in the
programme of operations about to be adopted, through your father's
agency. Fearing that a second letter might be delayed in the mails, I
deemed it wisest to come on with the greatest speed myself. But I find
that I am a day too late. Your father has acted promptly; and what he
has done must not be undone. Nay, I do not wish him even to know that
any change has been contemplated. Now, Miss Markland," and his voice
softened as he bent toward the girlish form at his side, "may one so
recently a stranger claim your confidence?"
"From my father and my mother I have no concealments," said Fanny.
"And heaven forbid that I should seek to mar that truly wise
confidence," quickly answered Mr. Lyon. "All I ask is, that, for the
present, you mention to no one the fact that I have been here. Our
meeting in this place is purely accidental—providential, I will
rather say. My purpose in coming was, as already explained, to meet
your father. He is away, and on business that at once sets aside all
necessity for seeing him. It will now be much better that he should
not even know of my return from the South—better for me, I mean; for
the interests that might suffer are mine alone. But let me explain a
little, that you may act understandingly. When I went South, your
father very kindly consented to transact certain business left
unfinished by me in New York. Letters received on my arrival at
Savannah, advised me of the state of the business, and I wrote to your
father, in what way to arrange it for me; by the next mail other
letters came, showing me different aspect of affairs and rendering a
change of plan very desirable. It was to explain this fully to your
father, that I came on. But as it is too late, I do not wish him even
to know, for the present, that a change was contemplated. I fear it
might lessen, for a time, his confidence in my judgment—something I
do not fear when he knows me better. Your since, for the present, my
dear Miss Markland, will nothing affect your father, who has little or
no personal interest in the matter, but may serve me materially. Say,
then, that, until you hear from me again, on the subject, you will
keep your own counsel."
"You say that my father has no interest in the business, to which
you refer?" remarked Fanny. Her mind was bewildered.
"None whatever. He is only, out of a generous good-will, trying to
serve the son of an old business friend," replied Mr. Lyon,
confidently. "Say, then, Fanny,"—his voice was insinuating, and
there was something of the serpent's fascination in his eyes—"that
you will, for my sake, remain, for the present, silent on the subject
of this return from the South."
As he spoke, he raised one of her hands to his lips, and kissed it.
Still more bewildered—nay, charmed—Fanny did not make even a faint
struggle to withdraw her hand. In the next moment, his hot lips had
touched her pure forehead—and in the next moment, "Farewell!" rung
hurriedly in her ears. As the retiring form of the young adventurer
stood in the door of the summer-house, there came to her, with a
distinct utterance, these confidently spoken words—"I trust you
without fear."—And "God bless you!" flung toward her with a
heart-impulse, found a deeper place in her soul, from whence, long
afterwards, came back their thrilling echoes. By the time the maiden
had gathered up her scattered thoughts, she was alone.
THE maiden's thoughts were yet bewildered, and her heart beating
tumultuously, when her quick ears caught the sound of other footsteps
than those to whose retreating echoes she had been so intently
listening. Hastily retreating into the summer-house, she crouched low
upon one of the seats, in order, if possible, to escape observation.
But nearer and nearer came the slow, heavy foot-fall of a man, and ere
she had time to repress, by a strong effort, the agitation that made
itself visible in every feature, Mr. Allison was in her presence. It
was impossible for her to restrain an exclamation of surprise, or to
drive back the crimson from her flushing face.
"Pardon the intrusion," said the old gentleman, in his usual mild
tone. "If I had known that you were here, I would not have disturbed
your pleasant reveries."
Some moments elapsed, ere Fanny could venture a reply. She feared
to trust her voice, lest more should be betrayed than she wished any
one to know. Seeing how much his presence disturbed her, Mr. Allison
stepped back a pace or two, saying, as he did so, "I was only
passing, my child; and will keep on my way. I regret having startled
you by my sudden appearance."
He was about retiring, when Fanny, who felt that her manner must
strike Mr. Allison as very singular, made a more earnest effort to
regain her self-possession, and said, with a forced smile:
"Don't speak of intrusion; Mr. Allison. Your sudden coming did
startle me. But that is past."
Mr. Allison, who had partly turned away, now advanced toward Fanny,
and, taking her hand, looked down into her face, from which the
crimson flush had not yet retired, with an expression of tender
"Your father is still absent, I believe?" said he.
"He will be home soon."
"We hope so. His visit to New York was unexpected."
"And you therefore feel his absence the more."
"Oh, yes," replied Fanny, now regaining her usual tone of voice and
easy address; "and it seems impossible for us to be reconciled to the
"Few men are at home more than your father," remarked Mr. Allison.
"His world, it might be said, is included in the circle of his
"And I hope it will always be so."
Mr. Allison looked more earnestly into the young maiden's face. He
did not clearly understand the meaning of this sentence, for, in the
low tones that gave it utterance, there seemed to his ear a prophecy
of change. Then he remembered his recent conversation with her
father, and light broke in upon his mind. The absence of Mr. Markland
had, in all probability, following the restless, dissatisfied state,
which all had observed, already awakened the concern of his family,
lest it should prove only the beginning of longer periods of absence.
"Business called your father to New York," said Mr. Allison.
"Yes; so he wrote home to mother. He went to the city in the
morning, and we expected him back as usual in the evening, but he
sent a note by the coachman, saying that letters just received made
it necessary for him to go on to New York immediately."
"He is about entering into business again, I presume."
"Oh, I hope not!" replied Fanny.
Mr. Allison remained silent for some moments, and then said—
"I thought your visitor, Mr. Lyon, went South several days ago."
"So he did," answered Fanny, in a quickened tone of voice, and with
a manner slightly disturbed.
"Then I was in error," said Mr. Allison, speaking partly to
himself. "I thought I passed him in the road, half an hour ago. The
resemblance was at least a very close one. You are certain he went
"Oh! yes, sir," replied Fanny, quickly.
Mr. Allison looked intently upon her, until her eyes wavered and
fell to the ground. He continued to observe her for some moments, and
only withdrew his gaze when he saw that she was about to look up. A
faint sigh parted the old man's lips. Ah! if a portion of his wisdom,
experience, and knowledge of character, could only be imparted to that
pure young spirit, just about venturing forth into a world where mere
appearances of truth deceive and fascinate!
"Does Mr. Lyon design returning soon from the South?"
"I heard him say to father that he did not think he would be in
this part of the world again for six or eight months."
And again the eyes of Fanny shunned the earnest gaze of Mr.
"How far South does he go?"
"I am not able to answer you clearly; but I think I heard father
say that he would visit Central America."
"Ah! He is something of a traveller, then?"
"Yes, sir; he has travelled a great deal."
"He is an Englishman?"
"Yes, sir. His father is an old business friend of my father's."
"So I understood."
There was a pause, in which Mr. Allison seemed to be thinking
"It is a little singular, certainly," said he, as if speaking only
"What is singular?" asked Fanny, looking curiously at her
"Why, that I should have been so mistaken. I doubted not, for a
moment, that the person I saw was Mr. Lyon."
Fanny did not look up. If she had done so, the gaze fixed upon her
would have sent a deeper crimson to her cheek than flushed it a few
"Have you any skill in reading character, Fanny?" asked Mr.
Allison, in a changed and rather animated voice, and with a manner
that took away the constraint that had, from the first, oppressed the
mind of the young girl.
"No very great skill, I imagine," was the smiling answer.
"It is a rare, but valuable gift," said the old man. "I was about
to call it an art; but it is more a gift than an art; for, if not
possessed by nature, it is too rarely acquired. Yet, in all pure
minds, there is something that we may call analogous—a perception of
moral qualities in those who approach us. Have you never felt an
instinctive repugnance to a person on first meeting him?"
"And been as strongly attracted in other cases?"
"Have you ever compared this impression with your subsequent
knowledge of the person's character?"
Fanny thought for a little while, and then said—
"I am not sure that I have, Mr. Allison."
"You have found yourself mistaken in persons after some
acquaintance with them?"
"Yes; more than once."
"And I doubt not, that if you had observed the impression these
persons made on you when you met them for the first time, you would
have found that impression a true index to their character. Scarcely
noticing these first impressions, which are instinctive perceptions
of moral qualities, we are apt to be deceived by the exterior which
almost every one assumes on a first acquaintance; and then, if we are
not adepts at reading character, we may be a long time in finding out
the real quality. Too often this real character is manifested, after
we have formed intimate relations with the person, that may not be
dissolved while the heart knows a life-throb. Is that not a serious
"It is, Mr. Allison,—a very serious, and a solemn thought."
"Do you think that you clearly comprehend my meaning?"
"I do not know that I see all you wish me to comprehend," answered
"May I attempt to make it clearer?"
"I always listen to you with pleasure and profit, Mr. Allison,"
"Did you ever think that your soul had senses as well as your
body?" inquired the old man.
"You ask me a strange question. How can a mere spirit—an airy
something, so to speak—have senses?"
"Do you never use the words—'I see it clearly'—meaning that you
see some form of truth presented to your mind. As, for instance,—if
I say, 'To be good is to be happy,' you will answer, 'Oh, yes; I see
that clearly.' Your soul, then, has, at least, the sense of sight.
And that it has the sense of taste also, will, I think, be clear to
you, when you remember bow much you enjoy the reading of a good book,
wherein is food for the mind. Healthy food is sometimes presented in
so unpalatable a shape, that the taste rejects it; and so it is with
truth, which is the mind's food. I instance this, to make it clearer
to you. So you see that the soul has at least two senses—sight and
taste. That it has feeling needs scarcely an illustration. The mind is
hurt quite as easily as the body, and, the path of an injury is
usually more permanent. The child who has been punished unjustly feels
the injury inflicted on his spirit, days, months, and, it may be,
years, after the body has lost the smarting consciousness of stripes.
And you know that sharp words pierce the mind with acutest pain. We
may speak daggers, as well as use them. Is this at all clear to you,
"Oh, very clear! How strange that I should never have thought of
this myself! Yes—I see, hear, taste, and feel with my mind, as well
as with my body."
"Think a little more deeply," said the old man. "If the mind have
senses, must it not have a body?"
"A body! You are going too deep for me, Mr. Allison. We say mind
and body, to indicate that one is immaterial, and the other
"May there not be such a thing as a spiritual as well as a material
"To say spiritual substance, sounds, in my ears, like a
contradiction in terms," said Fanny.
"There must be a substance before there can be a permanent
impression. The mind receives and retains the most lasting
impressions; therefore, it must be an organized substance—but
spiritual, not material. You will see this clearer, if you think of
the endurance of habit. 'As the twig is bent, the tree's inclined,'
is a trite saying that aptly illustrates the subject about which we
are now conversing. If the mind were not a substance and a form, how
could it receive and retain impressions?"
"And to advance a step further—if the mind have form, what is that
"The human form, if any," was the answer.
"Yes. And of this truth the minds of all men have a vague
perception. A cruel man is called a human monster. In thus speaking,
no one thinks of the mere physical body, but of the inward man. About
a good man, we say there is something truly human. And believe me, my
dear young friend, that our spirits are as really organized substances
as our bodies—the difference being, that one is an immaterial and the
other a material substance; that we have a spiritual body, with
spiritual senses, and all the organs and functions that appertain to
the material body, which is only a visible and material outbirth from
the spiritual body, and void of any life but what is thence derived."
"I see, vaguely, the truth of what you say," remarked Fanny, "and
am bewildered by the light that falls into my mind."
"My purpose in all this," said Mr. Allison, "is to lead you to the
perception of a most important fact. Still let your thoughts rest
intently on what I am saying. You are aware of the fact, that
material substances, as well inorganic as organic, are constantly
giving off into the atmosphere minute particles, which we call odors,
and which reveal to us their quality. The rose and nightshade, the
hawthorn and cicuta fill the air around them with odors which our
bodily senses instantly perceive. And it is the same with animals and
men. Each has a surrounding material sphere, which is perceived on a
near approach, and which indicates the material quality. Now, all
things in nature are but effects from interior causes, and correspond
to them in every minute particular. What is true of the body will be
found true of the mind. Bodily form and sense are but the
manifestation, in this outer world, of the body and senses that exist
in the inner world. And if around the natural body there exist a
sphere by which the natural senses may determine its quality of health
or impurity, in like manner is there around the spiritual body a
sphere of its quality, that may be discerned by the spiritual senses.
And now come back to the philosophy of first impressions, a matter so
little understood by the world. These first impressions are rarely at
fault, and why? Because the spiritual quality is at once discerned by
the spiritual sense. But, as this kind of perception does not fall
into the region of thought, it is little heeded by the many. Some, in
all times, have observed it more closely than others, and we have
proverbs that could only have originated from such observation. We are
warned to beware of that man from whose presence a little child
shrinks. The reason to me is plain. The innocent spirit of the child
is affected by the evil sphere of the man, as its body would be if
brought near to a noxious plant that was filling the air with its
poisonous vapours. And now, dear Fanny,"—Mr. Allison took the
maiden's hand in his, and spoke in a most impressive voice—"think
closely and earnestly on what I have said. If I have taxed your mind
with graver thoughts than are altogether pleasant, it is because I
desire most sincerely to do you good. The world into which you are
about stepping, is a false and evil world, and along all its highways
and byways are scattered the sad remains of those who have perished
ere half their years were numbered; and of the crowd that pressed
onward, even to the farthest verge of natural life, how few escape the
too common lot of wretchedness! The danger that most threatens you, in
the fast-approaching future, is that which threatens every young
maiden. Your happiness or misery hangs nicely poised, and if you have
not a wise discrimination, the scale may take a wrong preponderance.
Alas! if it should be so!"
Mr. Allison paused a moment, and then said:
"Shall I go on?"
"Oh, yes! Speak freely. I am listening to your words as if they
came from the lips of my own father."
"An error in marriage is one of life's saddest errors, said Mr.
"I believe that," was the maiden's calm remark; yet Mr. Allison saw
that her eyes grew instantly brighter, and the hue of her cheeks
"In a true marriage, there must be good moral qualities. No
pure-minded woman can love a man for an instant after she discovers
that he is impure, selfish, and evil. It matters not how high his
rank, how brilliant his intellect, how attractive his exterior
person, how perfect his accomplishments. In her inmost spirit she
will shrink from him, and feel his presence as a sphere of
suffocation. Oh! can the thought imagine a sadder lot for a
true-hearted woman! And there is no way of escape. Her own hands have
wrought the chains that bind her in a most fearful bondage."
Again Mr. Allison paused, and regarded his young companion with a
look of intense interest.
"May heaven spare you from such a lot!" he said, in a low, subdued
Fanny made no reply. She sat with her eyes resting on the ground,
her lips slightly parted, and her cheeks of a paler hue.
"Can you see any truth in what I have been saying?" asked Mr.
Allison, breaking in upon a longer pause than he had meant should
follow his last remark.
"Oh, yes, yes; much truth. A new light seems to have broken
suddenly into my mind."
"Men bear about them a spiritual as well as a natural sphere of
"If there is a spiritual form, there must be a spiritual quality,"
said Fanny, partly speaking to herself, as if seeking more fully to
grasp the truth she uttered.
"And spiritual senses, as well, by which qualities may be
perceived," added Mr. Allison.
"Yes,—yes." She still seemed lost in her own thoughts.
"As our bodily senses enable us to discern the quality of material
objects, and thus to appropriate what is good, and reject what is
evil; in like manner will our spiritual senses serve us, and in a
much higher degree, if we will but make the effort to use them."
"I see but darkly. Oh! that my vision were clearer!" exclaimed the
maiden, while a troubled expression slightly marred her beautiful
"Ever, my dear young friend," said Mr. Allison, impressively, "be
true to your native instincts. They will quickly warn you, if evil
approaches. Oh! heed the warning. Give no favourable regard to the
man toward whom you feel an instinctive repulsion at the first
meeting. No matter what his station, connections, or personal
accomplishments—heed the significant warning. Do not let the
fascinations of a brilliant exterior, nor even ardent expressions of
regard, make you for a moment forget that, when he first came near
you, your spirit shrunk away, as from something that would do it
harm. If you observe such a man closely, weigh all that he does and
says, when ardent in the pursuit of some desired object, you will not
lack for more palpable evidences of his quality than the simple
impression which the sphere of his life made at your first meeting.
Guarded as men are, who make an exterior different from their real
quality, they are never able to assume a perfect disguise—no more
than a deformed person can so hide, by dress, the real shape, that
the attentive eye cannot discern its lack of symmetry. The eyes of
your spirit see truths, as your natural eyes see material objects;
and truths are real things. There are true principles, which, if
obeyed, lead to what is good; and there are false principles, which,
if followed, lead to evil. The one conducts to happiness, the other
to inevitable misery. The warning which another sense, corresponding
with the perception of odours in the body, gives you of evil in a
man, at his first approach, is intended to put you on your guard, and
lead to a closer observation of the person. The eyes of your
understanding, if kept clear, will soon give you evidence as to his
quality that cannot be gainsaid. And, believe me, Fanny, though a
slight acquaintance may seem to contradict the instinctive judgment,
in nine cases out of ten the warning indication will be verified in
the end. Do you understand me?"
"Oh, yes—yes," was the low, but earnest response. Yet the maiden's
eyes were not lifted from the ground.
"Will you try and remember what I have said, Fanny?"
"I can never forget it, Mr. Allison—never!" She seemed deeply
Both were silent for some time. Mr. Allison then said:
"But the day is waning, my dear young friend. It is time we were
both at home."
"True." And Fanny arose and walked by the old man's side, until
their ways diverged. Both of their residences were in sight and near
"Do not think of me, Fanny," said Mr. Allison, when about parting
with his companion, "as one who would oppress you with thoughts too
serious for your years. I know the dangers that lie in your path of
life, and only seek to guard you from evil. Oh! keep your spirit
pure, and its vision clear. Remember what I have said, and trust in
the unerring instinct given to every innocent heart."
The old man had taken her hand, and was looking tenderly down upon
her sweet, young face. Suddenly her eyes were lifted to his. There
was a strong light in them.
"God bless you, sir!"
The energy with which these unexpected words were spoken, almost
startled Mr. Allison. Ere he had time for a response, Fanny had
turned from him, and was bounding away with fleet footsteps toward
EARNESTLY as Fanny Markland strove to maintain a calm exterior
before her mother and aunt, the effort availed not; and so, as early
in the evening as she could retire from the family, without
attracting observation, she did so. And now she found herself in a
state of deep disquietude. Far too young was the maiden to occupy,
with any degree of calmness, the new position in which she was so
unexpectedly placed. The sudden appearance of Mr. Lyon, just when his
image was beginning to take the highest place in her mind, and the
circumstances attending that appearance, had, without effacing the
image, dimmed its brightness. Except for the interview with Mr.
Allison, this effect might not have taken place. But his words had
penetrated deeply, and awakened mental perceptions that it was now
impossible to obscure by any fond reasonings in favour of Mr. Lyon.
How well did Fanny now remember the instant repulsion felt towards
this man, on their first meeting. She had experienced an instant
constriction about the heart, as if threatened with suffocation. The
shadow, too, about which Aunt Grace had spoken, had also been
perceived by her. But in a little while, under the sunshine of a most
fascinating exterior, all these first impressions were lost, and, but
for the words of Mr. Allison, would have been regarded as false
impressions. Too clearly had the wise old man presented the truth—too
clearly had he elevated her thoughts into a region where the mind sees
with a steadier vision—to leave her in danger of entering the wrong
way, without a distinct perception that it was wrong.
In a single hour, Fanny's mind had gained a degree of maturity,
which, under the ordinary progression of her life, would not have
come for years. But for this, her young, pure heart would have
yielded without a struggle. No voice of warning would have mingled in
her ears with the sweet voice of the wooer. No string would have
jarred harshly amid the harmonies of her life. The lover who came to
her with so many external blandishments—who attracted her with so
powerful a magnetism—would have still looked all perfection in her
eyes. Now, the film was removed; and if she could not see all that
lay hidden beneath a fair exterior, enough was visible to give the
sad conviction that evil might be there.
Yet was Fanny by no means inclined to turn herself away from Mr.
Lyon. Too much power over her heart had already been acquired. The
ideal of the man had grown too suddenly into a most palpable image of
beauty and perfection. Earnestly did her heart plead for him. Sad,
even to tears, was it, at the bare thought of giving him up. There was
yet burning on her pure forehead the hot kiss he had left there a few
hours before—her hand still felt his thrilling touch—his words of
love were in her ears—she still heard the impassioned tones in which
he had uttered his parting "God bless you!"
Thus it was with the gentle-hearted girl, exposed, far too soon in
life, to influences which stronger spirits than hers could hardly
Midnight found Mrs. Markland wakeful and thoughtful. She had
observed something unusual about Fanny, and noted the fact of her
early retirement, that evening, from the family. Naturally enough,
she connected this change in her daughter's mind with the letter
received from Mr. Lyon, and it showed her but too plainly that the
stranger's image was fixing itself surely in the young girl's heart.
This conviction gave her pain rather than pleasure. She, too, had
felt that quick repulsion towards Mr. Lyon, at their first meeting,
to which we have referred; and with her, no after acquaintance ever
wholly removed the effect of a first experience like this.
Midnight, as we have said, found her wakeful and thoughtful. The
real cause of her husband's absence was unknown to her; but,
connecting itself, as it did, with Mr. Lyon,—he had written her that
certain business, which he had engaged to transact for Mr. Lyon,
required his presence in New York,—and following so soon upon his
singularly restless and dissatisfied state of mind, the fact
disquieted her. The shadow of an approaching change was dimming the
cheerful light of her spirit.
Scarcely a moment since the reception of her husband's letter,
enclosing one for Fanny, was the fact that Mr. Lyon had made advances
toward her daughter—yet far too young to have her mind bewildered by
love's mazy dream—absent from her mind. It haunted even her sleeping
hours. And the more she thought of it, the more deeply it disturbed
her. As an interesting, and even brilliant, companion, she had enjoyed
his society. With more than usual interest had she listened to his
varied descriptions of personages, places, and events; and she had
felt more than a common admiration for his high mental
accomplishments. But, whenever she imagined him the husband of her
pure-hearted child, it seemed as if a heavy hand lay upon her bosom,
repressing even respiration itself.
Enough was crowding into the mind of this excellent woman to drive
slumber from her eyelids. The room adjoining was occupied by Fanny,
and, as the communicating door stood open, she was aware that the
sleep of her child was not sound. Every now and then she turned
restlessly in her bed; and sometimes muttered incoherently. Several
times did Mrs. Markland raise herself and lean upon her elbow, in a
listening attitude, as words, distinctly spoken, fell from the lips
of her daughter. At last the quickly uttered sentence, "Mother!
mother! come!" caused her to spring from the bed and hurry to her
"What is it, Fanny? What has frightened you?" she said, in a
gentle, encouraging voice. But Fanny only muttered something
incoherent, in her sleep, and turned her face to the wall.
For several minutes did Mrs. Markland sit upon the bedside,
listening, with an oppressed feeling, to the now calm respiration of
her child. The dreams which had disturbed her sleep, seemed to have
given place to other images. The mother was about returning to her
own pillow, when Fanny said, in a voice of sad entreaty—
"Oh! Mr. Lyon! Don't! don't!"
There was a moment or two of breathless stillness, and then, with a
sharp cry of fear, the sleeper started up, exclaiming—
"Mother! father! Oh, come to me! Come!"
"Fanny, my child!" was the mother's instant response, and the yet
half-dreaming girl fell forward into her arms, which were closed
tightly around her. What a strong thrill of terror was in every part
of her frame!
"Dear Fanny! What ails you? Don't tremble so! You are safe in my
arms. There, love, nothing shall harm you."
"Oh, mother! dear mother! is it you?" half sobbed the not yet
"Yes, love. You are safe with your mother. But what have you been
"Dreaming!" Fanny raised herself from her mother's bosom, and
looked at her with a bewildered air.
"Yes, dear—dreaming. This is your own room, and you are on your
own bed. You have only been frightened by a fearful dream."
"Only a dream! How thankful I am! Oh! it was terrible!"
"What was it about, daughter?" asked Mrs. Markland.
Fanny, whose mind was getting clearer and calmer, did not at once
"You mentioned the name of Mr. Lyon," said the mother.
"Did I?" Fanny's voice expressed surprise.
"Yes. Was it of him that you were dreaming?"
"I saw him in my dream," was answered.
"Why were you afraid of him?"
"It was a very strange dream, mother—very strange," said Fanny,
evidently not speaking from a free choice.
"I thought I was in our garden among the flowers. And as I stood
there, Mr. Lyon came in through the gate and walked up to me. He
looked just as he did when he was here; only it seemed that about his
face and form there was even a manlier beauty. Taking my hand, he led
me to one of the garden chairs, and we sat down side by side. And now
I began to see a change in him. His eyes, that were fixed upon mine,
grew brighter and deeper, until it seemed as if I could look far down
into their burning depths. His breath came hot upon my face. Suddenly,
he threw an arm around me, and then I saw myself in the strong folds
of a great serpent! I screamed for help, and next found myself in your
arms. Oh! it was a strange and a fearful dream!"
"And it may not be all a dream, Fanny," said Mrs. Markland, in a
very impressive voice.
"Not all a dream, mother!" Fanny seemed startled at the words.
"No, dear. Dreams are often merely fantastic. But there come
visions in sleep, sometimes, that are permitted as warnings, and truly
represent things existing in real life."
"I do not understand you, mother."
"There is in the human mind a quality represented by the serpent,
and also a quality represented by the dove. When our Saviour said of
Herod, 'Go tell that fox,' he meant to designate the man as having
the quality of a fox."
"But how does this apply to dreams?" asked Fanny.
"He who sends his angels to watch over and protect us in sleep, may
permit them to bring before us, in dreaming images, the embodied form
of some predominating quality in those whose association may do us
harm. The low, subtle selfishness of the sensual principle will then
take its true form of a wily serpent."
Fanny caught her breath once or twice, as these words fell upon her
ears, and then said, in a deprecating voice—
"Oh, mother! Don't! don't!" And lifting her head from the bosom of
her parent, she turned her face away, and buried it in the pillow. As
she did not move for the space of several minutes, Mrs. Markland
thought it unwise to intrude other remarks upon her, believing that
the distinct image she had already presented would live in her memory
and do its work. Soon after, she retired to her own room. Half an hour
later, and both were sleeping, in quiet unconsciousness.
LATE on the following day, Mr. Markland arrived from New York.
Eager as all had been for his return, there was something of
embarrassment in the meeting. The light-hearted gladness with which
every one welcomed him, even after the briefest absence, was not
apparent now. In the deep, calm eyes of his wife, as he looked
lovingly into them, he saw the shadow of an unquiet spirit. And the
tears which no effort of self-control could keep back from Fanny's
cheeks, as she caught his hand eagerly, and hid her face on his
breast, answered too surely the question he most desired to ask. It
was plain to him that Mr. Lyon's letter had found its way into her
"I wish it had not been so!" was the involuntary mental
ejaculation. A sigh parted his lips—a sigh that only the quick ears
of his wife perceived, and only her heart echoed.
During the short time the family were together that evening, Mr.
Markland noticed in Fanny something that gave him concern. Her eyes
always fell instantly when he looked at her, and she seemed
sedulously to avoid his gaze. If he spoke to her, the colour mounted
to her face, and she seemed strangely embarrassed. The fact of her
having received a letter from Mr. Lyon, the contents of which he
knew, as it came open in one received by himself from that gentleman,
was not a sufficient explanation of so entire a change in her
Mr. Markland sought the earliest opportunity to confer with his
wife on the subject of Fanny's altered state of mind, and the causes
leading thereto; but the conference did not result in much that was
satisfactory to either of them.
"Have you said any thing to her about Mr. Lyon?" asked Mr.
"Very little," was answered. "She thought it would only be
courteous to reply to his letter; but I told her that, if he were a
true man, and had a genuine respect for her, he would not wish to draw
her into a correspondence on so slight an acquaintance; and that the
only right manner of response was through you."
Yes. Your acknowledgment, in Fanny's name, when you are writing to
Mr. Lyon, will be all that he has a right to expect, and all that our
daughter should be permitted to give."
"But if we restrict her to so cold a response, and that by
second-hand, may she not be tempted to write to him without our
"No, Edward. I will trust her for that," was the unhesitating
"She is very young," said Mr. Markland, as if speaking to himself.
"Oh, yes!" quickly returned his wife. "Years too young for an
experience—or, I might say, a temptation—like this. I cannot but
feel that, in writing to our child, Mr. Lyon abused the hospitality
we extended to him."
"Is not that a harsh judgment, Agnes?"
"No, Edward. Fanny is but a child, and Mr. Lyon a man of mature
experience. He knew that she was too young to be approached as he
"He left it with us, you know, Agnes; and with a manly delicacy
that we ought neither to forget nor fail to appreciate."
The remark silenced, but in no respect changed the views of Mrs.
Markland; and the conference on Fanny's state of mind closed without
any satisfactory result.
The appearance of his daughter on the next morning caused Mr.
Markland to feel a deeper concern. The colour had faded from her
cheeks; her eyes were heavy, as if she had been weeping; and if she
did not steadily avoid his gaze, she was, he could see, uneasy under
As soon as Mr. Markland had finished his light breakfast he ordered
"You are not going to the city?" his wife said, with surprise and
disappointment in her voice.
"Yes, Agnes, I must be in town to-day. I expect letters on business
that will require immediate attention."
"Business, Edward! What business?"
The question appeared slightly to annoy Mr. Markland. But with a
forced smile, and in his usual pleasant voice, he answered:
"Oh, nothing of very great importance, but still requiring my
presence. Business is business, you know, and ought never to be
"Will you be home early?"
Mr. Markland walked out into the ample porch, and let his eyes
range slowly over the objects that surrounded his dwelling. His wife
stood by his side. The absence of a few days, amid other and less
attractive scenes, had prepared his mind for a better appreciation of
the higher beauties of "Woodbine Lodge." Something of the old feeling
came over him; and as he stood silently gazing around, he could not
but say, within himself, "If I do not find happiness here, I may look
for it through the world in vain."
The carriage was driven round to the door, while he stood there.
Fanny came out at the moment, and seeing her father about to step
into it, sprang forward, and exclaimed—
"Why, father, you are not going away again?"
"Only to the city, love," he answered, as he turned to receive her
"To the city again? Why, you are away nearly all the time. Now I
wish you wouldn't go so often."
"I will be home early in the afternoon. But come, Fanny, won't you
go with me, to spend the day in town? It will be a pleasant change
Fanny shook her head, and answered, "No."
Mr. Markland entered the carriage, waved his hand, and was soon
gliding away toward the city. As soon as he was beyond the
observation of his family, his whole manner underwent a change. An
expression of deep thought settled over his face; and he remained in
a state of profound abstraction during his whole ride to the city. On
arriving there, he went to the office of an individual well known in
the community as possessing ample means, and bearing the reputation of
a most liberal, intelligent, and enterprising citizen.
"Good morning, Mr. Brainard," said Markland, with a blending of
respect and familiarity in his voice.
"Ah, Mr. Markland!" returned the other, rising, and shaking the
hand of his visitor cordially. "When did you get back from New York?"
"Yesterday afternoon. I called after my arrival, but you had left
"Well, what news do you bring home? Is every thing to your mind?"
"Entirely so, Mr. Brainard."
"That's clever—that's right. I was sure you would find it so. Lyon
is shrewd and sharp-sighted as an eagle. We have not mistaken our
man, depend on it."
"I think not."
"I know we have not," was the confident rejoinder.
"Any further word from him, since I left?"
"I had a letter yesterday. He was about leaving for Mexico."
"Are you speaking of Mr. Lyon, the young Englishman whom I saw in
your office frequently, a short time since?" inquired a gentleman who
sat reading the morning paper.
"The same," replied Mr. Brainard.
"Did you say he had gone to Mexico?"
"Yes, or was about leaving for that country. So he informed me in a
letter I received from him yesterday."
"In a letter?" The man's voice expressed surprise.
"Yes. But why do you seem to question the statement?"
"Because I saw him in the city day before yesterday."
"In the city!"
"Yes, sir. Either him or his ghost."
"Oh! you're mistaken."
"I think not. It is rarely that I'm mistaken in the identity of any
"You are, assuredly, too certain in the present instance," said Mr.
Markland, turning to the gentleman who had last spoken, "for, it's
only a few days since I received letters from him written at
Still the man was positive.
"He has a hair-mole on his cheek, I believe."
Mr. Brainard and Mr. Markland looked at each other doubtingly.
"He has," was admitted by the latter.
"But that doesn't make identity," said Mr. Brainard, with an
incredulous smile. "I've seen many men, in my day, with moles on
"True enough," was answered; "but you never saw two Mr. Lyons."
"You are very positive," said Mr. Brainard, growing serious. "Now,
as we believe him to be at the South, and you say that he was here on
the day before yesterday, the matter assumes rather a perplexing
shape. If he really was here, it is of the first importance that we
should know it; for we are about trusting important interests to his
hands. Where, then, and under what circumstances, did you see him?"
"I saw him twice."
"The first time, I saw him alighting from a carriage, at the City
Hotel. He had, apparently, just arrived, as there was a trunk behind
"Singular!" remarked Mr. Brainard, with a slightly disturbed
"You are mistaken in the person," said Mr. Markland, positively.
"It may be so," returned the gentleman.
"Where did you next see him?" inquired Mr. Brainard.
"In the neighbourhood of the—Railroad Depot. Being aware that he
had spent several days with Mr. Markland, it occurred to me that he
was going out to call upon him."
"Very surprising. I don't just comprehend this," said Mr. Markland,
with a perplexed manner.
"The question is easily settled," remarked Mr. Brainard. "Sit here
a few moments, and I will step around to the City Hotel."
And as he spoke, he arose and went quickly from his office. In
about ten minutes he returned.
"Well, what is the result?" was the rather anxious inquiry of Mr.
"Can't make it out," sententiously answered Mr. Brainard.
"What did you learn?"
"Of course, Mr. Lyon has not been there?"
"I don't know about that. He certainly was not there as Mr. Lyon."
"Was any one there answering to his description?"
"From the South?"
"Yes. From Richmond—so the register has it; and the name recorded
"You asked about him particularly?"
"I did, and the description given, both by the landlord and his
clerk, corresponded in a singular manner with the appearance of Mr.
Lyon. He arrived by the southern line, and appeared hurried in
manner. Almost as soon as his name was registered, he inquired at
what hour the cars started on the—road. He went out in an hour after
his arrival, and did not return until late in the evening. Yesterday
morning he left in the first southern train."
"Well, friends, you see that I was not so very far out of the way,"
said the individual who had surprised the gentlemen by asserting that
Mr. Lyon was in the city only two days before.
"I can't believe that it was Mr. Lyon." Firmly Mr. Markland took
"I would not be sworn to it—but my eyes have certainly played me
false, if he were not in the city at the time referred to," said the
gentleman; "and let me say to you, that if you have important
interests in his hands, which you would regard as likely to suffer
were he really in our city at the time alleged, it will be wise for
you to look after them a little narrowly, for, if he were not here,
then was I never more mistaken in my life."
The man spoke with a seriousness that produced no very pleasing
effect upon the minds of his auditors, who were, to say the least,
very considerably perplexed by what he alleged.
"The best course, in doubtful cases, is always a prudent one," said
Mr. Markland, as soon as the gentleman had retired.
"Unquestionably. And now, what steps shall we take, under this
singular aspect of affairs?"
"That requires our first attention. If we could only be certain
that Mr. Lyon had returned to the city."
"Ah, yes—if we could only be certain. That he was not here, reason
and common sense tell me. Opposed to this is the very positive belief
of Mr. Lamar that he saw him on the day before yesterday, twice."
"What had better be done under these circumstances?" queried Mr.
"I wish that I could answer that question both to your satisfaction
and my own," was the perplexed answer.
"What was done in New York?"
"I had several long conferences with Mr. Fenwick, whom I found a
man of extensive views. He is very sanguine, and says that he has
already invested some forty thousand dollars."
"Ah! So largely?"
"Yes; and will not hesitate to double the sum, if required."
"His confidence is strong."
"It is—very strong. He thinks that the fewer parties engage in the
matter, the better it will be for all, if they can furnish the
aggregate capital required."
"The fewer persons interested, the more concert of action there
will be, and the larger individual dividend on the business."
"If there should come a dividend," said Mr. Brainard.
"That is certain," replied Mr. Markland, in a very confident
manner. "I am quite inclined to the opinion of Mr. Fenwick, that one
of the most magnificent fortunes will be built up that the present
generation has seen."
"What is his opinion of Mr. Lyon?"
"He expresses the most unbounded confidence. Has known him, and all
about him, for over ten years; and says that a man of better
capacity, or stricter honour, is not to be found. The parties in
London, who have intrusted large interests in his hands, are not the
men to confide such interests to any but the tried and proved."
"How much will we be expected to invest at the beginning?"
"Not less than twenty thousand dollars apiece."
"Yes. Only two parties in this city are to be in the Company, and
we have the first offer."
"You intend to accept?"
"Of course. In fact, I have accepted. At the same time, I assured
Mr. Fenwick that he might depend on you."
"But for this strange story about Mr. Lyon's return to the city—a
death's-head at our banquet—there would not be, in my mind, the
"It is only a shadow," said Mr. Markland.
"Shadows do not create themselves," replied Mr. Brainard.
"No; but mental shadows do not always indicate the proximity of
material substance. If Mr. Lyon wrote to you that he was about
starting for Mexico, depend upon it, he is now speeding away in that
direction. He is not so sorry a trifler as Mr Lamar's hasty
conclusion would indicate."
"A few days for reflection and closer scrutiny will not in the
smallest degree affect the general issue, and may develope facts that
will show the way clear before us," said Mr. Brainard. "Let us wait
until we hear again from Mr. Lyon, before we become involved in large
"I do not see how I can well hold back," replied Mr. Markland. "I
have, at least, honourably bound myself to Mr. Fenwick."
"A few days can make no difference, so far as that is concerned,"
said Mr. Brainard, "and may develope facts of the most serious
importance. Suppose it should really prove true that Mr. Lyon
returned, in a secret manner, from the South, would you feel yourself
under obligation to go forward without the clearest explanation of the
"No," was the unhesitating answer.
"Very well. Wait for a few days. Time will make all this clearer."
"It will, no doubt, be wisest," said Mr. Markland, in a voice that
showed a slight depression of feeling.
"According to Mr. Lamar, if the man he saw was Lyon, he evidently
wished to have a private interview with yourself."
"Certainly. Both Mr. Lamar and the hotel-keeper refer to his going
to, or being in, the neighbourhood of the cars that run in the
direction of 'Woodbine Lodge.' It will be well for you to question
the various members of your household. Something may be developed in
"If he had visited Woodbine Lodge, of course I would have known
about it," said Mr. Markland, with a slightly touched manner, as if
there were something more implied by Mr. Brainard than was clearly
"No harm can grow out of a few inquiries," was answered. "They may
lead to the truth we so much desire to elucidate, and identify the
person seen by Mr. Lamar as a very different individual from Mr.
Under the existing position of things, no further steps in the very
important business they had in progress could be taken that day.
After an hour's further conference, the two men parted, under
arrangement to meet again in the morning.
IT was scarcely mid-day when Mr. Markland's carriage drew near to
Woodbine Lodge. As he was about entering the gateway to his grounds,
he saw Mr. Allison, a short distance beyond, coming down the road. So
he waited until the old gentleman came up.
"Home again," said Mr. Allison, in his pleasant, interested way, as
he extended his hand. "When did you arrive?"
"Last evening," replied Mr. Markland.
"Been to the city this morning, I suppose."
"Yes. Some matters of business required my attention. The truth is,
Mr. Allison, I grow more and more wearied with my inactive life, and
find relief in any new direction of thought."
"You do not design re-entering into business?"
"I have no such present purpose." Mr. Markland stepped from his
carriage, as he thus spoke, and told the driver to go forward to the
house. "Though it is impossible to say where we may come out when we
enter a new path. I am not a man to do things by halves. Whatever I
undertake, I am apt to prosecute with considerable activity and
concentration of thought."
"So I should suppose. It is best, however, for men of your
temperament to act with prudence and wise forethought in the
beginning—to look well to the paths they are about entering; for
they are very apt to go forward with a blind perseverance that will
not look a moment from the end proposed."
"There is truth in your remark, no doubt. But I always try to be
sure that I am right before I go ahead. David Crockett's homely motto
gives the formula for all high success in life."
"Yes; he spoke wisely. There would be few drones in our hive, if
all acted up to his precept."
"Few, indeed. Oh! I get out of all patience sometimes with men in
business; they act with such feebleness of nerve—such indecision of
purpose. They seem to have no life—none of those clear intuitions
that spring from an ardent desire to reach a clearly-seen goal.
Without earnestness and concentration, nothing of more than ordinary
importance is ever effected. Until a man taxes every faculty of his
mind to the utmost, he cannot know the power that is in him."
"Truly said. And I am for every man doing his best; but doing it in
the right way. It is deplorable to see the amount of wasted effort
there is in the world. The aggregate of misapplied energy is
"What do you call misapplied energy?" said Markland.
"The energy directed by a wrong purpose."
"Will you define for me a wrong purpose?"
"Yes; a merely selfish purpose is a wrong one."
"All men are selfish," said Mr. Markland.
"In a greater or less degree they are, I know."
"Then all misapply their energies?"
"Yes, all—though not always. But there is a beautiful harmony and
precision in the government of the world, that bends man's selfish
purposes into serving the common good. Men work for themselves alone,
each caring for himself alone; yet Providence so orders and arranges,
that the neighbour is more really benefited than the individual worker
toiling only for himself. Who is most truly served—the man who makes
a garment, or the man who enjoys its warmth? the builder of the house,
or the dweller therein? the tiller of the soil, or he who eats the
fruit thereof? Yet, how rarely does the skilful artisan, or he who
labours in the field, think of, or care for, those who are to enjoy
the good things of life he is producing! His thought is on what he is
to receive, not on what he is giving; and far too many of those who
benefit the world by their labour are made unhappy when they think
that others really enjoy what they have produced—if their thought
ever reaches that far beyond themselves."
"Man is very selfish, I will admit," said Mr. Markland,
"It is self-love, my friend," answered the old man, "that gives to
most of us our greatest energy in life. We work ardently, taxing all
our powers, in the accomplishment of some end. A close
self-examination will, in most cases, show us that self is the
main-spring of all this activity. Now, I hold, that in just so far as
this is the case, our efforts are misapplied."
"But did you not just admit that the world was benefited by all
active labour, even if the worker toiled selfishly? How, then, can
the labour be misapplied?"
"Can you not see that, if every man worked with the love of
benefiting the world in his heart, more good would be effected than
if he worked only for himself?"
"And that he would have a double reward, in the natural
compensation that labour receives, and in the higher satisfaction of
having done good."
"To work for a lower end, then, is to misapply labour, so far as
the man is concerned. He robs himself of his own highest reward, while
Providence bends the efforts he makes, and causes them to effect good
uses to the neighbour he would, in too many cases, rather insure than
"You have a curious way of looking at things, or, rather,
them," said Mr. Markland, forcing a smile. "There is a common saying
about taking the conceit out of a man, and I must acknowledge that
you can do this as effectually as any one I ever knew."
"When the truth comes to us," said the old gentleman, smiling in
return, "it possesses the quality of a mirror, and shows us something
of our real state. If we were more earnest to know the truth, so far
as it applied to ourselves, we would be wiser, and, it is to be hoped,
better. Truth is light, and when it comes to us it reveals our true
relation to the world. It gives the ability to define our exact
position, and to know surely whether we are in the right or the wrong
way. How beautifully has it been called a lamp to our path! And truth
possesses another quality—that of water. It cleanses as well as
Mr. Markland bent his head in a thoughtful attitude, and walked on
in silence. Mr. Allison continued:
"The more of truth we admit into our minds, the higher becomes our
discriminating power. It not only gives the ability to know
ourselves, but to know others. All our mental faculties come into a
more vigorous activity."
"Truth! What is truth?" said Mr. Markland, looking up, and speaking
in a tone of earnest inquiry.
"Truth is the mind's light," returned Mr. Allison, "and it comes to
us from Him who said 'Let there be light, and there was light,' and
who afterward said, 'I am the light of the world.' There is truth,
and there is the doctrine of truth—it is by the latter that we are
led into a knowledge of truth."
"But how are we to find truth? How are we to become elevated into
that region of light in which the mind sees clearly?"
"We must learn the way, before we can go from one place to
"If we would find truth, we must first learn the way, or the
doctrine of truth; for doctrine, or that which illustrates the mind,
is like a natural path or way, along which we walk to the object we
desire to reach."
"Still, I do not find the answer to my question. What or where is
"It often happens that we expect a very different reply to the
query we make, from the one which in the end is received—an answer in
no way flattering to self-love, or in harmony with our life-purpose.
And when I answer you in the words of Him who, spake as never man
spoke—'I am the way, the truth, and the life,' I cannot expect
my words to meet your state of earnest expectation—to be really light to your mind."
"No, they are not light—at least, not clear light," said Mr.
Markland, in rather a disappointed tone. "If I understand the drift
of what you have said, it is that the world has no truth but what
stands in some relation to God, who is the source of all truth."
"Just my meaning," replied Mr. Allison.
A pause of some moments followed.
"Then it comes to this," said Mr. Markland, "that only through a
religious life can a man hope to arrive at truth."
"Only through a life in just order," was the reply.
"What is a life in just order?"
"A life in harmony with the end of our creation."
"Ah! what a volume of meaning, hidden as well as apparent, does
your answer involve! How sadly out of order is the world! how little
in harmony with itself! To this every man's history is a living
"If in the individual man we find perverted order, it cannot, of
course, be different with the aggregated man."
"The out of order means, simply, an action or force in the moral
and mental machinery of the world, in a direction opposite to the
"Yes; that is clear."
"The right movement God gave to the mind of man at the beginning,
when he made him in the likeness and image of himself."
"To be in the image and likeness of God, is, of course, to have
qualities like him."
"Love is the essential principle of God—and love seeks the good of
another, not its own good. It is, therefore, the nature of God to
bless others out of himself; and that he might do this, he created
man. Of course, only while man continued in true order could he be
happy. The moment he obliterated the likeness and image of his
Creator—that is, learned to love himself more than his
neighbour—that moment true order was perverted: then he became
unhappy. To learn truth is to learn the way of return to true order.
And we are not left in any doubt in regard to this truth. It has been
written for us on Tables of Stone, by the finger of God himself."
"In the Ten Commandments?"
"Yes. In them we find the sum of all religion. They make the
highway along which man may return, without danger of erring, to the
order and happiness that were lost far back in the ages now but dimly
seen in retrospective vision. No lion is found in this way, nor any
ravenous beast; but the redeemed of the Lord may walk there, and
return with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads."
"It will be in vain, then, for man to hope for any real good in
this life, except he keep the commandments," said Mr. Markland.
"All in vain," was answered. "And his keeping of them must involve
something more than a mere literal obedience. He must be in that
interior love of what they teach, which makes obedience to the letter
spontaneous, and not constrained. The outward act must be the simple
effect of a living cause."
"Ah, my friend!" sighed Mr. Markland. "It may be a true saying, but
who can hear it?"
"We have wandered far in the wrong direction—are still moving with
a swift velocity that cannot be checked without painfully jarring the
whole machinery of life; but all this progress is toward misery, not
happiness, and, as wise men, it behooves us stop, at no matter what
cost of present pain, and begin retracing the steps that have led only
to discontent and disappointment. It is all in vain that we fondly
imagine that the good we seek lies only a little way in advance—that
the Elysian fields will, in the end, be reached. If we are descending
instead of ascending, how are we ever to gain the mountain top? If we
turn our backs upon the Holy City, and move on with rapid footsteps,
is there any hope that we shall ever pass through its gates of pearl
or walk its golden streets? To the selfish natural mind, it is a 'hard
saying' as you intimate, for obedience to the commandments requires
the denial and rejection of self; and such a rejection seems like an
extinguishment of the very life. But, if we reject this old, vain
life, a new vitality, born of higher and more enduring principles,
will at once begin. Remember that we are spiritually organized forms,
receptive of life. If the life of selfish and perverted ends becomes
inactive, a new, better, and truer life will begin. We must live; for
life, inextinguishable life, is the inheritance received from the
Creator, who is life eternal in himself. It is with us to determine
the quality of life. Live we must, and forever—whether in order or
disorder, happiness or misery, is left to our own decision."
"How the thought, as thus presented," said Mr. Markland, very
soberly—almost sadly, "thrills me to the very centre of my being!
Ah! my excellent friend, what vast interests does this living
"Vast to each one of us."
"I do not wonder," added Mr. Markland, "that the old hermits and
anchorites, oppressed, so to speak, by the greatness of immortal
interests over those involved in natural life, separated themselves
from the world, that, freed from its allurements, they might lead the
life of heaven."
"Their mistake," said Mr. Allison, "was quite as fatal as the
mistake of the worldling. Both missed the road to heaven."
"Both?" Mr. Markland looked surprised.
"Yes; for the road to heaven lies through the very centre of the
world, and those who seek bypaths will find their termination at an
immense distance from the point they had hoped to gain. It is by
neighbourly love that we attain to a higher and diviner love. Can
this love be born in us, if, instead of living in and for the world's
good, we separate ourselves from our kind, and pass the years in
fruitless meditation or selfish idleness? No. The active bad man is
often more useful to the world than the naturally good or harmless man
who is a mere drone. Only the brave soldier receives the laurels of
his country's gratitude; the skulking coward is execrated by all."
The only response on the part of Markland was a deep sigh. He saw
the truth that would make him free, but did not feel within himself a
power sufficient to break the cords that bound him. The two men walked
on in silence, until they came near a lovely retreat, half obscured by
encircling trees, the scene of Fanny's recent and impassioned
interview with Mr. Lyon. The thoughts of Mr. Allison at once reverted
to his own meeting with Fanny in the same place, and the disturbed
condition of mind in which he found her. The image of Mr. Lyon also
presented itself. As the two men paused, at a point where the fountain
and some of the fine statues were visible, Mr. Allison said, with an
abruptness that gave the pulse of his companion a sudden
"Did your English friend, Mr. Lyon, really go South, before you
left New York?"
"He did. But why do you make the inquiry?" Mr. Markland turned, and
fixed his eyes intently upon the old man's face.
"I was sure that I met him a day or two ago. But I was mistaken, as
a man cannot be in two places at once."
"Where did you see the person you took for Mr. Lyon?"
"Not far distant from here?"
"A little way from the railroad station. He was coming in this
direction, and, without questioning the man's identity, I naturally
supposed that he was on his way to your house."
"Singular! Very singular!" Mr. Markland spoke to himself.
"I met Fanny a little while afterward," continued Mr. Allison, "and
I learned from her that Mr. Lyon had actually left the city. No doubt
I was mistaken; but the person I saw was remarkably like your friend
"Where did you meet Fanny?" abruptly asked Mr. Markland.
"In the little summer-house, yonder. I stepped aside, as I often
do, to enjoy the quiet beauty of the place for a few moments, and
found your daughter there alone. She answered, as you have done, my
inquiry about Mr. Lyon, that he left for the South a few days
"He did. And yet, singularly enough, you are not the only one who
has mentioned to me that a person resembling Mr. Lyon was seen after
he had left for the South—seen, too, almost on the very day that
letters from him arrived by mail. The coincidence is at least
"Remarkable enough," answered the old man, "to lead you, at least,
to a close scrutiny into the matter."
"I believe it only to be a coincidence," said Mr. Markland, more
"If the fact of his being here, at the time referred to, would
change in any respect your relation to him, then let me advise the
most rigid investigation. I cannot get rid of the impression that he
really was here—and, let me speak a plainer word—nor that he met
your daughter in the summer-house."
Markland started as if an adder had stung him, uttering the word—
"Understand me," calmly remarked the old man, "I do not say that it
was so. I have no proof to offer. But the impression has haunted me
ever since, and I cannot drive it away."
"It is only an impression, then?"
"But what, was there in my daughter's conduct that led you to so
strange an impression?"
"Her manner was confused; a thing that has never happened at any
previous meeting with her. But, then, I came upon her suddenly, as
she sat in the summer-house, and gave her, in all probability, a
"Most likely that is the true interpretation. And I can account for
her rather disturbed state of mind on other grounds than a meeting
with Mr. Lyon."
"That is good evidence on the other side," returned Mr. Allison,
"and I hope you will pardon the freedom I have taken in speaking out
what was in my thoughts. In no other way could I express so strongly
the high regard I have for both yourself and family, and the interest
I feel in your most excellent daughter. The singular likeness to Mr.
Lyon in the person I met, and the disturbed state in which Fanny
appeared to be, are facts that have kept almost constant possession of
my mind, and haunted me ever since. To mention these things to you is
but a common duty."
"And you have my thanks," said Mr. Markland, "my earnest thanks."
The two men had moved on, and were now at some distance from the
point where the sight of the fountain and summer-house brought a
vivid recollection to the mind of Mr. Allison of his interview with
"Our ways part here," said the old man.
"Will you not keep on to the house? Your visits always give
pleasure," said Mr. Markland.
"No—not at this time. I have some matters at home requiring
They stood and looked into each other's faces for a few moments, as
if both had something yet in their minds unsaid, but not yet in a
shape for utterance—then separated with a simple "Good-by."
THIS new testimony in regard to the presence of Mr. Lyon in the
neighbourhood, at a time when he was believed to be hundreds of miles
away, and still receding as rapidly as swift car and steamer could
bear him, might well disturb, profoundly, the spirit of Mr. Markland.
What could it mean? How vainly he asked himself this question. He was
walking onward, with his eyes upon the ground, when approaching feet
made him aware of the proximity of some one. Looking up, he saw a man
coming down the road from his house, and only a few rods distant from
"Mr. Lyon, now!" he exclaimed, in a low, agitated voice. "What does
this mean?" he added, as his mind grew bewildered, and his footsteps
Another moment, and he saw that he had erred in regard to the man's
identity. It wars not Mr. Lyon, but a stranger. Advancing again, they
met, and the stranger, pausing, said:
"Mr. Markland, I believe?"
"That is my name, sir," was answered.
"And my name is Willet."
"Ah, yes!" said Mr. Markland extending his hand. "I learned,
to-day, in the city, that you had purchased Ashton's fine place. I am
happy, sir, to make your acquaintance, and if there is any thing in
which I can serve you, do not hesitate to command me."
"Many thanks for your kind offer," returned Mr. Willet. "A stranger
who comes to reside in the country has need of friendly
consideration; and I stand just in that relation to my new
neighbours. To certain extent I am ignorant of the ways and means
appertaining to the locality; and can only get enlightened through an
intercourse with the older residents. But I have no right to be
obtrusive, or to expect too much concession to a mere stranger. Until
I am better known, I will only ask the sojourner's kindness—not the
confidence one friend gives to another."
There was a charm about the stranger's manner, and a peculiar music
in his voice, that won their way into the heart of Mr. Markland.
"Believe me, sir," he replied, "that my tender of friendly offices
is no unmeaning courtesy. I comprehend, entirely, your position; for
I once held just your relation to the people around me. And now, if
there are any questions to which an immediate answer is desired, ask
them freely. Will you not return with me to my house?"
"Thank you! Not now. I came over to ask if you knew a man named
Burk, who lives in the neighbourhood."
"Yes; very well," answered Mr. Markland.
"Is he a man to be depended upon?"
"He's clever, and a good man about a place; but, I am sorry to say,
not always to be depended upon."
"What is the trouble with him?" asked Mr. Willet.
"The trouble with most men who occasionally drink to excess."
"Oh! That's it. You've said enough, sir; he won't suit me. I shall
have to be in the city for a time, almost every day, and would not,
by any means, feel safe or comfortable in knowing that such a person
was in charge of things. Besides, my mother, who is getting in years,
has a particular dread of an intoxicated man, and I would on no
account expose her to the danger of being troubled from this cause. My
sisters, who have lived all their lives in cities, will be timid in
the country, and I therefore particularly desire the right kind of a
man on the premises—one who may be looked to as a protector in my
absence. You understand, now, what kind of a person I want?"
"This Burk would not suit."
"I'm afraid not. But for the failing I have mentioned, you could
hardly find a more capable, useful, or pleasant man in the
neighbourhood; but this mars all."
"It mars all for me, and for reasons I have just mentioned," said
Mr. Willet; "so we will have to pass him by. Is there any other
available man about here, who would make a trusty overseer?"
"I do not think of one, but will make it my business to inquire,"
returned Mr. Markland. "How soon will you move out?"
"In about a week. On Monday we shall send a few loads of
"Cannot you hire Mr. Ashton's gardener? He is trusty in every
"Some one has been ahead of me," replied Mr. Willet. "He is already
engaged, and will leave to-morrow."
"I'm sorry for that. Mr. Ashton spoke highly of him."
"His work speaks for him," said Mr. Willet. "The whole place is in
"Yes, it has always been the pride of its owner, and admiration of
the neighbourhood. I don't know how Mr. Ashton could make up his mind
to part with it."
"I am certainly much obliged to him for yielding it to me," said
Mr. Willet. "I regard myself as particularly fortunate. But I will not
detain you. If you should think or hear of any one who will suit my
purpose, I shall be under particular obligations if you will let me
"If I can serve you in the matter, be sure that I will do so,"
replied Mr. Markland.
Mr. Willet thanked him warmly for the proffered kindness, and then
the two men separated, each strongly and favourably impressed by the
"That startling mystery is solved," said Mr. Markland, taking a
deep breath. "This is the other Dromio. I don't wonder that Mr.
Allison and Mr. Lamar were deceived. I was, for a moment. What a
likeness he bears to Mr. Lyon! Ah, well!—the matter has worried me,
for a short time, dreadfully. I was sure that I knew my man; but this
strange affirmation in regard to him threw me into terrible doubts.
Thank fortune! the mystery is completely solved. I must go back to the
city this very afternoon, and see Brainard. It will not do for him to
remain long in doubt. His mind might take a new direction, and become
interested in some other enterprise. There is no other man with whom,
in so important a business as this, I would care to be associated."
And Mr. Markland, thus communing with himself, moved onward, with
light and rapid footsteps, toward his dwelling. A mountain had been
lifted from his heart.
"YOU had a visitor this afternoon," said Mr. Markland, as he sat
conversing with his wife and daughter, soon after his arrival from
"I believe not," returned Mrs. Markland. "Oh, yes. I met a
gentleman coming from this direction, and he said that he had been
"A gentleman? Who?"
"Our new neighbour, Mr. Willet."
"I did not know that he called."
"He may only have inquired for me at the door," said Mr. Markland.
"I wish you had seen him."
"What kind of a man does he appear to be?" asked Mrs. Markland.
"My first impressions are favourable. But there is a singular fact
in regard to his appearance in our neighbourhood."
Mrs. Markland and Fanny looked up curiously.
"I have been very much worried, since my return;" and Mr.
Markland's eyes rested on his daughter, as he said this. The change
that instantly passed over her face a little surprised him. Her eyes
fell under his gaze, and the crimson blood rose to her forehead.
"What has worried you?" tenderly inquired Mrs. Markland.
"I met with a strange rumour in the city."
"About Mr. Lyon."
Mrs. Markland's whole manner changed, her usual quiet aspect giving
place to strongly manifested interest. Her eyes, as well as those of
her husband, turned to-ward Fanny, who, by partial aversion, sought
to hide from close observation her suffused countenance.
"What of Mr. Lyon?" asked Mrs. Markland.
"At least two persons have affirmed, quite positively, that they
saw Mr. Lyon, as well in the city as in this neighbourhood, on the day
before yesterday," said Mr. Markland.
The colour suddenly receded from the face of his wife, who looked
half-frightened at so unexpected an announcement. Fanny turned
herself further away from observation.
"Saw Mr. Lyon! Can it be possible he did not go South at the time
he said that he would leave?" Mrs. Markland's voice was troubled.
"He went, of course," was the cheerful, confident answer of Mr.
"You are sure of it?"
"How do you explain the mystery, if it may so be called?"
"After hours of doubt, perplexity, and uneasiness, I met the man
"Not Mr. Lyon?"
Fanny started at her father's announcement, and partly turned
toward him a face that was now of a pallid hue.
"No; not Mr. Lyon," said Mr. Markland, in answer to his wife's
ejaculation, "but a person so nearly resembling him, that, for a few
moments, even I was deceived."
"How singular! Who was the man?"
"Our new neighbour, Mr. Willet."
"Why, Edward! That is remarkable."
"Yes, it is really so. I had just parted from Mr. Allison, who was
certain of having seen Mr. Lyon in this neighbourhood, on the day
before yesterday, when I met Mr. Willet. I can assure you that I was
startled when my eyes first rested upon him. For a few moments,
pulsation was suspended. A nearer approach corrected my error; and a
brief conversation with our new neighbour, gave me a strong
prepossession in his favour."
Before this sentence was completed, Fanny had arisen and gone
quietly from the room. For a few moments after her departure, the
father's and mother's eyes rested upon the door through which her
graceful form had vanished. Then they looked at each other, sighed,
and were silent.
The moment Fanny was beyond the observation of her parents, wings
seemed added to her feet, and she almost flew to her chamber.
"Bless the child! What's the matter? She looks frightened to
death!" exclaimed Aunt Grace, who met her on the way, and she followed
her quickly. But, when she tried to open the chamber door, she found
it locked within.
"Fanny! Fanny, child!" She rattled at the lock, as she thus called
the name of her niece.
But no sound came from within.
The sound of feet was on the floor.
"What is wanted, aunt?" said a low, husky voice, close to the door
within. It did not seem like the voice of Fanny.
"I wish to see you for a few moments. Let me in."
"Not now, Aunt Grace. I want to be alone," was answered, in the
same altered voice.
"Mercy on us!" sighed Aunt Grace, as she turned, disappointed and
troubled, from the door of her niece's chamber. "What is coming over
the house? and what ails the child? That dreadful Mr. Lyon is at the
bottom of all this. Oh! I wish the ship that brought him over had
sunk in the middle of the ocean. I knew he would bring trouble, the
moment my eyes rested upon him; and it is here quicker than I
Fanny, oh entering her room, had fallen, half-fainting, across her
bed. It required a strong effort to arouse herself and sufficiently
command her voice to answer the call of her aunt and refuse to admit
her. As soon as the latter had gone away, she staggered back to her
bed, and again threw herself upon it, powerless, for the time, in
mind as well as body. Never, before, had she concealed anything from
her parents—never acted falsely, or with even a shadow of duplicity.
Into what a fearful temptation had she suddenly fallen; and what a
weight of self-condemnation, mingled with doubt and fear, pressed upon
her heart. At the moment when she was about revealing all to her
father, and thus ending his doubts, her purpose was checked by the
unlooked-for announcement that a person so nearly resembling Mr. Lyon,
as even for a moment to deceive her father, was in the neighbourhood,
checked the words that were rising to her lips, and sealed them, for
the time, in silence. To escape from the presence of her parents was
her next impulse, and she obeyed it.
Fully half an hour passed before calmness was restored to the mind
of Fanny, and she could think with any degree of clearness. From
childhood, up to this period of her life, her mother had been her
wise counsellor, her loving friend, her gentle monitor. She had
leaned upon her in full confidence—had clung to her in weakness, as
the vine to its strong support. And now, when she most needed her
counsel, she shrunk from her, and feared to divulge the secret that
was burning painfully into her heart. And yet, she did not purpose to
keep her secret; for that, her reason and filial love both told her,
was wrong; while all the time a low, sweet, almost sad voice, seemed
murmuring in her ear—"Go to your mother!"
"I must, I will go to her!" she said, at last, firmly. "A
daughter's footsteps must be moving along dangerous ways, if she fears
to let her mother know the paths she is treading. Oh, mother!" and she
clasped her hands almost wildly against her bosom. "My good, wise,
loving mother!—how could I let a stranger come in between us, and
tempt my heart from its truth to you for a moment! Yes, yes, you must
know all, and this very hour."
Acting from this better state of mind, Fanny unlocked her door, and
was passing along one of the passages in the direction of her
mother's room, when she met Aunt Grace.
"Oh! child! child! what is the matter with you?" exclaimed the
aunt, catching hold of her, and looking intently into her pale face.
"Come, now, tell me all about it—that's a dear, good girl."
"Tell you about what, Aunt Grace?" said Fanny, with as much
firmness as she could assume, trying, as she spoke, to disengage
herself from the firm grasp with which she was held.
"About all this matter that troubles you. Why, dear me! you look
just as if you'd come out of a spell of sickness. What is it, dear?
Now do tell your aunty, who loves you just as well as if you were her
own child. Do, love."
And Aunt Grace tried to draw the head of Fanny close to her bosom.
But her niece struggled to be free, answering, as she did so—
"Don't question me now, Aunt Grace, please. Only let me go to
mother. I want to see her."
"She is not in her room," said Miss Markland.
"Are you certain?"
"Oh, yes. I have just come from there."
"Where is she, then?"
"In the library, with your father."
Without a word more, Fanny turned from her aunt, and, gliding back
to her own chamber, entered, and closed the door.
"Oh, dear, dear, dear! What does ail the child?" almost sobbed Aunt
Grace, wringing her hands together, as she stood, with a bewildered
air, gazing upon the door through which the form of her niece had
just passed. "Something is the matter—something dreadful. And it all
comes of Edward's foolish confidence in a stranger, that I could see,
with half an eye, was not a man to be trusted."
For some minutes, Miss Markland remained standing as her niece had
left her, trying to make up her mind to act in some decided way for
the remedy of existing troubles.
"I'll just speak to Edward plainly about this business," she at
length said, with considerable warmth of manner. "Shall I stand, with
sealed lips, and witness such a sacrifice? No—no—no!"
And with nothing clearly settled or arranged in her thoughts, Aunt
Grace started for the library, with the intention of speaking out
plainly to her brother. The opportunity for doing so, however, did
not occur; for, on entering the library, she found it empty.
MR. MARKLAND was entirely satisfied. All doubt vanished from his
mind. The singular resemblance of their new neighbour to Mr. Lyon
cleared up the whole mystery. It was Mr. Willet who had been mistaken
for the young Englishman.
"If it were not so late," he said, glancing at the sun, as he stood
in the porch, "I would go into the city and see Mr. Brainard. It is
unfortunate that any doubtful questions in regard to Mr. Lyon should
have intruded themselves upon him, and his mind should be disabused
as quickly as possible. It is singular how positive some men are,
right or wrong. Now, Lamar was almost ready to be sworn that he saw
Mr. Lyon in the city day before yesterday, although he was, at the
time, distant from him many hundreds of miles; and, but for my
fortunate meeting with Willet this afternoon, his confident assertion
of his belief would, in all probability; have caused the most
disastrous consequences. From what light causes do most important
events sometimes spring!"
On returning to her own apartment, the thoughts of Fanny began to
flow in another channel. The interest which the young stranger had
awakened in her mind was no fleeting impulse. His image,
daguerreotyped on her heart, no light breath could dim. That he was
good and honourable, she believed; and, therefore, had faith in him.
Yet had his sudden appearance and injunction of silence disturbed
her, as we have seen, very deeply. Her guileless heart shrunk from
concealment, as if it were something evil. How bewildered were all
her perceptions, usually so calm! A sense of relief had been felt,
the instant she saw that her father's mind was no longer in doubt on
the question of Mr. Lyon's return from the South—relief, that he was
deceived in a matter which might involve the most serious
consequences. But this feeling did not very long remain; and she
became the subject of rapidly alternating states.
Fanny remained alone until the summons to tea startled her from a
sad, half-dreaming state of mind.
Not to meet her father and mother at the tea-table would, she saw,
attract toward her a closer attention than if she mingled with the
family at their evening meal; and so she forced herself away from the
congenial seclusion of her own apartment. As she took her place at the
table, she was conscious that the eyes of her father and mother, as
well as those of Aunt Grace, were fixed scrutinizingly upon her; and
she felt the blood growing warmer in her cheeks, and flushing her
whole countenance. An unusual restraint marked the intercourse of all
during their meal. Two or three times Mr. Markland sought to draw his
daughter into a conversation; but she replied to his remarks in the
briefest manner, and evidently wished to escape all notice.
"I'm really troubled about Fanny," said Mrs. Markland to her
husband, as they sat looking out upon the fading landscape, as the
"Where is she? I've not had a glimpse of her since tea."
"In her own room, I suppose, where she now spends the greater part
of her time. She has become reserved, and her eyes grow moist, and
her cheeks flushed, if you speak to her suddenly."
"You must seek her confidence," said Mr. Markland.
"I want that without the apparent seeking," was answered. "She
knows me as her truest friend, and I am waiting until she comes to me
in the most unreserved freedom."
"But will she come?"
"Oh, yes! yes!"—was the confidently-spoken answer. "Soon her heart
will be laid open to me like the pages of a book, so that I can read
all that is written there."
"Mr. Lyon awakened a strong interest in her feelings—that is
"Too strong; and I cannot but regard his coming to Woodbine Lodge
as a circumstance most likely to shadow all our future."
"I do really believe," said Mr. Markland, affecting a playful mood,
"that you have a latent vein of superstition in your character."
"You may think so, Edward," was the seriously-spoken answer; "but I
am very sure that the concern now oppressing my heart is far more
deeply grounded than your words indicate. Who, beside Mr. Lamar, told
you that he saw, or believed that he saw, Mr. Lyon?"
"Where did he see him?"
"He didn't see him at all," confidently answered Mr. Markland. "He
saw Mr. Willet."
"He believed that the person he saw was Mr. Lyon."
"So did I, until a nearer approach convinced me that I was in
error. If I could be deceived, the fact that Mr. Allison was also
deceived is by no means a remarkable circumstance."
"Was it in this neighbourhood that he saw the person he believed to
be Mr Lyon?"
Mrs. Markland's eyes fell to the ground, and she sat, for a long
time, so entirely abstracted, as almost to lose her consciousness of
"The dew is rather heavy this evening," said her husband, arousing
her by the words. She arose, and they went together into the
sitting-room, where they found all but Fanny. Soon after, Mr.
Markland went to his library, and gave up his thoughts entirely to
the new business in which he was engaged with Mr. Lyon. How, golden
was the promise that lured him on! He was becoming impatient to tread
with swift feet the path to large wealth and honourable distinction
that was opening before him. A new life had been born in his mind—it
was something akin to ambition. In former times, business was regarded
as the means by which a competency might be obtained; and he pursued
it with this end. Having secured wealth, he retired from busy life,
hoping to find ample enjoyment in the seclusion of an elegant rural
home. But, already, restlessness had succeeded to inactivity, and now
his mind was gathering up its latent strength for new efforts, in new
and broader fields, and under the spur of a more vigorous impulse.
"Edward!" It was the low voice of his wife, and the soft touch of
her hand, that startled the dreaming enthusiast from visions of
wealth and power that dazzled him with their brilliancy.
"Come, Edward, it is growing late," said his wife.
"How late?" he replied, looking up from the paper he had covered
with various memoranda, and clusters of figures.
"It is past eleven o'clock."
"That cannot be, Agnes. It is only a short time since I left the
"Full three hours. All have retired and are sleeping. Ah, my
husband! I do not like this new direction your thoughts are taking.
To me, there is in it a prophecy of evil to us all."
"A mere superstitious impression, Agnes dear: nothing more, you may
depend upon it. I am in the vigour of manhood. My mind is yet clear,
strong, and suggestive—and my reason, I hope, more closely
discriminating, as every man's should be with each added year of his
life. Shall I let all these powers slumber in disgraceful inactivity!
No, Agnes, it cannot, must not be."
Mr. Markland spoke with a fervid enthusiasm, that silenced his
wife—confusing her thoughts, but in no way inspiring her with
confidence. Hitherto, he had felt desirous of concealing from her the
fact that he was really entering into new business responsibilities;
but now, in his confident anticipations of success, he divulged a
portion of the enlarged range of operations in which he was to be an
"We have enough, Edward," was the almost mournfully-uttered reply
of Mrs. Markland—"why, then, involve yourself in business cares?
Large transactions like those bring anxious days and wakeful nights.
They are connected with trouble, fatigue, disappointment, and, Edward! sometimes ruin!"
Very impressively were the last words spoken; but Mr. Markland
answered almost lightly—
"None of your imagined drawbacks have any terror for me, Agnes. As
for the ruin, I shall take good care not to invite that by any large
risks or imprudent speculations. There are few dangers for wise and
prudent men, in any business. It is the blind who fall into the
ditch—the reckless who stumble. You may be very certain that your
husband will not shut his eyes in walking along new paths, nor
attempt the navigation of unaccustomed seas without the most reliable
To this, Mrs. Markland could answer nothing. But his words gave her
no stronger confidence in the successful result of his schemes; for
well assured was she, in her perceptive Christian philosophy, that
man's success in any pursuit was no accidental thing, nor always
dependent on his own prudence; the ends he had in view oftener
determining the result, than any merit or defect in the means
employed. So, the weight of concern which this new direction of her
husband's active purpose had laid upon her heart, was in no way
lightened by his confident assurances.
MR. MARKLAND went to the city early on the next morning. Fanny had
not made her appearance when he left. This fact, at any other time,
would have excited his attention, and caused an earnest inquiry as to
the cause of her absence from the morning meal. But now his thoughts
were too intently fixed on other things. He had suddenly become an
aeriel castle-builder, and all his mind was absorbed in contemplating
the magnificent structures that were rising up at the creative touch
Mr. Brainard, upon whom he called immediately upon his arrival in
the city, was not so easily satisfied on the subject of Mr. Lyon's
alleged return to the city. He happened to know Mr. Willet, and,
while he admitted that there was a general resemblance between the
two men, did not consider it sufficiently striking to deceive any one
as to the identity of either.
"But I was deceived," confidently asserted Mr. Markland.
"That is not so remarkable under the circumstances," was answered.
"You had Lyon distinctly in your thought, from being most positively
assured of his recent presence in your neighbourhood, and when a
stranger, bearing some resemblance to him, suddenly came in sight, I
do not wonder that you were on the instant deceived. I might have
"I am sure of it. The likeness between the two men is remarkable."
"But Willet has no hair mole on his cheek; and to that mark, you
will remember, Lamar particularly testified."
"The mark may only have been in his mind, and not on the face of
the person he met. Believing it to be Mr. Lyon, he saw the hair mole,
as well as the other peculiarities of his countenance."
"No such explanations can satisfy me," replied Mr. Brainard. "I
have thought over the matter a great deal since I saw you, and my mind
is pretty well made up to withdraw from this whole business while I am
at liberty to do so, without pecuniary loss or any compromise of
"And let such a golden opportunity pass?" said Markland, in a voice
husky with disappointment.
"If you will," was calmly answered. "I am a firm believer in the
'bird in the hand' doctrine. There are a great many fine singers in
the bush, but I want to see them safely caged before I neglect the
door that shuts in the bird I possess already."
"But you surely cannot be in earnest about withdrawing from this
business," said Markland.
"Very much in earnest. Since yesterday, I have turned the matter
over in my mind constantly, and viewed it in many lights and from
many positions; and my deliberate convictions are, that it is wisest
for me to have nothing whatever to do with these splendid schemes;
and if you will be governed by an old stager's advice, resolve to act
"When my hands are once fairly on the plough," answered Mr.
Markland, "I never look back. Before engaging in any new business, I
thoroughly examine its promise, and carefully weigh all the
probabilities of success or failure. After my decision is made, I
never again review the ground over which I travelled in coming to a
decision, but pass onward with faith and vigour in the accomplishment
of all that I have undertaken. More men are ruined by vacillation than
from any other cause."
"My observation brings me to another conclusion," quietly returned
Mr. Brainard. The earnest enthusiasm of the one, and the immovable
coolness of the other, were finely contrasted.
"And what is that?" inquired Mr. Markland.
"Why, that more men are ruined by a blind perseverance in going the
wrong way, than from any other cause. Were we infallible in judgment,
it might be well enough to govern ourselves in all important matters
on the principle you indicate. But, as we are not, like wise
navigators, we should daily make new observations, and daily examine
our charts. The smallest deviation from a right line will make an
immense error in the course of a long voyage."
"Wise business men are in little danger of making errors," said
"A great many sad mistakes are made daily," returned Mr. Brainard.
"Not by wise men."
"If a man's projects succeed," was rejoined, "we applaud his sound
business judgment; if they fail, we see the cause of failure so
plainly, that we are astonished at his want of forethought in not
seeing it at the beginning. But, sir, there's a divinity that shapes
our ends, rough hew them as we will. Success or failure, I am well
convinced, do not always depend on the man himself."
"Is there no virtue, then, in human prudence?" asked Mr. Markland.
"I am not prepared to say how far we may depend on human prudence,"
replied the other; "but I know this, that if we fail to use it, we
will fail in most of our undertakings. Human prudence must be
exercised in all cases; but, too often, we let our confident hopes
take the place of prudence, as I think you are doing now."
"But surely, Mr. Brainard," said Markland, in an earnest, appealing
way, "you do not intend receding from this business?"
"My mind is fully made up," was answered.
"And so is mine," firmly replied Markland.
"To do what?"
"To take the whole interest myself."
"To invest forty thousand dollars, instead of the proposed twenty,
"You show strong faith, certainly."
"My faith, you may be sure, is well grounded. Mr. Fenwick has
already put in that sum, and he is not the man to go blindly into any
business. Apart from my own clear intuitions, founded on the most
careful investigations, I would almost be willing to take risks in any
schemes that Mr. Fenwick approved, in the substantial way of
"A very different man am I," said Mr. Brainard. "Twenty years of
sharp experience are sufficient to make me chary of substituting
others' business judgment for my own."
"Ah, well!" returned Markland, his manner showing him to be
disappointed and annoyed. "I cannot but regret your hasty decision in
this matter. So far as it concerns myself, even if I saw cause to
recede, which I do not, I am too far committed, with both Fenwick and
Lyon, to hesitate."
"Every man must decide in such cases for himself," said Brainard.
"I always do. If you are fully assured in every particular, and have
confidence in your men, your way is of course clear."
"It is clear," was confidently answered, "and I shall walk in it
with full assurance of a successful end."
IT was some time after her father left for the city, before Fanny
came down from her room. She was pale, and looked as if she had
passed a sleepless night. Her mother's concerned inquiries were
answered evasively, and it was very apparent that she wished to avoid
question and observation.
Aunt Grace again sought, in her obtrusive way, to penetrate the
mystery of Fanny's changed exterior, but was no more successful than
on the preceding evening.
"Don't worry her with so many questions, sister," said Mrs.
Markland, aside, to Aunt Grace; "I will know all in good time."
"Your good time may prove a very bad time," was answered, a little
"What do you mean by that?" asked Mrs. Markland, turning her eyes
full upon the face of her companion.
"I mean that in any matter affecting so deeply a girl like Fanny,
the mother's time for knowing all about it is now. Something is
wrong, you may depend upon it."
At the commencement of this conversation, Fanny retired from the
"The child's mind has been disturbed by the unfortunate letter from
Mr. Lyon. The something wrong goes not beyond this."
"Unfortunate! You may well say unfortunate. I don't know what has
come over Edward. He isn't the same man that he was, before that
foreign adventurer darkened our sunny home with his presence.
Unfortunate! It is worse than unfortunate! Edward's sending that
letter at all was more a crime than a mistake. But as to the wrong in
regard to Fanny, I am not so sure that it only consists in a
disturbance of her mind."
There was a look of mystery, blended with anxious concern, in the
countenance of Aunt Grace, that caused Mrs. Markland to say,
"Speak out what is in your thoughts, Grace. Have no concealments
with me, especially on a subject like this."
"I may be over-suspicious—I may wrong the dear child—but—"
Aunt Grace looked unusually serious.
"But what?" Mrs. Markland had grown instantly pale at the strange
words of her husband's sister.
"John, the gardener, says that he saw Mr. Lyon on the day after
Edward went to New York."
"Not far from here."
"Deceived, as Edward was. John saw our new neighbour, Mr. Willet."
"Maybe so, and maybe not; and I am strongly inclined to believe in
the maybe not. As for that Lyon, I have no faith in him, and never
had, as you know, from the beginning. And I shouldn't be at all
surprised if he were prowling about here, trying to get stolen
interviews with Fanny."
"Grace! How dare you suggest such a thing?" exclaimed Mrs.
Markland, with an energy and indignation almost new to her character.
Grace was rather startled by so unexpected a response from her
sister-in-law, and for a moment or two looked abashed.
"Better be scared than hurt, you know, Agnes," she replied, coolly,
as soon as she had recovered herself.
"Not if scared by mere phantoms of our own diseased imaginations,"
said Mrs. Markland.
"There is something more solid than a phantom in the present case,
I'm afraid. What do you suppose takes Fanny away so often, all by
herself, to the Fountain Grove?"
"Grace Markland! What can you mean by such a question?" The mother
of Fanny looked frightened.
"I put the question to you for answer," said Grace, coolly. "The
time was, and that time is not very distant, when Fanny could
scarcely be induced to go a hundred yards from the house, except in
company. Now, she wanders away alone, almost daily; and if you
observe the direction she takes, you will find that it is toward
Fountain Grove. And John says that it was near this place that he met
"Mr. Willet, you mean," said Mrs. Markland, firmly.
"None are so blind as those who will not see," retorted Aunt Grace,
in her impulsive way. "If any harm comes to the child, you and Edward
will have none but yourselves to blame. Forewarned, forearmed, is a
wise saying, by which you seem in no way inclined to profit."
Even while this conversation was in progress, the subject of it had
taken herself away to the sweet, retired spot where, since her
meeting with Mr. Lyon, she had felt herself drawn daily with an
almost irresistible influence. As she passed through the thick,
encircling grove that surrounded the open space where the beautiful
summer-house stood and the silvery waters sported among the statues,
she was startled by a rustling noise, as of some one passing near.
She stopped suddenly, her heart beating with a rapid motion, and
listened intently. Was she deceived, or did her eyes really get
uncertain glimpses of a form hurriedly retiring through the trees?
For nearly a minute she stood almost as still as one of the marble
figures that surrounded the fountain. Then, with slow, almost
stealthy footsteps, she moved onward, glancing, as she did so, from
side to side, and noting every object in the range of vision with a
sharp scrutiny. On gaining the summer-house, the first object that
met her eyes was a folded letter, lying upon the marble table. To
spring forward and seize it was the work of an instant. It bore her
own name, and in the now familiar hand of Lee Lyon!
A strong agitation seized upon the frame of the young girl, as she
caught up the unexpected letter. It was some moments before her
trembling fingers could break the seal and unfold the missive. Then
her eyes drank in, eagerly, its contents:
"MY EVER DEAR FANNY:—Since our meeting at the fountain, I cannot
say to you all that I would say in any letter under care to your
father, and so I entrust this to a faithful messenger, who will see
that it reaches your hands. I am now far to the South again, in
prosecution of most important business, the safe progress of which
would be interrupted, and the whole large result endangered, were
your father to know of my visit at Woodbine Lodge at a time when he
thought me hundreds of miles distant. So, for his sake, as well as my
own, be discreet for a brief period. I will not long permit this
burden of secrecy to lie upon your dear young heart—oh no! I could
not be so unjust to you. Your truest, best, wisest counsellor is your
mother, and she should know all that is in your heart. Keep your
secret only for a little while, and then I will put you in full
liberty to speak of all that has just occurred. None will approve
your discretion more than your parents, I know, when all the grave
reasons for this concealment are disclosed. Dear Fanny! how
ever-present to me you are. It seems, often, as if you were moving by
my side. In lonely moments, how like far off, sweet music, comes your
voice stealing into my heart. Beloved one!—"
A sudden sound of approaching feet caused Fanny to crumple the
letter, scarcely half read, in her hand, and thrust it into her
bosom. Turning towards the point from whence the noise came, she
perceived the form of her mother, who was only a few paces distant.
Mrs. Markland saw the letter in Fanny's hand, and also saw the hasty
motion of concealment. When she entered the summer-house where her
daughter, who had risen up hurriedly, stood in the attitude of one
suddenly alarmed, she marked with deep concern the agitated play of
her countenance, and the half-guilty aversion of her eyes.
"My dear child!" she said, in a low, serious voice, as she laid a
hand upon her, "what am I to understand by the singular change that
has passed over you, and particularly by the strong disturbance of
this moment? Why are you here alone? And why are you so startled at
your mother's appearance?"
Fanny only bowed her face upon her mother's bosom, and, sobbed
As the wildness of her emotion subsided, Mrs. Markland said:—
"Speak freely to your best friend, my darling child! Hide nothing
from one who loves you better than any human heart can love you."
But Fanny answered not, except by a fresh gush of tears.
"Have you nothing to confide to your mother?" inquired Mrs.
Markland in as calm a voice as she could assume, after waiting long
enough for the heart of her daughter to beat with a more even stroke.
"Nothing," was answered in a voice as calm as that in which the
interrogation was asked.
"Nothing, Fanny? Oh, my child! Do not deceive your mother!"
Fanny drew her slight form up into something of a proud attitude,
and stood for an instant looking at her mother almost defiantly. But
this was only for an instant. For scarcely was the position assumed,
ere she had flung herself forward, again sobbing violently, into her
But, for all this breaking down of her feelings, Fanny's lips
remained sealed. She was not yet prepared to give up her lover's
secret—and did not do so.
ALL doubt in regard to the presence of Mr. Lyon in the
neighborhood, as affirmed by Mr. Lamar and others, had, as we have
seen, passed from the mind of Markland. He was entirely satisfied that
the individual seen by these men was Mr. Willet. But since the refusal
of Brainard, regarded as one of the shrewdest men in the city, to
enter into a speculation to him so full of promise, he did not feel
altogether easy in mind. He had spoken more from impulse than sound
judgment, when he declared it to be his purpose to risk forty
thousand dollars in the scheme, instead of twenty thousand. A cooler
state left room for doubts. What did he really know of Mr. Lyon, on
whose discretion, as an agent, so much would depend? The question
intruded itself, like an unwelcome guest; and his effort to answer it
to his own satisfaction was in vain. Had he been in possession of his
daughter's secret, all would have been plain before him. Not for an
instant would he have hesitated about keeping faith with a man who
could so deceive him.
"I must see Mr. Fenwick again," he said, in his perplexity, after
leaving the office of Mr. Brainard.
"Forty thousand dollars is a large sum to invest; and I shall have
to sell some of my best property to raise it property yearly
increasing in value. Twenty thousand I could have managed by parting
with stocks. What folly in Brainard! I'm sadly out with him. Yes, I
must see Mr. Fenwick immediately."
In the next train that left for New York, Mr. Markland was a
passenger. A hurried note, received by his family that evening,
announced the fact of his journey, and threw a deeper shadow on the
heart of his troubled wife.
Vainly had Mrs. Markland striven to gain the unreserved confidence
of Fanny. The daughter's lips were sealed. Pressing importunity
plainly wrought something akin to estrangement; and so, with tears in
her eyes and anguish in her heart, the mother turned from her
pale-faced child, and left her alone. An hour after being surprised
by her mother at the Fountain Grove, Fanny glided into her own room,
and turned the key. The letter of Mr. Lyon was still in her bosom,
and now, with eager hands, she drew it forth, and read to the end—
—"Beloved one! How often have I blessed the kind Providence that
led me into your presence. How strange are these things! For years I
have moved amid a blaze of beauty, and coldly turned away from a
thousand glittering attractions. But, when my eyes first saw you,
there was a pause in my heart's pulsations. I felt that my soul's
companion was discovered to me; that, henceforth, my life and yours
were to blend. Ah, dear one! wonder not that, from a hasty impulse, I
decided to return and see your father. I fear, now, that the cause
most strongly influencing me was the desire to look upon your face
and feel the thrilling touch of your hand once more. Perhaps it is
well he was absent, for I am not so sure that his cooler judgment
would have seen sufficient cause for the act. All is going on now
just as he, and I, and all concerned, could wish; and not for the
world would I have him know, at present, our secret. Stolen
waters, they say, are sweet. I know not. But that brief, stolen
interview at the fountain, was full of sweetness to me. You looked
the very Naiad of the place—pure, spiritual, the embodiment of all
things lovely. Forgive this warmth of feeling. I would not wound the
instinctive delicacy of a heart like yours. Only believe me sincere.
Will you not write to me? Direct your letters, under cover, to D. C.
L., Baltimore P. O., and they will be immediately forwarded. I will
write you weekly. The same hand that conveys this, will see that my
letters reach you. Farewell, beloved one!
Five times did Fanny attempt to answer this, and as often were her
letters destroyed by her own hands. Her sixth, if not more to her own
satisfaction, she sealed, and subscribed as directed. It read thus:
"MR. LEE LYON:—MY DEAR SIR—Your unexpected visit, and equally
unexpected letter, have bewildered and distressed me. You enjoin a
continued silence in regard to your return from the South. Oh, sir!
remove that injunction as quickly as possible; for every hour that it
remains, increases my unhappiness. You have separated between me and
my good mother,—you are holding me back from throwing myself on her
bosom, and letting her see every thought of my soul. I cannot very
long endure the present. Why not at once write to my father, and
explain all to him? He must know that you came back, and the sooner,
it seems to me, will be the better. If I do not betray the fact,
waking, I shall surely do it in my sleep; for I think of it all the
time. Mother surprised me while reading your letter. I am afraid she
saw it in my hand. She importuned me to give her my full confidence;
and to refuse was one of the hardest trials of my life. I feel that I
am changing under this new, painful experience. The ordeal is too
fiery. If it continues much longer, I shall cease to be what I was
when you were here; and you will find me, on your return, so changed
as to be no longer worthy of your love. Oh, sir! pity the child you
have awakened from a peaceful, happy dream, into a real life of
mingled pain and joy. From the cup you have placed to my lips, I drink
with an eager thirst. The draught is delicious to the taste, but it
intoxicates—nay, maddens me!
"Write back to me at once, dear Mr. Lyon! I shall count the minutes
as hours, until your letter comes. Let the first words be—'Tell all
to your mother.' If you cannot write this, we must be as strangers,
for I will not bind myself to a man who would make me untrue to my
parents. You say that you love me. Love seeks another's happiness. If
you really love me, seek my happiness.
Many times did Fanny read over this letter before resolving to send
it. Far, very far, was it from satisfying her. She feared that it was
too cold—too repellant—too imperative. But it gave the true
alternative. She was not yet ready to abandon father and mother for
one who had thrown a spell over her heart almost as strong as the
enchantment of a sorcerer; and she wished him distinctly to
Mr. Lyon was in a southern city when this letter came into his
hands. He was sitting at a table covered with various documents, to
the contents of which he had been giving a long and earnest
attention, when a servant brought in a number of letters from the
post-office. He selected from the package one post-marked Baltimore,
and broke the seal in a hurried and rather nervous manner. As he
opened it, an enclosure fell upon the table. It was superscribed with
his name, in the delicate hand of a woman. This was Fanny's letter.
A careful observer would have seen more of selfish triumph in the
gleam that shot across his face, than true love's warm delight. The
glow faded into a look of anxiety as he commenced unfolding the
letter, which he read with compressed lips. A long breath, as if a
state of suspense were relieved, followed the perusal. Then he sat,
for some moments, very still, and lost in thought.
"We'll see about that," he murmured at length, laying the letter of
Fanny aside, and taking up sundry other letters which had come by the
same mail. For more than an hour these engrossed his attention. Two of
them, one from Mr. Markland, were answered during the time.
"Now, sweetheart," he said, almost lightly, as he took Fanny's
letter from the table. Every word was read over again, his brows
gradually contracting as he proceeded.
"There is some spirit about the girl; more than I had thought. My
going back was a foolish blunder. But the best will have to be made
of it. Not a whisper must come to Mr. Markland. That is a settled
point. But how is the girl to be managed?"
Lyon mused for a long time.
"Dear child!" He now spoke with a tender expression. "I have laid
too heavy a weight on your young heart, and I wish it were in my
power to remove it; but it is not."
He took a pen, as he said this, and commenced writing an answer to
"DEAREST ONE:—Tell all to your mother; but, in doing so, let it be
clearly in your mind that an eternal separation between us must
follow as a consequence. I do not say this as a threat—ah, no! Nor
are you to understand that I will be offended. No—no—no—nothing of
this. I only speak of what must come as the sure result. The moment
your father learns that I was at Woodbine Lodge, and had an interview
with his daughter, at a time when he thought me far distant, our
business and personal relations must cease. He will misjudge me from
evidence to his mind powerfully conclusive; and I shall be unable to
disabuse him of error, because appearances are against me. But I put
you in entire freedom. Go to your mother-confide to her every thing;
and, if it be possible, get back the peace of which my coming
unhappily robbed you. Think not of any consequences to me—fatal
though they should prove. The wide world is before me still.
"And now, dear Fanny! If our ways in life must part, let us hold
each other at least in kind remembrance. It will ever grieve me to
think that our meeting occasioned a ripple to disturb the tranquil
surface of your feelings. I could not help loving you—and for that I
am not responsible. Alas! that, in loving, I should bring pain to the
heart of the beloved one.
"But why say more? Why trouble your spirit by revealing the
disturbance of mine? Heaven bless you and keep you, Fanny; and may
your sky be ever bathed in sunshine! I leave my destiny in your
hands, and pray for strength to bear the worst.
Adieu. L. L."
There was a flitting smile on the lips of the young Englishman, as
he folded and sealed this letter, and a look of assurance on his
face, that little accorded with the words he had just written. Again
he took up his pen and wrote—
"MY DEAR D. C. L.:—Faithful as ever you have proved in this
affair, which is growing rather too complicated, and beginning to
involve too many interests. Miss Markland is fretting sadly under the
injunction of secresy, and says that I must release her from the
obligation not to mention my hasty return from the South. And so I
have written to her, that she may divulge the fact to her mother. You
start, and I hear you say—'Is the man mad?' No, not mad, my friend;
or, if mad, with a method in his madness. Fanny will not tell her
mother. Trust me for that. The consequences I have clearly set
forth—probable ruin to my prospects, and an eternal separation
between us. Do you think she will choose this alternative? Not she.
'Imprudent man! To risk so much for a pretty face!' I hear you
exclaim. Not all for a pretty face, my grave friend. The alliance, if
it can be made, is a good one. Markland, as far as I can learn, is as
rich as a Jew; he has a bold, suggestive mind, a large share of
enthusiasm, and is, take him all in all, just the man we want actively
interested in our scheme. Brainard, he writes me, has backed out. I
don't like that; and I like still less the reason assigned for his
doing so. 'A foolish report that you were seen in the city some days
after your departure for the South, has disturbed his confidence, and
he positively refuses to be a partner in the arrangement.' That looks
bad; doesn't it? Markland seems not to have the slightest suspicion,
and says that he will take the whole forty thousand interest himself,
if necessary. He was going, immediately, to New York, to consult with
Mr. Fenwick. A good move. Fenwick understands himself thoroughly, and
will manage our gentleman.
"Get the enclosed safely into the hands of Fanny, and with as
little delay as possible. I am growing rather nervous about the
matter. Be very discreet. The slightest error might ruin all. If
possible, manage to come in contact with Brainard, and hear how he
talks of me, and of our enterprise. You will know how to neutralize
any gratuitous assertions he may feel inclined to make. Also get, by
some means, access to Mr. Markland. I want your close observation in
this quarter. Write me, promptly and fully, and, for the present,
direct to me here. I shall proceed no farther for the present.
As ever, yours, L. L."
THE visit to New York, and interview with Mr. Fenwick, fully
assured Mr. Markland, and he entered into a formal agreement to invest
the sum of forty thousand dollars in the proposed scheme: ten thousand
dollars to be paid down at once, and the balance at short dates. He
remained away two days, and then returned to make immediate
arrangements for producing the money. The ten thousand dollars were
raised by the sale of State six per cent. stocks, a transaction that
at once reduced his annual income about six hundred dollars. The sum
was transmitted to New York.
"Have you reconsidered that matter?" inquired Markland, a few days
after his return, on meeting with Mr. Brainard.
"No, but I hope you have," was answered in a serious tone.
"I have been to New York since I saw you."
"Ah! and seen Mr. Fenwick again?"
"Did you mention the report of Lyon's return?"
"How did it strike him?"
"As preposterous, of course."
"He did not credit the story?"
"Well, I hope, for your sake, that all will come out right."
"By-the-way," said Mr. Brainard, "what do you really know about
Fenwick? You appear to have the highest confidence in his judgment.
Does this come from a personal knowledge of the man, or are you
governed in your estimate by common report?"
"He is a man of the first standing in New York. No name, in money
circles, bears a higher reputation."
Brainard slightly shrugged his shoulders.
"The common estimate of a man, in any community, is apt to be very
near the truth," said Mr. Markland.
"Generally speaking, this is so," was replied. "But every now and
then the public mind is startled by exceptions to the rule—and these
exceptions have been rather frequent; of late years. As for Fenwick,
he stands fair enough, in a general way. If he were to send me an
order for five thousand dollars' worth of goods, I would sell him,
were I a merchant, without hesitation. But to embark with him in a
scheme of so much magnitude is another thing altogether, and I wonder
at myself, now, that I was induced to consider the matter at all.
Since my withdrawal, and cooler thought on the subject, I congratulate
myself, daily, on the escape I have made."
"Escape! From what!" Mr. Markland looked surprised.
"From loss; it may be, ruin."
"You would hardly call the loss of twenty thousand dollars, ruin."
"Do you expect to get off with an investment of only twenty
thousand dollars?" asked Mr. Brainard.
"No; for I have agreed to put in forty thousand."
Brainard shook his head ominously, and looked very grave.
"I knew of no other man in the city with whom I cared to be
associated; and so, after you declined, took the whole amount that
wats to be raised here, myself."
"A hasty and unwise act, believe me, Mr. Markland," said the other.
"How soon do you expect returns from this investment?"
"Not for a year, at least."
"Say not for two years."
"Well—admit it. What then?"
"Your annual income is at once diminished in the sum of about
twenty-five hundred dollars, the interest on these forty thousand
dollars. So, at the end of two years, you are the loser of five
thousand dollars by your operation."
"It would be, if the new business paid nothing. But, when it begins
to pay, it will be at the rate of one or two hundred per cent. on the
amounts paid in."
"May be so."
"Oh! I am sure of it."
"The whole scheme has a fair front, I will admit," answered
Brainard. "But I have seen so many days that rose in sunshine go down
in storm, that I have ceased to be over confident. If forty thousand
were the whole of your investment, you might, for so large a promised
return, be justified in taking the risk."
"Mr. Fenwick thinks nothing further will be required," said
"But don't you remember the letter, in which he stated, distinctly,
that several assessments would, in all probability, be made, pro
rata, on each partner?"
"Yes; and I called Mr. Fenwick's attention to that statement; for I
did not care to go beyond forty thousand."
"What answer did he make?"
"Later intelligence had exhibited affairs in such a state of
progress, that it was now certain no further advance of capital would
"I hope not, for your sake," returned Brainard.
"I am sure not," said Markland, confidently, A third party here
interrupted the conversation, and the two men separated.
As might be supposed, this interview did not leave the most
agreeable impression on the feelings of Markland. The fact that in
selling stocks and other property to the amount of forty thousand
dollars, and locking up that large sum in an unproductive investment,
he would diminish his yearly income over twenty-five hundred dollars,
did not present the most agreeable view of the case. He had not
thought of this, distinctly, before. A little sobered in mind, he
returned homeward during the afternoon. Ten thousand dollars had gone
forward to New York; and in the course of next week he must produce a
sum of equal magnitude. To do this, would require the sale of a piece
of real estate that had, in five years, been doubled in value, and
which promised to be worth still more. He felt a particular reluctance
to selling this property; and the necessity for doing so worried his
mind considerably. "Better let well enough alone." "A bird in the hand
is worth two in the bush." One after another, these trite little
sayings would come up in his thoughts, unbidden, as if to add to his
In spite of his efforts to thrust them aside, and to get back his
strong confidence in the new business, Mr. Markland's feelings
steadily declined towards a state of unpleasant doubt. Reason as he
would on the subject, he could not overcome the depression from which
"I am almost sorry that I was tempted to embark in this business,"
he at length said to himself, the admission being extorted by the
pressure on his feelings. "If I could, with honour and safety,
withdraw, I believe I would be tempted to do so. But that is really
not to be thought of now. My hands have grasped the plough, and there
must be no wavering or looking back. This is all an unworthy
Mr. Markland had gained the entrance to Woodbine Lodge, but be was
in no state of mind to join his family. So he alighted and sent his
carriage forward, intending to linger on his way to the house, in
order to regain his lost equilibrium. He had been walking alone for
only a few minutes, with his eyes upon the ground, when a crackling
noise among the underwood caused him to look up, and turn himself in
the direction from which the sound came. In doing so, he caught sight
of the figure of a man retiring through the trees, and evidently, from
his movements, anxious to avoid observation. Mr. Markland stood still
and gazed after him until his figure passed from sight. The impression
this incident made upon him was unpleasant. The person of the stranger
was so much hidden by trees, that he could make out no resemblance
It was near that part of Mr. Markland's grounds known as the
Fountain Grove, where this occurred, and the man, to all appearance,
had been there. The impulse for him to turn aside was, therefore, but
natural, and he did so. Passing through a style, and ascending by a
few steps to the level of the ornamental grounds surrounding the grove
and fountain, the first object that he saw was his daughter Fanny,
moving hastily in the direction of the summer-house which has been
described. She was only a short distance in advance. Mr. Markland
quickened his steps, as a vague feeling of uneasiness came over him.
The coincidence of the stranger and his daughter's presence produced a
most unpleasant impression.
"Fanny!" he called.
That his daughter heard him, he knew by the start she gave. But
instead of looking around, she sprang forward, and hastily entered
the summer-house. For a moment or two she was hidden from his view,
and in that short period she had snatched a letter from the table,
and concealed it in her bosom. Not sufficiently schooled in the art
of self-control was Fanny to meet her father with a calm face. Her
cheeks were flushed, and her chest rose and fell in hurried
respiration, as Mr. Markland entered the summer-house, where she had
"You are frightened, my child," said he, fixing his eyes with a
look of inquiry on her face. "Didn't you see me, as I turned in from
the carriage-way?" he added.
"No, sir," was falteringly answered. "I did not know that you had
returned from the city until I heard your voice. It came so
unexpectedly that I was startled."
Fanny, as she said this, did not meet her father's gaze, but let
her eyes rest upon the ground.
"Are you going to remain here?" asked Mr. Markland.
"I came to spend a little while alone in this sweet place, but I
will go back to the house if you wish it," she replied.
"Perhaps you had better do so. I saw a strange man between this and
the main road, and he seemed as if he desired to avoid observation."
Fanny started, and looked up, with an expression of fear, into her
father's face. The origin of that look Mr. Markland did not rightly
conjecture. She arose at once, and said—
"Let us go home."
But few words passed between father and daughter on the way, and
their brief intercourse was marked by a singular embarrassment on
How little suspicion of the real truth was in the mind of Mr.
Markland! Nothing was farther from his thoughts than the idea that
Fanny had just received a letter from Mr. Lyon, and that the man he
had seen was the messenger by whom the missive had been conveyed to
the summer-house. A minute earlier, and that letter would have come
into his hands. How instantly would a knowledge of its contents have
affected all the purposes that were now leading him on with almost
the blindness of infatuation. The man he was trusting so implicitly
would have instantly stood revealed as a scheming, unprincipled
adventurer. In such estimation, at least, he must have been held by
Mr. Markland, and his future actions would have been governed by that
The answer to Fanny's earnest, almost peremptory demand, to be
released from the injunction not to tell her parents of Mr. Lyon's
return, was in her possession, and the instant she could get away to
her own room, she tore the letter open. The reader already knows its
contents. The effect upon her was paralizing. He had said that she
was in freedom to speak, but the consequences portrayed were too
fearful to contemplate. In freedom? No! Instead of loosing the cords
with which he had bound her spirit, he had only drawn them more
tightly. She was in freedom to speak, but the very first word she
uttered would sound the knell of her young heart's fondest hopes.
How, then, could she speak that word? Lyon had not miscalculated the
effect of his letter on the inexperienced, fond young girl, around
whose innocent heart he had woven a spell of enchantment. Most
adroitly had he seemed to leave her free to act from her own desires,
while he had made that action next to impossible.
How rapidly, sometimes, does the young mind gain premature strength
when subjected to strong trial. Little beyond an artless child was
Fanny Markland when she first met the fascinating young stranger; and
now she was fast growing into a deep-feeling, strong-thinking woman.
Hitherto she had leaned with tender confidence on her parents, and
walked the paths lovingly where they led the way. Now she was moving,
with unaided footsteps, along a new and rugged road, that led she knew
not whither; for clouds and darkness were in the forward distance. At
every step, she found a new strength and a new power of endurance
growing up in her young spirit. Thought, too, was becoming clearer and
stronger. The mature woman had suddenly taken the place of the
HALF the night, following the receipt of Mr. Lyon's letter, was
spent in writing an answer. Imploringly she besought him to release
her, truly, from the obligation to secrecy with which he had bound
her. Most touchingly did she picture her state of mind, and the
change wrought by it upon her mother. "I cannot bear this much
longer," she said. "I am too weak for the burden you have laid upon
me. It must be taken away soon, or I will sink under the weight. Oh,
sir! if, as you say, you love me, prove that love by restoring me to
my parents. Now, though present with them in body, I am removed from
them in spirit. My mother's voice has a strange sound in my ears; and
when she gazes sadly into my face I can hardly believe that it is my
mother who is looking upon me. If she touches me, I start as if guilty
of a crime. Oh, sir! to die would be easy for me now. What a sweet
relief utter forgetfulness would be."
When Fanny awoke on the next morning, she found her mother standing
beside her bed, and gazing down upon her face with a tender, anxious
look. Sleep had cleared the daughter's thoughts and tranquilized her
feelings. As her mother bent over and kissed her, she threw her arms
around her neck and clung to her tightly.
"My dear child!" said Mrs. Markland, in a loving voice.
"Dear, dear mother!" was answered, with a gush of feeling.
"Something is troubling you, Fanny. You are greatly changed. Will
you not open your heart to me?"
"Oh, mother!" She sobbed out the words.
"Am I not your truest friend?" said Mrs. Markland, speaking calmly,
but very tenderly.
Fanny did not reply.
"Have I ever proved myself unworthy of your confidence?" She spoke
as if from wounded feeling.
"Oh, no, no, dearest mother!" exclaimed Fanny. "How can you ask me
such a question?"
"You have withdrawn your confidence," was almost coldly said.
"Oh, mother!" And Fanny drew her arms more tightly about her
mother's neck, kissing her cheek passionately as she did so.
A little while Mrs. Markland waited, until her daughter's mind grew
calmer; then she said—
"You are concealing from me something that troubles you. Whatever
doubles you is of sufficient importance to be intrusted to your
mother. I am older, have had more experience than you, and am your
best friend. Not to confide in me is unjust to yourself, for, in my
counsels, more than in those of your own heart, is there safety."
Mrs. Markland paused, and waited for some time, but there was no
response from Fanny. She then said—
"You have received a letter from Mr. Lyon."
Fanny started as if a sudden blow had aroused her.
"And concealed the fact from your mother."
No answer; only bitter weeping.
"May I see that letter?" asked the mother, after a short pause. For
nearly a minute she waited for a reply. But there was not a word from
Fanny, who now lay as still as death. Slowly Mrs. Markland disengaged
her arm from her daughter's neck, and raised herself erect. For the
space of two or three minutes she sat on the bedside. All this time
there was not the slightest movement on the part of Fanny. Then she
arose and moved slowly across the room. Her hand was on the door, and
the sound of the latch broke the silence of the room. At this instant
the unhappy girl started up, and cried, in tones of anguish—
"Oh, my mother! my mother! come back!"
Mrs. Markland returned slowly, and with the air of one who
hesitated. Fanny leaned forward against her, and wept freely.
"It is not yet too late, my child, to get back the peace of mind
which this concealment has destroyed. Mr. Lyon has written to you?"
"May I see his letter?"
There was no answer.
"Still not willing to trust your best friend," said Mrs. Markland.
"Can I trust you?" said Fanny, raising herself up suddenly,
and gazing steadily into her mother's face. Mrs. Markland was startled
as well by the words of her daughter as by the strange expression of
"Trust me? What do you mean by such words?" she answered.
"If I tell you a secret, will you, at least for a little while,
keep it in your own heart."
"Keep it from whom?"
"You frighten me, my child! What have you to do with a secret that
must be kept from your father!"
"I did not desire its custody."
"If it concerns your own or your father's welfare, so much the more
is it imperative on you to speak to him freely. No true friend could
lay upon you such an obligation, and the quicker you throw it off the
better. What is the nature of this secret?"
"I cannot speak unless you promise me."
"To conceal from father what I tell you."
"I can make no such promise, Fanny."
"Then I am bound hand and foot," said the poor girl, in a
A long silence followed. Then the mother used argument and
persuasion to induce Fanny to unbosom herself. But the effort was
"If you promise to keep my secret for a single week, I will speak,"
said the unhappy girl, at length.
"I promise," was reluctantly answered.
"You know," answered Fanny, "it was rumored that Mr. Lyon had
returned from the South while father was in New York." She did not
look up at her mother as she said this.
"Yes." Mrs. Markland spoke eagerly.
"It is true that he was here."
"And you saw him?"
"Yes. I was sitting alone in the summer-house, over at the Fountain
Grove, on the day after father went to New York, when I was
frightened at seeing Mr. Lyon. He inquired anxiously if father were
at home, and was much troubled when I told him he had gone to New
York. He said that he had written to him to transact certain
business; and that after writing he had seen reason to change his
views, and fearing that a letter might not reach him in time, had
hurried back in order to have a personal interview, but arrived too
late. Father had already left for New York. This being so, he started
back for the South at once, after binding me to a brief secrecy. He
said that the fact of his return, if it became known to father, might
be misunderstood by him, and the consequence of such a misapprehension
would be serious injury to important interests. So far I have kept
this secret, mother, and it has been to me a painful burden. You have
promised to keep it for a single week."
"And this is all?" said Mrs. Markland, looking anxiously into her
"No, not all." Fanny spoke firmly. "I have since received two
letters from him."
"May I see them?"
Fanny hesitated for some moments, and then going to a drawer, took
two letters therefrom, and handed one of them to her mother. Mrs.
Markland read it eagerly.
"You answered this?" she said.
"What did you say?"
"I cannot repeat my words. I was half beside myself, and only
begged him to let me speak to you freely."
"And his reply?" said Mrs. Markland.
"Read it;" and Fanny gave her the second letter.
"Have you answered this?" inquired Mrs. Markland, after reading it
Fanny moved across the room again, and taking from the same drawer
another letter, folded and sealed, broke the seal, and gave it to her
"My poor, bewildered, unhappy child!" said Mrs. Markland, in a
voice unsteady from deep emotion; and she gathered her arms tightly
around her. "How little did I dream of the trials through which you
were passing. But, now that I know all, let me be your counsellor,
your supporter. You will be guided by me?"
"And you will not break your promise?" said Fanny.
"To keep this from father a single week, or, until I can write to
Mr. Lyon, and give him the chance of making the communication
himself. This seems to me but just to him, as some interests, unknown
to us, are at stake."
"Believe me, my daughter, it will be wisest to let your father know
this at once."
"A week can make but little difference," urged Fanny.
"Consequences to your father, of the utmost importance, may be at
stake. He is, I fear, involving himself with this man."
"Mr. Lyon is true and honourable," said Fanny. "He committed an
error, that is all. Let him at least have the privilege of making his
own explanations. I will add to my letter that only for a week longer
can I keep his secret, and, to make an immediate revelation imperative
on him, will say that you know all, and will reveal all at the end of
that time, if he does not."
No considerations that Mrs. Markland could urge had any effect to
change the purpose of Fanny in this matter.
"I must hold you to your promise," was the brief, final answer to
every argument set forth by her mother.
How far she might hold that promise sacred was a subject of long
and grave debate in the mind of Mrs. Markland. But we will not here
anticipate her decision.
OVER ten days had elapsed since Mr. Lyon answered the letter of
Fanny Markland, and he was still awaiting a reply.
"This is a risky sort of business," so his friend had written him.
"I succeeded in getting your letter into the young lady's hands, but
not without danger of discovery. For whole hours I loitered in the
grounds of Mr. Markland, and was going to leave for the city without
accomplishing my errand, when I saw Fanny coming in the direction of
the summer-house. After the letter was deposited in the place agreed
upon, and I was making my way off, I almost stumbled over her father,
who had just returned from the city. He saw me, though, of course, he
did not know me, nor suspect my errand. But my evident desire to avoid
observation must have excited some vague suspicions in his mind; for,
on reaching a point from which I could observe without being observed,
I saw that he was gazing intently in the direction I had taken. Then
he stepped aside from the road, and walked towards the grove. But
Fanny was a little in advance of him, and secured the letter. I waited
to see him join her, and then hurried off.
"I tell you again, Lee, this is a risky business. Two days have
passed, and yet there is no answer. I've seen Markland in the city
once since that time. He looked unusually sober, I thought. Perhaps
it was only imagination. You can think so if you please. Take my
advice, and make no further advances in this direction. There is too
much danger of discovery. Markland has paid over ten thousand dollars
to Fenwick, and is to produce as much more this week. He goes in, you
know, for forty thousand. The balance ought to be had from him as soon
as possible. Write to Fenwick to get it without delay. That is my
advice. If you get his treasure, you will have his heart. Nothing like
a money interest to hold a man.
"What I fear is, that the girl has told him all. You were crazy to
say that she could do so if it pleased her. Well, well! We shall soon
see where this wind will drift us. You shall hear from me the moment I
know any thing certain."
Lyon was much disturbed by this letter. He at once wrote to Mr.
Fenwick, suggesting the propriety of getting the whole of Mr.
Markland's investment as early as possible.
"I hear," he said, "that he is somewhat inclined to vacillate.
That, after making up his mind to do a thing, and even after
initiative steps are taken, he is apt to pause, look back, and
reconsider. This, of course, will not suit us. The best way to manage
him will be to get his money in our boat, and then we are sure of him.
He is very wealthy, and can be of great use in the prosecution of our
Two or three days more elapsed, and Lyon was getting nervously
anxious, when a letter from Fanny reached him. It was brief, but of
"I have revealed all to my mother," it began, "and my heart feels
lighter. She promises to keep our secret one week, and no longer.
Then all will be revealed to father. I gained this much time in order
that you might have an opportunity to write and tell him every thing
yourself. This, it seems to me, will be the best way. No time is to be
lost. The week will expire quite as soon as your letter can reach him.
So pray, Mr. Lyon, write at once. I shall scarcely sleep until all is
With an angry imprecation, Lyon dashed this letter on the floor.
"Mad girl!" he said; "did I not warn her fully of the consequences?
Write to her father? What shall I write? Tell him that I have
deceived him! That when he thought me far away I was sitting beside
his daughter, and tempting her to act towards him with concealment,
if not duplicity! Madness! folly!"
"I was a fool," he communed with himself in a calmer mood, "to put
so much in jeopardy for a woman! Nay, a girl—a mere child. But what
is to be done? Three days only intervene between this time and the
period at which our secret will be made known; so, whatever is to be
done must be determined quickly. Shall I treat the matter with
Markland seriously, or lightly? Not seriously, for that will surely
cause him to do the same. Lightly, of course; for the manner in which
I speak of it will have its influence. But first, I must manage to get
him off to New York, and in the hands of Fenwick. The larger his
actual investment in this business, the more easily the matter will be
So he drew a sheet of paper before him, and wrote:
"MY DEAR MR. MARKLAND:—I have had so much important correspondence
with Mr. Fenwick, our managing agent in New York, consequent on
letters from London and Liverpool by last steamer, that I have been
unable to proceed further than this point, but shall leave to-morrow.
Mr. Fenwick has some very important information to communicate, and if
he has not found time to write you, I would advise your going on to
New York immediately. At best, hurried business letters give but
imperfect notions of things. An hour's interview with Mr. Fenwick will
enable you to comprehend the present state of affairs more perfectly
than the perusal of a volume of letters. Some new aspects have
presented themselves that I particularly wish you to consider. Mr.
Fenwick has great confidence in your judgment, and would, I know, like
to confer with you.
"Do not fail to bring me to the remembrance of Mrs. Markland and
"This for to-day's mail," said he, is he folded the letter. "If it
does the work it is designed to accomplish, time, at least, will be
gained. Now for the harder task."
Three times he tried to address Mr. Markland again, and as often
tore up his letter. A fourth trial brought something nearer the mark.
"I'm afraid," he wrote, "a certain hasty act of mine, of which I
ought before to have advised you, may slightly disturb your feelings.
Yet don't let it have that effect, for there is no occasion whatever.
Soon after leaving for the South, I wrote you to go to New York. The
next mail brought me letters that rendered such a visit unnecessary,
and fearing a communication by mail might not reach you promptly, I
returned rapidly, and hastened to Woodbine Lodge to see you.
Approaching your dwelling, I met Fanny, and learned from her that you
had left for New York. Foolishly, as I now see it, I desired your
daughter to keep the fact a secret for a short period, fearing lest
you might not clearly comprehend my reason for returning. I wished to
explain the matter myself. This trifling affair, it seems, has made
Fanny very unhappy. I am really sorry. But it is over now, and I trust
her spirits will rise again. You understand me fully, and can easily
see why I might naturally fall into this trifling error.
"I wrote you yesterday, and hope you acted upon my suggestion. I
proceed South in an hour. Every thing looks bright."
"IT must be done this evening, Fanny," said Mrs. Markland, firmly.
"The week has expired."
"Wait until to-morrow, dear mother," was urged in a manner that was
"My promise was for one week. Even against my own clear convictions
of right, have I kept it. This evening, your father must know all."
Fanny buried her face, in her hands and wept violently. The trial
and conflict of that week were, to Mrs. Markland, the severest,
perhaps, of her whole life. Never before had her mind been in so
confused a state; never had the way of duty seemed so difficult to
find. A promise she felt to be a sacred thing; and this feeling had
constrained her, even in the face of most powerful considerations, to
remain true to her word. But now, she no longer doubted or hesitated;
and she was counting the hours that must elapse before her husband's
return from the city, eager to unburden her heart to him.
"There is hardly time," said Fanny, "for a letter to arrive from
"I cannot help it, my child. Any further delay on my part would be
criminal. Evil, past all remedy, may have already been done."
"I only asked for time, that Mr. Lyon might have an opportunity to
write to father, and explain every thing himself."
"Probably your father has heard from him to-day. If so, well; but,
if not, I shall certainly bring the matter to his knowledge."
There was something so decisive about Mrs. Markland, that Fanny
ceased all further attempts to influence her, and passively awaited
The sun had only a few degrees to make ere passing from sight
behind the western mountains. It was the usual time for Mr. Markland's
return from the city, and most anxiously was his appearing looked
for. But the sun went down, and the twilight threw its veil over wood
and valley, and still his coming was delayed. He had gone in by
railroad, and not by private conveyance as usual. The latest train
had swept shrieking past, full half an hour, when Mrs. Markland
turned sadly from the portico, in which she had for a long time been
stationed, saying to Grace, who had been watching by her side—
"This is very strange! What can keep Edward? Can it be possible
that he has remained in the city all night? I'm very much troubled. He
may be sick."
"More likely," answered Grace, in a fault-finding way, "he's gone
trapseing off to New York again, after that Englishman's business.
I wish he would mind his own affairs."
"He would not have done this without sending us word," replied Mrs.
"Oh! I'm not so sure of that. I'm prepared for any thing."
"But it's not like Edward. You know that he is particularly
considerate about such things."
"He used to be. But Edward Markland of last year is not the Edward
Markland of to-day, as you know right well," returned the
"I wish you wouldn't speak in that way about Edward any more,
Grace. It is very unpleasant to me."
"The more so, because it is the truth," replied Grace Markland.
"Edward, I'll warrant you, is now sweeping off towards New York. See
if I'm not right."
"No, there he is now!" exclaimed Mrs. Markland, stepping back from
the door she was about to enter, as the sound of approaching feet
arrested her ear.
The two women looked eagerly through the dusky air. A man's form
was visible. It came nearer.
"Edward!" was just passing joyfully from the lips of Mrs. Markland,
when the word was suppressed.
"Good-evening, ladies," said a strange voice, as a man whom neither
of them recognised paused within a few steps of where they stood.
"Mr. Willet is my name," he added.
"Oh! Mr. Willet, our new neighbour," said Mrs. Markland, with a
forced composure of manner. "Walk in, if you please. We were on the
lookout for Mr. Markland. He has not yet arrived from the city, and
we are beginning to feel anxious about him."
"I am here to relieve that anxiety," replied the visitor in a
cheerful voice, as he stepped on the portico. "Mr. Markland has made
me the bearer of a message to his family."
"Where is he? What has detained him in the city?" inquired Mrs.
Markland, in tones expressing her grief and disappointment.
"He has gone to New York," replied Mr. Willet.
"To New York!"
"Yes. He desired me to say to you, that letters received by the
afternoon's mail brought information that made his presence in New
York of importance. He had no time, before the cars started, to
write, and I, therefore, bring you his verbal message."
It had been the intention of Mr. Willet to accept any courteous
invitation extended by the family to pass a part of the evening with
them; but, seeing how troubled Mrs. Markland was at the absence of
her husband, he thought it better to decline entering the house, and
wait for a better opportunity to make their more intimate
acquaintance. So he bade her a good evening, after answering what
further inquiries she wished to make, and returned to his own home.
Aunt Grace was unusually excited by the information received
through their neighbour, and fretted and talked in her excited way for
some time; but nothing that she said elicited any reply from Mrs.
Markland, who seemed half stupefied, and sat through the evening in a
state of deep abstraction, answering only in brief sentences any
remarks addressed to her. It seemed to her as if her feet had
wandered somehow into the mazes of a labyrinth, from which at each
effort to get free she was only the more inextricably involved. Her
perceptions had lost their clearness, and, still worse, her
confidence in them was diminishing. Heretofore she had reposed all
trust in her husband's rational intelligence; and her woman's nature
had leaned upon him and clung to him as the vine to the oak. As his
judgment determined, her intuitions had approved. Alas for her that
this was no longer! Hitherto she had walked by his side with a clear
light upon their path. She was ready to walk on still, and to walk
bravely so far as herself was concerned, even though her straining
eyes could not penetrate the cloudy veil that made all before her
darkness and mystery.
Fanny, who had looked forward with a vague fear to her father's
return on that evening, felt relieved on hearing that he had gone to
New York, for that would give sufficient time for him to receive a
letter from Mr. Lyon.
Thus it was with the family of Mr. Markland on this particular
occasion. A crisis, looked for with trembling anxiety, seemed just
at, hand; and yet it was still deferred—leaving, at least in one
bosom, a heart-sickness that made life itself almost a burden.
THE close of the next day did not bring Mr. Markland, but only a
hurried letter, saying that important business would probably keep
him in New York a day or two longer. A postscript to the letter read
"Mr. Elbridge will send you a deed of some warehouse property that
I have sold. Sign and return it by the bearer."
If Mr. Markland had only said where a letter would reach him in New
York, his wife would have lost no time in writing fully on the
subject of Mr. Lyon's conduct toward Fanny. But, as there was great
uncertainty about this, she felt that she could only await his
return. And now she blamed herself deeply for having kept her word to
Fanny. It was one of those cases, she saw, in which more evil was
likely to flow from keeping a blind, almost extorted promise, than
from breaking it.
"I ought to have seen my duty clearer," she said, in
self-condemnation. "What blindness has possessed me!" And so she
fretted herself, and admitted into her once calm, trusting spirit, a
flood of self-reproaches and disquietude.
Fanny, now that the so anxiously dreaded period had gone by, and
there was hope that her father would learn all from Mr. Lyon before
he returned home, relapsed into a more passive state of mind. She had
suffered much beyond her natural powers of endurance, in the last few
days. A kind of reaction now followed, and she experienced a feeling
of indifference as to results and consequences, that was a necessary
relief to the over-strained condition of mind which had for some time
On the day following, another letter was received from Mr.
"You must not expect me until the last of this week," he said.
"Business matters of great importance will keep me here until that
time. I have a letter from Mr. Lyon which I do not much like. It
seems that he was at Woodbine Lodge, and saw Fanny, while I was away
in New York. I have talked with a Mr. Fenwick here, a gentleman who
knows all about him and his business, and he assures me that the
reasons which Mr. Lyon gave for returning as he did from the South
are valid. What troubles me most is that Fanny should have concealed
it from both you and her father. We will talk this matter over fully
on my return. If I had known it earlier, it might have led to an
entire change of plans for the future. But it is too late now.
"I wrote you yesterday that I wished you to sign a deed which Mr.
Elbridge would send out. He will send two more, which I would also
like you to sign. I am making some investments here of great
Mrs. Markland read this letter over and over again, and sat and
thought about its contents until her mind grew so bewildered that it
seemed as if reason were about to depart. If it was suggested that
she ought not to sign the deeds that were to be presented for her
signature, the suggestion was not for a single moment entertained;
but rather flung aside with something of indignation.
A day or two after Mr. Willet called with the message from Mr.
Markland, he went over again to Woodbine Lodge. It was late in the
afternoon, and Fanny was sitting in the portico that looked from the
western front of the dwelling, with her thoughts so far away from the
actual things around her that she did not notice the approach of any
one, until Mr. Willet, whom she had never met, was only a few yards
distant; then she looked up, and as her eyes rested upon him, she
started to her feet and struck her hands together, uttering an
involuntary exclamation of surprise. The name of Mr. Lyon was half
uttered, when she saw her mistake, and made a strong effort to
compose her suddenly disturbed manner.
"Mrs. Markland is at home, I presume," said the visitor, in a
respectful manner, as he paused a few paces distant from Fanny, and
observed, with some surprise, the agitation his appearance had
"She is. Will you walk in, sir?" The voice of Fanny trembled,
though she strove hard to speak calmly and with apparent
"My name is Mr. Willet."
"Oh! our new neighbour." And Fanny forced a smile, while she
extended her hand, as she added:
"Walk in, sir. My mother will be gratified to see you."
"Has your father returned from New York?" inquired Mr. Willet, as
he stood looking down upon the face of Miss Markland, with a feeling
of admiration for its beauty and innocence.
"Not yet. Mother does not look for him until the last of this
"He did not expect to be gone over a single day, when he left?"
"No, sir. But business has detained him. Will you not walk in, Mr.
Willet?" The earnestness with which he was looking into her face was
disconcerting Fanny. So she stepped toward the door, and led the way
into the house.
"Mr. Willet," said Fanny, introducing her visitor, as they entered
Mrs. Markland extended her hand and gave their new neighbour a
cordial reception. Aunt Grace bowed formally, and fixed her keen eyes
upon him with searching glances. While the former was thinking how
best to entertain their visitor, the latter was scrutinizing his every
look, tone, word, and movement. At first, the impression made upon her
was not altogether favourable; but gradually, as she noted every
particular of his conversation, as well as the various changes of his
voice and countenance, her feelings toward him underwent a change; and
when he at length addressed a few words to her, she replied, with
unusual blandness of manner.
"How are your mother and sisters?" inquired Mrs. Markland, soon
after Mr. Willet came in. "I have not yet called over to see them,
but shall do so to-morrow."
"They are well, and will be exceedingly gratified to receive a
visit from you," replied Mr. Willet.
"How are they pleased with the country?"
"That question they would find it difficult yet to answer. There is
much pleasant novelty, and much real enjoyment of nature's varied
beauties. A sense of freedom and a quietude of spirit, born of the
stillness that, to people just from the noisy town, seems brooding
over all things. Some of the wants, created by our too artificial
mode of living in cities, are occasionally felt; but, on the whole,
we are gainers, so far, by our experiment."
"Your sisters, I am sure, must enjoy the beauty with which you are
surrounded. There is not a lovelier place than the one you have
selected in the whole neighbourhood."
"Always excepting Woodbine Lodge," returned the visitor, with a
courteous bow. "Yes," he added, "Sweetbrier is a charming spot, and
its beauty grows upon you daily. My sister Flora, just about your own
age," and Mr. Willet turned toward Fanny, "is particularly desirous to
make your acquaintance. You must call over with your mother. I am sure
you will like each other. Flora, if a brother may venture to herald a
sister's praise, is a dear, good girl. She has heard a friend speak of
you, and bears already, toward you, a feeling of warmer tone than mere
Mr. Willet fixed his eyes so earnestly on the countenance of Fanny,
that she partly averted her face to conceal the warm flush that came
to her cheeks.
"I shall be happy to make her acquaintance," she replied. "Our
circle of friends cannot be so large here as in the city; but we may
find compensation in closer attachments."
"I will say to my mother and sisters, that they may expect to see
you to-morrow," And Mr. Willet looked from face to face.
"Yes; we will ride over to-morrow," said Mrs. Markland.
"And you, also, Miss Markland." The courteous manner in which this
was said quite won the heart of Aunt Grace, and she replied that she
would give herself that pleasure.
Mr. Willet sat for an hour, during which time he conversed in the
most agreeable and intelligent manner; and, on retiring, left behind
him a very favourable impression.
"I like that man," said Aunt Grace, with an emphasis that caused
Mrs. Markland to look toward her and smile.
"That's a little remarkable. You are not very apt to like men at
"I like him, for he's a true man and a gentleman," returned Aunt
Grace. "And true men, I think, are scarce articles."
"Ever hasty in your conclusions, whether favourable or
unfavourable," said Mrs. Markland.
"And rarely in error. You may add that," replied the sister-in-law,
confidently. "When Mr. Lyon darkened our doors,"—Fanny was passing
from the room, and Aunt Grace spoke in a guarded voice—"I said he
would leave a shadow behind him, and so he has. Was my judgment
hasty, so far as he was concerned? I think you will hardly say so.
But, my word for it, the presence of Mr. Willet will ever bring a
gleam of sunshine. I am glad he has come into our neighbourhood. If
his mother and sisters are like him, they are a company of choice
TO the opinion of her sister-in-law, Mrs. Markland made no dissent.
She was, also, favourably impressed with Mr. Willet, and looked
forward with pleasure to making the acquaintance of his mother and
On the following morning the carriage was ordered, and about eleven
o'clock Mrs. Markland, Aunt Grace, and Fanny, were driven over to
"Sweetbrier," the fanciful name which Mr. Ashton, the former owner,
had given to the beautiful seat, now the property of Mr. Willet.
The day was cloudless, the air cool and transparent, the sky of the
deepest cerulean. These mirrored themselves in the spirits of our
little party. Mrs. Markland looked calm and cheerful; Fanny's
thoughts were drawn out of herself, and her heart responded to the
visible beauty around her. Even Aunt Grace talked of the sky, the
trees, and the flowers, and saw a new charm in every thing.
"I presume we shall not meet Mr. Willet," she remarked, as the
carriage drove within the elegant grounds of their neighbour.
"He probably goes to the city every day," said Mrs. Markland. "I
believe he is engaged in business."
"Yes; I think I heard Edward say that he was."
"Our visit might be a pleasant one in some respects," observed Mrs.
Markland, "if he were at home. To him, we are not entire strangers."
"I see him in the portico," said Fanny, leaning toward the carriage
window. They were now in sight of the house.
"Yes, there he is," added Aunt Grace, in a pleased tone of voice.
In a few minutes the carriage drew up at the beautiful mansion, in
the portico of which were Mr. Willet and his mother and sisters,
waiting to receive them. The welcome was most cordial, and the ladies
soon felt at home with each other.
Flora, the youngest sister of Mr. Willet, was a lovely girl about
Fanny's age. It did not take them long to know and appreciate each
other. The mind of Flora was naturally stronger than that of Fanny,
partaking slightly of the masculine type; but only sufficient to give
it firmness and self-reliance. Her school education had progressed
farther, and she had read, and thought, and seen more of the world
than Fanny. Yet the world had left no stain upon her garments, for, in
entering it, she had been lovingly guarded. To her brother she looked
up with much of a child's unwavering confidence. He was a few years
her senior, and she could not remember the time when she had not
regarded him as a man whose counsels were full of wisdom.
"Where have you been for the last hour?" Mr. Willet inquired of the
young maidens, as they entered, arm-in-arm, their light forms gently
inclined to each other.
"Wandering over your beautiful grounds," replied Fanny.
"I hardly thought you would see them as beautiful," said Mr.
"Do you think that I have no eye for the beautiful?" returned
Fanny, with a smile.
"Not so," quickly answered Mr. Willet. "Woodbine Lodge is so near
perfection that you must see defects in Sweetbrier."
"I never saw half the beauty in nature that has been revealed to my
eyes this morning," said Fanny. "It seemed as if I had come upon
enchanted ground. Ah, sir, your sister has opened a new book for me
to read in—the book of nature."
Mr. Willet glanced, half-inquiringly, toward Flora.
"Fanny speaks with enthusiasm," said the sister.
"What have you been talking about? What new leaf has Flora turned
for you, Miss Markland?"
"A leaf on which there is much written that I already yearn to
understand. All things visible, your sister said to me, are but the
bodying forth in nature of things invisible, yet in harmony with
immutable laws of order."
"Reason will tell you that this is true," remarked Mr. Willet.
"Yes; I see that it must be so. Yet what a world of new ideas it
opens to the mind! The flower I hold in my hand, Flora says, is but
the outbirth, or bodily form, of a spiritual flower. How strange the
"Did she not speak truly?" asked Mr. Willet, in a low, earnest
"What is that?" inquired Mrs. Markland, who was not sure that she
had heard her daughter correctly.
"Flora say that this flower is only the bodily form of a spiritual
flower; and that, without the latter, the former would have no
Mrs. Markland let her eyes fall to the floor, and mused for some
"A new thought to me," she at length said, looking up. "Where did
you find it, Flora?"
"I have believed this ever since I could remember any thing,"
"Yes, ma'am. It was among the first lessons that I learned from my
"Then you believe that every flower has a spirit," said Mrs.
"Every flower has life," was calmly answered.
"And every different flower a different life. How different, may be
seen when we think of the flower which graces the deadly nightshade,
and of that which comes the fragrant herald of the juicy orange. We
call this life the spiritual flower."
"A spiritual flower! Singular thought!" Mrs. Markland mused for
"There is a spiritual world," said Mr. Willet, in his gentle, yet
"Oh, yes. We all believe that." Mrs. Markland fixed her eyes on the
face of Mr. Willet with a look of interest.
"What do we mean by a world?"
Mrs. Markland felt a rush of new ideas, though seen but dimly,
crowding into her mind.
"We cannot think of a world," said Mr. Willet, "except as filled
with objects, whether that world be spiritual or natural. The poet,
in singing of the heavenly land, fails not to mention its fields of
'living green,' and 'rivers of delight.' And what are fields without
grass, and flowers, and tender herb? If, then, there be flowers in
the spiritual world, they must be spiritual flowers."
"And that is what Flora meant?" said Mrs. Markland.
"Nothing more," said Flora; "unless I add, that all flowers in the
natural world derive their life from flowers in the spiritual world;
as all other objects in nature have a like correspondent origin."
"This comes to me as an entirely new idea," said Mrs. Markland, in
a thoughtful way. "Yet how beautiful! It seems to bring my feet to the
verge of a new world, and my hand trembles with an impulse to stretch
itself forth and lift the vail."
"Do not repress the impulse," said Mrs. Willet, laying a hand
gently upon one of Mrs. Markland's.
"Ah! But I grope in the dark."
"We see but dimly here, for we live in the outward world, and only
faint yet truthful images of the inner world are revealed to us. No
effort of the mind is so difficult as that of lifting itself above
the natural and the visible into the spiritual and
invisible—invisible, I mean, to the bodily eyes. So bound down by
mere sensual things are all our ideas, that it is impossible, when
the effort is first made, to see any thing clear in spiritual light.
Yet soon, if the effort be made, will the straining vision have faint
glimpses of a world whose rare beauties have never been seen by
natural eyes. There is the natural, and there is the spiritual; but
they are so distinct from each other, that the one by sublimation,
increase, or decrease, never becomes the other. Yet are they most
intimately connected; so intimately that, without the latter, the
former could have no existence. The relation is, in fact, that of
cause and effect."
"I fear this subject is too grave a one for our visitors," said Mr.
Willet, as his mother ceased speaking.
"It may be," remarked the lady, with a gentle smile that softened
her features and gave them a touch of heavenly beauty. "And Mrs.
Markland will forgive its intrusion upon her. We must not expect that
others will always be attracted by themes in which we feel a special
"You could not interest me more," said Mrs. Markland. "I am
listening with the deepest attention."
"Have you ever thought much of the relation between your soul and
body; or, as I would say, between your spiritual body and your
natural body?" asked Mrs. Willet.
"Often; but with a vagueness that left the mind wearied and
"I had a long talk with Mr. Allison on that subject," said Fanny.
"Ah!" Mrs. Willet looked toward Fanny with a brightening face. "And
what did he say?"
"Oh! a great deal—more than I can remember."
"You can recollect something?"
"Oh yes. He said that our spiritual bodies were as perfectly
organized as our material bodies, and that they could see, and hear,
"He said truly. That our spirits have vision every one admits, when
he uses the words, on presenting some idea or principle to
another—'Can't you see it?' The architect sees the palace or temple
before he embodies it in marble, and thus makes it visible to natural
eyes. So does the painter see his picture; and the sculptor his statue
in the unhewn stone. You see the form of your absent father with a
distinctness of vision that makes every feature visible; but not with
the eyes of your body."
"No, not with my bodily eyes," said Fanny. "I have thought a great
deal about this since I talked with Mr. Allison; and the more I think
of it, the more clearly do I perceive that we have spiritual bodies as
well as natural bodies."
"And the inevitable conclusion is, that the spiritual body must
live, breathe, and act in a world above or within the natural world,
where all things are adapted to its functions and quality."
"In this world are the spiritual flowers we were speaking about?"
said Mrs. Markland, smiling.
"Yes, ma'am; in this world of
causes, where originate all
effects seen in the world of nature," answered Mrs. Willet;—"the
world from which flowers as well as men are born."
"I am bewildered," said Mrs. Markland, "by these suggestions. That
a volume of truth lies hidden from common eyes in this direction, I
can well believe. As yet my vision is too feeble to penetrate the
"If you look steadily in this direction, your eyes will, in time,
get accustomed to the light, and gradually see clearer and clearer,"
said Mrs. Willet.
SOME incidents interrupted the conversation at this point, and when
it flowed on again, it was in a slightly varied channel, and
gradually changed from the abstract into matters of more personal
"What a mystery is life!" exclaimed Mrs. Markland, the words
following an observation that fell from the lips of Mr. Willet.
"Is it a mystery to you?" was asked, with something of surprise in
the questioner's tone.
"There are times," replied Mrs. Markland, "when I can see a
harmony, an order, a beauty in every thing; but my vision does not
always remain clear. Ah! if we could ever be content to do our duty in
the present, and leave results to Him who cares for us with an
"A love," added Mrs. Willet, "that acts by infinite wisdom. Can we
not trust these fully? Infinite love and infinite wisdom?"
"Yes!—yes!—reason makes unhesitating response. But when dark days
come, how the poor heart sinks! Our faith is strong when the sky is
bright. We can trust the love and wisdom of our Maker when broad
gleams of sunshine lie all along our pathway."
"True; and therefore the dark days come to us as much in mercy as
the bright ones, for they show us that our confidence in Heaven is
not a living faith. 'There grows much bread in the winter night,' is
a proverb full of a beautiful significance. Wheat, or bread, is, in
the outer world of nature, what good is in the, inner world of
spirit. And as well in the winter night of trial and adversity is
bread grown, as in the winter of external nature. The bright wine of
truth we crush from purple clusters in genial autumn; but bread grows
even while the vine slumbers."
"I know," said Mrs. Markland, "that, in the language of another,
'sweet are the uses of adversity.' I know it to be true, that good
gains strength and roots itself deeply in the winter of affliction
and adversity, that it may grow up stronger, and produce a better
harvest in the end. As an abstract truth, how clear this is! But, at
the first chilling blast, how the spirit sinks; and when the sky
grows dull and leaden, how the heart shivers!"
"It is because we rest in mere natural and external things as the
"Yes—how often do we hear that remarked! It is the preacher's
theme on each recurring Sabbath," said Mrs. Markland, in an abstracted
way. "How often have words of similar import passed my own lips, when
I spoke as a mentor, and vainly thought my own heart was not wedded to
the world and the good things it offers for our enjoyment!"
"If we are so wedded," said Mrs. Willet, in her earnest, gentle
way, "is not that a loving Providence which helps us to a knowledge of
the truth, even though the lesson prove a hard one to learn—nay,
even if it be acquired under the rod of a stern master?"
"Oh, yes, yes!" said Mrs. Markland, unhesitatingly.
"It is undoubtedly true," said Mrs. Willet, "that all things of
natural life are arranged, under Providence, with a special view to
the formation and development within us of spiritual life, or the
orderly and true lives of our spirits. We are not born into this
world merely to eat, drink, and enjoy sensual and corporeal pleasures
alone. This is clear to any mind on the slightest reflection. The
pleasures of a refined taste, as that of music and art, are of a
higher and more enduring character than these; and of science and
knowledge, still more enduring. Yet not for these, as the highest
development of our lives, were we born. Taste, science, knowledge,
even intelligence, to which science and knowledge open the door, leave
us still short of our high destiny. The Temple of Wisdom is yet to be
"Science, knowledge, intelligence, wisdom!" said Mrs. Markland,
speaking slowly and thoughtfully. "What a beautiful and orderly
series! First we must learn the dead formulas."
"Yes, the lifeless scientifics, if they may so be called, must
first be grounded in the memory. Arrangement and discrimination
follow. One fact or truth is compared with another, and the mind thus
comes to know, or has knowledge. Mere facts in the mind are lifeless
without thought. Thought broods over dead science in the external
memory, and knowledge is born."
"How clear! How beautiful!" ejaculated Mrs. Markland.
"But knowledge is little more than a collection of materials, well
arranged; intelligence builds the house."
"And wisdom is the inhabitant," said Mrs. Markland, whose quick
perceptions were running in advance.
"Yes—all that preceded was for the sake of the inhabitant. Science
is first; then knowledge, then intelligence—but all is for the sake
"Wisdom—wisdom." Mrs. Markland mused again.
"What is wisdom?"
"Angelic life," said Mrs. Willet. "One who has thought and written
much on heavenly themes, says, 'Intelligence and wisdom make an
Mrs. Markland sighed, but did not answer. Some flitting thought
seemed momentarily to have shadowed her spirit.
"To be truly wise is to be truly good," said Mrs. Willet. "We think
of angels as the wisest and best of beings, do we not?"
"The highest life, then, toward which we can aspire, is angelic
life. Their life is a life of goodness, bodying itself in wisdom."
"How far below angelic life is the natural life that we are leading
here!" said Mrs. Markland.
"And therefore is it that a new life is prescribed,—a life that
begins in learning heavenly truths first, as mere external formulas
of religion. These are to be elevated into knowledge, intelligence,
and afterward wisdom. And it is because we are so unwilling to lead
this heavenly life that our way in the world is often made rough and
thorny, and our sky dark with cloud and tempest."
Mr. Willet now interrupted the conversation by a remark that turned
the thoughts of all from a subject which he felt to be too grave for
the occasion, and soon succeeded in restoring a brighter hue to the
mind of Mrs. Markland. Soon after, the visitors returned home, all
parties feeling happier for the new acquaintance which had been
formed, and holding in their hearts a cheerful promise of many
pleasant interchanges of thought and feeling.
Many things said by Mr. Willet, and by his mother and sisters, made
a strong impression on the mind of Mrs. Markland and her daughter.
They perceived some things in a new and clearer light that had been
to them vailed in obscurity before.
"Flora is a lovely girl," said Fanny, "and so wise beyond her
years. Many times I found myself looking into her face and wondering
not to see the matron there. We are fortunate in such neighbours."
"Very fortunate, I think," replied her mother. "I regard them as
having minds of a superior order."
"Flora is certainly a superior girl. And she seems to me as good as
she is wise. Her thought appears ever lifting itself upward, and
there is a world of new ideas in her mind. I never heard any one talk
just as she does."
"What struck me in every member of the family," said Mrs. Markland,
"was a profound religious trust; a full confidence in that Infinite
Wisdom which cannot err, nor be unkind. Ah! my daughter, to possess
that were worth more than all this world can offer."
A servant who had been despatched for letters, brought, late in the
day, one for Mrs. Markland from her husband, and one for Fanny from
Mr. Lyon. This was the first communication the latter had sent to
Fanny direct by post. The maiden turned pale as she received the
letter, and saw, by the superscription, from whom it came. Almost
crushing it in her hand, she hurried away, and when alone, broke the
seal, and with unsteady hands unfolded it, yet scarcely daring to let
her eyes rest upon the first words:—
"MY EVER DEAR FANNY."—[How her heart leaped as she read these
words!]—"I write to you direct by post, for there remains no longer
any reason why our correspondence should be a concealed one. I have
also written to your father, and shall await his response with the
deepest anxiety. Let his decision in the matter be what it may, I
shall forever bear your image in my heart as a most sacred
possession. Will you not write immediately? Conceal nothing of the
effect produced on your father's mind. Send your letter as addressed
before, and it will be forwarded to my hands. May heaven bless you,
dear Fanny! In haste, suspense, and deep anxiety. LEE LYON."
Mrs. Markland's letter from her husband was very brief, and rather
vague as to his purposes:
"I will be home, if possible, this week; but may be kept here, by
important business, over Sunday. If so, I will write again. Every
thing is progressing to my fullest satisfaction. Little danger, I
think, of my dying from ennui in the next twelve months. Head
and hands will both be pretty well occupied for that period, if not
longer. There is too much vitality about me for the life of a drone.
I was growing restless and unhappy from sheer idleness and want of
purpose. How does our dear Fanny seem? I feel no little concern about
her. Mr. Lyon makes no direct proposition for her hand, but it is
evidently his purpose to do so. I wish I knew him better, and that I
had, just now, a freer mind to consider the subject. Weigh it well in
your thoughts, Agnes; and by all means observe Fanny very closely.
Dear child! She is far too young for this experience. Ah, me! The more
I think of this matter, the more I feel troubled.
"But good-by, for a little while. I am writing in haste, and cannot
say half that is in my thoughts."
IT was not until the middle of the succeeding week that Mr.
Markland returned from New York. He had a look of care that did not
escape the observation of his wife. To her inquiries as to the cause
of his prolonged absence, he replied vaguely, yet with reference to
some business of vast magnitude, in which he had become interested.
Two days passed without allusion, on either side, to the subject of
their daughter's relation to Mr. Lyon, and then, to some question of
Mrs. Markland, her husband replied in so absent a way, that she did
not press the matter on his attention. Fanny was reserved and
embarrassed in the presence of her father, and evidently avoided him.
More than a week went by in this unsatisfactory manner, when, on
returning one day from the city, Mr. Markland showed an unusual
elation of spirits. As soon as there was an opportunity to be alone
with his wife, he said—
"I may have to be absent several weeks."
"Why so?" she asked, quickly, as a shadow fell over her face.
"Business," was briefly answered.
Mrs. Markland sighed, and her eyes fell to the floor.
"I have been a drone in the world's busy hive long enough, Agnes;
and now I must go to work again, and that in right good earnest. The
business that took me to New York is growing daily in importance, and
will require my best thought and effort. The more thoroughly I
comprehend it, the more clearly do I see its vast capabilities. I
have already embarked considerable money in the enterprise, and shall
probably see it to my interest to embark more. To do this, without
becoming an active worker and director, would neither be wise nor like
your husband, who is not a man to trust himself on the ocean of
business without studying well the charts, and, at times, taking fast
hold upon the rudder."
"You might have been so happy here, Edward," said Mrs. Markland,
looking into his face and smiling feebly.
"A happy idler? Impossible!"
"You have been no idler, my husband, since our retirement from the
city. Look around, and say whose intelligence, whose taste, are
visible wherever the eye falls?"
"A poor, vain life, for a man of thought and energy, has been mine,
Agnes, during the last few years. The world has claims on me beyond
that of mere landscape-gardening! In a cultivation of the beautiful
alone no man of vigorous mind can or ought to rest satisfied. There
is a goal beyond, and it is already dimly revealed, in the far
distance, to my straining vision."
"I greatly fear, Edward," replied his wife, speaking in her gentle,
yet impressive way, "that when the goal you now appear so eager to
reach, is gained, you will see still another beyond."
"It may be so, Agnes," was answered, in a slightly depressed voice;
"yet the impulse to bear onward to the goal now in view is not the
less ardent for the suggestion. I can no more pause than the
avalanche once in motion. I must onward in the race I have entered."
"To gain what, Edward?"
"I shall gain large wealth."
"Have we not all things here that heart can desire, my husband?"
"No, Agnes," was replied with emphasis.
"What is lacking?"
"Edward!" There came a quick flush to the brow of Mrs. Markland.
"I cannot help the fact, Agnes," said Mr. Markland. "For months I
have suffered from a growing dissatisfaction with the fruitless life
I am leading."
"And yet with what a fond desire we looked forward to the time when
we could call a spot like this our own! The world had for us no more
"While struggling up from the valley, we cannot know how wide the
landscape will spread beneath our enchanted vision. We fix our eyes
on the point to be gained. That reached, we are, for a time, content
with our elevation. But just enough of valley and mountain,
stretching far off in the dim distance, is revealed, to quicken our
desire for a more extended vision, and soon, with renewed strength,
we lift our gaze upward, and the word 'excelsior!' comes almost
unbidden to our lips. There is a higher and a highest place to be
gained, and I feel, Agnes, that there will be no rest for my feet
until I reach the highest."
"Pray heaven your too eager feet stumble not!" almost sobbed Mrs.
Markland, with something of a prophetic impulse.
The tone and manner of his wife, more than her words, disturbed Mr.
"Why should the fact of my re-entering business so trouble you?" he
asked. "An active, useful life is man's truest life, and the only one
in which he can hope for contentment."
Mrs. Markland did not answer, but partly turned her face away to
conceal its expression.
"Are you not a little superstitious?" inquired her husband.
"I believe not," was answered with forced calmness. "But I may be
"Selfish, Agnes! Why do you say that?"
"I cannot bear the thought of giving you up to the busy world
again," she answered, tenderly, leaning her head against him. "Nor
will it be done without struggle and pain on my part. When we looked
forward to the life we have been leading for the last few years, I
felt that I could ask of the world nothing of external good beyond; I
have yet asked nothing. Here I have found my earthly paradise. But if
banishment must come, I will try to go forth patiently, even though I
cannot shut the fountain of tears. There is another Eden."
Mr. Markland was about replying, when his sister entered the room,
and he remained silent.
THE conversation was resumed after they were again alone.
"Grace frets herself continually about Fanny," said Mrs. Markland,
as her sister-in-law, after remaining for a short time, arose and
left the room.
"She is always troubling herself about something," answered Mr.
"Like many others, she generally looks at the shadowed side. But
Fanny is so changed, that not to feel concern on her account would
show a strange indifference."
Mr. Markland sighed involuntarily, but made no answer. He, too,
felt troubled whenever his thoughts turned to his daughter. Yet had he
become so absorbed in the new business that demanded his attention,
and in the brilliant results which dazzled him, that to think, to any
satisfactory conclusion, on the subject of Fanny's relation to Mr.
Lyon, had been impossible; and this was the reason why he rather
avoided than sought a conference with his wife. She now pressed the
matter on his attention so closely, that he could not waive its
"Mr. Lyon's purposes are not to be mistaken," said Mrs. Markland.
"In what respect?" was evasively inquired.
"In respect to Fanny."
"I think not," was the brief response.
"Has he written you formally on the subject?"
"His conduct, then, to speak in the mildest terms, is very
"His relation to Fanny has been an exceedingly embarrassing one,"
said Mr. Markland. "There has been no opportunity for him to speak
"That disability no longer exists."
"True, and I shall expect from him an early and significant
"Let us look this matter directly in the face, Edward," said Mrs.
Markland, in a sober voice. "Suppose he ask for the hand of our
"A thing not at all unlikely to happen," answered her husband.
"I fear you are prejudiced against Mr. Lyon," said Markland, a
"I love my child!" was the simple, touching answer.
"I am a woman," she further said, "and know the wants of a woman's
heart. I am a wife, and have been too tenderly loved and cared for,
not to desire a like happy condition for my child." And she leaned
against her husband, and gazed into his face with a countenance full
of thankful love.
"Mr. Lyon is a man of honour," said Mr. Markland. "Has he a tender,
loving heart? Can he appreciate a woman?"
"If Fanny loves him—"
"Oh, Edward! Edward!" returned his wife, interrupting him. "She is
only a child, and yet incapable of genuine love. The bewildering
passion this man has inspired in her heart is born of impulse, and
the fires that feed it are consuming her. As for me—and I speak the
words thoughtfully and sadly—I would rather stretch forth my hand to
drop flowers on her coffin than deck her for such a bridal."
"Why do you speak so strongly, Agnes? You know nothing against Mr.
Lyon. He may be all you could desire in the husband of your child."
"A mother's instincts, believe me, Edward, are rarely at fault
Mr. Markland was oppressed by the subject, and could not readily
frame an answer that he felt would be satisfactory to his wife. After
a pause, he said:
"There will be time enough to form a correct judgment."
"But let us look the matter in the face now, Edward," urged his
wife. "Suppose, as I just suggested, he ask for the hand of our
daughter,—a thing, as you admit, likely to happen. What answer shall
we make? Are you prepared to give a decisive reply?"
"Not on the instant. I should wish time for consideration."
"You press the subject very closely, Agnes."
"I cannot help doing so. It is the one that involves most of good
or evil in the time to come. All others are, for the present, dwarfed
by it into insignificance. A human soul has been committed to our
care, capable of the highest enjoyments or the deepest misery. An
error on our part may prove fatal to that soul. Think of this,
Edward! What are wealth, honour, eminence, in comparison with the
destiny of a single human soul? If you should achieve the brilliant
results that now dazzle your eyes, and in pursuit of which you are
venturing so much, would there be any thing in all you gained to
compensate for the destruction of our daughter's happiness?"
"But why connect things that have no relation, Agnes? What has the
enterprise I am now prosecuting to do with this matter of our
"Much, every way. Does it not so absorb your mind that you cannot
think clearly on any other subject? And does not your business
connection with Mr. Lyon bias your feelings unduly in his favour?"
Mr. Markland shook his head.
"But think more earnestly, Edward. Review what this man has done.
Was it honourable for him so to abuse our hospitality as to draw our
child into a secret correspondence? Surely something must warp your
mind in his favour, or you would feel a quick indignation against
him. He cannot be a true man, and this conviction every thing in
regard to him confirms. Believe me, Edward, it was a dark day in the
calendar of our lives when the home circle at Woodbine Lodge opened
to receive him."
"I trust to see the day," answered Mr. Markland, "when you will
look back to this hour and smile at the vague fears that haunted your
"Fears? They have already embodied themselves in realities," was
the emphatic answer. "The evil is upon us, Edward. We have failed to
guard the door of our castle, and the enemy has come in. Ah, my
husband! if you could see with my eyes, there would stand before you
a frightful apparition."
"And what shape would it assume?" asked Mr. Markland, affecting to
treat lightly the fears of his wife.
"That of a beautiful girl, with white, sunken cheeks, and hollow,
An instant paleness overspread the face of Mr. Markland.
"Look there!" said Mrs. Markland, suddenly, drawing the attention
of her husband to a picture on the wall. The eyes of Mr. Markland fell
instantly on a portrait of Fanny. It was one of those wonders of art
that transform dead colours into seeming life, and, while giving to
every lineament a faultless reproduction, heightens the charm of
each. How sweetly smiled down upon Mr. Markland the beautiful lips!
How tender were the loving eyes, that fixed themselves upon him and
held him almost spell-bound!
"Dear child!" he murmured, in a softened voice, and his eyes grew
so dim that the picture faded before him.
"As given to us!" said Mrs. Markland, almost solemnly.
A dead silence followed.
"But are we faithful to the trust? Have we guarded this treasure of
uncounted value? Alas! alas! Already the warm cheeks are fading; the
eyes are blinded with tears. I look anxiously down the vista of
years, and shudder. Can the shadowy form I see be that of our child?"
"Oh, Agnes! Agnes!" exclaimed Mr. Markland, lifting his hands, and
partly averting his face, as if to avoid the sight of some fearful
There was another hushed silence. It was broken by Mrs. Markland,
who grasped the hand of her husband, and said, in a low, impressive
"Fanny is yet with us—yet in the sheltered fold of home, though
her eyes have wandered beyond its happy boundaries and her ears are
hearkening to a voice that is now calling her from the distance. Yet,
under our loving guardianship, may we not do much to save her from
consequences my fearful heart has prophesied?"
"What can we do?" Mr. Markland spoke with the air of one
"Guard her from all further approaches of this man; at least, until
we know him better. There is a power of attraction about him that few
so young and untaught in the world's strange lessons as our child, can
"He attracts strongly, I know," said Mr. Markland, in an absent
"And therefore the greater our child's danger, if he be of evil
"You, wrong him, believe me, Agnes, by even this intimation. I will
vouch for him as a man of high and honourable principles." Mr.
Markland spoke with some warmth of manner.
"Oh, Edward! Edward!" exclaimed his wife, in a distressed voice.
"What has so blinded you to the real quality of this man? 'By their
fruit ye shall know them.' And is not the first fruit, we have
plucked from this tree, bitter to the taste?"
"You are excited and bewildered in thought, Agnes," said Mr.
Markland, in a soothing voice. "Let us waive this subject for the
present, until both of us can refer to it with a more even
Mrs. Markland caught her breath, as if the air had suddenly grown
"Will they ever beat more evenly?" she murmured, in a sad voice.
"Why, Agnes! Into what a strange mood you have fallen! You are not
"And I am not, to my own consciousness. For weeks it has seemed to
me as if I were in a troubled dream."
"The glad waking will soon come, I trust," said Mr. Markland, with
forced cheerfulness of manner.
"I pray that it may be so," was answered, in a solemn voice.
There was silence for some moments, and then the other's full heart
overflowed. Mr. Markland soothed her, with tender, hopeful words,
calling her fears idle, and seeking, by many forms of speech, to
scatter the doubts and fears which, like thick clouds, had
encompassed her spirit.
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
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
"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.
must be," said Mr. Markland, betraying some
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
"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 already 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
"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."
"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.
MR. MARKLAND'S determination to visit the scene of the Company's
operations was no suddenly-formed impulse; and the manifest desire
that he should not do so, exhibited by Mr. Fenwick, in no way
lessened his purpose to get upon the ground as early as possible, and
see for himself how matters were progressing. His whole fortune was
locked up in this new enterprise, and his compeers were strangers, or
acquaintances of a recent date. To have acted with so much blindness
was unlike Markland; but it was like him to wish to know all about any
business in which he was engaged. This knowledge he had failed to
obtain in New York. There his imagination was constantly dazzled, and
while he remained there, uncounted, treasure seemed just ready to fall
at his feet. The lamp of Aladdin was almost within his grasp. But, on
leaving Fenwick and his sanguine associates, a large portion of his
enthusiasm died out, and his mind reached forth into the obscurity
around him and sought for the old landmarks.
On returning home from this visit to New York, Mr. Markland found
his mind oppressed with doubts and questions, that could neither be
removed nor answered satisfactorily. His entire fortune, acquired
through years of patient labour, was beyond his reach, and might
never come back into his possession, however desperately he grasped
after it. And "Woodbine Lodge,"—its beauty suddenly restored to eyes
from which scales had fallen—held now only by an uncertain tenure, a
breath might sweep from his hand.
Suddenly, Markland was awakened, as if from a dream, and realized
the actual of his position. It was a fearful waking to him, and
caused every nerve in his being to thrill with pain. On the brink of
a gulf he found himself standing, and as he gazed down into its
fearful obscurity, he shuddered and grew sick. And now, having taken
the alarm, his thoughts became active in a new direction, and
penetrated beneath surfaces which hitherto had blinded his eyes by
their golden lustre. Facts and statements which before had appeared
favourable and coherent now presented irreconcilable discrepancies,
and he wondered at the mental blindness which had prevented his
seeing things in their present aspects.
It was not possible for a man of Mr. Markland's peculiar
temperament and business experience to sit down idly, and, with folded
hands, await the issue of this great venture. Now that his fears were
aroused, he could not stop short of a thorough examination of
affairs, and that, too, at the chief point of operations, which lay
thousands of miles distant.
Letters from Mr. Lyon awaited his return from New York. They said
little of matters about which he now most desired specific
information, while they seemed to communicate a great many important
facts in regard to the splendid enterprise in which they were
engaged. Altogether, they left no satisfactory impression on his
mind. One of them, bearing a later date than the rest, disturbed him
deeply. It was the first, for some months, in which allusion was made
to his daughter. The closing paragraph of this letter ran thus:—
"I have not found time, amid this pressure of business, to write a
word to your daughter for some weeks. Say to her that I ever bear her
in respectful remembrance, and shall refer to the days spent at
Woodbine Lodge as among the brightest of my life."
There had been no formal application for the hand of his daughter
up to this time; yet had it not crossed the thought of Markland that
any other result would follow; for the relation into which Lyon had
voluntarily brought himself left no room for honourable retreat. His
letters to Fanny more than bound him to a pledge of his hand. They
were only such as one bearing the tenderest affection might write.
Many weeks had elapsed since Fanny received a letter, and she was
beginning to droop under the long suspense. None came for her now,
and here was the cold, brief reference to one whose heart was
throbbing toward him, full of love.
Markland was stung by this evasive reference to his daughter, for
its meaning he clearly understood. Not that he had set his heart on
an alliance of Fanny with this man, but, having come to look upon
such an event as almost certain, and regarding all obstacles in the
way as lying on his side of the question, pride was severely shocked
by so unexpected a show of indifference. And its exhibition was the
more annoying, manifested, as it was, just at the moment when he had
become most painfully aware that all his worldly possessions were
beyond his control, and might pass from his reach forever.
"Can there be such baseness in the man?" he exclaimed, mentally,
with bitterness, as the thought flitted through his mind that Lyon
had deliberately inveigled him, and, having been an instrument of his
ruin, now turned from him with cold indifference.
"Impossible!" he replied, aloud, to the frightful conjecture. "I
will not cherish the thought for a single moment."
But a suggestion like this, once made to a man in his
circumstances, is not to be cast out of the mind by a simple act of
rejection. It becomes a living thing, and manifests its perpetual
presence. Turn his thought from it as he would, back to that point it
came, and the oftener this occurred, the more corroborating
suggestions arrayed themselves by its side.
Mr. Markland was alone in the library, with Mr. Lyon's hastily read
letters before him, and yet pondering, with an unquiet spirit, the
varied relations in which he had become placed, when the door was
quietly pushed open, and he heard light footsteps crossing the room.
Turning, he met the anxious face of his daughter, who, no longer able
to bear the suspense that was torturing her, had overcome all
shrinking maiden delicacy, and now came to ask if, enclosed in either
of his letters, was one for her. She advanced close to where he was
sitting, and, as he looked at her with a close observation, he saw
that her countenance was almost colourless, her lips rigid, and her
heart beating with an oppressed motion, as if half the blood in her
body had flowed back upon it.
"Fanny, dear!" said Mr. Markland, grasping her hand tightly. As he
did so, she leaned heavily against him, while her eyes ran eagerly
over the table.
Two or three times she tried to speak, but was unable to
"What can I say to you, love?" Her father spoke in a low, sad,
tender voice, that to her was prophetic of the worst.
"Is there a letter for me?" she asked, in a husky whisper.
He felt her whole frame quiver as if shocked.
"You have heard from Mr. Lyon?" She asked this after the lapse of a
few moments, raising herself up as she spoke, and assuming a calmness
of exterior that was little in accord with the tumult within.
"Yes. I have three letters of different dates."
"And none for me?"
"Has he not mentioned my name?"
A moment Mr. Markland hesitated, and then answered—
He saw a slight, quick flush mantle her face, that grew instantly
"Will you read to me what he says?"
"If you wish me to do so." Mr. Markland said this almost
"Read it." And as her father took from the table a letter, Fanny
grasped his arm tightly, and then stood with the immovable rigidity
of a statue. She had already prophesied the worst. The cold, and, to
her, cruel words, were like chilling ice-drops on her heart. She
listened to the end, and then, with a low cry, fell against her
father, happily unconscious of further suffering. To her these brief
sentences told the story of unrequited love. How tenderly, how
ardently he had written a few months gone by! and now, after a long
silence, he makes to her a mere incidental allusion, and asks a
"respectful remembrance!" She had heard the knell of all her dearest
hopes. Her love had become almost her life, and to trample thus upon
it was like extinguishing her life.
"Fanny! Love! Dear Fanny!" But the distressed father called to her
in vain, and in vain lifted her nerveless body erect. The oppressed
heart was stilled.
A cry of alarm quickly summoned the family, and for a short time a
scene of wild terror ensued; for, in the white face of the fainting
girl, all saw the image of death. A servant was hurriedly despatched
for their physician, and the body removed to one of the chambers.
But motion soon came back, feebly, to the heart; the lungs drew in
the vital air, and the circle of life was restored. When the
physician arrived, nature had done all for her that could be done.
The sickness of her spirit was beyond the reach of any remedy he
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
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
"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
"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
"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
"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
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?"
"I SHOULD have been contented amid so much beauty, and with even
more than my share of earthly blessings." Thus Mr. Markland communed
with himself, walking about alone, near the close of the day
preceding that on which his appointed journey was to begin. "Am I not
acting over again that old folly of the substance and shadow? Verily,
I believe it is so. Ah! will we ever be satisfied with any achievement
in this life? To-morrow I leave all by which I am here surrounded, and
more, a thousand-fold more—my heart's beloved ones; and for what? To
seek the fortune I was mad enough to cast from me into a great
whirlpool, believing that it would be thrown up at my feet again, with
every disk of gold changed into a sparkling diamond. I have waited
eagerly on the shore for the returning tide, but yet there is no
reflux, and now my last hope rests on the diver's strength and
doubtful fortune. I must make the fearful plunge."
A cold shudder ran through the frame of Mr. Markland, as he
realized, too distinctly, the image he had conjured up. A feeling of
weakness and irresolution succeeded.
"Ah!" he murmured to himself, "if all had not been so blindly cast
upon this venture, I might be willing to wait the issue, providing
for the worst by a new disposition of affairs, and by new efforts
here. But I was too eager, too hopeful, too insanely confident. Every
thing is now beyond my reach."
This was the state of his mind when Mr. Allison, whom he had not
met in a familiar manner for several weeks, joined him, saying, as he
came up with extended hand, and fine face, bright with the generous
interest in others that always burned in his heart—
"What is this I hear, Mr. Markland? Is it true that you are going
away, to be absent for some months? Mr. Willet was telling me about
it this morning."
"It is too true," replied Mr. Markland, assuming a cheerful air,
yet betraying much of the troubled feeling that oppressed him. "The
calls of business cannot always be disregarded."
"No—but, if I understand aright, you contemplate going a long
distance South—somewhere into Central America."
"Such is my destination. Having been induced to invest money in a
promising enterprise in that far-off region, it is no more than right
to look after my interests there."
"With so much to hold your thoughts and interests here," said Mr.
Allison, "I can hardly understand why you should let them wander off
so far from home."
"And I can hardly understand it myself," returned Mr. Markland, in
a lower tone of voice, as if the admission were made reluctantly. "But
so it is. I am but a man, and man is always dissatisfied with his
actual, and always looking forward to some good time coming. Ah, sir,
this faculty of imagination that we possess is one of the curses
entailed by the fall. It is forever leading us off from a true
enjoyment of what we have. It has no faith in to-day—no love for the
good and beautiful that really exists."
"I can show you a person whose imagination plays no truant pranks
like this," replied Mr. Allison. "And this shall be at least one
exception to your rule."
"Name that person," was the half-incredulous response.
"Your excellent wife," said Mr. Allison.
For some moments Mr. Markland stood with his eyes cast down; then,
lifting them to the face of the old man, he said:
"The reference is true. But, if she be not the only exception, the
number who, like her, can find the best reward in the present, are,
alas! but few."
"If not found in the present, Mr. Markland, will it ever be found?
"Never!" There was an utterance of grief in the deep tone that thus
responded-for conviction had come like a quick flash upon his heart.
"But who finds it, Mr. Allison?" he said, shortly after, speaking
with stern energy. "Who comprehends the present and the actual? who
loves it sufficiently? Ah, sir! is the present ever what a fond,
cheating imagination prefigured it?"
"And knowing this so well," returned the, old man, "was it wise for
you to build so largely on the future as you seem to have done?"
"No, it was not wise." The answer came with a bitter emphasis.
"We seek to escape the restlessness of unsatisfied desire," said
Mr. Allison, "by giving it more stimulating food, instead of firmly
repressing its morbid activities. Think you not that there is
something false in the life we are leading here, when we consider how
few and brief are the days in which we experience a feeling of rest
and satisfaction? And if our life be false—or, in other words, our
life-purposes—what hope for us is there in any change of pursuit or
any change of scene?"
"None—none," replied Mr. Markland.
"We may look for the good time coming, but look in vain. Its
morning will never break over the distant mountain-tops to which our
eyes are turned."
"Life is a mockery, a cheating dream!" said Mr. Markland, bitterly.
"Not so, my friend," was the calmly spoken answer.
"Not so. Our life here is the beginning of an immortal life. But,
to be a happy life, it must be a true one. All its activities must
have an orderly pulsation."
Mr. Markland slowly raised a hand, and, pressing it strongly
against his forehead, stood motionless for some moments, his mind
"My thoughts flow back, Mr. Allison," he said, at length, speaking
in a subdued tone, "to a period many months gone by, and revives a
conversation held with you, almost in this very place. What you then
said made a strong impression on my mind. I saw, in clear light, how
vain were all efforts to secure happiness in this world, if made
selfishly, and thus in a direction contrary to true order. The great
social man I recognised as no mere idealism, but as a verity. I saw
myself a member of this body, and felt deeply the truth then uttered
by you, that just in proportion as each member thinks of and works
for himself alone will that individual be working in selfish
disorder, and, like the member of the human body that takes more than
its share of blood, must certainly suffer the pain of inflammation.
The truth then presented to my mind was like a flood of light; but I
did not love the truth, and shut my eyes to the light that revealed
more than I wished to know. Ah, sir! if I could have accepted all you
then advanced—if I could have overcome the false principle of
self-seeking then so clearly shown to be the curse of life—I would
not have involved myself in business that must now separate me for
months from my home and family."
"And should you achieve all that was anticipated in the beginning,"
said Mr. Allison, "I doubt if you will find pleasure enough in the
realization to compensate for this hour of pain, to say nothing of
what you are destined to suffer during the months of separation that
are before you."
"Your doubts are my own," replied Markland, musingly. "But,"—and
he spoke in a quicker and lighter tone,—"this is all folly! I must go
forward, now, to the end. Why, then, yield to unmanly weakness?"
"True, sir," returned the old man. "No matter how difficult the way
in which our feet must walk, the path must be trodden bravely."
"I shall learn some lessons of wisdom by this experience," said Mr.
Markland, "that will go with me through life. But, I fear, they will
be all too dearly purchased."
"Wisdom," was the answer, "is a thing of priceless value."
"It is sometimes too dearly bought, for all that."
"Never," replied the old man,—"never. Wisdom is the soul's true
riches; and there is no worldly possession that compares with it in
value. If you acquire wisdom by any experience, no matter how severe
it may prove, you are largely the gainer. And here is the
compensation in every affliction, in every disappointment, and in
every misfortune. We may gather pearls of wisdom from amid the ashes
and cinders of our lost hopes, after the fires have consumed them."
Mr. Markland sighed deeply, but did not answer. There was a dark
sky above and around him; yet gleams of light skirted a cloud here and
there, telling him that the great sun was shining serenely beyond. He
felt weak, sad, and almost hopeless, as he parted from Mr. Allison,
who promised often to visit his family during his absence; and in his
weakness, he lifted his heart involuntarily upward, and asked
direction and strength from Him whom he had forgotten in the days when
all was light around him, and, in the pride and strength of conscious
manhood, he had felt that he possessed all power to effect the
purposes of his own will.
AFTER a night that was sleepless to at least three members of the
family the morning of the day on which Mr. Markland was to start on
his journey came. Tearful eyes were around him. Even to the last,
Fanny begged him not to leave them, and almost clung to him at the
moment of parting. Finally, the separation was accomplished, and,
shrinking back in the carriage that conveyed him to the city, Mr.
Markland gave himself up to sad reveries. As his thoughts reached
forward to the point of his destination, and he tried to arrange in
his mind all the information he had relating to the business in which
he was now embarked, he saw more clearly than ever the feeble hold
upon his fortune that remained to him. Less confident, too, was he of
the good result of his journey. Now that he was fairly on the way,
doubt began to enter his mind.
This was Mr. Markland's state of feelings on reaching the city. His
first act was to drive to the post-office, to get any letters that
might have arrived for him. He received only one, and that was from
New York. The contents were of a startling character. Mr. Fenwick
"Come on immediately. Your presence is desired by all the members
of the Company here. We have news of an unexpected and far from
This was all; but it came with a painful shock upon the feelings of
Mr. Markland. Its very vagueness made it the more frightful to him;
and his heart imagined the worst.
Without communicating with his family, who supposed him on his
journey southward, Mr. Markland took the first train for New York,
and in a few hours arrived in that city, and called at the office of
Mr. Fenwick. A single glance at the agent's countenance told him that
much was wrong. A look of trouble shadowed it, and only a feeble smile
parted his lips as he came forward to meet him.
"What news have you?" eagerly inquired Mr. Markland.
"Bad news, I am sorry to say," was answered.
"What is its nature?" The face of Mr. Markland was of an ashen hue,
and his lips quivered.
"I fear we have been mistaken in our man," said Mr. Fenwick.
"Yes. His last letters are of a very unsatisfactory character, and
little in agreement with previous communications. We have, besides,
direct information from a partly on the ground, that tends to confirm
our worst fears."
"Worst fears of what?" asked Markland, still strongly agitated.
"That word but feebly expresses all we apprehend."
"It involves fearful meaning in the present case," said Markland,
in a hoarse voice.
"Fearful enough," said Fenwick, gloomily.
"I was just on the eve of starting for the ground of the Company's
operations, when your letter reached me this morning. An hour later,
and I would have been on my journey southward," said Mr. Markland.
"It is well that I wrote, promptly," remarked Fenwick. "You were,
at least, saved a long and fruitless journey."
"It will yet have to be taken, I fear," said Markland.
Fenwick shook his head ominously, and muttered, half to
"Will you state clearly, yet in brief, the nature of the
information you have received from Mr. Lyon?" said Markland. "I
comprehend nothing yet."
"His last communication," was answered, "gives a hurried, rather
confused account of the sudden flooding of the main shaft, in sinking
which a large part of the capital invested has been expended, and the
hopeless abandonment of the work in that direction."
"Do you believe this statement?" asked Mr. Markland.
"I have another letter from one of the party on the ground, bearing
the same date."
"What does he say?"
"But little of the flooded shaft. Such an occurrence had, however,
taken place, and the writer seemed to think it might require a
steam-engine and pump to keep it clear, involving a delay of several
months. The amount of water which came in was sufficient to cause a
suspension of work, which he thought might be only temporary; but he
could not speak with certainty in regard to that. But the most
serious part of his communication is this:"
Mr. Fenwick took a letter from his desk, and read:—
"The worst feature of the case is the lack of funds. The Government
officials have demanded the immediate payment of the second, third,
and fourth instalments due on the Company's grant of land, and have
announced their purpose to seize upon all the effects here, and
declare a forfeiture, unless these dues are forthcoming at the end of
the present month. Mr. Lyon is greatly troubled, but mysterious. He
has not, from the first day of his arrival out up to the present
moment, admitted any one fully into his counsels. I know he has been
seriously hampered for lack of funds, but was not aware, until now,
that the second and third instalments of purchase-money remained
unpaid; and my knowledge of this, and the impending danger from the
Government, was only acquired through accident. No doubt Mr. Lyon has
fully advised you of all the facts in the case; still, I feel it to be
my duty also to refer to the subject."
"Good heavens!" exclaimed Mr. Markland, as Fenwick paused, and
lifted his eyes from the letter. "The second, third, and fourth
instalments not paid! What can it mean? Was not the money forwarded
to Mr. Lyon?"
"He took out funds to meet the second and third regular payments;
and the money for the fourth went forward in good time. There is
"Wrong!" Mr. Markland was on his feet, and pacing the floor in an
agitated manner. "Something wrong! There exists, I fear, somewhere in
this business a conspiracy to swindle."
And as he said this, he fixed his eyes intently on the countenance
of Mr. Fenwick.
"The agent with whom we intrusted so much has, I fear, abused our
confidence," said Mr. Fenwick, speaking calmly, and returning the
steady gaze of Markland.
"Who is the person who gives this information about the unpaid
instalments?" asked the latter.
"A man in whose word every reliance may be placed."
"You know him personally?"
"Is his position on the ground such as to bring him within the
reach of information like that which he assumes to give?"
"Is he a man of intelligence?"
"And one of cool judgment?"
"Yes; and this is why the information he gives is of such serious
import. He would never communicate such information on mere rumour or
inference. He knows the facts, or he would not have averred to their
"Has there been a meeting of the Board?" inquired Markland.
"There was a hurried meeting yesterday afternoon; and we shall
convene again at six this evening."
"What was done?"
"Nothing. Consternation at the intelligence seized upon every one.
There were regrets, anxieties, and denunciations, but no action."
"What is the general view in regard to Lyon?"
"Some refuse to admit the implied charge that lies against him;
while others take the worst for granted, and denounce him in
"What is your opinion?" asked Markland.
"Knowing the man from whom information comes, I am led to fear the
worst. Still, there may have been some mistake—some misapprehension
on his part."
"The meeting takes place at six o'clock?" said Markland, after
remaining a short time silent.
"Will you propose any thing?"
"I wish, first, to hear the views of others. Prompt action of some
kind is certainly required."
"If Lyon be actually the villain he now seems, he will put himself
entirely beyond our reach on the first intimation of danger," said
"So I have reasoned. Our only hope, therefore, is to get possession
of his person. But how is this to be accomplished?"
"Give immediate notice to the—Government, that he is in
possession of the funds due them by the Company, and they will not
fail to secure his person," said Markland.
"A good suggestion," replied Fenwick. And he sat in a thoughtful
attitude for some moments. "Yes, that is a good suggestion," he
repeated. "We must send a shrewd, confidential agent at once to L—,
and give information of the exact position of affairs."
"What is the date of the last communication from Lyon?" asked
"He wrote on the tenth."
"Of last month?"
"And the—Government threatened to enter upon and seize our
property on the first of the present month?"
"True—true; and the worst may have already happened," said
Fenwick. "Still, an agent must go out, and vigorous efforts be made to
save our property."
"It will scarcely be worth saving, if in the condition represented,
and all our funds dissipated."
Fenwick sighed. There was something in that sigh, as it reached the
ears of Markland, which seemed like a mockery of trouble. He raised
his glance quickly to the agent's face, and searched it over with the
sharp eye of suspicion. Fenwick bore this scrutiny without the
faltering of a muscle. If he comprehended its meaning, his
consciousness thereof was in no way revealed.
"The Board will meet here at six o'clock this evening," said he,
quietly. "In the mean time, you had better digest the information we
have, and come prepared to aid us with your better judgment. The
crisis is one that demands calm, earnest thought and decisive
"I will be here," replied Markland, rising. Then, with a formal
bow, he left the agent's office.
THE time until six o'clock, the meeting-hour of the Board, was not
spent by Mr. Markland in solitary thought. He visited, during that
period, three of the principal men interested in the business, and
gleaned from them their views in regard to the late startling
intelligence. Most of them seemed utterly confounded, and no two had
arrived at the same conclusion as to what was best to be done. Nearly
all were inclined to credit fully the report of Lyon's having failed
to pay the last three instalments on the Company's land, and they
denounced him bitterly. These conferences had the effect of
extinguishing all hope in the breast of Mr. Markland. Even if the
half of what he feared were true, he was hopelessly ruined.
At the hour of meeting, Markland assembled with the New York
members of the Company, and two from Boston, who had been summoned on
the day previous by telegraph. The last communications received by Mr.
Fenwick were again read, and the intelligence they brought discussed
with more of passion than judgment. Some proposed deferring all
action until further news came; while others were for sending out an
agent, with full powers, immediately. To this latter view the
majority inclined. "If it be true," suggested Markland, "that
the—Government has threatened to seize upon our property if the
three instalments were not paid on the first of the present month,
every thing may now be in its hands."
"Lyon would hardly let it come to that," said another, "He has in
his possession the means of preventing such a catastrophe, by paying
over one of the instalments, and thus gaining time."
"Time for what?" was asked. "If he mean to enrich himself at our
expense, he can do it best now. He is too shrewd not to understand
that; if a question of his integrity arises, his further power to
reach our funds is gone."
"But he does not know that we have information of the unpaid
"And that information may come from one who has an interest in
ruining him," said another.
"You may think so, gentlemen," said Mr. Fenwick, coolly, "but I
will stake my life on the unwavering faith of my correspondent in all
he alleges. Moreover, he is not the man to make a communication of
such serious import lightly. He knows the facts, or he would not
affirm them. My advice is to send out an agent immediately."
"For what purpose?" was inquired.
"To ascertain the true position of affairs; and if our property
have really been seized by the—Government, to take steps for its
"More funds will be required," said one of the Company.
"We cannot, of course, send out an agent empty-handed," was
"Depletion must stop, so far as I am concerned," was the firm
response of one individual. "I will throw no more good money after
bad. If you send out an agent, gentlemen, don't call on me to bear a
part of the expense."
"You are not, surely, prepared to abandon every thing at this
point," said another.
"I am prepared to wait for further news, before I let one more
dollar leave my pocket; and I will wait," was answered.
"And so will I," added another.
Two parties were gradually formed; one in favour of sending out an
agent forthwith, and the other decided in their purpose not to risk
another dollar until more certain information was received. This was
the aspect of affairs when the Board adjourned to meet again on the
The result of this conference tended in no degree to calm the fears
of Mr. Markland. How gladly would he now give up all interest in the
splendid enterprise which had so captivated his imagination, if he
could do so at the expense of one-half of his fortune!
"If I could save only a small part of the wreck!" he said to
himself, as he paced the floor of his room at the hotel. It was far
past the hour of midnight, but no sleep weighed upon his eyelids.
"Even sufficient," he added, in a sad voice, "to keep in possession
our beautiful home. As for myself, I can go back into busy life
again. I am yet in the prime of manhood, and can tread safely and
successfully the old and yet unforgotten ways to prosperity. Toil
will be nothing to me, so the home-nest remain undisturbed, and my
beloved ones suffer not through my blindness and folly."
A new thought came into his mind. His investments in the
enterprise, now in such jeopardy, reached the sum of nearly one
hundred thousand dollars. The greater part of this had been actually
paid in. His notes and endorsements made up the balance.
"I will sell out for twenty-five cents in the dollar," said he.
There was a feeble ray of light in his mind, as the thought of
selling out his entire interest in the business, at a most desperate
sacrifice, grew more and more distinct. One or two members of the
Board of Direction had, during the evening's discussion, expressed
strong doubts as to the truth of the charge brought against Mr. Lyon.
The flooding of the shaft was not, they thought, unlikely, and it
might, seriously delay operations; but they were unwilling to believe
affairs to be in the hopeless condition some were disposed to think.
Here was a straw at which the drowning man caught. He would call upon
one of these individuals in the morning, and offer his whole interest
at a tempting reduction. Relieved at this thought, Mr. Markland could
retire for the night; and he even slept soundly. On awaking in the
morning, the conclusion of the previous night was reviewed. There were
some natural regrets at the thought of giving up, by a single act,
three-fourths of his whole fortune; but, like the mariner whose ship
was sinking, there was no time to hesitate on the question of
sacrificing the rich cargo.
"Yes—yes," he said within himself, "I will be content with
certainty. Suspense like the present is not to be endured."
And so he made preparations to call upon a certain broker in Wall
street, who had expressed most confidence in Lyon, and offer to sell
him out his whole interest. He had taken breakfast, and was about
leaving the hotel, when, in passing the reading-room, it occurred to
him to glance over the morning papers. So he stepped in for that
Almost the first thing that arrested his attention was the
announcement of an arrival, and news from Central America. "BURSTING
OF A MAGNIFICENT BUBBLE—FLIGHT OF A DEFAULTING AGENT."—were the
next words that startled him. He read on:
"The Government of—has seized upon all that immense tract of
land, reported to be so rich in mineral wealth, which was granted
some two years ago to the—Company. A confidential agent of this
company, to whom, it is reported, immense sums of money were
intrusted, and who failed to pay over the amounts due on the
purchase, has disappeared, and, it is thought, passed over to the
Pacific. He is believed to have defrauded the company out of nearly
half a million of dollars."
"So dies a splendid scheme," was the editorial remark in the New
York paper. "Certain parties in this city are largely interested in
the Company, and have made investments of several hundred thousand
dollars. More than one of these, it is thought, will be ruined by the
catastrophe. Another lesson to the too eager and over-credulous
money-seeker! They will not receive a very large share of public
Mr. Markland read to the end, and then staggered back into a chair,
where he remained for many minutes, before he had the will or
strength to rise. He then went forth hastily, and repaired to the
office of Mr. Fenwick. Several members of the Company, who had seen
the announcement in the morning papers, were there, some pale with
consternation, and some strongly excited. The agent had not yet
arrived. The clerk in the office could answer no questions
satisfactorily. He had not seen Mr. Fenwick since the evening
"Have his letters yet arrived?" was inquired by one.
"He always takes them from the post-office himself," answered the
"What is his usual hour for coming to his office in the morning?"
"He is generally here by this time—often much earlier."
These interrogations, addressed to the clerk by one of those
present, excited doubts and questions in the minds of others.
"It is rather singular that he should be absent at this particular
time," said Markland, giving indirect expression to his own intruding
"It is very singular," said another. "He is the medium of
information from the theatre of our operations, and, above all
things, should not be out of the way now."
"Where does he live?" was inquired of the clerk.
"At No.—, Fourteenth street."
"Will you get into a stage and ride up there?"
"If you desire it, gentlemen," replied the young man; "though it is
hardly probable that I will find him there at this hour. If you wait
a little while longer, he will no doubt be in."
The door opened, and two more of the parties interested in this
bursting bubble arrived.
"Where is Fenwick?" was eagerly asked.
"Not to be found," answered one, abruptly, and with a broader
meaning in his tones than any words had yet expressed.
"He hasn't disappeared, also!"
Fearful eyes looked into blank faces at this exclamation.
"Gentlemen," said the clerk, with considerable firmness of manner,
"language like this must not be used here. It impeaches the character
of a man whose life has thus far been above reproach. Whatever is said
here, remember, is said in his ears, and he will soon be among you to
make his own response."
The manner in which this was uttered repressed, for a time, further
remarks reflecting on the integrity of the agent. But, after the
lapse of nearly an hour, his continued absence was again referred to,
and in more decided language than before.
"Will you do us one favour?" said Mr. Markland, on whose mind
suspense was sitting like a nightmare. He spoke to the clerk, who, by
this time, was himself growing restless.
"Any thing you desire, if it is in my power," was answered.
"Will you go down to the post-office, and inquire if Mr. Fenwick
has received his letters this morning?"
"Certainly, I will." And the clerk went on the errand without a
"Mr. Fenwick received his letters over two hours ago," said the
young man, on his return. He looked disappointed and perplexed.
"And you know nothing of him?" was said.
"Nothing, gentlemen, I do assure you. His absence is to me
"Where's Fenwick?" was now asked, in an imperative voice, by a new
"Not been seen this morning," replied Markland.
"Another act in this tragedy! Gone, I suppose, to join his
accomplice on the Pacific coast, and share his plunder," said the
"You are using very strong language, sir!" suggested one.
"Not stronger than the case justifies. For my own assurance, I sent
out a secret agent, and I have my first letter from him this morning.
He arrived just in time to see our splendid schemes dissolve in smoke.
Lyon is a swindler, Fenwick an accomplice, and we a parcel of easy
fools. The published intelligence we have to-day is no darker than the
truth. The bubble burst by the unexpected seizure of our lands,
implements, and improvements, by the—Government. It contained nothing
but air! Fenwick and Lyon had just played one of their reserved
cards—it had something to do with the flooding of a shaft, which
would delay results, and require more capital—when the impatient
grantors of the land foreclosed every thing. From the hour this
catastrophe became certain, Lyon was no more seen. He was fully
prepared for the emergency."
In confirmation of this, letters giving the minutest particulars
were shown, thus corroborating the worst, and extinguishing the
feeblest rays of hope.
All was too true. The brilliant bubble had indeed burst, and not
the shadow of a substance remained. When satisfied of this beyond all
doubt, Markland, on whose mind suffering had produced a temporary
stupor, sought his room at the hotel, and remained there for several
days, so hopeless, weak, and undecided, that he seemed almost on the
verge of mental imbecility. How could he return home and communicate
the dreadful intelligence to his family? How could he say to them,
that, for his transgressions, they must go forth from their beautiful
"No—no!" he exclaimed, wringing his hands in anguish. "I can never
tell them this! I can never look into their faces! Never! never!"
The moment had come, and the tempter was at his ear. There was,
first, the remote suggestion of self-banishment in some distant land,
where the rebuking presence of his injured family could never haunt
him. But he felt that a life in this world, apart from them, would be
worse than death.
"I am mocked! I am cursed!" he exclaimed, bitterly.
The tempter was stealthily doing his work.
"Oh! what a vain struggle is this life! What a fitful fever! Would
that it were over, and I at rest!"
The tempter was leading his thoughts at will.
"How can I meet my wronged family? How can I look my friends in the
face? I shall be to the world only a thing of pity or reproach. Can I
bear this? No—no—I cannot—I cannot!"
Magnified by the tempter, the consequence looked appalling. He felt
that he had not strength to meet it—that all of manhood would be
crushed out of him.
"What then?" He spoke the words almost aloud, and held his breath,
as if for answer.
"A moment, and all will be over!"
It was the voice of the tempter.
Markland buried his face in his hands, and sat for a long time as
motionless as if sleep had obscured his senses; and all that time a
fearful debate was going on in his mind. At last he rose up, changed
in feeling as well as in aspect. His resolution was taken, and a
deep, almost leaden, calmness pervaded his spirit. He had resolved on
With a strange coolness, the self-doomed man now proceeded to
select the agent of death. He procured a work on poisons, and studied
the effects of different substances, choosing, finally, that which did
the fatal work most quickly and with the slightest pain. This
substance was then procured. But he could not turn forever from those
nearest and dearest, without a parting word.
The day had run almost to a close in these fearful struggles and
fatal preparations; and the twilight was falling, when, exhausted and
in tears, the wretched man folded, with trembling hands, a letter he
had penned to his wife. This done, he threw himself, weak as a child,
upon the bed, and, ere conscious that sleep was stealing upon him,
fell off into slumber.
Sleep! It is the great restorer. For a brief season the order of
life is changed, and the involuntary powers of the mind bear rule in
place of the voluntary. The actual, with all its pains and pleasures,
is for the time annihilated. The pressure of thought and the fever of
emotion are both removed, and the over-taxed spirit is at rest. Into
his most loving guardianship the great Creator of man, who gave him
reason and volition, and the freedom to guide himself, takes his
creature, and, while the image of death is upon him, gathers about him
the Everlasting Arms. He suspends, for a time, the diseased voluntary
life, that he may, through the involuntary, restore a degree of
health, and put the creature he has formed for happiness in a new
condition of mental and moral freedom.
Blessed sleep! Who has not felt and acknowledged thy sweet
influences? Who has not wondered at thy power in the tranquil waking,
after a night that closed around the spirit in what seemed the
darkness of coming despair?
Markland slept; and in his sleep, guided by angels, there came to
him the spirits of his wife and children, clothed in the beauty of
innocence. How lovingly they gathered around him! how sweet were
their words in his ears! how exquisite the thrill awakened by each
tender kiss! Now he was with them in their luxurious home; and now
they were wandering, in charmed intercourse, amid its beautiful
surroundings. Change after change went on; new scenes and new
characters appeared, and yet the life seemed orderly and natural.
Suddenly there came a warning of danger. The sky grew fearfully dark;
fierce lightning burned through the air, and the giant tempest swept
down upon the earth with resistless fury. Next a flood was upon them.
And now he was seized with the instinct of self-preservation, and in a
moment had deserted his helpless family, and was fleeing, alone to a
place of safety. From thence he saw wife and children borne off by the
rush of waters, their white, imploring faces turned to him, and their
hands stretched out for succour. Then all his love returned; self was
forgotten; he would have died to save them. But it was too late! Even
while he looked, they were engulfed and lost.
From such a dream Markland was awakened into conscious life. The
shadowy twilight had been succeeded by darkness. He started up,
confused and affrighted. Some moments passed before his bewildered
thoughts were able to comprehend his real position; and when he did
so, he fell back, with a groan, horror-stricken, upon the bed. The
white faces and imploring hands of his wife and children were still
vividly before him.
"Poor, weak, coward heart!" he at last murmured to himself. "An
evil spirit was thy counsellor. I knew not that so mean and base a
purpose could find admittance there. What! Beggar and disgrace my
wife and children, and then, like a, skulking coward, leave them to
bear the evil I had not the courage to face! Edward Markland! Can
this, indeed, be true of thee?"
And the excited man sprang from the bed. A feeble light came in
through the window-panes above the door, and made things dimly
visible. He moved about, for a time, with an uncertain air, and then
rung for a light. The first object that met his eyes, when the
servant brought in a lamp, was a small, unopened package, lying on
the table. He knew its contents. What a strong shudder ran through
his frame! Seizing it the instant the attendant left the room, he
flung it through the open window. Then, sinking on his knees, he
thanked God fervently for a timely deliverance.
The fierce struggle with pride was now over. Weak, humbled, and
softened in feeling almost to tears, Markland sat alone, through the
remainder of that evening, with his thoughts reaching forward into
the future, and seeking to discover the paths in which his feet must
walk. For himself he cared not now. Ah! if the cherished ones could
be saved from the consequences of his folly! If he alone were
destined to move in rough and thorny ways! But there was for them no
escape. The paths in which he moved they must move. The cup he had
made bitter for himself would be bitter for them also.
Wretched man! Into what a great deep of misery had he plunged
IT was near the close of the fifth day since Mr. Markland left his
home to commence a long journey southward; and yet, no word had come
back from him. He had promised to write from Baltimore, and from
other points on his route, and sufficient time had elapsed for at
least two letters to arrive. A servant, who had been sent to the city
post-office, had returned without bringing any word from the absent
one; and Mrs. Markland, with Fanny by her side, was sitting near a
window sad and silent.
Just one year has passed since their introduction to the reader.
But what a change one year has wrought! The heart's bright sunshine
rested then on every object. Woodbine Lodge was then a paradise. Now,
there is scarcely a ray of this warm sunshine. Yet there had been no
bereavement—no affliction; nothing that we refer to a mysterious
Providence. No,—but the tempter was admitted. He came with specious
words and deceiving pretences. He vailed the present good, and
magnified the worth of things possessing no power to satisfy the
heart. Too surely has he suceeded in the accomplishment of his evil
At the time of the reader's introduction to Woodbine Lodge, a
bright day was going down in beauty; and there was not a pulse in
nature that did not beat in unison with the hearts of its happy
denizens. A summer day was again drawing to its close, but sobbing
itself away in tears. And they were in tears also, whose spirits, but
a single year gone by, reflected only the light and beauty of nature.
By the window sat the mother and daughter, with oppressed hearts,
looking out upon the leaden sky and the misty gusts that swept across
the gloomy landscape. Sad and silent, we have said, they were. Now and
then they gazed into each other's faces, and the lips quivered as if
words were on them. But each spirit held back the fear by which it was
burdened—and the eyes turned wearily again from the open window.
At last, Fanny's heavy heart could bear in silence the pressure no
longer. Hiding her face in her mother's lap, she sobbed out
violently. Repressing her own struggling emotions, Mrs. Markland
spoke soothing, hopeful words; and even while she sought to
strengthen her daughter's heart, her own took courage.
"My dear child," she said, in a voice made even by depressing its
tone, "do you not remember that beautiful thought expressed by Mrs.
Willet yesterday? 'Death,' said she, 'signifies life; for in every
death there is resurrection into a higher and purer life. This is as
true,' she remarked, 'of our affections, which are but activities of
the life, as of the natural life itself.'"
The sobs of the unhappy girl died away. Her mother continued, in a
low, earnest voice, speaking to her own heart as well as to that of
her child, for it, too, needed strength and comfort.
"How often have we been told, in our Sabbath instructions, that
natural affections cannot be taken to heaven; that they must die, in
order that spiritual affections may be born."
Fanny raised herself up, and said, with slight warmth of manner—
"Is not my love for you a natural affection for my natural mother?
And must that die before I can enter heaven?"
"May it not be changed into a love of what is good in your mother,
instead of remaining only a love of her person?"
"Dear mother!" almost sobbed again the unhappy child,—clasping
eagerly the neck of her parent,—"it is such a love now! Oh! if I
were as good, and patient, and self-denying as you are!"
"All our natural affections," resumed Mrs. Markland, after a few
moments were given to self-control, "have simple regard to ourselves;
and their indulgence never brings the promised happiness. This is why
a wise and good Creator permits our natural desires to be so often
thwarted. In this there is mercy, and not unkindness; for the fruition
of these desires would often be most exquisite misery."
"Hark!" exclaimed Fanny, starting up at this moment, and leaning
close to the window. The sound that had fallen upon her ear had also
reached the ears of the mother.
"Oh! it's father!" fell almost wildly from the daughter's lips, and
she sprang out into the hall, and forth to meet him in the drenching
rain. Mrs. Markland could not rise, but sat, nerveless, until the
husband entered the room.
"Oh, Edward! Edward!" she then exclaimed, rising, and staggering
forward to meet him. "Thank our kind Father in heaven that you are
with us again!" And her head sunk upon his bosom, and she felt his
embracing arms drawn tightly around her. How exquisitely happy she
was for the moment! But she was aroused by the exclamation of
"Oh, father! How pale you look!"
Mrs. Markland raised herself quickly, and gazed into her husband's
face. What a fearful change was there! He was pale and haggard; and
in his bloodshot eyes she read a volume of wretchedness.
"Oh, Edward! what has happened?" she asked, eagerly and tenderly.
"More than I dare tell you!" he replied, in a voice full of
"Perhaps I can divine the worst."
Markland had turned his face partly away, that he might conceal its
expression. But the unexpected tone in which this sentence was
uttered caused him to look back quickly. There was no foreboding fear
in the countenance of his wife. She had spoken firmly—almost
"The worst? Dear Agnes!" he said, with deep anguish in his voice.
"It has not entered into your imagination to conceive the worst!"
"All is lost!" she answered, calmly.
"All," he replied, "but honour, and a heart yet brave enough and
strong enough to battle with the world for the sake of its beloved
Mrs. Markland hid her face on the breast of her husband, and stood,
for some minutes, silent. Fanny approached her father, and laid her
head against him.
"All this does not appal me," said Mrs. Markland, and she looked up
and smiled faintly through tears that could not be repressed.
"Oh, Agnes! Agnes! can you bear the thought of being driven out
from this Eden?"
"Its beauty has already faded," was the quiet answer. "If it is
ours no longer, we must seek another home. And home, you know, dear
Edward, is where the heart is, and the loved ones dwell."
But not so calmly could Fanny bear this announcement. She had tried
hard, for her father's sake, to repress her feelings; but now they
gave way into hysterical weeping. Far beyond his words her thoughts
leaped, and already bitter self-reproaches had begun. Had she at once
informed him of Mr. Lyon's return, singular interview, and injunction
of secrecy, all these appalling consequences might have been saved. In
an instant this flashed upon her mind, and the conviction overwhelmed
"My poor child," said Mr. Markland, sadly, yet with great
tenderness,—"would to heaven I could save you from the evil that
lies before us! But I am powerless in the hands of a stern
"Oh, father!" sobbed the weeping girl, "if I could bear this change
alone, I would be happy."
"Let us all bear it cheerfully together," said Mrs. Markland, in a
quiet voice, and with restored calmness of spirit. "Heaven, as Mrs.
Willet says, with so much truth, is not without, but within us. The
elements of happiness lie not in external, but in internal things. I
do not think, Edward, even with all we had of good in possession, you
have been happy for the past year. The unsatisfied spirit turned
itself away from all that was beautiful in nature—from all it had
sought for as the means of contentment, and sighed for new
possessions. And these would also have lost their charms, had you
gained them, and your restless heart still sighed after an ideal
good. It may be—nay, it must be—in mercy, that our heavenly Father
permitted this natural evil to fall upon us. The night that
approaches will prove, I doubt not, the winter night in which much
bread will grow."
"Comforter!" He spoke the word with emotion.
"And should I not be?" was the almost cheerful answer. "Those who
cannot help should at least speak words of comfort."
"Words! They are more than words that you have spoken. They have in
them a substance and a life. But, Fanny, dear child!" he said,
turning to his still grieving daughter—"your tears distress me. They
pain more deeply than rebuking sentences. My folly"—
"Father! exclaimed Fanny—"it is I—not you—that must bear
reproach. A word might have saved all. Weak, erring child that I
was!, Oh! that fatal secret which almost crushed my heart with its
burden! Why did I not listen to the voice of conscience and duty?"
"Let the dead past rest," said Mr. Markland. "Your error was light,
in comparison with mine. Had I guarded the approaches to the pleasant
land, where innocence and peace had their dwelling-place, the subtle
tempter could never have entered. To mourn over the past but weakens
But of all that passed between these principal members of a family
upon whom misfortune had come like a flood, we cannot make a record.
The father's return soon became known to the rest, and the children's
gladness fell, like a sunny vail, over the sterner features of the
THE disaster was complete. Not a single dollar of all Markland had
cast so blindly into the whirling vortex ever came back to him.
Fenwick disappeared from New York, leaving behind conclusive evidence
of a dark complicity with the specious Englishman, whose integrity had
melted away, like snow in the sunshine, beneath the fire of a strong
temptation. Honourably connected at home, shrewd, intelligent, and
enterprising, he had been chosen as the executive agent of a company
prepared to make large investments in a scheme that promised large
results. He was deputed to bring the business before a few capitalists
on this side of the Atlantic, and with what success has been seen. His
recreancy to the trust reposed in him was the ruin of many.
How shall we describe the scenes that followed, too quickly, the
announcement by Mr. Markland that Woodbine Lodge was no longer to
remain in his possession? No member of the family could meet the
stern necessity without pain. The calmest of all the troubled
household was Mrs. Markland. Fanny, whom the event had awakened from
a partial stupor, gradually declined into her former state. She moved
about more like an automaton than a living figure; entering into all
the duties and activities appertaining to the approaching change, yet
seeming entirely indifferent to all external things. She was living
and suffering in the inner world, more than in the outer. With the
crushing out of a wild, absorbing love, had died all interest in life.
She was in the external world, but, so far as any interest in passing
events was concerned, not of it. Sad, young heart. A most cruel
experience was thine!
When the disastrous intelligence was made known to Aunt Grace, that
rather peculiar and excitable personage did not fail to say that it
was nothing more than she had expected; that she had seen the storm
coming, long and long ago, and had long and long ago lifted, without
avail, a voice of warning. As for Mr. Lyon, he received a double
share of execration—ending with the oft-repeated remark, that she
had felt his shadow when he first came among them, and that she knew
he must be a bad man. The ebullition subsided, in due time, and then
the really good-hearted spinster gave her whole thought and active
energy to the new work that was before them.
After the fierce conflict endured by Mr. Markland, ending wellnigh
fatally, a calmness of spirit succeeded. With him, the worst was
over; and now, he bowed himself, almost humbly, amid the ruins of his
shattered fortunes, and, with a heavy heart, began to reconstruct a
home, into which his beloved ones might find shelter. Any time within
the preceding five or six years, an intimation on his part that he
wished to enter business again would have opened the most advantageous
connections. It was different now. There had been a season of
overtrading. Large balances in England and France were draining the
Atlantic cities of specie, and short crops made it impossible for
western and southern merchants to meet their heavy payments at the
east. Money ruled high, in consequence; weak houses were giving way,
and a general uneasiness was beginning to prevail. But, even if these
causes had not operated against the prospects of Mr. Markland, his
changed circumstances would have been a sufficient bar to an
advantageous business connection. He was no longer a capitalist; and
the fact that he had recklessly invested his money in what was now
pronounced one of the wildest schemes, was looked upon as conclusive
evidence against his discretion and sound judgment. The trite saying,
that the world judges of men by success or failure, was fully
illustrated in his case. Once, he was referred to as the shrewdest of
business men; now, he was held up to ambitious young tradesmen as a
warning wreck, stranded amid the breakers.
How painfully was Mr. Markland reminded, at almost every turn, of
the changed relations he bore to the world! He had not doubted his
ability to form a good business connection with some house of
standing, or with some young capitalist, ready to place money against
his experience and trade. But in this he was doomed to disappointment.
His friends spoke discouragingly; and everywhere he met but a cold
response to his views. Meantime, one creditor of the Company, in New
York, who held a matured piece of paper on which Mr. Markland's name
was inscribed, commenced a suit against him. To prevent this creditor
getting all that remained of his wasted estate, an assignment for the
benefit of all was made, and preparations at once commenced for
removing from Woodbine Lodge.
A few days after this arrangement, Mr. Willet, whose family had
gathered closer around their neighbours the moment the fact of their
misfortune was known, came over to see Mr. Markland and have some
talk with him about his future prospects. A brief conversation which
had taken place on the day previous opened the way for him to do so
without seeming to intrude. The impossibility of getting into
business at the present time was admitted, on both sides, fully. Mr.
Willet then said—
"If the place of salesman in a large jobbing-house would meet your
views, I believe I can manage it for you."
"I am in no situation," replied Mr. Markland, "to make my own terms
with the world. Standing at the foot of the ladder, I must accept the
first means of ascent that offers."
"You will, then, take the place?"
"Yes, if the offer is made."
"The salary is not as large as I could wish," said Mr. Willet.
"Twelve hundred dollars."
"Get it for me, Mr. Willet, and I will be deeply grateful. That sum
will save my children from immediate want."
"I wish it were more, for your sake," replied the kind neighbour.
"But I trust it will be the beginning of better things. You will, at
least, gain a footing on the first round of the ladder."
"But the advantage is only in prospect," said Mr. Markland. "The
place is not yet mine."
"You have the refusal," was the pleased answer. "I had you in my
mind when I heard of the vacancy, and mentioned your name. The
principal of the firm said, without a word of hesitation, that if you
were available, you would just suit him."
"I shall not soon forget your real kindness," responded Markland,
grasping the hand of Mr. Willet. "You have proved, indeed, though an
acquaintance of recent date, a true friend. Ah, sir! my heart had
begun to despond. So many cold looks, changed tones, and discouraging
words! I was not prepared for them. When a man is no longer able to
stand alone, how few there are to reach out an arm to give him
"It is the way of the world," replied Mr. Willet; "and if we give
it credit for more virtue than it possesses, a sad disappointment
awaits us. But there are higher and better principles of action than
such as govern the world. They bring a higher and better reward."
"May the better reward be yours," said Mr. Markland, fervently. His
heart was touched by this real but unobtrusive kindness.
"When do you purpose leaving here?" next inquired Mr. Willet.
"As early as I can make arrangements for removing my family," was
"Where do you think of going?"
"Into the city."
"Would you not prefer remaining in this pleasant neighbourhood? I
do not see how my mother and sisters are going to give you all up.
Mrs. Markland has already won her way into all their affections, and
they have mourned over your misfortunes as deeply, I believe, as if
they had been our own. Pardon the freedom of speech which is only a
warm heart-utterance, when I say that there is a beauty in the
character of Mrs. Markland that has charmed us all; and we cannot
think of losing her society. Walker told me to-day that his wife was
dissatisfied with a country life, and that he was going to sell his
pleasant cottage. I offered him his price, and the title-deeds will
be executed to-morrow. Will you do me the favour to become my tenant?
The rent is two hundred and fifty dollars."
Mr. Willet spoke very earnestly. It was some moments before there
was any reply. Then Mr. Markland raised his eyes from the floor, and
said, in a low voice, that slightly trembled—
"I saw a house advertised for rent in the city, to-day, which I
thought would suit us. It was small, and the rent three hundred
dollars. On learning the owner's name, I found that he was an old
business friend, with whom I had been quite intimate, and so called
upon him. His reception of me was not over cordial. When I mentioned
my errand, he hesitated in his replies, and finally hinted something
about security for the rent. I left him without a word. To have
replied without an exposure of unmanly weakness would have been
impossible. Keenly, since my misfortunes, have I felt the change in
my relations to the world; but nothing has wounded me so sharply as
this! Mr. Willet, your generous interest in my welfare touches my
heart! Let me talk with my family on the subject. I doubt not that we
will accept your offer thankfully."
"OUR Father in heaven never leaves us in a pathless desert," said
Mrs. Markland, light breaking through her tear-filled eye. Her
husband had just related the conversation held with Mr. Willet. "When
the sun goes down, stars appear."
"A little while ago, the desert seemed pathless, and no star
glittered in the sky," was answered.
"Yet the path was there, Edward; you had not looked close enough to
your feet," replied his wife.
"It was so narrow that it would have escaped my vision," he said,
"If it were not the safest way for you and for all of us, it would
not be the only one now permitted our feet to tread."
"Safest it may be for me; but your feet could walk, securely, a
pathway strewn with flowers. Ah me! the thought that my folly—"
"Edward," Mrs. Markland interrupted him in a quick, earnest voice,
"if you love me, spare me in this. When I laid my hand in yours on
that happy day, which was but the beginning of happier ones, I began
a new life. All thought, all affection, all joy in the present and
hope in the future, were thenceforth to be mingled with your thought,
affection, joy, and hope. Our lives became one. It was yours to mark
out our way through the world; mine to walk by your side. The path,
thus far, has been a flowery one, thanks to your love and care! But no
life-path winds always amid soft and fragrant meadows. There are
desert places on the road, and steep acclivities; and there are dark,
devious valleys, as well as sunny hill-tops. Pilgrims on the way to
the Promised Land, we must pass through the Valley and the Shadow of
Death, and be imprisoned for a time in Doubting Castle, before the
Delectable Mountains are gained. Oh, Edward, murmur not, but thank God
for the path he has shown us, and for the clear light that falls so
warmly upon it. These friends, whom he has given us in this our
darkest hour, are the truest friends we have yet known. Is it not a
sweet compensation for all we lose, to be near them still, and to have
the good a kind Father dispenses come to us through their hands? Dear
husband! in this night of worldly life, a star of celestial beauty has
already mirrored itself in my heart, and made light one of its
hitherto darkened chambers."
"Sweet philosopher!" murmured her husband, in a softened voice. "A
spirit like yours would illuminate a dungeon."
"If it can make the air bright around my husband, its happiness
will be complete," was softly answered.
"But these reverses are hard to bear," said Mr. Markland, soberly.
"Harder in anticipation than in reality. They may become to us
"Blessings? Oh, Agnes! I am not able to see that. It is no light
thing for a man to have the hard accumulations of his best years
swept from him in a moment, and to find himself, when just passing
the meridian of his life, thrown prostrate to the earth."
"There may be richer treasures lying just beneath the surface where
he has fallen, than in all the land of Ophir toward which he was
pressing in eager haste," said Mrs. Markland.
"It may be so." Markland spoke doubtingly.
"It must be so!" was emphatically rejoined. "Ah, Edward, have I not
often warned you against looking far away into the future, instead of
stooping to gather the pearls of happiness that a good Providence has
scattered so profusely around us? They are around us still."
"And you may be richer far than imagination has yet pictured. Look
not far away into the shadowy uncertainties of coming time for the
heart's fruition. The stones from which its temple of happiness is to
be erected, if ever built, lie all along the path your feet are
treading. It has been so with you from the beginning—it is so now."
"If I build not this temple, it will be no fault of yours," said
Markland, whose perceptions were becoming clearer.
"Let us build it together," answered his wife. "There will be no
lack of materials."
WHEN the offer of Mr. Walker's cottage was made known in the
family, there was a passive acquiescence in the change on the part of
all but Aunt Grace. Her pride was aroused.
"It's very kind in Mr. Willet," she said—"very kind, but scarcely
delicate under the circumstances."
"Why not delicate?" inquired Mr. Markland.
"Did they think we were going into that little pigeon-box, just
under the shadow of Woodbine Lodge. If we have to come down so low,
it will not be in this neighbourhood. There's too much pride in the
Markland blood for that!"
"We have but little to do with pride now," said Mrs. Markland.
Her husband sighed. The remark of his sister had quickened his
"It is the best we can do!" he remarked, sadly.
"Not by any means," said Grace. "There are other neighbourhoods
than this, and other houses to be obtained. Let us go from here; not
remain the observed of all curious observers—objects of remark and
Her brother arose while she was speaking, and commenced walking the
room in a disturbed manner. The words of Grace had aroused his
"Rather let us do what is best under the circumstances," said Mrs.
Markland, in her quiet way. "People will have their own thoughts, but
these should never turn us from a right course."
"The sight of Woodbine Lodge will rebuke me daily," said Mr.
"You cannot be happy in this neighbourhood." Grace spoke in her
emphatic way. "It is impossible!"
"I fear that it is even so," replied her brother.
"Then," said Mrs. Markland, in a firm voice, "we will go hence. I
place nothing against the happiness of my husband. If the sight of
our old home is to trouble him daily, we will put mountains between,
Markland turned toward his wife. She had never looked more
beautiful in his eye.
"Is self-negation to be all on her part?" The thought, flashing
through his mind, changed the current of his feelings, and gave him
"No, Agnes," he said, "while a faint smile played around his lips,
"we will not put mountains between us and this neighbourhood. Pride
is a poor counsellor, and they who take heed to her words, sow the
seeds of repentance. In reverse of fortune, we stand not alone.
Thousands have walked this rugged road before us; and shall we
falter, and look weakly back?"
"Not so, Edward!" returned his wife, with enthusiasm; "we will
neither falter nor look back. Our good and evil are often made by
contrasts. We shall not find the way rugged, unless we compare it too
closely with other ways our feet have trodden, and sigh vainly over
the past, instead of accepting the good that is awarded us in the
present. Let us first make the 'rough paths of peevish nature even,'
and the way will be smooth to our feet."
"You will never be happy in this neighbourhood, Edward," said his
sister, sharply; for she saw that the pride her words had awakened
was dying out.
"If he is not happy here, change of place will work no difference."
Mrs. Markland spoke earnestly.
"Why not?" was the quick interrogation of Grace.
"Because happiness is rarely, if ever, produced by a change of
external relations. We must have within us the elements of happiness;
and then the heart's sunshine will lie across our threshold, whether
it be of palace or cottage."
"Truer words were never spoken," said Mr. Markland, "and I feel
their better meaning. No, Agnes, we will not go out from this
pleasant neighbourhood, nor from among those we have proved to be
friends. If Woodbine Lodge ever looks upon me rebukingly, I will try
to acknowledge the justice of the rebuke. I will accept Mr. Willet's
kind offer to-morrow. But what have you to say, Fanny?" Mr. Markland
now turned to his daughter, who had not ventured a word on the
subject, though she had listened with apparent interest to the
conference. "Shall we take Mr. Walker's cottage?"
"Your judgment must decide that, father," was answered.
"But have you no choice in the case, Fanny? We can remove into the
city, or go into some other neighbourhood."
"I will be as happy here as anywhere. Do as seems best, father."
A silence, made in a measure oppressive by Fanny's apparent
indifference to all change, followed. Before other words were spoke,
Aunt Grace withdrew in a manner that showed a mind disturbed. The
conference in regard to the cottage was again resumed, and ended in
the cheerful conclusion that it would afford them the pleasantest
home, in their changed circumstances, of any that it was possible for
them to procure.
PREPARATION was at once made for the proposed removal. Mr. Walker
went back to the city, and the new owner of the cottage, Mr. Willet,
set carpenters and painters at work to make certain additions which
he thought needful to secure the comfort of his tenants, and to put
every thing in the most thorough repair. Even against the
remonstrance of Mr. Markland, who saw that his generous-minded
neighbour was providing for his family a house worth almost double
the rent that was to be paid, he carried out all his projected
"You will embarrass me with a sense of obligation," said Mr.
Markland, in seeking to turn him from a certain purpose regarding the
"Do not say so," answered Mr. Willet; "I am only offering
inducements for you to remain with us. If obligation should rest
anywhere, it will be on our side. I make these improvements because
the house is now my own property, and would be defective, to my mind,
without them. Pray, don't let your thoughts dwell on these things."
Thus he strove to dissipate the feeling of obligation that began to
rest on the mind of his unfortunate neighbour, while he carried out
his purpose. In due time, under the assignment which had been made,
Woodbine Lodge and a large part of the elegant and costly furniture
contained in the mansion, were sold, and the ownership passed into
other hands. With a meagre remnant of their household goods, the
family retired to a humbler house. Some pitied, and stood at a
distance; some felt a selfish pleasure in their fall; and some, who
had courted them in their days of prosperity, were among the foremost
to speak evil against them. But there were a few, and they the
choicest spirits of the neighbourhood, who only drew nearer to these
their friends in misfortune. Among them was Mr. Allison, one of those
wise old men whose minds grow not dim with advancing years. He had
passed through many trying vicissitudes, had suffered, and come up
from the ordeal purer than when the fire laid hold upon the dross of
A wise monitor had he been in Markland's brighter days, and now he
drew near as a comforter. There is strength in true words kindly
spoken. How often was this proved by Mr. and Mrs. Markland, as their
venerable friend unlocked for them treasures of wisdom!
The little parlour at "Lawn Cottage," the name of their new home,
soon became the scene of frequent reunions among choice spirits,
whose aspirations went higher and deeper than the external and
visible. In closing around Mr. Markland, they seemed to shut him out,
as it were, from the old world in which he had hoped, and suffered,
and struggled so vainly; and to open before his purer vision a world
of higher beauty. In this world were riches for the toiler, and honour
for the noble—riches and honour far more to be desired than the gems
and gold of earth or its empty tributes of praise.
A few months of this new life wrought a wonderful change in
Markland. All the better elements of his nature were quickened into
activity. Useful daily employment tranquillized his spirits; and not
unfrequently he found himself repeating the words of Longfellow—
"Something attempted, something done, Had earned a night's
So entirely was every thing of earthly fortune wrecked, and so
changed were all his relations to the business world, that hope had
yet no power to awaken his mind to ambition. For the present,
therefore, he was content to receive the reward of daily toil, and to
be thankful that he was yet able to supply the real wants of his
family. A cheerful tone of feeling gradually succeeded the state of
deep depression from which he had suffered. His spirit, which had
walked in darkness, began to perceive that light was breaking in
through the hitherto impenetrable gloom, and as it fell upon the path
he was treading, a flower was seen here and there, while the roughness
his imagination had pictured became not visible.
Nearly a year had glided away since the wreck of Markland's
fortune, and little or no change in his worldly prospects was visible.
He was sitting late, one evening, reading aloud to his wife from a
book which the latter had received from Mrs. Willet. The rest of the
family had retired. Mrs. Markland was plying her needle busily.
Altered circumstances had made hourly industry on her part a
necessity; yet had they in no way dimmed the cheerful brightness of
"Come, Agnes," said her husband, closing the book, "it is growing
late; and you have worked long enough. I'm afraid your health will
"Just a few minutes longer," replied Mrs. Markland, smiling. "I
must finish this apron for Frank. He will want it in the morning." And
her hand moved quicker.
"How true is every word you have been reading!" she added, after a
few moments. "Manifold indeed are the ways in which a wise Providence
dispenses good to the children of men. Mercy is seen in the cloud as
well as in the sunshine. Tears to the spirit are like rain to the
"The descent looked frightful," said Markland, after a pause—"but
we reached the lower ground uninjured. Invisible hands seemed to bear
"We have found the land far pleasanter than was imagined; and the
sky above of a purer crystal."
"Yes—yes. It is even so. And if the flowers that spring up at our
feet are not so brilliant, they have a sweeter perfume and a diviner
"In this land," said Mrs. Markland, "we see in the visible things
that surround us what was rarely seen before—types of the invisible
things they represent."
"Ah, yes, yes! Scales have fallen from my eyes. I have learned a
new philosophy. In former times, Mr. Allison's words seemed full of
beautiful truths, yet so veiled, that I could not see their genuine
brightness. Now they are like sudden gleams of sunlight on a darkened
"Seekers after happiness, like the rest of the world," said Mrs.
Markland, resting her hands upon the table by which she sat, and,
gazing earnestly into her husband's face, "we had lost our way, and
were moving with swift feet in the wrong direction. Suddenly, our
kind Father threw up before us an impassable mountain. Then we seemed
shut out from the land of promise forever, and were in despair. But he
took his weeping, murmuring children by the hand, and led them gently
into another path!"
"Into a narrower way"—Mr. Markland took up the words of his
wife—"and sought by few; yet, it has already brought us into a
"To speak in less ideal language," said Mrs. Markland, "we have
been taught an all-important lesson. It is this: That there is over
each one of us an intimate providential care which ever has regard to
our eternal good. And the reason of our many and sad disappointments
lies in the fact, that we seek only the gratification of natural
life, in which are the very elements of dissatisfaction. All mere
natural life is selfish life; and natural ends gained only confirm
this selfish life, and produce misery instead of happiness."
"There is no rest," said Markland, "to the striving spirit that
only seeks for the good of this world. How clearly have I seen this of
late, as well in my own case as in that of others! Neither wealth nor
honour have in themselves the elements of happiness; and their
increase brings but an increase of trouble."
"If sought from merely selfish ends," remarked his wife. "Yet their
possession may increase our happiness, if we regard them as the means
by which we may rise into a higher life."
There followed a thoughtful pause. Mrs. Markland resumed her work,
and her husband leaned his head back and remained for some minutes in
a musing attitude.
"Don't you think," he said at length, "that Fanny is growing more
"Oh, yes. I can see that her state of mind is undergoing a gradual
"Poor child! What a sad experience, for one so young, has been
hers! How her whole character has been, to all seeming, transformed.
The light-hearted girl suddenly changed to a thoughtful, suffering
"She may be a happier woman in the end," said Mrs. Markland.
"Is that possible?"
"Yes. Suffering has given her a higher capacity for enjoyment."
"And for pain, also," said Mr. Markland.
"She is wiser for the first experience," was replied.
"Yes, there is so much in her favour. I wish," added Mr. Markland,
"that she would go a little more into company. It is not good for any
one to live so secluded a life. Companionship is necessary to the
"She is not without companions, or, at least, a companion."
"Good, as far as it goes. Flora is an excellent girl, and wise
beyond her years."
"Can we ask a better companion for our child than one with pure
feelings and true thoughts?"
"No. But I am afraid Flora has not the power to bring her out of
herself. She is so sedate."
"She does not lack cheerfulness of spirit, Edward."
"Perpetual cheerfulness is too passive."
"Her laugh, at times, is delicious," said Mrs. Markland, "going to
your heart like a strain of music, warming it like a golden sunbeam.
Flora's character is by no means a passive one, but rather the
"She is usually very quiet when I see her," replied Markland.
"This arises from an instinctive deference to those who are older."
"Fanny is strongly attached to her, I think."
"Yes; and the attachment I believe to be mutual."
"Would not Flora, at your suggestion, seek to draw her gradually
forth from her seclusion?"
"We have talked together on that subject several times," replied
Mrs. Markland, "and are now trying to do the very thing you suggest."
"With any prospect of accomplishing the thing desired?"
"I believe so. There is to be company at Mr. Willet's next week,
and we have nearly gained Fanny's consent to be present."
"Have you? I am indeed gratified to learn this."
"Flora has set her heart on gaining Fanny's consent, and will leave
no influence untried."
"Still, Fanny's promise to go is withheld?"
"Yes; but I have observed her looking over her drawers, and showing
more interest in certain articles therein than she has evinced for a
long, long time."
"If she goes, she will require a new dress," said Mr. Markland.
"I think not. Such preparation would be too formal at present. But,
we can make that all right."
"Oh! it will give me so much pleasure! Do not leave any influence
"You may be sure that we will not," answered Mrs. Markland; "and,
what is more, you have little to fear touching our success."
THE efforts of Flora Willet were successful; and Fanny Markland
made one of the company that assembled at her brother's house. Through
an almost unconquerable reluctance to come forth into the eye of the
world, so to speak, she had broken; and, as one after another of the
guests entered the parlours, she could hardly repress an impulse to
steal away and hide herself from the crowd of human faces thickly
closing around her. Undesired, she found herself an object of
attention; and, in some cases, of clearly-expressed sympathy, that
was doubly unpleasant.
The evening was drawing to a close, and Fanny had left the company
and was standing alone in one of the porticos, when a young man,
whose eyes she had several times observed earnestly fixed upon her,
passed near, walked a few paces beyond, and then turning, came up and
said, in a low voice—"Pardon this slight breach of etiquette, Miss
Markland. I failed to get a formal introduction. But, as I have a few
words to say that must be said, I am forced to a seeming rudeness."
Both the manner and words of the stranger so startled Fanny, that
her heart began to throb wildly and her limbs to tremble. Seeing her
clasp the pillar by which she stood, he said, as he offered an arm—
"Walk with me, for a few minutes at the other end of the portico.
We will be less observed, and freer from interruption."
But Fanny only shrunk closer to the pillar.
"If you have any thing to say to me, let it be said here," she
replied. Her trembling voice betrayed her agitation.
"What I have to say, concerns you deeply," returned the young man,
"and you ought to hear it in a calmer mood. Let us remove a little
farther from observation, and be less in danger of interruption."
"Speak, or retire!" said Fanny, with assumed firmness, waving her
hand as she spoke.
But the stranger only bent nearer.
"I have a word for you from Mr. Lyon," said he, in a low, distinct
It was some moments before Fanny made answer. There was a wild
strife in her spirit. But the tempest was of brief duration. Scarcely
a perceptible tremor was in her voice, as she answered,
"It need not be spoken."
"Say not so, Miss Markland. If, in any thing, you have
"Go, sir!" And Fanny drew herself up to her full height, and
pointed away with her finger.
"Mr. Lyon has ever loved you with the most passionate devotion,"
said the stranger. "In some degree he is responsible for the
misfortune of your father; and now, at the first opportunity for
doing so, he is ready to tender a recompense. Partly for this
purpose, and partly to bear to you the declaration of Mr. Lyon's
unwavering regard, am I here."
"He has wronged, deeply wronged my father," replied Fanny,
something of the imperious tone and manner with which she had last
spoken abating. "If prepared to make restitution in any degree, the
way can easily be opened."
"Circumstances," was answered, "conspired to place him in a false
position, and make him the instrument of wrong to those for whom he
would at any time have sacrificed largely instead of becoming the
minister of evil."
"What does he propose?" asked Fanny.
"To restore your father to his old position. Woodbine Lodge can be
purchased from the present owner. It may become your home again."
"It is well," said Fanny. "Let justice be done."
She was now entirely self-possessed, bore herself firmly erect, and
spoke without apparent emotion. Standing with her back to the window,
through which light came, her own face was in shadow, while that of
her companion was clearly seen.
"Justice will be done," replied the young man, slightly embarrassed
by the replies of Fanny, the exact meaning of which he did not
"Is that all you have to communicate?" said the young girl, seeing
that he hesitated.
"Say on, then."
"There are conditions."
"Ah! Name them."
"Mr. Lyon still loves you with an undying tenderness."
Fanny waved her hand quickly, as if rejecting the affirmation, and
slightly averted her head, but did not speak.
"His letters ceased because he was in no state to write; not
because there was any change in his feelings toward you. After the
terrible disaster to the Company, for which he has been too sweepingly
blamed, he could not write."
"Where is he now?" inquired the maiden.
"I am not yet permitted to answer such a question."
There came a pause.
"What shall I say to him from you?"
"Nothing!" was the firm reply.
"Nothing? Think again, Miss Markland."
"Yes; say to him, that the mirror which once reflected his image in
my heart, is shattered forever."
"Think of your father," urged the stranger.
"Go, sir!" And Fanny again waved her hand for him to leave her.
"Your words are an offence to me."
A form intercepted at this moment the light which came through one
of the doors opening upon the portico, and Fanny stepped forward a
pace or two.
"Ah! Miss Markland, I've been looking for you."
It was Mr. Willet. The stranger moved away as the other approached,
yet remained near enough to observe them. Fanny made no response.
"There is a bit of moonlight scenery that is very beautiful," said
Mr. Willet. "Come with me to the other side of the house."
And he offered his arm, through which Fanny drew hers without
hesitation. They stepped from the piazza, and passed in among the
fragrant shrubbery, following one of the garden walks, until they
were in view of the scene to which Mr. Willet referred. A heavy bank
of clouds had fallen in the east, and the moon was just struggling
through the upper, broken edges, along which her gleaming silver lay
in fringes, broad belts, and fleecy masses, giving to the dark
vapours below a deeper blackness. Above all this, the sky was
intensely blue, and the stars shone down with a sharp, diamond-like
lustre. Beneath the bank of clouds, yet far enough in the foreground
of this picture to partly emerge from obscurity, stood, on an
eminence, a white marble building, with columns of porticos, like a
Grecian temple. Projected against the dark background were its
classic outlines, looking more like a vision of the days of Pericles
than a modern verity.
"Only once before have I seen it thus," said Mr. Willet, after his
companion had gazed for some time upon the scene without speaking,
"and ever since, it has been a picture in my memory."
"How singularly beautiful!" Fanny spoke with only a moderate degree
of enthusiasm, and with something absent in her manner. Mr. Willet
turned to look into her face, but it lay too deeply in shadow. For a
short time they stood gazing at the clouds, the sky, and the snowy
temple. Then Mr. Willet passed on, with the maiden, threading the
bordered garden walks, and lingering among the trees, until they came
to one of the pleasant summer-houses, all the time seeking to awaken
some interest in her mind. She had answered all his remarks so briefly
and in so absent a manner, that he was beginning to despair, when she
said, almost abruptly—
"Did you see the person who was with me on the portico, when you
came out just now?"
"Do you know him?"
"He's a stranger to me," said Mr. Willet; "and I do not even
remember his name. Mr. Ellis introduced him."
"And you invited him to your house?"
"No, Miss Markland. We invited Mr. and Mrs. Ellis, and they brought
him as their friend."
"Ah!" There was something of relief in her tone.
"But what of him?" said Mr. Willet. "Why do you inquire about him
Fanny made no answer.
"Did he in any way intrude upon you?" Mr. Willet spoke in a quicker
"I have no complaint to make against him," replied Fanny. "And yet
I ought to know who he is, and where he is from."
"You shall know all you desire," said her companion. "I will obtain
from Mr. Ellis full information in regard to him."
"You will do me a very great favour."
The rustling of a branch at this moment caused both of them to turn
in the direction from which the sound came. The form of a man was,
for an instant, distinctly seen, close to the summer-house. But it
vanished, ere more than the dim outline was perceived.
"Who can that be, hovering about in so stealthy a manner?" Mr.
Willet spoke with rising indignation, starting to his feet as he
uttered the words.
"Probably the very person about whom we were conversing," said
"This is an outrage! Come, Miss Markland, let us return to the
house, and I will at once make inquiry of Mr. Ellis about this
Fanny again took the proffered arm of Mr. Willet, and the two went
silently back, and joined the company from which they had a little
while before retired. The latter at once made inquiry of Mr. Ellis
respecting the stranger who had been introduced to him. The answers
were far from being satisfactory.
"He is a young man whose acquaintance I made about a year ago. He
was then a frequent visitor in my family, and we found him an
intelligent, agreeable companion. For several months he has been
spending his time at the South. A few weeks ago, he returned and
renewed his friendly relations. On learning that we were to be among
your guests on this occasion, he expressed so earnest a desire to be
present, that we took the liberty sometimes assumed among friends,
and brought him along. If we have, in the least, trespassed on our
privileges as your guests, we do most deeply regret the
And this was all Mr. Willet could learn, at the time, in reference
to the stranger, who, on being sought for, was nowhere to be found.
He had heard enough of the conversation that passed between Mr.
Willet and Fanny, as he listened to them while they sat in the
summer-house, to satisfy him that if he remained longer at
"Sweetbrier," he would become an object of the host's too careful
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
"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
"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
"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
"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?"
"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
"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."
"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."
"And it is in this matter you desire my service?"
"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."
"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
"Don't know. It must have been a terrible fall for him."
"And Fanny? Have you learned nothing in regard to her?"
"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
"There are no landmarks, then?" said Lyon.
"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
"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.
THE first letter received by Mr. Lyon, gave only a vague account of
"I arrived yesterday," wrote Leach, "and entered upon my work
immediately. The acquaintance with Mr. Ellis has been renewed. Last
evening I spent with the family, and learned that the Marklands were
living in a pleasant little cottage within sight of Woodbine Lodge;
but could glean few particulars in regard to them. Fanny has entirely
secluded herself. No one seemed to know any thing of her state of
mind, though something about a disappointment in love was distantly
The next letter produced considerable excitement in the mind of Mr.
Lyon. His friend wrote:
"There is a person named Willet living in the neighbourhood, who is
very intimate in Markland's family. It is said by some that he more
than fancies the daughter. As he is rich, and of good reputation and
appearance, he may be a dangerous rival."
About a week later, Leach wrote:
"This Willet, of whom I spoke, is the owner of an elegant seat not
far from Markland's. He resides with his mother and sisters, who are
especial favourites among all the neighbours. Next week they give a
large party. In all probability Miss Markland will be there; and I
must contrive to be there also. Mr. Ellis and his family have
recently made their acquaintance, and have received invitations. Your
humble servant will be on the ground, if asking to go under the shadow
of their wings will gain the favour. He is not over modest, you know.
If Fanny Markland should be there, depend upon it, the golden
opportunity will not pass unimproved. She shall hear from you."
Another week of suspense.
"Don't like the aspect of affairs," wrote the friend. "I was at Mr.
Willet's, and saw Miss Markland. The whole family were particularly
gracious to her. It was her first appearance in any company since her
father's failure. She looked pensive, but charming. In truth, my
friend, she is a girl worth the winning, and no mistake. I think her
lovely. Well, I tried all the evening to get an introduction to her,
but failed, being a stranger. Fortunately, at a late hour, I saw her
leave one of the elegant parlours alone, and go out upon the portico.
This was the opportunity, and I seized it. Boldly ad- dressing her, I
mentioned, after a little play of words, your name. Said I had a
message from you, and, as guardedly as possible, declared your undying
love. But I could not just make her out. She showed great
self-possession under the circumstances, and a disposition to throw me
off. I don't think her heart beats very warmly toward you. This was
the state of affairs when Mr. Willet made his appearance, and I drew
myself away. He said a few words to her, when she placed her arm
within his, and they walked into the garden alone. I followed at a
distance. After admiring a bit of moon-light fancy-work, they strayed
into a summer-house, and I got close enough to hear what they were
talking about; I found that she was making particular inquiries as to
my identity, and that he was unable to give her the information she
desired. I did not feel much encouraged by the tone in which she
alluded to me. Unfortunately, I rustled a branch in my eagerness to
catch every word, and so discovered myself. Beating a hasty retreat, I
went back to the house, took my hat, and quietly retired, walking most
of the way to the city, a distance of several miles. I have not called
upon the family of Mr. Ellis, and am still in doubt whether it will be
wise to do so."
This communication almost maddened Lyon. There was evidently a
rival in the field, and one who had over him an immense advantage.
Impatiently he waited for the next letter. Three days elapsed before
it came. Tearing open the envelope, he read—
"I don't think there is much chance for you. This Willet has been a
particular friend of the family since their misfortunes. He bought
the cottage in which they live, and offered it to them at a moderate
rent, when almost every one else turned from them coldly. The two
families have ever since maintained a close intimacy; and it is
pretty generally thought that a closer relation will, ere long, exist
between them. I called upon the Ellis's yesterday. Their reception was
far from cordial. I tried to be self-possessed, and as chatty as
usual; but it was uphill work, you may depend on it. Once I ventured
an illusion to the party at Willets; but it was received with an
embarrassed silence. I left early and without the usual invitation to
repeat my visits. To-day I met Mr. Ellis in the street, and received
from him the cut direct! So, you see, affairs are not progressing very
favourably; and the worst is, I am in total ignorance of the real
effect of my interview with Miss Markland upon her own mind. She may
yet retain the communication I made as her own secret, or have
revealed it to her father. His reception of the matter, if aware of
what occurred, is a problem unsolved. I can, therefore, only say, keep
as cool as possible, and wait as patiently as possible a few days
longer, when you shall know the best or the worst."
A mad imprecation fell from the lips of Mr. Lyon, as he threw this
letter from him. He was baffled completely. Two more days of wearying
suspense went heavily by, and then another letter came to the
"This place," so Leach wrote, "will soon be too hot to hold me, I'm
afraid. If not mistaken in the signs, there's something brewing.
Twice, to-day, I've been inquired for at the hotel. To-morrow morning
early I shall prudently change my quarters, and drop down to
Washington in the early cars. A little change in the external man can
be effected there. On the day after, I will return, and, under cover
of my disguised exterior, renew operations. But I can't flatter you
with any hope of success. It's pretty generally believed that Willet
is going to marry Fanny Markland; and the match is too good a one for
a poor girl to decline. He is rich, educated, honourable; and, people
say, kind and good. And, to speak out my thoughts on the subject, I
think she'd be a fool to decline the arrangement, even against your
magnificent proposals. Still, I'm heart and hand with you, and ready
to venture even upon the old boy's dominions to serve a long-tried
friend. There is one significant fact which I heard to-day that makes
strong against you. It is said that Mr. Willet is about making a
change in his business, and that Markland is to be associated with him
in some new arrangements. That looks as if matters were settled
between the two families. In my next letter I hope to communicate
something more satisfactory."
On the day after receiving this communication, Lyon, while walking
the floor in one of the parlours, saw a man pass in from the street,
and go hurriedly along the hall. The form struck him as strangely
like that of his friend from whom he was hourly in expectation of
another letter. Stepping quickly to the door of the room, he caught a
glimpse of the man ascending the staircase. To follow was a natural
impulse. Doubt was only of brief continuance.
"David!" he exclaimed, on reaching his own apartment. "In the name
of heaven! what does this mean?"
"That you are in danger," was replied, in a tone that made the
villain's heart leap.
"What?" The two men retired within the apartment.
"I fear they are on our track," said Leach.
"The law's fierce bloodhounds!"
"No! impossible!" The face of Lyon grew white as ashes, and his
limbs shook with a sudden, irrepressible tremor.
"Speak out plainly," he added. "What evidence is there of danger?"
"In my last letter, you will remember, I expressed some fear on
this head, and mentioned my purpose to go to Washington and assume a
"I do, and have felt troubled about it."
"Well, I was off by the early train on the next morning. As good or
bad luck would have it, the very man who sat next me in the cars was
an individual I had met in the family of Mr. Ellis. He knew me, but
played shy for some time. I pretended not to recognise him at first,
but turning to him suddenly, after we had been under way for ten
minutes or so, I said, as if I had but just become aware of his
identity, 'Why, how are you? I did not know that I had an
acquaintance by my side.' He returned my warm greeting rather
distantly; but there was too much at stake to mind this, and I
determined to thaw him out, which I accomplished in due time. I found
him a free sort of a man to talk, after he got going, and so I made
myself quite familiar, and encouraged him to be outspoken. I knew he
had heard something about my adventure at Mr. Willet's, and determined
to get from him the stories that were afloat on that subject. All came
in good time. But the exaggeration was tremendous. Fanny had concealed
nothing from her father, and he nothing from Mr. Willet. I was known
as your agent and accomplice, and there was a plan concocting to get
possession of my person, and, through me, of yours. 'Take a friend's
advice,' said the man to me, as we stepped from the cars at
Washington, 'and give—a wide berth in future.' I did take his advice,
kept straight on, and am here."
"Confusion!" The pallid face of Lyon had flushed again, and was now
dark with congestion.
"When will the next boat leave for Vera Cruz?" inquired Leach.
"Day after to-morrow," was answered.
"We are in peril here every hour."
"But cannot leave earlier. I hope your fears have magnified the
"If there be danger at all, it cannot be magnified. Let them once
get you in their hands, and they will demand a fearful retribution."
"I am well aware of that, and do not mean to be left in their
"The telegraph has, no doubt, already put the authorities here on
the alert. My very arrival may have been noted. It will not do for us
to be seen together."
"Ha! I did not think of that!" Lyon was more deeply disturbed. "You
had better go from here at once. Where is your baggage?"
"I ordered it to be sent up."
"Let me see after that. At once pass over to the Levee; go on board
the first boat that is leaving, whether bound up the river or for
Galveston. Only get off from the city, and then make your way to
Mexico. You will find me there."
Fear had now seized upon both of the men, and each saw
consternation in the other's face.
"I am off at the word," said Leach, as he grasped the hand of his
"Be discreet, self-possessed, and wary." Lyon spoke in a warning
"I will. And you take good heed to the same advice."
The men were yet standing face to face, each grasping the other's
hand, when both partly turned their heads to listen. There was a
sound of feet at the upper end of the passage, just at the landing,
and it came rapidly nearer. A breathless pause marked the deep
interest of the listeners. A few moments of suspense, in which Lyon
and his companion grew deadly pale, and then the noisy footsteps were
silenced at their very door. A smothered sound of voices was followed
by a trial of the lock, and then by a decided rapping. But no answer
was made to the summons.
Noiselessly, Mr. Lyon drew from a deep side-pocket a loaded
revolver; but the hand of his companion was laid quickly upon his
arm, and his lips, in dumb show, gave the word—
Lyon shook him off, and deliberately pointed his weapon toward the
"Hallo, there! Are you asleep?"
This loud call came after repeated knocking and rattling. But there
was no response, nor the slightest indication of life within the
"They are here, I am certain." These words were distinctly heard by
the anxious inmates.
"Then we must break in the door," was resolutely answered.
"Oh, for heaven's sake, put up that pistol!" hoarsely whispered
Leach. "Such resistance will be fatal evidence against us. Better
open the door and put a bold face upon it."
"Too late!" was just whispered back, when the door flew open with a
crash, and the body of the man who had thrown himself against it with
a force greatly beyond the resistance, fell inward upon the floor. At
the same instant, Lyon exclaimed, in a quick, savage voice—
"Back, instantly, or you are dead men!"
There was such a will in the words he uttered, that, for a moment,
the men, four in number, fell back from the open door, and in that
instant Lyon sprung past them, and, ere they could recover
themselves, was beyond their reach. His friend made an attempt to
follow, but was seized and made prisoner. The time spent in securing
him was so much of a diversion in favour of Lyon, who succeeded in
getting into the street, ere the alarm extended to the lower part of
the house, and passing beyond immediate observation. But escape from
the city was impossible. The whole police force was on the alert in
half an hour, and in less than an hour he was captured, disguised as
a sailor, on board of a vessel ready cleared and making ready to drop
down the river. He yielded quietly, and, after being taken before the
authorities in the case, was committed for hearing in default of bail.
The arrest was on a requisition from the governor of New York.
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
"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.
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
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
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 of 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.
"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
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!"
A FEW weeks later, and "Lawn Cottage" was the scene of an event
which made the hearts of its inmates glad even to tears. That event
was the marriage of Fanny. From the time of her betrothment to Mr.
Willet, a new life seemed born in her spirit and a new beauty stamped
upon her countenance. All around her was diffused the heart's warm
sunshine. As if from a long, bewildering, painful dream, she had
awakened to find the morning breaking in serene beauty, and loving
arms gathered protectingly around her. The desolating tempest had
swept by; and so brilliant was the sunshine, and so clear the bending
azure, that night and storms were both forgotten.
Old Mr. Allison was one of the few guests, outside of the families,
who were present at the nuptial ceremonies. The bride—in years, if
not in heart-experience, yet too young to enter upon the high duties
to which she had solemnly pledged herself—looked the embodied image
of purity and loveliness.
"Let me congratulate you," said the old man, sitting down beside
Mr. Markland, and grasping his hand, after the beautiful and
impressive ceremony was over and the husband's lips had touched the
lips of his bride and wife. "And mine is no ordinary congratulation,
that goes scarcely deeper than words, for I see in this marriage the
beginning of a true marriage; and in these external bonds, the image
of those truer spiritual bonds which are to unite them in eternal
"What an escape she made!" responded the father, a shudder running
through his frame, as there arose before him, at that instant, a
clear recollection of the past, and of his own strange, consenting
"The danger was fearful," replied Mr. Allison, who understood the
meaning of the words which had just been uttered. "But it is past
"Yes, thanks to the infinite wisdom that leads us back into right
paths. Oh! what a life of unimagined wretchedness would have fallen
to her lot, if all my plans and hopes had been accomplished! Do you
know, Mr. Allison, that I have compared my insane purposes in the
past to that of those men of old who made their children pass through
the fire to Moloch? I set up an idol—a bloody Moloch—and was about
sacrificing to it my child!"
"There is One who sits above the blinding vapours of human passion,
and sees all ends from the beginning; One who loves us with an
infinite tenderness, and leads us, even through struggling
resistance, back to the right paths, let us stray never so often.
Happy are we, if, when the right paths are gained, we walk therein
with willing feet. Mr. Markland, your experiences have been of a most
painful character; almost crushed out has been the natural life that
held the soaring spirit fettered to the perishing things of this outer
world; but you have felt that a new and better life has been born
within you, and have tasted some of its purer pleasures. Oh, sir! let
not the life of this world extinguish a fire that is kindled for
"How wonderfully has the infinite mercy saved me from myself!"
returned Mr. Markland. "Wise, skilful in the ways of the world,
prudent, and far-seeing in my own estimation, yet was I blind,
ignorant, and full of strong self-will. I chose my own way in the
world, dazzled by the false glitter of merely external things. I
launched my bark, freighted with human souls, boldly upon an unknown
sea, and, but for the storms that drove me into a sheltered haven,
would have made a fearful wreck."
"Then sail not forth again," said Mr. Allison, "unless you have
divine truth as your chart, and heaven's own pilot on board your
vessel. It is still freighted with human souls."
"A fearful responsibility is mine." Mr. Markland spoke partly to
"Yes," replied the old man; "for into your keeping immortal spirits
have been committed. It is for them, not for yourself, that you are
to live. Their good, not your own pleasure, is to be sought."
"Ah, if I had comprehended this truth years ago!" Markland sighed
as he uttered the words.
"This is too happy an occasion," said Mr. Allison, in a cheerful
voice, "to be marred by regrets for the past. They should never be
permitted to bear down our spirits with sadness. The bright future is
all before us, and the good time awaiting us if we but look for it in
the right direction."
"And where are we to look for it, Mr. Allison? Which is the right
"Within and heavenward," was answered, with a smile so radiant that
it made the wan face of the old man beautiful. "Like the kingdom of
heaven, this good time comes not by 'observation;' nor with a 'lo,
here!' and a 'lo, there!' It must come within us, in such a change of
our ruling affections, that all things good and true, which are real
and eternal verities, shall be the highest objects of love; for if we
love things that are real and abiding, and obtain as well as love
them, our happiness is complete."
"Thanks for the many lessons of wisdom I have received from your
lips," replied Mr. Markland. "Well would it have been for me if I had
earlier heeded them. But the ground was not hitherto prepared. Now,
after the rank weeds have been removed, the surface broken by many
furrows, and the ground watered with tears, good seed is falling into
"May it bring forth good fruit—some thirty, some sixty, and some
an hundred-fold!" was said, low and fervently, by the aged monitor;
and, in the pause that followed, his ear caught a whispered "Amen."
And the good seed did spring up in this good ground, and good fruit
came in the harvest time. Strongly tempted, indeed, was Mr. Markland,
by his love of the world, and the brilliant rewards it promised to the
successful, to enter a bold combatant in its crowded arena; but there
were wise and loving counsellors around him, and their words were not
unheeded. Instead of aspiring after "Woodbine Lodge," he was content
to purchase "Lawn Cottage," and invest the remainder of what he had
received in property that not only paid him a fair interest, but was
increasing in value. The offer of Mr. Willet to enter into business
was accepted, and in this his gains were sufficient to give him all
needed external comforts, and a reasonable prospect of moderate
How peacefully moved on again the pure stream of Mrs. Markland's
unambitious life! If her way through the world was not so thickly
bordered with brilliant flowers, humbler blossoms lined it, and she
gathered as sweet honey from these as ever from their gayer sisters.
She, too, had grown wiser, and could read the pages of a book whose
leaves she had once turned vainly, searching for truth.
Even Aunt Grace was beginning to feel that there were some things
in the world not dreamed of in her common-sense philosophy. She looked
on thoughtfully, pondering much of what she heard and saw, in her
heart. She had ceased to speak about the annoyance of having
"Woodbine Lodge" "forever staring down," with a kind of triumph, upon
them; though it was hard for her, at all times, to rise above this
weakness. The "Markland blood," as she said, was too strong within
her. What puzzled her most was the cheerful heart of her brother, and
the interest he took in many things once scarcely noticed. Formerly,
when thought went beyond himself, its circumference was limited by the
good of his own family; but now, he gave some care to the common good,
and manifested a neighbourly regard for others. He was looking in the
right direction for "that good time coming," and the light of a better
morning was breaking in upon his spirit.
As years progressed, the day grew broader, and the light of the
morning became as the light of noonday. And as it was with him and
his, so may it be with us all. In each of our hearts is a
dissatisfied yearning toward the future, and a looking for a brighter
day than any that has yet smiled down upon us. But this brighter day
will never dawn except in the world of our spirits. It is created by
no natural sun of fire, but by the sun of divine love. In vain, then,
do we toil and struggle, and press forward in our journey through the
world, fondly believing that in wealth, honour, or some more desired
external good, the soul's fruition will be gained. The immortal spirit
will ever be satisfied with these things; and the good time will never
come to the erring seeker.