The Ethics of Pig (Henry)

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The Ethics of Pig
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A swindler partnered with a talented pig thief to con people, but their partnership ended when the swindler tried to profit from a stolen circus pig without sharing the reward.

Jefferson Peters, a man involved in unillegal graft, was looking for an honest partner to work with in his swindles. He found a village called Mount Nebo and met a man named Rufe Tatum, who was known for stealing pigs.

Jefferson Peters — narrator; swindler; cunning, resourceful, and opportunistic.
Rufe Tatum — talented pig thief; naive, proud of his skills, and sentimental.

Jeff decided to partner with Rufe and they left Mount Nebo to carry out their schemes in the farming belt of the Middle West.

One night, Jeff set up a shell game at a circus, expecting Rufe to act as a capper. However, Rufe was nowhere to be found. Jeff later discovered that Rufe had stolen a pig from the circus and brought it back to their lodgings.

If I ever have a fireside and children, I'll sit beside it and tell 'em how their daddy toted off a shoat from a whole circus full of people.

The next morning, Jeff found an advertisement in the newspaper offering a $5,000 reward for the return of a stolen educated pig named Beppo. He tried to buy the pig from Rufe, but Rufe refused to sell it for sentimental reasons.

I'd shore like to accommodate you, but I've got the artistic tenement, too. I don't see why it ain't art when you can steal a shoat better than anybody else can.

Jeff then took the pig to the circus grounds, only to find that the real Beppo was still there. He realized that the advertisement was a fake and that Rufe had tricked him. He kicked the pig out of frustration and went to the newspaper office to confirm his suspicions. The man who placed the ad matched Rufe's description.

When Jeff returned to their lodgings, he found that Rufe had disappeared. He lamented the difficulty of finding a fair-minded and honest business partner, as his own attempt at speculation had been thwarted by Rufe's dishonesty.