A Technical Error (Henry)

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A Technical Error
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A man pursued another who had killed his brother and eloped with his girlfriend, but a code prevented him from taking revenge while the woman was present, leading to a surprising twist.

A man named Sam Durkee lived on a ranch and was engaged to a woman named Ella Baynes. They were devoted to each other and seemed to have a perfect relationship.

Sam Durkee — narrator; ranch owner seeking revenge for his brother's murder; determined, loyal.
Ella Baynes — Sam's girlfriend who eloped with Ben; pretty with a heavy mass of brown hair.

However, there was a long-standing feud between Sam's family and the Tatum family. One day, a man named Ben Tatum, son of the man Sam's uncle had killed, arrived in town and began asking questions about the residents.

Ben Tatum — murderer of Sam's brother and eloped with Sam's girlfriend; cunning, resourceful.

He eventually killed Sam's brother Lester and ran away with Ella. Sam's friend Jim informed him that Ben killed his brother and ran away with Ella, setting the stage for Sam's pursuit and the unfolding of the story.

And you say— Yes, Sam. Everybody seen ’em drive away together in a buckboard, with a big bundle, like clothes, tied up in the back of it.

Sam and his friend set out to find Ben and Ella, following them across the countryside. They eventually caught up with them in a hotel, but Sam was unable to exact his revenge due to a code that prevented him from shooting a man in the company of a woman. Ben knew this and used it to his advantage, always staying close to Ella.

You don’t understand; but he does. He knows. Mr. Tenderfoot, there’s a rule out here among white men in the Nation that you can’t shoot a man when he’s with a woman.

The chase continued, and they found Ben and Ella again in another hotel. This time, Sam noticed that Ben was dressed in a brown dress with lace collar and cuffs, and a veil drawn down to his nose, disguising himself as a woman. Sam realized that the code did not prevent him from killing a woman in the company of a man, so he shot Ben multiple times, killing him.

There’s a code that won’t let you shoot a man in the company of a woman; but, by thunder, there ain’t one to keep you from killing a woman in the company of a man!

It was then revealed that Ella had been disguised as a man, with her hair cut short and wearing a dark suit. She laid her head on her arms on the table, mourning the loss of Ben, the man she had chosen to be with. Sam had managed to technically follow the code while still exacting his revenge on his family's enemy.