'Well,' the latter answered, 'I believe that you are right; it is time to pass over to Gundermann. So go and see him, and tell him of the matter, since he promised that, on the day when you should bring him some good counsel, he would give you some in exchange.'
On the morning when the Baroness presented herself in the Rue de Provence, Gundermann was as surly as a bear. Only the day before Universals had gone up again. Would[Pg 338] he never end, then, with that voracious beast, which had devoured so much of his gold and so obstinately clung to life? That wretched Bank was capable of recovering its position, and its shares would perhaps be on the rise again at the end of the month. He growled at himself for having entered upon this disastrous rivalry, when perhaps he would have done better to have taken a share in the new establishment at the start. Shaken in his ordinary tactics, losing his faith in the inevitable triumph of logic, he would at that moment have resigned himself to a retreat, if he could have effected it without loss. These moments of discouragement, which even the greatest captains at times experience on the very eve of victory, when men and things are really plotting their success, were very rare with Gundermann. If his powerful perceptive powers, usually so clear, were thus disturbed, it was due to the fog that at times envelopes the mysterious operations of the Bourse, which one can never with absolute certainty ascribe to any particular person. Certainly Saccard was buying, gambling; but was he acting for serious customers or for the Bank itself? Upon this point Gundermann could not make up his mind amid all the contradictory gossip which was brought to him. So he was in a rage, and that morning the doors of his spacious office kept slamming, all his employees trembled, and he received the remisiers so brutally that their customary procession was turned into a galloping rout.
'Ah! it is you!' he said to the Baroness, without any pretence at politeness. 'I have no time to lose with women to-day.'
She was so disconcerted that she dropped all the preliminaries which she had devised, and then and there blurted out the news she had to impart. 'And if I could prove to you,' said she, 'that the Universal is at the end of its cash, after all the large purchases which it has made, and that it is reduced to the point of getting accommodation paper discounted abroad in order to continue the campaign?'
The Jew had suppressed a start of joy. His eyes remained lifeless, and he answered in the same grumbling voice: 'It isn't true.'
Tips, opportunities to make money：What to do can make money on the Internet'What! not true? Why, I have heard it with my own ears, seen it with my own eyes.'
Tips, opportunities to make money：Online through selling things to make moneyAnd she sought to convince him by explaining that she had held in her hands the notes signed by men of straw. She named the latter, and also gave the names of the bankers who had discounted the paper at Vienna, Frankfort, and Berlin. His correspondents could enlighten him; he would see that it was no mere gossip which she was retailing. And she further asserted that the Bank had been buying and buying on its own account, for the sole purpose of keeping up the rise, and that two hundred millions of francs had already been swallowed up.
Whilst he listened to her with his dismal air Gundermann was already planning his campaign of the morrow, so quick at all mental work that in a few seconds he had distributed his orders and determined upon the amounts. He was now certain of victory, for he well knew from what miry depths this information had come to him, and felt full of contempt for that pleasure-loving Saccard, who was so stupid as to trust a woman and allow himself to be sold.
Tips, opportunities to make money：Online gambling software make moneyWhen she had finished, he raised his head, and, looking at her out of his large dim eyes, exclaimed: 'Well, why should I be interested in what you say? How does it concern me?'
She was profoundly astonished, so unconcerned and calm did he appear. 'But,' said she, 'it seems to me that your position as a "bear"——'
'I! Who told you that I was a "bear"? I never go to the Bourse; I never speculate. All this is a matter of indifference to me.'
And there was such an innocent ring in his voice that the Baroness, doubting and frightened, would in the end have believed him but for certain inflections of too bantering a na?veté. He was evidently laughing at her, in his absolute disdain for woman, now that his blood was old and cold.
'So, my good friend,' he added, 'as I am very busy, if you have nothing more interesting to say to me——'
He was evidently about to dismiss her; and she in her[Pg 340] fury sought to rebel. 'I have had confidence in you,' she said. 'I spoke first. It is a real trap. You promised me that, if I should be useful to you, you in your turn would be useful to me, and give me some good advice——'
Rising from his chair, he interrupted her. He, who never laughed, gave a slight chuckle, so amusing did he find it to dupe a young and pretty woman in this brutal way. 'Good advice! Why, I do not refuse it, my good friend; listen to me. Don't gamble, don't ever gamble. It will spoil your face; a woman who gambles is not at all nice.'
However, when she had gone off quite beside herself, he shut himself up with his two sons and his son-in-law and distributed the r?les, sending at once for Jacoby and other brokers to prepare the grand stroke of the morrow. His plan was simple: to do that which, in his ignorance of the real situation of the Universal, prudence had hitherto prevented him from risking—that is, to crush the market under the weight of enormous sales now that he knew the Universal to be at the end of its resources and incapable of sustaining the quotations. Like a general who wishes to end matters, and whose spies have fully acquainted him with the enemy's weak point, he was going to bring the formidable reserves of his milliard into line. Logic would triumph; all securities which rise above the real value which they represent are doomed.
That very same day, towards five o'clock, Saccard, warned of the danger by his keen scent, called upon Daigremont. He was feverish; he felt that the hour had come to strike a blow at the 'bears,' if he did not wish to be definitively beaten by them. And his giant idea tormented him, that idea of the colossal army of six hundred millions, which must yet be raised in order to conquer the world. Daigremont received him with his usual amiability, in his princely mansion, amid his costly pictures and all the dazzling luxury which his fortnightly profits at the Bourse provided for; no one really knowing whether there was anything solid behind all this show, which seemed ever liable to be swept away by some caprice of chance. So far Daigremont had not betrayed the Universal, but had refused to sell, affecting absolute confidence,[Pg 341] happy in thus comporting himself like a good gambler playing for a rise, from which by the way he reaped large profits; and it had even pleased him not to flinch after the unfavourable settlement of the 16th, feeling convinced, as he said everywhere, that the rise would begin afresh. Still he was constantly on the watch, and quite ready to pass over to the enemy at the first grave symptom.