Diddling (Poe)

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Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A man described various schemes and tricks used by swindlers, known as diddlers, to deceive and cheat people out of their money, highlighting the ingenuity and audacity of these con artists.

A man named Jeremy was known for his expertise in the art of diddling, a term used to describe the act of swindling or cheating others. Diddling was considered an exact science, and Jeremy was a master of it. He was known for his minute attention to detail, perseverance, ingenuity, audacity, nonchalance, originality, impertinence, and his signature grin. Diddling was believed to have originated in the early days of human history, and Jeremy was a modern-day practitioner of this ancient art.

Man is an animal that diddles, and there is no animal that diddles but man.

One of Jeremy's many schemes involved pretending to be a shopkeeper and selling a sofa to an unsuspecting customer. After receiving payment, he would disappear, leaving the customer without their purchase.

A very good diddle is this. A housekeeper in want of a sofa...

Another trick involved collecting tolls on a bridge that was supposed to be free, pocketing the money for himself. He also pretended to find lost items, such as pocketbooks and diamond rings, and would return them to their owners in exchange for a reward.

In one elaborate scheme, Jeremy posed as a respectable businessman looking for pious and honest clerks to work for his company. He required each applicant to deposit fifty dollars as a guarantee of their integrity. After collecting the deposits, Jeremy disappeared without a trace, leaving the young men without jobs and out of their money.

Despite his many successful schemes, Jeremy was eventually caught by the authorities and his reputation as a master diddler was tarnished. However, his legacy lived on, as others continued to practice the art of diddling, swindling unsuspecting victims out of their hard-earned money.