Pictures of the Socialistic Future
AGNES, our prospective daughter-in-law, is quite inconsolable, and Franz is hardly less depressed. Agnes is in fear for her dowry. For a long time past she has been industriously saving up, and more especially so since her acquaintance with Franz. Her industry was such that she would scarce allow herself time for her meals, and the sums which her companions spent in finery, in pleasures, or in short excursions, she devoted to the increase of her little capital. By these means she had no less a sum than two thousand marks in the savings bank at the time of her becoming engaged. It was with no little pride and complacency that Franz told me all this on the evening of the engagement day. The young people began to devise schemes as to how they could lay out this large sum of money to the best advantage.
But now it seems that all her industry and economy are to prove quite futile. Rendered uneasy by all sorts of reports that reached her, Agnes determined to go to the bank and give notice of withdrawal. Arrived in the neighbourhood of the bank, she found the street filled with excited groups. Old men and women, and numerous girls who had been servants during the old order of things, complained piteously of being cheated, as they said, out of their hard-earned savings. The officials, it appears, had stated that along with all other values which, by the operation of the new decrees had been confiscated, the funds of the savings bank were also void.
The mere rumour of such a thing nearly made poor Agnes faint. Summoning courage, however, to enter the bank, she there soon received confirmation of this incredible news. Hastening to us, she heard it rumoured that deputations of bank creditors were on their way to the palace to seek an interview with the Chancellor. On hearing this I started off at once, and Franz went with me.
We found an immense crowd gathered in front of the palace. Across Lassalle Bridge (the old King William's Bridge), streams of people kept surging up towards the palace. It is clear this savings bank question is deeply stirring the public mind. All the entrances to the courts of the palace were securely fastened. The crowd in front made various efforts to obtain forcible entrance, but in vain. Suddenly several gun-barrels from inside bristled through loopholes in the doors, which loopholes I had somehow never noticed before.
Who can say what might have been the end of all this if, at this critical moment, the Chancellor had not appeared on the scene and thus restored order? He stepped out upon the balcony of the middle portal, and in a clear and sonorous voice, declared that the savings bank question should receive the immediate consideration of the Committee of Government. He begged all true patriots and consistent Socialists to confide fully in the justice and wisdom of the representatives of the people. Loud hurrahs greeted our Chancellor as he withdrew.
Just at this moment several fire brigades came tearing along at a gallop from different directions towards the palace. There being now no police to summon, the authorities had in their consternation telegraphed from the palace, reporting a great fire there. The arrival of the gallant fellows was greeted with much laughter. By and by the crowd dispersed in a more good-humoured and pliant mood. It is only to be hoped that the Government will do the right thing in this business
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