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Punch, or the London Charivari, Vol. 147, August 19th, 1914   By:

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AUGUST 19th 1914.



"It's a big ship" (I could overhear Ethel's voice through the open nursery window). "I know perfectly well it is. It's one of the Cunarders."

"Well, you're quite wrong then," (this from Jack). "It was passed through Parliament. You can't pass a ship through Parliament."

"It's the sister ship to the Lusitania so there!"

Joan's thoughtful voice intervened.

"I can tell you what it is," she said. "It's a place for burying people a sort of big tomb where they put dead kings. There's one at Windsor."

Curiously enough I was myself at the moment rather puzzled as to what it was and how it worked.

"Do you know, William," I said to my host, "that you are owing me ten pounds and I've got to get home to day, and I've no money?"

"Oh, but I shan't pay it now," he replied shamelessly.

"Why not?"

"I'm going to put a Moratorium on you. I don't know, of course, if that's quite the correct phrase. The thing is new to me. But at least I can see how it works. You had better try James. He owes you five, and he never reads the papers, so he may not have heard of it."

I went at once into the library, where I found James making up a parcel of three half sovereigns to send to his bank. No one is going to accuse James of hoarding gold.

"About that fiver," I began.

"Ah, yes. I was just coming out to talk to you about that before you went," said he. "Now that I'm sending all this stuff to the bank I'm just afraid I may be a bit short. I'll tell you what I think we ought to do, you and I, I think we ought to enter into a temporary Moratorium. All the best people are doing it. Of course I don't know if that's the right phrase. But I begin to see how it works."

"It doesn't apply to sums under five pounds," said I severely.

"That's true. I admit it's a pretty narrow squeak. I just managed to get on board, so to speak. Still, as the debt is five pounds "

"I'll take £4 19 s . 11 d .," said I, and held out my hand.

"That's not playing the game," said James. "Can't you see you're going to encourage all sorts of panic if you go about reducing debts in that sort of way? What is to become of British credit if a man in your position shows himself willing to accept sweeping reductions for the sake of getting hold of cash? I'm just a little ashamed of you."

"Well, I've got to get home to day. The ticket costs over five pounds, and I've only got sixteen shillings."

"Nothing simpler, my dear fellow," said James cheerfully. "You ask the booking clerk for a ticket pick it up cover him with a Moratorium (if that's the proper phrase) and hop into the train. The sixteen bob will come in for tips."

I went back to William and sat down. "The upshot of it is, William," I said, "that I can't go. You had better consider pretty carefully what you're doing. I don't think the Moratorium was intended to work in this sort of way. I've got to report myself at the War Office, and I can't go. You may think you're acting as a good citizen should. You may not be hoarding gold or hoarding food, but you are hoarding me ."

"It doesn't apply to National Insurance payments," said William brightly, "if that's any help to you."

"It only goes on till the 4th of September," I reminded him, "and the bank rate was recently as high as ten per cent. and may easily go up again. You've got to pay interest on it, you know."

That was where I had him. "How will you take it?" he asked, thrusting a hand into his pocket.

"In new pound notes," said I.



Amazing Monarch! who at various times, Posing as Europe's self appointed saviour, Afforded copy for our ribald rhymes By your behaviour;

We nursed no malice; nay, we thanked you much Because your head piece, swollen like a tumour, Lent to a dullish world the needed touch Of saving humour... Continue reading book >>

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