Abner Holden’s house stood in considerable need of paint. It had no great pretensions to architectural beauty, being about as handsome for a house as Abner Holden was for a man. There was a dilapidated barn, a little to one side, and the yard was littered up with a broken wagon, a woodpile and various odds and ends, giving the whole a very untidy look.
“Is this where you live, Mr. Holden?” asked Herbert, looking about him.
“Yes, and I’m glad to get home. Do you know how to unharness a horse?”
“Then jump out and unharness this horse. A man will come for it to-morrow.”
Herbert did as directed. Then he took his little trunk from the wagon, and went with it to the back door and knocked.
A NEW HOME
The door was opened by an elderly woman, rather stout, who acted as Abner Holden’s housekeeper. Though decidedly homely, she had a pleasant look, which impressed Herbert favorably. He had feared she might turn out another edition of Mr. Holden, and with two such persons he felt that it would be difficult to get along.
“Come right in,” said Mrs. Bickford, for that was her name. “Let me help you with your trunk. You can set it down here for the present.”
“Thank you,” said Herbert.
“You must be tired,” said the housekeeper.
“No, not very,” said our hero. “We rode all the way.”
“Well, it’s tiresome riding, at any rate, when it’s such a long distance. You came from Waverley, Mr. Holden tells me.”
“And that is more than thirty miles away, isn’t it?”
“Yes, I believe so.”
“So you’ve come to help Mr. Holden?” she added, after a pause.
“Yes, I suppose so,” said Herbert, rather seriously.
“What is your name?”
“I hope, Herbert, we shall be able to make you comfortable.”
“Thank you,” said Herbert, a little more cheerful, as he perceived that he was to have one friend in Mr. Holden’s household.
“Has Mr. Holden generally kept a boy?” he asked.
“Yes, he calculates to keep one most of the time.”
“Who was the last one?”
“His name was Frank Miles.”
“Was he here long?” asked Herbert, in some curiosity.
“Well, no,” said the housekeeper, “he did not stay very long.”
“He was here ’most a month.”
“’Most a month? Didn’t he like it?”
“Well, no; he didn’t seem to like Mr. Holden much.”
Herbert was not much surprised to hear this. He would have thought Frank Miles a singular sort of a boy if he had liked Abner Holden.
“Have any of the boys that have been here liked Mr. Holden?” he asked.
“I can’t say as they have,” said Mrs. Bickford, frankly; “and somehow they don’t seem to stay long.”