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THE SILVER SHILLING

 

THERE was once a ShillingHe came out quite bright from the Mintand sprang upand rant out"Hur-rahNow I'm off into the wide world"And into the wideworld he went

The child held him with warm handsand the miserwith cold clammy handsthe old man turned it over andover many timeswhile youth rolled him lightly awayThe Shilling was of silverand had very little copperabout himhe had been now a whole year in the world-that is to sayin the country in which he had beenstruckBut one day he started on his foreign travelshewas the last native coin in the purse borne by his travel-ling masterThe gentleman was himself not aware that hestill had this coin until it came among his fingers

"Whyhere's a shilling from home left to me"hesaid"Wellhe can make me journey with me"

And the Shilling rattled and jumped for joy as it wasthrust back into the purseSo here it lay among strangecompanionswho came and wenteach making room for asuccessorbut the Shilling from home always remained inthe bagwhich was a distinction for it

Sevenal weeks had gone byand the Shilling hadtravelled far out into the world without exactly knowingwhere he wasthough he learned from the other coins thatthey were French or ItalianOne said they were in suchand such a townanother that they had reached such andsuch a spotbut the Shilling could form no idea of allthisHe who has head in a bag sees nothingand thiswas the case with the ShillingBut one dayas he laytherehe noticed that the purse was not shutand so hecrept forward to the openingto take a look aroundHeought not to have done sobut he was inquisitiveandpeople often have to pay for thatHe slipped out into thefoband when the purse was taken out at night the Shilling remained behindand was sent out into the pas-sage with the clothesThere he fell upon the floornoone heard itno one saw it

Next morning the clothes were carried back into theroomthe gentleman put them onand continued his jour-neywhile the Shilling remained behindThe coin was foundand was required to go into service againso he wassent out with three other coins

"It is a pleasant thing to look about one in the world"thought the Shilling"and to gat to know otherpeople and other customs"

"What sort of a shilling is that" was said at the samemoment"that is not a coin of the countryit is falseit'sof no use"

And now begins the history of the Shillingas told byhimself

"'Away with himhe's bad-no use'These wordswent through and through me"said the Shilling"I knewI was of good silversounded well and had been properlycoinedThe people were certainly mistakenThey couldnot mean mebutyesthey did mean meI was the oneof whom they said'He's bad-he's no good''I mustget rid of that fellow in the dark'said the man who hadreceived meand I was passed at nightand abused in thedaytime'Bad-no good'was the cry'we must make haste and get rid of him'

And I trembled in the fingers of the holder each timeI was to be secretly passed on as a coin of the country

"What a miserable shilling I amOf what use is mysilver to memy valuemy coinageif all these things arelooked on as worthlessIh the eyes of the world one hasonly the value the world chooses to put upon oneIt mustbe terrible indeed to have a bad conscienceand to creepalong on evil waysif Iwho am quite innocentcan feelso hadly because I am only thought guilty

"Each time I was brought out I shuddered at the

thought of the eyes that would look at mefor I knew that Ishould be rejected and flung back upon the tablelike animpostor and a cheatOnee I came into the hands of a poorold womanto whom I was paid for a bard day's workandshe could not get rid of me at allNo one would acceptmeand I was a perfect worry to the old dame

"'I shall certainly be forced to deceive some onewith this shilling'she said'for I cannot afford to hoardup a false shillingThe rich baker shall have himhewill be able to bear the loss-but it's wrong in me to doitafter all'

"'And I must lie heavy on that woman's consciencetoo'sighed I'Am I really so much changed in my oldage'

"And the woman went her way to the rich bakerbut he knew too well what kind of shillings were currentand he threw me back at the womanwho got no bread formeAnd I felt miserably low to think that I should be thecause of distress to others-I who had been in my youngdays so proudly conscious of my value and of the correct-ness of my mintageI became as miserable as a poor shilling can be whom no one will acceptbut the womantook me home againand looked at me with a friendlyhearty faceand said

"'NoI will not deceive any one with theeI willbore a hole through theethat every one may see thou arta false thingAnd yet-it just occurs to me-perhaps this is a lucky shillingand the thought comes so stronglyupon me that I am sure it must be trueI will make ahole through the shillingand pass a string through theholeand hang the coin round the neck of my neighbour's little boy for a lucky shilling'

"So she bored a hole through meIt is certainly notagreeable to have a hole bored through onebut manythings can be borne when the intention is goodAt threadwas passed through the holeand I became a kind of medaland was hung round the neck of the little childand the child smiled at meand kissed meand I sleptall night on its warminnocent neck

"When the morning camethe child's mother tookme up in her fingers and looked at meand she had herown thoughts about meI could feel that very wellShebrought out a pair of scissorsand cut the string through

"'A lucky shillingshe said'Wellwe shall soonsee that'

"And she laid me in vinegarso that I turned quitegreenThen she pluggedup the holerubbed me a littleand carried mein the evening twilightto the lottery col-lectorto buy a lottery ticket that should bring her luck

"How miserably wretched I feltThere was a heavyfeeling in meas if I should break in twoI knew that Ishould be called false and thrown down-and before a crowd of shillings and other coinstoowho lay there withan image and superscription of which they might be proudBut I escapedfor there were many people in the collector's room-he had a great deal to doand I wentrattling down into the box among the other coinsWhethermy ticket won anything or not I don't knowbut this I do knowthat the very next morning I was recognized as a badshillingand was sent out to deceive and deceive againThat is a very trying thing to bear when one knows one hasa good characterand of that I am conscious

"For a year and a day I thus wandered from house tohouse and from hand to handalways abusedalways un-welcomeno one trusted meand I lost confidence in theworld and in myselfIt was a heavy timeAt lastone daya travellera strange gentlemanarrivedand I was passedto himand he was innocent enough to accept me for cur-rent coinbut he wanted to pass me onand again I heardthe cryNo use-false

"'I received it as a good coin'said the manand helooked closely at mesuddenly he smiled all over his faceand I had never seen that expression before on any face thatlooked at me'Whywhatever is that'he said'That'sone of our own country coinsa good honest shilling frommy homeand they've bored a hole through himand theycall him falseNowthis is a curious circumstanceI mustkeep him and take him home with me'

"A glow of joy thrilled through me when I beard my-self called a good honest shillingand now I was to be tak-en homewhere each and every one would know meandbe sure that I was real silver and properly coinedI couldhave thrown out sparks for very gladnessbutafter allit's not in my nature to throw out sparksfor that's theproperty of steelnot of silver

"I was wrapped up in clean white paperso that Ishould not be confounded with the other coinsand spent and on festive occasions when fellow countrymenmet together Iwas shownabout and they spoke verywell of methey saidI was interesting——and it is wonderful how interesting one can be without saying a singleword

"And at lastI got home again All my troubles wereended joy cameback tome forIwasofgoodsilverand had the right stampand I had no moredisagreeablesto endure though aholehad beenbored through meas through afalse coinbut that does not matter if one is notreally false One must wait for the end and one will berighted at last——that's my belief"said the Shilling

 


 

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