“Raise my rent!” exclaimed the farmer, in genuine dismay. “I am already paying a considerably higher rent than I paid to your predecessor.”
“Can’t help it. Old Sampson was a slow-going old fogy. He didn’t do his duty by his employer. When I came in, I turned over a new leaf.”
“I certainly got along better in his time.”
“No doubt. He was a great deal too easy with you. Didn’t do his duty, sir. Wasn’t sharp enough. That’s all.”
“You certainly cannot be in earnest in raising my rent, Mr. Fairfield,” said the farmer, uneasily.
“I certainly am.”
“I can’t live at all if you increase my rent, which is already larger than I can afford to pay, Mr. Fairfield.”
“Then I must find a tenant who can and will,” said the agent, emphatically.
“I am sure Mr. Percival can’t understand the true state of the case, or the circumstances of his tenants. Will you give me his address, and I will take the liberty of writing to him and respectfully remonstrate against any increase?”
Mr. Fairfield looked uneasy.
This appeal would not at all suit him. Yet how could he object without leading to the suspicion that he was acting in this matter wholly on his own responsibility, and not by the express orders of his principal? How could he refuse to furnish Mr. Percival’s address?
A middle course occurred to him.
“You may write your appeal, if you like, Hamlin,” he said, “and hand it to me. I will forward it; though I don’t believe it will do any good. The fact is that Mr. Percival has made up his mind to have more income from his property in Jackson.”
FRANK RECEIVES A LETTER FROM MR. PERCIVAL
While Frank was waiting for an answer to a letter to Mr. Percival he devoted part of his time to the business which was supposed to be his only reason for remaining in Jackson.
I am bound to say that as regards this business his trip might be pronounced a failure. There was little ready money in Jackson. Many of the people were tenants of Mr. Percival, and found it difficult to pay the excessive rents demanded by his agent. Of course, they had no money to spare for extras. Even if they had been better off, there was little demand for stationery in the village. The people were chiefly farmers, and did not indulge in much correspondence.
When Frank returned to his boarding place on the afternoon of the first day, Mr. Hamlin asked him, not without solicitude, with what luck he had met.
“I have sold twenty-five cents’ worth of note paper,” answered Frank, with a smile.
Mr. Hamlin looked troubled.
“How many places did you call at?” he inquired.
“About a dozen.”
“I am afraid you will get discouraged.”
“If you don’t do better, you won’t begin to pay expenses.”