In the heights of the merriment of the Carnival season, the protagonist, Montressor, decides to avenge his honor after receiving insult from Fortunato. Faking friendliness toward his enemy, Montressor shrugs off several insults from the drunken Fortunato, inviting Fortunato to his home to test "a pipe of what passes for Amontillado," an delicate and uncommon sherry. Fortunato, the expert connoisseur, innocently accepts Montressor's offer. Having planned all particulars of his revenge, Montressor has given instructions to his servants not to run off their duties for the extent of his long absence; as carnival is in full swing, the servants naturally take the occasion to leave the house immediately.
Montressor leads the intoxicated Fortunato into the family crypts, all the while giving Fortunato more to drink, supposedly to help Fortunato's oppressive cough. Again, Fortunato insults Montressor by forgetting Montressor's arms and motto. Obliging Fortunato, Montressor states his motto: "Nemo me impune lacessit," which means literally, "No one attacks me with impunity."
Upon finally reaching the termination of the vaults, Montressor invites Fortunato to go before him into the tiny alcove in which lies the made-up cask. Fortunato complies, and when he reached the far end of the darkened nook, he stands astonished long enough to allow Montressor to chain him to the wall.
Immediately, Montressor begins to wall up the alcove, allowing Fortunato to slowly gain his senses and realize the stupidity of his actions. Upon the wall reaching breast level, Fortunato begins to scream hysterically. Briefly frightened, Montressor thinks to end the life of his enemy right away, but, satisfied with the clean execution of his crime and the dreadfulness with which it will torment Fortunato, Montressor decides to drown out any of Fortunato's hope of escape with his own repugnant howls.
Before placing the final stone into place, Montressor throws his torch into the tiny outstanding hole, and is answered by Fortunato's apparently crazy giggles. Fortunato pleads one last time for his life, begging Montressor with the fervent cry, "for the love of God," but Montressor, quietly answers, "yes, for the love of God." Fortunato makes no further reply, and Montressor quickly finishes his work.