Undertow by Kathleen Thompson Norris
So the Bradleys had a bank account. And even before the precious money was actually paid them, and deposited in the bank, Nancy knew what they were going to do with it. There was only one sensible thing for young persons who were raising a family on a small salary to do. They must buy a country home.
No more city, no more rent-paying for Nancy and Bert. The bank account had just five figures. Nancy and Bert said that they could buy a lovely home anywhere for nine thousand, and have a whole thousand left for furniture and incidentals. They could begin to live!
A week later they began their hunt, and all through the white winter and the lovely spring they hunted. They asked friends about it, and read magazines, and the advertisements in the Sunday papers.
Unfortunately, however, in all the Saturdays and the Sundays they spent hunting for their home, they never saw anything that cost just nine thousand dollars. There were hundreds of places that cost sixty-five hundred or seven thousand. After that prices made a clean leap to ten thousand, to twelve thousand, to fourteen-- "No, it's no use our looking at those!" said the young Bradleys, sighing.
They learned a great deal about houses, and some of their dreams died young. It was no use, the agents told Nancy, to think about a pretty, shabby, old farm-house, for those had been snapped up. If she found one, it would be a foolish investment, because it probably would be surrounded by unrestricted property. Restrictions were great things, and all developments had them in large or small degree. There were developments that obliged the purchaser of land to submit his building plans to a committee, before he could build.
Nancy laughed that she shouldn't care for that. And when restrictions interfered with her plans she very vigorously opposed them. She told Bert that she would not consider places that did not allow fences, and chickens, and dogs, and all the other pleasant country things.
Sometimes, in an economical mood, the Bradleys looked at the six and seven thousand dollar bargains. It had to be admitted that some of them were extremely nice. Nice neighbourhoods, young trees set out along the street--trees about the size of carriage whips-- nice sunny bathroom, nice bedrooms--"we could change these papers," Nancy always said--good kitchen and closets, gas all ready to connect, and an open fireplace in the dining room. And so back to the front hall again, and to a rather blank moment when the agent obviously expected a definite decision, and the Bradleys felt unable to make it.
"What don't you like about the place?" the agent would ask.
"Well--" Bert would flounder. "I don't know. I'll talk it over with my wife!"
"Better decide to take it, Mr. Bradley," the agent, whoever he was, would urge seriously, "We're selling these places awfully fast, and when they're gone you won't find anything else like them. It's only because this chap that's been holding this property suddenly--"
"Yes, I know, you told me about his dropping dead," Bert would hastily remind him. "Well--I'll see. I'll let you know. Come on, kids!"
And the Bradley family would walk away, not too hastily, but without looking back.
"I don't know--but it was so like all the others," Nancy would complain, "It was so utterly commonplace! Now there, Bert, right in the village street, with the trees, is a lovely place, marked 'For Sale.' Do let's just pass it!"
"Darling girl, you couldn't touch that for twenty thousand. Right there by the track, too!"
"But it looks so homelike!"
"That old barn in the back looks sort of odd to me; they've got a sort of livery stable there in the back, Nance, you couldn't stand that!"
"No." Nancy's tone and manner would droop, she would go slowly by, discouraged and tired until another week end.