The next day, all of London talked about the shares of the California gold
mine. I stayed in my hotel and said to everyone who came to me.
"Yes, I know Mr Hastings. He's a very honest man. And I know the gold
mine, because I lived in the California Gold Country. It is a mine of great
value." People were now interested in buying the shares.
I spent every evening with Portia at the American Ambassador's house. I
didn't tell her about the shares and the mine. It was a surprise. We talked
about our love and our future together.
Finally, the end of the month arrived. Lots of rich Londoners bought the
shares of the mine. I had a million dollars of my own in the London and
County Bank. And Lloyd did too.
It was time to meet with the two old gentlemen. I dressed in my best
clothes, and I went to get Portia.
Before going to Portland Place, Portia and I talked about the job and the
"Portia, you are so beautiful! When the two gentlemen meet you, they will
give me any job and any salary I ask for."
"Henry, please remember that if we ask for too much, we will get nothing.
Then what will happen to us?"
"Don't be afraid, Portia."
When we arrived, the same servant opened the door. There were the two
old gentlemen having tea. They were surprised to see Portia. I introduced her
to them. Then I said, "Gentlemen, I am ready to report to you."
"We are pleased to hear this," said one gentleman.
"Now we can decide the bet that my brother Abel and I made. If you won for me, you can have
any job in my power. Do you have the million-pound note?"
"Here it is, sir," and I gave it to him.
"I won!" he shouted. "Now what do you say, Abel?"
"I say he survived, and I lost twenty thousand pounds. I can't believe it!"
"I have more to tell you," I said. "But, it's a long story. I'll tell you another
time. For now, look at this."
"What! A Certificate of Deposit for ￡200,000. Is it yours?"
"It's mine. I earned it by using the banknote you lent me for a month."
"This is astonishing! I can't believe it."
Portia looked at me with surprise and said, "Henry, is that really your
money? You didn't tell me the truth."
"No, I didn't. But, I know you'll forgive me."
"Don't be so sure! You told me a lie, Henry."
"Dearest Portia, it was only for fun. Come, let's go now."
"But, wait, wait!" my gentleman said. "I want to give you the job and the
salary you choose."
"Thank you, thank you with all my heart. But I don't want the job."
"Henry, you didn't thank the good gentleman in the right way. Can I do it
for you?" Portia said.
"Of course you can, my dear."
Portia walked to my gentleman, sat on his lap and kissed him on the
Then the two old gentlemen shouted and laughed. I was amazed. What
"Papa," said Portia, "Henry doesn't want your job. I feel very hurt."
"Darling, is that your father?" I asked.
"Yes, he's my stepfather, a dear man. Now do you understand why I
laughed when you told me your story?"
"My dearest sir," I said, "I want to take back what I said. There is a job
that I want."
"I want the job of son-in-law."
"Well, well, well. But you were never a son-in-law before. Do you know
how to do this job?"
"Try me, please! Try me for thirty or forty years, and if —"
"Oh, all right. Take her!"
Were Portia and I happy? There aren't enough words in the dictionary to
describe our happiness. When the Londoners heard the whole story of my
adventures with the banknote, they talked of nothing else.
Portia's father took the banknote back to the Bank of England and cashed
it. Then he gave us the cancelled banknote as a wedding present. We put it
in a picture frame and hung it on the wall in our new home.
And so I always say, "Yes, it's a million-pound banknote, but it only
bought one thing in its life: the most valuable thing in the world - Portia!"