Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Death drew closer to Caxton with each passing day.  All his accumulated wealth; all his earthly treasures could not buy him more time.  Confined to his bed, the old man sent for Thompson, his lawyer.  At the dying man’s request, Thompson (one of those rare trustworthy souls) dispatched telegrams to the old man’s kin.  A telegram was also sent to a man named Goodwell.  According to Caxton, they had served together in the War Between the States until a stray MiniĆ© ball lodged in Goodwell’s brain.  

“Changed him,” Caxton croaked.  “Need his gift now.”  The baffled lawyer  obeyed.

When Caxton’s relatives began arriving one by one, the old man forbade anyone other than Thompson from entering his quarters.  “Draw up a...  will and testament...” the dying man wheezed.  “Send Goodwell up directly.... upon his arrival.”

Goodwell finally arrived and stood gazing at the house until Thompson escorted the venerable old soldier inside.  Relatives gaped as lawyer and veteran trudged up the stairs together.

Inside Caxton’s room, the dying man spoke without preamble. “Time is short.  What did you see?”

“Nothing but vultures,” Goodwell announced gravely.

Caxton sighed.  He turned his face toward Thompson.  “Accompany Goodwell to the porch... wait with him there.”

The dying man paused to catch his breath.

“When the right person arrives... Goodwell will tell you... That person gets everything...”  The old man closed his eyes.

“What--?” Thompson began but Goodwell raised a hand.

“Easy enough,” the gifted man explained.  “I’m to wait and watch for the arrival of a mourning dove.”