The Nabob eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 527 pages of information about The Nabob.
the honour of knowing you.  But we shall soon make each other’s acquaintance.  Be kind enough to sit down and let us have a chat.”  The merchant at bay, on the verge of bankruptcy—­sometimes it is true—­who comes to entreat you to save his honour, with a pistol ready to shoot himself, bulging out the pocket of his overcoat—­sometimes it is only his pipe-case.  And often genuine distresses, wearisome and prolix, of people who are unable even to tell how little competent they are to earn a livelihood.  Side by side with this open begging, there was that which wears various kinds of disguise:  charity, philanthropy, good works, the encouragement of projects of art, the house-to-house begging for infant asylums, parish churches, rescued women, charitable societies, local libraries.  Finally, those who wear a society mask, with tickets for concerts, benefit performances, entrance-cards of all colours, “platform, front seats, reserved seats.”  The Nabob insisted that no refusals should be given, and it was a concession that he no longer burdened his own shoulders with such matters.  For quite a long time, in generous indifference, he had gone on covering with gold all that hypocritical exploitation, paying five hundred francs for a ticket for the concert of some Wurtemberg cithara-player or Languedocian flutist, which at the Tuileries or at the Duc de Mora’s might have fetched ten francs.  There were days when the young de Gery issued from these audiences nauseated.  All the honesty of his youth revolted; he approached the Nabob with schemes of reform.  But the Nabob’s face, at the first word, would assume the bored expression of weak natures when they have to make a decision, or he would perhaps reply:  “But that is Paris, my dear boy.  Don’t get frightened or interfere with my plans.  I know what I am doing and what I want.”

At that time he wanted two things:  a deputyship and the cross of the Legion of Honour.  These were for him the first two stages of the great ascent to which his ambition pushed him.  Deputy he would certainly be through the influence of the Territorial Bank, at the head of which he stood.  Paganetti of Porto-Vecchio was often saying it to him:  “When the day arrives, the island will rise and vote for you as one man.”

It is not enough, however, to control electors; it is necessary also that there be a seat vacant in the Chamber, and the representation of Corsica was complete.  One of its members, however, the old Popolusca, infirm and in no condition to do his work, might perhaps, upon certain conditions, be willing to resign his seat.  It was a difficult matter to negotiate, but quite feasible, the old fellow having a numerous family, estates which produced little or nothing, a palace in ruins at Bastia, where his children lived on polenta, and a furnished apartment at Paris in an eighteenth-rate lodging-house.  If a hundred or two hundred thousand francs were not a consideration, one ought to be able to obtain a favourable decision from this honourable pauper who, sounded by Paganetti, would say neither yes nor no, tempted by the large sum of money, held back by the vainglory of his position.  The matter had reached that point, it might be decided from one day to another.

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The Nabob from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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