Summary of E. V. Lucas’ Third Thoughts

The essay, Third Thoughts, by E. V. Lucas is a gentle satire on our civilization wherein money making has become the main motto of modern man. The narrator is the author’s friend and the essay is written in first person narrative.

The title ‘Third Thoughts’, is a humorous and ironical coinage is based on the idiom ‘second thought’ which means a rethinking of an opinion. The essayist is of the opinion that there is no end to think and rethink when one’s mind is taken over by selfishness.


The author was told this story by one of his friends. The friend said that it is only one’s destiny that can be bought and sold in the dearest markets to the cheapest rate. The friend was dealing in the decorative items. Usually he had to sell them at such a lower price that it seemed to him that by accepting that item at such a lower rate, the buyer was doing him a special favour. But the other day changed into a very fortunate day for him bringing him an unexpected earning.

Drifting about the old curiosity shops of a cathedral city he came upon a portfolio of water-colour drawings. Among these the drawing by Turner attracted him very much. He asked the dealer its price and the dealer said that cost ten shillings only. He paid ten shillings to the dealer and bought it from him and then the next moment he sold it at the cost of fifty pounds and thus earned a huge profit, exactly, forty nine pounds ten and was duly elated.

Thereupon, his thoughts ran thus; that the dealer must also participate in the profit. He had behaved him very well and he ought to behave well to him. Hence, it would be fair to send him half of the earning. After having decided thus, he sat down and wrote a little note saying that the potential Turner drawing turned out to be authentic and he had great pleasure in enclosing half of the proceeds. As he had no stamps and was late by an hour, he could not post the letter and went to bed. He woke up at about 3.30 a.m. and began to review his life’s errors. This process of evaluation and review led him to examine and cross examine the con-tents of the letter. His thoughts ran why he should give half of the proceeds to the dealer as it was useless to be quioxotic in this modern world. It was only his eyes that detected the prob-ability of this business in which he had remained a complete failure and thus why he should put a premium for ineptitude. And a present of ten pounds would be more than enough. Then he took a story book and read one as sleep was refusing to oblige him. His thoughts ran thus why he should send ten pounds even. It will only give the dealer a wrong idea of his customers;none other would be so fair and sporting to him. He will expect everyday such letter and this will make him disappointed. Thus, he will get embittered and become miserable. It was a crime to injure his existing nature. Five pounds would be plenty.

When he was dressing the next morning, he thought about the dealer again. His thoughts ran thus, why he should bring a financial coup in his life by giving such large part of money away and he should control his feelings. At last he decided in favour of sending a pound with a brief note. The note contained that he had sold the drawing at a profit – which, enabled him tomake a present because it is his old belief that good luck must be shared. He had the envelope containing the cheque and the brief note in his pocket when he reached the club for lunch. He played bridge so disastrously that he was glad that he had not posted it. Because in the last, he had decided not to send anything to the dealer thinking that buying and selling were a perfectly straight forward matter between dealer and customer. The dealer asks as much as he thinks he can exhort and the customer having paid the price is under no obligation of the dealer. Thus the incident was closed.

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