For one whole week this commanding genius went every morning to be Saint-Simonized at the office of the “Globe,” and every afternoon he betook himself to the life-insurance company, where he learned the intricacies of financial diplomacy. His aptitude and his memory were prodigious; so that he was able to start on his peregrinations by the 15th of April, the date at which he usually opened the spring campaign. Two large commercial houses, alarmed at the decline of business, implored the ambitious Gaudissart not to desert the article Paris, and seduced him, it was said, with large offers, to take their commissions once more. The king of travellers was amenable to the claims of his old friends, enforced as they were by the enormous premiums offered to him.
* * * * *
“Listen, my little Jenny,” he said in a hackney-coach to a pretty florist.
All truly great men delight in allowing themselves to be tyrannized over by a feeble being, and Gaudissart had found his tyrant in Jenny. He was bringing her home at eleven o’clock from the Gymnase, whither he had taken her, in full dress, to a proscenium box on the first tier.
“On my return, Jenny, I shall refurnish your room in superior style. That big Matilda, who pesters you with comparisons and her real India shawls imported by the suite of the Russian ambassador, and her silver plate and her Russian prince,—who to my mind is nothing but a humbug, —won’t have a word to say then. I consecrate to the adornment of your room all the ‘Children’ I shall get in the provinces.”
“Well, that’s a pretty thing to say!” cried the florist. “Monster of a man! Do you dare to talk to me of your children? Do you suppose I am going to stand that sort of thing?”