• Madison White

A Story a Day #54: Anton Chekhov

April 13th, 2020

"The Bet"

Anton Chekhov

A rich banker makes a bet with a lawyer that capital punishment is better than a life in prison. The lawyer bets that he can last fifteen years in a cell. The rich banker bets two million dollars. The lawyer reads many books and drinks wine and learns languages throughout the fifteen years. The banker, now fifteen years later, has lost most of his money and is afraid he won't be able to pay the man. He sneaks into the man's cell a couple of hours before the deadline and plans to smother him but finds a note. The note says that the man has learned all there is about earthly wisdom and finds it all backwards. He writes that he does not want the 2 million and will walk out five minutes before the deadline to nullify it. He does this and the banker puts the note in a safe and tells noone.

I read this story looking for a mention of a gun. I know one of Chekhov's stories is famous for creating the literary term "Chekhov's gun" where something unimportant in the beginning of a story comes back at the end. This is not that story, but I still found it interesting. I found it actually very unpredictable. Would the man leave on his own? Would he become violent or deranged? All in all, it makes sense that he would toss off human life and values after this imprisonment. The more you know, the less you know, after all.

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© 2018 Madison White Writes

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