By ETA Hoffmann
Transposed from the German by Tegan Raleigh
Original title: SPIELERGLÜCK
A few summers ago, Reno saw more visitors than ever before. Every day brought in more wealthy luminaries from afar, which drew the attention of all kinds of speculators and prompted casino owners - practiced as they were in the art of the hunt - to up the jackpot for the most desirable prey.
Everyone knows how irresistible the lure of gambling can be, especially during the season when people escape their daily lives to purposefully dedicate themselves to freedom and entertainment. Those who normally never touch cards are among the most ardent players; and it's fashionable, at least for the jet set, to gamble away some money at the casino every night.
The only person who seemed unaffected by this temptation and the irresistible lure of the game was a young offshoot from the Vanderbilt family whom we'll call Dwight. When everybody else would scamper off to the poker tables, leaving him with no opportunities to engage in the intellectual conversation that he so loved, he preferred to let his imagination wander on long walks or to stay in his room and read or even try his hand at writing some poetry.
Dwight was young, independent, wealthy. This, combined with his noble bearing and charming disposition, made him well-respected and admired, and he was a hit with the ladies. It seemed that a special lucky star watched over everything that he wanted to try out or do. There was talk of many adventure-filled liaisons that he'd gotten tangled up in and which, however disastrous they would surely have been for anybody else, he managed to resolve with amazing ease and success. Whenever the old gentlemen who knew Dwight would discuss the subject of his luck, they especially liked to tell the story, dating back to his mid teens, about a watch. It so happened that one time Dwight, while still a minor, was on a trip when he suddenly found himself out of money and had to sell his gold watch with its bark band in order to keep going. He had resigned himself to letting the watch go for peanuts, but there was a senator at the hotel where he'd been staying who wanted just such a trinket, and Dwight sold it for more than it was actually worth. More than a year went by, and Dwight was already an adult. He was in another town when his local newsfeed announced that there was a lottery with a watch as the prize. He bought a ticket for next to nothing and ended up winning. The prize was actually the watch that he'd sold. Shortly afterward, he traded the watch for a precious ring. For some time he worked in the service of Senator -- and when he moved on from his position, the grateful politician offered him, as a token of his goodwill, the very same bark band gold watch, together with an expensive chain.
Entire text is available in the first collection of transpositions titled From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin