The Improving Tenant

This story was told to me by my grand-father who grew up in a northern industrial town.  Everyone was poor in those days, but some working men were very enterprising, working hard at work, then working hard at home to make a better life for themselves and their families.

One of my grand-dad’s workmates when he was young and just started at the mill was an old geezer called “Old Jack”.  Old Jack who hated town had rented a run-down cottage at the edge of town for a low rent. He couldn’t work on the house during the week because his hours were long and by the time he got home the light was gone, but every weekend, every spare moment and spare penny he got, he would work on the house. He took off the rotting thatch and replaced it with a tin roof which didn’t leak.  He fixed the mis-shapen and sagging windows and put in new glass. And finally he took out the worm eaten door and replaced it with a new one. He was on the point of moving all the rubbish from the garden to start on a vegetable garden and perhaps plant a few fruit trees when the landlord called. He wandered round the house taking in all the improvements. Finally he knocked on the door.

Old Jack squinted up at him.  “You’ve come for the rent I suppose”.

“That I have”.

Old Jack went into the house and came back with the rent. The landlord looked at the money in his hand and smiled. “I see you’ve made a few improvements”.

” I have, that” said Old Jack with a smile.

“Well, I have to tell you that from next week  your rent is double”.

The colour drained from Old Jack’s face. “But why?” he stuttered.

“Well, this rent” said the landlord jingling the coins in his hand ” is enough for the old run down cottage I let you. But now I am letting you a ship-shape cottage fitted out with a new roof, windows and a very fine front door. You don’t expect me to let the place to you for nothing”. The landlord figured he could get just that rent from a new tenant if Jack wouldn’t pay.

“Have it your own way” Jack gritted and slammed the door in the landlord’s face. The landlord shrugged. He would get the new high rent with or without Jack.

There was no way Jack would pay the higher rent, not after all the time and work and money he had put into the place. All week he fumed, asked around at work and found a work mate to move in with and moved his things out.

When the landlord called the following week, Old Jack had gone, and so had the new roof, the new windows and the new front door.  In their place was a pile of rotting thatch, broken glass, and the worm eaten door propped against the wall.  For all his faults, Jack was an honest man and would never take what didn’t belong to him, nor work for nothing either.

Copyright 2015 Prayerwarriorpsychicnot

Based on a real event.