The Million Pound Bank Note

by Mark Twain

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Chapter XV

"Tell me how. Speak out, my boy."
"Give me a million and my passage home for my 'option'! Don't, don't refuse!"
I was in a kind of agony. I was right on the point of coming out with the words, "Lloyd, I'm a pauper myself - absolutely penniless, and in debt!" But a white-hot idea came flaming through my head, and I gripped my jaws together, and calmed myself down till I was as cold as a capitalist. Then I said, in a commercial and self-possessed way:
"I will save you, Lloyd--"
"Then I'm already saved! God be merciful to you forever! If ever I--"
"Let me finish, Lloyd. I will save you, but not in that way; for that would not be fair to you, after your hard work, and the risks you've run. I don't need to buy mines; I can keep my capital moving, in a commercial center like London, without that; it's what I'm at, all the time; but here is what I'll do. I know all about that mine, of course; I know its immense value, and can swear to it if anybody wishes it. You shall sell out inside of the fortnight for three millions cash, using my name freely, and we'll divide, share and share alike."
Do you know, he would have danced the furniture to kindling-wood in his insane joy, and broken everything on the place, if I hadn't tripped him up and tied him.
Then he lay there, perfectly happy, saying:
"I may use your name! Your name - think of it! Man, they'll flock in droves, these rich Londoners; they'll fight for that stock! I'm a made man, I'm a made man forever, and I'll never forget you as long as I live!"
In less than twenty-four hours London was abuzz! I hadn't anything to do, day after day, but sit at home, and say to all comers:
"Yes; I told him to refer to me. I know the man, and I know the mine. His character is above reproach, and the mine is worth far more than he asks for it."
Meantime I spent all my evenings at the minister's with Portia. I didn't say a word to her about the mine; I saved it for a surprise. We talked salary; never anything but salary and love; sometimes love, sometimes salary, sometimes love and salary together. And my! the interest the minister's wife and daughter took in our little affair, and the endless ingenuities they invented to save us from interruption, and to keep the minister in the dark and unsuspicious - well, it was just lovely of them!


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