“I heard it from a king,” said Finch “the white king of a tribe of Indians in South America.”
I was interested but not surprised. The big city is like a mother’s knrr to many who have strayed far and found the roads rough beneath their uncertain feet. At dusk they come home and sit upon the door-step. I know a piano player in a cheap cafe who has shot lions in Africa, a bellboy who fought in the British army against the Zulus, an express-driver whose left arm had been cracked like a lobster’s claw for a stew-pot of Patagonian cannibals when the boat of his rescuers hove in sight. So a hat-cleaner who had been a friend of a king did not oppress me.
“A new band?” asked Finch, with his dry, barren smile.
“Yes,” said I, “and half an inch wider.” I had had a new band five days before.
“I meets a man one night,” said Finch, beginning his story “a man brown as snuff, with money in every pocket, eating schweinerknuckel in Schlagel’s. That was two years ago, when I was a hose-cart driver for No. His discourse runs to the subject of gold. He says that certain mountains in a country down South that he calls Gaudymala is full of it. He says the Indians wash it out of the streams in plural quantities.
“‘Oh, Geronimo!’ says I. ‘Indians! There’s no Indians in the South,’ I tell him, ‘except Elks, Maccabees, and the buyers for the fall dry- goods trade. The Indians are all on the reservations,’ says I.
‘“I’m telling you this with reservations,’ says he. ‘They ain’t Buffalo Bill Indians; they’re squattier and more pedigreed. They call ’em Inkers and Aspics, and they was old inhabitants when Mazuma was King of Mexico. They wash the gold out of the mountain streams,’ says the brown man, ‘and fill quills with it; and then they empty ’em into red jars till they are full; and then they pack it in buckskin sacks of one arroba each an arroba is twenty-five pounds and store it in a stone house, with an engraving of a idol with marceled hair, playing a flute, over the door.’
“‘How do they work off this unearth increment?’ I asks.
“‘They don’t,’ says the man. ‘It’s a case of “He fares the land with the great deal of velocity where wealth accumulates and there ain’t any reciprocity.”’