Introduction .. This short story bristles with subtle humour. Writing with an intention to amuse the reader, the story mixes comical expressions, moralizing, and self pity to weave a story around a friend’s failure to repay a loan of just one dollar. The author who has lent the dollar is too decent to ask for refund, but finds it hard to write it off from his mind. Resigned to his loss of the one dollar loan, the author relapses to introspection. The result – a hilarious ending to the saga of the ‘Lost Dollar’.
Gist of the story .. The author’s close friend is going on a sojourn to Bermuda. Just before his departure, he wants some small change to pay off the taxi. He asks the author to lend him a dollar. The latter gives it readily. Todd departs for Bermuda.
Todd writes a letter to the author from Bermuda, but there is no dollar bill inside the envelope.
Twelve months go by. Todd has returned from Bermuda, but has not bothered to return the one dollar to the author. The lender is too decent to offend his friend by demanding his dollar back. He tries many ways to remind Todd about the dollar he owed, but due to some inexplicable reasons, the memory of the unpaid dollar refuses to enter Todd’s mind.
The author lists out the ways he attempted to remind his friend. First he went to the railway station to receive Todd when he returned from Bermuda. Todd was as cheerful as ever, but not the least embarrassed. The author’s agony mounts.
On another occasion, during an evening chat, the author broaches the subject of the American dollar by asking if it is circulation in Bermuda too. Todd replies, but the suggestion fails to kindle his memory about the ‘unpaid dollar’.
The author meets Todd almost every day in the Club, but Todd never mentions about his debt. Todd even says that he no longer remembers much about his Bermuda trip. The author is exasperated. He feels resigned to the loss of his dollar.
In desperation, he writes off the dollar. He adds Todd’s name to his list of people who have similarly defaulted in repaying their one-dollar loans. The author remains as friendly with Todd as before.
On another day, the author met Todd over dinner. Todd mentioned disapprovingly how Poland had defaulted in its debts. To the author’s distress, Todd did not appear to think of his own un-paid debt.
With his wounded feelings, the author begins a period of introspection. He feels, if forgetting loans is so human, he himself could have taken such loans and not repaid it. This realization unsettles him.
The feeling of moral guilt haunts the author. He wants his creditors to come forward and claim their refunds.
So disturbed the author is about this malaise of loan defaults that he wants to start a “Back to Honesty’ campaign. He is convinced that honesty should be the bedrock of all nations aspiring to greatness.
While concluding, the author wants his ‘forgetful’ friend Todd not to know of the torment the non-payment has caused to him. Comically, he wants the readers not to bring the copies of this story to the University Club Montreal frequented by Major Todd.