“There is so much,” resumed Varenne, “that ’tis hard to tell it all. But you must know that this Banque Royale will be still more powerful than the old one. There will be incorporated with it, not only the Company of the West, but also the General Company of the Indies, as you know, the most considerable mercantile enterprise of France. Now listen! Within the first year the Banque Royale will issue one thousand million livres in notes. This embodiment of the Compagnie Generale of the Indies will warrant, as I know by the secret plans of the bank, the issue of notes amounting to two billion livres. Therefore, as Monsieur de la Chaise signifies, he who is lucky enough to-day to own a few actions of the Banque Royale, or even the old actions of Monsieur L’as’ bank, which will be redeemed by its successor, is in a way to gain greater sums than were ever seen on the face of any investment from the beginning of the world until to-day! Now, as I was about to ask of you, Monsieur Fraslin—”
The speaker turned in his chair to where Fraslin had been but a moment before. The chair was empty.
“Our friend stepped to the door but on the instant,” said De la Chaise. “He is perhaps—”
“That he has,” cried Varenne. “He is the first of us to profit! Monsieur le Prince, in virtue of what I have said to you, if you could favor me with an advance of a few hundred louis, I could assure my family of independence. Monsieur le Prince! Monsieur le Prince—”
Monsieur le Prince, however, was not so far behind the Austrian! Varenne followed him, tugging at his coat, but Conti shook him off, sprang into his carriage and was away.
“To the Place Vendome!” he cried to his coachman, “and hasten!”
De la Chaise, aristocratic, handsome and thick-witted, remained alone at the table, wondering what was the cause of this sudden commotion. Varenne re-appeared at the door wringing his hands.
“What is it, my friend?” asked De la Chaise. “Why all this haste? Why this confusion?”
“Nothing!” exclaimed Varenne, bitterly, “except that every minute of this day is worth a million francs. Man, do you know?”—and in his frenzy he caught De la Chaise by the collar and half shook him out of his usual calm—“man, can you not see that Jean L’as has brought revolution into Paris? Oh! This L’as, this devil of a L’as! A thousand louis, my friend, a hundred, ten—give me but ten louis, and I will make you rich! A day of miracles is here!”
THE GREATEST NEED
There sprang now with incredible swiftness upward and outward an Aladdin edifice of illusion. It was as though indeed this genius who had waved his wand and bidden this fairy palace of chimera to arise, had used for his material the intangible, iridescent film of bubbles, light as air. Wider and wider spread the balloon of phantasm. Higher and higher it floated, on it fixed the eyes of France. And France laughed, and asked that yet other bubbles should be blown.