Tom's Uncle Philip was an inventor and was extremely rich. He was a strange old man, he lived alone, had no wife or friends, and spent all his money in buying precious stones.
One day, about a week before Uncle Philip died, he sent for his nephew. Here it must be explained that this was the first time the two had met. Many years earlier Philip had a big quarrel with his sister, who was Tom's mother, and since then he had never spoken to her again, or to Tom. He hated them both very much.
When Tom came to see him, Uncle Philip was lying ill in bed. "I am leaving all my precious stones to you. You will find them in an iron box in the bank. But before you unlock the box, read the letter which lies on top of it. Also, be careful not to shake the box."
Tom thought that this was very strange, but as his uncle was known to be a strange man, he believed that everything would be all right.
After Uncle Philip's death Tom went to the bank for the box. Before he started to open it, he read the letter. Here is what it said:
This box contains a large number of precious stones. I am leaving them to you because I want you always to remember your dear uncle. The box also contains a powerful charge of dynamite which will explode as soon as you unlock it. If you do not believe me, open it and you will be blown into atoms. Do not forget your uncle."
He thought for a whole week until he got the idea of opening the box from a distance with the aid of wires. He would not be injured if die dynamite exploded. But men he realized that if the dynamite exploded it would blow the stones into bits.
From that time on Tom could think of nothing but the box and the fortune that awaited him if he could open it safely. He asked everyone he knew for advice. Some people suggested ways of opening the box, but they did not believe in their ideas enough to try them out.
One day a government official came to collect the tax on Tom's inheritance. Tom was delighted. He showed the tax collector Uncle Philip's letter and offered him the key to the box. The man said he would think it over and come back later. Of course, he never came back. Would you? So there is Tom's dilemma. A rich man, he is at the same time poor. He has an iron box that contains great wealth, but also contains dynamite that will explode when the key is used to unlock it.
What would you advise?
1. What do you know about Tom's Uncle Philip?
2. Did Uncle Philip have a family?
3. How did he spend his money?
4. When did Uncle Philip send for his nephew?
5. Did Uncle Philip meet his nephew before?
6. Why did he hate Tom and his mother?
7. What was Uncle Philip doing when Tom came to see him?
8. What did Uncle Philip leave to Tom?
9. Why did Tom hope that everything would be all right?
10. What did the letter on the box say?
11. How did he plan to open the box?
12. Could Tom continue to live quietly after he had got the fortune?
13. Who came one day?
14. Did the tax collector try to open the box?
15. Was Tom a rich man?
16. What is his dilemma?
17. What would you advise?