An Adjustment of Nature (Henry)

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An Adjustment of Nature
Summary of the Short Story
from the Collection «The Four Million»
Microsummary: Three friends tried to save a beloved waitress from a wealthy miner's advances by getting him drunk and sending him away. Years later, one friend married the waitress, preserving nature's balance.

Three friends, the narrator, Kraft, and Bill Judkins, often dined at a restaurant called Cypher's. They were particularly fond of a waitress named Milly, who they believed embodied the Unerring Artistic Adjustment of Nature.

Narrator — one of the three friends; tells the story; interacts with Kraft, Bill Judkins, and Milly; involved in the plot to save Milly from the Klondiker.
Kraft — artist with a theory; one of the friends; creates a painting called "Boadicea"; marries Milly and buys a cottage in the Bronx; involved in the plot to save Milly.
Milly — waitress at Cypher's; admired by the friends for her beauty and presence; becomes the target of the Klondiker's affection; eventually marries Kraft.

They feared that one day a wealthy man would come and take her away, disrupting this natural balance.

"There is a certain fate hanging over Milly," said Kraft, "and if it overtakes her she is lost to Cypher's and to us."

One day, a miner from Alaska, known as the Klondiker, entered Cypher's, boasting about his wealth and immediately falling for Milly.

And then Milly loomed up with a thousand dishes on her bare arm—loomed up big and white and pink and awful as Mount Saint Elias—with a smile like day breaking in a gulch.

The friends were determined to prevent him from proposing to her, as they believed she belonged in Cypher's and not in the arms of a wealthy man. They decided to get the Klondiker drunk and send him to a distant hotel, hoping he would forget about Milly and never find Cypher's again.

The friends succeeded in their plan, getting the Klondiker so intoxicated that he was unable to remember his intentions towards Milly. They then had him carted off to a distant hotel, where he was put to bed surrounded by his gold nuggets and seal pelts.

Three years later, the narrator discovered that Kraft had become a successful artist, having sold a painting titled "Boadicea" for $5,000. He also learned that Kraft had married Milly, and they had bought a cottage in the Bronx. The friends' efforts to protect Milly from the Klondiker had ultimately led to her finding happiness with one of their own, preserving the Unerring Artistic Adjustment of Nature.