THE next day Mark found a letter in the post-office directed to Anthony
Taylor. According to custom it appeared in a written list containing the
letters of those who had no boxes.
Mark called for it.
“Who is Anthony Taylor?” asked Tom Wyman, who happened to be attending
the office for his father.
“Old Anthony,” as the boys call him.
“I wonder if there’s money in it!” said Tom, holding up the letter, and
trying to peep inside.
“That’s none of our business,” answered Mark.
“Oh, you’re mighty virtuous!” sneered Tom. “If there is any money, I’ll
bet you’ll get a share of it.”
“I get no money except my wages.”
“How much does he pay you?”
“I would rather not tell,” returned Mark, with a smile. “You might try
to get my place away.”
“As if I would work for an old tramp like the hermit!” exclaimed Tom,
disdainfully. “I suppose he pays you about a dollar a week.”
“That’s better than doing nothing, isn’t it?”
“Yes, it’s better for you. I don’t want your place. I shall go to the
city when my school days are over.”
“I wish you good luck, Tom, whenever you do,” said Mark, good-naturedly.
“I must hurry along with my letter.”
“A letter for you, Mr. Taylor,” announced Mark, as he entered the cabin.
“From John Hardy,” said the hermit, as he scanned the address.
He opened the letter and read as follows:
“MY DEAR OLD FRIEND: Your will is drafted and ready for signature.
You had better come up to the city, and sign it. I know your
reluctance to leave your forest home, but it will occur to you at
once that your signature must be witnessed, and though witnesses
might be found in Pocasset, it would involve a degree of publicity
which I presume you would wish to avoid. Here I can easily get it
witnessed by my clerks.
“I suggest that you bring the boy, Mark, with you, as he may be of
service to you. Moreover, I think it is high time that we spoke to
him of the mission on which you propose to send him.
“Your worthy nephew, Lyman, called upon me to-day with your letter.
He wished me to furnish him with the money needed for his ticket,
but I thought it better to send a clerk to purchase the ticket, and
see him fairly off. He has just returned, and reports that Lyman is
on the way to Chicago. I think you showed considerable shrewdness in
securing his removal from this neighborhood. He may return, to be
sure, but the chances are that he will spend all the money, and find
himself stranded in Chicago. If this compels him to work for a
living, no harm will result.
“Your friend as ever.
Old Anthony laid down the letter thoughtfully. He was reluctant to go to
New York, but saw that it was necessary. His reluctance was diminished
by the prospect of having Mark’s company.
“Mark,” he said, “can you go to New York with me to-morrow?”
Mark stared at his employer in amazement. The proposal was very
“I am obliged to go up on business,” explained the hermit. “I wish I
could delegate it to you, but I must attend to it myself. It is so long
since I have been in a crowd, that I believe I shall need some one to
take care of me.”
“I shall be very happy to accompany you, sir,” said Mark, with alacrity.
“At what time does the morning train leave the station?”
“Nine o’clock, sir.”
“Then meet me there at fifteen minutes before the hour.”
“All right, sir.”
“When shall we return?” asked Mark, after a pause.
“When does the afternoon train leave the city?”
“At three o’clock.”
“We will return then.”
“I only wanted to tell my mother when to expect me.”
It must be admitted that old Anthony looked like an antediluvian figure
in his old-fashioned coat, with a short waist and long tails, as he
stood on the platform the next morning waiting for the train. Two or
three of the village boys laughed rudely, but the hermit was buried in
thought, and took no notice of them. Mark, himself, thought his employer
looked queer, but he saw nothing to laugh at.
“Are you going to town with old Anthony?” asked one of the boys.
“Yes,” answered Mark.
“People will take him for your grandfather.”
“I don’t mind.”
“He looks like a rusty old tramp. His coat looks as if it was made in
the year one.”
Mark did so.
Just as he was leaving the ticket-window, his former employer, Mr.
Collins, the shoe manufacturer, took his place.
“Are you going to the city?” he asked.
“Who goes with you?”
“Oh!” returned the manufacturer, arching his brows, “are you working for
“You might have been working for me, if you had behaved yourself.”
“I am satisfied with the change,” answered Mark.
“That boy is impertinent,” soliloquized the village magnate. “He can’t
get much pay from a pauper. However, it serves him right. Of course, it
is only pride that makes him profess to be satisfied.”
Mark would have been surprised, had he known that Mr. Collins was going
up to the city to call upon the person with whom the hermit had
business. Such was the fact, however. Mr. Collins had applied to Mr.
Hardy for a sum of four thousand dollars, mortgaging therefor, his large
shoe manufactory, which had originally cost double this sum.
As Mr. Hardy told old Anthony, he had ventured into Wall Street, and the
losses he had incurred there, had forced him to raise money in this way.
To-day had been fixed by Mr. Hardy for the execution of the papers, and
the transfer of the sum required. Twelve o’clock was the hour appointed
by Mr. Hardy, for his business with the manufacturer.
“What on earth can carry that old scarecrow up to New York?” thought Mr.
Collins, as he eyed curiously old Anthony, who, with Mark, was seated a
few steps in front of him, in the same car. “I suppose he has a pension
from some source, and is going to collect it.”
It may be remarked that James Collins had never communicated to his
father the discovery made in the forest, connected with the pot of gold.