“Do they drink wine?”
“Yes, Monsieur; their houses are kept up in the highest style; I may say, in prophetic style. Superb salons, large receptions, the apex of social life—”
“Well,” remarked the lunatic, “the workmen who pull things down want wine as much as those who put things up.”
“True,” said the illustrious Gaudissart, “and all the more, Monsieur, when they pull down with one hand and build up with the other, like the apostles of the ‘Globe.’”
“They want good wine; Head of Vouvray, two puncheons, three hundred bottles, only one hundred francs,—a trifle.”
“How much is that a bottle?” said Gaudissart, calculating. “Let me see; there’s the freight and the duty,—it will come to about seven sous. Why, it wouldn’t be a bad thing: they give more for worse wines —(Good! I’ve got him!” thought Gaudissart, “he wants to sell me wine which I want; I’ll master him)—Well, Monsieur,” he continued, “those who argue usually come to an agreement. Let us be frank with each other. You have great influence in this district—”
“I should think so!” said the madman; “I am the Head of Vouvray!”
“Well, I see that you thoroughly comprehend the insurance of intellectual capital—”
“—and that you have measured the full importance of the ’Globe’—”
“Twice; on foot.”
Gaudissart was listening to himself and not to the replies of his hearer.
“Therefore, in view of your circumstances and of your age, I quite understand that you have no need of insurance for yourself; but, Monsieur, you might induce others to insure, either because of their inherent qualities which need development, or for the protection of their families against a precarious future. Now, if you will subscribe to the ‘Globe,’ and give me your personal assistance in this district on behalf of insurance, especially life-annuity,—for the provinces are much attached to annuities—Well, if you will do this, then we can come to an understanding about the wine. Will you take the ’Globe’?”
“I stand on the globe.”
“Will you advance its interests in this district?”
“And I—but you do subscribe, don’t you, to the ’Globe’?”
“The globe, good thing, for life,” said the lunatic.
“For life, Monsieur?—ah, I see! yes, you are right: it is full of life, vigor, intellect, science,—absolutely crammed with science, —well printed, clear type, well set up; what I call ‘good nap.’ None of your botched stuff, cotton and wool, trumpery; flimsy rubbish that rips if you look at it. It is deep; it states questions on which you can meditate at your leisure; it is the very thing to make time pass agreeably in the country.”
“That suits me,” said the lunatic.
“It only costs a trifle,—eighty francs.”
“That won’t suit me,” said the lunatic.