The Harbinger (Henry)

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The Harbinger
Summary of the Short Story
from the Collection «The Voice of the City»
Microsummary: A lazy man tried various tactics to get a dollar from his hardworking wife, eventually resorting to fake affection, which surprisingly worked, but not in the way he expected.

In a city park, three friends, Mr. Peters, Mr. Ragsdale, and Mr. Kidd, sat together discussing how to get their hands on a dollar bill that Mr. Peters' wife had earned. They considered various methods, including violence, but ultimately decided that Mr. Peters should try to persuade his wife to give him the money.

Mr. Peters — lazy, manipulative, and cunning; husband of Mrs. Peters.
Mrs. Peters — hardworking, strong-willed, and caring; wife of Mr. Peters.

Gent'men, remember that you are speaking of my wife. A man who would lift his hand to a lady except in the way of—

Mr. Peters went to his home, a small and dreary tenement, where he found his wife sitting in a chair, looking out the window. He tried various tactics to get her to give him the dollar, including lying about a job offer and pretending to be desperate. However, his wife saw through his lies and refused to give him the money.

In a last-ditch effort, Mr. Peters decided to try a more affectionate approach, calling his wife by endearing nicknames and putting his arm around her.

Clara, darling, why should we have hard words? Ain't you my own tootsum wootsum?

Surprisingly, this tactic worked, and his wife became emotional and affectionate in return. She left the room briefly, and Mr. Peters assumed she was going to get the dollar for him.

Instead, Mrs. Peters returned with a bottle of sarsaparilla, which she believed would help her husband feel better. She sat on his lap and asked him to call her by the affectionate nicknames again. Mr. Peters, realizing he would not get the dollar, regretted not using a more forceful approach.

Meanwhile, Mr. Ragsdale and Mr. Kidd waited in the park, thirsty and impatient for Mr. Peters to return with the dollar.