The Girl and the Graft (Henry)

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The Girl and the Graft
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A man and his friend devised a scheme to gain fame and fortune by staging a breach of promise lawsuit, but their plan backfired when the friend unexpectedly fell in love with the woman involved.

Ferguson Pogue, a successful grafter, shared stories of his profession with a friend. He believed that women were too busy with their natural vocation of graft for self-preservation and amusement to make any great success in special lines. He then told the story of Artemisia Blye, a woman from Kansas who was involved in a scheme with a man named Vaucross.

Ferguson Pogue — narrator; a professional grafter with a candid and frank demeanor.
Artemisia Blye — tall, willowy blonde from Kansas; resourceful, assertive, and critical.
Vaucross — wealthy man seeking fame and attention; ambitious, proud, and eccentric.

Vaucross, a wealthy New Yorker, wanted to be famous and sought Pogue's help in achieving this. Pogue devised a plan where Vaucross would court Artemisia for a month, writing her love letters, and then break off the relationship. Artemisia would then sue Vaucross for breach of promise, garnering him the attention he desired. They agreed on a price of $10,000 for Artemisia's participation in the scheme.

As the plan progressed, Vaucross and Artemisia spent more time together, with Artemisia critiquing Vaucross's love letters and demanding more affectionate language.

You want to get down to business, and call me “Tweedlums Babe” and “Honeysuckle,” and sign yourself “Mama’s Own Big Bad Puggy Wuggy Boy” if you want any limelight to concentrate upon your sparse gray hairs.

On the agreed-upon night, a process-server handed Vaucross the papers for the lawsuit in a crowded restaurant, drawing the attention he craved.

However, later that night, Vaucross and Artemisia unexpectedly arrived at Pogue's door, announcing that they had fallen in love and gotten married.

There stood Vaucross and Miss Artemisia, and she was clinging—yes, sir, clinging—to his arm. And they tells me they’d been out and got married.

They left Pogue with a bundle containing a railroad ticket to Kansas City and two pairs of Vaucross's old pants, leaving Pogue to conclude that a woman's natural vocation for graft would always take precedence over any other schemes.