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Phil. A. (Philip Augustus) Rush.

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ear and eye the sound and sight of hos-
pitality, the commanding centre of which
was the distinguished personality of the
Hon. Charles Henry Blair, recently ap-
pointed Minister to France; for Mrs.
Blair and Miss Blair were entertaining in
honor of their husband and father.

A number of friends from a distance
had come on to compliment the former
Congressman with their presence. Among
others, was the young Count De Mar-
tineau, the heir to an extinct French
title, who had met Mary Blair with her
father at the legation in Washington.
9 8



Minister and Nobleman 99

The Count was an exceedingly agree-
able and accomplished young fellow, and
thoroughly democratic in his ideas and
practices. Mose James, our barber,
boasted for many a day afterwards that
he had dressed the young nobleman's
hair and beard when he was down here
as he expressed it, had "served the
nobility."

On the evening in question, Albert
Ward and Arthur St. John were in the
private room of Albert, preparing for
the entertainment. They had both met
the Count at the Blair home the previous
evening, he having arrived the day be-
fore. "Arthur," said Albert, "what do
you think of the Count and his intentions
toward Miss Mary?"

"I do not know I had not thought,"
answered Arthur; "but he is a mere
friend of the family, I suppose. Or it
may be that he wishes to share especially
in Mr. Blair's good-will just at this time,
so as to obtain a business position with
the American Legation in Paris, where
the surroundings are more congenial to



TOO The Teller's Tale

his tastes, and where he is at home. The
French nobility, you know, must work
for a living like ourselves, as they have
no large landed estates to mortgage, as
our English cousins have, nor official
position and influence to make their
notes of hand negotiable."

"I think you are wrong, Arthur," said
Albert, "for Mrs. Blair told mother
some days ago that the Count had pros-
pects of inheriting a fortune in the near
future. It must be then, that he finds
something more attractive in Mr. Blair's
power to bestow than secretaryships;
and as for congenial surroundings, it
seems to me from the Count's demeanor
that he would willingly exchange Europe
for America, provided Mary Blair were
put in to turn the scale.

"There is another thing, Arthur, of
which we have all heard. Some of the
politicians say that Mr. Blair himself has
become immensely rich through a con-
gressional pool which governed, by legis-
lation, the prices of certain stocks in
which its members invested, which pool



Minister and Nobleman 101

also obtained for its members conces-
sions in the newly acquired territory of
the United States. It is also said that
they made a great deal of money by
buying up lands in the West, which were
afterwards favored by special legislation.
Mr. Blair was also a very stanch friend of
a certain officer in the post-office depart-
ment at Washington, and his political
enemies are saying that trouble is now
brewing for that officer and his friends,
many of whom will be implicated in dis-
closures of fraud yet to be made.

"I should be sorry to know that our
distinguished fellow - citizen had been
guilty of these things, but it seems to me
from his style of living that he must have
made a great deal more money in Con-
gress than his salary amounted to. Now
that he is out of Congress and is going
abroad, I hope for the sake of his family
that his name may be kept out of any
scandals which we may have.

"Doubtless, our friend, the dapper
Count, is well informed as to the financial
condition of Mr. Blair; and I suspect



102 The Teller's Tale

that he, with the accustomed cunning of his
race, may read in the eyes of Mary Blair,
largesse as well as love bounty as well
as beauty and that he is using his soft
Gallic accents for more purposes than one.
I do not wish to shake your confidence
in any person; but the whole world has
turned to materiality, and on top of it all,
and biggest of all, is the almighty dollar."

"Albert, you are right in the main,"
said Arthur, after a pause of serious
thought; "but I do not go all the way
with you. Edmund Burke was it not?
said you could not lay a charge broad
enough to indict a whole people. While
there are many who act according to your
estimate of all, there are some who do
not. And the beautiful thing about the
situation is, that the honest, loving heart
can see through the guise of deceit and
dishonesty which attempts to conceal the
fortune-hunter's real purpose and want
of principle; so that, in the end, we all
get what we are trying to give, and there
is a fair exchange which is no robbery.

"That a good woman may appear to



Minister and Nobleman 103

be marrying for money does not dis-
prove my proposition. Woman loves
power in man. It is one of the chief
affinities of her heart fixed in her nature
by God for her protection the protec-
tion of the weak by the strong. And
woman marries the rich man, not because
he has money, but because of the power
he shows in getting it or holding it, just
as she marries the statesman, the painter,
or the poet (who is usually poor in money) ,
on account of the power that lies within
him, and by which she is attracted.

"The Count may be the kind of man
you say he is. But as to Mary: while
she is attracted by wealth and its ac-
companying pleasures, there are other
things which interest her. Since she is
becoming more settled and her individ-
uality stronger, she has ideals higher
than your stack of dollars, and will be
true to them. Whatever the Count's
intentions may be, and whatever the in-
tentions of the father and mother may
be, I am quite sure that Mary will be
guided by her heart alone."



104 The Teller's Tale

At the Blairs' that evening, when Al-
bert and Alice looked for the young
hostess, to say good-night, it was not the
Count they found sipping an ice with her
on a rustic seat among the palms of the
moonlit conservatory. "What are you
two doing off here?" said Alice; "and
what have you done with the Count? I
have not seen him for an hour."

"The Count! Oh, he's like 'The
flowers that bloom in the spring, tra-la,'
has nothing to do with the case,"
answered Mary, with a mischievous look
at Arthur.

A noise, as of breaking twigs, attracted
their attention to the far corner of the
conservatory. They knew not what it
was, nor heard it again. They did not
see the dark figure that disappeared
through a side door into another part of
the building. It was the Count. The
next day he terminated his visit and re-
turned to Washington.

Was Arthur correct in his estimate of
the character of Mary Blair? Would she
be true to the end ? We shall see.



CHAPTER XIII

THE LAW

SECTION i. Banks, bankers, and
others whose business is to receive
money on deposit payable on demand or
otherwise, may relieve themselves of re-
sponsibility for errors in the accounts of
depositors and others, when such errors
are the result of dishonesty on the part
of officers, tellers, bookkeepers, or others
employed by them.

SEC. 2. In order to obtain relief, stock-
holders of banks must comply with the
provisions of this Act with reference to
the conduct of their business and the
publishing of detailed statements of their
bank's condition. And the errors re-
lieved against will be only those which
appear in such published statements.
105



io6 The Teller's Tale

SEC. 3. This Act shall not apply to a
published error if the person affected by
the same, and in whose account the dis-
honest error has been made, shall make
complaint to the committee of publica-
tion of the bank and demand the correc-
tion of the same within thirty days from
the completion of the publication.

SEC. 4. Any bank or banker desir-
ing to take advantage of this Act shall,
at the time of receiving the initial de-
posit of any person or other customer,
deliver to him a pass-book in which shall
be entered the amount of his deposit,
with a printed notice and agreement in
said pass-book substantially of the fol-
lowing form and effect :

(a) "It is a rule of this bank to as-
certain and prove at least twice each
year the true condition of its assets and
liabilities. For that purpose it will pub-
lish at such times detailed statements of
all assets and liabilities, omitting the
names of its depositors and other cus-
tomers, but using a number to correspond
with each amount, such publication being



The Law 107

made for the purpose of giving notice to
the depositors and others, and affording
them an opportunity to have their ac-
counts adjusted and reconciled in case
the published amount does not agree
with the customer's pass-book, or under-
standing of his account or other matter
between him and the bank.

(b) "Your number in the publication
to be made will be , and the publica-
tion will be made in - for

not less than three successive issues.

(c) ' ' This bank will not be responsible
for errors in accounts, and other matters
between it and others, where publication
of the amount shown to be due (the bank
or the customers, as the case may be)
by the bank's books, has been properly
made, unless complaint be made to the
publication committee of the bank within
thirty days from the completion of the
first publication showing such error.

(d) "Do not take this book (or other
evidence of your standing with the bank)
out without having the president or
cashier sign this notice in person and



io8 The Teller's Tale

give you a publication number. No
other person is authorized to sign it."

SEC. 5. The proof of publication of
such notices shall be made in the same
manner as in case of notices to non-
resident defendants in the Chancery
Court, and shall be registered and kept
on file in the Chancery Clerk's office sub-
ject at all time to the inspection of the
public.

SEC. 6. The statements to be published
shall be made, verified, and signed by a
publication committee, which committee
shall emanate from a stockholders' meet-
ing to be held at least once a year. All
complaints of errors in any published
statement shall be made to said com-
mittee within the time allowed by Sec-
tion 3 of this Act; and if complaint be
not so made, and a reconciliation re-
quested or demanded within such time,
the facts detailed in such publication shall
be taken and held, as to all errors and
omissions not so complained of, as true,
and as correctly stating the accounts
between the bank and its customers.



The Law 109

SEC. 7. Notices must be posted in the
lobby of the bank stating that no ac-
count will be opened except on a per-
sonal interview with the president or
cashier, which notices shall cite the fact
that publications of all accounts and
transactions are made from time to time,
in a certain newspaper, for the purpose
of reconciling accounts, and warning the
public of the consequences of not ex-
amining such notices for their own pro-
tection; and, furthermore, a standing
notice shall be constantly kept in some
newspaper having a general circulation
in the community of the bank's cus-
tomers, which shall give the same warn-
ing as the notice in the lobby.

SEC. 8. In case the teller or other em-
ployee has received a deposit or other
initial payment without observing Sec-
tion 4 of this Act, the observance of
Section 7 by the bank shall cure such
omission and give the bank all the rights
which this Act confers upon banks which
observe Section 4; provided, that this
right will be lost if the stockholders fail



no The Teller's Tale

to discharge from his position, at once,
any employee who has failed to observe
Section 4.

SEC. 9. The provisions of this Act
shall not operate to release a bank from
liability to a depositor whose account is
incorrectly stated, or omitted from the
books of the bank, unless the error, or
some part of it, has been caused by
fraud to the bank's hurt; and in no case
shall the bank escape liability to any
person in a greater degree than it has
suffered loss with respect to that par-
ticular account.

SEC. 10. The provisions of this Act
shall not be construed to exempt dis-
honest officers or employees, but they
shall be liable personally and on their
official bonds to any person who may
be wronged or defrauded by their con-
duct. And in all cases where this law of
publication has been complied with so as
to release a bank from liability to a de-
frauded party, such party so defrauded
shall have all the rights against the offi-
cer or employee committing the wrong,



The Law m

and his bondsmen, as the bank has, or
should have had, but for this Act.

SEC. ii. The detailed statements of
the bank's condition, as prepared for
publication, shall be signed by each and
every officer and employee of the bank,
under a certificate to the effect that such
statement is true to the best of their
knowledge and belief ; and any one sign-
ing such certificate, knowing any part of
the same to be untrue, shall, on convic-
tion thereof, be liable to punishment by
a fine of not more than five hundred
dollars, or by confinement in the county
jail for not more than twelve months, or
by both such fine and imprisonment.

SEC. 12. The fees allowed publishers
for making a series of three publications,
as required under this Act, shall be five
cents for each person named therein.
Should there be no newspaper willing to
publish the notices at that rate, such
publications may be made by posting
the required notices for three weeks in
one or more public places in each com-
munity where a depositor resides.



CHAPTER XIV

LIGHT IN DARK PLACES

IT is now many months since the law
set out in the preceding chapter was
passed, and the banks throughout the
State began to comply with its terms ; and
already all the virtues which its author
claimed for it, and more, have been proved.

Nothing predicted by Colonel Wilmot
and Mr. Bowers has been more fully de-
monstrated than the fact that there were
many banks, the rascality of whose em-
ployees, or some of them, would be re-
vealed by a general uncovering such as
the law would bring about.

Five banks, in as many different sec-
tions of the State, discovered, on making
publication of their accounts by number,
that many of their depositors had put

112



Light in Dark Places 113

more money in bank, not drawn out,
than the books showed, which sums, in
some cases, ran up into tens of thousands
of dollars; that there were many de-
positors whose names were not on the
books at all ; and, in one case, that many
notes which appeared in the list of bills
receivable had been paid in full.

In every case but one, it was the vice
of gambling in stocks, bonds, grain,
cotton, get -rich-quick schemes Alaskan
gold mining, rubber plantations in
South America, and so forth which had
wrought ruin in the life and character of
one who had stood as well, who had been
reared as well, and whose antecedents
were as upright, as anybody in the com-
munity. Some of them had yielded to
the so-called gentleman's game where
the chances were good for a fair profit
only, while it required other and larger
degrees of certainty and profit a widen-
ing of the vortex to catch the con-
servative conscience and put it under the
spell of speculation.

And, let it not be forgotten : during all

8



ii4 The Teller's Tale

that time, this great Government of ours
was (as it still is) carrying this con-
science poison invitations to speculate
and steal from its sources of sin and
iniquity, and offering it to the minds and
hearts of the innocent, sugar-coated with
the promises of wealth, and flavored with
the expectations of place and power;
and for a pitiful penny per each deadly
portion carried and delivered. This is
the way our mails are used ! This is the
way Congress obeys the Constitution's
command to "Provide for the general
welfare ' ' of the people !

This is not all : if you will run your eye
down the line of bank employees in the
State, as they existed when this law was
passed, and as they exist to-day, you will
be struck with the changes that have
occurred in their personnel; for some of
the positions which once knew bright and
outwardly attractive men will know them
no more; and the explanation of this
is that many banks have discovered ir-
regularities and peculations which were
not of such a serious nature as to affect



Light in Dark Places 1 1 5

the integrity of their business, and which,
out of charity or other considerations,
they have not allowed to be known
beyond their directors' rooms.

One sad part about these employees is
that they are also shut out from positions
of trust elsewhere; for, although the
public may have no suspicion of the past
and the follies which followed tempta-
tion, the fact nevertheless remains that
their former employers will, by silence,
insinuation, or recommendation (?), put
them under the ban of their disappro-
bation.

Are they inherently worse than others,
that they should be hounded, like Throck-
morton, by a nemesis to the ends of the
earth suspected of men and accused of
conscience ? No ; the system under which
they worked wrought their ruin; and it
alone is responsible for their condition.

Other discoveries of the character of
the five referred to above were feared
almost everywhere ; and nothing but the
fullest confidence in the ability and in-
tegrity of both officers and employees



n6 The Teller's Tale

induced depositors and business people to
await the completion of publications, so
that legal and actual proofs of condition
could be made.

But, now that this crisis of uncer-
tainty has passed, and doubts are no
longer nursed, and insinuations are no
longer made, a feeling of proud satis-
faction has swept over the people, which
is already reflected in the swelling of
bank deposits and the steady flow of
business to the centres where the con-
veniences and usefulness of banking are
understood and demonstrated in the
most attractive way.

Our own city has enjoyed more than its
share of this tide of increasing confidence
and business, not only because it is known
that Colonel Wilmot was the inventor of
the method of absolute protection, but
also because there never had been a time,
during all the doubt and trial of the law
as an effective agent for good, when our
people had the least misgiving as to the
solvency of our banks or the integrity of
the young men employed in them.



CHAPTER XV

POLITICS AND POLITICIANS

'T'HERE was also another tide coming
* our way, in proof of the adage that
good fortune, like ill fortune, never comes
single.

This other tide was a political one, and
on the crest of its foremost wave Colonel
Wilmot was borne along not nolens
volens; because he was not wholly differ-
ent from other modest men at whose
doors great honors have knocked: like
them, he was willing to receive, even
to contend for, the position. In fact,
though unintentionally, he started this
wave himself at the bankers' meeting.
Afterwards, of its own momentum, it
flowed through legislative halls, and on,
in ever-increasing undulations, to the
117



n8 The Teller's Tale

remotest confines of the State gathering
force in the minds and hearts of the
people as it went. And from the start it
seemed inevitable that this wave should
anchor its treasure-trove into the highest
office within the gift of the people of the
commonwealth .

Politicians, young and old, seeing this
rising tide from afar, pricked up their
ears and waited to see whether it was
the "real thing"; while the "gang"-
that aggregation of gall, graft, and greed
that combination of cupidity, corrup-
tion, and cowardice, which had so long
ruled the State, and whose ipse dixit had
long been law, they recognized it at
once and took common counsel as to
how they might avoid its flood.

The "gang" did not want Colonel Wil-
mot for governor, for they knew his
success meant their annihilation. Fur-
thermore, they had already selected their
candidate for this office and every other
one, the filling of which was necessary in
the settlement of old political debts, or
for the maintenance of that political



Politics and Politicians 119

prestige so necessary to their continued
enjoyment of place and power and the
spoils that go with them.

They therefore pooh-poohed his can-
didacy at first, and undertook, by ridi-
cule, to make it appear as a politically
promoted impossibility; but later, when
every other weapon had failed, the
leaders sounded the tocsin of war and
gathered their forces to fight him to the
end.

The subsidized press said the combina-
tion would be an easy winner; and
many of the best people in the country
thought it would at least be a momentous
struggle. But not so. No such com-
bination, however well organized, and
however long and strong may have been
its hold upon the affairs of state, can
succeed when opposed by a popular
uprising, especially when such uprising
is represented by a candidate whose
courage and convictions are co-ordinated
with the well-springs of love and liberty,
truth and justice, which are the usual
concomitants of popular demonstrations.



120 The Teller's Tale

In other words, when the people and
their candidate are in accord on prin-
ciples in antithesis to that cultivated
desire for plunder which holds the ' ' gang ' '
together, they are bound to prevail.

Not only this: but time and tenure
weaken such combinations, instead of
making them stronger. There is no such
thing as friendship growing out of mu-
tuality in wrong-doing of any kind.
Thieves fall out and honest men get
their dues. If political plunderers make
the spoils of office sufficiently large to
satisfy their confederates, hirelings, and
heelers, they land in jail for theft or
other crimes; while, if they do not, the
disappointed fall out of line and failure
is sure to follow.

Nor is this all. Neither the dependent
life nor the dishonest life is conducive
to the growth of moral courage. The
shrewd manipulator or wire-puller whose
influence or position depends upon the
result to follow is generally sly enough to
wait and watch, in passivity, until the
signs in the political heavens prove them-



Politics and Politicians 121

selves; and at the right moment he
jumps into the "band-wagon" and as-
sumes to drive, as if he had been on hand
from the beginning.

And the underling is not by himself.
This species of cowardice often pertains
to those high up in party councils, who,
if not so far committed that retreat is
impossible, are ready to save themselves
by "casting an anchor to windward."

As my readers have doubtless inferred,
Colonel Wilmot was ridiculed, opposed,
courted, and supported in turns by
the "gang"; and when the party pri-
maries were held he was nominated for
governor without opposition.




CHAPTER XVI

THE RACE IS WON

"Two hands upon the breast,

And labor 's done ;
Two cold feet crossed in rest,
The race is won."

Had Providence, in His all-wise de-
crees, permitted our hopes to be realized
by the election of Colonel Wilmot to the
office of governor, no greater happiness
could have fallen to the lot of a com-
munity. And just why it was not to be
so our short-sighted vision will never
understand until that great day when
time shall be unrolled as a scroll and the
purposes of God Himself revealed.

A cold contracted while attending a
reunion of his old comrades in a distant
town settled in the old wound where a
ball lay encysted near a vital spot, and
resulting pneumonia carried him away



122



The Race is Won 123

from us ere we scarcely knew he was
stricken; and thereby the hopes and
aspirations of the whole State, as well as
our own, were overruled and condemned
to disappointment ; and thus was the hus-
band and father cut down and the integ-
rity of a happy home destroyed, just at a
time when the joy of living was awaiting
them in a larger life, the anticipated pleas-
ures of which already filled their hearts.

It is the loaded wagon that breaks
down, the overloaded dynamo that burns
out; and the physical man, as well as
the mental man, is not unlike these, there
being a point beyond which even will-
power is powerless and supreme effort
fails of its own ponderosity.

It is difficult to make the lazy mind
or body work ; but it is more difficult
sometimes impossible to make the in-
dustrious mind or body cease from work.
For the lazy man, not having taught
others to depend upon him, and having
no definite ambition, misses the inspira-


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Online LibraryPhil. A. (Philip Augustus) RushThe teller's tale; a banking story for bankers, a law story for lawyers, a love story for lovers → online text (page 5 of 9)