My wife and I were walking over the Pont d’léna, which is the pedestrian bridge that crosses the Seine opposite the Eiffel Tower. We were holding hands, as we often do, when a young woman walking towards us stopped about a yard away, bent down and picked up a gold ring. “Oh my god,” she said, gazing at the ring in the palm of her hand.
She was now right in front of us and we had to stop.
“Someone must have dropped it,” she said franticly looking around. She pointed to a tiny hallmark. “It’s gold! How sad that someone has lost their wedding ring. Look.”
She offered me the ring and, like a fool, I took it. Sure enough, there was a hallmark stamped on the inside. I made to give it back but she refused to accept it.
By now, alarm bells were ringing, but I own up, the girl was incredibly attractive and a wonderful actor, her timing was impeccable and her concern for whoever had lost the ring was OSCAR quality. Then there was her beautiful smile.
Again I tried to give back the ring, and again she refused. “I don’t need a ring,” she whispered. “I have no one, I’m alone and a ring like this must go to someone who is in love. And I can tell that you two are very much in love.
She looked and my wife’s hand and noticed her wedding ring. Then she raised my left hand in hers, “You don’t have a ring, you must have it,” she said. “Please, you must take it, it will make me happy and will bring you so much good luck.
I smiled and again said no, I can’t accept it. “Take it to the police and if you don’t want to do that, sell it,” I said.
“No, no, I cannot. I am a Croatian refugee and I am illegal in the country. I have no papers, no passport. They will arrest me. Please, please say you will keep the ring, it will make me so happy. Keep it and it will bring blessings on us both.” A gentle and now oh-so-sad smile played on her lips and she walked away.
She had gone six paces when she stopped and turned. “Do you have a little money to give me for food?” she said.
“Take the gold ring and sell it,” I said again.”
“That will never be possible. The ring now belongs to you both.”
And I knew she was right.
I dug into my pocket and pulled out six euros and put them into her hand.
“I see you have two more euros there,” she said. “Please, a little more.”
She pocketed the money and with a warm smile brought both hands together in front of her face in the Buddhist Anjali Mudra. She gave a little bow and waited.
I returned the gesture and she turned and melted into the crowd.
As I write, the ring twinkles on a shelf above my desk.
Brass or gold?
Scam or something with a deeper meaning?