The Tale of a Tainted Tenner (Henry)

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The Tale of a Tainted Tenner
Summary of the Short Story
from the Collection «The Trimmed Lamp»
Microsummary: A ten-dollar bill narrates its journey through various hands, discussing the concept of tainted money and the different people it encounters, ultimately questioning the true meaning of tainted money.

A ten-dollar Treasury note from the 1901 series found itself in various hands throughout its six-year circulation in New York. It had been owned by many different people, from shopkeepers to bartenders, and had seen the inside of every business. The note had a lively and exciting circulation, often changing hands twenty times a day.

One day, the ten-dollar note found itself in the possession of a man named Old Jack, the proprietor of a gambling house.

The Ten-Dollar Bill — narrator; a ten-dollar Treasury note, series of 1901, with a bison picture; curious, observant.
Old Jack — gambling house proprietor; generous, easy-going, hurt by the church's refusal of his donation.

Old Jack had recently offered $50,000 to a church, but the church refused to accept it, claiming that his money was tainted. This hurt Old Jack's feelings, and he decided to go on a spending spree in the city's Tenderloin district.

During his night out, Old Jack paid for drinks and food for his friends and acquaintances, as well as for strangers who happened to be nearby. At one point, he entered an uptown café and asked the proprietor if his tainted money would be accepted there.

Here's money that the good people have refused. Will it buy of your wares in the name of the devil?

The proprietor replied that he would gladly accept it and place it in the cash register next to the bills that were paid to the parson's daughter for kisses at the church fair.

At 1 o'clock in the morning, a woman entered the café and approached Old Jack's table. She was dressed in ragged clothes and had a desperate look in her eyes. Old Jack handed her the ten-dollar note, explaining that it was tainted but that he hoped she would accept it. The woman gratefully took the money, revealing that she had once been a clerk in the Treasury Department and had counted thousands of such bills when they were fresh from the presses.

If you only knew — but I won't say any more. Thank you with all my heart, sir — thank you — thank you.

The woman rushed to a bakery and used the ten-dollar note to buy bread and cake for her starving child. She then prayed, thanking God for the unexpected gift and acknowledging that "who giveth to the poor, lendeth to the Lord." The ten-dollar note, now realizing that there was no such thing as tainted money, continued its journey through the city, forever changed by the experience.

This talk about tainted money makes me tired.