Nancy looked at him stupefied. What did he mean? Panic seized her, and under her panic something rose and exulted. Perhaps it was trouble—perhaps Bert needed his wife again!
“I’m going in for myself,” said Bert. “Now, don’t look so scared; it may be slow for a while, but there’s big money in it, for me. I’m going to be Albert Bradley, Real Estate. You see, I’ve been advising Fred to handle this new proposition, down the Island, but he’s young, and he’s rich, and his father’s an old man. Fred won’t keep up the business when old Buck retires. He didn’t want to handle it and they both asked me why I didn’t go into it for myself. There’s a pot of money in it, Nance, if I can swing it. However, I never thought of it until Biggerstaff asked me if I knew about anything of that kind—he’s got some money to put in, and so has Ingram. This was last week. Well, I went to see. ...”
Nancy listened, frightened and thrilled. Fear was uppermost; before this she had seen something of daring business ventures in her southern childhood. But on the other hand, there was the possibility of “big money,” and they needed money! They needed, as Bert said, to get out of the ranks, to push in before the next fellow pushed in. She had a vision of herself telling the other women of the Gardens that Mr. Bradley had gone into business for himself; that the Pearsalls were going to throw anything they could his way. It sounded dignified—Bert with a letter head, and an office in Broadway!
She was lost in a complacent dream when Bert’s voice awakened her.
“So that, if Buck does lend it, that means the interest on fifty thousand. ...”
“Fifty thousand?” Nancy repeated, alarmed.
“Well, perhaps not quite that. I’ve got to figure it as closely as I can. ...” Nancy’s colour had faded a trifle.
“Bert, you would be mad to get into it, or into anything, as deep as that!” she said breathlessly. Bert, dashed in the midst of his confident calculations, turned something like a snarl upon her.
“Well, what am I going to do?” he asked angrily. “It’s all very well for you to sit there and advise me to keep out of it, but what am I going to do? It’s a chance, and I believe in taking it. I know my market, I know how these things are handled. If I can swing this in the next three or four years, I can swing other things. It means that we step right into the rich class—”
“But if you fail—?” Nancy suggested, impressed in spite of herself.
“You keep your end of things going,” he urged her, in a sombre voice, “and I’ll take care of mine!”
“I’ll try, Bert, I’ll do the best I can.” With something of her old, comradely spirit, she laid her hand on his arm. “I’ll let Hannah go—at least I will as soon as the Berrys’ visit is over. And what about our going to the Sewalls’, Bert, that’s going to be an expensive trip. Shall I get out of that?”