A knock came to the thick wooden door of the goldsmith’s house. Outside, the air was chilly with winter. Snow blanketed the ground around the modest cottage where the family of seventeen resided. The goldsmith’s wife went to the door in her robe to keep the draft from freezing her. There in the doorway was a strange man was standing very close to the door. The woman started, and called for her husband, who rushed to her side.
“I have a box of rubies,” the stranger told the couple. “A fine box, full of fine jewels. You’re interested, are you not? They’re for you, goldsmith.”
The husband swatted his wife aside and stood face-to-face with the visitor. “How can I believe what you say? You’re not but a beggar! The only way a being such as yourself could’ve gotten your hands on such fine jewelry is through thievin’, and I shan’t have dirty jewels in my works!” The goldsmith spat, slamming the door shut in the face of his impish visitor.
A black boot blocked the path of the door. “You’d be making a poor decision, throwing my offer to the gutter, just like that,” the stranger said with a laugh. With strength defying his fragile old frame, he thrust the door open, sending the surprised goldsmith back a few paces.
The stranger pulled out a box. It fit in the palm of his hand, made of dark wood with gold furnishings. “My name is Samuel,” he said as he polished the miniature treasure chest on his dirty sleeve. “And I have this chest here full of jewels- yes- rubies!”
The goldsmith, intrigued at the small parcel the man was holding, strained for a better look. The stranger opened the chest to reveal a plethora of blood-red rubies of all different shapes and sizes.
“Do you want these rubies?” the stranger asked.
The goldsmith gulped. With these, he would be able to create something that would make it so that he would never have to work again.
The stranger frowned. He did not like to be kept waiting when he was doing business. He also wanted to be out of the possession of those accursed jewels as soon as possible- but not for free, of course. “I’ll ask but once more. Do you want these rubies?”
The goldsmith sighed. He checked over his shoulder for his wife, who stood like a phantom behind him. “How much are they?” he asked as he looked at his spouse.
“What do you have?” the stranger asked. He couldn’t suppress a laugh. He knew he had his customer, and that soon he would be free.
Uncomfortably, the goldsmith admitted to having very little. He had a large family and a small business which made just enough to take care of the household that would have eighteen members in the early spring. However, these rubies were real. He took one out of the box and examined it closely. Yes, they were real, and he could not pass up such an offer as a crazy drunkard trying to sell a box of gems. Where they came from, the goldsmith did not care. They were in front of him now through a strange series of coincidences, and he was not going to allow such a treasure to escape him.
The stranger seemed delighted with an offer of a new pair of shoes and a golden ring. The old man left, leaving the doorway smelling of unwashed body and whiskey.
“Do you think that was the right thing to do?” the goldsmith’s wife asked her husband, who was bent over the small treasure chest.
“Of course!” he exclaimed, examining the jewels even closer. “They’re real! We’re going to be rich!” He put the box in the cupboard to hide it from sight.
The elderly stranger left the goldsmith’s house, laughing to himself. He was elated to be rid of the rubies. He was happy to have sold them to another, and to have gotten them out of his possession.
That’s when the goldsmith’s bad luck began.