MY PEARL MONGERING COMRADES
AMONG the dealers and brokers in the Rue Lafayette Si there were a good many odd characters.
such, for instance, was Rawner, a small but extremely successful curb
dealer, who during forty years of business had dispensed altogether
with an office. Then one day, quite unaccountably, he hired a small
office and nailed his visiting card to the door. From that moment he
ceased to prosper.
soon leaked out, and some of his cronies gathered round him like the
friends of Job. But old Rawner had a philosophy that could survive
reverses, though not of the scriptural kind.
he said, "if a fellow lives with a woman for forty years and then
marries her, he does her an ill turn, for it is only then that she
realizes the wrong he has done her. And who shall blame her then for
making him suffer for his villainy?
"Eh bien, I have treated my business en maitresse, and
she was loyal to me, but now that I have tried to make an honest wench
of her, she is revenging herself on me for the past. She goes where she
had a friend, Gouraud. He was an oddity of a different kind. He trusted
no one, not even the banks or the Government. He paid in gold coin for
whatever he bought, and although he could not refuse banknotes, since
they were legal tender, he immediately changed them into louis d'or and
napoleons. These he stacked in boxes at various safe deposits all over
Paris and the large provincial towns.
This, of course, was long before the War was thought of.
Gouraud made no secret of his distrust of paper money and
the little ways of controlled finance. "Just you wait and see!"