About This Book
IT LOOKED like a good thing: but wait till I tell you. We were down South,
in Alabama Bill Driscoll and myself when this kidnapping
idea struck us. It was, as Bill afterward expressed it, "during a moment
of temporary mental apparition"; but we didn't find that out till later.
There was a town down there, as flat as a flannel-cake, and called
Summit, of course. It contained inhabitants Of as undeleterious and
self-satisfied a class of peasantry as ever clustered around a Maypole.
Bill and me had a joint capital of about six hundred dollars, and we
needed just two thousand dollars more to pull off a fraudulent town-lot
scheme in Western Illinois with . . .
In all, this collection contains twenty-two corkers of life around around
the United States. Many are drawn from real stories . . . and there's
nothing more peculiar than the truth, is there!
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.