Loser Takes All: The Serial (1957) — Chapter Two

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Loser Takes All: The Serial (1957) — Chapter Two


Translated from the French “Star Cine Roman”, February 1, 1957.

The first extraordinary event of the day takes place when Tony returns to his office. A bailiff (security guard) tells him that the occupant of Office #10, the office that represents for Tony the deepest of mysteries, has been waiting for him for more than an hour.

Full of curiosity and apprehension, he hurries to Office #10. There, he learns that this famous office is the one belonging to one of owners of the business, the very rich Mr. Dreuther, who he has glimpsed only one time in three years of work. The multimillionaire doesn’t seem to have noticed the young man’s shy arrival, and he finally coughs discreetly to make himself noticed. It is only then that the magnate condescends to turn around toward the chief accountant, Tony’s boss …

Dreuther: Who is that this individual? What does he want?

Arnold:: Mr. Dreuther, this is Tony Bertrand, my assistant… you asked me to call him …

Dreuther’s face expresses the most perfect dislike…

Dreuther: But, it has been over an hour since I called him.

Mr. Blixon, the other (and no less rich) owner of the business is also there. To see both of the directors in only one day is such an event that Tony cannot help but feel a little uneasy. Blixon intervenes…

Blixon: Mr. Bertrand left to eat lunch, as I told you, Dreuther. You have the deplorable tendency of forgetting that people have the habit of eating at this hour… like me, which is why, at the moment, I am dying of hunger…

Dreuther doesn’t even rise to the insinuation, and hands to Tony a file covered in numbers…

Dreuther: Mr. Bertrand, I’ve been told that you are familiar with numbers, which is rather rare in this establishment. Examine this balance sheet for me and tell me why the numbers are wrong…

Tony suppresses a deep sigh of relief, knowing now that he was summoned for his cleverness and not, as he feared, for some unpleasant news … under the worried expression of the chief accountant, he hastily takes the file from the director’s hands…

Dreuther: It is a minimal mistake: seven sterling, nine shilling and some pence. But you understand that it not the amount that counts, but the principle… is it not, Arnold? We are charged with the management of a large enterprise, and we must deserve the confidence of the shareholders…

Arnold: But, Mr. Dreuther, there are only two shareholders … you and Mr. Blixon… you possess the most of the stock…

Dreuther: And “The Other”? Have you forgotten him, Mr. Arnold? “The Other” one who, with his small portfolio of stocks, can make the balance lean towards one of us or the other, making him practically the referee of us all? It is him I’m thinking of, this morning! Blixon, you always have an excellent appetite. Go eat lunch, if you want … I will be content with a glass of fresh milk…

Blixon: Excuse me, but… I booked a table at the Berkeley …

Tony immerses himself in the numbers… it is as if he felt a real passion for his work … Dreuther makes himself a glass of milk, dismisses the chief accountant and installs himself comfortably on the couch …

Dreuther: Don’t hurry, Mr. Bertrand … we have all the time that it is necessary .. I feel quieter when Blixon isn’t here… I feel such a feeling of peace, I think about my yacht: luxury, quiet and pleasure… do you read Baudelaire, Mr.Bertrand?

Tony: A little…but I don’t find any order in it, nor of the beauty in numbers … I have found the mistake, and the reason… and as for poets, do I prefer Racine. Probably because of the mathematician in me…

Dreuther: Very interesting. Come here, Monsieur, and sit down… do numbers really present an interest for you?

Tony: Certainly …. I am going to tell you something that will perhaps seem silly to you, but, for me, numbers have a personality, an life of their own …

Dreuther: The devil, you say!

Tony: And they don’t always reveal to us a luminous, irrefutable truth at the end … what I mean to say is that one can oblige numbers to be obedient, that one can impose upon them a discipline, like one does with soldiers…

Dreuther: Very interesting… and the reason for the mistake?

Tony immediately resumes his attitude of subordination and stands back up before Dreuther.

Tony: It is the calculating machines that Mr. Blixon’s employees use. It is the Revolg brand, which has the tendency to jam, under certain circumstances; I would counsel replacing them with electric calculators.

Dreuther: Perfect. But, you seem a little tired, Mr. Bertrand … when was the last time you took a vacation?

Encouraged by the kindness that Dreuther showed him, Tony lets himself go with more confidence.

Tony: I must take one soon, Mr. Dreuther … and I can assure you that I wait for it with impatience, because I must get married and leave on my honeymoon. My fiancée wants to go to Bournmouth, but…

Dreuther: Bournemouth? That doesn’t seem like much … why not go south, to Rio de Janeiro, for example? Or better… you and your charming wife should come on board my yacht. It is very simple: get married in Monte-Carlo on the thirtieth… then I’ll pick you up there and we’ll do the Italian coast together: Naples, Capri, Ischia… how does that sound to you?

Tony thinks he must be be dreaming.

Tony: It would be magnificent, but… we already decided to get married in Saint Luc, in Victoria… we…

Dreuther: But no, it is ridiculous. You will have a civil wedding in Monte Carlo… I will be your witness and we will leave then for Portofino…

Without waiting, the millionaire rings a small bell, and in answer to his call, his secretary arrives, carrying another glass of milk…

Dreuther: Miss Bullen, arrange it so that Mr. Bertrand can get married in Monte Carlo on the thirtieth of this month, at 4 in the afternoon. I know that there will be difficulties but I don’t want to hear about them…

Miss Bullen doesn’t have the time to wonder about this, as she is already dismissed…

Miss Bullen: Mr. Bertrand, must get married the thirtieth in Monte Carlo? Fine, Mr. Dreuther, it will be done.

After his secretary’s departure, the director turns toward an even more amazed Tony…

Dreuther: Is there something else, my friend?

Tony: No, no … it’s not that… it’s that… I’m thinking about my fiancée… she is rather strong-willed… and…

Dreuther: Authoritative, is she? I can give you some advice, lead her firmly. Goodbye, Bertrand, until Monte Carlo.

Such is the beginning of the adventure that will shock the restful existence of Tony and his fiancée completely. The young man won’t need to follow his boss’s advice, but he should use all of his powers of persuasion to make Cary accept the extraordinary opportunity that has fallen on them out of the sky. She ends up agreeing to get married civilly in Monte Carlo, but the adventure seems to her so complicated that it she doesn’t quite share Tony’s enthusiasm.

TO BE CONTINUED


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