Page:Our Sister Republic - Mexico.djvu/489

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shoulder, when another would slash it open with a bowie-knife or sword, and the precious pesos would pour down in a shower upon the floor. Another would fill a haversack with them, only to meet with the same treatment. At last they got the doors closed and came to an understanding. All the coin was piled down on the floor, and a fair division made. Then each took his share of the plunder and concealed it around his quarters as best he might. Harney was unable to understand for the time, how it was that this party kept so remarkably quiet and appeared so well satisfied, but after a while the secret leaked out.

A dragoon bought something on the streets, and offered a dollar in payment. The seller—a Mexican of course—touched the coin to his teeth, and returned it respectfully, with the single remark, "Cobre Señor!" Another was offered, and "Cobre Señor!" was still the cry. Another, and another, and still no change. The dragoon smelled a rat, and returned, a sadder and a wiser man, to his quarters. Each of the fortune-finders by himself, tried to buy something, sooner or later, and met with the same discouraging remark.

It turned out that the coin was the plunder of an unauthorized private mint—in fact a bogus-money factory—which had been pounced upon by the Government, and there was not a single dollars worth of genuine silver in the entire pile. A cheaper looking lot of disappointed speculators never congregated in a "played out" Western town, or skedaddled from a base metal camp in one of the Pacific Coast mining districts, than was seen that night among Uncle Sam's boys in the "Palace of the Montezumas."