An Adjustment of Nature (Henry)

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An Adjustment of Nature
Summary of a short story
Microsummary: Three friends admired a waitress at a restaurant and feared she would be taken away by a wealthy man. They took action to prevent this by getting the wealthy man drunk and sending him away.

Three friends, Kraft, Bill Judkins and the narrator, used to eat at Cypher's, a restaurant on Eighth Avenue.

Kraft — young artist in his 20s; Bill Judkins' and the narrator's friend; unquenchable belief in the Unerring Artistic Adjustment of Nature; favourite food is corned-beef hash with poached egg; tall, thin, wild hair; satanic eyes; devilish smile; creative, passionate, persuasive.

They had no credit, so they paid for their meals when they had money. The restaurant was run by Cypher, who was either a prince, a fool or an artist. The main attraction of the restaurant was Milly, a waitress who was an example of Kraft's theory of the Unerring Artistic Adjustment of Nature.

Milly — waitress at Cypher's restaurant; grand example of Kraft's theory of the artistic adjustment of nature; big, white, pink; sleeves always rolled above her elbows; motherly, strong, cheerful.

One day, Kraft voiced his fear that Milly would be taken away from them by a millionaire lumberman from Wisconsin. The other two agreed that this was a real possibility. That same evening, a Klondiker from Alaska arrived at the restaurant and was immediately taken with Milly.

Klondiker — millionaire Alaskan miner; rugged and bearded; wind-dried; just come off the trail; throws down pelts and nuggets as dross when he sees Milly; good-humoured, generous, enthusiastic.

Kraft, Judkins and the narrator decided to intervene and save Milly from the Klondiker. They took the Klondiker to a café and got him drunk, using up all their money in the process. Then they took him to a hotel and put him to bed with his nuggets and baby seal-skins. The Klondiker was too drunk to find his way back to Cypher's, so Milly was saved.

Three years later, the narrator saw a painting by Kraft that had been sold for $5,000. He went to see Kraft and found out that the money had been used to buy a cottage in the Bronx. When the narrator asked Kraft if the intervention with the Klondiker had been motivated by the Unerring Artistic Adjustment of Nature, Kraft replied with a grin that it had not been the only motivation.