Neither his wife nor his son nor his employers knew what dreams whirled in the head of Maxime Formartin. Perhaps—unlike Thurber's elaborately dreaming Walter Mitty—Maxime himself did know. He was a lowly handyman, chauffeur and clerk for the firm of A. Freyman & Van Loo, Antwerp shippers. Long years of faithful service had brought him one occasional pleasure and privilege: going to the bank to draw some of the firm's money for import duties.

One day last week Maxime Formartin went to the bank, drew out 485,000 Belgian francs ($9,700) of his employers' money in crackling banknotes, and with...

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