Derniers Contes

By Edgar Allan Poe

Page 60

maintins la
chose en principe. Les affaires sont les affaires, et doivent se faire a
la facon des affaires. Il n'y avait aucune espece de _systeme_, aucune
_methode_ a m'escroquer un penny--un pur vol de cinquante pour cent. Je
quittai sur-le-champ le service de MM. Coupe et Revenez-Demain, et je
me lancai pour mon propre compte dans l'_Offusque l'oeil_--une des
plus lucratives, des plus respectables, et des plus independantes des
occupations ordinaires.

Ici ma stricte integrite, mon economie, mes rigoureuses habitudes
sytematiques en affaires furent de nouveau en jeu. Je me trouvai bientot
faisant un commerce florissant, et devins un homme qui comptait sur la
_Place_. La verite est que je ne barbotais jamais dans des affaires
d'eclat, mais j'allais tout doucement mon petit train dans la bonne
vieille routine sage de la profession--profession, dans laquelle, sans
doute, je serais encore a l'heure qu'il est sans un petit accident qui
me survint dans une des operations d'affaires ordinaires au metier.

Un riche et vieux harpagon, un heritier prodigue, une corporation en
faillite se mettent-ils dans la tete d'elever un palais, il n'y a pas
de meilleure affaire que d'arreter l'entreprise; c'est ce que sait tout
homme intelligent. Le procede en question est la base fondamentale du
commerce de l'_Offusque-l'oeil_. Aussitot donc que le projet de batisse
est en pleine voie d'execution, nous autres hommes d'affaires, nous nous
assurons un joli petit coin du terrain reserve, ou un excellent petit
emplacement attenant a ce terrain, ou directement en face. Cela fait,
nous attendons que le palais soit a moitie bati, et nous payons un
architecte de bon gout, pour nous batir a la vapeur, juste contre ce
palais, une baraque ornementee,--une pagode orientale ou hollandaise, ou
une etable a cochons, ou quelque ingenieux petit morceau d'architecture
fantastique dans le gout Esquimaux, Rickapoo, ou Hottentot.
Naturellement, nous ne pouvons consentir a faire disparaitre ces
constructions a moins d'un boni de cinq cents pour cent sur le prix
d'achat et de platre. Le pouvons-nous? Je pose la question. Je la
pose aux hommes d'affaires. Il serait absurde de supposer que nous le
pouvons. Et cependant il se trouva une corporation assez scelerate pour
me demander de le faire--de commettre une pareille enormite. Je ne
repondis pas a son absurde proposition, naturellement; mais je crus
qu'il etait de mon devoir d'aller la nuit suivante couvrir le susdit
palais de noir de fumee. Pour cela, ces stupides coquins me firent
fourrer en prison; et ces Messieurs de l'_Offusque-l'oeil_ ne purent
s'empecher de rompre avec moi, quand je fus rendu a la liberte.

Les affaires d'_Assauts et Coups_, dans lesquelles je fus alors force de
m'aventurer pour

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