Mr. and Mrs. Bixby lived in a small apartment in
New York City. Mr. Bixby was a dentist, who earned
an average amount of money. Mrs. Bixby was a
woman who was full of life. Once a month she
would get on a train and travel to Baltimore to visit her
old Aunt Maude. At least that was what she told her husband.
What she really did was see a gentleman known as the Colonel
and spend all her time in Baltimore in his company.
The Colonel was wealthy and lived in a charming house just
outside of town. He had no wife and no family, only a few loyal
servants, and in Mrs. Bixby's absence he amused himself by
riding horses and hunting. Year after year the pleasant friendship
between Mrs. Bixby and the Colonel continued without a problem,
and never once did Mrs. Bixby's dentist husband suspect the truth.
Then, after one visit just before Christmas, Mrs. Bixby was standing
at the station in Baltimore, waiting for the train to take her back
to New York. It had been a thoroughly enjoyable visit and
Mrs. Bixby was thinking how different it all was from her
dull husband at home, when suddenly one of the Colonel's
servants appeared through the crowd and presented
her with a large cardboard box.
Mrs. Bixby: "Good heavens! What´s he brought?
What a big box! Was there a message?"
had been no message, and as soon as she was on the train, Mrs. Bixby found a place
where she could open the box in private.
Mrs. Bixby: "How exciting! A Christmas present
from the Colonel...I think it's a dress. It might even be
two dresses. Or it might be a lot of beautiful underclothes.
I won't look. I'll just feel around and try to guess
what it is. I'll try to guess the color as well,
and exactly what it looks like. Also how much it cost -- Good
heavens! It can't be true."
What the Colonel had given her was the most magnificient mink coat
she had ever seen. The fur was almost pure black, with
a touch of blue in it, as well, as deep rich blue. But what
had it cost? She hardly dared to think. Then she saw
there was a letter in the box, as well -- a farewell
note from the Colonel! He had heard her say once how fond
she was of mink and asked her to accept it as a farewell
gift. For his own personal reasons he would not be able to
see her anymore.
Mrs. Bixby: "Well! Imagine that! Well, I've lost one thing,
but gained another. Wait--there's something written
on the other side: 'Just tell them a nice generous aunt of
yours gave it for Christmas'." "The man must be mad!
Aunt Maude doesn't have that sort of money--she couldn't possibly
give me this...but if Aunt Maude didn't, then who did?"
In the excitement of finding the coat
and trying it on, she had completely forgotten the most important detail.
In a couple of hours she would be in New York, and even a man like her husband
Cyril would start asking questions if his wife suddenly walked in
from a weekend wearing a fabulous new mink coat.
Mrs. Bixby thought to herself: "I think he's done
this on purpose just to annoy me. He knew perfectly
well I wouldn't be able to keep it. But I must have this coat!
I must! Very well, my dear. You shall have the coat,
my dear. But don't be afraid. Sit still and keep calm
and start thinking. You've fooled him before. The man
has never been able to understand very much apart from his business.
So sit absolutely still and think."
time later Mrs. Bixby stepped off the train in New York and walked quickly
to the exit. She was wearing her old red coat again, and was carrying the
box in her arms. She signaled for a taxi.
Mrs. Bixby: "Driver,
do you know of a pawnbroker
that is still open around here? Stop at the first one you see, will you
At the pawnbroker's Mrs. Bixby told the driver to wait for her.
Inside she made up a story about losing her purse and all her money,
and left the fur coat with the pawnbroker in exchange for fifty
dollars in cash and a pawn-ticket which she insisted have no name
or address on it, but simply the word 'ARTICLE.'" The important
thing was not to lose that ticket--anyone finding it could
go there and claim the coat. But Mrs. Bixby was not about to let
that happen. She would tell her husband that she'd
found the ticket in the back seat of the taxi and could hardly wait
to claim whatever it was on the following Monday morning.
A most ingenious plan--if it hadn't been for her husband.
Mrs. Bixby: "Wouldn't it be wonderful if it were
a real treasure?"
Mr. Bixby: "We can't know
what it is yet, my dear. We shall just have to wait and see."
Mrs. Bixby: "I think it's absolutely wonderful! Give me the
ticket and I'll go over immediately on Monday morning and
Mr. Bixby: "I think
I'd better do that. I'll pick it up on my way to work."
Mrs. Bixby: "But it's my ticket! Please let me do
it. Why should you have all that fun?"
Mr. Bixby: "I'd rather you didn't
handle it if you don't mind."
Mrs. Bixby: " But I found it. It's mine. Whatever
it is, it's mine, isn't that right?"
Mr. Bixby: "I suppose you haven't thought that it might
be something for a man, a pocket watch, for example."
Mrs. Bixby: "In that case, I'll give it to you for Christmas. But
if it's a woman's thing, I want it myself. Is that
Bixby: "That sounds fair. Why don't you come with me when I
pick it up?"
Mrs. Bixby: " Uhh-- no, I don't think I will.
You see, it'll be more exciting if I stay here and wait"
Monday morning came at last, and as Mr. Bixby was about to leave
for the pawnbroker's on his way to work, his wife made him promise
to telephone her if it turned out to be something
really nice. About an hour later, when the phone rang, Mrs.
Bixby rushed to answer it before the first ring had finished.
Mr. Bixby (on the telephone):
"I've got it!"
"You have? Oh, Cyril, what is it? Was it something good?"
Mr. Bixby: "Good?
It's wonderful You wait till you see this. You'll faint.
Bixby: "Darling, what is it? Tell me quickly."
"You're a lucky girl, that's what you are."
Mrs. Bixby: "It's
for me then?"
Mr. Bixby: "Of course it's for you, though I
can't understand how it was pawned for fifty dollars. You'll go crazy when
you see it."
Mrs. Bixby: " What is it?"
Mr. Bixby: "Try to guess."
But Mrs. Bixby couldn't guess. Instead she insisted
on going down to her husband's office herself to get it, even though
it might disorganize his day. Later when she rang his
bell, her husband in his white dentist's coat opened the
Mrs. Bixby: "Oh, I'm so excited."
Bixby: " So you should be. You're a lucky girl, did you know
that? We´re through for now. Go and have your lunch, Miss Pulteney.
You can finish that when you get back."
This last was directed to his assistant,
who was busy putting his instruments away. He waited until the girl had
gone, then walked over to the cupboard where the coats were hung.
Bixby: "It's in there. Now shut your eyes for a moment...all right
now. You can look!"
Mrs. Bixby: "I don't dare to."
Bixby: "Go on, have a look--mink! Real mink!"
At the sound of the word she opened her eyes quickly, and
at the same time started forward to grab the coat in her arms.
But there was no coat. There was only a stupid little neckpiece
in her husband's hand. Mrs. Bixby put a hand up to her mouth
and started to back away. She was sure she was going to scream.
Bixby: "What's the matter, my dear" Don't you like it?"
Bixby: Why, yes...I...I think it's very nice...beautiful..."
"It quite took your breath away for a moment, didn't it?"
Bixby: "Yes, it did."
Mr. Bixby: Very good quality. Fine
color, too. Here. Try it on...it's perfect. It really
suits you. It isn't everyone who has a mink, my dear."
"No, it isn't."
Mr. Bixby: "I'm afraid you mustn't expect anything
else for Christmas. Fifty dollars was rather more than I was going
to spend, anyway. Go and buy yourself a nice lunch, my dear."
Bixby moved towards the door. She was going to go over to that pawnbroker's
and throw that miserable neckpiece right into his face and if he refused to give
her back her coat, she would kill him.
Mr. Bixby: "Did I tell
you that I was going to be late tonight? It'll probably be at least
8:30, it may even be 9:00"
Mrs. Bixby: "Yes, all right. Good-bye."
Bixby went out closing the door loudly behind her. At that exact moment,
Miss Pulteney, her husband's assistant, came past her on her way to lunch
and greeted Mrs. Bixby, smiling brightly. She walked in a very confident
way, and she looked like a queen, exactly like a queen in the beautiful
black mink coat that the Colonel had given to Mrs. Bixby.