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Book II Jules Verne

Market Prices In Gallia

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Often and often had Isaac gloated in his solitude over the prospect of first selling a portion of his merchandise for all the gold and silver in the colony. His recent usurious transaction had whetted his appetite. He would next part with some more of his cargo for all the paper money they could give him; but still he should have goods left, and they would want these. Yes, they should have these, too, for promissory notes. Notes would hold good when they got back again to the earth; bills from his Excellency the governor would be good bills; anyhow there would be the sheriff. By the God of Israel! he would get good prices, and he would get fine interest!

Although he did not know it, he was proposing to follow the practice of the Gauls of old, who advanced money on bills for payment in a future life. Hakkabut's "future life," however, was not many months in advance of the present.

Still Hakkabut hesitated to make the first advance, and it was accordingly with much satisfaction that he hailed Captain Servadac's appearance on board the Hansa.

"Hakkabut," said the captain, plunging without further preface into business, "we want some coffee, some tobacco, and other things. I have come to-day to order them, to settle the price, and to-morrow Ben Zoof shall fetch the goods away."

"Merciful, heavens!" the Jew began to whine; but Servadac cut him short.

"None of that miserable howling! Business! I am come to buy your goods. I shall pay for them."

"Ah yes, your Excellency," whispered the Jew, his voice trembling like a street beggar. "Don't impose on me. I am poor; I am nearly ruined already."

"Cease your wretched whining!" cried Servadac. "I have told you once, I shall pay for all I buy."

"Ready money?" asked Hakkabut.

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"Yes, ready money. What makes you ask?" said the captain, curious to hear what the Jew would say.

"Well, you see--you see, your Excellency," stammered out the Jew, "to give credit to one wouldn't do, unless I gave credit to another. You are solvent--I mean honorable, and his lordship the count is honorable; but maybe--maybe--"

"Well?" said Servadac, waiting, but inclined to kick the old rascal out of his sight.

"I shouldn't like to give credit," he repeated.

"I have not asked you for credit. I have told you, you shall have ready money."

"Very good, your Excellency. But how will you pay me?"

"Pay you? Why, we shall pay you in gold and silver and copper, while our money lasts, and when that is gone we shall pay you in bank notes."

"Oh, no paper, no paper!" groaned out the Jew, relapsing into his accustomed whine.

"Nonsense, man!" cried Servadac.

"No paper!" reiterated Hakkabut.

"Why not? Surely you can trust the banks of England, France, and Russia."

"Ah no! I must have gold. Nothing so safe as gold."

"Well then," said the captain, not wanting to lose his temper, "you shall have it your own way; we have plenty of gold for the present. We will leave the bank notes for by and by." The Jew's countenance brightened, and Servadac, repeating that he should come again the next day, was about to quit the vessel.

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Off on a Comet
Jules Verne

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