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Had I Been Consulted
by [?]

“HE’S too independent for me,” said Matthew Page. “Too independent by half. Had I been consulted he would have done things very differently. But as it is, he will drive his head against the wall before he knows where he is.”

“Why don’t you advise him to act differently?”

“Advise him, indeed! Oh, no–let him go on in his own way, as he’s so fond of it. Young men now-a-days think they know every thing. The experience of men like me goes for nothing with them. Advise him! He may go to the dogs; but he’ll get no advice from me unasked.”

“You really think he will ruin himself if he goes on in the way he is now going?”

“I know it. Simple addition will determine that, in five minutes. In the first place, instead of consulting me, or some one who knows all about it, he goes and buys that mill for just double what it is worth, and on the mere representation of a stranger, who had been himself deceived, and had an interest in misleading him, in order to get a bad bargain off of his hands. But that is just like your young chaps, now-a-days. They know every thing, and go ahead without talking to anybody. I could have told him, had he consulted me, that, instead of making money by the concern, he would sink all he had in less than two years.”

“He is sanguine as to the result.”

“I know. He told me, yesterday, that he expected not only to clear his land for nothing, but to make two or three thousand dollars a year out of the lumber for the next ten years. Preposterous!”

“Why didn’t you disabuse him of his error, Mr. Page? It was such a good opportunity.”

“Let him ask for my advice, if he wants it. It’s a commodity I never throw away.”

“You might save him from the loss of his little patrimony.”

“He deserves to lose it for being such a fool. Buy a steam saw-mill two miles from his land, and expect to make money by clearing it? Ridiculous!”

“Your age and experience will give your advice weight with him, I am sure, Mr. Page. I really think you ought to give a word or two of warning, at least, and thus make an effort to prevent his running through with what little he has. A capital to start with in the world is not so easily obtained, and it is a pity to see Jordan waste his as he is doing.”

“No, sir,” replied Page. “I shall have nothing to say to him. If he wants my opinion, and asks for it, he shall have it in welcome; not without.”

The individuals about whom these persons were conversing was a young man named Jordan, who, at majority, came into the possession of fifty acres of land and about six thousand dollars. The land was still in forest and lay about two miles from a flourishing town in the West, which stood on the bank of a small river that emptied into the Ohio some fifty miles below.

As soon as Jordan became the possessor of the property, he began to turn his thoughts toward its improvement, in order to increase its value. The land did not lie contiguous to his native town, but near to S–, where he was a stranger. To S–he went, and staying at one of the hotels, met with a very pleasant old gentleman who had just built a steam saw-mill on the banks of the river, and was getting in the engine preparatory to putting it in operation. This man’s name was Barnaby. He had conceived the idea that a steam saw-mill at that point would be a fortune to any one, and had proceeded to the erection of one forthwith. Logs were to be cut some miles up the river and floated down to the mill, and, after being there manufactured into lumber, to be rafted to a market somewhere between that and New Orleans. Mr. Barnaby had put the whole thing down upon paper, and saw at a glance that it was an operation in which any man’s fortune was certain. But, before his mill was completed, he had good reason to doubt the success of his new scheme. He had become acquainted with Matthew Page, a shrewd old resident of S–, who satisfied him, after two or three interviews, that, instead of making a fortune, he would stand a fair chance of losing his whole investment.