A Bird of Bagdad (Henry)

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A Bird of Bagdad
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A man who fancied himself a modern-day Caliph helped a young man solve a riddle to win the heart of his employer's daughter, ultimately leading to a happy ending for the couple.

A man named August Michael von Paulsen Quigg, who was a descendant of a Margrave of Saxony and a Tammany brave, owned a modest restaurant in Fourth Avenue.

Margrave August Michael von Paulsen Quigg — restaurateur; romantic, adventurous, and kind-hearted; inspired by the Caliph Harun Al Rashid.

Quigg was a man full of thought and reading, and he spent his nights seeking adventure and helping those in distress, much like the Caliph Harun Al Rashid.

I seek for romance and adventure in city streets—not in ruined castles or in crumbling palaces.

One night, Quigg encountered a young man who was throwing silver coins into the street for people to scramble after. Quigg took the young man to a park and asked him to share his story. The young man, named Simmons, worked at Hildebrant's saddle and harness shop with another man named Bill Watson.

Simmons — young man; works at a harness shop; in love with Laura; melancholic, desperate.
Bill Watson — works at the harness shop; rival of Simmons for Laura's affection.

Hildebrant, a joke-loving Dutchman, had given Simmons and Bill a riddle to solve: "What kind of a hen lays the longest?" The one who answered correctly would be invited to Hildebrant's daughter Laura's birthday party, and potentially win her hand in marriage.

Hildebrant — harness shop owner; father of Laura; fond of riddles and jokes.

Simmons was desperate to find the answer to the riddle, as he was in love with Laura. Quigg, despite his knowledge and experience, was unable to help Simmons with the riddle. However, he gave Simmons a card that read, "Good for one roast chicken to bearer."

The next day, Simmons and Bill went to Hildebrant's shop to give their answers to the riddle. Bill guessed that the hen that lays the longest is the one that lives the longest, but Hildebrant said that was incorrect. When it was Simmons' turn, he remembered the card Quigg had given him and answered, "A dead one!"

A dead one!

Hildebrant declared Simmons the winner and invited him to Laura's birthday party.

Laura — daughter of the harness shop owner; beautiful, blonde, and sought after by Simmons and Bill Watson.