A Look Inside The "New Normal" McMansion

Tyler Durden's picture

And they're back:

  • 2,277 sq.ft. - Median new-home size in 2007
  • 2,306 sq. ft. - Median new-home size in 2012

Just as that crowning achievement of the last housing bubble, the McMansions, have once again returned with the second and final return of the Fed-blown housing bubble, the Bluths picked a perfect time to also come bac on the scene.

But back to the triumphal return of McMansions.

Readers will recall that one of the prevailing themes in the early post-depression years, was a return to thrift - in spending and in housing size - and after the median home size hit a record high of 2,277 square feet in 2007, it declined progressively in the following two years according to Census Bureau figures (we can only assume these were not manipulated unlike the jobs numbers). As David Rosenberg at the time, and as the NYT pointed out a day ago, "It seemed that after more than a decade of swelling domiciles, the McMansion era was over. But that conclusion may have been premature."

Because as data from 2010 and onward shows, now only is American fascination with size, in this case of one's home, back but it has never been more acute:

In 2010, homes starting growing again. By last year, the size of the median new single-family home hit a record high of 2,306 square feet, surpassing the peak of 2007. And new homes have been getting more expensive, too. The median price reached $279,300 in April this year, or about 6 percent higher than the pre-recession peak of $262,600, set in March 2007. The numbers are not adjusted for inflation.

However, since we have already covered the return of the housing (and all other) bubbles previously, we will not comment on how the Fed is once again doing everything in its power to bring about the biggest credit and housing bubble crash in history. The NYT has done a rather good and concise job of that:

 Yet the economy remains weak. How can Americans keep buying bigger and more expensive homes? It turns out, of course, that not everyone can.

 

“It’s all about access to credit,” said Rose Quint, an economist at the National Association of Home Builders. “People who are less affluent and have less robust employment histories have been shut out of the new home market. As a result, the characteristics of new homes are being skewed to people who can obtain credit and put down large down payments, typically wealthier buyers.”

 

It’s another sign that in today’s economy, prosperity is not universally shared.

Much more can be added here, although at the end of the day all signs point, as usual, to the Fed and its "reflate everything" panacea.

So instead of analyzing the prevailing Keynesian lunacy in which one needs asset bubbles to fix the aftermath of prior asset bubbles, we will simply constrain ourselves to discussing... interior decoration.

The infographic below from BusinessWeek shows how times, and tastes, how to decorate one's McMansion have changed in the past few years.

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butchee's picture

It's an Illusion....A trick is something a whore does for money  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X1WSH0VzoaM

Midas's picture

Don't call my escorts whores.   ---GOB

Gene Parmesan's picture

The car’s in a town called Encanta. If you think that’s worth more than $200, I’d really appreciate it. I’m not even going to count it.

fonestar's picture

I want one.  How much satoshi?

GMadScientist's picture

No, a trick is someone a whore does for money; like you, for example.

ebworthen's picture

I have several aquaintances from my old job who just "had" to have their McMansions.

They already owned nice homes with large yards with mature trees. 

They traded them for new McMansions with granite counter-tops and stainless steel appliances, and 1,000 to 2,000 more square feet to keep all their junk in (important stuff like antiques from antiquing and clothes and shoes and new furniture and new SUV's).

These are people with two kids, no more than that.  They insisted on hosting the next Christmas party to show off their new McCastles of course.

Ego, greed, the lust for mammon.  And of course, this all pushed them to get bigger salaries and grants.  Paper pushers all of them; doing nothing productive for society.

The people below them all lost out; and either had their wages held stagnant, hours and jobs added without compensation, or were laid off.

Too bad our society has forgotten the Seven Deadly Sins and why they are Deadly.

Ralph Spoilsport's picture

Ask them how much they like their heating bill. Those high ceilings are the last thing you want in cold weather.

Mike in GA's picture

plus think of the roof lines on some of these puppies...20 yrs from now when these people have to do a $20-30K roof redo

stant's picture

and the property tax, as my dad a plumber ,explained to me when i was a young man owning a house was glorified rent, and the biggest scam of all time

Harbanger's picture

It's all about living WITHIN YOUR MEANS, bitcherrrs. All things being equal, and not going out and buying a fucking mcmansion that you can't afford, how can you compare paying rent to paying off a loan on YOUR property?

Oracle 911's picture

Try don't pay the property tax on your property and you will see who truly owns your house.

sleigher's picture

You're right, but there ways to get around that.  To truly own the land that you "own".

glenlloyd's picture

There are few places in this country where you can actually get allodial title.

Home ownership is a scam as it is now. You have to pay rents in the form of property taxes and you have all the responsibility and very few private property rights in city corporation boundaries. You also have to ask permission to do what you want with what you allegedly own and often are under the scrutiny of gate keepers who's job it is to say no.

About the only thing one could say about home ownership is that if you added up all the rents over the course of time and that owning the house cost you significantly less you'd be ahead. You still have to quantify the responsibility aspect of it and in some cases that can be a lot.

I doubt I buy another house again...unless it's rural and at least 2 miles away from a city corporation (aka outside their reach).

CuriousPasserby's picture

Sorry, he was wrong. After 20 years of house payments you OWN the house. After 20 years of rent payments, you own a box of rent receipts. After working hard and paying my house off in 7 years I lived rent-free for 20 years before selling it for 5 times what I paid. Stupid renters!

toys for tits's picture

He's talking about periodic property taxes.  

 

When you don't have to pay them, then you TRULY own your property.  Anything else is rent, since if you don't pay it you get evicted.  The gov't can set those taxes at whatever rate they want.

glenlloyd's picture

While that may be true in part you have to add up all the costs of owning / maintaining the property and compare that with rent. The responsibility for the property has to be quantified...it's not free.

Twenty years of property insurance is not free. Twenty years of property taxes are not free. The cost for appliances to maintain the property (mowers, trimmers and the like) are not free.

And there's your time. You need to count the costs of your time to shovel / mow / trim etc.

And finally, a lot of people who owned houses for 20 years didn't profit like you did. In many circumstances their value only changed marginally. A lot depended on when you purchased and how advanced the property bubble was at that time. I would venture a guess that the people who purchased your house will either see flat values or perhaps even declining value as reality sets in about where property values are going from here.

Further...there is a qualitative cost to being stuck in a place that perhaps you don't or can't find work. How do you take into account the freedom of renting especially when on a month to month basis you have the ability to relocate quickly? The people around the corner from me are stuck at the moment...they would prefer to relocate but can't because their house can't be sold for even what they paid years ago.

In a word you got lucky..not everyone can participate in the luck..NNT says as much in his books.

Harbanger's picture

"20 yrs from now when these people have to do a $20-30K roof redo"

We live within a DEBT BASED ECONOMIC SYSTEM.  That's the 1st thing you need to understand.  Then ask yourself, how much did it cost to redo a roof 20 yrs ago as compared to now, and how much did that house cost then.  Your currency is devaluating my friend.  We didn't make the rules, but if you're going to play the game, you need to know the rules. 

ZH Snob's picture

...here in the city of emphysema...let's take a look at some of these fabulous buys


 


Ljoot's picture

+1 for Firesign Theatre reference.

... and factory air-conditioned air from our fully equipped air-conditioned factory.

 

Seer's picture

Many are likely situated in warmer climates... and in that case you DO want higher ceilings (and cupola would be advisable).

I'm in a location that has a heating season.  When the sun's out I get passive solar.  And for those days that I don't have that free energy I'm chucking wood (from the property) into the woodstove.  The core of the house is pretty open, allowing for good circulation.

A Nanny Moose's picture

Personally, I would rather be out having fun, than hunting dustbunnies in my effing vaulted ceilings, and air ducts.

"Your house is a place to keep your stuff, while you go out and get....moar stuff!!!" - George Carlin (R.I.P)

ForTheWorld's picture

That's an all too familiar story. I have two to add:

I have two good friends who are married, and they just had to have a brand new four bedroom house, and nothing else would do. At the time they made this decision, they both had jobs, but the guy was saddled with around $20K debt from a previous relationship, and the girl had a small amount of debt from her previous marriage, plus some emotional issues.

Anyways, to get the loan for the house, they had to go through five different lenders, and then to get the deposit (they didn't have any saved), they had to ask the guys parents for his inheritance ($30K-$50K was the implied range). His parents are still alive though. So they finally got the loan, but a week before they were approved for a $450K loan, the guy had his hours cut at work, and a few months later, is down to two days a week. The girl is still working, but wants to quit and have children. They've purchased the house with four bedrooms for the children they plan on having, but both are approaching mid 30s, and they've been trying for years, to no avail.

My wife and I have tried to lightly suggest that they might have exceeded their abilities, but no - they HAVE to have that house. No questions.

Now they're at the point where they won't even pay their share of a meal (not even going Dutch - just paying for what they ate/drank). I don't care about the money, but the lack of principals, especially with friends, is galling.

I have another friend who I was talking with about the price of housing in Australia, and how it's ridiculously expensive ($300K is the low end of average where I live, 5.5x the average yearly wage) compared to the average wage, and it doesn't need to be so. He said "Well, that's just the way it is, and if you want to live somewhere, you need to pay that". He plans to knock down his house (which is a perfectly functional, habitable house) to build something bigger that will remove all yard space that he has, so when it comes time to sell, he makes lots of money (his yard isn't exactly small either).

As you've said, we've forgotten the Seven Deadly Sins - especially Greed.

(I can't believe I spelled "especially" with an X. Terrible.)

RafterManFMJ's picture

Should close in 2 weeks on a 99-year old brick on cut stone Victorian; 4 (small) bedrooms, pocket doors, original hardwood throughout. Is in town with a small lot, but at 121K comes in well within my budget.  You couldn't build this home today.

I looked at new construction - you get shoddy quality for twice the price...and triple the property taxes. Naw, don't think so.

ForTheWorld's picture

Lucky bugger!

Australians have a tendancy to not leave homes like that standing - they knock them down and build new ones (real estate prices always go up, right?). The even more ridiculous thing is homes built in Australia aren't built for passive cooling - they all have dark roofs, use either ducted air con or multiple units, and are a single layer of brick (sometimes with rendering) on the exterior. When the sun hits the brick for even an hour on a summer day, it transfers heat into a house ridiculously well, and takes well into the evening for the heat to dissipate. We are so dumb here.

Parrotile's picture

Seems fashion will always beat good design. You will notice the "in" colour is now grey (usually dark grey) which is a great absorber of solar energy in the summer (so the house is boiling inside), and loses heat well in the winter (so the house is freezing inside).

Add in the current penchant for vast "open plan" areas, no "inconvenient" features such as wood fires (or if they do have a fire it's purely ornamental), large areas of single-glazed glass, and it's no wonder that "every home just HAS to have a 10 - 15kW ducted AC system" - which they run 24/7 in the summer, and 24/7 in the winter.

No wonder everyone's always bitching on about how much electricity they use!!

glenlloyd's picture

In my area all new construction gets property tax abatement for 10 years. Some people make it a practice of moving no later than five years to a new house so the tax abatement is in essence perpetual for them. Also, the remaining five years of property tax abatement is attractive to the next buyer. Moving within the first five years also keeps the house pretty fresh and there's little if any upkeep to be done in that period if they're lucky.

The decay will come quickly, I've seen it a lot in new construction. The damage is also much more severe since the materials are questionable at best. When 90% of the materials used is nothing but glue and particles they don't last long.

The upkeep for some of these newer houses will likely overwhelm owners at some point when the whole thing begins to fall apart around them.

Seer's picture

My wife has relatives in Australia.  I marvel at how the housing market there and in Canada (relatives there too) have both managed to defy logic.  Going to be a LOT of people suffering...

ForTheWorld's picture

Some people are already starting to. I have friends who work either in mining, or industries that link in with mining, and every company they work for has laid off people (the lowest was 30 people laid off, highest was over 500). There has been massive suburban sprawl developing in what were areas of bush and farm land, and that expansion was thanks to ridiculously high coal and ore prices. Now that those prices have dropped, and mining companies are shedding workers and cutting costs, those houses are now up for sale.

The maths of the situation says things are bad, and it has to change really soon, but I've been thinking that since I arrived back in Australia in 2010. The can keeps rolling along though, much to my amazement.

Bear's picture

I live in Cali ... Home prices are approaching their all time high water in properties in proximity to LA. And in SF, they have surpassed all time highs ... I guess that California has them Covered

GMadScientist's picture

Long strike-slip faults.

 

Parrotile's picture

You live in Australia, the "Lucky Country"!

"It's Different Here" - until it isn't. "Everyone" is convinced housing prices will continue to rise, and "rents will go to the moon", except that with the exception of e.g. Sydney (and close to the CBD at that), rents have either plateaued or are (horror of horrors) dropping as a result of very significant oversupply!

If you are prepared to face a 30 minute commute (tragic I know!) it is very easily possible to rent a very nice property near Sydney CBD for a very great deal less than it will cost you to "rent" the money to buy that property of any major lender.

We're going to spend Christmas with a former colleague and her family - they moved to Queensland, and bought significant acreage (5+ acres) with a very nice 1960's Federation era Queenslander in the middle of the land block, for $100K less than they sold their inner Melbourne McMansion for (on a 450 sq.m.  battleaxe block), 200m from the local "Water Recycling Plant" (Sewage Works for those of us who are less polite). Stamp Duty was 1/3rd of Vic. rates too, which saved them another $12k.

This underlines just how stupid property prices have become, especially near major Metropolitan centres. When it hits the fan (and it will, soon)  there are going to be a lot of very unhappy "Property Investors" out there, who were all promised "untold riches for no effort", but who are all about to have a taste of reality.

ceilidh_trail's picture

Well said, EBW. Having just returned from 12 hours in the icu and hearing repeated whispers that our (not for profit hospital) CEO is/has been awarded a $12 million bonus even while we have had ours eliminated, your comment struck a cord.

Marco's picture

For the profit of the board and upper management ...

Miffed Microbiologist's picture

Always when I visit people in McMansion neighborhoods I can't wait to leave and return to my little farm on a dirt road. The houses are all identical and lined up in stifling order. I was once in a bathroom and the toilet was actually aligned perfectly with the neighbor's.. You could salute each other while sitting on the Throne.

Something about it reminds me of Madeline L'Engle book A Wrinkle in Time. The themes of "conformity" and the "status quo" are present and exalted. It is a generic theme that is within every society there is a powerful dominant group that challenges the minority group and they are too afraid to callenge it. In the book, IT is the powerful dominant group that manipulates the planet of Camazotz into conformity (i.e., they all have the same rhythm). It's amazing to watch how quickly people give up their independence and individuality to gain a sense of "status" which is forever meaningless.

Miffed;-)

401K of Dooom's picture

Whatever you do, do not disturb the conformity.  The great mind of Kamazots will get you!  Just talk to Charles Wallace and his closed pupils.

DaveyJones's picture

I play a lot of films for the neighborhood on my white garage door with a digital projector and decent speakers. It's a great value, the image is sharp and 8 X 15 and you can eat or drink what you want. In summer, we can have forty people. I have now started doing it in the garage in winter - with insulation in the ceiling, bubble wrap insulation on the roll doors, and portable heaters. I play a lot of animated for the kids and we have begun running through all the Hiro Miyazaki films. Brilliant stuff.

There's a funny animated american film: Over the Hedge with the animals fighing back on the new development. I love the main nemesis - real estate agent / development president who is always measuring peoples lawn.   

Seer's picture

I recall something written in a country magazine about advice on buying property.  One person wrote that you should look for some place with nice views because you're not likely going to be going on any trips.  I'm thankful that I've got such a place- I don't even like leaving it, and when I come home it's HOME, even if I have to end up rounding up animals and dealing with random "events."

I once had "investment" property, a house, that had a view.  I was always so busy (and away from it) that I never had time to take it in.  Now when I'm busy I'm IN it (the view): I have all sorts of views around me.

Had some customers by a couple weeks back and they marvelled at how quiet it was.  Well, when my critters are settled down and folks aren't shooting or running chainsaws it can be deadly quiet.  Sometimes in the fall you can hear leaves detach off the trees as they settle to the ground.  And then there's the water running in the drainage ditches...  I understand the meaning behind "noise pollution."

GMadScientist's picture

Compare and contrast with the McMansior neighborhood where an army of workers of dubious citizenship make every day a symphony of leaf-blowers, power-washers, lawn-mowers (for all of 9m^2 of lawn) while living on top of each other (nothing makes that as clear as having the former eyeline blockers like trees laid bare in fall).

 

Whatta's picture

2,306 sq. ft. - Median new-home size in 2012

Bah. You call that a mcMansion...my ex-McMansion had bathrooms bigger than that.

 

Urban Redneck's picture

That's about the size and cost of the new garage I built in 2012.

On the bright side, if that's what being billed as a McMansion these days- if more of the family ponders going Galt - I can sell it as movin' on up to a deluxe McMansion in the hills...

Stuck on Zero's picture

The good part is that even if the houses went to 5,000 sq. feet they'd still contain the same amount of lumber.

 

NoDebt's picture

What?  You have a problem with a house built 28" on-center??

starfcker's picture

Google the video of the house getting blown away by the tornado in diamond, illinois last week. granted that's worse case scenario, but that is not a very sturdy house, either. it's litterally gone in a second.

toys for tits's picture

Very few buildings can withstand the full force of the weather, whether it be lightning, wind, or rain.

superflex's picture

You could frame 12" O.C with 2x6's and a F4 would wipe it clean.

And it was Washington, IL.

You're 0 for 2.

Urban Redneck's picture

The relativist contemporary version seems to have lost some of the morality play aspect of the older versions...

There was once upon a time a pig who lived with her three children on a large, comfortable, old-fashioned farmyard. The eldest of the little pigs was called Browny, the second Whitey, and the youngest and best looking Blacky. Now Browny was a very dirty little pig, and, I am sorry to say, spent most of his time rolling and wallowing about in the mud. He was never so happy as on a wet day, when the mud in the farmyard got soft, and thick, and slab. Then he would steal away from his mother's side, and finding the muddiest place in the yard, would roll about in it and thoroughly enjoy himself.

His mother often found fault with him for this, and would shake her head sadly and say, "Ah, Browny! Some day you will be sorry that you did not obey your old mother."

But no words of advice or warning could cure Browny of his bad habits.

Whitey was quite a clever little pig, but she was greedy. She was always thinking of her food, and looking forward to her dinner. And when the farm girl was seen carrying the pails across the yard, she would rise up on her hind legs and dance and caper with excitement. As soon as the food was poured into the trough she jostled Blacky and Browny out of the way in her eagerness to get the best and biggest bits for herself. Her mother often scolded her for her selfishness, and told her that someday she would suffer for being so greedy and grabbing.

Blacky was a good, nice little pig, neither dirty nor greedy. He had nice dainty ways (for a pig), and his skin was always as smooth and shining as black satin. He was much cleverer than Browny and Whitey, and his mother's heart used to swell with pride when she heard the farmer's friends say to each other that someday the little black fellow would be a prize pig.

Now the time came when the mother pig felt old and feeble and near her end. One day she called the three little pigs round her and said, "My children, I feel that I am growing old and weak, and that I shall not live long. Before I die I should like to build a house for each of you, as this dear old sty in which we have lived so happily will be given to a new family of pigs, and you will have to turn out. Now, Browny, what sort of a house would you like to have?"

"A house of mud," replied Browny, looking longingly at a wet puddle in the corner of the yard.

"And you, Whitey?" said the mother pig in rather a sad voice, for she was disappointed that Browny had made so foolish a choice.

"A house of cabbage," answered Whitey, with a mouth full, and scarcely raising her snout out of the trough in which she was grubbing for some potato parings.

"Foolish, foolish child!" said the mother pig, looking quite distressed. "And you, Blacky?" turning to her youngest son. "What sort of a house shall I order for you?"

"A house of brick, please mother, as it will be warm in winter and cool in summer, and safe all the year round."

"That is a sensible little pig," replied his mother, looking fondly at him. "I will see that the three houses are got ready at once. And now one last piece of advice. You have heard me talk of our old enemy the fox. When he hears that I am dead, he is sure to try and get hold of you, to carry you off to his den. He is very sly and will no doubt disguise himself, and pretend to be a friend, but you must promise me not to let him enter your houses on any pretext whatever."

And the little pigs readily promised, for they had always had a great fear of the fox, of whom they had heard many terrible tales.

A short time afterwards the old pig died, and the little pigs went to live in their own houses.

Browny was quite delighted with his soft mud walls and with the clay floor, which soon looked like nothing but a big mud pie. But that was what Browny enjoyed, and he was as happy as possible, rolling about all day and making himself in such a mess.

One day, as he was lying half asleep in the mud, he heard a soft knock at his door, and a gentle voice said, "May I come in, Master Browny? I want to see your beautiful new house."

"Who are you?" said Browny, starting up in great fright, for though the voice sounded gentle, he felt sure it was a feigned voice, and he feared it was the fox.

"I am a friend come to call on you," answered the voice.

"No, no," replied Browny, "I don't believe you are a friend. You are the wicked fox, against whom our mother warned us. I won't let you in."

"Oho! Is that the way you answer me?" said the fox, speaking very roughly in his natural voice. "We shall soon see who is master here," and with his paws he set to work and scraped a large hole in the soft mud walls. A moment later he had jumped through it, and catching Browny by the neck, flung him on his shoulders and trotted off with him to his den.

The next day, as Whitey was munching a few leaves of cabbage out of the corner of her house, the fox stole up to her door, determined to carry her off to join her brother in his den. He began speaking to her in the same feigned gentle voice in which he had spoken to Browny. But it frightend her very much when he said, "I am a friend come to visit you, and to have some of your good cabbage for my dinner."

"Please don't touch it," cried Whitey in great distress. "The cabbages are the walls of my house, and if you eat them you will make a hole, and the wind and rain will come in and give me a cold. Do go away. I am sure you are not a friend, but our wicked enemy the fox."

And poor Whitey began to whine and to whimper, and to wish that she had not been such a greedy little pig, and had chosen a more solid material than cabbages for her house. But it was too late now, and in another minute the fox had eaten his way through the cabbage walls, and had caught the trembling, shivering Whitey and carried her off to his den.

The next day the fox started off for Blacky's house, because he had made up his mind that he would get the three little pigs together in his den, and then kill them, and invite all his friends to a feast. But when he reached the brick house, he found that the door was bolted and barred, so in his sly manner he began, "Do let me in, dear Blacky. I have brought you a present of some eggs that I picked up in a farmyard on my way here."

"No, no, Mister Fox," replied Blacky. "I am not gong to open my door to you. I know your cunning ways. You have carried off poor Browny and Whitey, but you are not going to get me."

At this the fox was so angry that he dashed with all his force against the wall, and tried to knock it down. But it was too strong and well built. And though the fox scraped and tore at the bricks with his paws, he only hurt himself, and at last he had to give it up, and limp away with his forepaws all bleeding and sore.

"Never mind!" he cried angrily as he went off. "I'll catch you another day, see if I don't, and won't I grind your bones to powder when I have got you in my den!" And he snarled fiercely and showed his teeth.

Next day Blacky had to go into the neighboring town to do some marketing and to buy a big kettle. As he was walking home with it slung over his shoulder, he heard a sound of steps stealthily creeping after him. For a moment his heart stood still with fear, and then a happy thought came to him. He had just reached the top of a hill, and could see his own little house nestling at the foot of it among the trees. In a moment he had snatched the lid off the kettle and had jumped in himself. Coiling himself round, he lay quite snug in the bottom of the kettle, while with his foreleg he managed to put the lid on, so that he was entirely hidden. With a little kick from the inside, he started the kettle off, and down the hill it rolled full tilt. And when the fox came up, all that he saw was a large black kettle spinning over the ground at a great pace. Very much disappointed, he was just going to turn away, when he saw the kettle stop close to the little brick house, and a moment later, Blacky jumped out of it and escaped with the kettle into the housed, when he barred and bolted the door, and put the shutter up over the window.

"Oho!" exclaimed the fox to himself. "You think you will escape me that way, do you? We shall soon see about that, my friend." And very quietly and stealthily he prowled round the house looking for some way to climb onto the roof.

In the meantime Blacky had filled the kettle with water, and having put it on the fire, sat down quietly waiting for it to boil. Just as the kettle was beginning to sing, and steam to come out of the spout, he heard a sound like a soft, muffled step, patter, patter, patter overhead, and the next moment the fox's head and forepaws were seen coming down the chimney. But Blacky very wisely had not put the lid on the kettle, and, with a yelp of pain, the fox fell into the boiling water, and before he could escape, Blacky had popped the lid on, and the fox was scalded to death.

As soon as he was sure that their wicked enemy was really dead, and could do them no further harm, Blacky started off to rescue Browny and Whitey. As he approached the den he heard piteous grunts and squeals from his poor little brother and sister who lived in constant terror of the fox killing and eating them. But when they saw Blacky appear at the entrance to the den, their joy knew no bounds. He quickly found a sharp stone and cut the cords by which they were tied to a stake in the ground, and then all three started off together for Blacky's house, where they lived happily ever after. And Browny quite gave up rolling in the mud, and Whitey ceased to be greedy, for they never forgot how nearly these faults had brought them to an untimely end.

http://books.google.ch/books?id=hFMmAAAAMAAJ&printsec=titlepage&redir_esc=y