It was a perfectly ordinary day at the main
office of the Bank of Daggerfall. Normal transactions took
place: deposits were deposited, withdrawals were withdrawn,
house mortgages were collected, letters of credit were golded.
When a teller named Clyton J. Wifflington saw the little old
lady approaching him, dragging two large sacks, each nearly
as large as her, he changed his mind. It was not to be a perfectly
ordinary day at the Bank of Daggerfall after all.
"I would like you to take the thirty
million gold pieces I have in these sacks and open me an account,"
croaked the little old biddy.
"Certainly, madam," Wifflington
said, eagerly. He counted the gold in the sacks and found
that it was thirty million gold exactly.
"One moment, sonny," the little
old lady chirruped. "Before I open the account, I would
like to meet the man I'm trusting it to. I'd like to talk
to the president of the bank."
Wifflington wanted the president to know that
he was the teller who had taken the largest single deposit
that year, so eagerly sent word to the president's secretary.
As it turned out, the president was equally eager to meet
such a wealthy woman, so the old lady was brought to his office
that very day.
"Pleased to make your acquaintance, milady.
I am Gerander P. Baggledon," said the president, Gerander
"My name," said the little old lady.
"Is Petuva Smuthworthy." That was, in fact, her
real name. "Thank you for seeing me. I like to conduct
my business in a more personal way."
"I can certainly appreciate that,"
said Baggledon chucklingly. "It is an appreciable sum
of gold. Would it be rude of me to ask how you came by it?"
"Not at all," said Mrs. Smuthworthy.
"How came you by it?" asked Baggledon.
"I'll let you guess," replied Mrs.
Smuthworthy, with a trace of unattractive girlish flirtation.
Baggledon was a man of enormous imagination,
for a banker. He guessed inheritance and longtime thrift,
but Mrs. Smuthworthy coyly shook her head. Perhaps she had
sold a large, old mansion? No. In a moment of chumminess,
Baggledon asked if the gold came as a result of plunder or
thievery. Mrs. Smuthworthy took no offense, but said no. Finally,
he admitted defeat.
"I'm a gambler," she said.
"In arena fights?" he asked, interested.
"No, no, dearie. Different things. For
example, I'd be willing to wager twenty five thousand gold
pieces that at this time tomorrow morning, your testicles
will be covered with feathers."
Mr. Baggledon was somewhat taken aback by
the old woman's words. Could she be mad? Could she be a witch?
He eliminated the latter possibility, for he had a sense for
such things. If she were mad, she was still a rich madwoman.
And he could use twenty five thousand gold pieces. So he took
For the next twenty-four hours, Mr. Baggledon
obsessed over his testicles. He checked his pants so often
that afternoon, his subordinates feared the worse and suggested
that he not touch anything and go home for the rest of the
afternoon. He spent the night seated, his pants around his
ankles, his beady banker's eyes focused on his scrotum. Every
time he started to doze off, his vision was filled with images
of Mrs. Smuthworthy plucking feathers from his balls, cackling.
Mr. Baggledon arrived at the bank late the
next day -- only moments before Mrs. Smethworthy's arrival.
Accompanying her was a lean, bespeckled fellow she introduced
as a barrister from the court. Her son, it turned out. Young
Mr. Smethworthy always accompanied his mother when there was
money involved, she explained.
"Enough banter," she crowed. "Our
"My dear, dear madam, I can tell you
that your gold will be quite safe at the Bank of Daggerfall.
I hope it will not cause you distress to discover that your
gold will be safer here than in your own hands. My family
jewels are quite, shall we say, featherless. And you owe me
a sum equally twenty five thousand gold."
Poor Mrs. Smethworthy's face fell when she
heard this. "Are you sure?"
"Not even one feather?" Her voice
suggested doubt. Mr. Baggledon could tell she thought he might
"Not one, I fear, madam."
"It's not that I don't trust you, Mr.
Baggledon, but it is quite a lot of gold. Might I -- would
you -- could I possibly see for myself?"
As he knew he was soon to be a twenty five
thousand gold pieces richer, and he was still a bit punchy
from lack of sleep, Mr. Baggledon merely smiled and dropped
his breeches to the floor. Mrs. Smethworthy examined his testicles
very carefully, under, to the left, to the right. At last,
she was satisfied that there was not so much as a down feather
anywhere in the region. While she was looking under them one
last time, Mr. Baggledon heard a thwacking noise across the
office. Young Mr. Smethworthy was banging his head against
the stone wall.
"What in the Lady's name is wrong with
your son, Mrs. Smethworthy?" he asked.
"Nothing, dear," she said. "I
merely bet him one hundred thousand gold pieces that by this
time I would have the president of the Bank of Daggerfall
by the balls."
to book index