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Book II Jules Verne

Money At A Premium

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Table Of Contents: Off on a Comet

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"Oh, it is dirt cheap; but never mind, for one day, you shall have it. Deposit in gold money a hundred francs, and twenty francs for the hire." The old man folded his hands in meek resignation.

"The fellow knows how to make a good bargain," said Servadac, as Isaac, after casting a distrustful look around, went out of the cabin.

"Detestable old wretch!" replied the count, full of disgust.

Hardly a minute elapsed before the Jew was back again, carrying his precious steelyard with ostentatious care. It was of an ordinary kind. A spring balance, fitted with a hook, held the article to be weighed; a pointer, revolving on a disc, indicated the weight of the article. Professor Rosette was manifestly right in asserting that such a machine would register results quite independently of any change in the force of attraction. On the earth it would have registered a kilogramme as a kilogramme; here it recorded a different value altogether, as the result of the altered force of gravity.

Gold coinage to the worth of one hundred and twenty francs was handed over to the Jew, who clutched at the money with unmistakable eagerness. The steelyard was committed to the keeping of Ben Zoof, and the visitors prepared to quit the Hansa.

All at once it occurred to the professor that the steelyard would be absolutely useless to him, unless he had the means for ascertaining the precise measurement of the unit of the soil of Gallia which he proposed to weigh. "Something more you must lend me," he said, addressing the Jew. "I must have a measure, and I must have a kilogramme."

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"I have neither of them," answered Isaac. "I have neither. I am sorry; I am very sorry." And this time the old Jew spoke the truth. He would have been really glad to do another stroke or two of business upon terms as advantageous as the transaction he had just concluded.

Palmyrin Rosette scratched his head in perplexity, glaring round upon his companions as if they were personally responsible for his annoyance. He muttered something about finding a way out of his difficulty, and hastily mounted the cabin-ladder. The rest followed, but they had hardly reached the deck when the chink of money was heard in the room below. Hakkabut was locking away the gold in one of the drawers.

Back again, down the ladder, scrambled the little professor, and before the Jew was aware of his presence he had seized him by the tail of his slouchy overcoat. "Some of your money! I must have money!" he said.

"Money!" gasped Hakkabut; "I have no money." He was pale with fright, and hardly knew what he was saying.

"Falsehood!" roared Rosette. "Do you think I cannot see?" And peering down into the drawer which the Jew was vainly trying to close, he cried, "Heaps of money! French money! Five-franc pieces! the very thing I want! I must have them!"

The captain and his friends, who had returned to the cabin looked on with mingled amusement and bewilderment.

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Off on a Comet
Jules Verne

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