A Departmental Case (Henry)

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A Departmental Case
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A Texan commissioner helps the daughter of his old friend who is in an abusive marriage, and later defends himself against her violent husband.

In this story, set in Texas, Luke Coonrod Standifer is appointed as the Commissioner of Insurance, Statistics, and History. He is a Texan through and through, having served the state in various capacities. However, he is unsure of his ability to fulfill his new role.

Luke Coonrod Standifer — Commissioner of Insurance, Statistics, and History; Texan, experienced, rugged, kind-hearted.

The department he heads is not very important, mainly dealing with regulating insurance companies and compiling statistics. One day, a woman named Amanda Sharp comes to Standifer's office seeking help. She is the daughter of Amos Colvin, a friend of Standifer's who helped build up the state.

Amanda Sharp — Amos Colvin's daughter; married to Benton Sharp; abused, impoverished, seeking help.

Amanda is married to Benton Sharp, a notorious bully and gambler who has mistreated her.

Benton Sharp — Amanda's husband; notorious outlaw, gambler, and bully; violent, abusive.

Standifer decides to take matters into his own hands and confronts Sharp in a restaurant. In a quick draw, Standifer shoots and kills Sharp in self-defense. Standifer then helps Amanda claim her husband's life insurance policy. Despite the limitations of his department, Standifer is able to provide assistance to those in need.

The Department of Insurance, Statistics, and History, ma'am, has done the best it could with your case. 'Twas a case hard to cover according to red tape. Statistics failed, and History missed fire, but, if I may be permitted to say it, we came out particularly strong on Insurance.

I had to do it, ma'am, or get it myself. Mr. Kauffman, please look up the records of the Security Life Insurance Company and see if they are all right.

The San Antonio Express of the following morning contained this sensational piece of news: Benton Sharp Meets His Match...