Between Rounds (Henry)

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Between Rounds
Summary of the Short Story
from the Collection «The Four Million»
Microsummary: In a city boarding house, a couple constantly argued. When the owner's son went missing, the couple shared a tender moment, imagining their own child lost. The boy was found, and life resumed.

In a bustling city, Mrs. Murphy owned a private boarding house where various tenants lived. Among them were Mr. and Mrs. McCaskey, a constantly bickering couple.

Mrs. Murphy — owner of the boarding house; mother of young son Mike; heavyset, emotional, and distraught when her son goes missing.
Mr. McCaskey (Jawn) — husband in the bickering couple; often argues with his wife; rough, sarcastic, but shows a tender side when imagining their own child.
Mrs. McCaskey (Judy) — wife in the bickering couple; often argues with her husband; sentimental, imagines having a child with her husband during a rare moment of tenderness.

One day, Mrs. Murphy's young son, Mike, went missing, causing panic and concern among the boarders.

Mike — Mrs. Murphy's young son; 6 years old, mischievous, and goes missing in the story, causing panic among the boarders.

As the search for Mike went on, the tenants tried to console Mrs. Murphy and offered their help in finding the boy. During this time, Mr. and Mrs. McCaskey had a rare moment of tenderness, imagining how they would feel if their own child were lost. They even discussed what they would have named their child if they had one. This moment of vulnerability brought them closer together, and they shared their feelings of fear and sadness over the thought of losing a child.

'Tis an awful thing for a bit of a bye to be lost in this great big city. If 'twas our little Phelan, Jawn, I'd be breakin' me heart.

Meanwhile, the other boarders were also affected by the situation. Mr. Toomey and Miss Purdy, for example, found comfort in each other's company as they worried about Mike's safety. Major Grigg, another tenant, went out to search for the boy, even asking around at local establishments.

As the search continued, the tenants and neighbors gathered on the street, sharing rumors and speculations about Mike's whereabouts. Policeman Cleary, who patrolled the area, was amused by the commotion and decided not to intervene in the situation.

Finally, Mrs. Murphy discovered that Mike had been hiding under a bed in her room the entire time. The tenants were relieved to learn that the boy was safe, and life in the boarding house returned to normal. Mr. and Mrs. McCaskey resumed their usual fighting, much to the amusement of Policeman Cleary, who had grown accustomed to their constant bickering. Despite the chaos and worry caused by Mike's disappearance, the incident brought the tenants closer together and revealed their shared concern for one another.