“But how do you know this! Has Mr. Fairfield told you so?”
“No,” answered Frank. “I have a question to ask. Would you be willing to take Mr. Fairfield’s place at a hundred dollars a month?”
“Willing? I should be delighted to do so. But why do you say this?”
“Because,” answered Frank, quietly, “I am authorized to offer it to you at that salary.”
The whole family looked at Frank in bewildered surprise. It occurred to them that he might have become crazy.
“You!” exclaimed the farmer. “What can you have to do with the agency?”
Frank explained to a very happy family group and then he and Mr. Hamlin set out for the house of the agent.
THE AGENT IS NOTIFIED
It was still early in the evening when Frank and Mr. Hamlin reached the house of the agent. Had they come five minutes later, they would have found him absent. Usually, soon after supper, he made his way to the tavern, where he spent his time and money in a very unprofitable way.
The agent was surprised when his two visitors made their appearance.
“What brings you here, Hamlin?” he asked, with scant ceremony.
“I come on a little matter of business,” answered Mr. Hamlin, gravely.
Mr. Fairfield concluded that the farmer had come to make an appeal to have his rent continued at the old rates, and answered, impatiently:
“I don’t think it will be of much use. My mind is made up. Have you come on business, also?” he asked, turning to Frank, with a sneer.
“Yes, sir,” answered our hero, quietly.
“That will be of no use, either,” said the agent. “I am not in want of stationery, and, if I were, I should not buy of a peddler.”
“I have not come here to sell stationery, Mr. Fairfield,” said Frank.
“Then, may I take the liberty of asking what is your business here?”
“I come on the same business as Mr. Hamlin,” answered Frank, who preferred that his companion should introduce the subject.
“Look here, I have no time for trifling,” said Mr. Fairfield, angrily. “I am going out and can only spare you five minutes.”
“Mr. Fairfield, I would advise you not to go out till you have heard what I have to say,” said the farmer in a meaning tone.
“I certainly shall. You can call some other time.”
“Another time will not do.”
“Look here, sir! Do you know to whom you are talking? How dare you use such a tone to Mr. Percival’s representative?”
“I suppose you don’t always expect to be Mr. Percival’s representative?”
“I suppose I shall die sometime, if that’s what you mean; but I am not dead yet, as you will find. To pay you for your impertinence, I shall increase your rent more than I intended. I’ll drive you out of town—that’s what I’ll do.”