The process is quite easy, provided you borrow enough.
Have you ever, dear readers, had occasion to borrow money? Have you ever borrowed ten dollars under a rigorous promise of your word of honor as a Christian to pay it back on your next salary day? Have you ever borrowed as much as a million at a time?
If you have done these things, you cannot have failed to notice how much easier it is to borrow ten thousand dollars than ten, how much easier still to borrow a hundred thousand, and that when you come at last to raising an international loan of a hundred million the thing loses all difficulty.
Here below are the little scenes that take place on the occasion of an ascending series of loans.
TABLEAU NO. I
The Scene in Which Hardup Jones Borrows Ten Dollars Till the First of Next Month from His Friend, Canny Smith
"Say, look here, old man, I was wondering whether perhaps you wouldn't mind letting me have ten dollars till the end of the month -"TABLEAU NO. II
"Oh, I could give it back all right, for dead sure, just the minute I get my salary."
"You see, I've got into an awful tangle - I owe seven and a half on my board, and she said yesterday she'd have to have it. And I couldn't pay my laundry last week, so he said he wouldn't leave it, and I got this cursed suit on the installment plan and they said they'd seize my trunk, and -"
"Say, but Gol darn it, I lent you five dollars, don't you remember, last November, and you swore you'd pay it back on the first and I never got it till away after New Year's -"
"I know, I know. But this is absolutely sure. So help me, I'll pay it right on the first, the minute I get my check."
"Yes, but you won't -"
"No, I swear I will -"
And after about half an hour of expostulations and protests of this sort, having pledged his soul, his body, and his honor, the borrower at last gets his ten dollars.
The Scene in Which Mr. McDuff of the McDuff Hardware Store in Central City (pop. 3,862) Borrows $1,000 from the Local Bank
The second degree in borrowing is represented by this scene in which Mr. John McDuff, of McDuff Bros. Hardware Store (Everything in Hardware), calls on the local bank manager with a view to getting $1,000 to carry the business forward for one month till the farmers' spring payments begin to come in.TABLEAU NO. III
Mr. McDuff is told by one of the (two) juniors in the bank to wait - the manager is engaged for the moment.
The manager in reality is in his inner office, sorting out trout flies. But he knows what McDuff wants and he means to make him wait for it and suffer for it.
When at last McDuff does get in, the manager is very cold and formal.
"Sit down, Mr. McDuff," he says. When they go fishing together, the manager always calls McDuff "John." But this is different. McDuff is here to borrow money. And borrowing money in Central City is a criminal act.
"I came in about that loan," says McDuff.
The manager looks into a ledger.
"You're overdrawn seventeen dollars right now," he says.
"I know, but I'll be getting my accounts in any time after the first."
Then follows a string of severe questions. What are McDuff's daily receipts? What is his overhead? What is his underfoot? Is he a church-goer? Does he believe in a future life?
And at last even when the manager finally consents to lend the thousand dollars (he always meant to do it), he begins tagging on conditions;
"You'll have to get your partner to sign."
"And you'd better get your wife to sign."
"And your mother, she might as well sign too -"
There are more signatures on a country bank note for one month than on a Locarno treaty.
And at last McDuff, of Everything in Hardware, having pledged his receipts, his premises, his credit, his honor, his wife, and his mother - gets away with the thousand dollars.
How Mr. P.0. Pingpoint, of the Great Financial House of Pingpoint, Pingpong and Company, New York and London, Borrows a Million Dollars before Lunch
Here the scene is laid in a fitting setting. Mr. Pingpoint is shown into the sumptuous head office of the president of the First National Bank.TABLEAU NO. IV
"Ah, good morning," says the president as he rises to greet Mr. Pingpoint, "I was expecting you. Our general manager told me that you were going to be good enough to call in. Won't you take this larger chair? - you'll find it easier."
"Ah, thank you. You're very comfortable here."
"Yes, we rather think this a pleasant room. And our board room, we think, is even better. Won't you let me show you our board room?"
"Oh, thanks, I'm afraid I hardly have the time. I just came in for a minute to complete our loan of a million dollars."
"Yes, our executive Vice-President said that you are good enough to come to us. It is very kind of you, I'm sure."
"Oh, not at all."
"And you are quite sure that a million is all that you care to take? We shall be delighted, you know, if you will take a million and a half."
"Oh, scarcely. A million, I think, will be ample just now; we can come back, of course, if we want more."
"Oh, certainly, certainly."
"And do you want us to give any security, or anything of that sort?"
"Oh, no, quite unnecessary."
"And is there anything you want me to sign while I am here?"
"Oh, no, nothing, the clerks will attend to all that."
"Well, thanks, then, I needn't keep you any longer."
"But won't you let me drive you up town? My car is just outside. Or, better still, if you are free, won't you come and eat some lunch with me at the club?"
"Well, thanks, yes, you're really extremely kind."
And with this, quite painlessly and easily, the million dollars has changed hands.
But even that is not the last degree. Eclipsing that sort of thing, both in case and in splendor, is the international loan, as seen in -
The Scenes Which Accompany the Flotation of an Anglo-French Loan in the American Market, of a Hundred Million Dollars, by the Right Hon. Samuel Rothstein of England and the Vicomte Baton Rouge de Chauve Souris of France
This occurrence is best followed as it appears in its triumphant progress in the American press.EPILOGUE
New York, Friday - An enthusiastic reception was given yesterday to the Right Hon. Mr. Samuel Rothstein, of the British Cabinet, and to the Vicomte de Chauve Souris, French plenipotentiary, on their landing from the Stacquitania. It is understood that they will borrow $100,000,000. The distinguished visitors expect to stay only a few days.
New York, Saturday - An elaborate reception was given last evening in the home of Mrs. Bildermont to the Right Hon. Samuel Rothstein and the Baron de Chauve Souris. It is understood that they are borrowing a hundred million dollars.
New York, Monday - The Baron de Chauve Souris and the Right Hon. Samuel Rothstein were notable figures in the Fifth Avenue church parade yesterday. It is understood that they will borrow a hundred million dollars.
New York, Tuesday - The Baron de Chauve Souris and the Right Hon. Samuel Rothstein attended a baseball game at the Polo Grounds. It is understood that they will borrow a hundred million dollars.
New York, Wednesday - At a ball given by Mr. and Mrs. Ashcoop-Vandermore for the distinguished English and French plenipotentiaries, Mr. Samuel Rothstein and the Baron de Chauve Souris, it was definitely stated that the loan which they are financing will be limited to a hundred million dollars.
New York (Wall Street), Thursday - The loan of $100,000,000 was subscribed this morning at eleven o'clock in five minutes. The Right Hon. Mr. Rothstein and the Baron Baton Rouge de Chauve Souris left America at twelve noon, taking the money with them. Both plenipotentiaries expressed their delight with America.
"It is," said the Baron - "how do you call it? - a cinch."
And yet, six months later, what happened? Who paid and who didn't?
Hardup Jones paid $5.40 within a month, $3.00 the next month and the remaining one dollar and sixty cents two weeks later.
McDuff Bros. met their note and went fishing with the manager like old friends.
The Pingpoint Syndicate blew up and failed for ten million dollars.
And the international loan got mixed up with a lot of others, was funded, equated, spread out over fifty years, capitalized funded again - in short, it passed beyond all recognition.
And the moral is, when you borrow, borrow a whole lot.
Stephen Leacock, Short Circuits (1928)