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"Prank and I have offered Uncle
Mark a home for the rest of his
days," answered Lucy quietly.
That was true, and the old man
was welcome. No longer living upon
grudging charity, he sat at the table
with his relatives. The best bedroom
in the house had been offered him.
However, Old Mark would not take
that, but he was certainly more com
fortably accommodated than before.
One thing had always distressed
Lucy. Old Mark insisted on going
out to work.
It might seem that a man of eighty
four is incapable of active labor. But
Old Mark, though he had not been
able to keep up his farm, had by no
means lost his muscular activity. As
labor was scarce in the neighbor
hood, the farmers, incredulous at
first when the old man offered her
services, were glad enough to allow
him to dig in their gardens at a dol
lar a day. Besides that the old man
did odd chores.
"He must be making a mint of
money, Lucy," said her husband joc
ularly. "It's all coming to Frank and you,"
Old Mark would say, when they re
proached him. "I got to do some
thing to earn my keep, seeing as
Niece Jane has got my farnT and I've
got nothing to pay you with."
"But It isn't necessary to pay a
penny, uncle," Lucy would say, half
crying. "People will think we make
you work for us."
"I guess not," answered Old Mark.
"I tell 'em that I'm doing it against
your wishes. But it's all coming to
That sounded well enough, but no
body had seen any of Mark's money.
The postmistress stated that the old
man had bought money orders re
cently. But to whom was he sending
his money? To a bank?
"PBhaw, Lucy, let the old fellow
have his way," said Prank. "If it
makes him happy, and he feels less
under an obligation to us, it doesn't
do him any harm."
"But I'm eighty-five next month,
and I ain't going to do a stitch of
work after I'm eighty-five," said
Indeed, Mark's industry afforded
the farmer and his wife less time for
meditation than formerly. The sea
son had been poor, the crops had not
ripened it was the wet summer of
a few years ago ; finally, the price of
corn had gone shooting down. The
struggle of the "ne'er-do-well" Frank
Smith had long excited the derision
of his relatives. He seemed an in
capable farmer, and they knew noth
ing of the crushing mortgage which
was with difficulty met each interest
At last Frank and Lucy had to face
the prospect of selling out and mov
ing to the city. "We'll take Old
Mark," they said.
Old Mark, learning of his relatives'
difficulties, did not appear greatly
concerned. "It's life!" he said.
"That's all. It happened to me. I
guess I can go to the poorhouse."
"You certainly will not go to the
poorhouse so long as I can work,"
At last the farm was advertised for
sale. Nobody was surprised, but sev
eral people were pleased. The Adams
family were very pleased.
"And he thought he could feed an
extra useless mouth," sneered Philip.
"It serves that woman right," said
his wife, "for trying to reproach us
with not looking after Mark. Why
don't you buy the farm, Philip? It'll
trample them into the dust. And I'd
like to know what they'll do with Old
"I'm going to bid for it," answered
Philip shrewdly. "If it goes for a
song, I'll take it"
The day of the sale arrived. Frank
and Lucy, very subdued, but bravely
meeting the inquisitive gaze of the
neighbors, sat by the auctioneer.
They had decided not to run away,
but to hold up their heads to the last.
"What bids for this property?"
snapped the auctioneer. "Fifty acres.