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Newspaper Page Text
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THE DAILY SHORT STORY
The Ruling Passion
On the third day out from Liv
erpool, when a group of passen
gers were gathered around a card
table in the smoking room of the
Castelard, the captain suddenly
- "Gentlemen," he said, "each of
-you will please take his money.
There' is a professional gambler
. And suddenly a tall old man
'rose up from his seat
"Gentlemen," he said, "I be
lieve the captain refers to me.
Am I correct, sir?"
"v "I believe that we are old ac
quaintances, Mr. Fergus," the
"i "Then let me call you to wit
ness, sir, that I have not crossed
on any ship of your line fo"r a
year past. You have kept track
of me and know I am speaking
the truth. Gentlemen," he continued,-
am a professional gam
bler, or rather used to be. At
present I am going home to
America for good and all. I have
quit the game, but I do love a
friendly hand of poker, and it's
hard on an old man to deprive
him of his old pastime. Let me
play with you, 'boys, and I will
agree that every time we separate
after a game, I will divide my
winnings among you all and bear
my own losses."
There was silence for a full
minute. Then a young English
"That's a fair offer," he said.
"Let the old gentleman play. Let
us accept Mr. Fergus' offer in the
spirit in which he has made it.
The captain shrugged his
shoulders and turned away. The
players unanimously resolved
that the old man should be per
mitted to continue.
Fergus was true to his word.
At the end of every session he
scrupulously divided his win
nings, and he bore his losses, com
ing out about even on his voyage.
After the fourth day the stakes
ran high. The chief winner was
a short, fat man, who handled
his cards in the manner of an ex
pert. On the night before the
ship docked, the young English
man flung down his'cards and left
the table abruptly. Fergus en
countered him later, pacing the
deck in agitation.
"What's the matter, son?" he
"I'm ruined," answered the
Englishman shortly. "I've lost
$2,000 all I had in the world.
And by God! it's your confeder
ate that's fleeced me," he cried,
wheeling upon Fergus. "You
dirty thief; why, I got you into
"Tugh, son !" said the old gam
bler. "Don't accuse honest men
until you can prove something."
"Prove," cried the Englishman,
biterly. "It's as plain as a pike
staff. And if you were my own
age" He turned away and
flung himself wildly down the
stairway. Fergus paced the deck,
puffing at his pipe, apparently
lost in thought.
But when the play broke up
for good and all he accosted the
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