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SONG-CYCLE AND SHORT SONG 295
the subject of song-writing, is worth repeating here. He conducted Albeniz's Magic Opal, and at the end of the run the composer asked Bunningto let him have his baton. A few days later the baton was returned ; round it was a gold band with an inscription from the composer, while in the extreme tip was set an opal. It was a very delicate little attention, but from that moment everything Bunning touched began to go wrong : illnesses, lawsuits, and misfortunes generally followed one another in quick succession. Happening to mention this to a journalistic friend, the latter, on ascertaining that Bunning's birthday month was May, attributed all his ill-luck to the possession of the opal, and begged him to get rid of it. " You mustn't sell it or throw it away," he said ; "all you can do is to give it to a friend, only choose one to whom you don't mind doing a bad turn." Rather amused at the whole thing, Bunning suggested sending it to Mr. Gladstone, whose politics he disliked—not believing in the superstition, of course, but more as a joke than anything else. Gladstone duly received the gift, and a week later was shot at by a would-be assassin, while at the same time his wife was taken ill and nearly died! Bunning has a moonstone set in the baton now !
Closely allied to the song-cycle is the Series of Short Songs, a fashion that was first made popular