Innocents of Broadway (Henry)

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Innocents of Broadway
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: Two con men struggled with their conscience when a naive New Yorker entrusted them with his money, eventually finding a way to take it while providing him with something in return.

Jeff Peters and Andy Tucker were two con men who had a strict rule of never taking a man's money without giving him something in return. One summer, they went to New York to buy clothes and gents' furnishings. They didn't care much for doing business in New York, as they found it too easy to swindle people there.

One day, they met a man with whiskers who owned a cigar store in Beekman Street. The man insisted that Jeff hold onto his $5,000 savings for him, as he trusted the two men.

Jeff Peters — narrator; con man with a sense of morality; well-dressed, cautious, and principled.
Andy Tucker — Jeff's partner; con man; resourceful, creative, and adaptable.
The Cigar Man — naive New Yorker with whiskers; trusting, proud of his city, and inexperienced.

'I want you to take care of my money for me. I know a gentleman when I see him. And now let's have some more beer.'

Jeff and Andy were uncomfortable with the idea, as they hadn't done anything to earn the man's money. They tried to convince him to take it back, but he refused.

'We can't take it, Andy,' says I, 'for we haven't a shadow of a title to it — not a shadow.'

The next day, the man returned and asked for his money back, as he had found a sure winner at the racetrack. Andy had gone to Trenton and obtained a corporation charter for an airship company, which he and Jeff decided to give to the man in exchange for his $5,000. They filled out a certificate of stock and handed it to the man before leaving New York.

On the ferryboat, Andy asked Jeff if his conscience was easy about taking the man's money now.

'Is your conscience easy about taking the money now, Jeff?'

Jeff replied that they were no better than any other holding corporation.