The Furnished Room (Henry)

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The Furnished Room
Summary of the Short Story
from the Collection «The Four Million»
Microsummary: A desperate man searched for a missing girl and rented a room where he sensed her presence. Unaware she had died there a week earlier, he committed suicide in the same room.

A young man was desperately searching for a missing girl named Eloise Vashner in the lower West Side of the city, an area known for its transient population. He went from house to house, inquiring about her, but always received negative responses. Eventually, he rented a furnished room in a house where many transient people had stayed, hoping to find some trace of Eloise.

The Young Man — protagonist; searching for Eloise Vashner; determined, desperate, and ultimately tragic.

Upon entering the room, the young man sensed her presence through the scent of mignonette, her favorite perfume.

The room was filled with the strong, sweet odour of mignonette. It came as upon a single buffet of wind with such sureness and fragrance and emphasis that it almost seemed a living visitant.

He searched the room thoroughly, but could not find any physical evidence of her. He asked the housekeeper about the previous tenants, but she did not remember Eloise.

The Housekeeper — owner of the house; rents the room to the young man; holds crucial information about previous tenants; secretive, business-minded.

The scent of mignonette disappeared, and the man, losing hope, decided to seal the room and turn on the gas to commit suicide.

He turned out the light, turned the gas full on again and laid himself gratefully upon the bed.

Meanwhile, the housekeeper was having a conversation with a friend, Mrs. McCool. They discussed the recent tenants of the room, and the housekeeper revealed that a girl with a mole near her left eyebrow, matching Eloise's description, had committed suicide in the same room a week earlier. However, she had not shared this information with the young man, as she believed it would deter potential tenants.

The tragic irony of the story is that the young man was so close to finding the girl he was searching for, but the information was withheld from him. His desperation and the housekeeper's secrecy ultimately led to his own tragic end, as he took his own life in the same room where Eloise had died just a week before.

The story highlights the transient nature of the people living in the area and the secrets that can be hidden within the walls of a furnished room.