THE HERMIT SECURES A HOUSE

A SHORT distance from the house occupied by Squire Collins was one which
had been for six months vacant. It had been erected as a summer
residence by a New York gentleman, and occupied by him for several
seasons. It was the finest house in the village, and it seemed a pity it
should remain untenanted.

Mr. Beech, the builder, now spent his summers at various
watering-places, and had apparently tired of Pocasset. It was understood
that the house was left in the hands of Mr. Thompson, who was authorized
to let it to a responsible tenant.

Old Anthony the next morning made it in his way to call at the office of
Mr. Thompson. The latter received him with his usual courtesy.

“I hear that you are boarding with Mrs. Manning, Mr. Taylor,” he said.

“Yes.”

“I think you must find it much more agreeable than your life in the
woods.”

“I do; I am getting over my misanthropy, and am taking more cheerful
views of life.”

“That is good. My son Frank is an intimate friend of Mark, and thinks a
great deal of him and his mother.”

“So do I,” responded the hermit. “Mark is a straightforward boy, and
will succeed life.”

“I hope so. I wish I had anything for him to do—Frank would be glad.
Perhaps in time I may find him a place.”

“I think I shall be able to provide employment for Mark myself,” said
the hermit, quietly.

Mr. Thompson regarded him with surprise. Like the rest of the villagers,
he had been in the habit of regarding old Anthony as a man of limited
means.

“By-the-way, Mr. Thompson, I called this morning on a little matter of
business,” continued the hermit. “I believe you have the rental of the
Beach house.”

“Yes,” answered Mr. Thompson, somewhat surprised.

“I am acquainted with a family who are on the lookout for a house in
Groveton. This, I think, would suit them, if the rent is not too high.”

“It is, you know, a fine house. Would your friends like to have it
furnished?”

“I think so.”

“In that case, the rent will be four hundred dollars a year, or a
hundred dollars a quarter. In the city, or at Long Branch, as you
probably are aware, four times as much would be required.”

“I think that will be satisfactory. Can immediate possession be given?”

“Yes; I will at once set the cleaners to work, and have it got ready by
the end of the week. One question I am obliged to ask. Is the party for
whom you are acting, responsible, in a pecuniary way?”

“The first quarter’s rent will be paid in advance.”

“Pretty satisfactory. May I ask the name of the tenant?”

“There are reasons for keeping it secret for a few days.”

“Oh, well, that is not material.”

Old Anthony never said a word about what he had done, for, as my readers
will conjecture, he meant to have Mark and his mother occupy the house.
It did, however, get noised about, that Mr. Beach’s house was taken.
Squire Collins among others, was curious to ascertain something about
the new tenants, and made a call on Mr. Thompson, with the special
object of finding out.

“I am no wiser than you, Squire Collins,” said Mr. Thompson. “Of course
we shall all know in a few days.”

“By whom was the matter negotiated?”

“There again I am bound to secrecy, but all will be known.”

“Of course the party must have ample means, and I look forward to having
a pleasant neighbor—there are very few in the village with whom we can
associate, on an equality, and so any good family is an acquisition.”

“You are more fastidious than I, Squire Collins,” said Mr. Thompson
smiling. “I don’t value men according to the size of their
pocket-books.”

“You must admit, however, that refinement and wealth are likely to go
together. You are not too democratic for that?”

“I am not sure. I have known many rich people who were very far from
being refined. By-the-way, I hear that you have bought the house
occupied by Mrs. Manning.”

“Yes.”

“Shall you allow her to remain there?”

“No; I mean to enlarge it, and let my foreman occupy it.”

“That will be a disappointment to Mrs. Manning.”

“Oh, I suppose so,” said the squire, carelessly; “but that is her
lookout, not mine.”

“I really don’t know of any house in the village she can obtain.”

Squire Collins shrugged his shoulders.

“I really haven’t troubled my mind about the matter,” he said.

“If I had time, I don’t know but I would build them a small cottage on
the vacant lot I have on Glen Street.”

“Take my advice, and don’t; the widow is in very precarious
circumstances. Her son, Mark, is out of employment.”

“Can’t you find him something to do, in your shop?”

“I could, but do not feel disposed to. He is a very independent boy, and
more than once, he treated my son, James, in a disrespectful way. No; he
must shift for himself some other way.”

“Of the two boys, I certainly very much prefer Mark,” thought Mr.
Thompson; but politeness prevented his saying so.

Squire Collins soon took his leave, having failed to acquire the
information he sought.