“What’s it there for if it’s not to be got out?”
“You mark me, Tom Hamon, no good will come of all this upsetting and digging out the insides of the Island—nenni-gia!”
“Pergui, mother, where do you think all the silver and gold in the world came from?”
“It didn’t come out of our Sark rocks any way, mon gars.”
“Good thing for us if it had, ma fe! But, see you here, mother, if I sell the farm it’s not you and Nance that need trouble. If I pay out your dowers in hard cash you’re both of you better off than you are now, and I’m better off too. It’s only Tom could complain, and—”
“It’s hard on the lad.”
“Bidemme, it’s no more than he deserves for his goings-on! Maybe it’ll do him good to have to work for his living.”
“And you would do that to get your bit more money to throw into those big holes?”
“Never you mind me. I’ll take care of myself, and we’ll see who’s wisest in the end. Now, will you agree to it?”
“I’ll talk it over with Nancy again,” and the big black sun-bonnet nodded with sapient significance. “Send her to me.”
“It’s from you I got my good sense,” said old Tom approvingly, and went off in search of his wife, while the clever old lady pondered deep schemes.
“Here’s the way of it, Nancy,” she said, when Mrs. Hamon came in. “He’s crazy on these silver mines, and he’s willing to pay out our dowers, yours and mine, so that he may throw the rest into the big holes at Port Gorey. Ch’est b’en! Your money and mine take more than half of what he gets. If you’ll put yours to mine I’ll make up the difference from what I’ve saved, and we’ll retraite the farm, and it shall go to Nance and Bernel when the time comes.”
“I can’t help thinking it’s rather hard on Tom,” suggested Mrs. Hamon, with less vigour than before.
The idea appealed strongly to her maternal feelings and she had suffered much from Tom; still her instinct for right was there and was not to be stifled with a word.
“If you feel so when the time comes we could divide it among them, and till then Tom would have to behave himself,” said the wily old lady, with a chuckle.
That again appealed strongly to Mrs. Hamon.
“Yes, I think I would agree to that,” she said, after thinking it all over.
All things considered, Grannie’s scheme was an excellent one and worthy of her.
By a curious anomaly of Sark law, though a man may not mortgage his property without the consent of his next-in-succession, he can sell it outright and do what he chooses with the proceeds. His wife has a dower right of one-third of both real and personal estate, into which she enters upon his death. The right, however, is there while he still lives, and must be taken into consideration in any sale of the property.
All property is sold subject to the “retraite”; in plain English, no sale is completed for six weeks, and within that time every member of the seller’s family, in due order of succession, even to the collateral branches, has the right to take over, or withdraw, the property at the same price as has been agreed upon, paying in addition to the Seigneur the trezieme or thirteenth part of the price, as by law provided.