The Good Time Coming
Part 2 out of 6
"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 some
"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 of heart.
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 voice exclaimed:
"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
"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
"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. Allison.
"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 companion.
"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
"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 thought, Fanny?"
"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," said
"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, Miss Markland?"
"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
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
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
"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
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 hands.
"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
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. Markland.
"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 manner.
"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,
"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
"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 fact?"
"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
"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
"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 benefit."
"You have a curious way of looking at things, or, rather, _into_
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 illustrates."
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 another."
"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 right
"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
"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 acceleration--
"Did your English friend, Mr. Lyon, really go South, before you left
"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 from England."
"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 present
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 him.
"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
"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 furniture."
"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
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 here."
"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?"
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