The following has been taken directly from the book I, SAMUEL W. WESTING, resident of Westing County in the fair state of Wisconsin in the great and glorious United States of America, being of sound mind and memory, do hereby declare this to be my last will and testament.
FIRST ♦I returned to live among my friends and my enemies. I came home to seek my heir, aware that in doing so I faced death. And so I did. Today I have gathered together my nearest and dearest, my sixteen nieces and nephews (Sit down, Grace Windsor Wexler!) to view the body of your Uncle Sam for the last time. Tomorrow its ashes will be scattered to the four winds.
SECOND ♦ I, Samuel W. Westing, hereby swear that I did not die of natural causes. My life was taken from me—by one of you! The police are helpless. The culprit is far too cunning to be apprehended for this dastardly deed. I, alone, know the name. Now it is up to you. Cast out the sinner, let the guilty rise and confess.
THIRD ♦ Who among you is worthy to be the Westing heir? Help me. My soul shall roam restlessly until that one is found. The estate is at the crossroads. The heir who wins the windfall will be the one who finds the…(here there is an interruption)
FOURTH ♦ Hail to thee, O land of opportunity! You have made me, the son of poor immigrants, rich, powerful, and respected. So take stock in America, my heirs, and sing in praise of this generous land. You, too, may strike it rich who dares to play the Westing game.
FIFTH ♦ Sit down, your honor, and read the letter this brilliant young attorney will now hand over to you.
SIXTH ♦ Before you proceed to the game room there will be one minute of silent prayer for your good old Uncle Sam.
SEVENTH ♦ And now, dear friends, relatives, and enemies, the Westing game begins. The rules are simple:
- Number of players: 16, divided into 8 pairs.
- Each pair will receive $10,000.
- Each pair will receive one set of clues.
- Forfeits: If any player drops out, the partner must leave the game. The pair must return the money. Absent pairs forfeit the $10,000; their clues will be held until the next session.
- Players will be given two days’ notice of the next session. Each pair may then give one answer.
- Object of the game: to win.
EIGHTH ♦ The heirs will now be paired. When called, go to the assigned table. Your name and position will be read as signed on the receipt. It will be up to the other players to discover who you really are.
1 ♦ MADAME SUN LIN HOO, cook
JAKE WEXLER, standing or sitting, when not lying down
2 ♦ TURTLE WEXLER, witch
FLORA BAUMBACH, dressmaker
3 ♦ CHRISTOS THEODORAKIS, birdwatcher
D. DENTON DEERE, intern, St. Joseph’s Hospital, Department of Plastic Surgery
4 ♦ ALEXANDER MCSOUTHERS, doorman
J. J. FORD, judge, Appellate Division of the State Supreme Court
5 ♦ GRACE WINDSOR WEXLER, heiress
JAMES SHIN HOO, restaurateur
6 ♦ BERTHE ERICA CROW, Good Salvation Soup Kitchen
OTIS AMBER, deliverer
7 ♦ THEO THEODORAKIS, brother
DOUG HOO, first in all-state high school mile run
8 ♦ SYDELLE PULASKI, secretary to the president
ANGELA WEXLER, none
NINTH ♦ Money! Each pair in attendance will now receive a check for the sum of $10,000. The check cannot be cashed without the signatures of both partners. Spend it wisely or go for broke. May God thy gold refine.
TENTH ♦ Each pair in attendance will now receive an envelope containing a set of clues. No two sets of clues are alike. It is not what you have, it’s what you don’t have that counts.
ELEVENTH ♦ Senseless, you say? Death is senseless yet makes way for the living. Life, too, is senseless unless you know who you are, what you want, and which way the wind blows. So on with the game. The solution is simple if you know whom you are looking for. But heirs, beware! Be aware! Some are not who they say they are, and some are not who they seem to be. Whoever you are, it’s time to go home. God bless you all and remember this: Buy Westing Paper Products!
TWELFTH ♦ Welcome again to the Westing house. By now you have received a second check for ten thousand dollars. Before the day is done you may have won more, much more. Table by table, each pair will be called to give one, and only one, answer. The lawyer will record your response in case of a dispute. He does not know the answer. It is up to you Edit
1 ♦ MADAME SUN LIN HOO, cook
JAKE WEXLER, bookie
2 ♦ FLORA BAUMBACH, you are on your own. Alone. The lawyer will leave and return with the authorities at the appointed time. And time is running out. Hurry, find the name before the one who took my life takes another. Remember: It is not what you have, it’s what you don’t have that counts.
SIXTEENTH ♦ I, Samuel W. Westing of Westingtown, born Sam “Windy” Windkloppel of Watertown (I had to change my name for business purposes. After all, who would buy a product called Windkloppel’s Toilet Tissues? Would you?) do hereby declare that if no one wins, this will is null and void. So hurry, hurry, hurry, step right up and collect your prize. The lawyer will count off five minutes. Good luck and a happy Fourth of July.
SEVENTEENTH ♦ Good-bye, my heirs. Thanks for the fun and games. I can rest in peace knowing I was loved as your jolly doorman.
EIGHTEENTH ♦ I, Samuel W. Westing, otherwise known as Sandy McSouthers and others, do hereby give and bequeath all the property and possessions in my name as follows:
To all of you, in equal shares, the deed to Sunset Towers; And to my former wife, Berthe Erica Crow, the ten-thousand dollar check forfeited by table one, and two ten-thousand dollar checks endorsed by J. J. Ford and Alexander McSouthers.
NINETEENTH ♦ The sun has set on your Uncle Sam. Happy birthday, Crow. And to all of my heirs, a very happy Fourth of July!