One Thousand Dollars

“One thousand dollars,” repeated Lawyer Tolman solemnly and severely, “and here is the money.”

Young Gillan gave a decidedly amused laugh as he fingered the thin package of new fifty-dollar notes.

“It’s such a confoundedly awkward amount,” he explained, genially, to the lawyer. “If it had been ten thousand a fellow might wind up with a lot of fireworks and do himself credit. Even fifty dollars would have been less trouble.”

“You heard the reading of your uncle’s will,” continued Lawyer Tolman, professionally dry in his tones. “I do not know if you paid much attention to its details. I must remind you of one. You are required to render to us an account of the manner of expenditure of this $1,000 as soon as you have disposed of it. The will stipulates that. I trust that you will so far comply with the late Mr. Gillian’s wishes.”

“You may depend upon it,” said the young man politely, “in spite of the extra expense it will entail. I may have to engage a secretary. I was never good at accounts.”

Gillian went to his club. There he hunted out one whom he called Old Bryson.

Old Bryson was calm and forty and sequestered. He was in a corner reading a book, and when he saw Gillian approaching he sighed, laid down his book and took off his glasses.

“Old Bryson, wake up,” said Gillian. “I’ve a funny story to tell you.”

“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 my late uncle’s firm of legal corsairs. He leaves me an even thousand dollars. Now, what can a man possibly do with a thousand dollars?”

“I thought,” said Old Bryson, showing as much interest as a bee shows in a vinegar cruet, “that the late Septimus Gillian was worth something like half a million.”

“He was,” assented Gillian joyously, “and that’s where the joke comes in. He’s left his whole cargo of doubloons to a microbe. 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 trifling bequests on the side. The butler and the housekeeper get a seal ring and $10 each. His nephew gets $1,000.”

“You’ve always had plenty of money to spend,” observed Old Bryson.

“Tons,” said Gillian. “Uncle was the fairy godmother as far as an allowance was concerned.”

“Any other heirs?” asked Old Bryson.

“None.” Gillian frowned at his cigarette and kicked the upholstered leather of a divan uneasily. “There is a Miss Hayden, a ward of my uncle, who lived in his house. She’s a quiet thing—musical—the daughter of somebody who was unlucky enough to be his friend. I forgot to say that she was in on the seal ring and $10 joke, too. I wish I had been. Then I could have had two bottles of brut, tipped the waiter with the ring, and had the whole business off my hands. Don’t be superior and insulting, Old Bryson—tell me what a fellow can do with a thousand dollars.”

Old Bryson rubbed his glasses and smiled. And when Old Bryson smiled, Gillian knew that he intended to be more offensive than ever.

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