“How much will that cost?” persisted Jabel Blake, not remarking the growing repulsion with which the General answered, after some little embarrassment:
“One hundred and sixty thousand dollars.”
“Why!” cried Jabel Blake, “that is nearly as much as it takes to start the Ross Valley bank. Take care! Take care! Beware, Elk MacNair, of getting into debt at your time of life. It makes gray hairs come. It breaks up domestic pleasure. It mortgages tranquil years. Neither a borrower nor a lender be! That’s Bible talk, and the Bible is not only the best book for the family, but the best business book besides.”
“I don’t mean to run in debt,” said the General, with a look, perhaps surly; “I mean to buy into the firm with cash.”
“Bosh!” said Jabel Blake, rising up, “where did you get one hundred and sixty thousand dollars, Elk MacNair?”
“If you were not claiming to its fullest extent the privilege of my father’s friend, Jabel, I should tell you that it was none of your business! I will have made the money by the practice of law in the City of Washington.”
“Dear me, Elk,” said his brother, quietly; “I don’t presume to be worth five thousand dollars, all told. But I suppose you have genius and opportunity, and the times are wondrous for men of acquaintance and enterprise.”
Jabel Blake stared at Elk MacNair a long while without speaking.
The sudden revelation that Elk MacNair was very rich had, on the whole, a depressing effect. Kate Dunlevy, who had expected to marry purely for love, found with a little chagrin that she was also marrying for money. The Judge was led to remark upon the curiosities of a speculative age and a fluctuating currency, and said he longed for the solid times of hard coin, cheap prices, easy stages, and a Jeffersonian republic. As for Jabel Blake, he was too late for that day to deposit his bonds at the Treasury and obtain the currency for the Ross Valley bank, so he went sauntering around the city, grim as a defeated office-seeker.
The brothers also made some calls, and Arthur MacNair was puzzled and at the same time pleased, to find that his dashing junior knew everybody, had something to chat about with innumerable strangers or members, and was freely admitted to any public office he desired. They came home at twilight, quite fatigued, and found Jabel Blake lying on a bed in the inner chamber, fast asleep.
“Dreaming of his bank!” said Elk MacNair; “what a metallic soul must Jabel’s be! His very voice rattles like money. His features are cut hard as a face on a coin.”
“Jabel has good points, Elk,” said the Congressman; “if you can understand the passion of the town builder you can apprehend him. He has devoted his life to Ross Valley, and the only text of Scripture he finds it hard to understand is, that he who ruleth his soul is greater than he who buildeth a city.”