About This Book
. . . To-morrow I will send you back the presents you have given me."
"Presents!" said Pilkins in surprise. "I never gave you a present in
my life. I would like to see a full-length portrait of the man that you
would take a present from. Why, you never would let me send you flowers
or candy or even art calendars."
"You've forgotten," said Alice v. d. R., with a little smile. "It was a
long time ago when our families were neighbours. You were seven, and I
was trundling my doll on the sidewalk. You gave me a little gray, hairy
kitten, with shoe-buttony eyes. Its head came off and it was full of
candy. You paid five cents for it you told me so. I haven't the
candy to return to you I hadn't developed a conscience at three,
so I ate it. But I have the kitten yet, and I will wrap it up neatly
to-night and send it to you to-morrow."
Beneath the lightness of Alice v. d. R.'s talk the steadfastness of her
rejection showed firm and plain. So there was nothing left for him but to
leave the crumbly red brick house, and be off with his abhorred millions.
On his way back . . . How will this story end? Why did Alice reject
him? I wonder why she kept the kitten all these years.
Read on. And then begin on the 24 other stories in this
collection. They're equally as fine!
About O. Henry ( William Sidney Porter )
Short-story writer Sidney Porter's early life was one of hard knocks
and strong recoveries. He was born in North Carolina just before the
start of the Civil War. When he was 20 years old, he moved to Texas to
become a cowboy, but was set to herding sheep and carrying the mail. So
two years later, he moved to Austin soon became a bank teller. After his
marriage in 1887, he launched an humor magazine, and when that failed,
he moved on to become a reporter, columnist and occasional cartoonist
at the Houston Post.
In 1896, when he was 34, he was indicted for embezzlement of bank funds
and fled the country. His safety did not last long. His wife's fatal
illness brought him back to Austin, and after her death, two years later
he was convicted and sent to the penitentiary in Columbus, Ohio, where
his sentenced was shortened to three years for good behavior. While in
prison, he served as the night druggist and spent much of his time writing
adventure stories, using the money he earned to help support his daughter,
Margaret. During that time he began using the pen name of O. Henry.
Thereafter he produced hundreds of stories that filled over fifteen
books. But despite the great success of his writing, O. Henry's final
ten years were a struggle with financial difficulties and alcoholism. His
stories reflect his life, in that they show deep sympathy for those who
are hard put, and hard up . . . and unlucky.