The last few days of 1895 turned clear and cold, and the barometer set “fair.” The change chirked us up, and we ended the year in good spirits.
POLLY’S JUDGMENT HALL
Before closing the books, we should take account of stock, to see what we had purchased with our money. Imprimis: 320 acres of good land, satisfactory to the eye, well fenced and well groomed; 3400 apple trees, so well planted as to warrant a profitable future; a water and sewer system as good as a city could supply; farm buildings well planned and sufficient for the day; an abundance of food for all stock, and to spare; an intelligent and willing working force; machinery for more than present necessity; eight excellent horses and their belongings; six cows, moderately good; two pigs and two score fowls, to be eaten before spring, and a lot of fun. What price I shall have to put against this last item to make the account balance, I can tell better when I foot the other side of the ledger.
But first I must add a few items to the debit account. Moving the cottage cost $30. I paid $134 for grass seed and seed rye. The wage account for six men and two women for five months was $735. Their food account was $277. Of course the farm furnished milk, cream, butter, vegetables, some fruit, fresh pork, poultry, and eggs. There were also some small freight bills, which had not been accounted for, amounting to $31, and $8 had been spent in transportation for the men. Then the farm must be charged with interest on all money advanced, when I had completed my additions. The rate was to be five per cent, and the time three months.
On the last day of the year I went to the farm to pay up to date all accounts. I wished to end the year with a clean score. I did not know what the five months had cost me (I would know that evening), but I did know that I had had “the time of my life” in the spending, and I would not whine. I felt a little nervous when I thought of going over the figures with Polly,—she was such a judicious spender of money. But I knew her criticism would not be severe, for she was hand-in-glove with me in the project. I tried to find fault with myself for wastefulness, but some excellent excuse would always crop up. “Your water tower is unnecessary.” “Yes, but it adds to the landscape, and it has its use.” “You have put up too much fencing.” “True, but I wanted to feel secure, and the old fences were such nests of weeds and rubbish.” “You have spent too much money on the farm-house.” “I think not, for the laborer is worthy of his hire, and also of all reasonable creature comforts.” And thus it went on. I would not acknowledge myself in the wrong; nor, arguing how I might, could I find aught but good in my labors. I devoutly hoped to be able to put the matter in the same light when I stood at the bar in Polly’s judgment hall.