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Ten Acres Enough
Chapter V.—Making a Purchase—First Impressions


The owner of these eleven acres had been for some months in the furnace of pecuniary affliction. He was going the way of nine-tenths of all the business flesh within the circle of my acquaintance. As a purchaser I did not seek him, nor to his representative did myself or my wife let fall a single word indicating that we were pleased with the property. When fifteen hundred dollars were named as the price I did indulge in some expression of surprise, thinking it was quite enough. Discovering subsequently that the owner was an old city acquaintance, I dropped in one morning to see him, and for an hour we talked over the times, the markets, the savage rates demanded for money, and how the spring business was likely to turn out. On real estate I was mute as a mouse, except giving it as my decided opinion that some holders were asking greater prices than they would be likely to realize.

This side-thrust brought my friend out. He mentioned his house and eleven acres, and eagerly inquired if I did not know of some one who would buy. With as much indifference as I could assume, I asked his terms. He told me with great frankness that he was compelled to sell, and that his need of money was so great, that he might possibly do so whether the debtor got anything or not. He urged me to find him a purchaser, and finally gave me the refusal of the place for a few days.

Now, the plain truth was, that my anxiety to buy was quite as great as his was to sell. During the next week we met several times, when he invariably inquired as to the prospect of a purchaser. But I had no encouragement to offer. When I thought I had fought shy long enough, I surprised him by saying that I knew of a purchaser who was ready to take the property at a thousand dollars. He sat down and indulged in some figuring, then for a few moments was silent, then inquired if the offer was a cash one, and when the money could be had. I replied, the moment his deed was ready for delivery.

It was evident that the offer of instant payment determined him to sell at so low a price—cash was everything. Opening his desk, he took out a deed for the property, ready to execute whenever the grantee's name, the date and the consideration should have been inserted, handed it to me, and said he accepted the offer, only let him have the money as quickly as possible.

I confess to both exultation and surprise. I had secured an unmistakable bargain The ready-rnade deed surprised me, but it showed the owner's necessities, and that he had been prepared to let the property go at the first decent offer. The natural selfishness of human nature has since induced me to believe that I could have bought for even less, had I not been so precipitate. His searches and brief of title were also ready: a single day or two was enough to bring them up—he had been determined to sell.

The transaction seemed to involve a succession of surprises. His turn for a new one came when he found that I had inserted my wife's name in the deed. So, paying him his thousand dollars, I returned with the deed to my wife, telling her that she had now a home of her own; that, come what might, the property was hers; that the laws of New Jersey secured it to her, and that no subsequent destitution of mine could wrest it from her. This little act of consideration was as gratifying a surprise to her as any that either buyer or seller had experienced. If rejoiced at my having secured the place, it gave to it a new interest in her estimation, and fixed and made permanent the attachment she had spontaneously acquired for it. Her gratification only served to increase my own.

It is thus that small acts of kindness make life pleasant and desirable. Every dark object is made light by them, and many scalding tears of sorrow are thus easily brushed away. When the heart is sad, and despondency sits at the entrance of the soul, a little kindness drives despair away, and makes the path cheerful and pleasant. Who then will refuse a kind act? It costs the giver nothing—just as this did; but it is invaluable to the receiver. No broader acres, no more stately mansion, whether in town or country, could now tempt my wife to leave this humble refuge. Here she has been ever happy, and here, I doubt not, she will end her earthly career.

In a week the house was vacated and cleansed, and we were in full possession. My wife was satisfied, my children were delighted, and I had realized the dream of twenty years! One strong fact forced itself on my attention the first night I passed under my new roof. The drain of three hundred dollars per annum into the pocket of my city landlord had been stopped. My family received as safe a shelter for the interest of a thousand dollars, as he had given them for the interest of five thousand! The feeling of relief from this unappeasable demand was indescribable. Curiously enough, my wife voluntarily suggested that the same feeling of relief had been presented to her. But in addition to this huge equivalent for the investment of a thousand dollars, there was that which might be hereafter realized from the cultivation of eleven acres of land.

This lodgment was effected on the first of April, 1855. When all our household fixings had been snugly arranged, and I took my first walk over my little plantation, on a soft and balmy morning, my feeling of contentment seemed to be perfect. I knew that I was not rich, but it was certain that I was not poor. In contrasting my condition with that of others, both higher and lower upon fortune's ladder, I found a thousand causes for congratulation, but none for regret. With all his wealth, Rothschild must be satisfied with the same sky that was spread over me. He cannot order a private sunrise, that he may enjoy it with a select circle of friends, nor add a single glory to the gorgeous spec­tacle of the setting sun. The millionaire could not have more than his share of the pure atmosphere that I was breathing, while the poorest of all men could have as much. God only can give all these, and to many of the poor he has thus given. All that is most valuable can be had for nothing. They come as presents from the hand of an indulgent Father, and neither air nor sky, nor beauty, genius, health, or strength, can be bought or sold. What­ever may be one's condition in life, the great art is to learn to be content and happy, indulging in no feverish longings for what we have not, but satisfied and thankful for what we have.


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