Now came great news! Stunning news—joyous news, in fact. It came
from a neighboring state, where the family's only surviving
relative lived. It was Sally's relative—a sort of vague and
indefinite uncle or second or third cousin by the name of Tilbury
Foster, seventy and a bachelor, reputed well off and corresponding
sour and crusty. Sally had tried to make up to him once, by letter,
in a bygone time, and had not made that mistake again. Tilbury now
wrote to Sally, saying he should shortly die, and should leave him
thirty thousand dollars, cash; not for love, but because money had
given him most of his troubles and exasperations, and he wished to
place it where there was good hope that it would continue its
malignant work. The bequest would be found in his will, and would
be paid over. PROVIDED, that Sally should be able to prove to the
executors that he had TAKEN NO NOTICE OF THE GIFT BY SPOKEN WORD OR
BY LETTER, HAD MADE NO INQUIRIES CONCERNING THE MORIBUND'S PROGRESS
TOWARD THE EVERLASTING TROPICS, AND HAD NOT ATTENDED THE
As soon as Aleck had partially recovered from the tremendous
emotions created by the letter, she sent to the relative's habitat
and subscribed for the local paper.
Man and wife entered into a solemn compact, now, to never
mention the great news to any one while the relative lived, lest
some ignorant person carry the fact to the death-bed and distort it
and make it appear that they were disobediently thankful for the
bequest, and just the same as confessing it and publishing it,
right in the face of the prohibition.
For the rest of the day Sally made havoc and confusion with his
books, and Aleck could not keep her mind on her affairs, not even
take up a flower-pot or book or a stick of wood without forgetting
what she had intended to do with it. For both were dreaming.
"Thir-ty thousand dollars!"
All day long the music of those inspiring words sang through
those people's heads.
From his marriage-day forth, Aleck's grip had been upon the
purse, and Sally had seldom known what it was to be privileged to
squander a dime on non-necessities.
"Thir-ty thousand dollars!" the song went on and on. A vast sum,
an unthinkable sum!
All day long Aleck was absorbed in planning how to invest it,
Sally in planning how to spend it.
There was no romance-reading that night. The children took
themselves away early, for their parents were silent, distraught,
and strangely unentertaining. The good-night kisses might as well
have been impressed upon vacancy, for all the response they got;
the parents were not aware of the kisses, and the children had been
gone an hour before their absence was noticed. Two pencils had been
busy during that hour—note-making; in the way of plans. It was
Sally who broke the stillness at last. He said, with
"Ah, it'll be grand, Aleck! Out of the first thousand we'll have
a horse and a buggy for summer, and a cutter and a skin lap-robe
Aleck responded with decision and composure—
"Out of the CAPITAL? Nothing of the kind. Not if it was a
Sally was deeply disappointed; the glow went out of his
"Oh, Aleck!" he said, reproachfully. "We've always worked so
hard and been so scrimped: and now that we are rich, it does
He did not finish, for he saw her eye soften; his supplication
had touched her. She said, with gentle persuasiveness:
"We must not spend the capital, dear, it would not be wise. Out
of the income from it—"
"That will answer, that will answer, Aleck! How dear and good
you are! There will be a noble income and if we can spend
"Not ALL of it, dear, not all of it, but you can spend a part of
it. That is, a reasonable part. But the whole of the capital— every
penny of it—must be put right to work, and kept at it. You see the
reasonableness of that, don't you?"
"Why, ye-s. Yes, of course. But we'll have to wait so long. Six
months before the first interest falls due."
"Longer, Aleck? Why? Don't they pay half-yearly?"
"THAT kind of an investment—yes; but I sha'n't invest in that
"What way, then?"
"For big returns."
"Big. That's good. Go on, Aleck. What is it?"
"Coal. The new mines. Cannel. I mean to put in ten thousand.
Ground floor. When we organize, we'll get three shares for
"By George, but it sounds good, Aleck! Then the shares will be
worth— how much? And when?"
"About a year. They'll pay ten per cent. half yearly, and be
worth thirty thousand. I know all about it; the advertisement is in
the Cincinnati paper here."
"Land, thirty thousand for ten—in a year! Let's jam in the whole
capital and pull out ninety! I'll write and subscribe right now—
tomorrow it maybe too late."
He was flying to the writing-desk, but Aleck stopped him and put
him back in his chair. She said:
"Don't lose your head so. WE mustn't subscribe till we've got
the money; don't you know that?"
Sally's excitement went down a degree or two, but he was not
"Why, Aleck, we'll HAVE it, you know—and so soon, too. He's
probably out of his troubles before this; it's a hundred to nothing
he's selecting his brimstone-shovel this very minute. Now, I
Aleck shuddered, and said:
"How CAN you, Sally! Don't talk in that way, it is perfectly
"Oh, well, make it a halo, if you like, I don't care
for his outfit, I was only just talking. Can't you let a person
"But why should you WANT to talk in that dreadful way? How would
you like to have people talk so about YOU, and you not cold
"Not likely to be, for ONE while, I reckon, if my last act was
giving away money for the sake of doing somebody a harm with it.
But never mind about Tilbury, Aleck, let's talk about something
worldly. It does seem to me that that mine is the place for the
whole thirty. What's the objection?"
"All the eggs in one basket—that's the objection."
"All right, if you say so. What about the other twenty? What do
you mean to do with that?"
"There is no hurry; I am going to look around before I do
anything with it."
"All right, if your mind's made up," signed Sally. He was deep
in thought awhile, then he said:
"There'll be twenty thousand profit coming from the ten a year
from now. We can spend that, can we, Aleck?"
Aleck shook her head.
"No, dear," she said, "it won't sell high till we've had the
first semi-annual dividend. You can spend part of that."
"Shucks, only THAT—and a whole year to wait! Confound it,
"Oh, do be patient! It might even be declared in three months—
it's quite within the possibilities."
"Oh, jolly! oh, thanks!" and Sally jumped up and kissed his wife
in gratitude. "It'll be three thousand—three whole thousand! how
much of it can we spend, Aleck? Make it liberal!—do, dear, that's a
Aleck was pleased; so pleased that she yielded to the pressure
and conceded a sum which her judgment told her was a foolish
extravagance— a thousand dollars. Sally kissed her half a dozen
times and even in that way could not express all his joy and
thankfulness. This new access of gratitude and affection carried
Aleck quite beyond the bounds of prudence, and before she could
restrain herself she had made her darling another grant—a couple of
thousand out of the fifty or sixty which she meant to clear within
a year of the twenty which still remained of the bequest. The happy
tears sprang to Sally's eyes, and he said:
"Oh, I want to hug you!" And he did it. Then he got his notes
and sat down and began to check off, for first purchase, the
luxuries which he should earliest wish to secure.
church-pew—stem-winder—new teeth—SAY, Aleck!"
"Ciphering away, aren't you? That's right. Have you got the
twenty thousand invested yet?"
"No, there's no hurry about that; I must look around first, and
"But you are ciphering; what's it about?"
"Why, I have to find work for the thirty thousand that comes out
of the coal, haven't I?"
"Scott, what a head! I never thought of that. How are you
getting along? Where have you arrived?"
"Not very far—two years or three. I've turned it over twice;
once in oil and once in wheat."
"Why, Aleck, it's splendid! How does it aggregate?"
"I think—well, to be on the safe side, about a hundred and
eighty thousand clear, though it will probably be more."
"My! isn't it wonderful? By gracious! luck has come our way at
last, after all the hard sledding, Aleck!"
"I'm going to cash in a whole three hundred on the missionaries—
what real right have we care for expenses!"
"You couldn't do a nobler thing, dear; and it's just like your
generous nature, you unselfish boy."
The praise made Sally poignantly happy, but he was fair and just
enough to say it was rightfully due to Aleck rather than to
himself, since but for her he should never have had the money.
Then they went up to bed, and in their delirium of bliss they
forgot and left the candle burning in the parlor. They did not
remember until they were undressed; then Sally was for letting it
burn; he said they could afford it, if it was a thousand. But Aleck
went down and put it out.
A good job, too; for on her way back she hit on a scheme that
would turn the hundred and eighty thousand into half a million
before it had had time to get cold.