Modern Rural Sports (Henry)

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Modern Rural Sports
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: Two swindlers attempted to con a seemingly wealthy farmer, only to find him well-educated and seemingly immune to their tricks, until one of them successfully used an old-fashioned scam.

Jeff Peters and his friend Andy found themselves in a small town in Southern Indiana with only sixty-eight cents between them. They decided to swindle a local farmer to make some quick cash. Jeff went to visit Farmer Ezra Plunkett, who lived in a big white house on a hill.

Jeff Peters — narrator; swindler; cunning, resourceful, and experienced in scams.
Andy Tucker — Jeff's partner; swindler; clever, adaptable, and knowledgeable about human nature.
Ezra Plunkett — wealthy farmer; well-educated, seemingly immune to scams, but nostalgic for simpler times.

To his surprise, the farmer was not the simple, gullible man he had expected. Instead, he was well-dressed, well-spoken, and well-informed about the various scams Jeff tried to pull on him.

'I seem to perceive,' says I, 'a kind of hiatus in the agrarian traditions in which heretofore, I have reposed confidence.'

Jeff returned to Andy, defeated and confused. Andy, however, was determined to prove that all farmers could be swindled. He dressed up as a circus performer and went to visit Farmer Plunkett. Andy started playing a shell game, and the farmer was immediately intrigued. He began betting on the game, eventually losing $860 to Andy.

'Once a farmer, always a sucker,' said Andy. 'He's the man that's shoved into the front row among bullets, ballots and the ballet.'

When Andy left, the farmer thanked him for the experience, saying it reminded him of the simpler days when he was just a farmer and not an agriculturalist.

'Bunk,' says he, 'thank you for the only real pleasure I've had in years. It brings up happy old days when I was only a farmer and not an agriculturalist. God bless you.'