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WHEEL WITHIN WHEEL.

"THE war is bad enough," said Gaudissart;
"but the end of it is clear before us. The
only thing the English and the French can
do is to finish it in such a way as to make it
the last war to be ever possible in the midst
of European civilisation. It isn't the war
which deranges me."

Now, Gaudissart was not Gaudissart's real
name, but an honorary title bestowed upon
him by his brother commercial travellers,
after De Balzac's "illustrious" Prince of Bagmen.
My Gaudissart, who had advised me
to take up my quarters, as he did, at Madame
the Widow Richards's sign of the Green Tree,
Castle Street, Dijon, resembled his imaginary
prototype only in the variety of articles in
which he travelled, the careful way in which
he got up his subject for conversational and
recommendatory purposes, and the
satisfactory result with which he executed his
commissions. He was two or three and thirty
years of age, with a beautiful brown beard
and a bright black eye. He seemed, as far
as I could guess from his talk, an affectionate
father and a faithful husband. At dinner he
did not first eat the flesh of a fowl, and then
offer you the dish of bones; he did not drink
all the wine, and then hand you the empty
bottle. He did not make insulting speeches
about English perfidy and the English accent.
In short, he was not the ill-behaved rogue
which certain tourists have painted him.

"It is not the war which makes me
uneasy," repeated Gaudissart, "but the sugar."

"And the wheat?" asked a military-looking
person opposite; but who really was the
editor of a provincial newspaper.

"And the wine?" said I. "With only a
twelvemonth's stock in hand, I suppose we
shall have to come to water in another six
months."

"Not quite yet," answered Gaudissart with
a knowing toss of the head. "There's some
good old wine in many holes and corners,
which will serve as an excellent last resource.
And if there is not now, there would soon be
plenty, and plenty of good new wine, if the
sugar affair were but settled."

The editor nodded affirmatively. "The
wine and the wheat and the sugar are one,"
he said; "that is, all three hang together.
But this time, if troubles break out in France,
it will be the sugar."

"I don't see clearly how that should be," I
said; "I wish you would give us a leader in
your journal, discussing the question and
stating your views."

"Ah!— discuss! " he exclaimed, with a
shrug. "We can only record the acts of the
government, without presuming to preach
upon them."

"Pray tell me, then, by word of mouth,
how there should be, at the present moment
in France, such an intimate connection
between sugar, wheat, and wine."

"Willingly. You will have read enough
of the history of France to know that dear
bread is the sure forerunner of political
convulsions. As the price rises, there is a boiling-
point, at which the contents of the heaving
vessel rise and run over, scattering about
ashes and smoke, and sometimes setting fire to
the house itself. When poor sinned-against
Marie Antoinette expressed her wonder that
the people should complain of want of bread,
while such nice little tartlets could be bought
for a penny at the pastry-cook's, it was a strong
symptom that the conductors of the state did
not quite know which way they were driving.
When a high official personage, on being told
that the people were eating grass, haughtily
answered, 'Let them eat grass, then!' it was
a quite-to-be-expected verification of the
prognostic that his head should be paraded,
as it afterwards was, on the top of a pole,
with a bunch of grass sticking out of its
mouth. We know in France what too-dear
bread means, as well as we know the
probable consequences of thunder-clouds, hail-
storms, and wintry snow-drifts. It is hunger
that makes the wolf come out of the wood."

"But I do not yet see how sugar is in
fault," I interposed.

"Be patient, and you will very soon learn.
Neither the sugar-makers, nor the present
government are to be blamed for the existing
state of things. Both, on the contrary, are
greatly to be pitied. The latter, especially, is
suffering for the enormous faults of its
predecessor, the first empire. It has discovered the
mistakes of its ancestors, and feels that it has
no choice but to rectify them. You know well
that Napoleon the First, to be independent, as
he thought, of England, excluded her colonial

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