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Chapter III.7
AT ABOUT that time, in the Intendencia of Sulaco, Charles Gould was assuring
Pedrito Montero, who had sent a request for his presence there, that he would
never let the mine pass out of his hands for the profit of a Government who had
robbed him of it. The Gould Concession could not be resumed. His father had not
desired it. The son would never surrender it. He would never surrender it alive.
And once dead, where was the power capable of resuscitating such an
enterprise in all its vigour and wealth out of the ashes and ruin of destruction?
There was no such power in the country. And where was the skill and capital
abroad that would condescend to touch such an ill-omened corpse? Charles
Gould talked in the impassive tone which had for many years served to conceal
his anger and contempt. He suffered. He was disgusted with what he had to say.
It was too much like heroics. In him the strictly practical instinct was in profound
discord with the almost mystic view he took of his right. The Gould Concession
was symbolic of abstract justice. Let the heavens fall. But since the San Tome
mine had developed into world-wide fame his threat had enough force and
effectiveness to reach the rudimentary intelligence of Pedro Montero, wrapped
up as it was in the futilities of historical anecdotes. The Gould Concession was a
serious asset in the country's finance, and, what was more, in the private budgets
of many officials as well. It was traditional. It was known. It was said. It was
credible. Every Minister of Interior drew a salary from the San Tome mine. It was
natural. And Pedrito intended to be Minister of the Interior and President of the
Council in his brother's Government. The Duc de Morny had occupied those high
posts during the Second French Empire with conspicuous advantage to himself.
A table, a chair, a wooden bedstead had been procured for His Excellency, who,
after a short siesta, rendered absolutely necessary by the labours and the pomps
of his entry into Sulaco, had been getting hold of the administrative machine by
making appointments, giving orders, and signing proclamations. Alone with
Charles Gould in the audience room, His Excellency managed with his well-
known skill to conceal his annoyance and consternation. He had begun at first to
talk loftily of confiscation, but the want of all proper feeling and mobility in the
Senor Administrador's features ended by affecting adversely his power of
masterful expression. Charles Gould had repeated: "The Government can
certainly bring about the destruction of the San Tome mine if it likes; but without
me it can do nothing else." It was an alarming pronouncement, and well
calculated to hurt the sensibilities of a politician whose mind is bent upon the
spoils of victory. And Charles Gould said also that the destruction of the San
Tome mine would cause the ruin of other undertakings, the withdrawal of
European capital, the withholding, most probably, of the last instalment of the
foreign loan. That stony fiend of a man said all these things (which were
accessible to His Excellency's intelligence) in a coldblooded manner which made
one shudder.
A long course of reading historical works, light and gossipy in tone, carried out in
garrets of Parisian hotels, sprawling on an untidy bed, to the neglect of his duties,