“One thousand dollars,” said the lawyer Tolman, in a severe and serious voice. “And here is the money.”
Young Gillian touched the thin package of $50 bills and laughed.
“It’s such an unusual amount,” he explained kindly to the lawyer.
“If it had been $10,000, a man might celebrate with a lot of fireworks. Even $50 would have been less trouble.”
“You heard the reading of your uncle’s will after he died,” continued the lawyer Tolman.
“I do not know if you paid much attention to its details. I must remind you of one.
You are required to provide us with a report of how you used this $1,000 as soon as you have spent it. I trust that you will obey the wishes of your late uncle.”
“You may depend on it,” said the young man respectfully.
Gillian went to his club. He searched for a man he called Old Bryson.
Old Bryson was a calm, anti-social man, about 40 years old. He was in a corner reading a book.
When he saw Gillian coming near he took a noisy, deep breath, laid down his book and took off his glasses.
“I have a funny story to tell you,” said Gillian.
“I wish you would tell it to someone in the billiard room,” said Old Bryson. “You know how I hate your stories.”
“This is a better one than usual,” said Gillian, rolling a cigarette.
“And I’m glad to tell it to you. It’s too sad and funny to go with the rattling of billiard balls.
I’ve just come from a meeting with my late uncle’s lawyers. He leaves me an even $1,000. Now, what can a man possibly do with $1,000?”
Old Bryson showed very little interest. “I thought the late Septimus Gillian was worth something like half a million.”
“He was,” agreed Gillian, happily. “And that’s where the joke comes in. He has left a lot of his money to an organism.
That is, part of it goes to the man who invents a new bacillus and the rest to establish a hospital for doing away with it again.
There are one or two small, unimportant gifts on the side.
The butler and the housekeeper get a seal ring and $10 dollars each. His nephew gets $1,000 dollars.”