“Precious little surplus you’ll have for the next few years, with Jack and Jane getting married, and—”
“But, Polly, you can’t charge weddings to the farm, any more than we can yachts and diamonds.”
“I don’t see why. A wedding is a very important part of one’s life, and I think the farm ought to be made to pay for it.”
“I quite agree with you; but we must add $3165 to the old farm debt, and take up our increased burden with such courage as we may. In round figures it is $106,000. Does that frighten you, Polly?”
“A little, perhaps; but I guess we can manage it. You would have been frightened three years ago if some one had told you that you would put $106,000 into a farm of less than five hundred acres.”
“You’re right. Spending money on a farm is like other forms of vice,—hated, then tolerated, then embraced. But seriously, a man would get a bargain if he secured this property to-day for what it has cost us. I wouldn’t take a bonus of $50,000 and give it up.”
“You’ll hardly find a purchaser at that price, and I’m glad you can’t, for I want to live here and nowhere else.”
With the close of the third year ends the detailed history of the factory farm. All I wish to do further is to give a brief synopsis of the debit and credit accounts for each of the succeeding four years.
First I will say a word about the people who helped me to start the factory. Thompson and his wife are still with me, and they are well on toward the wage limit. Johnson has the gardens and Lars the stables, and Otto is chief swineherd. French and his wife act as though they were fixtures on the place, as indeed I hope they are. They have saved a lot of money, and they are the sort who are inclined to let well enough alone. Judson is still at Four Oaks, doing as good service as ever; but I fancy that he is minded to strike out for himself before long. He has been fortunate in money matters since he gave up the horse and buggy; he informed me six months ago that he was worth more than $5000.
“I shouldn’t have had five thousand cents if I’d stuck to that darned old buggy,” said he, “and I guess I’ll have to thank you for throwing me down that day.”
Zeb has married Lena, and a little cottage is to be built for them this winter, just east of the farm-house; and Lena’s place is to be filled by her cousin, who has come from the old country.
Anderson and Sam both left in 1898,—poor, faithful Anderson because his heart gave out, and Sam because his beacon called him.
Lars’s boys, now sixteen and eighteen, have full charge of the poultry plant, and are quite up to Sam in his best days. Of course I have had all kinds of troubles with all sorts of men; but we have such a strong force of “reliables” that the atmosphere is not suited to the idler or the hobo, and we are, therefore, never seriously annoyed. Of one thing I am certain: no man stays long at our farm-house without apprehending the uses of napkin and bath-tub, and these are strong missionary forces.