The Octopus Marooned (Henry)

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The Octopus Marooned
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: Two con men monopolized a town's alcohol supply during a flood, but their scheme backfired when one of them, under the influence, delivered a powerful temperance speech, causing the townspeople to pledge sobriety.

Jeff Peters and his partner Andy Tucker were known for their cunning schemes and had once formed a trust that monopolized a small town's alcohol supply. The town, Bird City, was located between the Rio Grande and a deep, wide arroyo. When heavy rain caused the river to flood, the town became an island, and Jeff and Andy saw an opportunity to make a profit.

Jeff Peters — narrator; con man; resourceful, observant, and cautious.
Andy Tucker — Jeff's partner; con man; educated, talented in scheming, and unexpectedly eloquent when intoxicated.

They bought all three saloons in town and raised the price of drinks to one dollar each. The townspeople had no choice but to pay the high prices, as there was no way to leave the town due to the flood. Jeff and Andy made a fortune in just a few days.

A trust is its weakest point, said Jeff Peters. That, said I, sounds like one of those unintelligible remarks such as, ‘Why is a policeman?’

However, Andy decided to celebrate their success by drinking some of the alcohol they were selling. He became intoxicated and felt an overwhelming urge to make a speech. He gathered a crowd in the town and delivered an impassioned two-hour speech on the topic of temperance. His words were so powerful that every man in Bird City signed a pledge to abstain from alcohol for a year.

As a result, Jeff and Andy's trust was ruined, as there was no longer any demand for the alcohol they had monopolized.

We were self-curbed. It was a case of auto-suppression. There was a rift within the loot, as Albert Tennyson says.

The two men were left with nothing but the memory of their brief success and the knowledge that their own actions had led to their downfall.