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Under the Consulate Grandet became mayor, governed wisely, andharvested still better pickings. Under the Empire he was calledMonsieur Grandet. Napoleon, however, did not like republicans, andsuperseded Monsieur Grandet (who was supposed to have worn thePhrygian cap) by a man of his own surroundings, a future baron of theEmpire. Monsieur Grandet quitted office without regret. He hadconstructed in the interests of the town certain fine roads which ledto his own property; his house and lands, very advantageouslyassessed, paid moderate taxes; and since the registration of hisvarious estates, the vineyards, thanks to his constant care, hadbecome the "head of the country,",a local term used to denote thosethat produced the finest quality of wine. He might have asked for thecross of the Legion of honor. wig cap types

This event occurred in 1806. Monsieur Grandet was then fifty-sevenyears of age, his wife thirty-six, and an only daughter, the fruit oftheir legitimate love, was ten years old. Monsieur Grandet, whomProvidence no doubt desired to compensate for the loss of hismunicipal honors, inherited three fortunes in the course of this year,,that of Madame de la Gaudiniere, born de la Bertelliere, the motherof Madame Grandet; that of old Monsieur de la Bertelliere, hergrandfather; and, lastly, that of Madame Gentillet, her grandmother onthe mother's side: three inheritances, whose amount was not known toany one. The avarice of the deceased persons was so keen that for along time they had hoarded their money for the pleasure of secretlylooking at it. Old Monsieur de la Bertelliere called an investment anextravagance, and thought he got better interest from the sight of hisgold than from the profits of usury. The inhabitants of Saumurconsequently estimated his savings according to "the revenues of thesun's wealth," as they said. wig types lace front

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Monsieur Grandet thus obtained that modern title of nobility which ourmania for equality can never rub out. He became the most imposingpersonage in the arrondissement. He worked a hundred acres ofvineyard, which in fruitful years yielded seven or eight hundredhogsheads of wine. He owned thirteen farms, an old abbey, whosewindows and arches he had walled up for the sake of economy,,ameasure which preserved them,,also a hundred and twenty-seven acresof meadow-land, where three thousand poplars, planted in 1793, grewand flourished; and finally, the house in which he lived. Such was hisvisible estate; as to his other property, only two persons could giveeven a vague guess at its value: one was Monsieur Cruchot, a notaryemployed in the usurious investments of Monsieur Grandet; the otherwas Monsieur des Grassins, the richest banker in Saumur, in whoseprofits Grandet had a certain covenanted and secret share.Although old Cruchot and Monsieur des Grassins were both gifted withthe deep discretion which wealth and trust beget in the provinces,they publicly testified so much respect to Monsieur Grandet thatobservers estimated the amount of his property by the obsequiousattention which they bestowed upon him. In all Saumur there was no onenot persuaded that Monsieur Grandet had a private treasure, somehiding-place full of louis, where he nightly took ineffable delight ingazing upon great masses of gold. Avaricious people gathered proof ofthis when they looked at the eyes of the good man, to which the yellowmetal seemed to have conveyed its tints. The glance of a manaccustomed to draw enormous interest from his capital acquires, likethat of the libertine, the gambler, or the sycophant, certainindefinable habits,,furtive, eager, mysterious movements, which neverescape the notice of his co-religionists. This secret language is in acertain way the freemasonry of the passions. Monsieur Grandet inspiredthe respectful esteem due to one who owed no man anything, who,skilful cooper and experienced wine-grower that he was, guessed withthe precision of an astronomer whether he ought to manufacture athousand puncheons for his vintage, or only five hundred, who neverfailed in any speculation, and always had casks for sale when caskswere worth more than the commodity that filled them, who could storehis whole vintage in his cellars and bide his time to put thepuncheons on the market at two hundred francs, when the littleproprietors had been forced to sell theirs for five louis. His famousvintage of 1811, judiciously stored and slowly disposed of, broughthim in more than two hundred and forty thousand francs.

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Financially speaking, Monsieur Grandet was something between a tigerand a boa-constrictor. He could crouch and lie low, watch his prey along while, spring upon it, open his jaws, swallow a mass of louis,and then rest tranquilly like a snake in process of digestion,impassible, methodical, and cold. No one saw him pass without afeeling of admiration mingled with respect and fear; had not every manin Saumur felt the rending of those polished steel claws? For thisone, Maitre Cruchot had procured the money required for the purchaseof a domain, but at eleven per cent. For that one, Monsieur desGrassins discounted bills of exchange, but at a frightful deduction ofinterest. Few days ever passed that Monsieur Grandet's name was notmentioned either in the markets or in social conversations at theevening gatherings. To some the fortune of the old wine-grower was anobject of patriotic pride. More than one merchant, more than oneinnkeeper, said to strangers with a certain complacency: "Monsieur, wehave two or three millionaire establishments; but as for MonsieurGrandet, he does not himself know how much he is worth."

In 1816 the best reckoners in Saumur estimated the landed property ofthe worthy man at nearly four millions; but as, on an average, he hadmade yearly, from 1793 to 1817, a hundred thousand francs out of thatproperty, it was fair to presume that he possessed in actual money asum nearly equal to the value of his estate. So that when, after agame of boston or an evening discussion on the matter of vines, thetalk fell upon Monsieur Grandet, knowing people said: "Le PereGrandet? le Pere Grandet must have at least five or six millions.""You are cleverer than I am; I have never been able to find out theamount," answered Monsieur Cruchot or Monsieur des Grassins, wheneither chanced to overhear the remark.

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If some Parisian mentioned Rothschild or Monsieur Lafitte, the peopleof Saumur asked if he were as rich as Monsieur Grandet. When theParisian, with a smile, tossed them a disdainful affirmative, theylooked at each other and shook their heads with an incredulous air. Solarge a fortune covered with a golden mantle all the actions of thisman. If in early days some peculiarities of his life gave occasion forlaughter or ridicule, laughter and ridicule had long since died away.His least important actions had the authority of results repeatedlyshown. His speech, his clothing, his gestures, the blinking of hiseyes, were law to the country-side, where every one, after studyinghim as a naturalist studies the result of instinct in the loweranimals, had come to understand the deep mute wisdom of his slightestactions.

"It will be a hard winter," said one; "Pere Grandet has put on his furgloves."

"Pere Grandet is buying quantities of staves; there will be plenty ofwine this year."

Monsieur Grandet never bought either bread or meat. His farmerssupplied him weekly with a sufficiency of capons, chickens, eggs,butter, and his tithe of wheat. He owned a mill; and the tenant wasbound, over and above his rent, to take a certain quantity of grainand return him the flour and bran. La Grande Nanon, his only servant,though she was no longer young, baked the bread of the householdherself every Saturday. Monsieur Grandet arranged with kitchen-gardeners who were his tenants to supply him with vegetables. As tofruits, he gathered such quantities that he sold the greater part inthe market. His fire-wood was cut from his own hedgerows or taken fromthe half-rotten old sheds which he built at the corners of his fields,and whose planks the farmers carted into town for him, all cut up, andobligingly stacked in his wood-house, receiving in return his thanks.His only known expenditures were for the consecrated bread, theclothing of his wife and daughter, the hire of their chairs in church,the wages of la Grand Nanon, the tinning of the saucepans, lights,taxes, repairs on his buildings, and the costs of his variousindustries. He had six hundred acres of woodland, lately purchased,which he induced a neighbor's keeper to watch, under the promise of anindemnity. After the acquisition of this property he ate game for thefirst time.

Monsieur Grandet's manners were very simple. He spoke little. Heusually expressed his meaning by short sententious phrases uttered ina soft voice. After the Revolution, the epoch at which he first cameinto notice, the good man stuttered in a wearisome way as soon as hewas required to speak at length or to maintain an argument. Thisstammering, the incoherence of his language, the flux of words inwhich he drowned his thought, his apparent lack of logic, attributedto defects of education, were in reality assumed, and will besufficiently explained by certain events in the following history.Four sentences, precise as algebraic formulas, sufficed him usually tograsp and solve all difficulties of life and commerce: "I don't know;I cannot; I will not; I will see about it." He never said yes, or no,and never committed himself to writing. If people talked to him helistened coldly, holding his chin in his right hand and resting hisright elbow in the back of his left hand, forming in his own mindopinions on all matters, from which he never receded. He reflectedlong before making any business agreement. When his opponent, aftercareful conversation, avowed the secret of his own purposes, confidentthat he had secured his listener's assent, Grandet answered: "I candecide nothing without consulting my wife." His wife, whom he hadreduced to a state of helpless slavery, was a useful screen to him inbusiness. He went nowhere among friends; he neither gave nor accepteddinners; he made no stir or noise, seeming to economize in everything,even movement. He never disturbed or disarranged the things of otherpeople, out of respect for the rights of property. Nevertheless, inspite of his soft voice, in spite of his circumspect bearing, thelanguage and habits of a coarse nature came to the surface, especiallyin his own home, where he controlled himself less than elsewhere.Physically, Grandet was a man five feet high, thick-set, square-built,with calves twelve inches in circumference, knotted knee-joints, andbroad shoulders; his face was round, tanned, and pitted by the small-pox; his chin was straight, his lips had no curves, his teeth werewhite; his eyes had that calm, devouring expression which peopleattribute to the basilisk; his forehead, full of transverse wrinkles,was not without certain significant protuberances; his yellow-grayishhair was said to be silver and gold by certain young people who didnot realize the impropriety of making a jest about Monsieur Grandet.His nose, thick at the end, bore a veined wen, which the common peoplesaid, not without reason, was full of malice. The whole countenanceshowed a dangerous cunning, an integrity without warmth, the egotismof a man long used to concentrate every feeling upon the enjoyments ofavarice and upon the only human being who was anything whatever tohim,,his daughter and sole heiress, Eugenie. Attitude, manners,bearing, everything about him, in short, testified to that belief inhimself which the habit of succeeding in all enterprises never failsto give to a man.

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