Can I make money without money?

Can I make money without money?

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'You see that we were foolish,' said he.

'Ah! that makes no difference, my friend,' she answered. 'I am so glad that he has reassured us!'

In presence of all this happiness, Saccard halted, bowing. The room, luxuriously furnished, was redolent of the happy life of this household, which nothing had yet disunited. During four years of wedlock, Mazaud had been accused of nothing save a fleeting curiosity with regard to a vocalist at the Opéra Comique. He remained a faithful husband, just as he had the reputation of not yet speculating too heavily on his own account, despite all the natural impetuosity of youth. And a pleasant perfume of luck, of unclouded felicity could[Pg 86] really be detected here, amid the discreet peacefulness of the apartment, amid the delicious odour with which a large bouquet of roses, overflowing from a china vase, had scented the entire room.

Madame Mazaud, who was slightly acquainted with Saccard, addressed him gaily: 'Is it not true, monsieur, one need only wish it to be always happy?'

'I am convinced of it, madame,' he answered. 'And besides, there are persons so beautiful and good that misfortune never dares to touch them.'

She had risen, radiant. Kissing her husband in her turn, she went out, carrying the little boy, and followed by the little girl, who had been hanging on her father's neck. The latter, wishing to hide his emotion, turned towards his visitor with the bantering remark: 'You see we don't lead a dull life here.'

Then he quickly added: 'You have something to say to me? Let us go upstairs, eh? We shall be more at our ease there.'

Up above, in the cashiers' office, Saccard recognised Sabatani, who had called for some money due to him; and he was surprised to see how cordially the broker shook hands with his customer. However, as soon as he was seated in Mazaud's private room, he explained his visit by questioning the broker as to the formalities which were necessary to secure the quotation of a new security in the official list. In a careless way he spoke of the affair which he was about to launch, the Universal Bank, with a capital of twenty-five millions. Yes, a financial establishment which would especially patronise certain great enterprises, which he just alluded to. Mazaud listened with perfect composure, and, in the most obliging way, explained the formalities that were requisite. However he was in no wise duped; Saccard had certainly not called on him merely with reference to this trifling matter, and so when his visitor at last mentioned the name of Daigremont he gave an involuntary smile. Certainly Daigremont had a colossal fortune behind him; it was said that his fidelity was not of the surest; but then who[Pg 87] is faithful in business and in love? Nobody! For the rest, he (Mazaud) hardly cared to speak the full truth about Daigremont, for they had quarrelled, and their quarrel had been the talk of the whole Bourse. Daigremont now gave most of his orders to a Bordeaux Jew, named Jacoby, a tall man of sixty, with a broad, gay face, whose roaring voice was celebrated, but who was growing heavy and corpulent; and there was a sort of rivalry between him and Mazaud, between the young man favoured by fortune and the elder who owed his position to long service, for Jacoby had been a mere authorised clerk until—financed by sleeping partners—he had finally succeeded in purchasing his employer's business. Though of very great experience and shrewdness, he was sorely handicapped by his passion for speculation, and, in spite of considerable profits, always seemed on the eve of a catastrophe. His money melted away on settling days.

'In any case,' concluded Mazaud, yielding at last to his resentment against the man he had quarrelled with, spite of all his scruples, 'it is quite certain that Daigremont played his allies false in that Caraccas affair, and swept away the profits—I consider him a very dangerous man.' Then, after a pause, he added: 'But why don't you apply to Gundermann?'

'Never!' cried Saccard, in a fit of passion.

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Just then Berthier, the authorised clerk, came in and whispered a few words in the broker's ear. The Baroness Sandorff had come to pay her losses, and was raising all sorts of quibbling objections by way of trying to reduce her account. Mazaud generally hastened to receive her in person, but, when she had lost, he avoided her like the plague, certain as he was that his gallantry would be put to too severe a test. There are no worse clients than women, for as soon as they have to pay money away they become absolutely dishonest.

'No, no; tell her that I am not in,' he answered testily. 'And don't abate a centime, you understand?'

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When Berthier had gone, seeing by Saccard's smile that he had heard him, he continued: 'It is true, my dear fellow, she's very pretty, but you have no idea of her rapacity. Ah;[Pg 88] how our customers would love us if they always won! Yet the richer they are, the higher the society in which they move, God forgive me! the more I distrust them, the more I fear I may not be paid. Yes, there are days when, apart from the large banking houses, I could wish that my connection was purely a provincial one.'

Just then a clerk came in, handed him some papers that he had asked for that morning, and then went out.

'See here!' he resumed, 'here is a receiver of dividends at Vend?me, a man named Fayeux. Well, you can have no idea of the number of orders that I receive from him. To be sure, these orders, taken singly, are modest ones, coming as they do from folks of the petty bourgeoisie, shopkeepers and farmers. But there are so many of them. Really, the best of our business, the very foundation of it, will be found among the people of modest means, the crowd of nobodies who speculate.'

This somehow reminded Saccard of Sabatani, whom he had seen in the cashiers' office.

'I see that you have Sabatani now,' said he.