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Schwalliger’s Philanthropy
by [?]

“Come up, uncle, and try your luck. See how I manipulate this ball. Easy enough to find if you’re only lucky.” He was so flippantly shrewd that his newness to the business was insolently apparent to Schwalliger, who knew a thing or two himself. Schwalliger smiled again and shook his head.

“Oh, no, thuh,” he said, “I don’t play dat.”

“Why, come and try your luck anyhow; no harm in it.”

Schwalliger took out his money and looked at it again and shook his head. He began again his backward movement from the crowd.

“No,” he said, “I wouldn’ play erroun’ hyeah befo’ all thethe people, becauthe you wouldn’t pay me even ef I won.”

“Why, of course we would,” said the flippant operator; “everybody looks alike to us here.”

Schwalliger kept moving away, ever and anon sending wistful, inane glances back at his tempter.

The bait worked admirably. The man closed up his little folding table, and, winking to his confederates, followed the retreating Negro. They stayed about with the crowd, while he followed on and on until Schwalliger had led him into a short alley between the stables. There he paused and allowed his pursuer to catch up with him.

“Thay, mithtah,” he said, “what you keep on follerin’ me fu’? I do’ want to play wid you; I ain’t got but fo’ty dollahs, an’ ef I lothe I’ll have to walk home.”

“Why, my dear fellow, there ain’t no way for you to lose. Come, now, let me show you.” And he set the table down and began to manipulate the ball dexterously. “Needn’t put no money down. Just see if you can locate the ball a few times for fun.”

Schwalliger consented, and, greatly to his delight, located the little ball four times out of five. He was grinning now and the eye of the tempter was gleaming. Schwalliger took out his money.

“How much you got?” he said.

“Just eighty-five dollars, and I will lay it all against your forty.”

“What you got it in?” asked Schwalliger.

“Four fives, four tens, and five five-dollar gold-pieces.” And the man displayed it ostentatiously. The tout’s eyes flashed as he saw his opponent put his money back into his waistcoat pocket.

“Well, I bet you,” he said, and planked his money down.

The operator took the shells and swept the pea first under one then under the other, and laid the three side by side. Schwalliger laid his hand upon one. He lifted it up and there was nothing there.

“Ha, ha, you’ve had bad luck,” said the operator–“you lose, you lose. Well, I’m sorry for you, old fellow, but we all take chances in this little game, you know.” He was folding up his table when all of a sudden a cry arose to heaven from Schwalliger’s lips, and he grappled with the very shrewd young man, while shriek on shriek of “Murder! Robber! Police!” came from his lips. The police at Bennings were not slow to answer a call like this, and they came running up, and Schwalliger, who, among other things, was something of an actor, told his story trembling, incoherently, while the operator looked on aghast. Schwalliger demanded protection. He had been robbed. He had bet his eighty-five dollars against the operator’s forty, and when he had accidentally picked out the right shell the operator had grabbed his money and attempted to escape. He wanted his money. He had eighty-five dollars, he said. “He had fo’ fiveth, fo’ tenth, and five five-dollar gold-pieceth, an’ he wanted them.”

The policeman was thorough. He made his search at once. It was even as Schwalliger had said. The money was on the gambler even as the Negro had said. Well, there was nothing but justice to be done. The officers returned the eighty-five dollars to Schwalliger, and out of an unusual access of clemency bade the operator begone or they would run him in.

When he had gone, Schwalliger turned and winked slowly at the minions of the law, and went quietly into a corner with them, and there was the sound of the shuffling of silken paper. Later on he found the old man and returned him his ten, and went back to don his Jacob’s coat.

Who shall say that Schwalliger was not a true philanthropist?