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A Magic Bit Of Silver

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"I want to ask you a question, Gómez." "Where did you gct your money?" Tlie ((uestion was uu abrupt OM - it. mi lincisi iiiiicrtiiK'nt. But Gómez de Bonila vus un intímate frieiul it mine, a KQod Lelov, and - we liad dined. 'l'o s:iy trnth, we liad not only dlned bat wincd, and it vas over some excellent post-pranutals Ín he simpe of further wine and fragrant ciars that I liad asked the qiiestion. Hul had long wlslied to di 60, and 1 will lili oii why. Boma two yeftrí befare, Gómez was poor ís a church-moiise. He was always :i goód éllow, but then, you know, the re is i dtference between good fellows rich and pood fellows poor. And. to my shame be i ipokep, I think I liked hini better ík-h lian poor. Well, as I said, he was alniost lestitute. He liad a profeasion, it is truc - ie was a journalist; but in Spain thegains f the fraternity of the ]en are not larffe. Wliat he did earn went to the bad, for he vas au invetérate gunibler. But frota a poverty-ítrlcken journalist, ie suddenly blossomed out luto a man oí vealth. He had the linest korset, be beonged to the most tUshlonable club, he had he inost luxiiriously litted town house, lie íad purchased the county-seatof a decaye3 graudee, he had the best cook in Madri , ind he moved in the best society - for alai ! ¦vi-n in SpaÍQ ti; {í"ld(.jn kuy is begin uing 0 open all portals. Hut do not think rrom wtaa I BIn Quwui na t-"t ffentleiuau, for he (mie ut uu excellent faniily. Well, as I said, we had just lii ished an excellent dlnner, and over the walnut and the wine I put my question. -Gómez, where did you gut your iiKiney ?" He looked at me thoughtfully, and knocked the ash frpm bis cij;ar. "Where did 1 get my money '" he repeated slowly. "And what says Dame Kumor ooncerning it, Pedro." "There are all sorts of stories," I replied ; "soine probable, souie wildly impossible; some goodhumored, more ill-natured. You will pardon my frankness it' I teil you that 1 have heard some jteople cali your wealth ill-frotten galns,' wbisper of retired higliwaynien and the like. There are others who hint darkly atcounterfuitiiif;. Among the lower classes there is a wide-spread bet lief that you bavesold yourstlf to the devil. And I have even met Intelligent people who hinted at supcrnaturnl nieans." 'I'erhaps they were rigbt,1' was bis laconic reply. I stared at hlm. "Listen, and you may perhaps teil me whether the nieans were supernatural or no. I have never been able to decide. The reason tliat the soun-e of my fortune bus never been discovered was btcause theonly man who knew of il lefl the city the day a ft er " He paused. "The day after whiit?1' I queried. "Well, I will begin at the beglnning. Tbc story is a curious one, nnd should be told iu sequence." He lit a frefth cigar. aiid then began: "You knew me two years ago, when I was poor. You also knew, as did all my triends, that I had a passion for gaming. You would all of you chorus, when speakingofme, 'Poor lionilla! He hSB the worst of Tices - he is a desperate pimbler.' You were all wrong. I did not play sloiply for lovef it. I ])layel brcaiise 1 was poor. I was not a ganiWer. I was a speculaUtr. I had (ixed iijwii a certain sum which I considered a couipetence. I saw no way of aoqnlring it by my profesalon, so I devoted mysell to the green cloth- how assiduously you know." He siniled at the expression of MMOtlt whlcb involuntarily tlitted over my countenance, watched the smoke-wreatïis curling over h8 head for a moment, and con1 1 il il iil "One evening I was feeling unnstially blue. I never drank, as jou know - tliat is, liever to excess - and certainly never to do what is ealled 'drowning sorrow.' My recourse was the gamtiig table. Untbrtunately I had in my possessionja considerable suin of money, which had been enirusteU to me by a friend for the purpose of iaying some debts; he had suddenly been called away trom the city. I entered the gunbling heil, and geated Diyself at the roulette table. Fortune was againsl me; thé few darijH that belon!i-d to mi: were soon rone Soinething seemod to possess mè that njgfit; I was not myself. I did what I never should have dreamec'. myself capable of doing - stakcd my fiïeuds nioiicy. I staked it, and lost !t all." I was about to speak. "I o not condemn me," he interrupted "you eould say nothinjj severer than were my self-reproaches. Long 1 sat there, glaring at the otlier plnyerg. As I watehod the ivory hall spin round, my bruin toemed to spin round too. Jl y siMises seemetl to be R&ving me. I feit as if life was 110 loriger dear to me. Penniless and dishonored, wliat was there left to live for f "As thoufbtl passed through my wprkinx lirain, the nifjht wors on. The players drepped otf, one by 0110. 'l'hc tablet W6n dually deserted. Soon there was butone left lighted- the roulcite tüblc before which I sat, and at wliicli one preBerving gainester was tryjog hi.s luck. Flnally he too wenried, and I was lefl ulone with the banker, who was the proprictor ol'the gapjbllng liell." ¦Oh, I leincinber," í loternrpted, ".lose Herrara, wbo dlMppeared M suddenly a ciHiple of years airo." "The same," replied Bonilla, tfflng bis eyes keenly ujion uw. I do not know wliy, but I bcgan to feel uncomfoitable. HoweTer, hè contlnued: "The banker looked al me Inojilringly. I half rose to retire. 1 liad fulljr detofmined tu blow out my brains in the streef, and that 1 'lid not ilo so ió one of the strangest {irciunstauce - sostnuige that you will not bhuna me for wondering whetber it was siiitrnaUiral. I half rose, I say, and as ] ilid mi, I saw apon the floor a round, brighl object which had a sllver sbimmer as tin {.'asllglit teil npon it. It was a Coiu, a ' "A peseta," I interrupted, breathlessly. "Yes," he wenl "a llttle bit ni' illveí coin- only a peteta. liut it savcd my Ufe I placed my foot upon it, and motloniogl) the banKer said: " 'A peseta on the seventecn !' "The tanker knew me well- he liad cause to - and without making any inquiles lie repeated my wagcrafter niuand set the lalt a whirling. It 8topied iu thc neveiucrii. ' Seventren wins," said he, and on the serenteon clanged seven silver duros. "'Do yon Icave it there?' said he. 'I nodded." "Aitiiin thc ivory ball spun round, nnd "Aj;ain ' 'flít 'lt! glitterUig pile upon tlie seventefii, and again it won. Seven scvi'inl iims did the godcless Fortune sniile upon ne. And wlicn I stopped, it was 1 1 t !- lOMse I feared U ventura further but be¦ausc I had broken the bank. Tlie povertyBtrlcken wretch who a lew moment) before md contsmplatetl suicide was now woalthy." "And the peseta," said I, "you liave that 4Í11, of coursc?" "Ño," lie replied, with a strange smile. " VVliy," exciaimed I, with surprise, "had [ been you I would have kept it all uiy lite." "No," he replied with the sanie peculiar smile, "yon would iiot have kept it.'1 "And why uot?" "Wlien I stooped to piek np the coin I 'ound - nothiup." ¦"Nothlngl I echood. "'Why- what - wlicre " jL 1 "That whieh I had taken ter a peëêta was n ot a coin. The idiuhI, silvory object mi u -hich tli(' liht had lallen and deceived me wa - - " "Wliaf" ''A dio]) of water."


Ann Arbor Courier
Old News