THE HERMIT RECEIVES A CALL

OLD Anthony was sitting in his doorway, thoughtfully smoking a pipe,
when, chancing to lift his eyes, his gaze fell upon the figure of his
nephew advancing towards the cabin. It was a surprise, and not a
pleasant one. He could not divine Lyman’s object in making this second
visit.

“How are you getting along, Uncle Anthony?” inquired Lyman, in a
conciliatory tone.

“Have you come all the way from New York to ask me that question?” said
the hermit, dryly.

“Well, not altogether. Still, I wanted to know whether you were better.”

“I have got over my rheumatic attack,” said Anthony, shortly.

“I’m very glad. At your age it must be uncomfortable to be
sick—especially in such a place. Can’t I persuade you to come to New
York, and take comfortable lodgings?”

“Why should you desire it? Perhaps you would propose to live with me?”

“And if I did, being your only relative, it would be natural enough.
With your means——”

“What do you know of my means?” demanded the hermit, sharply.

“I have reason to think you are better off than your position would
indicate,” announced Lyman, watching the effect of the assertion on his
uncle.

“What reason?” inquired Anthony.

“Well, I know you were very successful in California—after I left you.
You struck it rich, made a great deal of money, and then sold the claim
for a good round sum.”

Anthony’s countenance did not change, though the communication was by no
means a welcome one.

“How much of this money do you think I have now?” he asked, at length.

“I don’t know.”

“And I don’t propose to tell you.”

“I know you have some of it!”

“Very possibly. I cannot live for nothing.”

“And I know where you keep it,” added Lyman, provoked by his uncle’s
manner.

“Indeed!”

“But I can’t commend your prudence in putting your money where it is so
likely to be found—and taken.”

“Be a little more explicit. Let me know just what you mean.”

“Burying money in the ground is not very wise.”

Old Anthony was taken by surprise, and showed it.

“So you know this? Where did you obtain the information?” he asked.




“From some one who saw you and the boy, Mark, digging for it.”

“Well,” said the old man, quietly, “I know of no better place. People
are honest round here, and it will not be taken.”

“I agree with you there, Uncle Anthony. It won’t be taken for a very
good reason. There is none there. The jar is empty.”

“How do you know this, Lyman?” demanded the hermit, with a searching
look.

Lyman hesitated, but it seemed necessary to tell the truth.

“Because, when I learned that you had been so imprudent as to let the
boy into your secret, I concluded at once that he would take advantage
of his knowledge, and rob you. I therefore uncovered the place, and
found it as I suspected. The jar is empty.”

Old Anthony betrayed no excitement on hearing this.

“It is quite true,” he said, quietly. “All the gold has been taken.”

“You knew this?”

“Certainly. I took the last gold piece myself. Having no occasion for
the jar, I left it there. You are certainly very kind to take so much
interest in the safety of my property, but it is needless. I am still
able to take care of what money I have left.”

Lyman’s face fell. He began to suspect that this was only too true.