Written by O. Henry
Abridged and adapted by Algirdas Makarevicius
"One thousand dollars," repeated Lawyer Tolman, in a serious voice, "and here is the money."
Young Gillian touched the money and laughed.
"It's such a strange sum of money," he said to the lawyer. "If it had been ten thousand it would not look too much. Even fifty dollars would have been less trouble."
"You heard the reading of your uncle's will," continued 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 written report. In your report, you will need to explain how you used $1,000. This was the wish of your uncle.
"I will do that," said the young man politely.
Gillian went to his club. In the club, he saw a man whose name was Old Bryson.
Old Bryson was a calm forty-year-old man. He was in a corner reading a book. When he saw Gillan coming up he laid down his book and took off his glasses.
"Old Bryson, wake up," said Gillian. "I have 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 story than usual," said Gillian; "and I'm glad to tell it to you. I've just come from my late uncle's lawyers. He leaves me an even thousand dollars. Now, what can a man possibly do with a thousand dollars?"
"I thought," said Old Bryson, showing very little interest, "that the late Septimus Gillian was worth something like half a million."
"He was," answered Gillian, "and that's where the joke comes in. He's left most of his money to medical research and hospitals. Also, he’s left a few things to others. 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," said Old Bryson.
"Yes," said Gillian.
"Any other people?" asked Old Bryson.
"No," said Gillian. "There is a Miss Hayden; she lived in his house. She's a quiet lady—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.
Old Bryson—tell me what a fellow can do with a thousand dollars," said Gillian.
Old Bryson rubbed his glasses and smiled. And when Old Bryson smiled, Gillian knew that he intended to be more offensive than ever.
"A thousand dollars," he said, "means much or little. One man may buy a happy home with it and laugh at Rockefeller. Another could send his wife South with it and save her life. A thousand dollars would buy pure milk for one hundred babies during June, July, and August and save fifty of their lives. It would give an education to a motivated boy. You could move to a New Hampshire town and live well two years on it. You could rent Madison Square Garden for one evening with it, and talk to your listeners if you should have them."
"You did not answer my question, Old Bryson," said Gillian. I asked you to tell me what I could do with a thousand dollars."
"You?" said Bryson, with a gentle laugh. "Why, Bobby Gillian, there's only one logical thing you could do. You can buy Miss Lotta Lauriere a diamond necklace with the money, and then take yourself off to Idaho and inflict your presence upon a ranch. I advise a sheep ranch, as I have a particular dislike for sheep."
"Thanks," said Gillian, rising, "I knew I could depend on you. You've hit on the very idea. I wanted to spend all the money on one thing because I need to write a report on it."
Gillian phoned for a cab and said to the driver: "Columbine Theatre."
Miss Lotta Lauriere was busy preparing for her performance.
"Now, what is it, Bobby?’ asked Miss Lauriere. "I'm starting in two minutes."
"It won't take two minutes for me. What do you say to a little thing in the jewelry line? I can spend one thousand dollars."
"Oh, just as you say," answered Miss Lauriere. “Did you see that necklace Della Stacey had on the other night? Twenty-two hundred dollars it cost at Tiffany's."
"Miss Lauriere for the opening chorus!" cried the call boy.
Miss Lauriere left.
Gillian walked slowly to the place where his cab was waiting.
"What would you do with a thousand dollars if you had it?" he asked the driver.
"Open a restaurant," said the cab driver. "I know a place I could invest money easily."
"Oh, no," said Gillian, "I just wanted to know your opinion. Drive until I tell you to stop."
Eight blocks down Broadway Gillian got out of the cab. A blind man sat upon a stool on the sidewalk selling pencils. Gillian went out and stood before him.
"Excuse me," he said, "but would you mind telling me what you would do if you had a thousand dollars?"
"You got out of that cab that just drove up, didn't you?" asked the blind man.
"I did," said Gillian.
"I guess you are all right," said the pencil seller, "to ride in a cab by daylight. Take a look at that, if you like."
He drew a small book from his coat pocket and showed it to him. Gillian opened it and saw that it was a bank deposit book. It showed a balance of $1,785.
Gillian returned the book and got into the cab.
"I forgot something," he said. "You may drive to the law offices of Tolman & Sharp, at Broadway."
Lawyer Tolman looked at Gillian through his golden glasses.
"I beg your pardon," said Gillian, cheerfully, "but may I ask you a question? Was Miss Hayden left anything by my uncle's will besides the ring and the $10?"
"Nothing," said Mr. Tolman.
"I thank you very much, sir," said Gillian, and on he went to his cab. He gave the driver the address of his late uncle's home.
Miss Hayden was writing letters in the library. She was small and slim and clothed in black. But you would have noticed her eyes. Gillian entered the room.
"I've just come from old Tolman's," he said. "They've been going over the papers down there. They found some more money for you – as a part of the will. My uncle left you one thousand dollars. I was driving up this way, and Tolman asked me to bring you the money. Here it is. You'd better count it to see if it's right." Gillian put the money on the desk.
Miss Hayden turned white. "Oh!" she said, and again "Oh!"
Gillian half turned and looked out the window.
"I suppose, of course," he said, in a low voice, "that you know I love you."
"I am sorry," said Miss Hayden, taking up her money.
"There is no use?" asked Gillian, almost light-heartedly.
"I am sorry," she said again.
"May I write a note?" asked Gillian, with a smile. He seated himself at the big library table. She gave him paper and a pen and then went back to her desk.
"Paid by Robert Gillian, $1,000 on account of the eternal happiness, owned by Heaven to the best and dearest woman on earth."
Gillian slipped his writing into an envelope, bowed and went away.
His cab stopped again at the offices of Tolman & Sharp.
"I have spent one thousand dollars," he said to Tolman. "And I have come to give a report of it, as I agreed." He put a white envelope on the lawyer's table. "You will find everything there – how I spent one thousand dollars."
Without touching the envelope, Mr. Tolman went to a door and called his partner, Sharp. Together, they brought a large envelope. Then Tolman began speaking.
"Mr. Gillian," he said, formally. "There was an appendix to your uncle's will. It was given to us privately, with instructions that it be not opened until you had given us a full report of how you spent $1,000. As you have fulfilled the conditions, my partner and I have read the appendix. I will explain to you what it is about.
"If you have used the $1,000 in a wise and unselfish way, you will be given $50,000. However, if you have used $1,000 in a foolish or wasteful way as you have in the past, the $50,000 will be paid to Miriam Hayden, Ward of the late Mr. Gillian, without delay.
"Now, Mr. Gillian, I will read your report of the one thousand dollars.”
Mr. Tolman reached for the envelope. Gillian was a little quicker in taking it up. He tore the account and its cover into small pieces and put them into his pocket.
"It's all right," he said, smilingly. "There isn't a bit of need to bother you with this. I lost the $1,000 on the races. Goodbye, gentlemen."
Tolman & Sharp shook their heads sadly at each other when Gillian left, for they heard him whistling happily in the lobby as he waited for the elevator.
Abridged and adapted from the original version by Algirdas Makarevicius.
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