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What is a brief summary of "The £1,000,000 Bank-Note"by Mark Twain?

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mchong3245 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 1, 2008 at 7:29 AM via web

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What is a brief summary of "The £1,000,000 Bank-Note"
by Mark Twain?

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted August 14, 2010 at 5:02 AM (Answer #1)

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"The £1,000,000 Bank-Note" by Mark Twian tells of Henry Adams who has a prosperous and promising job as a clerk in a mining-broker's office in San Francisco, who one day went sailing and found himself adrift at sea headed for eventual doom, until he was rescued by a brig bound to London, which saved him and exacted uncompensated rigorous labor for the trouble of rescuing him. They set him ashore in London with rags on his back and one dollar in his pocket, where, 48 hours later, hungry and desperate, he spied a pear cast carelessly aside in the road gutter that tempted his empty stomach. While trying to retrieve the succulent and simultaneously avoid the censure of witnessing eyes, he was called by two old men into a spacious, elegantly appointed and sumptuous house where, before the ample remains of a delicious meal that he couldn't partake of, the two old men offered Henry an envelope and a mysterious and unexplained task. Escorted back to the street, Henry, upon opening the envelope saw that it contained money--much money--and speedily took himself to the first restaurant he came across, where, upon trying to pay the bill, he and the restaurateur saw that the only bill in the envelope was a £1,000,000 bank-note, which, happily for Henry, was good enough to inspire the restaurateur to extend Henry a line of credit.

After trying his hand at and succeeding in more purchases according to the same method at many, many other stores, Henry set himself up in luxury lodgings and proceeded to enjoy his sudden celebrity and entrance into society as the “vest-pocket million-pounder.” At a subsequent dinner party, Henry meets Portia, the love of his life, and a business colleague from San Francisco who is having no luck selling his stocks in London. Henry assists his friend to make sales based on Henry's reputation and before Henry's month is out, they each have a million pounds in the bank. According to the terms in the explanation of the quest--in the form of a bet between the two old men who are, in fact, brothers--which Henry eventually comes into possession of, Henry presents himself back at the home of the brothers at the end of one month, with Portia accompanying him. There he learns that the brother who won the bet about what would happen to a poor unknown man on the streets of London with nothing in his possession but a million pound note is actually Portia's stepfather and will give Henry any position he has the power to give. Henry, already the possessor of a million pounds of his own, asks for the position of son-in-law so that he might marry Portia. Thus ends the story of the £1,000,000 bank-note, which was left unneeded in a bank vault after being one of two printed by the Bank of England for international trade purposes until it was purchased by the two brothers for the express purpose of conducting their social experiment in order to determine the winner of their bet.

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