“Yes, he has improved and enlarged the house a good deal since he moved into it—at Mrs. Percival’s expense, I suppose.”
“He seems to have pretty much his own way here,” said Frank.
“Yes. Mr. Percival never comes to Jackson, and I suppose he believes all that the agent tells him.”
“He may get found out some time.”
“I wish he might. It would be a great blessing to Jackson if he were removed and a good man were put in his place.”
“That may happen some day.”
“Not very likely, I am afraid.”
At this moment Mr. Fairfield himself came out of his front gate.
“Hello, Hamlin!” he said, roughly, to Dick. “Is your father at home?”
“I have something to say to him. I think I will call round.”
“You will find him at home, sir.”
“Dick,” said Frank, when the agent had passed on, “do you mind going back? What you tell me makes me rather curious about Mr. Fairfield. At your house I may get a chance to see something of him.”
“Let us go back, then,” said Dick; “but I don’t think, Frank, that you will care much about keeping up the acquaintance.”
“Perhaps not; but I shall gratify my curiosity.”
The two boys turned and followed the agent closely. They reached the house about five minutes after Mr. Fairfield.
MR. FAIRFIELD, THE AGENT
The two boys found Mr. Fairfield already seated in the most comfortable chair in the sitting room.
He looked inquiringly at Frank when he entered with Dick.
“Who is that boy, Hamlin?” inquired the agent. “Nephew of yours?”
“No, sir. It is a young man who has come to Jackson on business.”
“What kind of business?’
“I sell stationery,” Frank answered for himself.
“Oh, a peddler!” said the agent, contemptuously.
“Many of our most successful men began in that way,” said Mr. Hamlin, fearing lest Frank’s feelings might be hurt.
“I never encourage peddlers myself,” said Mr. Fairfield, pompously.
“Then I suppose it will be of no use for me to call at your door,” said Frank, who, in place of being mortified, was amused by the agent’s arrogance.
“I should say not, unless your back is proof against a broomstick,” answered Fairfield, coarsely. “I tell my servant to treat all who call in that way.”
“I won’t put her to the trouble of using it,” said Frank, disgusted at the man’s ill manners.
“That’s where you are wise—yes, wise and prudent—young man.”
“And now, Hamlin,” said the agent, “I may as well come to business.”
“To business!” repeated the farmer, rather surprised, for there was no rent due for a month.
“Yes, to business,” said Fairfield. “I came to give you notice that after the next payment I shall feel obliged to raise your rent.”