A Story a Day #51: Nigel Balchin
April 9th, 2020
A young man visits Nice, France and sees an older man and a younger woman companion. They seem very nice and eventually the young girl invites them over to her father's house. She warns them, however, not to play poker for too much money as her father tends to lose more than he has. They agree and spend many nights playing for small sums of money with her father, the Colonel, and an Italian man. One night, a Frenchman comes to play and the Italian promptly leaves. The game's sum increases largely and they convince them to keep playing. At the end, the Colonel writes a check to the Frenchman for 800 pounds. The daughter comes to the narrator for advice as she knows they don't have 800 pounds. He convinces the other man to loan them some, but right after they do, the girl and her father flee town. Apparently they are con artists, but the other man isn't worried as he knew this and gave them fake money.
Throughout this story, there is an ominous sense of something bad happening. Meeting people in a hotel lobby, gambling, a poor, innocent looking girl. Of course, we all hope that people are who they seem, but do we ever really know? During the part where she says not to play for much money, you just know that this very thing is going to happen. You just have to keep reading to find out what happens after. This reminds me a lot of the movie The Hustle where Anne Hathaway cons various men into giving her lots of money. It employs lots of the same tropes as this story does. Something else that they have in common (spoiler alert) is that the con artists end up getting conned.