A Midsummer Masquerade (Henry)

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A Midsummer Masquerade
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: Two con men pretended to be famous guests at a summer resort to help the owner attract more customers, but their scheme backfired, causing the women to leave and the men to enjoy a quiet summer.

Jeff Peters and his partner Andy Tucker decided to take a break from their usual schemes and spend a summer vacation in a mountain village. They chose Crow Knob, a remote location in the mountains on the border of Tennessee and North Carolina. They stayed at a private hotel called Woodchuck Inn, which was run by their old acquaintance, Smoke-'em-out Smithers.

Jeff Peters — narrator; con man; tired of his profession and seeking a restful summer.
Andy Tucker — Jeff's partner; con man; skilled in deception and eloquent speech; seeks a break from his usual schemes.
Smoke-'em-out Smithers — owner of Woodchuck Inn; former street worker; seeks to attract famous guests to boost his business.

Smithers had advertised that two famous guests, Lieutenant Peary and the Duke of Marlborough, would be staying at the inn that summer. However, when the supposed guests arrived, they turned out to be impostors. Smithers was worried that the other guests, mostly women who had come to see the famous men, would leave when they found out the truth.

‘Can you do it, gents?’ he asks. ‘Could ye do it? Could ye play the polar man and the little duke for the nice ladies? Will ye do it?’

Seeing an opportunity for some fun, Jeff and Andy offered to impersonate the famous guests themselves. Smithers agreed, and they began their charade. Andy, who had a talent for storytelling, entertained the women with tales of his adventures as both the Duke and the Lieutenant. However, his stories became increasingly wild and unbelievable, especially after he had been drinking.

‘The Duchess shook me,’ he cries out, and slides out of the chair and weeps on the porch.

Eventually, Andy's stories became too much for the women to believe, and they all left the inn the next morning. The landlord was initially angry with Jeff and Andy, but when he realized they could pay their way, he allowed them to stay. They ended up having a quiet and restful summer at Crow Knob, even managing to win $1,100 from Smithers in a game of seven-up.