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My two black boys who left me after your assault on one of them, and who were only persuaded to return after their great corroboree by my conciliating their chief, have informed me, in an imperfect manner, that some overt act of aggression, on the part of the tribe, is meditated; and it is to put you on your guard against this that I have ventured to trouble you with my presence.
I always thought you encouraged the villains in their infamies, and I now perceive my suspicions were well founded. However, sir, I am perfectly independent of you, and your so called information. I have decided upon my course of action, and will not therefore trouble you further to interest yourself in my [Pg 31] behalf. You will no doubt readily perceive that your presence here at any time would be extremely unpleasant; and I must therefore request that you absent yourself from my house as much as possible.
I shall now wish you good day;" saying which Rainsfield quitted the room. John Ferguson was so taken by surprise at the violent tirade he had just listened to, that he had had no idea of defending himself from an accusation, the manifest absurdity of which merely struck him as contemptuous.
But he felt a source of grief at being summarily estranged from the other members of the family; and whatever his feelings had been when he came to the station, he left it with a heavy heart, and returned home to meet the cavalcade, which we have seen in a previous chapter had gone over.
Despite his professed contempt for John Ferguson's information Mr. Rainsfield felt an uneasy apprehension at the growing confidence, and contumacious freedom of the blacks. He even began to doubt if he would be able to maintain his position single-handed against them, and thought seriously of the advisableness of calling a meeting of the surrounding settlers, to organize a league for their mutual protection.
But then he remembered [Pg 33] the blacks directed all their animus against himself, and it was therefore questionable, he imagined, if he could induce more than two or three of his neighbours to join him; besides which, even they could not constantly be on the alert; while he must, consequently, be frequently open to surprisal. A thought, however, struck him, or rather we should have said, a diabolical idea suggested itself to his mind; and, after cogitating and arguing with himself for some time, he determined to act upon it.
The pestilence, so he mentally soliloquized, had now reached its height, and something must be done; for he was not only robbed of his station supplies, but he was frequently losing even cattle; while, instead of seeing any prospect of amendment, he only perceived that the successes of his despoilers were emboldening them to fresh adventures. He knew that an application to the government for protection was absolutely useless; for they hadn't it to give. It is true he might [Pg 34] stir the district to agitate the settlement of a native police detachment in that quarter; but he also knew, even if he succeeded in obtaining such a location, that the force would be necessarily so miserably small as to be perfectly inadequate to the contingencies.
Possibly three or four men stationed in the centre of fifty square miles to protect the scattered population against as many hundred savages. The idea was preposterous, and he scouted it. No, he thought, he must depend upon himself for protection, and would therefore adopt a line of policy that would check, if not annihilate, the nuisance; while the exigencies of the case would justify him in his measures.
Such, then, were the thoughts that passed through the mind of Mr. Rainsfield after his interview with our hero. He returned to Mr. Billing," said he, "I am about to enter upon a crusade against the native [Pg 35] dogs, which I find are becoming very troublesome to the sheep in the upper part of the run; and, to effectually destroy them, I intend to poison some carcasses to be left for them to make a meal of.
I would therefore like you to ride over to Alma, and explain the matter to Mr. Gilbert, the storekeeper there; and procure for me a supply of strychnine and arsenic.
I would not trouble you, but you are aware that he would not give it to a shepherd without a request from me; and it is hardly safe to send any of the men.
I would be particularly obliged to you if you would undertake the task, as I can confidently depend upon your judgment to prevent any mistake. This little piece of what the Yankees would designate "soft sawder" on the part of Rainsfield, had the effect, not only of removing any objections his diminutive confidential might have had to such a journey, but of inducing him to acknowledge the compliment in a series of corporeal oscillations; while he replied to [Pg 36] the blandishment, in the following strain: "It would afford me, sir, the greatest earthly pleasure to comply with your wishes; even to the considerable personal inconvenience, sir, and bodily suffering of your humble servant; but you must be aware equestrianism sir, is an accomplishment I never deemed it necessary to acquire.
During my mercantile career, sir, I was reputed, and I think I may add justly too, sir, one of the best amateur whips in the city of London; and had my transit, sir, to be effected by a vehicular means, I flatter myself, sir, none could accomplish the mission better.
Rainsfield; "but I fear, Mr. Billing, I shall have to defer the pleasure of witnessing your skill in handling the ribbons until I am induced, by the existence of roads, to treat myself and my family to the luxury of a carriage. But, with regard to the journey I have mentioned, I can provide you with a quiet horse; and I have no doubt a man of your [Pg 37] various accomplishments will find no difficulty in adding to them the art of riding.
In fact, unless you had mentioned it, I would never have imagined but that you were a perfect equestrian; your stature and figure are just such as would show to best advantage on horseback; and, with the constant opportunities which present themselves here, I really am surprised that you don't ride.
You know 'it is never too late to mend;' so you must really permit me to persuade you irrespective of this journey to commence at once practising the art, and take a regular course of riding.
I am convinced you will not only find it pleasant, but beneficial to your health. Billing," said Rainsfield. Billing; "you may command my services, and I will be at your disposal before the expiration of half an hour.
Billing," replied his superior; "and I'll get a horse in from the paddock for you; and by the way, will you just leave the keys of the store with Mrs. When you are away I purpose removing all the stores into the house, and have [Pg 39] prepared a room for their reception; so if our black visitors should favour us with a call during your absence they will find themselves disappointed.
Billing filed with the importance of his mission, to communicate it to his wife, and obtain her aid in a speedy preparation for his hazardous journey; and his employer, with a complaisant smile of satisfaction on his features, to give instructions for the immediate capture of a steed.
Within the specified time an animal was brought by Mr. Rainsfield up to the door of Mr. Billing's abode duly caparisoned for the journey, and with an old valise strapped upon the saddle. At the same time the adventurous storekeeper also made his appearance; having undergone by the careful assiduity of his wife [Pg 40] a perfect transmutation.
On his head stood erect a black cylindrical deformity, designated in the vulgar parlance of the colony "a Billy," but which he, while he smiled benignly at Feel All Right (Intoxicate Mix) - JV Project - Feel All Right (File) ignorance of the canaille as he gave it the extra rotary flourish of the brush, while he read "Christy's best London make" in the crowncalled a hat; and the only proper head-dress for a gentleman.
He was encompassed in a coat of the gigantic order, possessed of many pockets; a garment truly noble to look upon, and one that had done service to its owner in days of yore; when on cold and wet mornings Mr. Billing nestled himself in his wonted position in the Brixton 'bus, to be conveyed to his diurnal bustle in the city.
In this habiliment evidences of an affectionate wife's forethought were visible in the protrusion from the pockets of sundry pieces of paper, denoting the occupation of those receptacles by certain parcels; the contents of which, should the reader be anxious to know, we are in a position to disclose.
In the lower pocket on the right hand side, we are enabled from our information which is from the most reliable source to inform the curious, was a parcel thrust by Mrs. Billing with her own hands enclosing two garments, of a spotless purity, essential for a gentleman's nocturnal comfort.
In the contemporary pouch was a package of humbler pretensions, containing sundries to appease a traveller's appetite; while in another was deposited that necessary paraphernalia for a morning's toilet, embraced in the apparatus known as a "gentleman's travelling companion.
They were of a questionable colour, something between that of kippered salmon and hard bake; and were strapped down to his feet with such powerful tension that he was threatened every moment with a mishap most awkward in its consequences. When he walked he effected the exercise with a sprightliness that appeared as [Pg 42] if galvanic agency was that which had set his nether limbs in motion; and his feet started from the ground at every step with a spring that promised at each evolution the protrusion of some part of his crural members.
In this perfect costume Mr. Billing considered himself adjusted for the road; and construing the smile of amusement that played on the features of Mr. Rainsfield as a mark of affability returned it in his most winning style. The horse provided for this Gilpin excursion was an animal of no mean pretensions.
He boasted of having in his veins some of the best blood of the country, though, now perhaps, that blood was somewhat vapid, and he rather patriarchal. He had served many masters, and performed various duties; from racing to filling the equivocal position of a station and stockman's hack. Though once possessed of a spirit that required a strong arm and determined will to maintain a mastery over, he was now as quiet and subdued as a lamb; although [Pg 43] he was as sagacious as most of his riders, and as knowing as any "old hoss" in the country.
He had settled into an easy-going stager, that neither persuasion nor force could induce to deviate from the "even tenor of his way;" while his general appearance, at this stage of his life, was long-legged, raw-boned, lean and screwed, with the additional embellishment of being minus his near eye.
Billing surveyed the beast that was to carry him to Alma with about the same comprehension as a ploughman would contemplate a steam engine; while the horse returned the gaze from the corner of his sound eye, and winked in a manner that might have been interpreted into a request "to wait until he got him on his back.
Billing, however, was perfectly unacquainted with the significance of his horse's looks, and perhaps well for him that he was; for we are convinced, had he known what was in store for him, he would never have risked his valuable person and life on the back of so perverse a dispositioned [Pg 44] animal. We have heard that an inclination of the head is equivalent to the closing of one eye to a quadruped whose ocular organs are in a state of total derangement; and we therefore presume that the momentary stultification of our quadruped's vision had the same effect upon our Cockney-born viator as the craniological recognition mentioned in the aphorism would have had on his horse.
Consequently, he was in blissful ignorance of the trials that awaited him; and, under the directions of Mr. Rainsfield, he prepared to mount with an alacrity which he prided himself as pertaining to a "city man of business," and which he still retained in his animated anatomy. For some time he experienced considerable difficulty, in fact he found it absolutely impossible, to so far stretch his limbs as to get one leg high enough from the ground to reach the stirrup; and not until, at the suggestion of his highly-amused employer, his loving spouse produced a chair from the cottage, had he any prospect of reaching the [Pg 45] saddle.
However, being elevated by the chair, he made a bound on to the back of the steed, but unfortunately with too great an impetus; for he lost his equilibrium in attempting to gain his seat, and measured his length on the ground.
This mishap tended to cast a gloom upon his spirits, but he was soon rallied by Mr. Rainsfield, who told him he would be all right when once in his saddle and on the road.
Upon a second attempt he exercised more caution, with better success; and, as he seated himself in his saddle bolt upright, he gazed about him, and below him, with a proud consciousness of the elegant symmetry of himself and horse; and doubted not he would, as he then stood, be a prize study for any sculptor. His following remark will not therefore be wondered at. I experience, sir, a confidence in myself that, if called upon, I could do any equestrian prodigy, even to eclipse the [Pg 46] stupendous leap of Martius Curtius; or to perform, sir, any other feat that my destiny may decree.
Billing," replied his master; "but I trust they will never be put to so severe a test. I will walk with you to where the roads to Alma and Brompton diverge. It is not more than a mile beyond the Wombi, so, though I can tell you yours is the left hand road, I may as well accompany you to the junction. From that you will have no difficulty in keeping to the track, if you just give the horse his head; for he has been so used to the road that he will know perfectly well where he has to go.
You will perceive I have strapped a valise on your saddle; it is for you, when you procure the poisons, to put them into it, and keep them out of harm's way; while it will save you the annoyance and trouble of carrying them. When they arrived at the spot where the tracks separated Mr. Rainsfield parted from his colleague; and looking after him for a [Pg 47] few minutes, until he was lost from view by a turn in the road, he burst into an inordinate fit of laughter, and turned on his heel to retrace his steps.
After walking for some time in abstracted silence, apparently absorbed in deep meditation, he suddenly started with the ejaculation, "Yes! I expect they won't trouble me much after that. But while we leave him to his cogitations and silent walk, we will pursue Mr.
Billing and accompany him on his ride. When he departed from his master, as we have described in the last chapter, Mr. Billing went on his way with a joyful heart. But, thinking the slow walking pace of his steed might safely be improved upon; and also considering, that if he could only prevail upon the horse to walk a little faster, it would facilitate his journey amazingly; he commenced a series of exhortations that were excellent adjuncts to the theory which advocates the superiority of persuasion to the application [Pg 49] of force, but extremely ineffective in practice, when the subject is a quadruped of rather a stubborn nature, and perfectly ignorant of the vernacular in which he is addressed.
Thus, when Mr. Billing endeavoured to accelerate the speed of his animal, by the utterance of such pathetic and endearing appeals, as "now, come along, poor old horsey;" "there's a good old horse;" "ge up;" "now, don't be angry" as the beast showed signs of uneasiness ; "walk a little faster, like a good old horse;" we say we would not have been surprised, had the horse paid no more heed to Mr.
Billing's entreaties than we should be likely to do, were we addressed in a lively asinine interpellation, by one of those animals, whose peculiar idiosyncrasies are proverbial.
But, strange to say in this case, the horse did notice the requests of his rider. Whether he was an animal of superior discernment, and detected the wishes of Mr.
Billing in the tone of that gentleman's appeals; or, whether the intonation sounded to his ears strange and novel, [Pg 50] and stimulated him with a desire to accommodate the applicant; or, whether he himself became anxious to reach his destination, to realize his visions of a stable and a feed, we cannot venture to say.
But we simply record the fact, that Mr. Billing's request to the "old horse" was complied with; and the quadruped went off in a step, which was an incongruous mixture of a shambling walk, a canter, and a trot. That fable of the frogs, who in answer to their prayer for a king, obtained a carnivorous monarch of the aves genus, has no doubt been forcibly impressed on the memories of our readers during their scholastic probation.
They will readily, then, understand the feelings of Mr. Billing, when he imprecated his rashness for disturbing the equanimity of his horse's pace; and we are convinced that the animals in the apologue never prayed more fervently for a discontinuance of their visitation than he did for an alleviation of his misery. All his "woa's," and "stop old horse's," [Pg 51] were perfectly unavailing; the quadruped proceeded without the slightest notice, and with the greatest unconcern.
But the torment to the biped was dreadful. What was he to do? He had uttered the talismanic syllable, that had called up the spirit; while he was not possessed of the power to exorcise it. His agony of body, was only equalled by that of his mind.
He remembered Mr. Rainsfield had said the animal never went out of one step; and if that in which he then was should be the step, which he would of a necessity continue during the whole of the journey, what would become of him? The thought was horrible and insuperable; but he, Mr. Billing, the quondam pride of Thames Street, could not answer it; and in a stoical distress of mind he gave vent to a sigh, which seemed to jolt out by inches the centre of his little fastidious anatomy. He a thousand times wished himself back again, safe alongside the partner of his bosom; when no power on earth should persuade him to submit again to so ignoble a position and spectacle, as a ride [Pg 52] on horseback.
But something must be done, he thought; for as the horse proceeded in his jogging step, so did Mr. Billing continue to be battered by his jolting. The unfortunate equestrian was a perfect picture of distress. At every step of the animal, he was almost bounded from his seat. He could not speak, for the breath was almost shaken out of his body; while he dared not look around for fear of losing his equilibrium.
He had also lost his hold of the bridle, which he dropt on the horse's neck; while he seized the pommel of the saddle for his further security, with the air and grasp of a resolute man who preferred even torture to the indignity of being unseated. What Mr. Billing's appearance was, when he was undergoing this ordeal, our readers who have witnessed a first riding lesson can easily imagine; and would, no doubt, were they witnesses of the scene, be ready to laugh at the victim's sufferings as we penitently [Pg 53] confess ourselves to have done.
Our friend's torture, however, continued as he turned over in his mind the best means of obtaining relief. If he should be so far fortunate as to meet any one in the road who would kindly stop the refractory animal, he thought, how grateful he would be; but of that he feared there was little chance. A thought, however, struck him and suddenly illumined his perturbed spirit. Why could he not stop him himself?
It never occurred to him before, but now he experienced a gleam of hope; he thought, if he could but pull the bridle, the animal would cease his torturing career. But then how was he to effect this? If he relinquished his hold, he might lose his seat; however, he determined to try, and, summoning all his energies to his aid, he suddenly relaxed his grasp of the saddle, seized the bridle, and gave it as violent a tug as his strength would permit.
His object, however, was not gained; for in his avidity to stop the horse he had pulled on the one side of the bridle, and his Rosinante, instead [Pg 54] of slackening his speed to the desired pace, turned his head and looked Cyclops-like at his rider, in a way that said as plainly as looks could: "What is it you want?
Billing was not versed in the significance of horse's looks, so he understood it not; but continued to tug with a violence that threatened his own downfall, and the dislocation of the quadruped's jaw. Servants, however industrious and painstaking, may sometimes find it difficult with petulant employers to ascertain the precise wishes of their superiors; and not unfrequently have we witnessed some truculent master abusing his menials for an act, the very nadir of which had previously met with his disapprobation; leaving the abusees in a state of doubt as to what really were the desires of "the master.
He turned his head in the direction indicated by Mr. Billing's tug; and finding it still continued, he followed [Pg 55] with his whole body; and, possibly under the impression that he was required to return home in the same leisure trot, he commenced a retrogression. That was not, however, what his rider required, at least while his journey was unaccomplished; for though, for his personal comfort, he devoutly desired it, such a course of action could not be thought of. Billing was a man of honour, and volunteered to perform the duty; had even pledged his word; while his respected master had told him that he relied upon his good judgment; therefore, was such a confidence to be misplaced, and his integrity to be called into question?
Billing mentally ejaculated; even if his life were to be sacrificed in an expenditure of sighs. An imputation of such a dereliction had never been cast upon the name of Billing, and should he be the first to disgrace the family? He mentally replied with an emphatic and forcible negative, and tugged away with increased energy at the bridle he continued to [Pg 56] hold in his hand. He had never experienced such treatment before, and could not comprehend its meaning.
He stopped; the tugging continued. He turned again, and the tugging ceased. He thus discovered the desire of his director; and being at the time somewhat accommodatingly disposed, he proceeded at a snail-paced ambulation. Our readers will have by this time discovered that Mr. Billing's Rosinante was an animal of rather a peculiar temperament; and will therefore be prepared to hear that, having gained some experience of the style of individual on his back, he gave evidences of a disposition which caused no little uneasiness to the sensitive mind of the Strawberry Hill Mercury.
This highly to be deprecated perversity, displayed itself in various "little games" of his own, which were performed with a degree of nonchalance highly edifying to an admirer of coolness, [Pg 57] though extremely alarming to our friend.
Some of the most salient we may mention, were, grazing in the bush at the side of the track; rubbing himself against the trees; taking erratic turns in search of water-holes; and finally stopping altogether.
This trial was worse than all, and brought Mr. Billing's patience to a culminating point. That the poor animal should desire a drink he thought in no way extravagant; but to coolly stand still, and decline any further progression, was the height of assumption; which even he could not tolerate.
He therefore grew importunate in his demands for locomotion; and vibrated his legs like pendulums, while he shouted in a voice that betrayed anger. He again seized the bridle, and tugged away with equal violence as before, only varying the operation by pulling alternately, one side, and the other. Under this, or some unaccountable influence, the horse regained his amiability, and returned to the road; and, moreover, took the right direction [Pg 58] for Alma; which, though at a pace by no means so fast as Mr.
Billing could desire, yet in one which he thought preferable to that, the inconveniences of which he had had such tangible proof. However, he now jogged on at his leisure, and would doubtless have continued to have done so without any further adventure, had he not been disturbed from his equanimity by the unmistakeable sounds of an approaching bullock dray.
The idea of meeting this threw him into a perfect state of perplexity, and he therefore thought of getting off the track to allow it to pass; but how to guide his perverse animal he knew not. The sounds came nearer, but his horse paid no attention to his admonitions; so, with visions of being gored to death by bullocks, he relinquished the contest with his animal, and gave himself up for lost.
The dray slowly dragged its course along, and approached within sight of our adventurous friend; when its companions, amused at the figure before them, halted their team to [Pg 59] have a little conversation with one whose appearance was truly enough to excite their risibility.
Billing's horse, in like manner, aware that it was expected of him to halt, also did so; and the individual, who officiated as driver to the team, addressed the equestrian in the following easy style of familiarity:. The force of this coarse joke was duly appreciated by the utterer's travelling companions; though it was entirely lost upon our friend, who gazed in mute astonishment at his questioner. While he indulges in this visual inspection, we will crave permission to make a slight digression, for the purpose of describing the parties thus unceremoniously introduced to the reader's notice.
The driver of the dray, and the individual who had addressed Mr. Billing, was a man of ordinary stature; slight in make, and past the meridian of life. His features were sharp; his hair was tinged with gray; his eyes were [Pg 60] of the same colour, and somewhat sunken in his head; on his chin and lip was hair of about a week's growth, having very much the appearance of a worn-out scrubbing brush, and of quite as course a texture.
He was clad in the usual bushman's style, and carried the long whip of his order. At his side walked a young man, in appearance and manner a considerable improvement on the old one; and high upon the laden dray were perched two females. One was an old dame with features of the nut-cracker cast, and apparelled with an evident desire to combine in her person all the prismatic hues.
Her more juvenile companion, while emulating the same laudable disposition, was certainly superior in looks to her, in the same proportion as the young man was to the old. The appearance of the whole party was such as proclaimed them at once, to the practised eye of Mr. Billing, to be of a class having no pretensions to gentility; though there was an air about them of careless freedom and easy comfort that, to him, ill [Pg 61] accorded with their position.
He had satisfied himself on this point, by his scrutiny, when he ventured to reply to the before mentioned remark of the old man by making the following observation:. I presume you must have spoken in metaphor.
You didn't seem to enjoy travelling that ere way, so I just axed you if you'd get inside. Billing, whose choler began to rise at what he considered the rude insolence of his Feel All Right (Intoxicate Mix) - JV Project - Feel All Right (File). Billing, "is not your father aware that it is a gross [Pg 62] breach of decorum his attempting to pass his jokes off on a gentleman? This attempt of the young witling, while it highly amused the various members of the travelling menage, pacified Mr.
Billing; who failed to perceive any irony in it; and, addressing the elder of the party with his usual suavity, he said, "May I be so bold as to enquire sir, the point of your destination? As I am not aware of the expectation of any one at our place, I presume you are bound for our neighbours at Fern Vale?
I 'spose you don't know us? My name's Sawyer, and this 'ere [Pg 63] chap's my son: that there's my old woman on the dray; and our gal alongside on her. I've bought a run on the Gibson river, and am going to settle on it now. So, as you know all about us, take a 'ball,' and tell us who you are. Billing a bottle, containing some alcoholic fluid; and took out his pipe which he inserted between his teeth, and made to give forth a whistling sound, to satisfy himself upon the non-obstruction of the passage, preparatory to replenishing it with the weed.
Billing having smelt the contents of the bottle, which had rather a rummy odour, returned it to old Sawyer with the remark: "You really must excuse me, sir, for I invariably make it a rule to abstain from spirits in the middle of the day, and never at any time drink them raw. But I say, old cock, who are you? Billing, not exactly relishing this unceremonious style of questioning, and with difficulty suppressing his indignant ire, at being so vulgarly addressed by a low-minded besotted man.
Rainsfield is the proprietor of the station, sir," replied Billing, "and I am his confidential assistant. Billing, "how that can interest you in the slightest degree. I am not called upon to submit to your catechising; you must be perfectly aware that your questions are bordering on the impertinent; [Pg 66] and but that I am a man of peace, I would resent your inquisitiveness, sir, as an insult. I made no rude and inquisitive remarks to you; and am surprised that you should have ventured to utter them to me.
Billing; "so, if you have no further enquiries to make, we may just as well part company. Sawyer, "we'll go;" and while he put his team in motion, with his whip, he imparted a slight titillation to the flanks of Mr. Billing's horse, which caused that eccentric animal to go off in the step most torturing to his rider, amidst the united cachinnations of the Sawyer family. Billing experienced a return of all his former horrors; but his efforts this time to reduce his horse to a tractable obedience were fruitless; the animal persisted in keeping to his own pace, notwithstanding the various tugs, bridle sawings, admonitions, and solicitations of our disconsolate equestrian.
He was fain at last to give up the contention, and submit to his fate; and, be it mentioned to his commendation, he bore his torture to the [Pg 68] end of his journey with a degree of fortitude perfectly astounding.
It was night when the horse stopped in front of the "Woolpack" inn, at Alma, and well was it for Mr. Billing's sensitiveness that it was so; for it saved him from the cruel jeers and laughter of the unsympathising ignoramuses who would have been sure to have made his misfortunes a subject for merriment.
He was aroused from the abstraction of his calm resignation by the cessation of motion; and he perceived, with a lively joy, that his troubles were for the time at an end. How he got down from his saddle we are as ignorant as he was himself; though we can affirm that he scrambled off in such a manner as to bring himself to the ground in a prostrate position.
Upon recovering from his surprise, after carefully brushing the dust from his apparel, he noticed that his horse, who was apparently well acquainted with the locale of the place, had entered the yard, and was standing at the stable door, waiting with [Pg 69] an exemplary patience to be admitted.
Leaving him there, to be attended to by the proper authority, our friend entered the house with a step somewhat resembling the progression which, is to be assumed, would be that of an animated pair of compasses. He was met in the passage of the hostel by an individual of the masculine gender, who, with a sardonic grin, asked him "if that 'ere 'oss what was in the yard belonged to him;" and being answered in the affirmative, and that the repliant desired to be shown to the coffee-room, and required supper and a bed, he remarked, "I suppose you come from Mr.
I know'd his old 'oss the moment I seed him, and he knows us as well as he does his master. Billing, "it's very probable, my good fellow; but I have no desire to enter into a discussion with you respecting the merits or acquaintances of the animal. I would be exceedingly obliged to you if you would show me to my bed-room, and let me [Pg 70] have some supper as soon as possible.
But Mr. Billing was too indignant to answer him. He really thought that all the vagabonds in the country had conspired to insult him, and he determined to submit to their contumelies no longer; so, turning round upon his questioner, with a look of indignant scorn, he said:. If you are the landlord of this hostlery, sir, you are evidently unacquainted with your business; and if you are a servant in the establishment be good enough to inform your master that I desire to speak to him.
In a few minutes the landlord himself made his appearance; and received Mr. Billing's order, and complaint against the domestic, with as much indifference as if they were matters not worth noticing; and without deigning any acknowledgment or reply beyond that which he put to his visitor in the following words. Billing, "I don't wish to inconvenience you, and your household; but I am perfectly voracious, and desire something solid. I am not fastidious and would be content with something cold, if your larder contains such.
The unfortunate Mr. Billing was now subject to another species of annoyance; and we verily believe, had he not been the personification of patience, he would have been perfectly driven to distraction. Though shouts of revelry, and indications of drinking, emanated from the bar, he was not surprised or disturbed, for he expected it; but he heard sounds in the passage as of suppressed laughter, accompanied by stifled expressions in a strong Hibernian dialect.
Whether the utterance was by male or female, it was difficult to conjecture; but Mr. Billing's doubts if he had had any on the subject were soon put to rest, for he plainly discerned the frontispiece of a biped; which, by the manner of arranging its natural scarlet covering, plainly proclaimed itself as belonging to the order of feminine.
The features displayed a broad grin; and an inquisitive [Pg 73] glance met that of our friend, as he stood facing the door. The head was hastily withdrawn when its owner perceived it had been noticed; but a laugh succeeded its withdrawal, and another cranium was protruded into the aperture, and retired in its turn with a laugh, to make way for another.
Billing submitted to this scrutiny with the assumed fortitude of a stoic; and attempted to allay his rising ire, and deceive his perturbed spirit, by whistling one of the favourite airs from Norma. Now, Mr. Billing prided himself upon the accomplishment of whistling; for he did consider it an accomplishment, notwithstanding that some people call it vulgar. He therefore, on this occasion, resolved to indulge in a little music to save himself from a knowledge of the annoyance of the menials' gaze, and to show them his utter contempt both for them and their unparalleled rudeness.
With his eyes, then, firmly fixed upon a cleanly-dispositioned fly on the canvas ceiling of the room, as it was going through various crural manipulations on its cranium, he warbled forth a stanza in his most enchanting strain; so exquisitely sweet as to have softened the hearts of heathens had they been present. At least so says Congreve, in his oft-used sentiment, such is the opiate influence of phrygian chords on unsophisticated natures; but in the auditory of Mr.
Billing it was otherwise. They possessed no taste for music, and only greeted his performance with screams of laughter. Human nature could not quietly submit to this fresh indignity, and Mr.
Billing advanced with undisguised chagrin, and banged the [Pg 75] door upon the sounds of retreating merriment. He was annoyed, disgusted, and ill at ease; and mentally made a resolution to get out of the place as speedily as possible, and never to darken the door again.
It was fully an hour before his expected repast was put upon the table; and with a disturbed spirit, and body racked with pains of unutterable puissance, he partook of his meal and early sought the consolation of his pillow.
On the following morning he habited and arranged himself with punctilious neatness; and waited upon Mr. Gilbert, the principal or rather the only storekeeper in the town, for the purpose of obtaining the articles required by Mr. Upon his procuring these he arranged them in the valise prepared for them, and settled his reckoning at the inn previous to taking his departure. At his desire the horse was brought to the door; and, being provided with a chair, he effected a mounting with less difficulty than on the previous day.
But his trials were not yet at [Pg 76] an end; for not only the whole inmates of the Woolpack inn, but almost the entire population of the township some hundred peopleassembled en masse to witness the start of the potent personage. The horse was set in motion by an admonitory application of a stick by one of the bystanders, which started him off in the step which was the dread of our friend; while he was hailed on all sides with a deafening cheer and shouts of laughter, which rung in his ears for some distance on his journey.
Rainsfield; and he had reached his home, and had actually dismounted from his horse, before the merry laugh of his sister roused him from his reverie.
When Kate and the rest of the party had reached the house, they were surprised to find John absent; the more so as they were informed he had ridden over in the morning to Strawberry Hill. They certainly had not passed him on the road, and they thought there was no probability of his having been diverted from his purpose; they [Pg 78] therefore could not understand where he had got to, though they agreed the best thing they could do was to await his return.
William had taken them all over the place, and through the house that was only waiting the arrival of the furniture, to claim its pretty little visitor as its mistress; and the party were just emerging from the building, when Kate spied her brother John approaching, apparently absorbed in deep thought, and perfectly deaf to the sound of the voices of herself and her friends.
When she, however, saw him alight from his horse, at the huts a short distance off, and perceived that he was perfectly abstracted, she could restrain her spirits no longer, and ran laughingly to throw herself in his arms. It was at this moment, that John Ferguson was made alive to the fact that his home had been honoured by the visit of his friends; and he advanced to meet his sister, and greeted her with a fond inosculation, as a token of fraternal affection.
We do not approve of the constant eduction [Pg 79] of scenes of affectionate union, where the thoughts, contemplations, and utterances, the spontaneous ebullitions of love, are dragged before the gaze of all. We deem them at all times too sacred to be made subject to the comments and criticism of uninterested parties; and therefore, in the case of Kate's meeting with her brother, would beg to draw a veil over the scene, and wait, in the resumption of our apologue, until they join their friends.
The various greetings and congratulations were soon ended; and Tom Rainsfield commenced the general conversation by asking of his friend:. When we arrived here we were told you had gone over to our place; but you had not been there before we left, and if you had gone by the track we should have met.
I suppose you were emulated with a desire for discovery, and attempted to find a short cut through the bush, eh? I was called in by Mr. Billing as I was passing his cottage, as he said he desired a little conversation with me; so I presume that, owing to that circumstance, I missed you. I suppose to tell you all about his family affairs. Rainsfield," said John, "but to tell you the truth, I did not go up to the [Pg 81] house.
Pray, sir, will you make some explanation? I am almost inclined to be angry with you. But, as we intend to retain possession of your sister for some time, we shall demand of you, as penance; a constant attendance upon us at 'The Hill. Rainsfield," replied John, "I must decline to enlighten you on my remissness; and I am afraid also I shall prove a refractory penitent; for, in the first place, I think it highly improbable that I shall have the pleasure of visiting Strawberry Hill again; at least for a time.
And I must take an early opportunity of relieving you of the protection of Kate. You are really becoming perfectly mysterious, John Ferguson. I do not understand all this, and must insist upon a solution. Tell me, now," continued she, as she went smilingly up to him, "what is it that makes you estrange yourself from us, and studiously avoid our society?
I think I can read you better than to ascribe it to that little fracas at our pic-nic. Rainsfield, "you are only intensifying my curiosity by endeavouring to evade my demand; something has occurred, I am sure, to make you so determined in your avoidance of us; and I must know what it is. Rainsfield, or Eleanor; so you had better make a virtue of necessity, and tell me at once. It appears that your husband has formed some prejudice against me, the cause of which I am unable to account for.
I accidentally learnt from my black boys that some espionage, in connexion with your station, was meditated by the Nungar tribe; and I took an early opportunity of going over to Strawberry Hill to apprise Mr. Rainsfield of the fact. He received me with marked coolness, for what reason I am at a loss to conjecture; and actually accused me of exercising an incentive influence over the tribe to his detriment.
I would willingly believe that he has formed some misconception of my actions; but to [Pg 84] impute such a motive to me is simply ridiculous. He loaded me with invective, and wound up his inflammatory tirade by requesting that I would discontinue my visits to his house; and before I recovered from my surprise I found myself alone; though, even if he had remained, I question if I should have succeeded in disabusing his mind, for he seemed in no disposition to listen to reason.
I have no doubt but that he will very soon discover his error; but until then, you will perceive, Mrs. Rainsfield, it is utterly impossible that I can pay my respects to you at 'The Hill;' and it would also, under the circumstances, be highly inconsistent in Kate stopping longer with you than can be helped.
Ferguson; it gives me great pain, I can assure you. I can't think he can be prejudiced against you, for he always entertained the highest esteem for you. It is possible he may [Pg 85] have formed some erroneous impression with regard to those horrid blacks; but, whatever is the cause of the ill feeling, I will endeavour to dispel it; and have your friendship reestablished upon the old footing. But, in the meantime, it is impossible that you can take Kate away from us; you can't put her into an empty house, and you certainly would not have the cruelty to lodge her in those huts of yours.
You must leave her with us, at least until you have made a comfortable home for her; and even then, I don't think the poor girl will have a very enviable life, living in seclusion, without a female near her. Besides, our little black fellow, Joey, whom we brought from New England with us, is as useful, if not more so, as half the female servants in the country.
So I think, on that score, we will be able to make our sister perfectly comfortable. Rainsfield, "it is understood you leave her with us until your furniture arrives.
I need not beg of you to refrain from mentioning to any one in your house, not even to Kate, that any unpleasantness exists between our families; your own good judgment will convince you of the non-necessity. But suppose we join our friends, for we appear to have wandered quite away from them during our conversation;" and John Ferguson, and Mrs. Rainsfield, returned to the spot where the rest of the party stood.
We are agitating the question of return. Miss Ferguson [Pg 87] says she does not like this dreadful wilderness of yours, John, and is anxious to get back to Strawberry Hill, and within the bounds of civilisation. I am sure my brother would make room for me if I desired it. Rainsfield, "we really had better return, or it will be dark before we get home; so if Tom did not read your thoughts, his fib suggested an expediency.
Rainsfield, she, and Tom mounted their horses, and departed; the [Pg 88] latter turning in his saddle as he left the station, called out to John, "I'll be over in the morning;" and the party were speedily lost to sight. Wigton and the brothers turned into the hut, and were soon engaged in a conversation, which, though interesting to themselves, it is unnecessary for us to follow.
Towards the close of the evening as they sat before their hut, the brothers enjoying their pipes over the fire that was boiling the water for the infusion of the temperate beverage that graced their board at the evening meal; and while Joey, who officiated in the culinary department, was preparing the repast in the interior of the domicile, the dray that we have met already on the road from Alma, was seen to wind slowly off the face of the ridge and down the vale to the creek that ran through it.
Here it stopped, while the driver seemed to hold an altercation with his companions, and appeared to be undecided as to some course they were meditating. Just step down and see; for they must surely have gone out of their way, and find themselves now at a stand still. William walked down to the spot where the dray had halted; and returned in a few minutes with the information, that the travellers were on their way to take possession of a "run" one of the party had bought, on the river below their own place, from Bob Smithers; and stated that he had told the fellow that he might camp where he was, and go over and form his station on the following day; he had also invited him to come up to the hut in the evening and smoke his pipe, which the man had promised to do.
His name, William said, was Sawyer; and he appeared to be an individual who had not been blessed with either much cultivation or education. In the course of the evening Mr. Sawyer [Pg 90] made his appearance with his "old woman," as he familiarly designated his wife, and daughter. The family was unaltered in appearance since we last introduced it to the reader; and while the females took their seats on two stools, provided for them by the Fergusons, in a stiff and formal manner which they intended for a distinguishing mark of good breeding, the old man threw himself down on the grass before the fire.
After collecting a few sticks, and throwing them on himself, he lit his pipe with a "fire stick," and commenced the following conversation; which he continued between the intervals of his smokey eructations.
My brother tells me you have purchased the block of country below us; may I [Pg 91] ask if you are about to stock it? You see I have got my dray down there with my rations, and traps; and I am now going over to fix upon a place for my station, and put up some huts and yards.
Just a quick one on development yield expectations and how they've changed given tariffs and some rising labor costs. And can you see this slipping a bit lower and still making sense or will lower development yields, delay future project phases such as Pentagon? It's really a project by project assessment. I mean the reality is, and it's no secret that construction costs have risen over the course of the last several years and we don't see that pace flowing anytime soon.
That said, the locations of a lot of our projects themselves are in high demand areas that are very difficult to seek entitlements and to develop.
So it's really a case by case assessment. There are different yields, expectations too between retail and residential. Residential historically, as you know, is a little bit lower than the retail yield at times. But it's something that we manage we look at each opportunity on its own and whether or not it's the best use of our capital that given point in time and in all other factors considered.
I think we'll continue to look at the opportunity set of future projects, understanding where our costs have gone on the construction side and see have been able to keep pace or outpaced them. We have been pleasantly surprised at the Witmer in Pentagon City. We've raised rents 4 times. Our original pro forma had close to 22 leases a month, we've been experiencing over leases a month.
So there are cases where the yields have actually improved over our pro forma. Okay, great. And then just -- maybe have a further update on Dania Pointe the master plan there. I have seen some discussions from the municipality over potentially some design changes, and I just don't understand how -- if at all that would affect you guys and kind of what's going on there? No from a master plan perspective the Dania Pointe project has not changed.
We always allocated a certain portion of our entitlements to an office complex, which we always intended to sell. And so that was not something we felt comfortable self developing due to the size and scale of the projects. What we've tried to do is de-risk the project by selling off the office component, which we were very fortunate to have Spirit commit to as a corporate headquarters.
And then ground lease the residential components, which for the first tower is topped off, the second tower is in for permit and we're working on design for the third tower. We also ground leased the two hotels components. Those are Marriott AC by Marriott, again derisking it by having someone come in and take on the construction and development risk. The design of the retail has not changed, the Main Street is up and going up right now releasing that as you see in the supplemental and we feel very good about the momentum now at Spirit has announced and we continue to look at the project as a flagship for us long term.
Hey, good morning. Just going back to Christy's question on the ATM. I mean clearly you guys have had incredible year-to-date performance trading. And one hand the economy seems spine, concern maybe there is, you have some softening in the future, but still be a shame to obviously look a gift horse in the mouth. So there seems to be support for you guys to issue equity to delever, obviously we've heard your judicious comments on the balance sheet and trying to be prudent with how Feel All Right (Intoxicate Mix) - JV Project - Feel All Right (File) manage your capital position.
But what's the reason or what's the hesitancy given how much progress you've made sort of repositioning the portfolio and also -- and waiting prudently for your stock Feel All Right (Intoxicate Mix) - JV Project - Feel All Right (File) appreciate to match NAV before issuing. So what sort of a hold up as far as pulling the trigger? Alex so we continue to monitor the situation.
Obviously, we're pleased with the path that we're on, and the execution that with the team has been making. We like the opportunity set that we have in front of us in terms of development and redevelopment. Our capital plan, does match funding that this year with dispositions and you continue to see us price those aggressively in the market today. We have the ATM up so that we can use it opportunistically and we plan to do exactly that. You also have a benefit. So although we are watching closely.
And then the second is, obviously a big win with Spirit done at Dania Pointe, you've had good leasing progress on your residential projects. So Conor, big picture, the big developments, you're -- the big developments that you guys have, do you still view these as sort of specific developments that you'll do a few of? Or are you seeing success in returns that makes you feel like you could have a broader set of these redevelopments and grow more redevelopments through the portfolio?
When I look at the portfolio as a whole, I feel like we're just getting started in terms of our Signature Series redevelopment program. A lot of what we have seen is our assets have a higher and better use and we can entitle that accordingly with our team.
And then we have a methodical approach and how to unlock that value. I don't see putting a huge amount of projects in the pipeline all at the same time. I see a more measured approach where we'll take them one by one, do some deep due diligence on the projects, making sure we understand the supply and demand. The lion's share of what we're looking at going forward is more mixed use. There is no doubt about it. There is a lot of mixed use entitlements that we already have and we continue to see that being a significant piece of the puzzle to us going forward.
But I don't see us adding a huge amount all at once. Thanks, good morning. And I'm just curious as you sit here today, how you sort of feel about that number. What kind of risks there might be either to the upside or the downside on that number? That continues to be in the range of what we're anticipating Steve. I mean, when you look at the projects and how they have performed and how they're moving forward.
We continue to see that that is an achievable number. And we're monitoring, obviously the lease up closely. We're monitoring the projections closely. But so far to-date, the momentum has been there in terms of the mixed use as well as the retail absorption. Right, OK. Yeah, I guess, I mean, I realize you haven't given sort of a number for next year, but just given what you sort of got in the hopper today is that -- does that sort of seem like a number that is repeatable sort of on an annual basis or do you see that number sort of changing dramatically as you move forward?
We're going to look at next quarter and see how it rolls up. I mean we obviously have to look through the budgets and make sure everything is tied together.
But again we'll be giving guidance on the next call. Okay and then just lastly on sort of the tenant watchlist, I realize things have come in a bit better this year on closures and your use of the bad debt. But when do you sort of look at your tenant watchlist today versus say a year ago.
How does it sort of stack up as we look forward? It has, come down, I mean, when you look at what we've been able to accomplish, we have been selling assets with some at risk tenancy, we've been reducing our exposure to some tenants that have yet been able to pivot and embrace the omnichannel approach, but we're continuing to be mindful that there are retailers that are winning and there are some that are losing, and we're actively pre-leasing a lot of boxes.
So it's a good place to be as the anchor occupancy sits at that level, and we continue to think that the demand sources are far outweighing the supply side. Hey, sorry, I was hoping we could go back to some of the same-store NOI question.
If I look at it obviously you're up nearly basis points from where we started the year when you gave initial guidance. Your net disposition activity is still at the low end at this point. So, Ross, I know you mentioned having some further stuff in the pipeline, but that's really not going to have much drag, but if I look at your overall earnings expectations for the year, it's more or less unchanged, really. So I'm just wondering what sort of has been the drag that's really offset the positive momentum, you've had on the core here as we look at this year?
We are heading toward the higher end of the guidance. You saw us now tighten up an increase at the midpoint of the guidance range. So we're toward the upper end of that range to begin with.
So things are going pretty well. From our standpoint, we've done some refinancings that out occupancy Feel All Right (Intoxicate Mix) - JV Project - Feel All Right (File) at all time highs. So we are reaching the upper end of that range to begin with.
So I think we're pretty much on track with what we've laid out. Yeah, I guess, I think the assumption was when you laid out a 1. So just feels like there is some carry through that maybe isn't happening and I was just curious if there's anything else that maybe we're missing out there, it doesn't really sound like there is based on what you just said.
So that's fair? Yeah, I would say we're really on track with what we laid out as we head toward the upper end of the range. Jeremy the same-site NOI just talks about the performance of the current properties we have when you're looking through the FFO. It also contemplates as Glenn laid out earlier about the dispositions that we had in the NOI we lost from there as well as the new lease accounting that we had to deal with for capitalized costs.
So that factors into it on a year-over-year basis. All right. And second from me, you mentioned, Glenn in your opening remarks, some of the closings impacted of the shop occupancy this quarter. Did you receive any cure payments related to any of those was at in earnings at all?
No, we haven't received any of those payments yet. I mean we'll file for claims as it comes, but nothing, you won't see that number in quite a while. Can you talk about what is changing with separates plans at the Boulevard and been kind of go into more detail about what caused the scope of that project to change so much? The existing shop rate is coming into the center from down the street and we were able to capture them to come into a more prototypical box for our redevelopment, as part of that we've been able to recapture their existing location.
We feel like that's a real nice upside because their rents are significantly below market as I mentioned in my script. So they're going to be a more prototypical box size and they have big expectations for the sales of that box. And so we believe that recapturing their existing location is actually a future upside in terms of another New York metro -- New York Metro asset where we can create value.
Obviously your stock has done well this year and as Christy and Alex commented you're now trading at a premium to consensus NAV. I'm happy to talk about that. I mean, when we look at our portfolio, we feel like we're on the right track. We've been able to execute our game plan, create value on the asset level through our mixed use redevelopment program and lease up a lot of our remaining vacancies. We feel like we have a long way to go to really be rewarded for some of the other things we have in the hopper.
We continue to always look at opportunities in the open market whether at these small portfolios one-off transactions are large portfolios, and we'll always be looking to improve the portfolio and improve the growth profile of the company. But that being said, we feel like we're just starting to get rewarded for all the hard work that we've been putting into the portfolio.
Hey, it's actually Mike, I think I'm on Hong's line here. So two questions. First, the Series J rate is similar to the case, why didn't you take the J out as well? So when you replace debt. And again, we used year paper not short-term debt. So we didn't want to bring that number, so higher to start having any issues. And it gives us another opportunity of other ways to take that paper out, maybe even further more opportunistically.
It's a nice levered if further delever. I mean there is -- that's the one piece that we still have that's callable.
So that's one thing that we've been looking at. Got it, OK. And then the 4, resi units that are entitled at eight sites, are those sites at existing centers or are they all new locations? Good morning. During the third and fourth quarter, how much occupancy uplift, do you get from seasonal tenants such as Spirit Halloween stores.
I mean, I'm just curious if you're doing any more or less of these deals than in the past? We don't report as ancillary income occupancy. So those Spirit Halloween deals are temp deals. We don't actually report them as occupied. So those spaces are short-term deals that we continue to show as vacant. So we don't get any lift at whatsoever from those tenants.
But to put it in perspective, as our occupancy has risen and the anchor boxes are up at Right it makes sense. Are you able to quantify at all, like, is it, let's say, if you did include the Halloween stores in occupancies is that like 50 bps positive to occupancy or is that not nearly that much. I'm just trying to frame how big of a It is small. It will be smaller than that. We can give that for you the detail of it, but it's small.
And then just any economics you could share on those deals like I'm assuming you provide no leasing capital but like is this a fraction of market rent in your mind that they're paying or is in such a short lease they do pay a real rent? No, I mean they work from a capital standpoint. There's no real capital contribution from our end. And from our perspective, we don't disclose economics of deals, but it's a fair deal relative to what they sell for that day period.
Hey, good morning, Ross, you mentioned low cap rates in certain markets, but we've also heard from conversation with brokers, private landlords that there may be some more interesting assets entering the market as private landlord shy away from increasingly intensive shopping center business? Are you seeing this side of the market as well. I'm just curious if Kimco might become an acquirer in the near future, especially considering the available of -- the availability of ATM funding now?
Yeah, we certainly do see opportunities, I would say that for, as I mentioned, the core institutional kind of down the fairway asset. There is no shortage of capital and cap rates continue to be as aggressive as they've ever been. We do think that there is a niche that we can provide in terms of some more value-add opportunities where we can utilize our platform that maybe some of the institutions are shying away from somewhat.
That being said, the financing availability for those types of assets is still very robust. So, we are competing with private buyers that are able to take advantage of very attractive financing opportunities.
So it's certainly competitive out there. But when we look at what we've been able to accomplish and where we've been heading. We think that it becomes a bit more attractive for us with our cost of capital to hopefully go back a little bit on offense as we get into Okay and then Conor and Glenn also mentioned utilizing the ATM to match fund development, does this potentially mean that we'll see fewer dispositions, which were maybe previously expected to fund redevelopment?
Or are those assets non-core and they're going to be slated for disposition either way? Yeah, I think we'll continue to selectively prune the portfolio. If we have the opportunity and decide to accretively tap into the ATM or other sources to fund it will just be that much to the positive and the capital is fungible. So, there is other opportunities to also look at delevering potential acquisition. So we have a lot of opportunity to invest capital, but on the dispositions front, we think the pruning continues to be appropriate at that level.
Hey, there. So Ross I want to follow up on the transactions if we could. So maybe you could talk a bit about the pricing achieved on the asset sold the third quarter versus your expectations. And given the fairly strong demand environment that you characterize, could you potentially sell a bit more than currently outlined. And then also as part of that can you talk about the growth profile of the assets sold relative to your same-store pool? The third quarter dispositions were right in the middle of our range.
It's been consistent through the first three quarters. So really no meaningful change, obviously somewhat is dependent upon the population of assets in that particular quarter. We absolutely could do more. The market is certainly receptive to it. We don't intend to do more. As I mentioned, we believe that it's the appropriate level, given the size of our company and the uses that we have for those funds. The assets are all generally mixed. Some of them are grocery, some of them are power centers with various opportunities for growth for the next buyer.
So I would just say that we've continued to evaluate where there is risk in the portfolio. We've looked geographically at what markets we believe have long-term growth opportunities and where we think there is more stagnant growth. And we've also been evaluating with our JV partners where we see those portfolio is going into the future. So, it's a selective process that we're constantly monitoring, but we think that we have a pretty good handle on that process.
Got it, got it. Conor one to you. I know you're not ready with regards to guidance. But from where we sit looks to be less of a transition year than this year and last year given the reduced disposition activity.
Although tenant disruptions likely continue in some form. So I guess I'm curious on any updated view here on when do you think you'll be able to get to that to a mid-single digit FFO growth profile, could be the year or is looking to be another transition year absorbed, albeit with a few headwinds in this year?
As I mentioned before, we're not giving guidance on this call, it will be next call. But we do feel like we're making significant progress in terms of the portfolio transformation. You saw the results we've just reported.
You saw the ability that we've been able to raise guidance on the same-site NOI pool through the year. We feel like the developments and redevelopments are all now starting to deliver what we anticipated.
So, we're on the right path. We feel like we've still got a lot of work to do, but we're starting to get rewarded for all that work that we've been putting into the portfolio.
I appreciate that's. But certainly it appears that in prior comments you've made the point that FFO growth is a priority. So should we at least expect that FFO growth is the expectation at minimum, the next year? We will be focused on growing earnings next year. Yes, that is something that you can take of the bank. I just want to talk about the small shop leasing. I mean the leasing seems to be pretty stable. I'm just curious about where the demand is coming from and how much of it is net expansion demand versus just kind of shuffling of fees and moving into better centers?
Yeah, no, I mean for us these are net new leases. Pacific Dental, the Joint Chiropractic shade-store, just to name a few of the of the small shop tenants that we're seeing in terms of new occupancy. And then as it relates to just the overall activity that we're seeing this quarter really represented one of the highest rates of new deals for shops space under 5, sqaure feet, Feel All Right (Intoxicate Mix) - JV Project - Feel All Right (File).
So despite the bankruptcy is in the vacate that were expected with Payless, Avenues Charming Charlie's, the demand drivers were still very, very strong going into the balance of the year.
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