페이지 이미지


[February 17, 1872.

can 'empis

upon the bank.

[ocr errors]

words of salutation, for his hat was drawn “Aye, aye — I'm got moin all square.
over his eyes.

Moin warn’t much. I dra'ad it out, though
Mr. Ghrimes lived at the other end of -all goold.” And he tapped his pocket.
Market Basing. When Frank got there it "Goold, mun — arl goold? That looks
wanted five minutes to ten, and he was gone | ’nation bad, that do!"
-just gone-to the other bank. Frank fol- “Whoy, Bill?" demanded Stubbs. “They
lowed him.

cain't pay'ee in nothing better nor goold,
“Good Heavens! Frank-what's this?”
cried the manager, when he saw him.

"Looks 'nation bad, though, neighbour“You know it, Mr. Ghrimes. It is all true. tell’ee whoy. It's arl over with 'em-now, Come round, for God's sake, and help us !” | taak moy word furrit. Bank of England Frank gasped, breathless with excitement won't troost 'em wi' no more notes—that's and haste. “There is going to be a run whoy they pays arl in goold, mun.”

Hark! there is ten striking. And this version was believed in, and Come, quick, Mr. Ghrimes. I must get helped to smash Melliship’s. back.”

Then Mr. Sanderson, telling his assistant It was scarcely etiquette, but Mr. Morti- to be as slow as possible in paying cheques, boy's manager threw formality to the winds, but to preserve the appearance of alacrity and went.

and readiness, began to converse with the Mr. Sanderson would not allow the bank crowd-every one of whom he knew perto be opened till Frank returned.

sonally--who were waiting their turn to be “Open the doors at once," said Frank; paid. To his dismay, it grew thicker; and "Ghrimes will be here immediately." those who pressed at the door were more

As the doors opened, a crowd of menimpatient than those who first entered. But surged in. The younger clerks shrank back as very few of those who got to the front frightened; but Mr. Sanderson advanced to knew the amount of their balance, and as the counter with bland and reassuring smile. this had in every instance to be ascertained, They all opened at once, like so many payment took place slowly. hounds at scenting a fox. Mr. Sanderson “What a dreadful thing it is!” said Mr. held up his hand. They were silent directly. Sanderson, in a stage whisper. “They say

“Hush! gentlemen, hush! Have you he was affected by the success of his own not heard the dreadful news? Mr. Frank enterprises." is in there. Do not let us disturb him.” People inside heard this, and began to

“I want my money,” roared a bluff old wish they had not been so hasty. But the publican—who had about fifty pounds in pressure went on increasing from without. the bank—from the neighbourhood of the “Yes; and to look at the crowd here, door.

one would think there was reason to doubt "Pray, gentlemen, let that person come Melliship's bank. Really, gentlemen at the and take his money," said Mr. Sanderson. door, you must have patience. Every one “Oh! it's you, is it, Mr. Stubbs? You are in his turn. We shall attend to your business to be served before anybody else, because as soon as we possibly can. Jones, here is you haven't got the manners to wait.” old Mrs. Clarke. Ladies first. Now, do not

This created a little laugh. The panic let Mrs. Clarke wait.” was only just beginning. The man received Mrs. Clarke was deaf, extremely stupid, his fifty pounds, and went off, grumbling. and always disputed the accuracy of every When he got outside, he hesitated. Had account. She had come to draw out all her he turned back, and given his money again money, including the odd halfpence, and to the bank—as was his first impulse, on was likely to keep the clerk, Jones, occupied finding it so promptly paid-all might have for a good quarter of an hour. First, her been well. For men possess largely them- passbook had to be compared with their selves the sheep-like propensity of following ledger. Next, she had to be heard in support where one leads. But a moment of inde- of her belief that she had more money than cision was succeeded by the cold breath of their books showed. doubt; and Stubbs buttoned up his gold, and Mr. Sanderson stepped into the manager's walked away.

Frank was standing before the fire, Stubbs was met outside by his friends. anxious and dejected. "Got it-is it arl right? Can they pay?" “Mr. Frank, we can't go on-we can't,

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

indeed, unless help comes from the other said Mr. Mortiboy's manager. Our first bank. In half an hour we shall be at the business is to stop the mouths of those fools end of our resources, unless the tide turns outside. Let one of your clerks be ready to God grant it may !"

receive and weigh when our men come over.” “Ghrimes promised to be here as soon Mr. Sanderson went back to his counter as he could. We can do nothing but hope. with a lighter heart. Send round a boy for him.”

“I've had a terrible time with the old man," But as they spoke Mr. Ghrimes appeared said Mr. Ghrimes. “He seems knocked in the bank, having entered from the back. off his head with this dreadful news. I A murmur of relief ran through the ex- could not get him to consent to anything. pectant crowd as they saw him—for “Mor- At last his son Dick made him give way. tiboy's Ghrimes” was trusted implicitly in He hardly understood, I think.” Market Basing. And then people began It was quite true. The shock of Mr. to look at each other, and to feel as if they Melliship's death had been almost more were doing a very foolish thing.

than Mr. Mortiboy could bear. He had "What is all this crowd about?" asked gone to bed light-hearted and happy. He Ghrimes of one of the clerks, running his had got up in the morning still happier : for fingers through his stubbly, iron-gray hair, the day was come at last when his rivaland looking right through the people, as if the man he had hated-would be in his he had never seen one of them before in power. He desired no more. In his power! his life.

The man who had never been as rich as he, “We want our money, sir," said one of but of so much greater weight and influence. them, less sheepish than the rest.

Theman whom people respected and courted, “Oh, do you?” growled Mortiboy's ma- when he could get no one to do more than nager. “Then you had better take it; and fear him. don't come to our place with it, if that's Remember, he did not seek to ruin Mr. the way you intend to inconvenience your Melliship: it was not his intention to shut bankers at a time of domestic calamity. up his bank, even if he had the power. But it Pay them all their money as quick as you was his intention to sit alone in that grimy can, Mr. Jones, and let them go.”

kitchen in the evening, and reflect that the The applicants—who, as yet, were chiefly proud man was humble before him. Now the tradespeople of the place—were moved the day was come, and the proud man—

, by this rebuke, and two or three declared too proud for humiliation-had escaped by their intention of letting the money“ be." the only gate open to him. So that when But these were few, and the rest only pressed Mr. Mortiboy heard the news, his heart felt on to the counter. Ghrimes might be right; like lead within him, and a cloud that never but, after all, money was money, and if that lifted again fell upon his brain. wasn't safe, there was no knowing what He was sitting pale and speechless when would happen next. For the popular notion Ghrimes came for authority to stop the run. of banking in the Market Basing mind was But he could at first only be got to answer that the banker kept all the money in gold, incoherently. in cellars or strong boxes; that to use it, or “Eleven thousand five hundred and seto take it out for any purpose save that of venty-five pounds! The bills are due this returning it to its rightful owner, would be morning, at twelve o'clock. I knew he could akin to embezzlement. How bankers lived not meet it. I told you so, Ghrimes. they never inquired.

You can't say I did not tell you so? *Well, Mr. Ghrimes pushed into the back room. then nobody can blame me. Eleven Frank gave a sigh of relief.

thousand pounds, Dick. They were lodged "It is all right, my dear boy," he said. "Go with us for safe custody. Eleven thousand on paying them, Mr. Sanderson. They are pounds! Poor Francis Melliship! We were putting up the gold at our place for you. boys together, Dick; and I married his As fast as you pay it out, the people bring sister-your mother, poor thing! And Susan it over to us; so that it is all right, and you always had a kind word for him, though we can meet any number of demands."

were not the best of friends. And now it's “But not any number of bills," said Mr. come to this. He's quite dead, you said, Sanderson.

“Do not let us meet trouble half-way," “Dead as a ninepin,” said his son.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

“Yes. They're all gone—they're all gone." The consternation was universal. It came

“Mr. Mortiboy, time presses. There's a home to all. The panic spread like wildrun on Melliship’s, I tell you. Can't we fire. Country people swelled the crowd of make him understand, Mr. Richard?” residents in the town, surging round the

“Look here, sir,” said Dick, shaking him doors of the old bank. The game was every gently by the shoulder, “there's a run upon man for himself: sauve qui peut. So they their bank, and if you don't stop it, the pushed and shoved one another like mad bank will stop; and then there'll be a run people. upon yours; and if that stops too, there will Let money be at stake to see human be the devil to pay, and no mistake. So you nature with the paint off! had better say 'Yes' to Mr. Ghrimes. I'm As the clock of St. Giles's struck twelve, witness enough."

there were as many people besieging MortiThe old man muttered a feeble “Yes,” boy's, at the new bank, as there were trying and then went on maundering.

to gain an entrance at Melliship’s. So Ghrimes went away.

It was some little time before Mr. Ghrimes Before, however, any help was actually could clearly understand that the panic was needed at Melliship’s, a singular thing hap- going to affect their house as well as the pened. For at first those who drew their other: the thing seemed too absurd. money from Melliship's took it across the It was so, however; and, with a heavy road-it was only beyond the church on the heart, he stopped the transfer of the gold to other side—to Mortiboy's

, in order to de- Melliship’s, and sent a hasty messenger to posit it there. There were thus two rivulets Derngate, whither Dick Mortiboy had gone, of people—the larger going to Melliship’s, to beg him to bring his father to the bank the smaller to Mortiboy's. But presently, without a moments delay. Mortiboy's depositors, seeing the double At five minutes after twelve, Frank restream, began to imagine that there was a ceived a note from Mr. Ghrimes. It said, run upon both banks; and a panic set in in

We cannot help you: the panic has atboth directions.

tacked us. There is a run on us now: we shall This was about half-past eleven, when the want every sovereign we have got.

. town was filled with people—for it was the first day of the assizes, and the news of Frank handed the note over, with a look Mr. Melliship’s death was spreading in all of despair, to Mr. Sanderson, who read it; directions. People in gigs quietly jogging then sat down and pulled out his pocketinto Market Basing from north, south, east, handkerchief, and wiped his brow. and west, were overtaken by others driving "It will be over, Mr. Frank," he said, wildly for dear life.

“in a few minutes." "Haven't you heard? Melliship's bank You mean that we shall have paid out has smashed, they say.”

all our money." The main street was blocked with ve- "Every farthing. We have just cashed hicles. My lord judge, riding with the high some heavy cheques. After that we must put sheriff and his chaplain in Sir Newberry the shutters up, and then we must examine Nobottle's grand carriage, was nearly upset; the books, and find out our liabilities, and and, for the first time within the memory of -and-please God-go on again." living men, the twelve javelin men, walking Then a loud voice was heard from the in martial array by the side of the carriage, street, which Frank knew well. It was his were of use. They pointed their antiquated cousin's, John Heathcote. weapons at the crowd, and protected his “Now, then, let me pass, please-let me lordship from the indignity of being jostled pass. I am going to pay my money in.” by the farmers' chaises.

“It's no good, Mr. Frank,” whispered At the Judge's Lodgings, by the Court Sanderson. “What he can bring can do House, only three or four ragged urchins nothing for us. We must stop." were present to hear the imposing fanfare "Stay,” said Frank, “I must say a word of the liverietrumpeters, and see his lord-first." ship get out.

He went out. At the sight of his tall The ceremonious pageant of the Law was figure, and his pale and suffering face, a stillneglected. Every man rushed to the bank, ness fell upon all who saw him. whether he had anything there or not.

My friends,” said Frank, “you must go

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

had stopped.

away. We cannot pay you to-day, because passed through their midst, followed by his we have no more money in the house; nor great son, Dick-like Saul, a head taller than can I tell you when you will be paid. But anybody else. you will be paid, be sure of that.”

“Now," said Mr. Mortiboy, in a loud, shrill “You will be paid," echoed Mr. Sander- voice, “perhaps you will let me get through

to my own bank, gentlemen.” "I promise you, in the name of my poor There was some hesitation in the crowd. dead father, who lies dead upstairs, that "If I cannot get through you," said the rather than one of you shall lose a farthing old man, “I'll have the shutters up in three by us, if the worst comes to the worst, we minutes." will strip ourselves of everything in the But Dick the stalwart was in front of him world. But go quietly now, because we have clearing a path by the free use of his no money left.”

elbows. To get into the bank itself was a They were awe-stricken by his solemnity. more difficult matter; for here, with every They could not murmur, because his trouble goodwill, the people were so jammed and was so great, at their own probable or pos- pressed together that they could not possibly sible losses. Some of them went out with make room. As Mr. Mortiboy put his foot streaming eyes—all of them without a word. upon the steps, a little slip of an old man, And then the iron shutters were let down, whose terror was almost comical, almost fell and the door closed—and Melliship’s bank at his feet, crying

"Oh! Mr. Mortiboy, Mr. Mortiboy, don't

rob me of my money! Oh, sir, I'm a small A very different scene 'went on at the man-I must draw it out! Oh, sir, let me other house. The news of the run on have it. I'm ruined-I'm ruined !" his bank acted on the old man like cold “What the devil is the matter with the water on a fainting woman. He left off man?" answered Mr. Mortiboy; and then, maundering to his son, raised his head standing on the step, and turning to the erect, and looked in sheer wonder, unmi. people, he made the shortest and most eftigated astonishment, at the messenger. A fective speech they had ever heard—“You run on his bank?-on Mortiboy's? The FOOLS !" was the whole of it. thing was impossible, absurd! As well ex- Dick caught the little man under the pect the whole race of sheep to assert their arms and lifted him up high. independence, or the infant in arms to de- "By gad!” he said —"isn't it Pig-faced mand a separate establishment, as that his Barnsby?" customers should dare to distrust him.

The crowd roared with laughter. The He rose and grasped his stick in a menac- little man, a barber by profession, had ening manner, as if the appearance of that joyed that appellation from some fancied weapon would alone restore confidence; and resemblance between his own and a porker's placing his hat firmly on his head, he walked face, in the memory of all who had been out of the house, followed by Dick.

boys in Market Basing in Dick's time. As he marched down the street-his step “Look here, my men,” said Dick—"let us firm, his bearing confident, his aspect stern give Pig-face his money first. How much the people fell back right and left, and those is it, old man?” who were hurrying to his bank to draw out “Mr. Richard — sir — if you please their deposits slackened their steps, and al- twenty-six pounds six and fourpence, sir. lowed him to go on first.

I'm only a little man. Oh, this is seriousThe whole street front was blocked with this is serious !” he whined. people.

“All right. Now, make way for my father, "You had better go round by the back please. Come along, Pig-faced Barnsby." way, sir,” suggested a bystander, in a meek He seized him by his breeches and the whisper.

collar of his coat, raised him aloft, and old Mortiboy turned upon him like a wild carried him tortoise fashion over his head cat, gnashing and gnawing with her teeth. into the bank. Then he deposited him in

“Who the devil asked for your advice?" a corner, and told him to wait patiently till he gasped out, and passed straight on to the he could be attended to. front entrance, blocked up as it was. They fell back to make way as his tall, thin figure Dick Mortiboy was in his father's private


room. He drew back the green curtain of in each; and into the mouth of each sack the door, and watched the cashiers paying in the front row they poured the golden away the money over the counter.

contents of five bags. The back row of The pressure from without increased. sacks they tied up with strings.

Melliship's bank had stopped. Men must Mr. Richard Mortiboy, the younger, was make themselves safe. So Mr. Mortiboy's going to practise on the credulity of Market customers laid siege to his bank.

Basing. "This can't go on for ever,” said Dick, If his sacks had really been full of soveafter looking on for a few minutes. “We reigns, they must have contained £400,000 shall be run out too."

--for they would have held £20,000 a-piece. “Eh? eh?” said the old man, feebly. And who could have carried the sacks

The momentary excitement had gone by. there? He was sitting in his arm-chair, low and de- I can carry 4,000 sovereigns. jected, brooding over the tragedy of the Dick Mortiboy could manage, at the outnight.

side, 7,000

- he was almost a giant in “I must stop the run,” said his son. strength.

He had been thinking over old stories he Hercules himself might walk off with had heard his father tell before he left home: 10,000 on his back. of bankers who had paid in silver, in a fight

But the people the spectacle was preagainst time: of an Irish story of sovereigns pared for did not think of these little things. heated in a shovel, to appear that moment The originator of the plan knew he might coined, and served hot and hot to the cla- trust to their simplicity for success. morous creditors.

He was right! You will let me act for you, sir?” he said. They threw open the door, and showed For Dick Mortiboy had hit upon a plan. the glittering metal.

“Yes, Dick-yes. I leave all to you—I The “Open Sesame” had been said; and leave all to you. Do anything you like." there, before their wondering eyes, was more

His son rushed off to the stable-yard in treasure than Ali Baba's fabled cave had Derngate, ran up the granary steps, and held. carried down a pile of empty sacks on his Gold !-Gold Gold !–Gold !! shoulder.

Riches beyond the dreams of avarice! They were barley sacks from the brewery.

The effect was astounding !! He called for assistance, and got the gar- The sight of the dazzling heaps of specie dener and old Hester to help him put the wrought like a magical charm on the panicsacks in two large empty boxes. They nailed stricken crowd. down the lids. Then they drove them to They gaped, and were satisfied. the back entrance of the bank. There they Their money was all there. emptied the boxes of their contents.

Mortiboy's was saved! The sacks were carried into the strong- Dick had stayed the run!! room: the doors faced the counter. It was on the ground-floor of the building, behind

ROBERT BROWNING. the large room where the ordinary business of the bank was transacted. Housekeeper

, STRONG, rugged, independent ; zno servants, clerks helped to ransack the house. fashioner of pretty songs modelled They stuffed twenty of the sacks with bed upon patterns designed by greater men, no linen, pillows, bolsters, curtains, hangings, warbler of sweet and soft love ditties, no sawdust, sand, paper, anything that would dealer in unreal and exaggerated passion, make them look solid, and that they could no puling complainer of mock sorrow, no at the moment lay their hands on. They dreamy poet of conventional life, is Robert rammed the stuffing down hard, and set the Browning. When, so many years ago, he sacks in double rank opposite the door that set himself to make poetry the work of his opened into the public room-ten before life, he undertook the task in his own sturdy and ten behind.

and independent way. Verse should be his Then Dick summoned Mr. Ghrimes, and slave, and should express his thoughts as he told him what he meant to do. The manager designed. Now, most poets are the slaves went with him to the money safe, and they of verse, and can only get their thoughts extook out fifty bags of sovereigns, with £100 pressed by a sort of coaxing, and in a round

« 이전계속 »