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down for inhospitable ne'er-do-wells,
'"'hey plied him with soup, with black
read; they roasted strips of goat's
Jesh for him; and from the hollow of
the tomb they fetched bottles of red
wine in straw jackets...
Presently Asabri sighed, and offer
ed them cigarettes from a gold case.
"For what I have received," said
he, "may a courteous and thoughtful
God make me truly thankful. . . .
I wish that I could offer you, in re
turn for your hospitality, something
more substantial than cigarettes.
The case? If it were any case but
that one! A present from my wife."
He drew from his pocket a gold
repeater upon which his initials were
traced in brilliants.
He pressed a spring, and the ex
quisite chimes of the watch spoke in
the stillness like the bells of a fairy
"And this," he said, "was a pres
ent from my mother, who is dead."
The three brigands crossed them
selves, and expressed the regrets
which good-breeding required of
them. The one that had been the last
to help himself to a cigarette now
returned the case to Asabri, with a
bow and a mumbling of thanks.
"What a jolly life you lead," ex
claimed the banker. "Tell me, you
have had some hauls lately? What?"
The oldest of the three, a dark,
taciturn youth, answered, "The gen
tleman is a great joker."
"Believe me," said Asabri, "it is
from habit not from the heart
When I rode out from Rome today, it
was with the intention never to re
turn. When I came upon you and
saw your long guns and suspected
your profession in life, I said: 'Good!
Perhaps these young men will mur
der me for my watch and cigarette
case and the loose silver in my
pocket, and save me a world of trou
The three brigands protested that
nothing had ever been farther from
"Instead of which," he went on,
"you have fed me and put heart in
me. I shall return to Rome in the
morning and face whatever music my
own infatuated foolishness has set
going. Do you understand anything
of 'stocks and bonds.' "
The brigands admitted that they
nothing of these things. Asabri
"Two months ago," he said, "I was
a rich man. Today I have nothing.
In a few days it will be known that
I have nothing; and then, my friends
the deluge. Such is finance.
"And yet the. converse may be true.
I have seen great endings come of
small beginnings. Even now there is
a chance for a man with a little cap
ital." He raised his eyes and hands. to
"Oh," he cried, "if I could touch
even five thousand lire I could re
trieve my own fortunes and make the
fortunes of whosover advanced me
The sullen brigand had been doing
a sum on his fingers.
"How so, excellency?" he asked.
"Oh," said Asabri, "it is very sim
ple! I should buy certain stocks,
which owing to certain conditions
are very cheap, and I should sell
them very dear. You have heard of
They smiled and nodded eagerly.
"Of Wall Street?" They looked
"Recent geographers," said Asabri,
"have discovered that the center of
the universe is in the United States,
in the city of New York in Wall
Street. The number in the street, to
be precise, is fifty-nine. From fifty
nine Wall street, the word goes out
to the extremities of the world: 'Let
prices be low.' Or: 'Let them be
high.' And so they become, accord
ing to the word. But unless I can
find five thousand lire with which to
take advantage of this fact, why to
morrow "Two months ago I was perhaps