Part 5

Empath watched as Lazy had a private talk with Trader Smurf in his office, which he was now calling the First Smurf National Bank.
"I understand your problem, Lazy, but in this new system, you just can't be lazy all the time," Trader said. "In order to smurf, you have to work."
"I have to work?" Lazy said, sounding exasperated. "But I never had to smurf that in my whole least not if I had to smurf something. Working makes me tired. If I work, I'll get sick."
"You have to smurf in at least some effort, Lazy," Trader said.
"I'll try, Finance Smurf," Lazy said. "But in the meantime, what am I going to smurf? I need to eat, and I also need to smurf a new pillow."
Trader went into his vault to get a bag of money. "Here's what I will do for you, Lazy. I'll let you borrow some money, but you'll have to smurf it back to me with interest. What will you smurf me as collateral?"
Lazy thought about that for a moment. "I have nothing but a table, a few chairs, a dresser, and my bed, which is my most prized smurf."
Trader then wrote up a contract. "It's a deal, then...ten coins in exchange for your bed," he said, handing Lazy the contract and a quill for him to sign his name with. Lazy promptly signed his name before he received his ten coins from Trader. "And remember, Lazy, that you must smurf back eleven coins before winter."
Lazy grumbled as he looked at the ten coins he was given. Empath could see that Lazy was not happy with what little he was given.
Biscotti greeted Lazy outside the bank. "So, how did everything smurf with you, my buddy?" he asked, carrying sacks of money.
Lazy sighed. "Finance Smurf smurfs out money, Biscotti, but I have to smurf him more money than he smurfed me."
"Really?" Biscotti asked, sounding curious. "How so? Explain to me."
Meanwhile, Trader was busy calculating how much he will expect to get back for loaning Smurfs money when he heard a knocking on his door. It was Biscotti.
"Hello there, Biscotti," Trader greeted. "How's the bakery business smurfing along?"
"It's smurfing along very well, thank you," Biscotti answered. "In fact, I'm smurfing in so much money that I don't know what to smurf with it!" He showed Trader the sacks of money that he was carrying.
"AHA!" Trader said, as if he was expecting this to happen. "Well, you smurfed to the right place, my fellow Smurf." He took Biscotti into his office. "Here at the First Smurf National Bank, you can smurf your money with me, and I will smurf it back to you smurfing with interest. I will offer you a six percent return."
"Six percent?" Biscotti said. "I just smurfed with Lazy and you smurfed him that you smurf money at ten percent."
"That's true, Biscotti," Trader said as he was writing up a contract for his friend to sign. "But here at this bank, I will make sure that your money will smurf. Though what you smurf comes from what I smurf in, would it not?"
Biscotti sighed as he handed over the sacks of money to Trader and signed the contract. "I wonder if I have smurfed a good deal," he said after he left the bank with his contract.

Empath watched as Biscotti went out to Farmer's fields to talk to the village crop tender. "So why don't you smurf what I smurfed with my money?" Biscotti asked. "Smurf it all in the bank, and Finance Smurf will make sure that your money will smurf."
"I do not be trusting that Finance Smurf with my money, Biscotti," Farmer said vehemently. "I'm going to be smurfing it in a safe place where nobody will smurf it."
"You sure that's wise?" Biscotti asked. "We happen to be the richest Smurfs in the village, and you wouldn't want your money to smurf even more?"
"I'm happy with what I be smurfing with my vegetable garden," Farmer said. "It's like smurfing my own money tree, and I'd be smurfed to let another Smurf handle my money."
"Well, it's your money, Farmer," Biscotti said. "I'd hate to see you smurf away a good thing."
After Biscotti left, Farmer got his wheelbarrow and put a sack of his money it it. He carted it out into the forest, finding a space near the Great Oak that was secluded. He started whistling the Smurf song as he started to dig. But then he heard the sound of somebody approaching. He looked and got a glimpse of who it was.
"Gargamel!" Farmer gasped, whispering to himself. "I can't let him smurf me or my money!" He quickly ran back to the village with his wheelbarrow, but as he fled, a single gold coin dropped out of the sack.
Meanwhile, Gargamel was walking along, rather irritated. "Curse this day and our rotten luck, Azrael! None of my traps are working!" He then stopped as something on the ground caught his eye. "What's this?" he asked, curious. "This looks like a piece of gold." He picked up the object and examined it carefully. "It IS gold. It even has the image of Papa Smurf on it. Can you believe it, Azrael? The Smurfs finally have gold!"
Azrael licked his lips at the mention of Smurfs, wondering how good they must taste.
"If the Smurfs have gold, then surely there must be hundreds, nay, thousands of these small treasures," Gargamel said, thinking of the possibility. "I must have their gold, Azrael...and I think I know of a way that I can get it." He then headed out of the forest.

Farmer told the other Smurfs about Gargamel's presence out in the forest, which made them fearful.
"Has he smurfed you at all, Farmer?" one of the Smurfs asked. "Has he seen?"
"Thankfully, no," Farmer said. "But I would be careful if I were you, if you're going to smurf into the forest." He then took his wheelbarrow with his sack of money to the First Smurf National Bank. "That Biscotti Smurf do be having a good idea after all, that I should smurf my money to this Finance Smurf," he said to himself before he entered and talked with Trader.
After a bit of talking and counting of money, Trader said, "You can rest assured that your money is smurf with me, Farmer. I will record that you have smurfed in 999 coins."
"999?" Farmer asked. "Oh, surely you must be mistaken, Finance Smurf. I have smurfed in 1000 coins."
"If you don't believe me, then count the money yourself," Trader said, moving a pile of coins over to Farmer on the table they were sitting at.
Farmer recounted the money. After a while he was surprised to find out the exact amount. "999?"
"There, you see," Trader said. "There is no mistake. I have counted the money correctly." He then handed Farmer a contract to sign.
Farmer seemed frustrated and a bit worried as he left the bank. He realized that in his hurry to avoid running into Gargamel, one of his coins must have dropped out of the bag, so the coin must still be in the forest. He knew going back into the forest with Gargamel roaming through it is dangerous, but he had to risk it.
As he started crossing over the bridge on the River Smurf, Farmer noticed something. "This bridge smurfs to be more rickety than the last time I smurfed across it," he said. And then in the middle of the bridge, its ropes have snapped, letting loose the logs and causing Farmer to plummet into the water below.
A few Smurfs in the village noticed Farmer returning all soaked and angry. "What smurfened to you, Farmer?" one of the Smurfs asked.
"It's that smurfed bridge again," Farmer said. "It smurfed out on me just as I was crossing it. I was lucky to be able to smurf to the bank before I was smurfed downstream."
"If the bridge is broken, then surely we must fix it," Tuffy said.
"Of course we should, laddie," Duncan said. "But what about the costs...the rope, the boards, the nails, the work of having to smurf it together? Those things aren't just going to smurf out of thin air, you know."
"Oh yeah, that's right," Tuffy said. "I haven't even smurfed of that."
Just then Trader came by and overheard the Smurfs talking about the broken bridge. "I have a solution that I'm sure you're going to smurf," Trader offered. "I will finance the work of resmurfing the bridge, but..."
"But what?" Tuffy asked.
"But when it is completed, you will have to smurf a toll in order to smurf it," Trader finished. "I'll get Handy to smurf me a quote on how much the bridge will cost, but it will be a fair price for all."
The two Smurfs went away, rather disgusted. "Pay! Always pay!" Tuffy said.
"And it was smurfing so well," Duncan said in agreement.

Empath watched as Trader talked to Handy about getting a quote for the cost of building a new bridge. Handy then went to his workshop to think about who he would need to ask. He first went to Weaver to ask about the cost of rope, and he said that it would be one coin per cubit, so for the amount that Handy needed, it would be 100 coins. Handy went to Smithy to find out the cost for 300 nails, and he answered that it would be 10 coins for each nail. And then Handy went to talk to Carpenter Smurf about boards for the bridge.
"What's your price for 100 boards?" Handy asked.
Carpenter took a look at the pile of lumber he had on hand. "Let's say the price will more or less be 1500 coins, Handy."
"1500? That's expensive for wooden boards," Handy said, sounding surprised.
"Of course it is, but these are oak boards," Carpenter said. "You'll get nothing but the best from me, and for the best you'll need money."
"Let me think about it, Carpenter, and I'll smurf back to you," Handy said before he walked away and left Carpenter to his work of sawing boards.
Just then Sneaky Smurf came along for a private chat. "By the way, Handy, without sounding indiscreet, how much was Carpenter smurfing you for his boards?" he asked.
"1500 coins, Sneaky," Handy answered. "Why?"
"That smurfs really expensive," Sneaky said. "I can smurf you the same amount you need for 1000 coins."
"Really?" Handy asked. "Are they oak boards?"
"Oh no," Sneaky answered, "mine are fir boards, but they are just as strong. And if you smurf my offer, there will be a small envelope for you...a little bonus as an incentive." He then produced the envelope which looked like it had some coins in it.
Handy had a feeling he was being bribed. "But...but I can't accept this!"
"Oh, come on now," Sneaky said. "No Smurf will know about anything, and you can trust me that I won't smurf a single word about it. So do we have a deal?"
Handy thought about the two offers from both Carpenter and Sneaky about wooden boards. Empath could see that money has corrupted Handy's thinking, as he now accepted the envelope and showed Trader Smurf the completed quote of the bridge cost. Trader seemed satisfied with the result. But after Handy left Trader's office, he saw that Carpenter was not happy.
"They are...but they're too expensive," Handy answered, waving him off.