Fie! M. Passajon. At your age, such a trade! Eh! mon Dieu! I well know it. I know that I should do myself more honour in quitting this evil place. But what! You would have me then renounce the hope of getting back anything of all I have put in here. No, it is not possible. There is urgent need on the contrary that I should remain, that I should be on the watch, always at hand, ready to profit by any windfall, if one should come. Oh, for example, I swear it upon my ribbon, upon my thirty years of academical service, if ever an affair like this of the Nabob allow me to recover my disbursements, I shall not wait another single minute. I shall quickly be off to look after my pretty vineyard down yonder, near Monbars, cured forever of my thoughts of speculation. But, alas! that is a very chimerical hope. Exhausted, used up, known as we are upon the Paris market, with our stocks which are no longer quoted on the Bourse, our bonds which are near being waste paper, so many lies, so many debts, and the hole that grows ever deeper and deeper. (We owe at this moment three million five hundred thousand francs. It is not, however, those three millions that worry us. On the contrary, it is they that keep us going; but we have with the concierge a little bill of a hundred and twenty-five francs for postage-stamps, a month’s gas bill, and other little things. That is the really terrible part of it.) and we are expected to believe that a man, a great financier like this Nabob, even though he were just arrived from the Congo, or dropped from the moon the same day, would be fool enough to put his money into a concern like this. Come! Is the thing possible? You may tell that story to the marines, my dear governor.
“M. BERNARD JANSOULET!”
The plebeian name, accentuated proudly by the liveried servants, and announced in a resounding voice, sounded in Jenkins’s drawing-rooms like the clash of a cymbal, one of those gongs which, in fairy pieces at the theatre, are the prelude to fantastic apparitions. The light of the chandeliers paled, every eye sparkled at the dazzling perspective of the treasures of the Orient, of the showers of the sequins and of pearls evoked by the magic syllables of that name, yesterday unknown.
He, it was he himself, the Nabob, the rich among the rich, the great Parisian curiosity, spiced by that relish of adventure which is so pleasing to the surfeited crowd. All heads turned, all conversations were interrupted; near the door there was a pushing among the guests, a crush as upon the quay of a seaport to witness the entry of a felucca laden with gold.
Jenkins himself, so hospitable, so self-possessed, who was standing in the first drawing-room receiving his guests, abruptly quitted the group of men about him and hurried to place himself at the head of the galleons bearing down upon the guest.