Chapter 8. Now and Then.
Once back at Max’s space ship he instructed the small maintenance robots to remove one of the gold rods from the weapons system. The computer searched Earths computer network for pictures of gold in its raw state, which was called a nugget. The small robots then worked through the night turning the gold rod into what looked like a gold nugget.
The ships computer also calculates its value from its weight, it should bring more than double the sum they would need to purchase Helen’s farm going on what the Real Estate Agent expected it to sell for.
The next day dawned cool but fine, Max and Helen loaded the nugget into a back pack and started walking toward the camping area.
“What are we going to do about the ship?” asked Helen.
“I will move it to somewhere on the farm as soon as we buy it,” replied Max.
“Lets hope no one finds it in the mean time,” said Helen.
“Well yes,” replied Max.
Arriving at the camping ground just after nine in the morning, they found it deserted. The car was very reluctant to start but after some turning over it eventually burst into life and they headed to town. Once in Hay they found a bank and opened an account. After filling the car with petrol they drove out of town toward Broken Hill. Broken Hill was about two hours drive away and a big mining town so they would have no trouble finding a gold exchange to sell the nugget.
Broken Hill as a town was on the decline as a lot of the mines had closed taking away a lot of jobs. There were a lot of empty shops and lots of For Sale signs on houses as Max and Helen drove into town. It had been quite a trip as the car stoped a number of times but would restart after it had cooled down.
Finding someone at the gold exchange to buy their nugget was not a problem, an agent for one of the big mining companies was quick to make them an offer. After a few formalities and some paper work a deal was done. They would not be payed until some tests were completed on the nugget but that would only take a few hours. It was mid afternoon before payment was made, direct into their bank account. With the car giving so much trouble they went to a car yard and traded it in on something a bit newer and then headed back to Hay.
They stayed in a motel overnight as it was quite late by the time they got back to Hay.
Today was the last open day at the farm before the auction so max and Helen headed out to the farm to have a closer look.
Greeted at the front gate by the Real Estate Agent who told them to, “take their time,” he then gave them a sales pitch, pointing out all the good points but thankfully he was interrupted by another potential buy and left them to it.
Max and Helen wondered around the farm looking at the out buildings, farm machinery and then the house. None of this really mattered as they intended to buy it what ever the condition of the buildings. Helen asked the Real Estate Agent if the owner was around but he told her that, “they were all out except for the owner’s son Karl, who was around somewhere.”
Helen was keen to meet her grandson so they continued to walk around looking at the property. After a while the Real Estate Agent found them and introduced them to Karl.
“I’m Max and this is Helen,” said Max.
“So you are interested in buying this property,” replied Karl.
“Yes, it’s just what we were looking for,” said Max.
Karl could not take his eyes of Helen and seemed very distracted.
“Don’t take this the wrong way but it not all nice scenes and views, it take a lot of hard work to run this farm,” replied Karl before then saying, “you know, you look the spiting image of my Grandmother when she was younger, I never met her but I have seen photos.”
“Really,” said Helen, then adding, “I might just go and have another look around the house.”
Helen was struggling with her emotions and needed to get away before she burst into tears.
“That’s why I wanted to talk to you, we don’t want to work this farm, we just want to build a small house and live here. I was wandering if you would be interested in staying on and working the place?” asked Max.
“You would not get much of a return from this place it really only makes wages, there is no profit in it,” replied Karl.
“We are not interested in profit, we just want to live here, but it would cost a lot to maintain so I thought if you were to keep working it, well that would keep it maintained. I was thinking of say, one dollar a years rent,” said Max.
Karl’s eyes lit up but he said, “I would have to talk to my family and you would have to buy it first.”
“We will be buying it, there is no doubt about that,” replied Max.
“I think we would be interested,” said Karl.
“That’s good,” replied Max before adding, “I will just go and find Helen.”
Max found Helen in the house looking at a photo of her and her younger sister.
“Look at me I don’t look any different,” said Helen.
“I think we should go,” replied Max.
As they walked out the front gate they found the Real Estate Agent talking with the family.
Helen’ son Robert smiled at her and said, “Hi, we meet again, are you interested in buy the property?”
“Very interested,” replied Helen.
A very elderly woman in a wheel chair next to Robert said, “hello Helen.”
“You know, you are the spiting image of my mother when she was younger,” said Robert.
“So your son said,” replied Helen.
“We better be on our way, see you tomorrow at the auction,” said Max as they walked away.
The next day Max and Helen arrived at the farm in plenty of time and registered as a bidder. The auction would take place in the farm barn so Max and Helen found themselves a good spot down the front and waited.
About fifty people gathered in the barn as the auction was about to start but how many of them were serious bidders was anyone’s guess. The Real Estate Agent call “for bids” when some wag called out, “one hundred dollars,” but he was ignored.
“Can I have a starting bid?” asked the Real Estate Agent.
Some one called out, “seven hundred thousand.”
“I have seven hundred thousand any further bids?” asked the Real Estate Agent.
No one said anything so Max called out, “eight hundred thousand.”
“Any further bids?” asked the Real Estate Agent.
“If there were no more bids I will just have to consult with my clients,” said the Real Estate Agent. He then started talking to representatives of the bank who stood out as they were wearing suits.
Max and Helen just sat there waiting when Karl sat next to them and said, “our debt to the bank is eight hundred and thirty five thousand.”
“Do you have any friends here?” asked Max.
“Yes,” replied Karl.
“Get one of them to bid nine hundred thousand,” said Max and he then continued, “I will bid one million, that will wipe your debt and give you some spending money.”
Karl just smiled and walked away.
The Real Estate Agent got back up on a bail of hay and said, “I have been instructed to put the property on the market, do I have any further bids?”
“Someone called out, “Nine hundred thousand.”
“One million,” said Max.
“Any more bids?” asked the Real Estate Agent.
There were no more bids so with the fall of the hammer it was done.
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