DAME Fortune and Don Money were so enamoured of one another, that one was never to be seen without the other. “After the rope comes the bucket;” after Dame Fortune came Don Money. Thus it came to pass that, as folks talked so much about them, they determined to marry.
Don Money was a short, thick-set individual, whilst Dame Fortune was a flighty, unreliable, thin creature, and as blind as a bat.
No sooner had the newly married couple spent their honeymoon, than they came to words; the wife wished to command, but Don Money, who was bumptious and haughty, was not inclined to give way. As they both wished to be master, and neither to submit, they determined to put to the proof which of the two was the more powerful.
“Look,” said the wife to the husband, “do you see down there that poor fellow looking so crest-fallen and wretched? Let us see which of us two, you or I, can give him the better fate”
The husband agreed; they went towards the poor man and addressed him.
The poor fellow, who was an unfortunate, that in his whole life had never before seen either of them, neither the one nor the other, opened his little olive-like eyes when the two grandees placed themselves before him.
“Heaven guard you!” said Don Money.
“And your lordship, also!” responded the man.
“Do you know me?”
“I do not know your worship.”
“Have you never see my face? M “Never, in all my life.”
“But do you possess nothing?”
“Oh, yes. sir; I have six sons, ragged as robins, with throats like sieves; but in point of gdods, I have no more than from hand to mouth, even when I can get that.”
“And why don’t you work?”
“Because I cannot get work. I have such bad luck that everything with me is as crooked as a ram’s horn. From the time that I married, luck has deserted me, and I have been the most unfortunate of beings. The proprietor placed us here to make a well, promising us both some crowns when the work was completed, but he has never paid us a single sixpence.”
“And the proprietor has done well,” said Don Money, sententiously; “for as the proverb says, ‘ Money in hand, still hold command.’ But I want to assist you, friend,” said Don Money pompously, putting a dollar into the poor man’s hand.
It seemed like a dream to the poor fellow, who flew rather than ran, for joy gave wings to his feet. He went straight to a baker’s and bought some bread; but when he went to pull out the money he found nothing in his pocket but a hole, through which the dollar had gone.
In despair the poor fellow began to seek for it; but it was not to be found. Besides the dollar he lost his time, and besides his time he lost his patience, and began to curse his evil fortune.
Dame Fortune smiled, and Don Money’s face grew yellower than ever; but he could find no other remedy than to pull out his purse and give the poor man a piece of gold.
This produced a magical effect upon him, as his glittering glances portrayed. This time it was not bread that he went off for, but for cloth to make his wife and children their much-needed garments. But when he went to pay for it with the gold piece, the tradesman put himself in a passion, said that his employer was a coiner, and that he would denounce him to justice. On hearing this, the poor fellow’s face flushed and grew so hot that one could have roasted beans at it; he felt that it was his usual luck, so went to Don Money with downcast mien to relate what had passed.
On hearing his story Dame Fortune burst out laughing, and Don Money’s face grew livid.
“Take this,” said he to the poor man, giving him one hundred dollars; “you have had bad fortune, but I will get you out of it, or I have little power.”
The poor man went away so transported with delight, that he did not see until it was too late a band of thieves, who stripped and left him as bare as a new-born babe.
Dame Fortune chucked her husband, who was as confused as a drunkard, under the chin.
“Now it is my turn,” said she, “and we shall see which can do better, petticoats or breeches.”
Then she approached the poor man whom the thieves had thrown on to the ground; she lifted him up, and breathed upon him. At this moment he found under his hand the dollar he had lost.
“That is something,” said he to himself; “I can go and buy bread for my children, who for the last three days have had such short commons that their stomachs must be as empty as drums.”
On passing the shop where he had purchased the clothing, the tradesman called him in and said that he must confess how ill he had behaved to him, that he had imagined the gold piece was bad, but that he had taken it to an assayer who had assured him that it was very good, and so just in weight that it rather exceeded the standard than fell short of it; that he might now have it back, and, moreover, all the clothing he had bought in recompense for the manner in which he had been treated.
The poor fellow was very satisfied, and took off his goods. As he was passing the square he beheld a party of civic guards taking with them the thieves who had robbed him. He followed them before the judge, who was a judge after God’s own heart, and he made them restore the hundred dollars, without costs or fees.
The poor man lodged this money with a friend of his in a mine, and the mine had scarcely been excavated three yards before veins of gold, lead, and iron were discovered. Soon after this he was called Don, afterwards his Lordship, and eventually his Excellency.
Henceforth Don Money was thoroughly cowed, and forced to confess that the grey mare was the better horse; whilst Dame Fortune grew more inconsistent and nonsensical than ever, and since that time has distributed her favours without rhyme or reason, to good and bad, wise or foolish, alike.