The Totem National Bank of Se- attle occupies a one-story building of its own just off Pioneer Square in the older part of the city, close to the wholesale and commission firms, ware- houses and shipping interests that form the bulk of its depositors.
Westward to the present shore or wharfline is all made ground. The lower layers of this are, or were, saw- dust and slabs from the sawmills that were one of the earliest industries of the little town that was to become a great city. To this substratum was added the refuse of the growing com- munity, until finally the casual and in- determinate merged into the planned and ordered earth-and-stone fill upon which paved streets and huge buildings rest.
The outer and western edge of this district still is, however, in more or less of its earlier formative state, piled and planked over for much of the area be- tween Western Avenue and Elliott Bay. Beneath these streets and their wooden structures- the rising and fall- ing tides slosh about and the industri- ous toredo lunches on fir and spruce with creosote dressing.
On a certain summer Monday morn- ing the steamship Bertha arrived at her dock in Seattle, bringing from Alaska via Skagway a shipment of $200,000 in gold—bars, nuggets and dust—con- signed to the Totem National Bank. As was sometimes the custom in those days, this gold was displayed heaped up in the bank’s windows to satisfy the curiosity, whet the avaricious appetite
and inspire the confidence of passersby.
This comfortable fortune was ex- hibited during banking hours on Tues- day and Wednesday under the jealous eyes of two guards stationed within the bank and two others at either side of the window on the street outside. There really was no danger of robbery. The heap of gold weighed over a thousand pounds and the window was heavily and closely barred inside and out. The guards were nearly as much a part of the peep-show as the gold, the addi- tional and necessary touch to give it the proper importance in the public eye. At night the gold was transferred from the window to the bank vault, with due ceremony, lapsing there to its proper measure of importance in a bank that reckoned its resources by the million.
So much for the stage setting. Now for the first scene of the comedy-drama.