The Count does as he said he would do and goes on a trip to visit the telegraph operator nearby. First, he notices that the operator spends a great deal of time tending the garden at the foot of the telegraph tower. Then, when he observes the man working in the tower, he learns from the man that operators are paid very little, and that, if they make any mistakes in relaying information to the next post, they are docked a substantial amount of their next month’s pay.
The Count is especially skilled at getting people to do what he wants, by convincing them that their interests align with his own. Here, the Count demonstrates what could potentially be a reason for the operator to mind his station at all times – that he is punished if he misses a message. Then, in the next scene, the Count will make an offer that would more than compensate for any penalty the operator might suffer in this scenario.
At this, the Count makes the operator an offer he cannot refuse. He tells the operator he will give him a many-acre garden, and enough money to live on in perpetuity, if he will transmit a code (which the operator, being illiterate, is unable to interpret). This code, the Count promises, will not cause anyone physical harm, and the operator finally agrees to do this. As the narrator relates at the close of the chapter, the code the Count has influenced the operator to send reports a fluctuation in the Spanish stock market, caused by a supposed political upheaval there. This upheaval causes Danglars, a cautious banker, to lose over 1 million francs—all at the Count’s prompting, as he designed it.
The Count has now graduated to a different kind of influence into Danglars’ affairs. Previously, the Count was content to make Danglars feel that his wealth was somehow inferior to that of the other great banks in Europe. Here, however, the Count actively causes fluctuation in European markets, which he knows will result in a loss for Danglars. The reader begins to realize that the Count will go after precisely what Danglars holds most dear: his money, and his belief that he is one of the shrewdest bankers in Europe.