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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Good Time Coming - Chapter XL
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The Good Time Coming - Chapter XL Post by :tonyaz Category :Long Stories Author :T. S. Arthur Date :April 2011 Read :3569

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The Good Time Coming - Chapter XL

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

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

"There is," was replied.

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

"What name, sir?" inquired the servant.

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

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

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

"This moment."

"From--?"

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

"What is that?"

"You penetrated my disguise too easily."

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

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

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

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

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

"A narrow escape, I should say."

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

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

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

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

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

"Who? Markland's pretty daughter?"

"Yes."

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

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

"Lyon--"

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

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

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

"Fanny Markland?"

"Yes."

"You wish to make her your wife?"

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

"A thing more difficult than you imagine."

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

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

"Yes."

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

"You must go North."

"Very well."

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

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

"Indeed! They stripped him of every thing?"

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

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

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

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

"Nothing."

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

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

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

"None."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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THE first letter received by Mr. Lyon, gave only a vague account ofaffairs."I arrived yesterday," wrote Leach, "and entered upon my workimmediately. The acquaintance with Mr. Ellis has been renewed. Lastevening I spent with the family, and learned that the Marklands wereliving in a pleasant little cottage within sight of Woodbine Lodge;but could glean few particulars in regard to them. Fanny hasentirely secluded herself. No one seemed to know any thing of herstate of mind, though something about a disappointment in love wasdistantly intimated."The next letter produced considerable excitement in the mind of Mr.Lyon. His friend wrote:"There is a person named
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THE efforts of Flora Willet were successful; and Fanny Markland madeone of the company that assembled at her brother's house. Through analmost unconquerable reluctance to come forth into the eye of theworld, so to speak, she had broken; and, as one after another of theguests entered the parlours, she could hardly repress an impulse tosteal away and hide herself from the crowd of human faces thicklyclosing around her. Undesired, she found herself an object ofattention; and, in some cases, of clearly-expressed sympathy, thatwas doubly unpleasant.The evening was drawing to a close, and Fanny had left the companyand was standing alone in
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