Short Story #143: Miggles by Brett Harte

Title:  Miggles

Author:  Brett Harte


Selected Stories of Brett Harte by Brett Harte. Puritan Publishing CompanyIn the midst of a storm, a group of travelers are stuck between two rained out sections of a road and a bridge.  They discover that there is one place they could seek refuge, Miggles.  With most unfamiliar with Miggles, they are brought to what appears an abandoned house.  They repeatedly call out for Miggles in the midst of the storm but no one answers.  They finally enter in without permission into the house.  There, they find a man all but lifeless sitting in a chair.  Just as they thought this was Miggles, a woman enters who says she is Miggles.  She explains that she had been outside for a while and saw them from afar heading towards her house and so raced to meet them.  When they ask about the catatonic man in the house, she explains that it's her friend, Jim whom she has taken to care for.  Over the course of the evening, they discover that Miggles used to work at a saloon (presumably as a prostitute) and Jim regularly spent money on her.  When Jim went catatonic, she took him in and was able to buy the place they were now living in.  They continue to ask her questions to which she provides interesting replies.  They are thrown off by her beauty and ability that contrasts with her willingness to isolate herself away from society with Jim, but to her, it is the right thing to do. In the morning they move on, still in awe of Miggles.  


Miggles is definitely a fascinating character and I think Harte does well by giving us all sorts of hints but never the entire answer.  Thus, we are left wondering and curious about Miggles but have no means by which to full know her--which given her character, is exactly how she would want it.  

Short Story #143 out of 365
Rating: 3 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read: 5/20/2014 
Source:  Selected Stories of Brett Harte by Brett Harte. Puritan Publishing Company.  This entire anthology can be found at this page on the Gutenberg Project.  

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.

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