"God damned piece of shit." The words came from under the automated money changer in the First National Bank of Grantville. And Reva Pridmore suddenly knew it was going to be a bad day. The AMC, or Simon Legree as the bank employees called it, was the unnatural child of two coke machines and a personal computer. It ate down-time coins and spat out dollar amounts. It also spat out the estimated silver content of the coins in question and sorted them into neat stacks that depended on the type of coin, the amount of wear and clipping they had suffered. And, as it had today, it broke down a lot. Well, Reva had had enough. The tellers had a lot to do these days; weighing coins by hand would mean long lines. She turned on her heel and headed for the offices.

"Marlon, we're not going to do it. Not again," Reva said as she entered her husband's office.

"Do what?"

"Simon Legree is busted again. I'm not having my tellers spending the day weighing and measuring coins."

"I surrender, I surrender." Marlon held up both hands but ruined the effect by grinning at her. Apparently seeing her expression, his grin faded a bit. "Let me look, okay?"

Reva crossed her arms and waited, while Marlon fiddled with his computer. There was talk of consolidating the computers in the bank but on December 7th, 1631 it hadn't happened yet. "Wow. I didn't realize we had that much silver coinage on hand. Look, honey, why don't you just put a sign in the window saying we aren't buying down-time money today. We have plenty. We could sell down-time money for a week before we had to buy more."

Now Reva smiled. "Fine. I'll have Ditmar do up one in German." Ditmar had a fine hand. Unfortunately his English wasn't great; Reva's German was worse.

****

"Ja, I will sign make. Is good." Ditmar said. He was pretty sure he understood what was needed. He didn't like weighing coins any more than any of the other clerks in the bank. He didn't see any reason to include an explanation of why. What was more important was that the text be large and easily read. So he made the letters three inches tall.

Ditmar stood outside, examined the signs and gave a sharp nod of satisfaction. The signs were placed on the large window next to the glass door. Frau Pridmore's sign was made in magic marker and the typical up-timer scrawl:

WE APOLIGISE BUT THE BANK

WILL temporarily NOT BE BUYING

DOWN-TIME COINS. You can still

exchange up-timer money for

local coinage.

Kein Ankauf von Silber.

Verkauf nur gegen up-time Dollar

zum aktuellen Kurs.

Ja, that would work. Neither the English version of the sign nor the German gave the reason that they weren't buying down-time coins. But that really wasn't anyone else's business anyway. The German sign failed to specify that it was temporary, but so what. The English sign did and they would take the signs down when the machine was working again. What mattered was that both signs made clear that you could still get down-time coins at the First National Bank of Grantville; you just couldn't get rid of them there.

****

Jekli Koriska, a merchant from Silesia, had sixty gulden, in HRE coins of various denominations, to deposit in his account in the Grantville Bank. They'd been sent to him by his partners back home, after they had sold a load of kitchen appliances that he had sent to Prague two months before. While not overly fond of the New United States, Jekli did like the bank. It was a really nice place to visit, with carpet on the floor and great big windows and central heat. It was a bitingly cold morning, in spite of the cloudless sky. He moved cautiously over the icy sidewalk. Then he looked up and saw the sign in the window of the bank. His first thought was annoyance. He would have to go to the Exchange. Then he remembered the stories about the up-timer techniques for turning copper into silver. He hadn't believed them; they were altogether too much like the philosopher's stone that alchemists and other charlatans were always searching for. After a moment, he thought about the stories in The Street about the balance of trade. He looked back at the sign and began to be a little worried.

****

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- The Grantville Gazette Staff