In the second half of the fifth chapter of Making Money, Moist continues to grapple with a rapidly changing world of his own making. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
If you’re not a video-watcher (some people aren’t!), then let me start this off by saying that I witnessed a queue forming in Union Station in D.C. not too long ago. It formed next to the queue I was in for an upcoming train that would take me back home. I didn’t know what it was for, and then I overhead someone asking another person if the line was for the Acela train.
Their answer: “Oh, I don’t know.”
“What are you in line for?”
“I don’t know.”
So yeah, this isn’t fiction at all. I’VE WITNESSED IT MYSELF. Did that person have a train to catch and just assumed that was a line? WHO KNOWS. What if they’re still in line? The world may never know.
Anyway, that bit of fun aside: LORD, this is escalating so quickly. No sooner has the bank opened to everyone—something Moist had hinted at doing pretty early on—that they get four thousand dollars worth of deposits, not counting Harry King. The bank only valued the well-off and the wealthy, , but Moist brilliantly points out how meaningful it is that there are more of the poor, and that pooled together, they’re worthy, too. He sets the threshold for a deposit low, and they only earn a percent of interest per year, but that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve to have a place to keep their money safe. And then there’s people like Dibbler, who are certainly not rich, but for whom advancement exists just out of reach. For the length of this series, that man has had his tray from where he’s sold… well… food? Something like food? Something that some people eat some of the time? And he just needs a relatively small amount of money—just $15—to be able to upgrade to a cart. And look, this is so perfectly in line with a lot of what Pratchett has talked about before, like with Vimes’s theory on boots. Sometimes, you just need a little help to get ahead, but that little bit is denied over and over again. That little bit stays just out of reach. So there’s a part of me that hopes that Dibbler does improve his business! Like, I don’t expect his food to get any better, but maybe he’ll sell more! Maybe he’ll get to cover more ground with a cart he can push instead of wearing a tray.
Still think his food’ll be the worst, but I expect nothing less of CMOT Dibbler.
So, Harry King. It’s been a hot minute since we’ve seen him in a Discworld book, no? (I know he’s been mentioned a few times, but he hasn’t had a major scene since The Truth.) I think this scene exists to demonstrate why Mr. Bent’s policies and preferences for running the bank just don’t work. Well, they do work, but there can never be growth or expansion. Harry King has fifty thousand dollars in the bank; that’s IMMENSE. Yet Mr. Bent spends what little time he has in front of Harry King making it clear that he doesn’t want the bank to lend any money. Just because King is hard to be around, or gruff, or aggressive, or smelly, doesn’t mean that he isn’t going to pay back his loan at a rate that’ll benefit the bank while he gets to make advances in his business. Moist is clever like that, and that’s one of the many things the bank has been missing at this point. He understood Harry King and recognized that he was a huge part of the city. Why wouldn’t the bank want to be behind whatever ventures he was planning? It’s just a sensible choice, but Mr. Bent didn’t consider him as “deserving” of it, despite that he probably had more money than most of the other clients.
I’m just as excited to see what the money-making process itself is going to turn out like. Of course, because Pratchett loves throwing wrenches into plans, there’s a huge complication at the end of this chapter: the best person for the job of designing the bills to prevent counterfeiting? Yeah, it’s Owlswick Jenkins, the very guy Moist testified against. AND WHO WILL BE EXECUTED SHORTLY. Okay, so… how the hell is he gonna manage this? Break Owlswick out? Get Vetinari to intervene? Actually, Moist shuts down that option on the page, so I don’t know???
But look, y’all. LOOK. There’s one thing in this chapter that is more interesting than LITERALLY EVERYTHING ELSE. I picked up on a few strange clues that there was more to Mr. Bent than there seems to be. Early on, I had wondered if he was a vampire. I don’t believe that anymore, but once I learned that he lived at Mrs. Cake’s??? OKAY, WHAT!!!! So, there is something there, but Pratchett is being suspiciously vague about providing details. Mr. Bent likes numbers; he has no sense of humor. He had “bad times” before, but we don’t know what they were. He adjusts his clock before heading to work, and he has a wardrobe. A wardrobe with a SECRET in it. He keeps it padlocked shut??? What the fuck is in there?
Even worse, it seems very much true that the Lavishes KNOW WHAT THIS PAST IS. That’s what Cosmo threatens Mr. Bent with, and the scary part is that I can tell that Mr. Bent is desperate for no one to ever find out what he was. Problem is that none of these details add up into anything for me. Like, I keep going over them and nothing sensible jumps out. Mrs. Cake doesn’t even know!
UGH WHAT IS HAPPENING.
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