The banker's financial situation has changed drastically in the fifteen years since he first made the extravagant bet with the lawyer. His wealth was secure at the time of his wager, but now that the bet is almost over, he stands to become bankrupt if he must pay the two...
The banker's financial situation has changed drastically in the fifteen years since he first made the extravagant bet with the lawyer. His wealth was secure at the time of his wager, but now that the bet is almost over, he stands to become bankrupt if he must pay the two million.
Now old, the banker reflects upon the "wild, senseless bet" that has cost the young lawyer fifteen years. "On my part, it was the caprice of a pampered man, and on his part, simple greed for money," he thinks to himself. Worried about his possible ruin, the banker considers murdering the lawyer and letting the watchman be blamed so that he can save himself from bankruptcy. As it turns out, however, the lawyer walks out of his cell five minutes before his sentence ends.
What no one else knows, though, is that before the end of the bet, the banker went to the lodge where the prisoner had been confined. When he entered, he found a sleeping man, unrecognizable as the lawyer because he had aged well past what a man of forty should. When the old banker saw that the prisoner had written on a sheet of paper, he took the page from the table and read it—since the prisoner was unaware of his presence. On the paper, the lawyer had written a long letter recounting what he read and learned during all the years of his confinement. Then, at the end of this letter, the lawyer addressed his readers:
"You have lost your reason and taken the wrong path. You have taken lies for truth and hideousness for beauty.... To prove to you in action how I despise all that you live by, I renounce the two million of which I once dreamed as of paradise and which now I despise."
The banker replaced the letter and departed, feeling contempt for himself. But when the watchman runs to him the next day, saying that the prisoner has fled, the banker rushes to the lodge to verify that the lawyer is gone. Then, "to avoid unnecessary talk," he takes the letter that the lawyer has written and locks it in his safe.