It might have been that Sir Mulberry remembered, that, knave and usurer as he was, he must, in some early time of infancy, have twined his arm about her father’s neck.
As the usurer turned for consolation to his books and papers, a performance was going on outside his office door, which would have occasioned him no small surprise, if he could by any means have become acquainted with it.
’What is it now, I say,’ pursued the wily usurer, ’or what has it a chance of being?
’Thieves! thieves!’ shrieked the usurer, starting up and folding his book to his breast.
Arrived at the usurer’s house, he found the windows close shut, the dingy blinds drawn down; all was silent, melancholy, and deserted.
’Lie on!’ cried the usurer, ’with your iron tongue!
Not confining himself to theory, or permitting his faculties to rust, even at that early age, in mere abstract speculations, this promising lad commenced usurer on a limited scale at school; putting out at good interest a small capital of slate-pencil and marbles, and gradually extending his operations until they aspired to the copper coinage of this realm, in which he speculated to considerable advantage.
There was something in the usurer’s expression at the moment, which the man appeared to remember well, for it decided him; and stepping close up to Ralph, he pronounced his name.
These reflections depressed the old usurer so much, as to wring a feeble groan or two from his breast, and cause him to declare, with uplifted hands, that he would die in a workhouse.
To this he was impelled by various considerations; among which the certainty of knowing whatever the weak young man knew was decidedly not the least, as the desire of encountering the usurer’s niece again, and using his utmost arts to reduce her pride, and revenge himself for her contempt, was uppermost in his thoughts.
This departure from his regular and constant habit, in one so regular and unvarying in all that appertained to the daily pursuit of riches, would almost of itself have told that the usurer was not well.
’—As a matter of business,’ pursued Ralph, speaking slowly and firmly, as a man who has made up his mind to say no more, ’because I thought she might make some impression on the silly youth you have taken in hand and are lending good help to ruin, I knew—knowing him—that it would be long before he outraged her girl’s feelings, and that unless he offended by mere puppyism and emptiness, he would, with a little management, respect the sex and conduct even of his usurer’s niece.
There was enough acerbity and sarcasm not only in the matter of Ralph’s speech, but in the tone of voice in which he uttered it, and the looks with which he eked it out, to have fired even the ancient usurer’s cold blood and flushed even his withered cheek.
For a moment he shook his clasped fist towards the door by which Nicholas had disappeared; and then thrusting it into his breast, as if to repress by force even this show of passion, turned round and confronted the less hardy usurer, who had not yet risen from the ground.
That his, of all others, should have been the hands to rescue his miserable child; that he should have been his protector and faithful friend; that he should have shown him that love and tenderness which, from the wretched moment of his birth, he had never known; that he should have taught him to hate his own parent and execrate his very name; that he should now know and feel all this, and triumph in the recollection; was gall and madness to the usurer’s heart.
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This is a kind of usury, banker, that I do not understand.
Alexandre Dumas -- The Count of Monte Cristo
Of course, any industrial profit above four per cent is considered usury nowadays.