Depositing money in the bank was always the worst problem. He'd be first in line at three a.m., to give himself enough time for the bank opening at nine a.m., but he always seemed to pick the day when two dozen misters just happened to saunter in, walk right past him to the bank clerks, and spend the next six hours chatting at length with the clerks about their problems. At three p.m., the bank would close, and he'd still be waiting in line. The bank manager would throw him out then, and he'd be left with bruises from the manager's metal claws.
"You should use our computer connection to the bank," Honey suggested, looking up from where she was studying her high-school textbook – vividly illustrated with holophotos – that was entitled How to be Firm with Servants.
She could be delightfully naive at times. "I'm not allowed to use the computer, miss. It's not permitted to servants, by landstead law."
"Well, talk to Daddy, then," she said, tossing back her long hair impatiently. "He'll come up with a solution. He always does."
He didn't talk to his mister – he never talked to the mister about such matters, because he lived in fear that, if he made any complaints, the mister would tire of him – but Honey must have spoken to him, because the next day, right at nine a.m., Mr. Tilbury showed up at the bank and stood behind Foster in the line.
The manager, catching sight of his first-ranked mister-mark, said, "A clerk will help you now, sir."
"Mm?" said Mr. Tilbury vaguely, looking up from his wristwatch, which he was programming with notes about his latest news release. "I don't understand what you mean. This gentleman is in front of me."
"He is of no importance. He is a servant. You may come forward." The manager waved his metal claws serenely. One of the claws held his own, second-ranked mister-mark, carefully displayed to show that his metal body did not contain a computer but a human brain.
"Excuse me?" Mr. Tilbury drew himself up to full height and spoke so loudly that all of the clerks craned to look at him. "You are saying that my servant is of no importance? My servant, who is in charge of making vital transactions on my behalf? What sort of bank are you running here? I'll have my liege-mister, High Mister Sutcliff, shut this place down!. . ."
Afterwards, when six clerks had finished helping Foster with his transaction, and the manager had gone away to have repaired the claws that he had foolishly tried to wring, Foster went over to where Mr. Tilbury was lounging in front of the fiche reader, watching his latest news release scroll by. Foster struggled to think of something to say.
Mr. Tilbury flashed him a smile. "Here," he said, handing Foster a book. "I think you need to study this."
Foster looked down at the title. It read: How to be Firm with Misters.