The Whirligig of Life (Henry)

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The Whirligig of Life
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A couple sought a divorce from a justice of the peace, but after realizing their love for each other, they remarried and returned to their mountain home.

In a small town in the Cumberland Mountains, a couple named Ransie and Ariela Bilbro approached the local Justice of the Peace, Benaja Widdup, to request a divorce.

Ransie Bilbro — tall, narrow, sallow-skinned man with yellow hair; husband seeking divorce.
Ariela Bilbro — thin, angled, weary-looking woman with a faint hint of lost youth; wife seeking divorce.
Benaja Widdup — justice of the peace; elder-stem pipe smoker; wears spectacles.

The couple had been living in a cabin in the mountains, but their constant arguing and disagreements had made life unbearable for both of them. The Justice agreed to grant them a divorce, but required a fee of five dollars, which Ransie paid.

We-all wants a divo’ce.

Before the divorce was finalized, Ariela demanded alimony, stating that she needed money for shoes and other necessities. The Justice ordered Ransie to pay her five dollars, but he claimed to have no more money.

I hain’t no mo’ money.

The case was adjourned until the next day, giving Ransie time to find the money.

That night, the Justice was robbed at gunpoint by a masked man who demanded his money. The Justice handed over the five-dollar bill he had received from Ransie earlier that day. The next day, Ransie and Ariela returned to the Justice's office, and Ransie handed Ariela a five-dollar bill, which the Justice noticed looked similar to the one he had been robbed of the night before.

As the couple prepared to leave, they realized that they still cared for each other and wanted to stay together. The Justice informed them that they were no longer legally married due to the divorce, but he could remarry them for a fee of five dollars. Ariela handed over the five-dollar bill she had received as alimony, and the couple was remarried.

My heart hit’s in that cabin, Ranse.

Ransie and Ariela left the Justice's office hand in hand, ready to start their life together anew. The Justice, meanwhile, sat in his doorway, smoking his pipe and contemplating the events that had transpired.