Chapter Seventeen

Twenty-five thousand. It was out at last, falling like a stone on the Bradleys' hearts. Nancy could hardly keep the bitter tears from her eyes. Bert, more hardy, barked out a short laugh. "I'm a fool to let it go," said the agent frankly; "I'm all tied up with other things. But I have no hesitation in saying this; you buy it, put the garden in shape, sit tight for a few years, and I'll turn it over for you for forty thousand, and throw in my commission!"

"Nix!" said Bert, honestly, "Nothing stirring! It's too big a proposition for us, we couldn't swing it. It may be all you say, but I'm raising a family; I can't go into twenty-five-thousand- dollar deals--"

"I don't see why--" began the agent, unruffled.

"I do!" Bert interrupted him, cheerfully.

"Now look here, Mr. Bradley," said Mr. Rogers, patiently. "Let's get the real dope on this thing. You want a home. You don't want a contract-made, cheaply constructed place in some community that your wife and children will outgrow before they're five years older! Now, here you get a place that every year is going to improve. There isn't so much of this Sound shore that is lying around waiting to be bought. I can show you----"

"Nothing stirring, I tell you!" Bert repeated, "Don't hand me out a lot of dope about it. I can see for myself what it is, I like it, the Missus likes it, it's a dandy proposition--for a millionaire. But I couldn't touch it with a ten-foot pole!"

Nancy's lip began to tremble. She was tired, and somehow--somehow it all seemed such a waste, if they weren't to have it! She busied herself untying Anne's napkin, and sent the three children on a gingerly tour of inspection down to the beach.

"Now listen a moment!" Mr. Rogers said. And Nancy added gently, almost tremulously:

"Do just listen to him, Bert!"

"You pay rent, don't you?" began Mr. Rogers, "Sixty, you said? That's seven hundred and twenty dollars a year, and you have nothing to show for it! But you'd consider seventy-five or a hundred cheap enough for a place like this wouldn't you?"

"I could go--a hundred, yes," Bert admitted, clearing his throat.

"You don't have to go any hundred," the agent said, triumphantly. "And besides that, isn't it to your advantage to live in your own house, and have a home that you can be proud of, and pay everything over your interest toward your mortgage? We have people here who only paid two or three thousand down, we don't push you-- that isn't our idea. If you can't meet our terms, we'll meet yours. You've got your nest-egg, whatever it is----"

"As a matter of fact, I've got ten thousand to start with," Bert said slowly. "But that's all I have got, Rogers," he added firmly, "And I don't propose----"

"You've got ten thousand?" asked the agent, with a kindly smile. And immediately his vehemence gave way to a sort of benign amusement. "Why, my dear boy," he said genially, "What's the matter with you? There's a mortgage of twelve thousand on that place now; you pay your ten, and 6 per cent, on the rest--that's something a little more than sixty dollars a month--and then you clear off your loan, or not, as suits you! I don't have to tell you that that's good business. How much of the holdings of Pearsall and Pearsall are clear of mortgages! We carry 'em on every inch of our land, right to the hilt too. If you're getting the equivalent of 8 or 9 per cent, on your money, you should worry about the man that carries the loan. You're paying 6 per cent, on somebody's twelve thousand now, don't forget that..."