Is it possible for a young man with more money than he can handle to possess the type of character that others respect? My novella, A Grandfather’s Dilemma, answers that question. The following excerpt offers the dilemma.
She gave me a lovely smile and asked if they could sit down. I nodded. “Mr. Drexel,” she said, sitting in the lounge chair and crossing her legs, “I’ve read your book Developing Character. In it, you quote Aristotle. I believe it was something like, ‘Strength of character is akin to strength of muscles. It results from rigorous and sustained training by a good coach.’ I’d like to hire you to develop my son’s character.”
I snorted and shook my head. “Evidently, Mrs. Rider, you fail to understand the point of my book. Character is the aggregate of traits that form someone’s nature. My book was directed to those who have a sincere desire to improve their character. Lacking that desire, there is little hope for improvement. Evidently, your son doesn’t have the slightest inclination to improve himself; otherwise, you wouldn’t be here. I can’t help you Mrs. Rider. When he’s ready, have him read the book.”
“It’s Miss Rider, and I’m not looking for an author, but rather a coach. Do I look like a fool? I’m perfectly aware of the attributes that go into developing one’s inner nature and reputation—from morals to virtues and attitude. I am not asking for miracles, but only that the most important step to improving one’s character be taken by my son—that is, that he want to improve his own character. For that, I need the best coach I can find.”
“Miss Rider,” I said, “I am seventy-eight years old and retired. I have no intention of taking on any new responsibility, much less teaching a young man character.”
“He is not just any young man; he’s your grandson.”
Stunned at her lie, I said, “I think you had better leave. My only son was in an auto accident twenty-five years ago and cannot move, talk, or understand anything around him. He’s been in a nursing home all that time. I have no desire to play games with you.”
“I am not playing games. I’m willing to pay for a DNA test from an expert of your choosing. Let me make one thing clear: I am the sole owner of the largest distiller of spirits in North America and have more money than I can spend. I have no wish to harm you or your son. I need your help, and I’m willing to pay for it.”
I was dumbfounded and became even more so as she went on. “Your son and I made a mistake a long time ago. If my father hadn’t been so ashamed of my pregnancy and sent me away to give Tom birth, your son and I might have gotten married—who knows? By the time I returned to Maryland, your son had had his accident and I was alone. Mind you, I’m glad to have Tom here with me. When my father died, I inherited the business and considerable wealth.”
“I have no need for money,” I said.
“I can pay for all of Ben’s medical and nursing home bills for the rest of his life,” she replied.
Shaking my head, I told her that I had already set up a trust fund for that purpose.
“Can you be assured that after your death, Ben will be cared for as you would want him to be? I can give you that assurance.”
How will aging Larry Drexel convince the young Tom Rider it is necessary to improve his character? Through many trials and missteps, Drexel finds the answer.