MEMOIRS OF AN OFFICE PORTER SERVANTS
Truly Fortune in Paris has bewildering turns of the wheel!
To have seen the Territorial Bank as I have seen it, the rooms without fires, never swept, the desert with its dust, protested bills piled high as that on the desks, every week a notice of sale posted at the door, my stew spreading throughout the whole place the odour of a poor man’s kitchen; and then to witness now the reconstitution of our company in its newly furnished halls, in which I have orders to light fires big enough for a Government department, amid a busy crowd, blowings of whistles, electric bells, gold pieces piled up till they fall over; it savours of miracle. I need to look at myself in the glass before I can believe it, to see in the mirror my iron-gray coat, trimmed with silver, my white tie, my usher’s chain like the one I used to wear at the Faculty on the days when there were sittings. And to think that to work this transformation, to bring back to our brows gaiety, the mother of concord, to restore to our scrip its value ten times over, to our dear governor the esteem and confidence of which he had been so unjustly deprived, one man has sufficed, the being of supernatural wealth whom the hundred voices of renown designate by the name of the Nabob.
Oh, the first time that he came to the office, with his fine presence, his face a little worn perhaps, but so distinguished, his manners of one accustomed to frequent courts, upon terms of the utmost familiarity with all the princes of the Orient—in a word, that indescribable quality of assurance and greatness which is bestowed by immense wealth—I felt my heart bursting beneath the double row of buttons on my waistcoat. People may mouth in vain their great words of equality and fraternity; there are men who stand so surely above the rest that one would like to bow one’s self down flat in their presence, to find new phrases of admiration in order to compel them to take a practical interest in one. Let us hasten to add that I had need of nothing of the kind to attract the attention of the Nabob. As