By Chevsapher (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
Daren, his sister, Stella, and their cousins, Elsa, Lizbeth, Nathan, and Jonathan were in the office of Trevor Byrd, attorney at law. Their grandfather, Mr. Pierce Eason, passed away at the age of eighty-eight. He excluded his three surviving children from the will and instead named his six grandchildren as heirs. Jonathan was the designated executor.
“Why Jonathan?” Daren asked, betraying his resentment.
“According to Mr. Eason," the lawyer replied, "Jonathan’s the only one who’s not… sorry, but I have to use his exact words, ‘… a ne'er-do-well, rich kid.’ Your grandfather started as a ranch hand at a young age. He believed that Jonathan, who actually works for a living, is better qualified to make sound judgments.”
A dejected murmur of dissent crescendoed into a collective outcry of indignation. Only Jonathan, standing by the window and looking out, remained silent.
“Spare us the crap,” Daren retorted. “Just read the will.”
The multimillion-dollar estate of the late magnate was to be divided among Doctors-Without-Borders, several environmental groups and a charity for the homeless. He left the Wyoming ranch for the heirs to dispose of as they see fit. None of them had prior knowledge of the ranch’s existence.
Jonathan insisted that he must see the property first thus vetoing the otherwise unanimous decision to sell it. His cousins didn’t trust him to go there alone. They all agreed reluctantly to travel to Powell, Wyoming the following Wednesday and meet in the Lamplighter Inn in the evening. That would give them two full days to arrange for the sale of the ranch with a local realtor, recommended by Mr. Byrd. They could fly back from Yellow Stone over the weekend and resume their separate lives.
“Damn you, Jonathan!” Elsa said to his face. That was the last he heard from any of them until they were reunited in Powell.
Daren and Jonathan rode with the realtor. The others followed in one of the rentals. Twenty miles to the northeast, they reached the ranch on the Montana border. The main house had long been deserted and the place was in shambles. The realtor’s estimate was a disappointment to everyone except Jonathan. For Lizbeth and Nathan, it wasn’t even worth the trip they took to this shit hole.
Jonathan sold everything he owned back in Jersey and bought the ranch from his cousins who were only happy to get it off their shoulders. He also bought two hundred sheep and hired a few hands, working himself to the edge of exhaustion, barely treading water. At the end of an exceptionally torrid summer, he was ready to throw in the towel, but force of habit kept him toiling until sunset every day. He was replacing a rotted beam in the barn’s roof when he found the letter. There was an abandoned mineshaft, his grandfather wrote, at the southern edge of the property. At the break of dawn, Jonathan climbed down with a lantern and a shovel and dug out the 270 lbs. pot of gold.