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Chekhov's famous story "The Bet" is beautifully crafted. It begins close to the climax and then provides necessary exposition in a flashback. The banker, from whose point of view the story is told, bet a young lawyer that he could not stand to be kept in solitary confinement for fifteen years. At the time they made the rash bet the banker was a prosperous man; he had suffered some financial reverses over those fifteen years, however, and now he was faced with the ruinous prospect of having to pay his prisoner the large sum of two million rubles, because the scholarly, self-sufficient man had managed to endure the fifteen years of solitary confinement. The banker decided that his only recourse was to murder his captive but was unexpectedly saved from having to commit such a dastardly crime by the lawyer's voluntary relinquishment of the money.
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