Supply and Demand (Henry)

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Supply and Demand
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A hat-cleaner named Finch tells a story about a man who claimed to have found a tribe of Indians with gold, but the Indians had no use for it. The man becomes a miser, hoarding the gold while the Indians revolt.

A man named Finch owned a small hat-cleaning shop in Third Avenue. He had a mysterious process that attracted customers, as their hats needed to be cleaned every four days. One day, a customer engaged Finch in conversation, and Finch revealed that he had once been friends with a king - the white king of a tribe of Indians in South America.

Finch — hat-cleaner; leathern, sallow, slow-footed man; talkative, curious.

Finch told the story of how he had met a man who claimed that there were mountains full of gold in a country called Gaudymala. Intrigued, Finch traveled there with a load of goods to trade for gold. He found a village of Indians and met their king, a big, red-faced man named Patrick Shane.

Patrick Shane — King of the tribe of Peche Indians; red-skinned, dressed in fine tanned deerskin clothes, with a gold chain around his neck; proud, greedy.

Shane explained that he had conquered the tribe and taught them not to desire material possessions. He also claimed that the Indians had no gold.

I teach 'em not to desire anything beyond their simplest needs. A little mutton, a little cocoa, and a little fruit brought up from the coast—that's all they want to make 'em happy.

However, Shane later showed Finch a hidden stash of gold worth $220,000, which he had taken from the Indians.

I love it,' says he. 'I want to feel the touch of it day and night. It's my pleasure in life. I come in this room, and I'm a king and a rich man. I'll be a millionaire in another year.

Finch decided to try selling his goods to the Indians again, this time offering to trade for gold dust. He introduced hand mirrors to the women, who became enamored with their own beauty and demanded the jewelry Finch had for sale. The Indians turned against Shane, and he, Finch, and their interpreter, McClintock, were forced to flee the village.

Years later, Finch revealed that Shane had returned with him to the city and joined the police force. The story demonstrated the importance of balancing supply and demand, as well as the consequences of greed and deception.