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Fatal Bar Of Gold

( Originally Published 1902 )

A NOBLE ship was anchored in a harbor of a southern republic, and while strolling on the shore, the captain came upon one of the cisterns where the Incas had hidden their treasure, to prevent it falling into the hands of the rapacious Spaniard. The captain decided to load his ship with the shining metal, and sail homeward to a life of peace and ease; one of the middies, wild with the thought of securing enough to set him free from further labor, gathered a supply of food, and when night came stole away with one of the golden bars. He made his way out into the desert ; for days he journeyed, clinging to his prize, and yet he reached no habitation and saw no human face. The vegetation grew sparser, the cheerless journey more wasting. Years afterward, a caravan crossing the sands of an untraveled land came upon a human skeleton half covered from the sight of men. The half-made grave was opened, and there, in the bony arms of the dead seaman, was closely pressed the bar of gold.

This foolish sailor can be seen any hour of any day on any street of any city, or on any country road, slipping away from the pleasures of home, the sanctities of the church, away from moral obligation, from sweet charities, from true happiness, to go out into the desert of starvation and death. The only real impression he makes on the world is that of a half-covered skeleton in the sand, hugging a bar of gold.

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