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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
"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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
"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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]