Learn English Language skills through our AI based learning portal with the support of our Academic Experts!

Learn more


The lesson "A Dilemma" is an interesting story written by Silas Weir Mitchell. Tom, the protagonist, narrates how he was in a dilemma to open a box given by his dead uncle. His uncle loved to gather rare stones, which he considered extremely valuable. Uncle Philip called Tom on his deathbed and announced Tom to be his sole heir. After leaving an iron box for Tom, his uncle ordered him to read a letter placed on top of it carefully. Uncle Philip died after about a week. He mentioned in the letter that the box contained many pigeon-blood rubies, diamonds, and pearls. The letter stated that if Tom did not open the box correctly, he would be blown up by the dynamite. Tom was perplexed and unsure whether to believe, so he spent all of his savings on the funeral, making him further impoverished. He then considered blowing the box from a safe distance, but this would not be profitable for him, so he rejected it. He kept the key hidden, but the prospect of it getting lost or stolen worried him. Worst of all, his salary was reduced, and marriage was out of the question. He consulted Professor Clinch about his problems and said that if he helped him, he would offer him the largest ruby. Professor clinch denied him. Then Tom met his uncle's doctor, Dr Schaff. The doctor pleaded with Tom to stop thinking about it, and he took his advice. Susan, his fiancé, even called off their engagement since Tom appeared insane to her. He had no choice but to advertise in the science magazine. Tom afterwards changed his name and occupation and relocated to the suburbs to avoid the reporters' attention. When the government learnt of the inheritance, they wanted to collect the succession tax on his uncle's assets. As a result, he wrote a will to hand over the iron box to the Preservation of Human Vivisection.