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While these events were happening in Saumur, Charles was making hisfortune in the Indies. His commercial outfit had sold well. He beganby realizing a sum of six thousand dollars. Crossing the line hadbrushed a good many cobwebs out of his brain; he perceived that thebest means of attaining fortune in tropical regions, as well as inEurope, was to buy and sell men. He went to the coast of Africa andbought Negroes, combining his traffic in human flesh with that ofother merchandise equally advantageous to his interests. He carriedinto this business an activity which left him not a moment of leisure.He was governed by the desire of reappearing in Paris with all theprestige of a large fortune, and by the hope of regaining a positioneven more brilliant than the one from which he had fallen.By dint of jostling with men, travelling through many lands, andstudying a variety of conflicting customs, his ideas had been modifiedand had become sceptical. He ceased to have fixed principles of rightand wrong, for he saw what was called a crime in one country lauded asa virtue in another. In the perpetual struggle of selfish interestshis heart grew cold, then contracted, and then dried up. The blood ofthe Grandets did not fail of its destiny; Charles became hard, andeager for prey. He sold Chinamen, Negroes, birds' nests, children,artists; he practised usury on a large scale; the habit of defraudingcustom-houses soon made him less scrupulous about the rights of hisfellow men. He went to the Island of St. Thomas and bought, for a meresong, merchandise that had been captured by pirates, and took it toports where he could sell it at a good price. If the pure and nobleface of Eugenie went with him on his first voyage, like that image ofthe Virgin which Spanish mariners fastened to their masts, if heattributed his first success to the magic influence of the prayers andintercessions of his gentle love, later on women of other kinds,,blacks, mulattoes, whites, and Indian dancing-girls,,orgies andadventures in many lands, completely effaced all recollection of hiscousin, of Saumur, of the house, the bench, the kiss snatched in thedark passage. He remembered only the little garden shut in withcrumbling walls, for it was there he learned the fate that hadovertaken him; but he rejected all connection with his family. Hisuncle was an old dog who had filched his jewels; Eugenie had no placein his heart nor in his thoughts, though she did have a place in hisaccounts as a creditor for the sum of six thousand francs.Such conduct and such ideas explain Charles Grandet's silence. In theIndies, at St. Thomas, on the coast of Africa, at Lisbon, and in theUnited States the adventurer had taken the pseudonym of Shepherd, thathe might not compromise his own name. Charles Shepherd could safely beindefatigable, bold, grasping, and greedy of gain, like a man whoresolves to snatch his fortune /quibus cumque viis/, and makes hasteto have done with villany, that he may spend the rest of his life asan honest man.

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With such methods, prosperity was rapid and brilliant; and in 1827Charles Grandet returned to Bordeaux on the "Marie Caroline," a finebrig belonging to a royalist house of business. He brought with himnineteen hundred thousand francs worth of gold-dust, from which heexpected to derive seven or eight per cent more at the Paris mint. Onthe brig he met a gentleman-in-ordinary to His Majesty Charles X.,Monsieur d'Aubrion, a worthy old man who had committed the folly ofmarrying a woman of fashion with a fortune derived from the West IndiaIslands. To meet the costs of Madame d'Aubrion's extravagance, he hadgone out to the Indies to sell the property, and was now returningwith his family to France. y wiggly

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Monsieur and Madame d'Aubrion, of the house of d'Aubrion de Buch, afamily of southern France, whose last /captal/, or chief, died before1789, were now reduced to an income of about twenty thousand francs,and they possessed an ugly daughter whom the mother was resolved tomarry without a /dot/,,the family fortune being scarcely sufficientfor the demands of her own life in Paris. This was an enterprise whosesuccess might have seemed problematical to most men of the world, inspite of the cleverness with which such men credit a fashionablewoman; in fact, Madame d'Aubrion herself, when she looked at herdaughter, almost despaired of getting rid of her to any one, even to aman craving connection with nobility. Mademoiselle d'Aubrion was along, spare, spindling demoiselle, like her namesake the insect; hermouth was disdainful; over it hung a nose that was too long, thick atthe end, sallow in its normal condition, but very red after a meal,,asort of vegetable phenomenon which is particularly disagreeable whenit appears in the middle of a pale, dull, and uninteresting face. Inone sense she was all that a worldly mother, thirty-eight years of ageand still a beauty with claims to admiration, could have wished.However, to counterbalance her personal defects, the marquise gave herdaughter a distinguished air, subjected her to hygienic treatmentwhich provisionally kept her nose at a reasonable flesh-tint, taughther the art of dressing well, endowed her with charming manners,showed her the trick of melancholy glances which interest a man andmake him believe that he has found a long-sought angel, taught her themanoeuvre of the foot,,letting it peep beneath the petticoat, to showits tiny size, at the moment when the nose became aggressively red; inshort, Madame d'Aubrion had cleverly made the very best of heroffspring. By means of full sleeves, deceptive pads, puffed dressesamply trimmed, and high-pressure corsets, she had obtained suchcurious feminine developments that she ought, for the instruction ofmothers, to have exhibited them in a museum.

Charles became very intimate with Madame d'Aubrion precisely becauseshe was desirous of becoming intimate with him. Persons who were onboard the brig declared that the handsome Madame d'Aubrion neglectedno means of capturing so rich a son-in-law. On landing at Bordeaux inJune, 1827, Monsieur, Madame, Mademoiselle d'Aubrion, and Charleslodged at the same hotel and started together for Paris. The hoteld'Aubrion was hampered with mortgages; Charles was destined to freeit. The mother told him how delighted she would be to give up theground-floor to a son-in-law. Not sharing Monsieur d'Aubrion'sprejudices on the score of nobility, she promised Charles Grandet toobtain a royal ordinance from Charles X. which would authorize him,Grandet, to take the name and arms of d'Aubrion and to succeed, bypurchasing the entailed estate for thirty-six thousand francs a year,to the titles of Captal de Buch and Marquis d'Aubrion. By thus unitingtheir fortunes, living on good terms, and profiting by sinecures, thetwo families might occupy the hotel d'Aubrion with an income of over ahundred thousand francs. y wiggle


"And when a man has a hundred thousand francs a year, a name, afamily, and a position at court,,for I will get you appointed asgentleman-of-the-bedchamber,,he can do what he likes," she said toCharles. "You can then become anything you choose,,master of therolls in the council of State, prefect, secretary to an embassy, theambassador himself, if you like. Charles X. is fond of d'Aubrion; theyhave known each other from childhood."

Intoxicated with ambition, Charles toyed with the hopes thus cleverlypresented to him in the guise of confidences poured from heart toheart. Believing his father's affairs to have been settled by hisuncle, he imagined himself suddenly anchored in the Faubourg Saint-Germain,,that social object of all desire, where, under shelter ofMademoiselle Mathilde's purple nose, he was to reappear as the Comted'Aubrion, very much as the Dreux reappeared in Breze. Dazzled by theprosperity of the Restoration, which was tottering when he leftFrance, fascinated by the splendor of aristocratic ideas, hisintoxication, which began on the brig, increased after he reachedParis, and he finally determined to take the course and reach the highposition which the selfish hopes of his would-be mother-in-law pointedout to him. His cousin counted for no more than a speck in thisbrilliant perspective; but he went to see Annette. True woman of theworld, Annette advised her old friend to make the marriage, andpromised him her support in all his ambitious projects. In her heartshe was enchanted to fasten an ugly and uninteresting girl on Charles,whose life in the West Indies had rendered him very attractive. Hiscomplexion had bronzed, his manners had grown decided and bold, likethose of a man accustomed to make sharp decisions, to rule, and tosucceed. Charles breathed more at his ease in Paris, conscious that henow had a part to play.

Des Grassins, hearing of his return, of his approaching marriage andhis large fortune, came to see him, and inquired about the threehundred thousand francs still required to settle his father's debts.He found Grandet in conference with a goldsmith, from whom he hadordered jewels for Mademoiselle d'Aubrion's /corbeille/, and who wasthen submitting the designs. Charles had brought back magnificentdiamonds, and the value of their setting, together with the plate andjewelry of the new establishment, amounted to more than two hundredthousand francs. He received des Grassins, whom he did not recognize,with the impertinence of a young man of fashion conscious of havingkilled four men in as many duels in the Indies. Monsieur des Grassinshad already called several times. Charles listened to him coldly, andthen replied, without fully understanding what had been said to him,,"My father's affairs are not mine. I am much obliged, monsieur, forthe trouble you have been good enough to take,,by which, however, Ireally cannot profit. I have not earned two millions by the sweat ofmy brow to fling them at the head of my father's creditors.""But suppose that your father's estate were within a few days to bedeclared bankrupt?"

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