A younger son from a rich man's second marriage inherits nothing but an old trunk and his two half-brothers who will split $2.5 million mock him. But everything changes when he discovers what is inside the trunk.
George Trent was a wealthy man, but most of his money had been earned through a company founded by his late first wife's father, so when he wrote his will, he felt that it was only fair that all his money should go to his children from his first marriage.
When George passed away unexpectedly, his three sons were called into a meeting with the family lawyer, who explained how their father had disposed of his estate. His two older sons, Matt and Guy, would split $2.5 million, and the youngest, Jay, would inherit an old trunk of memorabilia.
An old trunk | Source: Shutterstock
The lawyer looked up at Jay and said gently, "Please don't think your father loved you less, Jay. He cared for you deeply, and he believed you would be the one who would appreciate and profit from the contents of the trunk."
Jay smiled. "I know my father loved me, and this legacy will be more precious to me than millions of dollars in the bank."
Never rejoice in someone else's misfortune.
Matt sniggered, and Guy said mockingly: "Yes, I'm sure that the spiderwebs in that old piece of trash will be more valuable than diamonds to you. Just make sure you don't come begging for a handout later Jay because you won't get a cent!"
"That reminds me!" cried the lawyer. "Your father asked that all three of you sign a release form in which you agree not to sue for any part of each other's inheritance."
Father with his youngest son | Source: Pixabay
"That's fine with me!" said Matt laughing, "I want no part of Jay's dusty treasure!"
Jay nodded. "That's fine with me too. What my father believed was right is fine with me."
All three sons signed the agreement and took ownership of their legacies. Jay's trunk was delivered to his student pad early the next morning. It was a huge old-fashioned ship's trunk, the kind that was popular during the late 19th century, covered with travel stickers from exotic destinations.
Stuck onto the lid was a thick parchment envelope with Jay's name on it. He opened it and a heavy iron key fell out. He pulled out a single sheet of paper and immediately recognized his father's handwriting.
Old letters and photos from the old trunk | Source: Unsplash
"My dearest Jay, if you are reading this, I have gone on to my heavenly reward, and I hope you will forgive me for how I've disposed of my earthly goods. This old trunk belonged to your great-grandmother Judith, who scandalized her family in the '20s by running away to Paris with a young artist.
Judith was very adventurous and very beautiful, and she quickly replaced her young man with another, more talented painter, and then another, and so on. She wrote a diary of her two years as a model in Paris in the wild '20s and collected sketches by her lovers and their artist friends.
As you look through her collection of sketches, you will find some very interesting and illustrious names, and some of the artwork depicts Judith herself. I hope you will make the best of your inheritance, Jay. I haven't had Judith's collection valued, but I believe you will not be disappointed.
Paris in the twenties | Source: Unsplash
I pray we will meet again, until then, remember that I love you, son. Be happy and live a full life."
Curious, Jay opened the trunk. Just like his father had explained, it contained several journals filled with pages of entries in an exuberant loopy feminine hand. Great-grandma Judith had a flair for the dramatic and a fondness for purple ink.
There was a huge thick portfolio tied with dark red ribbon, and when Jay opened it, he found dozens of sketches and rough watercolor plans for paintings. Some of the signatures he recognized, such as Pablo Picasso, and Henri Mattisse, but others like Fernand Léger, George Brack, Man Ray, and Juan Miro he'd never heard of.
At the bottom of the trunk was a wad of black and white photos of Grandma Judith lounging around with famous people like Ernest Hemmingway and Josephine Baker. "Way to go, Grandma!" Jay exclaimed.
An artist's talented hand | Source: Unsplash
He picked up the phone and called a friend who was studying art and asked him who he should show the portfolio to. His friend referred him to a New York gallery not far from his student pad.
Jay carefully tied the ribbons on the portfolio, tucked it under his arm, and set off for the gallery. When he arrived he asked to speak to Victor Brandweiz. Victor turned out to be a thin, sad-looking man with a very long nose.
"Yes?" he asked coldly, "What is it you want?"
"Well, sir, I have some sketches I'd like you to take a look at for me..." Jay said.
A sketch by Picasso | Source: Pexels
"No, no!" said Victor, "I don't look at unknown artists!"
"Well these aren't unknown," said Jay, placing his portfolio on a table and opening it. "Some I know, like Dali and Picasso? But this guy Brack and Chagall I never heard of..."
But Victor wasn't listening. He was feverishly looking at the sketches muttering to himself in what sounded to Jay like German. "But these..." he gasped, "These look real!"
"They are," said Jay, who was enjoying the man's astonished excitement, "You see, my great-grandmother Judith Trent..." Jay told Victor the whole story, and the man immediately wanted to see the diaries.
"Do you know what you have here if it is all authentic?" asked Victor, "Millions, my boy, millions!"
The young man with a handful of money | Source: Pixabay
As it turned out, it was worth many millions, and a publishing house offered Jay a few more to publish Judith's racy diaries which exposed the steamy life of the "Lost Generation" in scandalous detail.
Before long, Jay was negotiating a deal for a movie, and hobnobbing with famous producers, directors, and Hollywood stars. Matt and Guy were not impressed and started making noises about their share, but the lawyer waved their agreement at them.
They had been so eager to sign when they believed Jay had been cheated, and now that his inheritance proved to be extremely valuable, they were upset and accused Jay of cheating them.
What can we learn from this story?
1. Never rejoice in someone else's misfortune. Matt and Guy gloated over Jay's 'poor' inheritance, but they ended up feeling edged out of the multi-million dollar art collection.
2. Karma often evens the scales, so trust in your luck.
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