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The Bet

The Bet


by Anton Pavlovich Chekhov

The Bet Summary

How It All Goes Down

Fifteen years ago, a banker threw a shindig in which he bet a young lawyer two million rubles that the lawyer couldn't stay in solitary confinement for five years. The lawyer raised the stakes to fifteen years, and holed up in a guesthouse on the banker's estate. He's had no contact with any humans during this time, but has been able to read all the books he could want. The lawyer's reading has ranged from novels to philosophy and languages to religious texts to a confusing mishmash. What can we say? The dude has had some time on his hands.

Now, the fifteen years is almost up and the banker is worried that if he has to pay the two million large, he'll be bankrupt. Solution? He opts to ice the lawyer. So he sneaks up on the lawyer, who's fast asleep. Just as he is about to kill the dude, the banker finds a note that explains that through his reading the lawyer has come to totally reject the material world. It turns out he's planning on throwing the bet on purpose by leaving five hours early. The banker kisses the lawyer's head, cries, and leaves. The next day, the guards report that the lawyer bailed early. The banker takes the letter and puts it into his safe.

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