The “big” Inheritance even a Thief rejected


I think I’ll turn my inheritance into cash,” Jack said suddenly one morning at the breakfast table.

He had been rather quiet munching on his toast. Betty was wondering what Jack was thinking about, because he always had something to say.

What inheritance?” Betty wanted to know. “You never inherited anything from anyone.”

You remember my father’s wedding ring?” Jack asked.

You call this an inheritance? It is just a trinket and the thieves didn’t even take it during the last break-in. They must have thought it is a brass curtain ring. Ridiculous, you won’t get anything for it.”

Dad is dead for forty years now and I thought he won’t mind me getting rid of it. As long as I get a good price for it. He used to own a beautiful silver Italian pocket watch and I, as a young, very young, boy took it and swapped it for an ice cream. He was furious, not because I took it, but because I only got an ice cream for it. He thought I was stupid, not very business minded.”

He knew you wouldn’t amount to anything and he was right,” Betty said with a knowing face. “He wasn’t the only one disappointed in you.”

Jack ignored her remark and said instead,

With the gold prices what they are at the moment, I thought, I can make a quick buck.”

After forty years? You call this a quick buck?”

Jack ignored her sarcasm again.

I hung on to it for sentimental reasons. There is not much that reminded me of Mum and Dad being married twice to each other. We weren’t even invited to the wedding. We were just informed of the fact. He wanted her to be the sole beneficiary of his Super when he knew he would die soon. He was a good man, but never got any credit for looking after the family – right to the end.”

Poppycock, Flemington was his second home and I remember your sisters telling me he was there feeding the horses. That’s what they called his betting habit.”

Ah, well, by leaving his Super to Mum he paid us back handsomely. I never felt deprived while he lived with us.”

And what he didn’t spend on the horses he shouted to his friends at the pub.”

What is your point?” Jack asked now getting irritated by Betty’s sarcasm.

My point? He was a no-hoper and you feel proud of him? Inheritance my foot!”

Mum shared the Super with us and it helped us with our bills in the early years of our marriage.”

I know, I know. I did not want you to get your hopes up too high,” Betty said becoming more conciliatory.

I did not want the ring to lie around and get stolen during the next break-in,” Jack explained.

The next time they went to a shopping centre they approached a stand that bought gold. Those stands have sprung up everywhere to make use of the high international prices for gold. There were even ads on TV with young people trading in old jewellery for cash and one could see them coming out of shops loaded with merchandise. Jack and Betty did not have any illusion of getting so much money that they could go on a shopping spree.

The attendant, a young woman of Indian appearance, was busy wiping and cleaning her little stall from the outside. It is a boring job waiting for people to come to have their jewellery and gold valued. Sometimes she was lucky and they sold the precious metal to her and she could expect a bonus. When she saw the elderly couple approach she hurried into the stall and took an official posture.

What can I do for you,” she asked.

I have here an old ring I want to sell,” Jack told her and showed her the ring he had already in his hand.

You want to sell it now?”

We will see what you offer and if the price is right, we might just do that,’ said Jack, but he really had no idea what he could expect. The ring was big and heavy; bigger really than an ordinary, simple wedding ring. He could not remember his father having big, fat fingers.

The young woman asked permission to run a few tests to establish the gold content of the ring. In the end, it is not all gold that shines and this ring did indeed look suspiciously like a curtain ring. She busied herself with the test while Jack and Betty looked at each other, silently agreeing that they probably will be cheated out of a substantial sum of money.

The woman rubbed on the ring, poured acid on the dust she had rubbed off, weighted it, photographed it and even x-rayed it.

I have to make sure it is gold right through,” she told them. Yes, it was and Jack and Betty were relieved that they would not be seen as a couple of fraudsters. She told them it is 18 carat, meaning it is 75% gold and weighs 12,750gr. Jack felt the giant ring was shrinking by the minute and with it the amount of money he would receive. The woman consulted her computer, punched a few numbers in her calculator and announced she would offer them $190.

Betty and Jack must have looked dumbfounded as they looked at each other – questioning. The woman interpreted it as dissatisfaction with the price offered and added another ten Dollars to the offer. So, that was it. The inheritance did not turn out to be a big surprise but rather a “little” one. They had never seen the ring on Dad’s finger – it was just a piece of shiny metal. If people had told them is was brass they would have believed it, as much as the thief, so many years ago, thought.

They had to fill in forms and they were informed that the ring would not be melted down for another fourteen days, just in case the police took any interest in it. Jack put the two hundred Dollars in the wallet and they walked away.

What we’ll spend the money on now?” Betty asked.

I don’ know,” Jack answered quietly, tired of the whole subject. “We could have a quiet drink or put it in the bank for a rainy day.”

It rains too often for that and won’t last long,” Betty chuckled.

Will a cup of coffee do?” Jack asked.

Yes, let us enjoy a cup and think of your Dad.”

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