As intimated in the last chapter, Frank determined to see if he could not raise the money necessary to pay off the mortgage in case it should be necessary to do so.
Farmer Maynard was a man in very good circumstances. He owned an excellent farm, which yielded more than enough to support his family. Probably he had one or two thousand dollars laid aside.
"I think he will help me," Frank said to himself, "I'll go to him."
He went to the house, and was directed to the barn. There he found the farmer engaged in mending a hoe-handle, which had been broken, by splicing it.
He unfolded his business. The farmer listened attentively to his statement.
"You say the squire as much as told you that he would renew the mortgage?"
"Well, I wouldn't trouble myself then; I've no doubt he'll do it."
"He said, unless he should have some sudden occasion for the money."
"All right. He is a prudent man, and don't want to bind himself. That is all. You know the most unlikely things may happen; but I don't believe the squire'll want the money. He's got plenty in the bank."
"But if he should?"
"Then he'll wait, or take part. I suppose you can pay part."
"Then I guess there won't be any chance of anything going wrong."
"If there should," persisted Frank, "could you lend us four hundred dollars to make up the amount?"
"I'd do it in a minute, Frank, but I hain't got the money by me. What money I have got besides the farm is lent out in notes. Only last week I let my brother-in-law have five hundred dollars, and that leaves me pretty short."
"Perhaps somebody else will advance the money," said Frank, feeling a little discouraged at the result of his first application.
"Yes, most likely. But I guess you won't need any assistance. I look upon it as certain that the mortgage will be renewed. Next fall I shall have the money, and if the squire wants to dispose of the mortgage, I shall be ready to take it off his hands."
Frank tried to feel that he was foolish in apprehending trouble from Squire Haynes, but he found it impossible to rid himself of a vague feeling of uneasiness.
He made application to another farmer--an intimate friend of his father's--but he had just purchased and paid for a five-acre lot adjoining his farm, and that had stripped him of money. He, too, bade Frank lay aside all anxiety, and assured him that his fears were groundless.
With this Frank had to be content.
"Perhaps I am foolish," he said to himself. "I'll try to think no more about it."
He accordingly returned to his usual work, and, not wishing to trouble his mother to no purpose, resolved not to impart his fears to her. Another ground of relief suggested itself to him. Mr. Morton would probably be back on the 27th of June. Such, at least, was his anticipation when he went away. There was reason to believe that he would be both ready and willing to take up the mortgage, if needful. This thought brought back Frank's cheerfulness.
It was somewhat dashed by the following letter which he received a day or two later from his absent friend. It was dated New York, June 25, 1863. As will appear from its tenor, it prepared Frank for a further delay in Mr. Morton's arrival.
"DEAR FRANK: I shall not be with you quite as soon as I intended. I hope, however, to return a day or two afterward at latest. My business is going on well, and I am assured of final success. Will you ask your mother if she can accommodate an acquaintance of mine for a day or two? I shall bring him with me from New York, and shall feel indebted for the accommodation.
"Your true friend, "HENRY MORTON."
Frank understood at once that the acquaintance referred to must be the clerk, whose evidence was so important to Mr. Morton's case. Being enjoined to secrecy, however, he, of course, felt that he was not at liberty to mention this.
One day succeeded another until at length the morning of the thirtieth of June dawned. Mr. Morton had not yet arrived; but, on the other hand, nothing had been heard from Squire Haynes.
Frank began to breathe more freely. He persuaded himself that he had been foolishly apprehensive. "The squire means to renew the mortgage," he said to himself hopefully.
He had a talk with his mother, and she agreed that it would be well to pay the four hundred dollars they could spare, and have a new mortgage made out for the balance. Frank accordingly rode over to Brandon in the forenoon, and withdrew from the bank the entire sum there deposited to his father's credit. This, with money which had been received from Mr. Morton in payment of his board, made up the requisite amount.
About four o'clock in the afternoon, as Mrs. Frost was sewing at a front window, she exclaimed to Frank, who was making a kite for his little brother Charlie, "Frank, there's Squire Haynes coming up the road."
Frank's heart gave an anxious bound.
"Is he coming here?" he asked, with anxiety.
"Yes," said Mrs. Frost, after a moment's pause. Frank turned pale with apprehension.
A moment afterward the huge knocker was heard to sound, and Mrs. Frost, putting down her work, smoothed her apron and went to the door.
"Good afternoon, Mrs. Frost," said the squire, lifting his hat.
"Good afternoon, Squire Haynes. Won't you walk in?"
"Thank you; I will intrude for a few minutes. How do you do?" he said, nodding to Frank as he entered.
"Pretty well, thank you, sir," said Frank nervously.
The squire, knowing the odium which would attach to the course he had settled upon, resolved to show the utmost politeness to the family he was about to injure, and justify his action by the plea of necessity.
"Take a seat, Squire Haynes," said Mrs. Frost "You'll find this rocking-chair more comfortable.'
"I am very well seated, thank you. I cannot stop long. I have merely called on a matter of business."
"About the mortgage?" interrupted Frank, who could keep silence no longer.
"Precisely so. I regret to say that I have urgent occasion for the money, and shall be unable to renew it."
"We have got four hundred dollars," said Mrs. Frost, "which we are intending to pay."
"I am sorry to say that this will not answer my purpose."
"Why did you not let us know before?" asked Frank abruptly.
"Frank!" said his mother reprovingly.
"It was only this morning that the necessity arose. I have a note due which must be paid."
"We are not provided with the money, Squire Haynes," said Mrs. Frost. "if, however, you will wait a few days, we can probably raise it among our friends."
"I regret to say that this will not do," said the squire, "I would gladly postpone the matter. The investment has been satisfactory to me, but necessity knows no law."
Frank was about to burst out with some indignant exclamation, but his mother, checking him, said: "I think there is little chance of our being able to pay you to-morrow. May I inquire what course you propose to take?"
"It will be my painful duty to foreclose the mortgage."
"Squire Haynes," said Frank boldly, "haven't you intended to foreclose the mortgage all along? Hadn't you decided about it when I called upon you ten days ago?"
"What do you mean by your impertinence, sir?" demanded the squire, giving vent to his anger.
"Just what I say. I believe you bear a grudge against my father, and only put me off the other day in order to prevent my being able to meet your demands to-morrow. What do you suppose we can do in less than twenty-four hours?"
"Madam!" said the squire, purple with rage, "do you permit your son to insult me in this manner?"
"I leave it to your conscience, Squire Haynes, whether his charges are not deserved. I do not like to think ill of any man, but your course is very suspicious."
"Madam," said Squire Haynes, now thoroughly enraged, "you are a woman, and can say what you please; but as for this young rascal, I'll beat him within an inch of his life if I ever catch him out of your presence."
"He is under the protection of the laws," said Mrs. Frost composedly, "which you, being a lawyer, ought to understand."
"I'll have no mercy on you. I'll sell you up root and branch," said Squire Haynes, trembling with passion, and smiting the floor with his cane.
"At all events the house is ours to-day," returned Mrs. Frost, with dignity, "and I must request you to leave us in quiet possession of it."
The squire left the house in undignified haste, muttering threats as he went.
"Good, mother!" exclaimed Frank admiringly. "You turned him out capitally. But," he added, an expression of dismay stealing over his face, "what shall we do?"
"We must try to obtain a loan," said Mrs. Frost, "I will go and see Mr. Sanger, while you go to Mr. Perry. Possibly they may help us. There is no time to be lost."
An hour afterward Frank and his mother returned, both disappointed. Mr. Sanger and Mr. Perry both had the will to help but not the ability. There seemed no hope left save in Mr. Morton. At six o'clock the stage rolled up to the gate.
"Thank Heaven! Mr. Morton has come!" exclaimed Frank eagerly.
Mr. Morton got out of the stage, and with him a feeble old man, or such he seemed, whom the young man assisted to alight. They came up the gravel walk together.
"How do you do, Frank?" he said, with a cheerful smile.
"We are in trouble," said Frank. "Squire Haynes is going to foreclose the mortgage to-morrow."
"Never mind!" said Mr. Morton. "We will be ready for him. He can't do either of us any more mischief, Frank. His race is about run."
A heavy weight seemed lifted from Frank's heart. For the rest of the day he was in wild spirits. He asked no questions of Mr. Morton. He felt a firm confidence that all would turn out for the best.