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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. human hair wigs for white women

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."

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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.

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