IN AN OFFICE ON BROADWAY

MR. HARDY’S office was in a large, high building, on Broadway. It was
the fifth floor, but there was an elevator constantly running, which
made it nearly as easy of access as if it had been on the first.
Mark had never before ridden in an elevator, and he enjoyed the novelty
of it. From a directory, near the entrance, they ascertained that Mr.
Hardy occupied office No. 55, and this was easily found.
“Welcome to New York,” said the agent, advancing cordially, to greet his
visitors. “Good morning, Mark. So you have piloted my old friend
safely.”
“I think he has piloted me, sir. I know very little of the city.”
“I have not been here for five years,” said Anthony, reflectively. “I am
unused to the noise, and it confuses me.”
“I like it,” said Mark.
“You are young, and enjoy new and busy scenes,” said Mr. Hardy. “Would
you like to travel?”
“Very much, sir.”
“Perhaps you may some time.”
“I am afraid it will be a long time before I am able.”
“Possibly not.”
Mark, however, did not detect any special significance in these words.
“You may sit down here, and read a morning paper, Mark,” said the agent,
“while I transact a little business with Mr. Taylor.”
The two entered an inner office, where Mr. Hardy produced an
official-looking document, to which he called the attention of the
hermit.
“Read it over,” he said, “and see if it meets your views.”
“Precisely,” answered Anthony, after he had taken the time necessary to
read it.
“Then it may as well be signed at once.”
Mr. Hardy summoned three clerks from the outer office, and in their
presence as witnesses the will was signed.
“I suppose I may as well leave the document with you, John,” said
Anthony.
“It will be as well. Now, about the other matter. It seems to me you may
as well send Mark at once in search of some clue to the possible
existence of a grandchild. Before doing so, however, may I suggest
something?”
“Certainly.”
“I don’t like the idea of your living in that lonely cabin. Why can’t
you seek a home in the house of your young secretary? Has he a good
mother?”
“She is a very worthy woman.”
“Has she a room for you?”
“I think so.”
“What do you think of my proposal?”
“I have been thinking of such a change myself. For the first time in
five years I am beginning to find my cabin home monotonous.”
“I am glad to hear it. You will be much better off in a home where you
can be taken care of.”
“I will attend to the matter without delay on my return.”
“So far, so good. Now, let me call in Mark, and speak to him of our
plan.”
Mark, at the summons, entered the back office.
“Mark,” said Mr. Hardy, “we want you to take a journey.”
“I shall be very glad to do so, sir.”
“It will be a long one.”
“The longer the better,” answered Mark, his eyes sparkling.
“Your first stopping place will be Chicago.”
The boy’s eyes sparkled with excitement.
“I should like nothing better,” he said.
“The commission will be to trace out Mr. Taylor’s daughter, and find out
whether she left a child. Necessary instructions will be given in
writing.”
“Do you think I am old enough?” asked Mark, excited but doubtful whether
he was competent for the duty assigned him.
“Discretion is more needful than age,” answered Mr. Hardy. “Perhaps an
older messenger would be better, but as my friend wishes to avoid
publicity, he is disposed to try you. Would your mother be willing to
have you go?”
“I think so, sir, but I hate to leave her alone.”
“Mr. Taylor proposes to board with her while you are absent, if you
think she would be willing to receive him.”
“I know she would be glad to secure such a boarder,” answered Mark,
quickly; “with that help she would be able to get along very well.”
“Then that matter is probably settled. Now a few words to guide you in
your quest.”
These words need not be repeated here, as in following Mark’s journey it
will be understood what they were.
Their business concluded, Mark and the hermit left the office and
descended to the ground floor.
They were just leaving the building when Squire Collins entered.
He arched his brows in surprise. “You here?” he said, addressing Mark.
“Yes, sir.”
“On what errand?”
Mark was privately of opinion that he had as much right to ask the
manufacturer’s business as the latter his, but he answered: “Mr. Taylor
had business here.”
Squire Collins smiled contemptuously. It did not strike him that the
hermit’s business was likely to be of any great moment. So people often
deceive themselves and assume a superiority to which they have little
claim.
“Probably old Anthony has just been paid his pension,” he thought, as he
left them, and made his way to the elevator.

He, too, ascended to the fifth floor, and leaving it there went to John
Hardy’s office.
“Good morning, Mr. Collins,” said Hardy. He knew nothing of the
manufacturer’s home title. “I shall be at leisure in five minutes.”
The five minutes passed.
“Now I am at your service,” he said.
“Have you decided to let me have the money, Mr. Hardy?” asked the
manufacturer, trying to conceal his anxiety.
“Taking as security a mortgage on your manufactory?”
“Yes, sir.”
“I think I can let you have it.”
Squire Collins looked much relieved.
“You will find the security ample,” he said. “The building is worth
double the sum I am borrowing.”
“Is it well insured?”
“Yes, sir.”
“The policies of insurance must be placed in my hands.”
“Of course.”
“I have to take all precautions, as the money is not mine, but belongs
to a boy for whom I am trustee.”
“I see.”


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Squire Collins had no curiosity as to the name of the boy referred to.
He would have been very much amazed had he been told that it was the
very boy whom he had discharged from his employment only a short time
previous. For that matter, Mark would have been quite as much surprised.
In the course of half an hour the proper papers had been made out, a
check for four thousand dollars handed to Squire Collins, and the shoe
manufacturer left the office in as good spirits as Mark had done half an
hour before.
“By-the-way,” remarked the Squire at his supper table that evening, “I
met two persons from Pocasset in the city to-day.”
“Who were they?” asked James.
“Old Anthony and Mark Manning.”
“What could have taken them to the city?”
“I presume Anthony receives a small pension from some source, and went
up to collect it.”
“I think it very likely,” said James, thinking of what he had seen in
the forest. “I presume it isn’t much.”
“Probably not.”
“I shouldn’t think he’d have gone to the expense of taking Mark.”
“The old man looked dazed. I presume he doesn’t feel safe in going
alone.”
“Very likely Mark asked to go. He’s fastened himself on the old man, and
means to get all he can out of him.”
It is wonderful how prejudice colors our opinion of others.