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CHAPTER I. Page
STORY OF THE FIRST BANK NOTE, I
STORY OF THE SECOND BANK NOTE, 75
STORY OF THE THIRD BANK NOTE, III
from tle (nman of ftana goffmann.
"Hath not God chosen the poor of this world, rich in faith,
and heirs of the kingdom which He hath promised to them that
love Him ?"-James ii. 5.
T was just on the point of midnight, but the
soft light of the full moon shone so brightly
through the high bay-windows, with their large
panes of plate-glass, that everything in the
room might be clearly seen. Luxurious car-
pets, of costly fabric, covered the floor. On the
Walls hung splendid oil paintings, in gilded
frames; broad mirrors rose from the floor to
the high ceiling, and increased the light in the
12 THREE BANK-NOTES.
room by reflecting the moon's rays from their
polished surfaces. Sofas, arm-chairs, cushioned
foot-stools, a magnificent grand piano, and vari-
ous other articles of furniture, tasteful in their
form, and richly ornainented, gave to the apart-
ment a look at once imposing and comfortable.
Its occupants had evidently just quitted it; the
piano was open, and on the music-stand had
been left a number of songs; quivering flames
shot up now and then from among the dying
embers on the hearth; chairs were standing in
some confusion by the centre-table, and books
lay upon it, as the readers had left them. The
fine, aromatic fragrance of tea still lingered in
the air; articles of daily use were strewn
around; it was evident that, but a few minutes
before, a cheerful family-life had pervaded the
room, which now was empty and still. The
lights were extinguished, and all had gone to
rest. The voice of music was hushed, and in
the deserted apartment reigned the deepest
THREE BANK-NOTES. 13
silence, unbroken, save by the regular ticking
of the gilded clock, whose pendulum swayed
unceasingly, to and fro, aiding the noiseless
motion of the hands.
And now the clock was about to strike; the
wheels rattled, and a little hammer in the hand
of a bronze armorer rose twelve times, and
twelve times fell ringing upon a silver anvil;
the sound echoed sweet and clear through the
deep quiet of the room, vibrated more and
more faintly and finally died away. It was
midnight, all was again still.
And now commenced a soft, rustling whisper,
as of lightly crumpled paper, a gentle, contin-
uous sound. The moonlight fell brightly upon
a little table near a window. Upon that table
stood an exquisitely wrought golden casket,
with a crystal lid; the moon's rays sparkled
upon it, as on the surface of a mirror. From
that casket arose the soft rustling; ptsntly
the lid flew open, as if impelled by some secret
f ^~ A
14 THREE BANK-NOTES.
power, and'three little figures, looking like soft
gray shadows, came forth and sat upon the
delicate golden leaves and flowers of the ara-
besque that was artistically entwined .around
the casket. The three little figures bowed to
one another, and exchanged greetings in tones
so soft and low, that they sounded in the quiet
room like the motion of leaves trembling in
The moonlight was almost as bright as that
offlay. The silvery rays rested gently upon
the little gray figures. Each wore a tiny mantle
S of printed paper, from which the small head
with its delicate features looked forth; on close
inspection it might have been perceived that
each little mantle was a bank-note-a real
paper note of the Bank of England, for just on
the back of each little being stood distinctly
printed, and easily read by the bright light,
Five PoundNote of the Bank of England."
There they all sat, wrapped in their paper
THREE BANK-NOTES. 15
mantles, upon the golden arabesques, chatting
in whispers, and putting their heads close
together. The moon shone upon them, as
though she would have. listened to their con-
versation. The clock ticked an accompaniment
to it, and a spark crackled out once in a while
from the dying fire on the hearth; and as all
around is so quiet, let us draw a little nearer,
and listen with the curious moon to what the
tiny creatures are saying in that soft and gentle
And this is what.the first is telling-
"Yes, my dear sisters, young as I am, I have
seen and experienced a great deal, for we do
not, like human beings, need years in which to
grow and to acquire understanding; we came
into the world full-grown, and men estimate us
at once according to our full value, nor does our
intelligence require long cultivation and many
instructions to make it at home in the world.
We are so lovable by nature, that men always
/ i -4
16 THREE BANK-NOTES.
receive us with friendly smiles, and part from
us with the greatest reluctance. They are so
fond of us that they protect us carefully from
everything rough and unpleasant; they shelter
us.from wind and storm, from cold and heat,
from fire and water; in short, from all that might
do us harm. They carry us about, near their
hearts, or shut us up in chests guarded by triple
locks and bars, that we may not be maltreated or
stolen. They love us and care for us even more
than their own children, and desire us so greatly,
that no labor, no pains, no exertions are too
great for them to use that they may have many
of us in their possession. We belong, with
them, to the human family. They allow us to
have a share in all that befalls them, either of
good or evil; and have no secrets from us, for
they suppose that we are dumb and unable to
betray them, so they take us with them to their
most secret haunts, and allow us to hear every
word they say to themselves or to one another.
THREE BANK-NOTES. 17
Thus we see, hear, and observe many things
which serve for our entertainment and instruc-
tion; and this protects us, who contribute, on
our part, so much to the pleasure of mankind,
from that weary monotony which must be so
great an evil.
"" Fortunately, I know but little of 'that evil
through my own experience, but only through
my observations of some human beings, in
whose possession I have been. They were too
weary for work, or even for enjoyment, of which
they seemed to have had a surfeit, all its charms
being gone; so they bore their lives like a
burden, seeming to say nothing, except to re-
peat over and again-' How weary, oh, how
weary is the world !' I pitied them with all my
heart, for in spite of the thousands of our sisters
that were in their possession, and who might
have done so much for the welfare and happi-
ness of other people, they knew no way of
purchasing contentment for themselves, nor
h. ? *
18 THREE BANK-NOTES.
of driving away the ennui over which they
lamented so bitterly. These were generally
wealthy people; and although I have known
many, in small and lowly cottages, who envied
the rich, I understood perfectly that such poor
people had quite false ideas of the blessedness
of riches, and were often in a more enviable
condition than those who possessed them.
What did they know of Ennui, that fearful
spectre?. Their time passed swiftly in active
labor and work, over which they might enjoy
such true and heartfelt pleasure as many rich
people would gladly have exchanged hundreds
of our sisters to feel if but for a few hours.
Yes, those whom they thought more fortunate
than themselves envied them their simple
delights. How foolish men are! They do
not prize what they have, and they overrate
what they have not. One cannot help laugh-
ing at them, and yet they are much to be pitied,
being so blind and silly, and so unthankful to
THREE BANK-NOTES. 19
God. It is well that this is not true of all
people. There are some, rich as well as poor,
whom one cannot but love and respect, and
these, too, I have known."
Tell us about them, dear sister," whispered
the second bank-note, as the first paused in
thoughtful silence. "That will help to pass
away our time, and to keep us from that mo-
notony, which is so tiresome even to us. Re-
late to us your fortunes, and how you came
here. Then I will tell my story, and our other
sister must have her turn too. We, like your-
self, have seen and heard much; and how can
we better entertain one another than by ex-
changing ou experiences and observations ?"
"Indeed, our sister is right," said the third
bank-note. "Do you begin and we will follow
Be it so," answered the first, settling herself
into a more comfortable position. "Let us
pass the quiet night in telling our stories, for
20 THREE BANK-NOTES.
the days are so noisy, on account of the throng-
ing and the business of the people around us,
that one cannot hear her own voice. Listen to
me, then, sisters, and I will tell you a story
from my own life, one that has excited my sym-
pathies and caused me to feel much pity and
anxiety, but in the end very great joy.
Let me pass rapidly over my birth and the
various changes of my earlier years. I have
no doubt that 'yours very much resembled
mine. I found myself suddenly launched upon
the world, in the midst of a great, great throng
of sisters, whose number increased every min-
ute. We were counted, tied together in bundles,
and lay all of us quiet as mice, fgr we had as
yet no experiences to impart, having seen
nothing of life. We were laid in an iron chest,
locked up with care, and carried away. When
daylight shone again into my prison, I found
myself in a spacious room, where a great many
men were engaged in writing, casting up ac-
THREE BANK-NOTES. 21
counts, counting, receiving and paying money.
You understand-I was at a banker's, amid
hundreds of thousands of bank-notes, and great
heaps of round pieces of silver and gold, which
looked down upon us with quite an air of
superiority, although they were of no more
real value than ourselves. I was still very
ignorant, and understood but little of what was
passing around me. But the quiet talk of our
sisters at night, as they chatted with gay free-
dom, as soon as the noisy business of the day
was over, gradually enlightened me. I soon
felt myself as wise as any of the rest, and
although I knew nothing of the world by my
own experience, as many of the others did, I
thought I should certainly soon find myself in
the midst of it, especially as I early learned
how well men loved us and how kindly and
tenderly they treated us. I longed to leave
my narrow corner for the wide world, and it
22 THREE BANK-NOTES.
was at no distant day that my hopes and my
curiosity were to be gratified.
I was taken from the iron chest, and started
on my wanderings. I went into royal castles,
into cottages, into palaces, into citizens' fami-
lies, and everywhere I found much that was
worthy of observation; but just where I ex-
pected to be most comfortable, there I was
least at ease, that is, in the mansions of the
rich and the great. And this, for a very simple
reason. It is true, we are everywhere kindly
received, but the warmth and cordiality to be
met with in cottages and in plain citizens'
houses do not fall to our lot in those splendid
dwellings. In palaces there are too many of
us, so that we are handled with more indiffer-
ence, and sent away without particular regret;
but in cottages, we are always welcomed as
rare and distinguished guests, and there I was
loved and honored, I was admired, I was ex-
amined a hundred times a day, with delight;
THREE BANK-NOTES. 23
and when at last the good people were obliged
to part with me, it'was not done without visible
pain, and often not without hot tears. That
was the reason why I preferred visiting lowly
houses, and you, my sisters, whose lot is the
same as mine, will understand the feeling.
"Well, after various wanderings from one
hand to another, and by the time I thought I
had seen the whole world and learned all its
ways, I came one day into such a place as I had
never before known. It was a spacious room of
a very repulsive and disagreeable appearance.
Around the walls, and in cupboards, and on
shelves, hung and lay the greatest variety of
articles; old and new garments, beds, furniture,
vessels of gold and silver, clocks, watches,
spoons, weapons, costly ware, boxes, kettles,
ornaments, jewelry, in short, every imaginable
article of any value, and on each hung a ticket
with a number, which must, doubtless, have
had some significance. The side of the room
24 THREE BANK-NOTES.
on which was the entrance from without, was
divided by wooden partitions into small cabi-
nets, into which no one could see except from
the interior of the room. Whoever should
stand in one of these cabinets might indeed
see the rest of the room, but could not see his
neighbor to the right or to the left. I wondered
at this strange arrangement, which I had never
before seen; and all the surroundings gave me
a feeling of uneasiness, a kind of shuddering
dread, which I was not able to overcome. A
heavy, unpleasant odor poisoned the air of that
strange place; the many articles around, not a
few of them dirty and mean-looking, disgusted
me very much; nor was the aspect of the
possessor or guardian of these treasures at all
calculated to reconcile me to my new place of
He was a middle-aged man, with rigid and
deeply-furrowed features; eyes now cunning,
now sparkling with an evil expression; a
THREE BANK-NOTES. 25
crooked figure, a sneaking, cat-ke gait, and
a mocking curl of the lips, which n. I.... -..I him
particularly repulsive to me. Early and late,
he sat over his great books, crouching like a
venomous toad, reckoning, counting, writing
figures upon figures in long columns: or, he
sat before his money boxes, in which great
heaps of gold and silver glistened, and let the
coins slip through his fingers with eager enjoy-
ment, muttering to himself in his wretched
pleasure over the wealth on which he gazed.
"There were a few young men with him,
who, like himself, wrote and calculated in large
books, but they were only his hired dependents.
They seemed to me very insignificant beings,
only a sort of machines, moved alone by the
command of their master.
"For a whole day I wondered and tried to
conjecture what this great room, with all its
varied contents, might mean, but I could come
to no conclusion about it, until at last, on the
26 THREE BANK-NOTES.
following day, the riddle was solved for me.
At nine o'clock in the morning, people began to
come, stepping into one or another of the differ-
ent cabinets, and displayed all sorts of things, on
which my possessor set a price, and received
them, giving in exchange greater or less sums of
money, and also a ticket, which the bearer of
the article received, and then went hastily away.
"There came Jews and Christians, women
and young girls, men and boys, distinguished-
looking spendthrifts, and poor day-laborers:
people of all kinds and classes gave in their
packages, received their money, and went away
"some cheerful; others distressed; some laugh-
ing, others downcast. The endless variety
afforded me much entertainment, for I grad-
ually, learned to know the nature of the place
to which I had come, and of the business car-
ried on there. My new possessor was a pawn-
broker, his house a loan-shop, where people
might receive not more than half the value of
THREE BANK-NOTES. 27
their goods at most, besides incurring the risk
of being unable to redeem them, and being
obliged to pay an exorbitant interest, which the
pawnbroker deducted from the value set on the
articles left with him. I had never before seen
the inside of a pawnbroker's shop, but from the
descriptions I had heard in earlier days from
some of my sisters, all was soon clear to me, and
then I took pleasure in seeing the many differ-
ent things that were brought into the place,
and in judging of the rank of the people who
visited it by their dress, and of their characters
by their countenances. In this manner the
days passed rapidly away, until on the seventh,
when no one came, and the outer doors were
closed and locked. This seventh day was a
Sunday, on which all business ceased; only the
old pawnbroker hung over his gold and silver
and bank-notes, counting them, and rubbing
his hands with an inward chuckle, as he calcu-
lated the increase of his wealth.
28 THREE BANK-NOTES.
"It was not long before I began to interest
myself more in some particular persons, who
appeared from time to time in the shop, than
in the crowd that came and disappeared with-
out making any special impression upon me.
Foremost among these was a young woman,
who soon enlisted my warmest sympathies. I
was pleased with her appearance at first sight.
Timid, and so thickly veiled that her features
could scarcely be .distinguished, she stepped
into a cabinet and waited patiently until her
turn came, and the pawnbroker deigned to be-
stow attention upon her. Her dress was poor,
but with all its simplicity, was exceedingly neat,
well-fitting, and cleanly. An old shawl envel-
oped her graceful and delicate figure, and when
she gave her deposit to the old man, and re-
ceived from him a small sum of money and
her ticket, I noticed a small, snowy hand, which
certainly was not accustomed to hard work.
The hand trembled as it was again withdrawn
THREE BANK-NOTES. 29
into the folds of her shawl, but I had no further
opportunity for observation, for as patiently as
the young girl had waited for those few shil-
lings, so speedily did she take her leave when
the business, certainly a most disagreeable one
to her, was ended.
"Some days passed away, and I had almost
forgotten the young girl, when suddenly she
appeared a second time in the shop. I could
not mistake her identity. There was the closely
drawn veil of faded blue, whose thick folds
concealed her face; the same gray bonnet, the
old plaid shawl, the delicate little white hand,
which received the money, trembling as it had
done before. I tried my best to get a glimpse
of her features under her veil, but could not
succeed in satisfying my curiosity. She dis-
appeared, and I felt the greatest desire to see
her again, and become better acquainted with
"Poor child! she came indeed often, and
30 THREE BANK-NOTES.
brought, now a ring, now a gold pin, now a
pair of silver spoons, now one article of value,
now another, which she exchanged for trifling
sums; but never did she come bringing money
to redeem the deposited articles. She was
certainly very poor, and was obliged to struggle
with bitter cares and depressing want. I felt
the greatest compassion for her, and would
gladly have tried to get into her possession, to
accompany her home, had I not been fastened
to my place by a strip of paper. I was far too
weak to free my myself, and besides, the old
pawnbroker kept so watchful an eye upon us
all, that I could not have slipped out without
being observed. I had to lie still and wait
"patiently, and was very glad that I was not,
like many other bank-notes, given out to peo-
ple in whom I felt no interest. For much as
I had at first wished myself out of this unat-
tractive place, so much I now desired to remain
there a little longer, and that solely for the sake
THREE BANK-NOTES. 31
of this young girl, who occupied my thoughts
so constantly, although I had scarcely, as yet,
seen her figure, to say nothing of her face.
"At last, however, I was to behold both.
One day, she came bringing a pair of silver
spoons, which she offered to the stern old
pawnbroker. Ah, I saw plainly that her hand
trembled to-day more than ever before-cer-
tainly, I thought, these spoons must be almost
the last thing she has. The old pawnbroker,
in whose heart was as little compassion as
there is juice in a dry, squeezed lemon, weighed
the spoons in his knobbed and hairy hand,
shook his head, and said, as usual, through his
"'Very light! very light! These have been
a great deal used! I cannot give you more
than six shillings, at most, for these.'
"The hard-hearted, old skin-flint! The
spoons were worth -three times as much, as I
had by this time learned enough to judge, and
32 THREE BANK-NOTES.
the avaricious wretch offered so little for them,
because he was sure they would never be
redeemed. The poor young girl seemed to
penetrate his thoughts. I heard her, in a soft
and silvery but rather trembling voice, insist
on receiving nine shillings, declaring that she
could not give up the spoons for a trifle. Her
tone was so grieved, so gently beseeching-
yet the heart of the old usurer was inaccessible
to pity. All his soul was set upon gold, silver
and bank-notes, nor did it trouble him that his
miserable gains cost sighs and tears to the
unfortunates. Obstinately he refused to give
the little difference, until at last the young girl
threw back her veil, displaying a countenance
of such angelic beauty that even the hard usurer
was touched. Indeed, her face was wonderfully
lovely, but it was so pale that I was frightened;
at that moment, my sympathy for her was
doubled. Tears stood in her beautiful blue
eyes, tears rolled down her white cheeks, tears
THREE BANK-NOTES. 33
caused her voice to quiver, as with ill-repressed
sobs, she exclaimed-
".' Oh, no, no, sir! I beg of you, give me
nine shillings-nine! I need them. Indeed, I
cannot take less!'
The sound of her voice, her imploring eyes,
her clasped hands, aroused at last some feel-
ing of humanity in the stony heart of the
usurer. Muttering something that sounded
"'Well, well, for once!'-he took nine shil-
lings from his money-box and counted them
out to the young girl.
"'Thank you, sir!' she said softly, as she
gathered up the little sum. Then she hastily
drew down her veil, and turned away, as usual,
"with a light and rapid step.
"I could not help dwelling on the recollec-
tion of this young stranger. I saw continually
before me her lovely pale features, her long,
light-brown tresses, her gentle blue eyes, filled
34 THREE BANK-NOTES.
with tears, and expressive of such heavy, heart-
felt sorrow, such consuming grief, such bitter
anxiety. I longed to have wings, like the little
birds that sometimes fluttered past the window,
that I might follow the unfortunate girl, and give
myself to her, if so I might dry one tear, only
one, from her cheek. She was so very young
yet, certainly not more than sixteen years old,
the poor child! and already her wasted features
and eyes full of sadness told a tale of misfor-
tune and suffering. What grief could thus
have banished the roses of youth from her
cheeks? This question occurred to me again
and again, nor could I conjecture the solution
of it; and, as I thought it over, my compassion
arose to the highest pitch. With impatience,
even with anxious restlessness, I awaited her
next visit, and yet wished, with all my heart,
that she might never be obliged to come
back to that place. For, if she should not re-
turn, I might at least hope that her circum-
THREE BANK-NOTES. 35
stances had improved, so that she need no
longer sacrifice her little treasures to the
"Thus, amid divided wishes, I passed four-
teen days. At last I had begun to think that
my little friend had turned her back forever on
the pawnbroker's shop, when one day she
appeared again, dressed as usual in the well-
known plaid shawl, the gray hat and faded
blue veil. Yes, it was she, poor child, and
although I was glad to see her, yet I was really
pained, too. Her demeanor was that of suffer-
ing and dejection. As if weary of the burden
of life, which rested so heavily on her young
head, she leaned her slight figure against the
partition of the cabinet, awaiting the old usurer's
attention. At last he approached her with a
kind of friendly grin-
"' Well, here you are again, my pretty child,'
said he. 'A long time since you came last!.
What pretty thing are you bringing now?'
36 THREE BANK-NOTES.
"'This !' she replied, laying some glittering
object on the table.
"I noticed here the old pawnbroker started,
and pounced greedily upon the article. That
led me to examine it more particularly. It
was the gold frame of a medallion, set with
sparkling jewels; the medallion was wanting,
having evidently been taken out by the young
"' Ay, ay, there we have gold!' said the old
usurer, in his nasal tone; 'and precious stones,
too! I suppose I shall have to dip into my
money-box deeper than usual to-day. How
much do you want for this, young lady ?'
"' Fifteen pounds sterling, sir!' replied the
young girl, gently, but with decision. 'Fifteen
pounds, not a shilling less!'
"' Fifteen pounds! why, my child, you are
dreaming!' replied the old knave; 'who knows
whether the setting is really gold: the stones
are only imitations, at any rate.'
THREE BANK-NOTES. 37
"'Oh,, no,' replied the young girl; 'I know
these stones are genuine, for before I came
here, I had it examined by a jeweler, and its
value estimated. It is worth twenty pounds-
I ask only fifteen for it.'
"The old usurer knew very well that the
frame was really worth the amount she men-
tioned, but he wished to make the sum he
wanted to give for it as little as possible, feeling
quite certain it would never be redeemed.
"'Ridiculous!' he exclaimed, roughly and
harshly. 'I will give you six pounds, and that's
enough! Don't be foolish, child.'
"' Fifteen pounds-I will give it for no less,'
returned the girl firmly. 'Do not try to
cheapen it, sir. Give me the money, I am in
"' Well, then-seven pounds.'
38 THREE BANK-'NOTES.
"'Ten then-not a shilling more!'
"'Fifteen!' repeated the young girl. 'If
you will not give me that sum, I will go to the
jeweler and sell the setting. I shall, indeed,
lose it forever, but at least I shall not be de-
frauded. Decide quickly, sir, will you, or
"' Well, then-twelve pounds, for your sake;
but it is a sacrifice.'
"The young girl made no further reply, but
took the medallion from the table, and with a
determined air, turned her back upon the ob-
"'Stop, stop!' cried the old knave, seeing his
prize about to slip through his fingers. Not
so fast, my child! Let it be fifteen pounds.
It is true, I sacrifice good money, but since it
is you, give me the thing.'
"The young girl did not deign to prolong
the conversation with the false old niggard.
In silence she laid the medallion again on the
THREE BANK-NOTES. 39
table, from which the pawnbroker snatched it
as eagerly as a bird of prey seizes his booty.
"I had watched the whole proceeding with
the liveliest interest, and now a hope sprang up
within me, for the fulfillment of which I ardently
longed. The young girl was to receive fifteen
pounds; I and two others of my sisters lay tied
together in a package at the top of the chest;
there were, it is true, a dozen similar packages
around us; still it was possible the old man
might take us to pay my favorite, and with
great anxiety I awaited the decisive moment.
The usurer shuffled the bundles over, took up
first one and then another, and still another,
but laid them all down again. At last my turn
came, he clutched us, weighed us in his hand,
and after a short hesitation threw us, with a
reluctant tremor, upon the table. He might
not have decided even then, had not the young
girl just at the moment of his hesitation ex-
pressed her impatience by the exclamation-
40 THREE BANK-NOTES.
"'Please, sir, do not keep me waiting any
It was so hard for the old pawnbroker to
part with us, that he would perhaps have laid
us down again, like the other packages, but
my-good fortune prevailed, and at last I found
myself, as I had so greatly desired, in the white
hand of my dear young friend. I crumpled
and cracked for joy. But the young girl, who
of course had no suspicion of my feelings, hid
me quickly and carefully in her little caba,
which she carried upon her left arm, pressed
me close to her heart, held me fast as if to
make sure of not losing me, and hurried away
with light, swift steps.
"I saw nothing-darkness reigned around
me; nevertheless, I was quite happy that such
a favor had been granted to me, and I pressed
as tenderly close to the heart of my new pos-
sessor, as if I could in that way have testified
to her my sympathy. Time did not pass slowly
THREE BANK-NOTES. 41
in that dark prison, for I had so much to think
of, to imagine and to conjecture. Yet I ob-
served that it must have been nearly an hour
before we at last entered a house, and ascended
many flights of stairs. A door creaked, then
our new owner took us out and laid us on a
table; and at last I had an opportunity partially
to satisfy my curiosity concerning the young
"Alas! I saw, at the first glance, that I had
made no mistake in my conjectures as to the
poverty and distresses of my dear girl. How
poor-how small and close was the room in
which she lived No picture was on the wall;
no ornament, save a little piece of looking-
glass, fastened to a piece of pasteboard, before
which my favorite no doubt arranged her toilet
when obliged to go out; as, for example, to the
shop of my former possessor. Articles of furni-
ture were few and very poor. By the little
window stood a chair and a table, both roughly
42 THREE BANK-NOTES.
made of wood; an old worm-eaten cupboard
stood against one wall; in a corner on the floor
lay a rough straw sack, and in the back part of
this simple chamber hung a calico curtain,
which apparently divided a little sleeping-room
from the rest of the apartment. Other refine-
ment there was none. None, except that on
the table by the window lay a half-finished
piece of elegant embroidery, which seemed to
have owed its existence to the skillful and
artistic fingers of my darling girl.
"And she herself, where was she now ? Ah !
there she stood listening by the curtain; her
pretty delicate head bowed, her veil thrown
back, her light brown hair falling in graceful
confusion over her pale cheeks; she stood
there and listened for a moment. All was still;
I heard no sound until the young girl drew the
curtain a little way back. Then I saw a poor-
looking bed, stretched upon which was the
wasted form of a youth, perhaps a year younger
THREE BANK-NOTES. 43
than the maiden. He appeared to be sleeping;
his eyes were closed, and his white, delicately
veined hands were folded upon the pillow, as
if before he slept he had prayed. At the head
of his bed I now perceived a little girl of about
nine years, who seemed to be watching the
boy's slumber. As the curtain was drawn, she
sprang forward to meet the darling of my heart,
"'Helen, dear sister! are you here at last?'
"'Hush, hush, Mary!' said Helen, with
a gesture of warning. 'Do not wake poor
brother William All night he lay in a fever,
and never closed his eyes. Do not let us dis-
turb him, Mary! Come here-his slumber is
"'Yes, yes!' answered the little one, nod-
ding her fair head, and followed her sister into
the other part of the room, letting the curtain
fall behind them. I could now see the little
girl distinctly. She had a delicate, almost
44 THREE BANK-NOTES.
sickly appearance, blue eyes and shining hair
like her sister's, and her coarse attire seemed
as little suited to her as the calico dress of
Helen, which was exposed to full view when
she laid aside her bonnet and shawl. From
all that I saw, I understood that the poor
children must formerly have been in better
circumstances, and must have experienced-
perhaps at no distant time-a very sad reverse.
I was very anxious to know more about them,
and lent an attentive ear to the conversation
of the sisters.
"I lay, as I have said, with the other notes,
upon the table, and as Mary caught sight of
us, she uttered a half-repressed exclamation of
"' Oh, how much money!' she cried. 'We
can live a long while on that, Helen !'
"' Yes, Mary, quite a long time,' replied
Helen; 'at least, I hope, until brother William
is well again. And after that we shall not be
THREE BANK-NOTES. 45
in distress; for we are young and can work.
Whoever is diligent, the Lord says, shall not
"'But you have worked hard for a week,
Helen,' answered Mary; 'for a whole week,
all day and half of the night, and yet it was not
"' Yes, that is true; but it is because William
is sick, and cannot help me,' replied Helen.
'But we will have patience! I have called for
a doctor, and I hope he will soon cure William.
Then I can work at my embroidery, and Wil-
liam can paint the pretty little pictures for
which he finds such ready sale, and you, too,
Mary, can help me in my work. Then, indeed,
all will be well; nor shall we need any assist-
ance from others, much as we have wished and
hoped for such aid when we had reason to
"' Oh, how cruel it is of Ralph, how mean to
have neglected us!' said Mary. 'I cannot for-
46 THREE BANK-NOTES.
get how you came home, pale and weeping,
the day he repulsed you so sternly-the wicked,
hard-hearted creature! I cannot bear the
thought of him!'
"'Hush, hush, Mary! you will waken Wil-
liam,' Helen interposed in a warning tone.
'Why do you excite yourself so ? Our Father
in heaven, to whose protection dear mother
committed us on her death-bed, has not for-
saken us. He never will forsake us! William
will surely recover. If only the doctor would
come! I gave him very particular directions
how to find our lodgings; but he stays so long,
and he promised me he would come directly.
I hope he has not forgotten!'
"'Helen!' cried at this moment a feeble
voice behind the curtain.
"'Oh, William, we have wakened you!' ex-
claimed Helen, alarmed. 'But when the doctor
comes, we should be obliged to do so; perhaps
it is better as it is. I am coming, dear brother!'
THREE BANK-NOTES. 47
"She hurried to the alcove, drew back the
curtain, and with sisterly tenderness kissed her
brother's white forehead. He looked up with
a faint but loving smile.
"' My dear Helen,' he said, warmly. 'Here
you are again-my comfort in suffering.'
"'Yes, Willy; and I bring help for you,'
replied Helen. 'Courage, brother, we shall
try to cure your disease. See, here is money,
and a doctor will be here soon to prescribe
some medicine for you. Be comforted, Willy,
you will soon recover!'
"'So much money!' exclaimed William,
looking with astonishment at the bank-notes.
'Fifteen pounds, Helen! Where did you get
such a sum. Oh, it must be-I see! Ralph
has at last seen how wrong he was in refusing
your request. Is it not so, Helen?'
Helen sadly shook her head.
"'The money is not from Ralph,' she an-
swered. 'Since he first repulsed me I have
48 THREE BANK NOTES.
never been to see him. I could not-my heart
rebelled against it.'
"' Ah! then he must have treated you very
badly!' murmured the youth, with an angry
look. 'I will reckon with him when I am
well again. To be hard with you, my sweet,
kind, gentle Helen! He shall answer me for
that, the miserly, thankless wretch!'
"' Do not speak of it, Willy; do not think of
it. You become excited, and I know you have
double pain afterward. Do not think of Ralph,
dear brother. Think rather how soon you will
be well and up again.'
"'You are right, dear Helen. I will wait
until I am well,' answered William. 'But if
all that money is not from Ralph, where did
you get it ? Tell me, dear Helen. It makes
"'Surely you know, Willy. Dear mother's
medallion picture !'
"'Oh, you cannot have sold that!' cried
THREE BANK-NOTES. 49
William, alarmed. 'The last memento we
possess of our mother!'
"'No, no, no, Willy!' replied Helen, quickly,
taking out a little picture, which had lost its
setting. 'Here is the portrait. I could only
part from that with my life. But the setting,
Willy, it was of gold and precious stones,
and added nothing to the value of the picture
in our eyes. We needed money, for our last
penny was spent, and we must have a doctor
for you; so I took the setting from the portrait
and carried it-well, you know where.'
"'Yes; to the pawnbroker!' replied Wil-
liam. 'To the pawnbroker-the last resource
of the unfortunate. Well, sister, we still have
the dear portrait. We can do without the
setting; and, when I shall be well again, I will
not rest until I earn enough to redeem it from
the usurer's. How glad I am that you kept
back this treasure!'
"He took the picture with trembling hands
50 THREE BANK-NOTES.
and pressed upon it a long, tender kiss. A
tear stood in Helen's eye, but she turned away,
so that her brother might not see it, and learn
how painful it had been to her to despoil the
"'Never mind, Willy,' she said directly, in
a quiet manner. 'Some sacrifice was necessary
to purchase health for you; and it is my pur-
pose, also, not to rest until the medallion is
complete again. But listen-I hear footsteps.
It must be the doctor coming up the stairs.'
"It was indeed the physician; a kindly old
man with serious, intelligent eyes, a benevolent
smile and snow-white hair resting in abundant
locks upon his cheeks, that were still fresh,
notwithstanding his advanced age. He paused
a moment at the door, scrutinizing the room
and its inmates, and then stepped quietly to
"'Ah, this is our patient, my dear miss,' he
said to Helen, with a kind smile. 'Let us see,
THREE BANK-NOTES. 51
young gentleman, what is the matter with
The examination was soon over. The phy-
sician prescribed the necessary remedies, and
gave the best hopes of recovery. Then, after
chatting a moment or two with Helen and
Mary, he took his hat and cane, and left to pay
another visit. Helen accompanied him to the
door, and timidly offered him some money in
payment for his trouble, which he, however,
refused with a smile.
"'Never mind that for the present, my dear
miss,' said the benevolent old man. We will
settle our accounts when our patient has re-
covered. I will be here to-morrow. Good-by !'
With these words he disappeared, closing
the door behind him. With a slightly per-
turbed countenance, Helen returned to her
"' He would accept nothing,' she said, laying
down the money.
52 THREE BANK-NOTES.
"William looked surprised.
"'Ah, he must have noticed that we are
poor!' he said. 'He is certainly a kind, good
man. Let us love him, and thus show our
gratitude. Some day, I hope, I may be able
to acknowledge his kindness in some more
substantial way. Yes, indeed, true Christian
benevolence shone in his face. I see there are
good people in the world, among the evil ones.'
"Whether by the consoling friendship of the
generous doctor for the poor, helpless orphans,
whether by the remedies he ordered, or by the
better and more constant care which Helen
was enabled, by the money she received for the
setting of the precious medallion, to bestow
upon her brother-in short, William's recovery
progressed rapidly. In eight days he was able to
leave his bed, and "after a fortnight to engage
in light work. He painted pretty pictures in
water colors, and Helen carried them out for
sale, ten or twelve at a time. They made no
THREE BANK-NOTES. 53
great profit on them, it is true; still, with what
Helen received for her beautiful and artistic
embroidery, there was sufficient to supply the
three children with the necessaries of life, so
that they were very rarely obliged to have
recourse to their little treasure-the sum paid
by the old pawnbroker for the medallion.
"The brother and sisters led a quiet, simple
and industrious life, interrupted only by the
occasional visits of the good doctor, which were
continued long after William's health had been
restored by his friendly aid. He appeared to
have conceived a sincere affection for the young
orphans, and they returned this affection with
a warmth which gave the kind old gentleman
visible pleasure. When he came, little Mary
hung caressingly on his arm, Helen cordially
pressed his hand, William left pencils, colors,
pictures, and everything, in order to devote
himself entirely to the entertainment of his
friend. The old doctor refused any compensa-
54 THREE BANK-NOTES.
tion for his professional services, in the most
good-humored, but at the same time most
decided manner. What less could the poor
orphans do than to love and esteem him for his
disinterested Christian kindness? So they
always received him with the greatest joy, and
when his visit was over I heard nothing but
the praises of his goodness, his beneficence, his
unwavering friendship. The good doctor and
the beloved departed parents,-these were the
inexhaustible themes of the conversation of the
"Thus passed a long time. I saw through
the windows the snow fall upon the roofs; I
saw the great icicles, a yard long, that hung
from the eaves; I saw the snow disappear, and
the twittering swallows return from distant
lands, skimming swift as arrows through the
air, warmed once more by the breath of spring.
I saw the topmost branches of the trees renew
their festal summer array of fresh, green'foliage;
THREE BANK-NOTES. 55
but in the quiet lodging of the affectionate
orphans there was no change, except that the
roll of bank-notes lessened visibly, because fuel
was dear, and they had been obliged to buy
warm clothing for the winter. This, however,
did not greatly disturb the peaceful serenity
of the young people. Helen comforted her
brother and sister, as one after another of my
sisters was sent away, by saying that when
summer should come the days would grow
longer, and they could do more work; that
they would not need to spend money for wood
and coals, and might be able to lay up enough
to provide comfortably for the following winter.
So the good doctor, when he occasionally in-
quired whether they were in need of anything,
always received the same answer-they wanted
for nothing; so that he was not able to carry
out any plans for their benefit. Helen only
accepted occasional trifles from him, a pretty
ribbon, a neck-tie, needles of a fine sort, and
56 THREE BANK-NOTES.
such like articles; but the doctor never ventured
to offer more valuable gifts, as he perfectly un-
derstood the honorable delicacy of the orphans,
who would far rather earn their bread by labor
than accept help from a stranger, except when
forced to do so by inexorable necessity, as in
the case of William's sickness.
"And now the summer had come. There
was one morning gloriously fresh and lovely-
such morning as Helen in former days used to
greet with quiet delight. The sun shone beauti-
fully, the swallows twittered before the windows,
the sky was of the deepest blue, and a soft
breeze rustled amid the tree-tops. Everything
appeared inviting to cheerfulness, and I pleased
myself by thinking of the happy face Helen
would wear, when I should see her. Contrary
to my expectations, however, she came from
the alcove with a very sad countenance. Wil-
l liam and Mary also appeared dejected, and all
i three went quietly about their work, exchanging
THREE BANK-NOTES. 57
but a few words; I even saw Helen and Wil-
liam brush away a tear from their eyes once
in a while. What misfortune can have hap-
pened? I thought. I have seen nothing to
account for this !
Half the morning had passed in this man-
ner, when suddenly steps were heard without,
and the good doctor entered the quiet, sad
little chamber, with his usual kindly mein.
He, too, at once observed the change in the
manner of the orphans; his cheerful smile
disappeared, and he inquired anxiously what
trouble had befallen them.
"Helen, William, and Mary looked at one
another; the hitherto repressed tears of all three
burst forth at once, and they fell weeping into
one another's arms. The kind physician, much
astonished at their unusual display of feel-
ing, tried to soothe and to console them, and
inquired so earnestly and so affectionately as
to the cause of their grief, that Helen, drying
58 THREE BANK-NOTES.
her tears, turned at last to him, striving to
recover her composure:
"'Do not be offended with us, dear doctor,'
she said, in a gentle but still trembling voice;
'this is a very painful day for us. It is just a
year to-day since we lost our beloved mother.
Our grief is renewed to-day, and seems re-
doubled; it is in vain that we have tried to
repress our feelings, and to conceal them from
one another; they seem all the stronger for it.'
"' You are right, Helen,' responded William;
'although we have not spoken a word of re-
membrance, we could not help thinking of our
loss. I have read it in your eyes, as you no
doubt have in mine; we have all thought of our
mother this morning, and it would have been
better to have spoken of her, rather than to
brood in silence over our sad thoughts.'
"' Poor children! poor children !' exclaimed
the doctor, tenderly pressing the hands of his
young friends. 'Indeed, the loss of a mother
THREE BANK-NOTES. 59
is the greatest one that young hearts can know!
Your mother must have been very kind and
loving to you ?'
"'She was an angel, doctor exclaimed
William, passionately. 'No angel in heaven
could be more tender and loving! How she
cared for us, how she watched over us, what
privations she endured for us, and how she
cheered us, when our great misfortune came
upon us-you remember, Helen! Ah, how
much love we feel for our mother, when we
think of all that!'
"' Of what, my children, of what ?' inquired
the doctor, sympathizingly. 'I have never
before asked you any questions about your
former circumstances, although I could easily
see that you had once occupied a very different
position in life. But to-day, finding you in
tears and in grief, I am sure you will not
attribute to idle curiosity my desire to learn
more of your earlier history. Pray speak freely
60 THREE BANK-NOTES.
to me-tell me all; confide your sorrows to
the heart of a friend who knows how to keep
your secrets, and-you will lighten your own
bosoms. You certainly know that I have your
welfare at heart, and that you need have no
reserve with me.'
"'We do, we do, my dear doctor,' replied
Helen; 'we know that we need have no secrets
from you, even were there in this case any-
thing to be hidden. But any one might know
what our lot has been. Our father was a
wealthy merchant, who traded both with the
East and West Indies. His name was Elliot.
No one thought, in the midst of all our pros-
perity, how quickly and how easily it might
be swept away. Our father was wise, good,
and prudent. How good he was, you may
know by his having taken our cousin, the son
of his brother, who had died in great poverty,
into his house, and brought him up like .one
of his own children. Ralph Elliot grew up
r.'. ' *
THREE BANK-NOTES. 61
among us; father provided him with every-
thing, gave him the means of studying, settled
him as an advocate, and secured his future so
well that Ralph is now in easy circumstances,
while we, his benefactor's children, must strug-
gle with want.'
"'Ralph Elliot!' interrupted the doctor.
'I am acquainted with him, and I know he
makes a great deal of money. Did he do
nothing for you when you were overtaken by
Nothing,' replied Helen. 'So long as my
father lived in affluence, Ralph visited us almost
daily, and was regarded as a child of the family,
just as he had always been. But our prosperity
waned. Without any faults of his own, my
father experienced heavy losses, through the
bankruptcy of others. This he might have
borne, but now a new misfortune happened.
He had commissioned Ralph to insure two
vessels for him, laden with costly merchandise,
62 THREE BANK-NOTES.
and bound for South America. Ralph, to
whose faithfulness and honesty my father would
have confided anything, took the money for
the insurance of the vessels; but, instead of
fulfilling my father's commission, he retained
the sum, and the vessels were not insured.
This was the cause of the greatest trouble.
The two ships, which contained all that was
left of my father's wealth, were overtaken by a
storm, shattered and sunk, when scarcely out
of port. The news of their loss soon spread,
and was fully corroborated. My father was
but little disturbed at first by the loss of his
merchandise, supposing the vessels to have
been insured. He went to Ralph, and now
the whole extent of his misfortune appeared.
Ralph was obliged to confess that he had
retained the insurance premiums, expecting
that the vessels would perform their voyage
safely, in which case no one would have in-
quired after the money; and my poor father,
THREE BANK-NOTES. 63
who had relied so implicitly upon Ralph's
integrity, now found himself ruined.
'His health had been terribly shocked by
the reverses he had before experienced; this
last blow, rendered the more severe by the
treachery of one so loved and trusted, com-
pleted the wreck. He uttered not a single
reproach to Ralph, but came home broken-
hearted. Three days after he died of grief,
leaving our mother and us in sore distress.
Our father's honorable name was all that
remained to us. The sale of all that we pos-
sessed just sufficed to pay the claims of his
creditors; nothing was left for our support.
We took refuge in a small lodging-place; we
worked, we suffered privations; our mother
would have made any sacrifice rather than to
ask the assistance of strangers. The burden
was too great for her. She neither murmured
nor wept; but grief consumed her life, as it
had our father's. At last she became too weak
64 THREE BANK NOTES.
to leave her bed, and a year ago, this day, we
wept over her, dead. Her last words were a
blessing upon us; and now we were all alone
in the world-orphans, whom none pitied,
whom none cared for! Oh, doctor, if we had
not then looked up to God, the Father of the
fatherless, the Helper of the afflicted, we should
have been crushed by our sorrows !'
"'But Ralph, what of Ralph, my dear
Helen?' asked the doctor.
"' Ralph troubled himself no further about
us; he never entered our house again,' Helen
continued, wiping away her tears. 'My mother
entreated him at least to repay to us the sum
of money that he had received from father for
the insurance premiums; but he basely denied
the whole transaction, leaving us in our poor
and helpless condition.'
"'The wretch,' exclaimed the worthy doctor,
indignantly. 'Why did she not compel him
to restore what he had robbed you of?'
THREE BANK-NOTES. 65
"'I tried to induce him to do so, after our
mother died,' said Helen. 'I called on him,
and spoke to him of the heavy debt, during
my brother William's illness; but he repulsed
me abruptly, again denying all that had passed,
and pretending to know nothing of the matter.
My father had taken no receipt from him, for
how could he mistrust Ralph, whom he re-
garded as his own son, and who owed him so
much gratitude ? Ralph, therefore, denied the
transaction, demanding proofs of his having
received the money from my father. I pos-
sessed no proofs, and was obliged to leave him
without having accomplished anything. Since
that day, I have never seen him. Thank God,
that He has blessed our efforts, so that we have
not suffered the greatest of wants!'
"The good physician quite lost his usual
composure, and burst out in great wrath against
Ralph, calling him a shameful, worthless villain.
William, who, during his sister's recital had
66 THREE BANK-NOTES.
become very pale, now sprang from his chair
in great excitement, and paced rapidly up and
down the little room.
"'Helen!' he cried, 'why have you never
before told me a word of this? It is fearful!
The thankless, treacherous- Doctor, I have
no words to express the wickedness of such a
fraud! And this is the first I have heard of it
-oh, Helen, why so late?'
"' Because I know you so well, Willy, my
dear Willy!' replied Helen. 'I fearedyour hasty
anger, feared that you might go to Ralph to call
him to account, and so bring on a terrible and,
alas, a useless scene. You were sick; even yet
you have not recovered your usual health and
strength, and I was not willing, needlessly, to
excite you. Let it pass, Willy; leave the evil
man to the dealings of a righteous God, as I
"'No, no, I cannot, indeed!' cried William,
passionately. 'I will go to him, I will demand
THREE BANK-NOTES. 67
of him our rights, and if he refuses me, I will
let him feel the weight of my contempt. Worth-
less man! He robs his benefactor, ruins him,
kills him by his deceit, and feels no touch of
penitence for his shameful deed! Had he
repented, sister; had he rendered up the ill-
Sgotten gain; had he shown to us, the children
of his benefactor, but one evidence of sympathy,
I might forgive him; as it is, every drop of
blood in my veins boils, when I think of his
"'Calm yourself, my boy,' interposed the
doctor, soothingly, while Helen appeared
greatly distressed that she had not still longer
kept her secret. In such a case as this, you
can accomplish nothing by rage and violence;
other means must be employed against such a
man as Ralph. Let me try, my children; I
have friends, and among them is a very skillful
lawyer. I will speak with him of the matter.
If there is any way to compel Ralph to give
68 THREE BANK-NOTES.
up the money, my friend will find it out. Wait
patiently, until we hear what he proposes; he
knows more about such matters than any of us,
and we may safely trust to his judgment. Do
you know, Helen, how large a sum your father
entrusted to Ralph ?'
"' Yes, doctor, it was exactly two thousand
pounds sterling,' answered Helen. 'Mother
often said to me: My poor Helen, if we could
only have saved that money, I could now die
peacefully, for I should know that you poor
orphans were at least placed beyond the reach
"'Good! two thousand pounds is quite a
handsome sum, and I hope we may be able to
secure it for you, my children,' said the kind
doctor. 'But, no rashness, Willy! Wait at
least until we have my friend's advice, and after
that, you may act as you please.'
"William's first transport of anger had been
already calmed by the judicious reasoning of
THREE BANK-NOTES. 69
his aged friend; and, seeing that it would
indeed be well to have a lawyer's advice, he
gave the desired promise, that he would wait
patiently for it. The doctor left; and for the
rest of the day, the children talked only of the
beloved mother, whom God's mysterious provi-
dence had taken from their side a year before.
Many a tear fell for her, many a loving word
of praise was spoken of her; from all I heard,
one could easily infer that she had been a noble,
pious woman, and a tender and self-sacrificing
mother to her children, whose fond and faithful
remembrance she had richly deserved.
On the next morning the doctor came again,
but with a dejected manner and a troubled
"'I bring little hope,' he said. 'Mylearned
friend shrugged his shoulders when I repre-
sented to him the particulars of our case, and
expressed his opinion that we could expect
nothing satisfactory from a lawsuit, if no ac-
70 THREE BANK-NOTES.
knowledgment on Ralph's part, of the receipt
of the money, was to be found. Such a law-
suit would, besides, be very expensive, and he
thought we had better try to come to an amica-
ble agreement with Ralph, than to trust to the
chances of litigation, the result of which is,
unfortunately, worse than doubtful.'
"' Yes, yes,' said Helen; 'I recollect now,
that my mother one day spoke to a lawyer on
the subject, and received almost exactly the
same answer. Well, we must be content;
the loss of money is a trouble not so diffi-
cult to forget, if God will but preserve our
"William was silent for a few minutes, and
"' Helen, you know I am not avaricious, yet
it would be a great satisfaction to me, if Ralph
could be prevailed upon to give up the money
he has so shamefully obtained. We should be
spared much heavy anxiety for the future, and,
THREE BANK-NOTES. 71
at any rate, I will make the attempt: I will go
to Ralph, Helen.'
"'Oh, no, do not go!' pleaded Helen, in
alarm, 'Ralph is so rough and stern, he might
abuse you, and that would only add new trouble.
Mother and I have both tried in vain to per-
"'I know it,' replied William; 'but I know,
too, that every man has a conscience, and I
will attack his conscience with the power of
truth. Do not fear, Helen, that I will be rash!
Oh, no! But I will set his own actions plainly
before him; and, if I cannot touch his feelings,
then I will leave him to the just retribution
that will come some day. But I must make
one attempt; I feel that I cannot be contented
until I have spoken with Ralph face to face.'
"'William is right,' said the doctor; 'Do
not prevent him, Helen; let him go. He has
self-command and intelligence enough to speak
in this important matter. Go, go, Willy! May
72 THREE BANK-NOTES.
heaven grant your words the power to touch a
hardened heart, and to awaken a slumbering
conscience! Perhaps when Ralph meets the
son of the man whom he betrayed and loaded
with misfortune, his better feelings may be
aroused; perhaps he will try to make good at
least a part of what he has fraudulently taken
from your parents and yourselves.'
Helen still appeared to dissent, as she had
not the slightest hope of her brother's success;
but she made no further objection, nor did
William stay to argue any longer, but left with
the doctor. He was absent for some hours;
it was afternoon when he returned, pale and
with eyes sparkling with anger, and told-"
"Stop, sister," interrupted the second bank-
note, it is now my turn. I have found to my
astonishment, that the story I have to relate
stands in the closest connection with your own.
I know that Ralph Elliot better than you do; I
THREE BANK-NOTES. 73
was for a long time in his power; I was present
when William, that good, noble-hearted boy
visited him, and caused him, in spite of his
baseness, to tremble in his very soul. I have
witnessed other scenes, too, which appear nearly
related to the fortunes of your poor orphans,
and I am sure you will allow me to take up
the thread of the narrative, and carry it on from
the point at which I interrupted you."
"Certainly, my dear sister," replied the first
bank-note, settling herself more comfortably
upon her tiny golden throne. "I am, indeed,
quite curious to hear your recital ; as William,
angry and excited, only told his sister that his
attempt to arouse any good feeling in Ralph's
bosom had been utterly in vain. Let us then
hear what you have to tell us."
The second bank-note had just opened her
gentle little mouth, to satisfy the curiosity of
her sisters, when the hammer of the bronze
armorer on the clock gave notice that the
74 THREE BANK-NOTES.
dawn of morning was approaching. Life
seemed at once to stir in the house-steps
were heard without, in the corridor, and the
handle of the door rattled.
"Our time is out," said the first bank-note,
"human beings are coming; the noise of their
life will now re-commence, and we must go
back into- our little home. I am chilly, too,
and tired! To-morrow night, my sisters, when
midnight strikes, and all is once more silent,
we will continue our conversation. For the
present I wish you a pleasant repose."
The two others nodded; all three slipped
into the casket, and the lid closed upon them
just as the housemaid opened the door, broom
and dust-brush in hand, to put the room in
order and make the fire. But she saw nothing
of the Three Bank-notes.
They that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare,
and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men
in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the
root of all evil; which, while some coveted after, they have
erred from the faith and pierced themselves through with
many sorrows."-I Timothy, vi. 9, Io.
T HE hammer rang twelve times upon the
anvil; it was midnight. The lid of the
golden casket sprung open, the three tiny gray
figures in their little paper mantles stepped out
and seated themselves upon the arabesque,
nodding to one another. Silence reigned, as
on the preceding night; no human creature
disturbed the conversation of the small sprites,
the second of whom commenced her recital
76 THREE BANK-NOTES.
"The beginning of my life passed much as
your own did, my dear sister," said she. Silent
and ignorant I came into the world, passed
through various hands, found myself far oftener
in large and beautiful mansions than in lowly
cottages, and came at last into the possession
of that Ralph Elliot, whom you have mentioned.
I was, indeed, one of those very two thousand
pounds which the unfortunate father of the
three orphans entrusted to his thankless foster
son, for the payment of the insurance premiums
on the vessels bound for America.
"' Pray attend to this business immediately,
dear Ralph,' I heard the old man say. 'Those
two ships are my last hope; the weal or woe
of my family depends upon them.'
"'Make yourself easy, uncle,' replied Ralph.
'I will go at once to the office.'
"Mr. Elliot left his nephew without taking
any acknowledgment of the receipt of the
money. When he was gone, Ralph regarded
THREE BANK-NOTES. 77
us, as we lay upon his table, with a lowering,
covetous eye, and I thought, as I observed his
expression, 'surely the poor man who has be-
stowed his confidence here is deceived! I and
my sisters will never find our way to the in-
surance office.' And such, indeed, was the
"'What a fool I should be to let all this
money pass out of my hand for nothing,' mut-
tered Ralph, after staring at us for a long time,
and counting us more than once. 'The ships
will go safely enough, and who will ever inquire
after the insurance premium ? But then, if
they shouldbe lost! Bah, how unlikely! And
even if they were-why Elliot has no receipt
for the money, and I can deny that he ever gave
it to me!'
"And he hastily gathered us up, in order to
thrust us into his safe, but conscience checked
him, and he hesitated.
"'It would be bad, very bad, indeed, if those
78- THREE BANK-NOTES.
ships were to go down,' he muttered, gazing
absently before him. Elliot would be a ruined
man, and his family would share in his distress.
That is certain, for I know he has met with
heavy losses of late. But for myself! I need
money, and here it is, as it were, showered
down into my lap. Barnet will come shortly,
and demand the money he won from me the
6ther night, and if I do not not pay him I shall
be disgraced, branded; while for Elliot there
is still hope, the vessels may make their voyage
in safety. It must be done! It is too much for
me; why did he bring me this money, and
take no receipt for it? Ha! there is Barnet
already, the rascal!'
"The door burst open, and a man of an evil
countenance entered the room. His manner
was haughty and insolent. As he opened the
door two suspicious-looking men were plainly
to be seen outside, men who were as much like
policemen as one egg is like another.
THREE BANK-NOTES. 79
"'My money, Elliot!' he cried, without any
other salutation. 'You lost fifteen hundred
pounds to me-here is your acknowledgment!'
"'Exactly; and out there are the grippers,
Swho are to take me along in case I have not
the wherewithal to pay you-eh, Bar*?'
retorted Ralph Elliot, with a sneer. 'Oh, you
are a precious scoundrel! You cheated me at
play, and now you think you have me in your
power, and are not afraid to show all your
"The man addressed did not appear at all
confused, but took Ralph's rough accusations
as something natural and ordinary.
"'Never mind all that, Elliot!' he replied.
'My money, or you go to jail! I have no
indulgence for worthless debtors.'
"'I know, I know,' answered Ralph Elliot,
who had, at the beginning of the conversation,
placed himself so that Barnet could not see us
bank-notes on the table. 'I am going to make
80 THREE BANK-NOTES.
you a proposition, Barnet: take five hundred
pounds, and be satisfied; if you do not, you
will not get a penny !'
"'And be cheated out of my money by a
fellow like you?' exclaimed Barnet, with an
oath. 'Not I; you will pay the whole sum,
ortalk off to jail, I tell you !'
"'Very good; and you will get nothing, I
tell you !" returned Ralph, coolly. 'I have no
more than five hundred pounds, and if you are
not satisfied with that sum, I shall keep it.
Decide quickly! It is all one to me whether
you say yes or no!'
"The other seemed to hesitate.
"' I tell you what, Ralph,' he said at length,
'make it six hundred, and I will be satisfied.'
"'No; five hundred, and not a penny over,
for that is all I have.'
"' Give me the money, then!' cried Barnet,
in a passion.
"'My I O U, first,' said Ralph.
THREE BANK-NOTES. 81
Barnet threw a paper upon the table, which
the other seized with a triumphant laugh, as he
tossed a package of a hundred five-pound notes
at his creditor, while he tore the acknowledg-
ment into the smallest possible bits.
"'So now we are at quits,' he said, laughing,
'and you have allowed yourself to be levy
the nose like an ox. See here! here lie fifteen
hundred pounds more; you might have had all
your money if you had been a little sharper.'
Barnet's rage almost choked him; he swore
he would have the other thousand pounds, or
Ralph should go to the gallows in a week.
Elliot only laughed at his impotent wrath; and
as Barnet could not help seeing that he had
over-reached himself by giving up the note, he
at last took his departure, accompanied by his
now useless constables. Ralph laughed to
himself, snapped his fingers behind his discom-
fited creditor, and carelessly brushed us bank-
82 THREE BANK-NOTES.
"'No use in any more parley with con-
science,' he said to himself, as he laid us in his
safe, 'the sum is broken now; after all, why
was Elliot so careless as to trust me? Why
need I care what becomes of his ships ? If the
wac comes to the worst, I have only to deny
that I ever received the money.'
"And thus did the unprincipled man silence
his better nature, and betray his benefactor,
his second father, with as little remorse as he
did the sharper, Barnet. I once heard a clergy-
men, in whose possession I remained for a
short time, telling his children about a race of
beings superior in power and wisdom to
"'Some of them,' he said, 'are pure beings,
and are sent by the Lord where Christians
worship, to help men in times of temptation
and trial; others are evil, and strive continually
to lead mortals away from purity and happi-
ness.' He said that 'they linger, invisible but
THREE BANK-NOTES. 83
full of interest, around the dwellers on earth,
and, no doubt, often contend for the mastery
over human souls. If a mortal chooses the
right way, and overcomes temptation, the good
angel cheers him and ministers to him,' as the
clergyman said they once did to the Igrd,
when He was on earth in the form of man;
'but if the choice should be evil, then the good
angel can but return in grief to Him who
sent him, while the evil one laughs in fearful
If all this be true, what sadness of the pure
spirits, what terrible rejoicing of the wicked
ones must there have been, unknown to Ralph
Elliot, over his miserable transgression! For
me, I had seen and heard enough of him to
detest him from my bank-note heart, more than
words could express. I longed for wings, that
I might fly away from him-I hoped that I
might soon come into other hands. But I was
obliged to remain in his possession much
84 THREE BANK-NOTES.
longer than I expected. I had built my hopes
upon the knowledge that he was a gambler;
but I soon found that, although he played
much and high, he won far oftener than he
lost. I am convinced that he was as unscrupu-
lous at the gaming table as he was everywhere
else. Besides, he was very miserly indeed,
and, except at play, seldom parted with his
bank-notes and guineas. For these reasons I
remained a long time in his safe, and had
abundant opportunities for learning to under-
stand his character-no very agreeable study,
as you may suppose. And thus I have learned
some incidents which may serve to complete
the story of the three orphans, which you, my
sister, have commenced to relate.
Ralph Elliot, a youpg man of twenty-four or
twenty-five years of age, concealed under a
showy and glittering exterior, a base and worth-
less character. He resembled a false coin or
note, which, although fresher and brighter in
THREE BANK-NOTES. 85
its external appearance than the genuine money,
has no intrinsic value. His life was one un-
broken chain of idleness, villainy, and shame-
ful fraud, practiced, in his profession of attor-
ney, upon all who knew so little of him, or
were so unwary as to confide in him. By
these means, and by gambling, he made a great
deal of money; so long as I remained in his
possession, large sums were never wanting,
piled up in the safe beside me. I believe that
but once in his life did he allow himself to be
cheated by a more cunning rogue than himself;
I mean by this Barnet, whom I saw on the day
I came into his hands, and whom I was to see
again, some weeks later. Barnet seemed to
have plundered him pretty completely, for
when I was put into the safe, there were but a
few silver coins there; it was filled up, how-
ever, within a few days after that. Every
morning he brought considerable amounts to
the safe, and I began to hope that he would
86 THREE BANK-NOTES.
make good the wrong he had done his bene-
factor. But though the five hundred pounds
he had given Barnet had long been replaced,
the whole sum more than doubled, yet never
did Ralph take any steps toward fulfilling his
uncle's trust. I longed to implore him to obey
the voice of conscience, but our lips speak not
the language of men, and my low, warning
whisper could never reach his ear. There
might yet have been time to repair the evil,
but in a few weeks it was forever too late. One
day Mr. Elliot called on Ralph, pale but com-
"'My vessels have been wrecked, my dear
son,' said the old gentleman. 'How fortunate
that I provided for the insurance on the cargo!
Give me the policy, Ralph, that I may go and
demand the money.'
Hardened as Ralph Elliot was, this time
the blow was too severe and unexpected. He
was pale as death, and poor Mr. Elliot read in
THREE BANK-NOTES. 87
his countenance the story of this crowning
"'Unhappy boy!' he gasped out. 'You have
forgotten or neglected to attend to the insur-
"Ralph dared not, could not deny it.
"' Oh, what a fearful stroke this is!' exclaimed
Mr. Elliot, in tones of distress, and wringing
his hands. 'Ralph, pray to God to forgive you
for this neglect. I hope I may; but, alas, my
poor wife, my unfortunate children-we are all
ruined! ruined! ruined!'
Distracted by the overwhelming news, Mr.
Elliot did not think of asking the unfaithful
nephew for the sum intrusted to him. I do not
suppose that, at that moment, Ralph could
have refused it; he was himself too much sur-
"prised and confused. But Mr. Elliot went
away, leaving the money, and never returned.
I know now why that was, since three days
later he died of a broken heart. But Ralph,
88 THREE BANK-NOTES.
meanwhile, recovered himself; and when, at a
later day, first the widow and afterward the
daughter of his benefactor came to ask him for
the money, he unblushingly denied the whole
transaction, and turned from his door those
who had formerly loaded him with benefits, for-
bidding them ever to set foot in his premises
again. The poor women, having no evidence
to produce on their side, had to go away weep-
ing. The evil man was triumphant, and for
some time no more was said about the money.
One day Barnet came again to Ralph, who
received him, at first, rather coolly-
"'What do you want here?' he said. 'We
have nothing more to do with each other.'
Don't be a fool, Ralph,' returned the
other, in that insolent manner which appeared
natural to him. 'I bring you news worth a
million, and I will sell it to you for a hundred
"' Pshaw!' returned Ralph, carelessly,' chaff
THREE BANK-NOTES. 89
doesn't catch an old bird like me. Carry your
news to some better market than this.'
"'Well, then, I'll take ten guineas for it,'
said Barnet, laughing.
"' Not from me.'
"'Five then. Nothing give, nothing have,
Ralph. Don't stop to consider; my news is
worth a thousand times as much as that to you.'
Ralph became at last really curious. He
took five guineas from the safe, and tossed
them towards Barnet, saying-
"'.Speak, then. But if I find that you are
only taking me in, then look out for the con-
"' Leave your threatening, Ralph; that don't
go down with me,' said Barnet, coolly pocket-
ing the gold pieces. 'You have an uncle in
the East Indies.'
"'A nabob, immensely rich, and without any
90 THREE BANK-NOTES.
"'Well, then, what of him ?'
"'Nothing but this: that a friend of mine
has written to me that this nabob, your uncle,
has set sail from Calcutta for London, with all
his wealth, in order to pass his last years among
his relatives, in his native country. Now you
know all, and I suppose you are wise enough
to understand what to do with such news. The
children of your other uncle, whom, if I mis-
take not, you yourself have cast into poverty,
will be glad enough to meet Sir Robert Elliot,
fresh from India, with a ship-load of gold and
silver and diamonds.'
"'They must not know of his arrival,' cried
Ralph. 'Thanks for this intelligence, Barnet; it
is worth fully five guineas, and I will make use
of it. I'll take possession of the old gentleman,
and keep him so well engaged that he will
never think of asking after his other relatives.'
"'Good luck to you, Ralph,' said Barnet,
laughing. 'In the meantime, I will try what
THREE BANK-NOTES. 91
luck your five guineas will bring me; they
came just in the nick of time, for I will confess
to you that I lost my last farthing yesterday at
"'This is no false news you have trumped
up to deceive me, is it, Barnet?' said Ralph,
with rising suspicion.
"' No, no,' replied Barnet, 'here is the letter;
read it yourself. There is no deceit about it,
but you may think yourself happy that I lost
all my money yesterday, else I should scarcely
have come to you with the news; our friend-
ship is not quite so disinterested. So good-by
to you, Ralph.'
"With these words, and a laugh, the fellow
went out and left Ralph alone. The latter
seemed quite excited by the intelligence he
had received. He strode up and down his
room, muttering to himself.
"'He must not see them. He must not
know that they are in London, that they are
92 THREE BANK NOTES.
alive. I will tell him they are all dead. He
must leave all he has to me-to me alone. He
certainly cannot live much longer; he must be
nearly sixty, and the Indian climate makes
people old before their time. I will take care
of him; I can flatter him, pretend affection for
him, win his favor in a thousand ways-he will
make me his heir. Pshaw! what is it to me
how my beggarly cousins get along in the
"These words, and more, he uttered in
broken sentences, rubbing his hands in joyful
anticipation. He had always known full well
that his father's brother, Robert Elliot, had
gone to India, and there become very rich;
but it had never occurred to him that he might
return to England. Unexpected as the news
was, it was so much the more welcome. It
appeared to him easy enough to gain the favor
of the wealthy uncle, provided the other rela-
tives could be kept out of the way. A meeting
THREE BANK-NOTES. 93
with them, however, might spoil all his plans,
especially if Helen or William should expose
the fraud by which he had brought them to
want. It must not be.
"'No, no!' he said to himself, 'I will say
that they are dead; and something extraordin-
ary indeed must happen if the old man ever sees
or hears of them. None but a fool will share
with others, if he can enjoy anything alone.'
"As Ralph uttered these words, he heard a
knock at the door, and a young man of perhaps
fifteen years entered, slender and handsome,
but somewhat pale. The appearance and man-
ner of the youth were very prepossessing, but
Ralph cast upon him a look of aversion, and
shrunk back a step or two as he entered.
"'William!' he exclaimed, half in anger,
half in confusion,'what do you want with me?
What brings you here?'
"'A little business, that can speedily be set-
tled,' replied the youth, quietly and earnestly.
94 THREE BANK-NOTES.
"' Business, with you ?' asked Ralph. 'What
can I have to do with you? I do not wish to
be disturbed at present.'
"' I will trouble you only until this affair,
which should have been settled long ago, is
finished,' replied the boy again, as quietly as
before. 'Ralph, one question. Where are the
two thousand pounds which my father intrusted
to you for the insurance of his last two
"'What do I know of his insurance?- He
gave no money to my charge; I know nothing
about the matter,' replied Ralph, with a bold,
defiant air. 'Go about your business, boy, and
do not come here with a story like that, patched
up to cover a begging.errand.'
"' It is false, Ralph,' replied the son of the
deceived and betrayed old man. 'My father
gave you two thousand, pounds for -the pur-
pose I have named; you neither used them
for that purpose, nor returned them, and I have
THREE BANK-NOTES. 95
come at last, to demand the payment of the
"' Shameless boy,' cried Ralph. 'Have you
proofs of the debt, as you call it?'
None, but the word of my father-his word
spoken to my mother on the death-bed, to
which you brought him,' said William. 'You
cannot accuse my father of lying, Ralph; your
benefactor, who showed you so much kindness.'
"' I do; he lied-as you do, and the whole
tribe of you! Go, and never show your face
here again, or ,' and here he uttered an
outrageous threat, 'go, I tell you !'
"I saw the flush of anger rise in William's
pale face, but the sensible boy restrained him-
self with manly firmness, and said, in as tem-
perate a manner as before-
It is of no avail, Ralph, to dissimulate. I
understand you. You did receive the money,
and unless you would be a swindler, as well
as the murderer of my father, you will restore
96 THREE BANK-NOTES.
it to me. Give me that money, and you will
never see any of us again.'
"' Take that, boy!' cried Ralph, beside him-
self with rage, and struck the youth, pale as he
was from recent illness, a violent blow in the
face with his fist, caught him by the collar,
dragged him to the door, and threw him down
"" I did not see him again; he did not return,
but I heard his voice-
"'Well, Ralph, I am too weak to contend
with you by force, but my father, whom you
have basely murdered-he is witness against
you before the judgment seat of God.'
"With these words he went away. Ralph
had heard them, as well as I; he turned pale,
and his hair appeared for the moment to stand
up with terror.
"'The dead! the dead!' he faltered, and it
was some time before he regained his usual
composure. That strange thing which human
THREE BANK-NOTES. 97
beings call conscience, what a mysterious power
it seems to have, to disturb even the most
reckless man! If, as I have heard say, there
is another life after this one, in which a con-
science stifled here awakens with redoubled
force, how'fearful must the punishment of the
wicked be! I shudder to imagine myself sur-
rounded by faces perpetually wearing the
expression of Ralph's -at that moment. That
is my opinion as a bank-note.
"This incident, however, led to no good
results. Ralph did not restore the money, but
congratulated himself on being rid of his trou-
blesome relatives, and continued to hope that
their existence would remain unknown to the
wealthy East India uncle, whose arrival he
awaited daily in feverish anticipation. His
longings were destined soon to be realized, but
in another and far less pleasant manner than
he so confidently expected.
"One morning, having finished his solitary
98 THREE BANK-NOTES.
breakfast, he was seated, half reclining, in his
easy office-chair, reading the newspapers of the
day. Suddenly, with a loud exclamation, he
started from his comfortable attitude, and began
to read aloud, as though to assure himself of
the reality of what was before his eyes-
"SHIPWRECK OF THE 'HEART OF MADRAS.'
The recent storm was the cause of a very sad disaster.
The 'Heart of Madras,' a richly freighted East Indian vessel,
the property of Sir Robert Elliot, who, with all the wealth
he had acquired by honorable labor in distant lands, was
returning on board of her to Europe, having escaped all the
perils of the deep, was wrecked in sight of the harbor.
Nothing was saved but a part of the crew, together with the
unfortunate owner of the ship. The man who left the shores
of Asia in the possession of millions, lands in his native
country destitute, for neither ship nor cargo was insured.
Such are the caprices of fortune.
Ralph's reading of this startling paragraph
was interrupted by various ejaculations of dis-
appointment and poignant regret; and at the
close of it he threw down the journal with an
oath, and went out of the office, to which he
THREE BANK-NOTES. 99
did not return for some hours. When he did,
his ill-humor was still visible. He slammed
doors and drawers, scowled and cursed .be-
cause the room was too warm, because his pen
was bad, because a lock was rusty; at every
turn he betrayed the demon of selfish spite
which had taken possession of him.
Nor was it any better the next morning,
when he sat down to his account books, which
seemed to have no more soothing qualities
than any other of his surroundings; for he
raised his head with a scowl of anger, on hear-
ing, after about half an hour, a slow and heavy
tread ascending the stairs. The step was ac-
companied by a constant coughing and panting,
and interrupted every few moments by pauses,
as if the visitor was exhausted, and obliged to
rest and take breath. Nearer and nearer the
steps approached; there was a knock, and
Ralph growled out-
"' Come in.'