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Monsieur Grandet enjoyed a reputation in Saumur whose causes andeffects can never be fully understood by those who have not, at onetime or another, lived in the provinces. In 1789 Monsieur Grandet,still called by certain persons le Pere Grandet, though the number ofsuch old persons has perceptibly diminished,was a master-cooper, ableto read, write, and cipher. At the period when the French Republicoffered for sale the church property in the arrondissement of Saumur,the cooper, then forty years of age, had just married the daughter ofa rich wood-merchant. Supplied with the ready money of his own fortuneand his wife's /dot/, in all about two thousand louis-d'or, Grandetwent to the newly established "district," where, with the help of twohundred double louis given by his father-in-law to the surlyrepublican who presided over the sales of the national domain, heobtained for a song, legally if not legitimately, one of the finestvineyards in the arrondissement, an old abbey, and several farms. Theinhabitants of Saumur were so little revolutionary that they thoughtPere Grandet a bold man, a republican, and a patriot with a mind opento all the new ideas; though in point of fact it was open only tovineyards. He was appointed a member of the administration of Saumur,and his pacific influence made itself felt politically andcommercially. Politically, he protected the ci-devant nobles, andprevented, to the extent of his power, the sale of the lands andproperty of the /emigres/; commercially, he furnished the Republicanarmies with two or three thousand puncheons of white wine, and tookhis pay in splendid fields belonging to a community of women whoselands had been reserved for the last lot. d'wiga

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 emporium

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