The throng of people
gathered on the Rue de Quincampoix in Paris
was so extensive that there was
barely space for them on the narrow way.
Lords and Ladies of wealth loitered about waiting for the famous
banker John Law to emerge from his house with news
of who would be permitted to purchase stock in
The Mississippi Company that he had founded. The members
of the crowd traded stock in the Banque Générale
and conducted other business while they waited.
“How long do you think this will last Marcelle?”
mused the cobbler, “The crowd has gotten so large that people
can barely get to my shop. The loss of business has more then
been covered by the rooms that I have been able to rent out above
my shop though. They are currently renting to a few wealthy
speculators at almost 4 times the normal rate.”
Marcelle rubbed his stubble covered chin as he mused.
Marcelle was a bent man with a humped back,
the lack of mobility prevented him from getting decent
employment so for the last 9 years he had mostly haunted
the Rue de Quincampoix begging for extra coin.
However, when the crowds came it offered him the chance
at a more effective job. “I think I know how long it will last.
” He finally answered the cobbler, “one moment though,
I have to work here.” Marcelle stepped out and greeted two
nearby gentlemen, one of which having a quill and a wad of
papers in his hand. He turned so that the sign sewn to his
sackcloth clothes faced them, it read 'pour le loyer'
then he spoke to them, “Good afternoon m’lord,
I see you are trying to conduct some business here today,
perhaps I can offer my services.”
Marcelle was well prepared to facilitate business in the street.
He had spare paper tucked in his belt and an ink pot with a quill
strapped to his head. He had converted himself into a convenient
mobile writing desk. He turned his hump tword the gentleman
who proceeded to use it to sign off on the papers and money
changed hands between them. The stock transaction completed
both men bestowed Marcelle with a silver coin for his services.
Marcelle walked back over to where the cobbler was waiting in
his stall, “I reckon Louis, that I would like it to go on forever
because I’ve never made so much coin just begging like
I normally do.
But if it can at least go on long enough for me to afford a pair of
them fine shoes that you make then that would be long enough
for me.” Both men shared a chuckle,
“But, as far as I can understand it, all these lords and ladies
are here to trade words on paper for other words on paper.
Mostly the only coin I see them pull out is to buy refreshments
from the vendors or to rent the services of my hump here.”
Marcelle motioned with his hand to his deformity as he said this.
The men shared another chuckle.
“I don’t know how long it will take, but they have to come to
their senses sometime. I’d never trust some words written
on some papers to be worth gold or silver.”
Louis considered this,“I suppose you are right Marcelle,
we should enjoy it while it lasts eh?”
By the time that the cobbler had finished his last sentence,
Marcelle was already hobbling away to rent out his hump to
the next gentlemen of business. More papers traded hands and
Marcelle gained 2 more coins. He hobbled back over to the
cobbler once this business was concluded. “Almost enough!”
he beamed, “warm comfy shoes for me just a few coins away now.
” Louis thought for a moment, “Let me see what you have there
Marcelle, ah close enough.” Louis smiled as he handed over
some of his best shoes.
Marcelle traded shoes for coins and all was well.