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In The Pawnshops

In The Pawnshops image
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The pawnbrokor, the banker of the spendthrift and the unfortunate, the custodian of family skeletuns and the reoeiving teller of hard luok stories, runs aoross a deal of the pathos of life mixed np with not a little that is strikingly ludicrous. Stories of formar opnlence and present need of reckless speculation, of dissipation, of oppression, are given over to nis safe keeping, along with valned keepsakes and family heirlooms. Some of these heirlooms have strange histories. In the vanlts of a Clark street pawnbroker is a bit of soiled ribbon that was once pinued on the breast of a gallaut general by no less a person than Napoleon. The ribbon is goiled and 'crumpled, but from the bottom of it, bright as the day it was first woru, hangs the insignia of the Legión of Honor. Along with it are papers giviug the name of its first holder and the fields of battle on which he achieved the right to wear it. How it made íts way to Chicago is unkuowji history, but time and again has it found its way into the vaults of the broker, ouly to be redeemed again and brought back. A few doors away is deposited a belt of fino gold and silver interwoveu, the last relie of a once distinguished Kussian family. Not long ago a woman, past the prime of life, tal! and stately, and with the dark, imperious eyes and haughty hearing of a Castilian, called on a Clark street brcffcer. She said she was of a Spanish family which had been compelled to b ive its conntry for political causes. Sliu would not give her name. "If I did,'! she said, "you would be incredulous. " Then she handed the clerk a casket of jewels - tiaras, bracelets, pendants, all set with gems of the firgt water. She wanted $80,000 - for ouly a short while, she explained. Not a cent less would be of use to her. The jewels had doubtless cost a great deal more than this sum, but the broker feared he could not realize that amount on them, and the woman left aud never returned. A few days ago a well dressed, dignified man walked into this same establishment and said he would like to secure a loan of u few dollars. Ou being asked what security he had to offer he gave the dapper broker a fit of nervons prostration by calmly removing a glass eye. "This is remarkably fine eye, " he explained, leisurely wiping the dislodged optie ou hishandkerchief. "I have been told it becomes me better than my own, sut if you would let me have a few dollars on it I thiuk I could get along with the other for a day or two. " The broker admitted that he had once assisted in putting pennies ou the eyes Df a deceased relative, but couldu't see his way clear to place dollars on the glass eye of a live man, and the visitor secured the addross of a secoud hand clothes dealer, replaced his eye, bowed stiffly and walked away. In the higher class of pawnshops - those that restrict theinselves solely to diamonds, watches and jewelry - the place loans are negotiated aud goods received are separated from the front showroom by a partition. To give greater privacy toenstomers there is a little row of stalls along a counter. These are fitted with spriug doors, giving them the appearance of a line of telephone boxes. [nto one of these a person can step and transact his or her business unseen by any save the clerk behind the counter. Liast summer, about holiday time, a 'ashionably dressed woman was in one of these stalls in a down town broker's office. She wanted to borrow $30 on a ring. "It's my engagement ring, " she explained, "and I wouldn't have my ïusband know for the world. " While this was going on a man in the compartment next to her was dickering with auother clerk over a loan of $50 on a watch. The owner's initials were on ;he back of the watch, and as this lessened its sellingvalue the clerk heaitated n advancing so much. "Oh, that's a point in your favor," explaiued the would be borrower. "My wife had those put on there when she ave it to me, and I'll be bouud to redeem it shortly, for if she knew I was soaking her present there would be iuBomnia in our family till I bronght it ïorue. ' ' By this time the womau in stall No. l had secured her money and departed. After a little delay the man did likewise. When the usual list was made out for pólice inspection, it was found that the uanaes and addresses of the two tallied, aud. that they were, iu fact, man and wife. The ring and the watch ïave long since been redeemed, and neither guesses that only a few half nch boards stood between two awful


Ann Arbor Argus
Old News