According to Their Lights (Henry)

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According to Their Lights
Summary of the Short Story
from the Collection «The Trimmed Lamp»
Microsummary: Two destitute friends in New York City struggled to find food and shelter, while remaining loyal to their principles and refusing to betray former friends for personal gain.

In the depths of a big city, two down-on-their-luck men, young Murray and the Captain, met and became friends. Both had fallen from respectable positions and were struggling to survive. The Captain, a former police officer, had been dismissed from the force and lost all his possessions. Murray, once a wealthy man, had been disowned by his family and left penniless.

Captain — former police captain; large, red-faced, and unkempt; loyal, stubborn, and principled.
Murray — young, fallen from wealth; ragged, ghost-like appearance; cynical, disillusioned.

One evening, the two men sat on a park bench, hungry and desperate for a meal. Murray expressed his desperation and willingness to betray someone for a small amount of money or alcohol.

I think, that I would play Judas for the price of one drink of whiskey. For thirty pieces of silver I would

The Captain left to try and find food, but returned covered in filth and empty-handed. Meanwhile, Murray had gone to the police station to inquire about a possible reward for turning in the Captain, but was rebuffed by the desk sergeant.

Later, a well-dressed man named Charlie Finnegan approached the Captain with a proposition. He offered the Captain $500 to testify against his former superior, Inspector Pickering, who was on trial for corruption. Despite his desperate situation, the Captain refused to betray his friend.

A man that gives his friend away is worse than a pirate.

Murray, on the other hand, was approached by a man in an opera hat who informed him that his wealthy uncle had decided to reinstate him into the family and provide him with money. However, this came with the condition that Murray marry a certain heiress. Murray declined the offer, unwilling to marry the woman due to her unattractive appearance.

The two men then joined a long line of people waiting for free bread, as the city clocks struck midnight. Despite their differing backgrounds and values, both Murray and the Captain had chosen loyalty and personal integrity over financial gain.