Journalism in Tennessee

by Mark Twain  The editor of the Memphis Avalanche swoops thus mildly down upon acorrespondent who posted him as a Radical:--"While he was writingthe first word, the middle, dotting his i's, crossing his t's, andpunching his period, he knew he was concocting a sentence that wassaturated with infamy and reeking with falsehood."--Exchange.I was told by the physician that a Southern climate would improve myhealth, and so I went down to Tennessee, and got a berth on the MorningGlory and Johnson County War-Whoop as associate editor. When I went onduty I found the chief editor sitting tilted back in a three-legged chairwith his feet on a pine table. There was another pine table in the roomand another afflicted chair, and both were half buried under newspapersand scraps and sheets of manuscript. Read more [...]

One Dollar’s Worth

by O. Henry The judge of the United States court of the dis­trict lying along the Rio Grande bor­der found the fol­low­ing let­ter one morn­ing in his mail:JUDGE:When you sent me up for four years you made a talk. Among other hard things, you called me a rat­tlesnake. Maybe I am one—any­how, you hear me rat­tling now. One year after I got to the pen, my daugh­ter died of—well, they said it was poverty and the dis­grace to­gether. You've got a daugh­ter, Judge, and I'm going to make you know how it feels to lose one. And I'm going to bite that dis­trict at­tor­ney that spoke against me. I'm free now, and I guess I've turned to rat­tlesnake all right. I feel like one. I don't say much, but this is my rat­tle. Look out when I strike.Yours re­spect­fully,RAT­TLESNAKE.Judge Read more [...]

The Ransom of Red Chief

 by O. HenryIt 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. We talked it over on the front steps of the hotel. Read more [...]

Calloway’s Code

by O. HenryThe New York En­ter­prise sent H. B. Cal­loway as spe­cial cor­re­spon­dent to the Russo-Japan­ese-Portsmouth war.For two months Cal­loway hung about Yoko­hama and Tokio, shak­ing dice with the other cor­re­spon­dents for drinks of 'rick­shaws—oh, no, that's some­thing to ride in; any­how, he wasn't earn­ing the salary that his paper was pay­ing him. But that was not Cal­loway's fault. The lit­tle brown men who held the strings of Fate be­tween their fin­gers were not ready for the read­ers of the En­ter­prise to sea­son their break­fast bacon and eggs with the bat­tles of the de­scen­dants of the gods.But soon the col­umn of cor­re­spon­dents that were to go out with the First Army tight­ened their field-glass belts and went down to the Yalu Read more [...]

Friends in San Rosario

by O. HenryThe west-bound train stopped at San Rosario on time at 8.20 a.m. A man with a thick black-leather wal­let under his arm left the train and walked rapidly up the main street of the town. There were other pas­sen­gers who also got off at San Rosario, but they ei­ther slouched lim­berly over to the rail­road eat­ing-house or the Sil­ver Dol­lar sa­loon, or joined the groups of idlers about the sta­tion.In­de­ci­sion had no part in the move­ments of the man with the wal­let. He was short in stature, but strongly built, with very light, closely-trimmed hair, smooth, de­ter­mined face, and ag­gres­sive, gold-rimmed nose glasses. He was well dressed in the pre­vail­ing East­ern style. His air de­noted a quiet but con­scious re­serve force, if not ac­tual au­thor­ity.After Read more [...]

Celebrated Criminal Cases of America: The Murder of Multimillionaire M. Rice in New York

William Marsh Rice resided in Hous­ton, Texas, for many years, and ac­cu­mu­lated a for­tune of $7,000,000.His wife died in Wauke­sha, Wis., in 1896 under pe­cu­liar cir­cum­stances.Just pre­vi­ous to her death, she drew up a will dis­pos­ing of $2,500,000 worth of com­mu­nity prop­erty. A man named Holt was ex­ecu­tor of this will, which Rice con­tested bit­terly.On Sep­tem­ber 16, 1896, after the death of his wife. Rice made a will leav­ing the bulk of his wealth to the "William M. Rice In­sti­tute for the Ad­vance­ment of Lit­er­a­ture, Sci­ence and Art," which he had founded in Texas in 1891.This will was drawn up by Cap­tain James A. Baker, a promi­nent Texas at­tor­ney.About the time of his wife's death, Rice, ac­com­pa­nied by his Sec­re­tary, Read more [...]

Desperado Slade

"I tell you it's as much as Slade him­self want to do!"This re­mark cre­ated an en­tire re­volu­tion in my curi­os­ity. I cared noth­ing now about the In­di­ans, and even lost in­terest in the murdered driver. There was such ma­gic in that name, SLADE! Day or night, now, I stood al­ways ready to drop any sub­ject in hand, to listen to something new about Slade and his ghastly ex­ploits. Even be­fore we got to Over­land City, we had be­gun to hear about Slade and his "di­vi­sion" (for he was a "di­vi­sion-agent") on the Over­land; and from the hour we had left Over­land City we had heard drivers and con­duct­ors talk about only three things—"Cali­forny," Read more [...]

Celebrated Criminal Cases of America: The Murder Case Mary Cecilia Rogers

From In­spec­tor Byrnes' "Mys­te­ri­ous Mur­ders in New York."Mary Ce­celia Rogers was bom in New York in 1820. Her fa­ther died when she was five years of age, and as Mrs. Rogers was left in strait­ened cir­cum­stances, she earned a liv­ing for her­self and her pretty lit­tle daugh­ter by con­duct­ing a board­ing and lodg­ing house in Nas­sau street. As Mary grew older she as­sisted her mother about the house.She de­vel­oped into an ex­tremely beau­ti­ful young woman of the brunette type. She was rather tall; her form was ex­quis­itely sym­met­ri­cal; her fea­tures were reg­u­lar; her com­plex­ion beau­ti­ful and she had a wealth of jet black hair. Added to these phys­i­cal charms, she pos­sessed a pleas­ing man­ner which made her a host of friends Read more [...]

Celebrated Criminal Cases of America: Dabner and Seimsen

The "Gas Pipe" Murderers.Never since the days of the fa­mous Vig­i­lance Com­mit­tee in 1852-56 were the cit­i­zens of San Fran­cisco more ter­ror-stricken by the crim­i­nal el­e­ment than dur­ing the five months fol­low­ing the great earth­quake and fire in April, 1906.Be­cause of the vast amount of tax­able prop­erty de­stroyed it was de­cided that all branches of the mu­nic­i­pal gov­ern­ment must econ­o­mize, and the po­lice force was tem­porar­ily re­duced about one-fifth by forc­ing mem­bers to take a leave of ab­sence. The crim­i­nal el­e­ment was quick to take ad­van­tage of the sit­u­a­tion, and the re­sult was that a se­ries of most atro­cious crimes were com­mit­ted.Some of our most promi­nent cit­i­zens were beaten and robbed Read more [...]

Bemis’ Buffalo

 Next morning, just before dawn, when about five hundred and fifty miles from St. Joseph, our mud-wagon broke down. We were to be delayed five or six hours, and therefore we took horses, by invitation, and joined a party who were just starting on a buffalo hunt. It was noble sport galloping over the plain in the dewy freshness of the morning, but our part of the hunt ended in disaster and disgrace, for a wounded buffalo bull chased the passenger Bemis nearly two miles, and then he forsook his horse and took to a lone tree. He was very sullen about the matter for some twenty-four hours, but at last he began to soften little by little, and finally he said:"Well, it was not funny, and there was no sense in those gawks making themselves so facetious over it. I tell you I was angry in earnest Read more [...]

Celebrated Criminal Cases of America: Browning and Brady

Murderers and Train RobbersAt 9 p. m., Oc­to­ber 12, 1894, two young men, one very tall and pow­er­fully built and the other of medium height, halted a track-walker named John Kelly as he was speed­ing along on a track tri­cy­cle about seven miles from Davisville, Cal.They re­lieved Kelly of $5.50, some dy­na­mite car­tridges used for sig­nal­ing trains, and his red lantern. Their next move was to bind him hand and foot and ren­der the tri­cy­cle use­less.The car­tridges were then placed on the track and the rob­bers awaited the ar­rival of No. 3 Omaha Over­land, which left San Fran­cisco at 6 p. m.Presently it ap­peared, and in re­sponse to the wild wav­ing of the red lantern in the hands of one of the rob­bers and the ex­plo­sion of the dy­na­mite car­tridges. Read more [...]

Three Sundays in a Week

"You hard-headed, dun­der-headed, ob­stin­ate, rusty, crusty, musty,fusty, old sav­age!" said I, in fancy, one af­ter­noon, to my grand uncleRumgudgeon--shak­ing my fist at him in ima­gin­a­tion.Only in ima­gin­a­tion. The fact is, some trivi­al dis­crep­ancy did ex­ist,just then, between what I said and what I had not the cour­age tosay--between what I did and what I had half a mind to do.The old por­poise, as I opened the draw­ing-room door, was sit­ting withhis feet upon the man­tel-piece, and a bump­er of port in his paw, mak­ingstrenu­ous ef­forts to ac­com­plish the ditty.Re­m­plis ton verre vide!Vide ton verre plein!"My dear uncle," said I, clos­ing Read more [...]

Celebrated Criminal Cases of America: Harry Tracy

one of the most fiendish desperados in criminal history In 1892, there lived in the town of Van­cou­ver, Wash­ing­ton, two fif­teen-year-old boys, named Harry Tracy and David Mer­rill. Tracy's con­duct was ex­em­plary until he met Mer­rill, but im­me­di­ately af­ter­ward a change oc­curred and step by step he waded into crime until his deeds were the talk of the con­ti­nent. At the out­set, Mer­rill seemed to pos­sess the mas­ter mind of the pair, but as Tracy was an apt pupil, this soon changed, and he be­came the dic­ta­tor. Their first depre­da­tion con­sisted of the steal­ing of three geese from a farmer liv­ing on the out­skirts of Van­cou­ver and sell­ing them to a poul­try mar­ket. For this crime they were sen­tenced by Jus­tice of the Peace M. Read more [...]


by O Henry IN GILT letters on the ground glass of the door of room No. 962 were the words: "Robbins & Hartley, Brokers." The clerks had gone. It was past five, and with the solid tramp of a drove of prize Percherons, scrub- women were invading the cloud-capped twenty-story office building. A puff of red-hot air flavoured with lemon peelings, soft-coal smoke and train oil came in through the half-open windows.Robbins, fifty, something of an overweight beau, and addicted to first nights and hotel palm-rooms, pretended to be envious of his partner's commuter's joys."Going to be something doing in the humidity line to-night," he said. "You out-of-town chaps will be the people, with your katydids and moonlight and long drinks and things out on the front porch."Hartley, twenty-nine, serious, Read more [...]

After Twenty Years

The policeman on the beat moved up the avenue impressively. The impressiveness was habitual and not for show, for spectators were few. The time was barely 10 o'clock at night, but chilly gusts of wind with a taste of rain in them had well nigh depeopled the streets. Trying doors as he went, twirling his club with many intricate and artful movements, turning now and then to cast his watchful eye adown the pacific thoroughfare, the officer, with his stalwart form and slight swagger, made a fine picture of a guardian of the peace. The vicinity was one that kept early hours. Now and then you might see the lights of a cigar store or of an all-night lunch counter; but the majority of the doors belonged to business places that had long since been closed. When about midway of a certain block Read more [...]

A Lonely Ride

As I stepped into the Slumgullion stage I saw that it was a dark night, a lonely road, and that I was the only passenger. Let me assure the reader that I have no ulterior design in making this assertion. A long course of light reading has forewarned me what every experienced intelligence must confidently look for from such a statement. The storyteller who willfully tempts Fate by such obvious beginnings; who is to the expectant reader in danger of being robbed or half-murdered, or frightened by an escaped lunatic, or introduced to his ladylove for the first time, deserves to be detected. I am relieved to say that none of these things occurred to me. The road from Wingdam to Slumgullion knew no other banditti than the regularly licensed hotelkeepers; lunatics had not yet reached such depth of Read more [...]

The Ant is a Fraud

It seems to me that in the mat­ter of in­tel­lect the ant must be a strangely over­rated bird. Dur­ing many sum­mers, now, I have watched him, when I ought to have been in bet­ter busi­ness, and I have not yet come across a liv­ing ant that seemed to have any more sense than a dead one. I refer to the or­di­nary ant, of course; I have had no ex­pe­ri­ence of those won­der­ful Swiss and African ones which vote, keep drilled armies, hold slaves, and dis­pute about re­li­gion. Those par­tic­u­lar ants may be all that the nat­u­ral­ist paints them, but I am per­suaded that the av­er­age ant is a sham. I admit his in­dus­try, of course; he is the hard­est-work­ing crea­ture in the world—when any­body is look­ing—but his leather-head­ed­ness is the point I Read more [...]

Hearts and Hands

At Denver there was an influx of passengers into the coaches on the eastbound B. & M. express. In one coach there sat a very pretty young woman dressed in elegant taste and surrounded by all the luxurious comforts of an experienced traveler. Among the newcomers were two young men, one of handsome presence with a bold, frank countenance and manner; the other a ruffled, glum-faced person, heavily built and roughly dressed. The two were handcuffed together. As they passed down the aisle of the coach the only vacant seat offered was a reversed one facing the attractive young woman. Here the linked couple seated themselves. The young woman's glance fell upon them with a distant, swift disinterest; then with a lovely smile brightening her countenance and a tender pink tingeing her rounded Read more [...]