He seized his hat and hurried away like a fury. Arthur MacNair stood motionless an instant in the middle of the floor, and then, worn out with the intensity of the scene, his limbs gave way beneath him, and he fell unconscious.
In a moment the hard, strong face and giant form of Jabel Blake appeared over the threshold of the bedroom; he lifted his Congressman and counsel in his arms and carried him grimly to a sofa.
The Honorable Perkiomen Trappe was much delighted, on the morning subsequent to the occurrences related in our last chapter, to see Jabel Blake walk down Pennsylvania Avenue with the pensive air of a man whose heart had been broken. The Honorable Perkiomen supposed that Jabel had failed to receive some drawback or other upon his income-tax, and he rejoiced in the reverses of the close and thrifty.
But Jabel Blake was now concerned solely with the sudden and violent rupture between the MacNair brothers. He had little acquaintance with Elk MacNair, and no great fondness for him; but, being well informed as to the positive, combative traits of character in Arthur MacNair, Jabel knew very well that what his counsel had threatened to do he would do, though his own heart-strings might be sundered.
The deepest wish in Jabel’s heart, next to establishing a national bank in Ross Valley, was to see the marriage between Kate Dunlevy and the MacNair family brought to pass; yet such was his reverence for the Dunlevys and so great his antagonism to the Washington Lobby that he was half inclined to be himself the means of breaking off the match between the daughter of his great neighbor and exemplar and the son of his old chum and companion.
Jabel took his way to the house of the old Circuit Judge, which was one of a row of tall brown-stone structures not far from the city hall, and when he rang the bell a servant showed him to a library in the second story, where the Judge was dictating certain judicial opinions to his daughter. The two elderly men retired to an adjacent apartment, which seemed, from its appointments and the character of needlework and literature strewn about, to be the boudoir of Miss Dunlevy; and the Judge, who was somewhat past the prime of life, plunged into a long story about Ross Valley and its early settlement, speaking much of the time with his eyes closed in a sort of half reverie, while Jabel, who occupied a seat nearer to the library, was meantime overhearing a conversation between Kate Dunlevy and young Elk MacNair, who had followed hard upon Jabel’s heels. The old Judge meantime, used to their voices, paused only to remark that he thought Elk MacNair one of the strongest, most brilliant, and most promising men in the nation, and then went on with his dissertation upon pioneer days among the spurs of the Alleghenies. Jabel, however, who was an attentive, inquisitive busybody, and who lived in a part of the country where folks of quality and large pursuits were few, observed that the two voices in the next room were lowered, and that their key, while not so high, was yet even more startling than before.