The Count's Millions
"There are a number of patients waiting for me. I will drop in again about midnight. I still
have several urgent visits to make." Thus had Dr. Jodon spoken to Mademoiselle
Marguerite; and yet, when he left the Hotel de Chalusse, after assuring himself that
Casimir would have some straw spread over the street, the doctor quietly walked home.
The visits he had spoken of merely existed in his imagination; but it was a part of his role
to appear to be overrun with patients. To tell the truth, the only patient he had had to
attend to that week was a superannuated porter, living in the Rue de la Pepiniere, and
whom he visited twice a day, for want of something better to do. The remainder of his
time was spent in waiting for patients who never came, and in cursing the profession of
medicine, which was ruined, he declared, by excessive competition, combined with
certain rules of decorum which hampered young practitioners beyond endurance.
However, if Dr. Jodon had devoted one-half of the time he spent in cursing and building
castles in the air to study, he might have, perhaps, raised his little skill to the height of his
immense ambition. But neither work nor patience formed any part of his system. He was
a man of the present age, and wished to rise speedily with as little trouble as possible. A
certain amount of display and assurance, a little luck, and a good deal of advertising
would, in his opinion, suffice to bring about this result. It was with this conviction,
indeed, that he had taken up his abode in the Rue de Courcelles, situated in one of the
most aristocratic quarters of Paris. But so far, events had shown his theory to be incorrect.
In spite of the greatest economy, very cleverly concealed, he had seen the little capital
which constituted his entire fortune dwindle away. He had originally possessed but
twenty thousand francs, a sum which in no wise corresponded with his lofty pretensions.
He had paid his rent that very morning; and he could not close his eyes to the fact that the
time was near at hand when he would be unable to pay it. What should he do then? When
he thought of this contingency, and it was a subject that filled his mind to the exclusion of
all other matters, he felt the fires of wrath and hatred kindle in his soul. He utterly refused
to regard himself as the cause of his own misfortunes; on the contrary, following the
example of many other disappointed individuals, he railed at mankind and everything in
general--at circumstances, envious acquaintances, and enemies, whom he certainly did
At times he was capable of doing almost anything to gratify his lust for gold, for the
privations which he had endured so long were like oil cast upon the flame of
covetousness which was ever burning in his breast. In calmer moments he asked himself
at what other door he could knock, in view of hastening the arrival of Fortune.
Sometimes he thought of turning dentist, or of trying to find some capitalist who would
join him in manufacturing one of those patent medicines which are warranted to yield
their promoters a hundred thousand francs a year. On other occasions he dreamed of
establishing a monster pharmacy, or of opening a private hospital. But money was needed
to carry out any one of these plans, and he had no money. There was the rub. However
the time was fast approaching when he must decide upon his course; he could not
possibly hold out much longer.