Barcla steeled himself for another visit to Bacchanalia. His guards had strict instructions not to let any of the XXXX drink anywhere near his lips even if he asked for some.
The people of Bacchanalia should, he concluded, be just about ready to start borrowing, and heavily too, now that they had little money of their own. Before landing, he orbited the planet a few times and scanned its geography. There was the human settlement and by the look of it, it had hardly changed from his first visit.
There was now a large building in the middle of the settlement and a long thin road wound its way from the settlement to the sea. Apart from these there was no change, quite unlike Standardia which seemed to change and grow even as he flew over it.
His arrival attracted very little attention. So when he oozed down the ramp, surrounded as ever by his assortment of guards, he had to look around to attract someone's attention. He accosted a small child who told him to ‘buzz off, fatty'. Eventually a familiar figure in the shape of Bruce Brewsterson showed up. Bruce was half expecting a visitor from space.
"G'day, Barky good to see you, mate. How you been keeping?"
"I am very well, Bruce Brewsterson. How are you?"
"No worries, mate."
"There are few people about."
"Yeah. There's some down at the beach. Some working their fields. Others have gone walkabout. I think that Howie will be along, and Dewie, Lewie, Stewie and one or two others. They'll all have seen the ship. They'll be here. No worries, mate. I don't think they went to the beach. It's a pretty long hike, you know? We should have built the settlement there when we first arrived."
"Could you not move?"
"Yes. That's what we're kinda planning to do. The trouble is getting every one together long enough to organise things, and then when we do, there's usually a fight."
"Yeah. It's hard to explain, really. I don't know what it is, but take Dewie now, he wanted a new horse, reckoned that'd save time getting to and from the beach. Lewie had a horse for sale, but Dewie didn't have enough money, so he asked Stewie about that wood-cutting job that he'd talked about. Stewie wanted the job done, but didn't have any money because he was half way through building a new stable for Lewie who didn't have the money because although he had a fine selection of horses, no one's buying because frankly nobody, apart from myself, has got much money and even my income is down."
"I have your refrigeration system for you. Fully solar-powered."
"Oh, great! How much?"
"One hundred and twenty Imperial Credits."
"Sorry, Barky, I'm not sure I've got enough. I've got the twenty I owe you in interest on the other. I've got that. That's safely tucked away, no worries."
"G'day, Barky, me ol' mucker", called Howie as he rolled up.
With him were Dewie, Lewie, Sheila and Kayley.
"G'day, Barky," chorussed the others.
"Greetings, citizens of Bacchanalia. A small but select gathering, I see."
"No worries, mate. Stewie and a few others'll be along soon."
"I was just explaining to Barky here, how we don't seem to be able to do much these days," Brucie informed his friends.
"Yeah. No one's selling because no one's buying, and no one's buying because no one else is buying."
"A classic case of economic stagnation," said Barcla.
"Yes, Bruce Brewsterson explained it most cogently," cooed a contented Barcla. "I rather fancy that too much money was paid out of your economy when Greenboi last visited."
"Who did that then?"
"Brucie, here. When he repaid the greater part of his debt to me."
"Oh, Brucie, why'd you do that?"
"I thought it was good business practice, fellers. I'm sorry."
"So what do we do about it, Barky ol' mate?"
"Your economy needs an injection of cash."
"Sounds painful. So where'd do we inject it then? In your backside?"
"Not in my backside, I thank you," declared Barcla. "You need to borrow some money, either as individuals or as a community..."
"Borrowing money. Now that's dicey, Barky mate."
"Not at all. It's a perfectly normal business arrangement. To whom did I lend money two years ago?"
"Me," admitted Brucie.
"And who is the richest man in your community?"
"Now that is not the sort of thing we like to talk about around here, Barky ol' mate?"
All eyes turned on Bruce Brewsterson.
"My point exactly, and he tells me that his falling income is due to his customers being short of money!"
"How much, then?" asked Howie.
Barcla looked thoughtful.
"From your evident distress and from the size of your population, I should think that a thousand Imperial Credits should do it."
"I shall lend them to your governing council, and it can then lend it out to individuals."
"And the interest?"
"The same as for Bruce Brewsterson here. 20%"
"So what will that mean?" asked Dewie.
"I'll tell you, mate," explained Brucie. "It means that you'll be able to buy that horse from Lewie, who will be able to pay off Stewie, who will be able to pay you!"
"Oh, bonza, mate! No worries."
The business was done. A thousand Imperial Credits was entrusted to Howie as Chairman of the Council of the Commonwealth of Bacchanalia. Bruce paid up his interest and was advanced an additional loan of one hundred Credits towards the cost of his new refrigeration system. This was duly unloaded thanks to the help of Dewie, Lewie and Stewie. Meanwhile Sheila and Kayley organised a barbie, and Brucie produced beers all round.
Barcla made his excuses and oozed back to his ship where he found a pair of young Bacchanalians waiting expectantly, complete with full back-packs.
"G'day. Are you Barky?" they asked.
Barcla the Hoard glanced about to see if he remotely resembled anyone else.
"Yes," he finally admitted.
"We were wondering whether you needed any staff?"
Again Barcla gazed about himself, this time at the menagerie that was his mobile court of gofers, guards, entertainers and lunch.
"What can you do?" he asked curiously.
"Bar work mainly."
"Mmm. You wish to work for me?"
"Well," admitted one with touching honesty. "We actually just want to see a bit of the galaxy before we settle down, and you're our only way out of here."
That part of Barcla that was kindly and considerate was tempted to tell them to go back to their mothers and be thankful that the rest of the galaxy was a long way away, even at supra-light speed, but that side of him was always easily overruled by the rest of him which decided that a couple of hostages might not be such a bad idea.
"Welcome aboard, my dears, welcome aboard."
"Oh, thanks, Barky. I'm Kerry and this is Jerry."