The Million Pound Bank Note
This story was published in 1893, in a bad decade for the United States and also a difficult time for Twain personally, as he was forced into bankruptcy and mourned the death of his favorite daughter, Suzy. The story still brims with confidence and optimism, marking the moment of hope just before Twain turned to the grim stories of his later years. The story takes place in Victorian London, where Henry Adams, the protagonist, has ended up destitute after a boating accident in the U.S. swept him out to sea. Two rich and eccentric brothers see him and give him an envelope with money inside it: a single bank note for one million pounds. Henry is the subject of a bet: one brother believes that the possession of the symbol of wealth, without any other means of support, will help him survive for the month. The other brother thinks that the prohibition against exchanging the note for cash will render it useless...this is the beginning of a fascinating and rewarding journey for Henry Adams!