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November 1998
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It happened one day

It happened one day that a man walking down the street was accosted by a woman wearing a blue cloak. "Excuse me, Sir," she said, "the day will come when you need this coin; do not lose it." With that she handed him a coin and vanished into the crowd.

The man looked at the coin. It was a curious thing made of some common metal. Each side had a heraldic device, faint and hard to make out. On one side, boldly impressed over the device, was the fraction, 1/3; on the other side, also boldly impressed over the device, was the fraction 2/3. "How odd," he thought. "I shan't lose this because I can't spend it any where by mischance; no one would take it. What a curious thing. I wonder what it all means." With that he put the coin in his coin purse and thought no more of the matter. Some years passed. The man did well in business. He grew rich and married a beautiful woman.

It happened one day that a woman wearing a blue cloak entered his office. "Excuse me, Sir," she said, "You seem to have lost your coin. The day will come when you need this coin. Here it is again." With these words she disappeared from the office.

The man looked at the coin she handed him. It seemed to be the same coin. He looked in his coin purse; the strange coin was not there. "How odd," he said to himself and he put the coin in his coin purse. He didn't have time to meditate upon the matter because a messenger came running in to tell him that one of his business ventures had failed, first one and then another. Within the week his business was ruined. Within the month his house was seized for debt and his beautiful wife had left him.

Ruined, the man sat on a curbstone, surveying his possessions. They consisted of the clothes he wore and his coin purse, empty save for one curious coin that could not be spent. He did not give up; he had his health. He got up, hired himself out as a common laborer, and began life anew.

He worked hard. He was promoted. He saved his money. In the course of time he bought out his employer and built a new business. He did well. He bought another fine house and married another beautiful wife.

It happened one day that, while he was sitting in a cafe with a friend, that a woman wearing a blue cloak approached him. "Excuse me, Sir," she said, "You seem to have lost your coin. The day will come when you need this coin. Here it is again." With these words she disappeared from the cafe.

He groaned. His friend asked what the matter was. He replied, "I fear I am ruined." And so it was. His business failed. His fine house was seized for debt. His beautiful wife left him.

Again he was ruined. Again he determined to rebuild his life. This time, however, he would end this cycle. He foresaw that he would again recreate his prosperity and that the woman in blue would again appear, giving him the cursed coin, and that all he had achieved would melt away. He threw the coin in the river.

He started anew. He worked hard. He saved money. He became the owner of a business. He became rich. He bought a fine house and married a beautiful wife.

It happened one day that, while he was walking home from his office, that a woman wearing a blue cloak approached him. "Excuse me, Sir," she said, "You seem to have lost your coin. The day will come when you need this coin. Here it is again." Before she could walk away he whipped out a dagger and slew her on the spot. Dead, her fallen body vanished, as though it had never been and never would be again.

This time he did not throw the coin away. He foresaw that a time would come when he would indeed need the coin. Instead he secured it in a locket attached to a chain around his neck, a chain which he would never again take off.

This time he was not ruined. This time he prospered mightily. As the years went by he saw that he did not age. He knew why: He could not die until the time came when he would need the coin. The centuries rolled by. In the fullness of time he became the richest man in the world. Wealth is power. In the fullness of time he became Emperor of the world. He lived in a fine palace and was attended by many beautiful concubines.

It happened one day that Schloggi was born. He grew mightily and in a dozen years he appeared before the palace with a wall of ice a mile high at his back. In a loud voice Schloggi demanded his due. The man knew what this meant. He pulled up the chain he had worn for so many centuries and opened the locket to fetch the coin....

It happened one day that Schloggi ate the world.


This page was last updated November 14, 1998.
Copyright © 1998 by Richard Harter

Richard Harter's World
Site map
Essays
Literary
November 1998
email