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O. Henry is the pen name of American writer William Sydney Porter (1862-1910). Porter’s 400 short stories are known for their wit, wordplay, characterization and the clever use of twist endings. He needs no introduction of course; the man who made the short story with the surprise ending famous. These 16 stories are all wonderful examples of his word sculpting art. They include: „The Rose of Dixie”, „The Third Ingredient”, „The Hiding of Black Bill”, „Schools and Schools”, „Thimble, Thimble”, „Supply and Demand”, „Buried Treasure”, „To Him Who Waits”, „He Also Serves”, „ The Moment of Victory”, „The Head-Hunter”, „A Poor Rule” and others. O. Henry has a very unique and amusing style, with a dry sense of humor running through all the stories. Originally published in 1897, this early work is a fascinating novel of the period and still an interesting read today.

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Contents

"THE ROSE OF DIXIE"

THE THIRD INGREDIENT

THE HIDING OF BLACK BILL

SCHOOLS AND SCHOOLS

THIMBLE, THIMBLE

SUPPLY AND DEMAND

BURIED TREASURE

TO HIM WHO WAITS

HE ALSO SERVES

THE MOMENT OF VICTORY

THE HEAD-HUNTER

NO STORY

THE HIGHER PRAGMATISM

BEST-SELLER

RUS IN URBE

A POOR RULE

“THE ROSE OF DIXIE”

When The Rose of Dixie magazine was started by a stock company in Toombs City, Georgia, there was never but one candidate for its chief editorial position in the minds of its owners. Col. Aquila Telfair was the man for the place. By all the rights of learning, family, reputation, and Southern traditions, he was its foreordained, fit, and logical editor. So, a committee of the patriotic Georgia citizens who had subscribed the founding fund of $100,000 called upon Colonel Telfair at his residence, Cedar Heights, fearful lest the enterprise and the South should suffer by his possible refusal.

The colonel received them in his great library, where he spent most of his days. The library had descended to him from his father. It contained ten thousand volumes, some of which had been published as late as the year 1861. When the deputation arrived, Colonel Telfair was seated at his massive white-pine centre-table, reading Burton’s “Anatomy of Melancholy.” He arose and shook hands punctiliously with each member of the committee. If you were familiar with The Rose of Dixie you will remember the colonel’s portrait, which appeared in it from time to time. You could not forget the long, carefully brushed white hair; the hooked, high-bridged nose, slightly twisted to the left; the keen eyes under the still black eyebrows; the classic mouth beneath the drooping white mustache, slightly frazzled at the ends.

The committee solicitously offered him the position of managing editor, humbly presenting an outline of the field that the publication was designed to cover and mentioning a comfortable salary. The colonel’s lands were growing poorer each year and were much cut up by red gullies. Besides, the honor was not one to be refused.

In a forty-minute speech of acceptance, Colonel Telfair gave an outline of English literature from Chaucer to Macaulay, re-fought the battle of Chancellorsville, and said that, God helping him, he would so conduct The Rose of Dixie that its fragrance and beauty would permeate the entire world, hurling back into the teeth of the Northern minions their belief that no genius or good could exist in the brains and hearts of the people whose property they had destroyed and whose rights they had curtailed.

Offices for the magazine were partitioned off and furnished in the second floor of the First National Bank building; and it was for the colonel to cause The Rose of Dixie to blossom and flourish or to wilt in the balmy air of the land of flowers.

The staff of assistants and contributors that Editor-Colonel Telfair drew about him was a peach. It was a whole crate of Georgia peaches. The first assistant editor, Tolliver Lee Fairfax, had had a father killed during Pickett’s charge. The second assistant, Keats Unthank, was the nephew of one of Morgan’s Raiders. The book reviewer, Jackson Rockingham, had been the youngest soldier in the Confederate army, having appeared on the field of battle with a sword in one hand and a milk-bottle in the other. The art editor, Roncesvalles Sykes, was a third cousin to a nephew of Jefferson Davis. Miss Lavinia Terhune, the colonel’s stenographer and typewriter, had an aunt who had once been kissed by Stonewall Jackson. Tommy Webster, the head office-boy, got his job by having recited Father Ryan’s poems, complete, at the commencement exercises of the Toombs City High School. The girls who wrapped and addressed the magazines were members of old Southern families in Reduced Circumstances. The cashier was a scrub named Hawkins, from Ann Arbor, Michigan, who had recommendations and a bond from a guarantee company filed with the owners. Even Georgia stock companies sometimes realize that it takes live ones to bury the dead.

Well, sir, if you believe me, The Rose of Dixie blossomed five times before anybody heard of it except the people who buy their hooks and eyes in Toombs City. Then Hawkins climbed off his stool and told on ‘em to the stock company. Even in Ann Arbor he had been used to having his business propositions heard of at least as far away as Detroit. So an advertising manager was engaged–Beauregard Fitzhugh Banks–a young man in a lavender necktie, whose grandfather had been the Exalted High Pillow-slip of the Kuklux Klan.

In spite of which The Rose of Dixie kept coming out every month. Although in every issue it ran photos of either the Taj Mahal or the Luxembourg Gardens, or Carmencita or La Follette, a certain number of people bought it and subscribed for it. As a boom for it, Editor-Colonel Telfair ran three different views of Andrew Jackson’s old home, “The Hermitage,” a full-page engraving of the second battle of Manassas, entitled “Lee to the Rear!” and a five-thousand-word biography of Belle Boyd in the same number. The subscription list that month advanced 118. Also there were poems in the same issue by Leonina Vashti Haricot (pen-name), related to the Haricots of Charleston, South Carolina, and Bill Thompson, nephew of one of the stockholders. And an article from a special society correspondent describing a tea-party given by the swell Boston and English set, where a lot of tea was spilled overboard by some of the guests masquerading as Indians.

One day a person whose breath would easily cloud a mirror, he was so much alive, entered the office of The Rose of Dixie. He was a man about the size of a real-estate agent, with a self-tied tie and a manner that he must have borrowed conjointly from W. J. Bryan, Hackenschmidt, and Hetty Green. He was shown into the editor-colonel’s pons asinorum. Colonel Telfair rose and began a Prince Albert bow.

“I’m Thacker,” said the intruder, taking the editor’s chair–“T. T. Thacker, of New York.”

He dribbled hastily upon the colonel’s desk some cards, a bulky manila envelope, and a letter from the owners of The Rose of Dixie. This letter introduced Mr. Thacker, and politely requested Colonel Telfair to give him a conference and whatever information about the magazine he might desire.

“I’ve been corresponding with the secretary of the magazine owners for some time,” said Thacker, briskly. “I’m a practical magazine man myself, and a circulation booster as good as any, if I do say it. I’ll guarantee an increase of anywhere from ten thousand to a hundred thousand a year for any publication that isn’t printed in a dead language. I’ve had my eye on The Rose of Dixie ever since it started. I know every end of the business from editing to setting up the classified ads. Now, I’ve come down here to put a good bunch of money in the magazine, if I can see my way clear. It ought to be made to pay. The secretary tells me it’s losing money. I don’t see why a magazine in the South, if it’s properly handled, shouldn’t get a good circulation in the North, too.”

Colonel Telfair leaned back in his chair and polished his gold-rimmed glasses.

“Mr. Thacker,” said he, courteously but firmly, “The Rose of Dixie is a publication devoted to the fostering and the voicing of Southern genius. Its watchword, which you may have seen on the cover, is ‘Of, For, and By the South.’”

“But you wouldn’t object to a Northern circulation, would you?” asked Thacker.

“I suppose,” said the editor-colonel, “that it is customary to open the circulation lists to all. I do not know. I have nothing to do with the business affairs of the magazine. I was called upon to assume editorial control of it, and I have devoted to its conduct such poor literary talents as I may possess and whatever store of erudition I may have acquired.”

“Sure,” said Thacker. “But a dollar is a dollar anywhere, North, South, or West–whether you’re buying codfish, goober peas, or Rocky Ford cantaloupes. Now, I’ve been looking over your November number. I see one here on your desk. You don’t mind running over it with me?

“Well, your leading article is all right. A good write-up of the cotton-belt with plenty of photographs is a winner any time. New York is always interested in the cotton crop. And this sensational account of the Hatfield-McCoy feud, by a schoolmate of a niece of the Governor of Kentucky, isn’t such a bad idea. It happened so long ago that most people have forgotten it. Now, here’s a poem three pages long called ‘The Tyrant’s Foot,’ by Lorella Lascelles. I’ve pawed around a good deal over manuscripts, but I never saw her name on a rejection slip.”

“Miss Lascelles,” said the editor, “is one of our most widely recognized Southern poetesses. She is closely related to the Alabama Lascelles family, and made with her own hands the silken Confederate banner that was presented to the governor of that state at his inauguration.”

“But why,” persisted Thacker, “is the poem illustrated with a view of the M. & O. Railroad freight depot at Tuscaloosa?”

“The illustration,” said the colonel, with dignity, “shows a corner of the fence surrounding the old homestead where Miss Lascelles was born.”

“All right,” said Thacker. “I read the poem, but I couldn’t tell whether it was about the depot of the battle of Bull Run. Now, here’s a short story called ‘Rosies’ Temptation,’ by Fosdyke Piggott. It’s rotten. What is a Piggott, anyway?”

“Mr. Piggott,” said the editor, “is a brother of the principal stockholder of the magazine.”

“All’s right with the world–Piggott passes,” said Thacker. “Well this article on Arctic exploration and the one on tarpon fishing might go. But how about this write-up of the Atlanta, New Orleans, Nashville, and Savannah breweries? It seems to consist mainly of statistics about their output and the quality of their beer. What’s the chip over the bug?”

“If I understand your figurative language,” answered Colonel Telfair, “it is this: the article you refer to was handed to me by the owners of the magazine with instructions to publish it. The literary quality of it did not appeal to me. But, in a measure, I feel impelled to conform, in certain matters, to the wishes of the gentlemen who are interested in the financial side of The Rose.”

“I see,” said Thacker. “Next we have two pages of selections from ‘Lalla Rookh,’ by Thomas Moore. Now, what Federal prison did Moore escape from, or what’s the name of the F.F.V. family that he carries as a handicap?”

“Moore was an Irish poet who died in 1852,” said Colonel Telfair, pityingly. “He is a classic. I have been thinking of reprinting his translation of Anacreon serially in the magazine.”

“Look out for the copyright laws,” said Thacker, flippantly. Who’s Bessie Belleclair, who contributes the essay on the newly completed water-works plant in Milledgeville?”

“The name, sir,” said Colonel Telfair, “is the nom de guerre of Miss Elvira Simpkins. I have not the honor of knowing the lady; but her contribution was sent to us by Congressman Brower, of her native state. Congressman Brower’s mother was related to the Polks of Tennessee.

“Now, see here, Colonel,” said Thacker, throwing down the magazine, “this won’t do. You can’t successfully run a magazine for one particular section of the country. You’ve got to make a universal appeal. Look how the Northern publications have catered to the South and encouraged the Southern writers. And you’ve got to go far and wide for your contributors. You’ve got to buy stuff according to its quality without any regard to the pedigree of the author. Now, I’ll bet a quart of ink that this Southern parlor organ you’ve been running has never played a note that originated above Mason & Hamlin’s line. Am I right?”

“I have carefully and conscientiously rejected all contributions from that section of the country–if I understand your figurative language aright,” replied the colonel.

“All right. Now I’ll show you something.”

Thacker reached for his thick manila envelope and dumped a mass of typewritten manuscript on the editors desk.

“Here’s some truck,” said he, “that I paid cash for, and brought along with me.”

One by one he folded back the manuscripts and showed their first pages to the colonel.

Here are four short stories by four of the highest priced authors in the United States–three of ‘em living in New York, and one commuting. There’s a special article on Vienna-bred society by Tom Vampson. Here’s an Italian serial by Captain Jack–no–it’s the other Crawford. Here are three separate exposés of city governments by Sniffings, and here’s a dandy entitled ‘What Women Carry in Dress-Suit Cases’–a Chicago newspaper woman hired herself out for five years as a lady’s maid to get that information. And here’s a Synopsis of Preceding Chapters of Hall Caine’s new serial to appear next June. And here’s a couple of pounds of vers de société that I got at a rate from the clever magazines. That’s the stuff that people everywhere want. And now here’s a write-up with photographs at the ages of four, twelve, twenty-two, and thirty of George B. McClellan. It’s a prognostication. He’s bound to be elected Mayor of New York. It’ll make a big hit all over the country. He–”

“I beg your pardon,” said Colonel Telfair, stiffening in his chair. “What was the name?”

“Oh, I see,” said Thacker, with half a grin. Yes, he’s a son of the General. We’ll pass that manuscript up. But, if you’ll excuse me, Colonel, it’s a magazine we’re trying to make go off–not the first gun at Fort Sumter. Now, here’s a thing that’s bound to get next to you. It’s an original poem by James Whitcomb Riley. J. W. himself. You know what that means to a magazine. I won’t tell you what I had to pay for that poem; but I’ll tell you this–Riley can make more money writing with a fountain-pen than you or I can with one that lets the ink run. I’ll read you the last two stanzas:  

“‘Pa lays around ‘n’ loafs all day, ‘N’ reads and makes us leave him be. He lets me do just like I please, ‘N’ when I’m bad he laughs at me, ‘N’ when I holler loud ‘n’ say Bad words ‘n’ then begin to tease The cat, ‘n’ pa just smiles, ma’s mad ‘N’ gives me Jesse crost her knees. I always wondered why that wuz– I guess it’s cause Pa never does.

“‘‘N’ after all the lights are out I’m sorry ‘bout it; so I creep Out of my trundle bed to ma’s ‘N’ say I love her a whole heap, ‘N’ kiss her, ‘n’ I hug her tight. ‘N’ it’s too dark to see her eyes, But every time I do I know She cries ‘n’ cries ‘n’ cries ‘n’ cries. I always wondered why that wuz– I guess it’s ‘cause Pa never does.’  

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