Mr Barnes, the stiff collared solicitor held the sheet of paper up to the light and read out loud the words it contained.
Mr Spindle listened as best he could in the grips of death, smiling to himself as he thought of the family all coming together to hear the new will read after he was six-foot under.
He wouldn't have bothered to change it if it weren't for that upstart family of his who had a sudden hampering for his attention; his cousin was the first to get in touch.
"I want to see you, cousin, that's all," he'd said in that telephone conversation a month ago which sealed his visit a few days later.
"I've heard about the Rembrandt. I'd like to see it," he'd asked once he arrived.
How did he know? Mr Spindle thought to himself thinking of his recent diagnosis.
He'd nudged him in the ribs and joked, "aren't you being a bit obvious?" He chuckled.
"What can you mean?" His cousin asked, looking genuinely complacent.
He snorted. "Never mind. Come this way." He beckoned him into his office and he'd made the plan to change his will then and there; he would beat him at his own game.
The solicitor coughed, bringing his thoughts back to the present and he continued with the reading of the will.
"Your cousin, Mr William Spindle gets the floral vase?" He asked raising his eyebrows.
Mr Spindle chuckled. "It's not worth a bean."
"There's no mention of the Rembrandt."
"That's because I donated it to a museum."
"Why did you do that?" The solicitor asked sharply.
"I'm not letting that gold digger have it. I won't see any of the money, so why should he. Never to have visited until he found out I was dying. I'm not going to make his life comfortable."
"Fair enough. How did he find out?"
"That's what I asked him. He shrugged and pretended he didn't have a clue, but why else would he turn up here and demand to see the painting?"
The solicitor rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "I see. Your daughter Beverley gets your book collection."
Mr Spindle's mind wandered back to a week ago when he had an unexpected visit from his daughter. She hinted about the house being vacated and whether it was a suitable home for her.
He eyed her up and down suspiciously before replying, "you were never much of a reader."
"What is that supposed to mean? What has it got to do with your house?"
He glanced at the old bookcase in the corner full of musty, damp ridden books with a sly smile. "That's for me to know and for you to find out."
"You're an odd ball, even though you are my father."
"Who is going to get the house, then?" Asked the solicitor back in the present.
"I've arranged its use as a nursing home. They will get more use out of it."
"If you're sure."
"I am sure."
"Then there's the money."
"What money?" He asked slyly.
"In the bank. You weren't short."
"Oh, that money. It's going to a charity."
"Let me see, they'll get better use out of it, I imagine you were going to say."
"You're getting in the swing of things now."
"I'm beginning to see the drift. So, let me guess, you've auctioned the car and your son's getting the mantle piece clock?"
"Yes, that should do it." He rubbed his hands together.
His son, John had been the last to call a few days ago. He took the car out for a spin and said he would take care of it for him; it had been Mr Spindle's pride and joy.
"What will you do with the money from the auction?"
"It will be given to Mrs Pine, the widow next door."
The solicitor quietly wrote this down.
"Then there's the other matter," he muttered.
"You mean the biscuit tin?"
"It's not just any biscuit tin, though, is it?"
"I've got something in mind. There's a separate paper I have left with the will. Wait until you gather the family together before you open it."
Mr Barnes paused as he wrote this down.
"How are your family going to take it?" He asked when he'd finished.
There was no reply. The solicitor went to his bedside. Mr Spindle's face was still and peaceful and there was a big smile still on his thin lips.
Mr Barnes had the family gather in Mr Spindle's drawing-room after the funeral.
The nephew stood confidently by the fireplace, the Rembrandt before his eyes.
The daughter sniffed unconvincingly into a handkerchief, secretly looking around her future house.
The son eyed the car parked on the drive through the window and rubbed his hands.
Each of them secretly thought of the money shared equally between the three of them.
Mr Barnes watched each of their faces turn pale and crumple as he read the will out; Mr Spindle would have enjoyed this, he observed to himself.
He waited with a creased brow as an argument erupted among them with John Spindle lashing out at Beverley, "I can't believe you had hopes of getting the house. How did you sweet talk him into that?"
"I didn't in the end, did I? Neither did any of us."
"And William, you upstart, expecting to get the painting that's worth the house and the car put together."
"Clearly, I can tell what it is worth more than you," he answered smugly.
Mr Barnes cleared his throat. "May I have silence, please. There is one last thing to mention."
They all fell deadly silent with bated breath as he opened the envelope with the mysterious note inside. Eager eyes followed his fingers as they broke the seal.
Mr Barnes read the notes contents to himself, his eyes widening as he did so.
"What does it say?" The family hissed.
He read Spindle's words out loud, "There is a biscuit tin full of coins buried at the bottom of my garden. The family may share the contents. I have enclosed a map of where I've left it."
They all dived at the solicitor, snatching at the map; William got it first and the others followed him outside.
They reached the greenhouse and William took up a spade lying against the fence. He began digging in the soil to the right of the greenhouse. When his spade hit against something metal, John and Beverley greedily rubbed their hands; the money was going to make up for what they had lost.
William dragged the tin on the wet lawn and forced open the rusted lock. He lifted the lid with eager anticipation and then gasped when he saw what was inside.
The others stared down at his crouched back.
"Well, don't keep us in suspense," John cried.
William pulled out a handful of dirty, rusted coins and threw them angrily on the grass. "See for yourself." He jumped up and stormed back towards the house.
John crouched down to check them."I can't believe it. It's just some old foreign currency from his travelling days. Totally worthless."
"How could he do this to us. We were good to him. We deserved better," Beverley moaned.
"Not really. Not one of us visited him until the end."
"He can't punish us for that."
"He just has and the old boy had the last laugh in the end to rub it in."
He put an arm around his sister's shoulder and they walked quietly back to the house together.
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You beautifully tied the events of the story together. This was very well written, and very enjoyable to read. Keep up the good writing ;)
Thanks for the comments. I'm glad you enjoyed it.