pillerault vouchsafed no further answer


<p>  pillerault vouchsafed no further answer, but contented himself with a contemptuous sneer.</p>
<p>  'Yes, I know the market seems firm to you,' continued Moser; 'as yet business prospers. But wait till the end. There has been far too much pulling down and rebuilding in paris, you see. The great public works have exhausted everybody's savings. As for the powerful financial houses, which seem to you so prosperous, wait till one of them goes down, and then you will see all the others tumble in a row—to say nothing of the fact that the lower orders are getting restless. That International Association of the working classes, which has just been founded to improve the position of those who labour, inspires me with great fear. There is a revolutionary movement in France, which is becoming more pronounced every day—yes, I tell you that the worm is in the fruit. There will be a general burst up at last!'</p>
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<p>  Thereupon came a noisy protest. That confounded Moser had one of his liver attacks decidedly. He himself, however, while talking on, did not take his eyes off the neighbouring table, where, amid all the noise, Mazaud and Amadieu continued conversing in low tones. Little by little the entire room began to feel uneasy over that prolonged confidential chat. What could they have to say to each other that they should be whispering in that way? Undoubtedly Amadieu was placing some orders, preparing some deal or other. For three days past, unfavourable rumours had been circulating respecting the works at Suez. Moser winked, and lowered his voice: 'You know,' said he, 'that the English wish to prevent them from working there. We may very likely have war.'</p>
<a style="color:#666666;text-decoration:none;" href="http://www.polyu.edu.hk/mm/mm_dev/content.php?id=22&content=role&aid=1&mode=108">Fangyuan CHEN</a> Chen received her phD degree in Marketing from Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.
<p>  This time pillerault was shaken by the very enormity of the news. It was incredible, yet the report at once flew from table to table, acquiring the force of certainty. England had sent an ultimatum, demanding an immediate cessation of work. Clearly enough, Amadieu was talking of it with Mazaud, and giving him orders to sell all his Suez shares. A buzz of panic arose in the odour-laden atmosphere, amid the increasing clatter of the crockery. And at that moment the general emotion was brought to a climax by the sudden entry[pg 9] of Mazaud's clerk, little Flory, a fellow with a flabby face, overgrown with a thick chestnut beard. He rushed in with a number of fiches[7] in his hand, and gave them to his employer, saying something in his ear.</p>
<p>  'All right,' answered Mazaud quietly, as he classified the fiches in his pocket-book; then taking out his watch, he added: 'Already noon! Tell Berthier to wait for me. And be there yourself; go up after the telegrams.'</p>
<p>  When Flory had gone, he resumed his talk with Amadieu, taking some other fiches from his pocket, and placing them on the table-cloth beside his plate. Every minute or so some customer passing him on his way out leaned over him and said a word or two, which he rapidly noted down on one of the bits of paper between a couple of mouthfuls. The false news which had originated no one knew where, which had been born of nothing, was growing and swelling like a storm-cloud.</p>
<p>  'You mean to sell, don't you?' asked Moser of Salmon.</p>
<p>  However, the latter's silent smile had something so sharp and knowing about it, that he was left in anxiety, suddenly doubting the existence of this ultimatum from England, which he did not even remember had been invented by himself.</p>
<p>  'For my part, I shall buy as long as anyone will sell,' concluded pillerault, with the boastful temerity of a gambler without a system.</p>
<p>  Meantime Saccard—his temples heated by the fever of speculation, which was stimulated by all the noise attending the close of the luncheon hour in that narrow room—had at last made up his mind to eat his asparagus, again full of irritation against Huret, whom he had now given up. He, as a rule so prompt in coming to a decision, had for weeks past been hesitating, a prey to conflicting doubts. He realised the imperative necessity of slipping into a new skin, and had at first dreamed of an entirely new life, in the upper circles of the Civil Service, or else in political spheres. Why should[pg 10] not a seat in the Legislature land him in the Cabinet, like his brother? He was discontented with speculation on account of its continual instability, huge sums being as quickly lost as won. Never had he slept on a real million, owing nothing to anyone. And now that he was subjecting his conscience to examination, he said to himself that perhaps he was of too passionate a nature for financial warfare, which required so much coolness. That must be the reason why, after such an extraordinary life of mingled luxury and need, he had come out of the fray empty-handed, badly scorched by ten years' formidable trafficking in the soil of new paris—trafficking in which many others, not nearly as sharp as himself, had amassed colossal fortunes. Yes, perhaps he had mistaken his real vocation. With his activity and ardent faith perhaps he would triumph at one bound in the hubbub of politics. Everything depended, however, on his brother's answer. If Rougon should repulse him, throw him back into the gulf of speculation, well, it would undoubtedly be so much the worse for him and everyone else; he would then risk the grand stroke which he had not as yet spoken of to anyone, the huge affair which he had been dreaming of for weeks past, and which frightened even himself, so vast it was, so calculated to shake the world whether it succeeded or collapsed.</p>
<p>  pillerault had raised his voice again. 'I say, Mazaud,' he asked, 'is everything settled about Schlosser?'</p>
<p>  'Yes,' answered the broker, 'he will be posted to-day. What would you have? It is annoying, of course, but I had received the most alarming reports, and was the first to move in the matter. It is necessary to make a sweep from time to time, you know.'</p>
<p>  'I have been told,' said Moser, 'that your colleagues, Jacoby and Delarocque, lost large sums by him.'</p>
<p>  The broker made a vague gesture. 'Bah! we always have to make an allowance for losses. That fellow Schlosser must belong to a gang; he will now be free to go and play the wrecker on the Bourse of Berlin or Vienna.'</p>
<p>  Saccard's eyes had fallen upon Sabatani, whose secret association with Schlosser had been revealed to him by chance[pg 11] some time previously. Both had been playing a well-known game, the one 'bulling' and the other 'bearing' the same stock, he who lost being free to share the other's profit and then disappear. However, the young Levantine was quietly settling his score for the dainty repast which he had just made; after which, with the caressing grace of a semi-Oriental, semi-Italian, he came forward to shake hands with Mazaud, whose customer he was. Leaning over, he gave an order to the broker, which the latter inscribed upon a fiche.</p>
<p>  'He is selling his Suez,' murmured Moser, and thereupon, distracted with doubt, he added aloud: 'I say, what do you think of Suez?'</p>
<p>  Silence fell amid all the hubbub of voices; every head at the neighbouring tables turned. The question summed up the growing anxiety. However, Amadieu, who had simply asked Mazaud to lunch, in order to recommend one of his nephews to him, remained impenetrable, having indeed nothing to say; while the broker, who was becoming astonished at the number of orders to sell which he was receiving, contented himself with shaking his head, in accordance with his professional habit of discretion.</p>
<p>  'Suez, why, it's capital,' declared Sabatani in his sing-song voice, as before going out he stepped aside to shake hands gallantly with Saccard.</p>
<p>  For a moment afterwards it seemed to Saccard that he could still feel the pressure of the Levantine's soft, supple, almost feminine hand. In his uncertainty as to the course he should take to begin his life anew, he looked upon all who were there as sharpers. Ah! if they forced him to it, how he would hunt them down, how he would shear them, those trembling Mosers, those boastful pilleraults, those Salmons, hollower than gourds, and those Amadieus whose chance success had transformed them into geniuses! The clatter of plates and glasses had begun again; voices were growing hoarse; and the doors swung faster than ever in the hasty eagerness that consumed them all to be across the way, at the game, if there was to be a crash in Suez. And in the middle of the place, now crowded with pedestrians and crossed by cabs in[pg 12] all directions, Saccard, looking out of the window, saw that the shining steps of the Bourse were sprinkled with human insects—insects ever climbing—men correctly dressed in black, who gradually filled the colonnade, while behind the railings there vaguely appeared a few women, prowling about under the chestnut trees.</p>
<p>  Suddenly, while he was cutting some cheese which he had just ordered, a gruff voice made him raise his head.</p>
<p>  'I beg your pardon, my dear fellow, but it was impossible for me to come sooner.'</p>

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