LYMAN TAYLOR MAKES A NEW ACQUAINTANCE

ON leaving the cabin Mark promised to call again the next afternoon,
bringing from the village such articles as Anthony might require. This
he could readily do as the shoe manufactory was not running full time.

“I will see that you are paid for your trouble,” said the hermit.

“That will be all right,” said Mark, cheerfully.

“I am able to pay you, and will employ you only on that condition,”
persisted Anthony.

“I shall not object to that part of the bargain,” said Mark, smiling.
“Money never comes amiss to me.”

“I have plenty of money, though I would not admit it to my nephew,”
continued the sick man. “He would persecute me till I bought him off.
Fortunately he thinks I am poor.”

“But,” said Mark, “suppose he should come back. Would not your money be
in danger?”

“He would find none here. I do not keep any in this cabin. I did have
some, but it is in your hands.”

“Shall I not return it to you, sir?”

“No; I prefer that you should keep it. You will be using money for me
daily, and for the present you shall be my treasurer.”

“I am very much obliged to you for reposing so much confidence in me,”
said Mark.

“I trust you entirely. You have an honest face.”

“Thank you, sir. I will endeavor to deserve your confidence.”

It was past four o’clock when Mark left the cabin and started on his way
homeward. He walked along thoughtfully, carrying his gun over his
shoulder.

“It seems I have a near friend,” he reflected; “and one who may be of
service to me. Now that the shop is no longer running full time, it will
be convenient to earn a little extra money, old Anthony must be rich,
judging from what he said about his success in California.”

Mark could not help wondering where the hermit kept his money. But for
Anthony’s positive assurance, he would have conjectured that he kept it
somewhere concealed about the cabin, but that being left out of the
question he was at a loss to fix upon any probable place of deposit.

Leaving Mark for a brief time; we go back to the other two young
hunters, from whom he had separated two hours before.

“I don’t like that boy,” said James Collins. “He puts on too many airs
for a poor boy. I suppose he will be crowing over his successful shot.”

“Very likely,” chimed in his companion, who made it a point to flatter
James by agreeing with everything he said.

“It was only a lucky accident,” continued James. “He couldn’t do it
again.”

“Of course not. I don’t think he is really as good a shot as you or I.”

“You can hardly class yourself with me,” said James egotistically.
“However. I agree with you that he is inferior to you.”

“Quick, James!” said Tom Wyman. “There is a squirrel—shoot! I’ll give
you the first chance.”

James pulled the trigger, but the squirrel was not destined to fall by
his hands. He scampered away, looking back saucily at the baffled young
hunter.

“Was ever anything more provoking?” asked James in evident chagrin.

Later in the afternoon when the two boys were slowly strolling
homewards, they saw a strange man issuing from the woods. It was Lyman
Taylor, returned from his only partially successful visit to his uncle.

He waited till the boys came up.

“Good afternoon, young gentlemen,” he said by way of greeting.

“Good afternoon,” returned James stiffly.

He doubted whether the newcomer was a man whom it was worth while to
notice.

“What luck have you had? I see you have been out hunting.”

“We didn’t shoot anything we thought worth bringing home,” said Tom.

“I met another boy out with a gun. Perhaps he is a friend of yours.”

James and Tom exchanged glances. They understood very well that Mark
Manning was meant.

“I think I know the boy you met,” said James. “It is a poor boy who
works in my father’s manufactory.”

“What is his name?” asked Lyman Taylor.

“Mark Manning.”

“Does he live in the village?”

“Yes; his mother is a poor widow.”

“Where did you meet him?” asked Tom.

“At a cabin in the woods.”

“Old Anthony’s?”

“Yes; the hermit is an uncle of mine.”

The two boys regarded the speaker with interest. All the villagers had
some curiosity about the man who had settled so near them.

“What is his name?” inquired Tom.

“You called him old Anthony,” said Lyman, smiling. “That is his name.”

“But his other name?”

“His last name is Taylor, I have not seen him before for five years.
Does he often come into the village?”

“About twice a week.”

“I suppose he comes to buy food?”

“Yes; I suppose so.”

“Does he appear to be provided with money?” asked Taylor with some
eagerness.

“Yes, I believe so,” replied Tom. “He has sometimes come into our
place—father is the postmaster—to get a gold piece changed. But I don’t
suppose he has much money. It doesn’t cost him much to live.”

“Does he ever get any letters—as your father is postmaster, you can
probably tell.”

“I don’t think so; my father has never mentioned it, and I think he
would if any had been received.”

“What sort of a boy is this Mark Manning?” asked Taylor abruptly.

“I don’t think much of him,” answered James. “He is poor and proud. He
is only a pegger in our shop, but he puts on airs with the best.”

“Do you think he is honest?”

The two boys looked surprised; that question had never occurred to them.

“What makes you ask?” inquired James.

“Only that he has in his possession a sum of money belonging to my
uncle.”

“Did he tell you so? did you see it?” were the questions quickly asked.

“I met him at my uncle’s cabin. My uncle owed me a small sum, and
instead of paying me himself, he asked this boy to pay me. The boy took
the money from his pocket, and handed it to me.”

Both boys were surprised.

“I didn’t know he had anyth


ing to do with the hermit,” said Tom. “Did
you, James?”

“No; but then I don’t trouble myself about Mark Manning’s affairs.”

Lyman Taylor regarded James shrewdly, he had no difficulty in detecting
the boy’s dislike towards Mark.

“Excuse my troubling you with questions, young gentlemen,” he said. “My
uncle is a simple-minded old man, and it would be easy to rob him,
though I fancy he hasn’t much money. This boy Mark appeared to me an
artful young rogue, who might very probably cheat him out of the small
sum he has.”

“I never saw the two together,” said Tom, musingly. “Old Anthony has
generally paid his bills himself.”

“He is sick just now, and perhaps that accounts for it. The boy Mark has
been making purchases for him in the village. However, I must leave the
place, as important business calls me elsewhere. Since you,” addressing
Tom, “are the postmaster’s son, may I ask a favor of you?”

“Certainly.”

“If my uncle should die, can I trouble you to send me a note informing
me, as I should feel called upon, as his only relative, to see that he
was properly buried.”

“Yes, sir; I will write you, if you will leave me your address.”

Lyman Taylor gave Tom the same address he had already given Mark. He
then bade the boys good-bye, and walked on.

“Uncle Anthony _may_ have some money,” he soliloquized, “and if he dies,
I shall see if I can find it. I am pretty sure to hear through one of
the boys.”