The Friendly Call (Henry)

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The Friendly Call
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A man helped his best friend by marrying the woman his friend was trying to avoid, only to endure a tumultuous marriage and eventually help his friend again when she left him.

Simms Bell, a hardware salesman, often visited a small town called Saltillo in Colorado, where he was friends with a store owner named Simon Bell. Simon was a tall, patient man who was always courteous to his customers.

Simms Bell — narrator; hardware salesman; patient, courteous, loyal friend.

One day, Simms informed Simon about a great business opportunity in Mountain City, where a struggling mercantile firm could be bought for a fraction of its value. Simon considered the offer but ultimately decided to stay in Saltillo.

Simon had a unique friendship with a man named George Ringo, who lived in Sacramento. Despite their differences and occasional conflicts, the two men had a strong bond and always helped each other when needed.

George Ringo — Simms' best friend; vain, boastful, and impatient; light reddish hair dyed black.

Simon even married a woman named Mrs. De Clinton to help George, who was being pursued by her. However, their marriage was not a happy one, and Mrs. Bell eventually decided to run away with George.

Mrs. Bell — Simms' wife; formerly Mrs. De Clinton; attractive, emotional, and discontented.

I married Mrs. De Clinton. One evening while we were up at the lake. When I told George about it, he opened his mouth and I thought he was going to break our traditions and say something grateful, but he swallowed it back.

Simms was puzzled by Simon's decision to stay in Saltillo, even after his wife had left him. Simon explained that he knew George and Mrs. Bell would not last long together, and he expected her to return to him within six months. He felt it was his duty to stay in Saltillo and wait for her, as there was no other place for her to go.

She's running away with George. He's kept me posted about the progress of the scheme all along. She'll get a divorce in six months and then George will marry her.

Simon believed that at the end of six months, he would have to grab a satchel and catch the first train, as George would be sending out "The Call" for help once again.