Gilmer and my father on the conditions of the country. He was a most courteous and elegant man, and in many ways displayed his sympathy with us. Very soon a note was received announcing the arrival of Mrs Cox and the hope that Mrs. Walker would do him the honour to call upon his wife. She received us in Mrs. Dick's parlor, simple in manner, dignified, bordering on stiff- ness — in contrast with the genial manners of her husband. A grand review of all the troops was to be held on the next Saturday, and a pavil on was built in the centre of town — upper seats to be occupied by the Federal ladies.
By nine o'clock a four-horse ambulance with outriders was sent with a note from General Cox again "begging the honour of Mrs. Walker's company, with Mrs. Cox to witness the review. Gilmer told her husband that she refused to add one more spectator to the pageant, for it was an enemy's bullet that had maimed her only son for life. Violent, decisive words, and very ugly ones, too, were spoken by the other lady; but a peremptory order was given, and with bitter tears, accompanied by one of our soldiers, she went to the pavilion, to be received so graciously by Mrs.
Three months later there came to Greensboro a man who was to give its Reconstruction history a unique interest and whose departure after a sojourn of thirteen years was to be promptly chronicled by an O. Albion Winegar Tourgee, author of "The Fool's Errand, by One of the Fools," was the first carpet-bagger to enter the "somnolent little Southern town" on the heels of the receding armies. But the town was anything but somnolent during his stay. He had a good mind and exercised it.
He was masterful and would be dominating. He was not popular with the other carpet-baggers nor with the prominent native scalawags — which speaks much for his honesty and independence. But he was always an alien, an unwelcome intrusion, a resented imposition, "a frog in your chamber, a fly in your ointment, a mote in your eye, a triumph to your enemy, an apology to your friends, the one thing not needful, the hail in harvest, the ounce of sour in a pound of sweet.
Henry found a silver lining in his presence but Governor Worth succeeded at last in having a more acceptable judge appointed in his place. It is certainly a note- worthy fact that "John Burleson," a citizen of Greens- boro and the hero in "A Fool's Errand," has recently reappeared as "Stephen Hoyle," the villain, in "The Traitor," the novel which Mr. Thomas Dixon has wrought into the vast and stirring historic drama called "The Birth of a Nation. Judge Tourgee had lain awake many a night in Greensboro expecting a visit from "The Invisible Empire," but it had not come.
After reading many special treatises and university dissertations on the kind of Reconstruction attempted in the South I find in "The Fool's Errand" the wisest statement of the whole question yet made. Nearly a half century has passed since the events recorded, but in rereading "A Fool's Errand" one feels anew the utter un-Americanism of the whole scheme known as Reconstruction and the Americanism of the author's conclusions.
He presents the Greensboro or Southern side as follows; We were rebels in arms: This meant that we should govern ourselves as of old. Instead of this, they put military officers over us; they imposed disabilities on our best and bravest; they liberated our slaves, and gave them power over us. Men born at the North came among us, and were given place and power by the votes of slaves and renegades.
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There were incompetent officers. The revenues of the State were squandered. We were taxed to educate the blacks. Enormous debts were contracted. We did not do these acts of violence from political motives, but only because the parties had made themselves obnoxious. Of the Southern or shall we call it the American.? It was a magnificent sentiment that underlay it all — an unfal- tering determination, an invincible defiance to all that had the 63 O. One cannot but regard with pride and sympathy the indomitable men, who, being conquered in war, yet resisted every effort of the conqueror to change their laws, their customs, or even the personnel of their ruhng class; and this, too, not only with unyielding stubbornness, but with success.
One cannot but admire the arrogant boldness with which they charged the nation which had overpowered them — even in the teeth of her legislators — with perfidy, malice, and a spirit of unworthy and contemptible revenge. Of the Ku Klux Klan more particularly he writes: It is sometimes said, by those who do not comprehend its purpose, to have been a base, cowardly, and cruel barbarism.
If that were all that was intended and done, no, it was not brave and commendable. But it was not alone the poor colored man whom the daring band of night-riders struck, as the falcon strikes the sparrow; that indeed would have been cowardly: It was no brave thing in itself for Old John Brown to seize the arsenal at Harper's Ferry; considered as an assault on the almost solitary watchman, it was cowardly in the extreme: So it was with this magnificent organization. It was not the individual negro, scalawag, or carpet-bagger, against whom the blow was directed, but the power — the Government — the idea which they represented.
Not unfrequently, the individual victim was one This association offered a ready and effective method of overturning the hated organization, and throwing off the rule which had been imposed upon them. From the first, therefore, it spread like wildfire. It is said that the first organization was instituted in May, or perhaps as late as the 1st of June, ; yet by August of that year it was firmly established in every State of the South.
Recon- struction was a thing of the past and the Ku Klux, of whom there were about eight hundred in Guilford County, had become but a memory. There was romance and mystery in it all to the younger generation, and O. Henry shows the traces of it in his later work. We never passed it without shuddering.
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Weaver, of Nashville, Tennessee, gives his impressions as follows: There was one house, standing far back from the street, its yard thickly shaded by elms and oaks, which was to me a place of mystery, for here there lived that one-eyed scoundrel, that old carpet-bagger. Judge Tourgee, the Republican boss of the State, who had sought, so we are told, to introduce social equality among negroes and whites; who had wrecked the good name and the financial integrity of our fair State by his unexampled extravagance when he was in control of the State legislature, and who had brought about almost a reign of terror, so that he was justly considered by all good people to be a veritable monster.
Henry, Ku Klux and Judge Tourgee were only so many more challenges to the innate romanticism of his natm-e. His most intimate boyhood friend, Mr. Tate, writes of those days: Of course Will [O. Henry] and I played Ku Klux. The Awakening of O. The old Presbyterian High School [a child of David Caldwell] used to be the meeting place of the genuine article and was always held in awe by us boys for a long time on that account.
O. Henry (1862–1910)
You will remember that it stood vacant and gloomy in the grove just opposite our home place for many years. As to Judge Tourgee, we looked upon him as some sort of a pirate, mysterious and blackened by a thousand crimes, and we glanced at him covertly when he happened around. He was a sort of an ogre, but even then we admired him for his courage and won- dered at it, coming as he did from the North. Very dark stories were whispered of his doings out in far-off Warnersville, the negro settlement out by the Methodist graveyard.
You will remember that he had a beautiful country place out on the Guilford College Road. There was a greenhouse, flowers, shrubbery, and an immense rustic arbor there and it was used for dances and had an upper and lower floor. Miss Salhe Coleman was visiting in Greensboro and either expressed a desire for magnolias or Will conceived that she would like to have some, so we started about midnight on the six miles' "hike" to West Green to spoil and loot.
Strange to say, the memory of the moon- lit night is with me now even after all these years. It was a per- fect night. The moon was full and showering down her mellow radiance in great floods. I can see the long white line of road stretching out, hear the whippoorwills and smell the good night air laden with its species and fragrance and I can see the long row of magnolia trees out in the wheat field and orchard with their great white flowers gleaming out from the dark foli- age. I can also feel the creepy sensation that I felt when we mounted the fence and started across the open field for the trees and the relief that came v,hen we crossed that fence with the loot.
We carried them back and laid them on Miss Sallie's door- step.
Henry's home than West Green and they could have been had in broad daylight for the asking. What his nature craved was an opportunity to play the knight, to steep himself in romance, to dare the forbidden, to imagine himself for six glorious miles one of the venturers of whom he was afterward to write: That is the difference between him and the Adventurer. Eating the forbidden fruit was the best record ever made by a Venturer.
Trying to prove that it happened is the highest work of the Ad- venturesome. To be either is disturbing to the cosmogony of creation. The man who was in later years to be hailed as "the discoverer of the romance in the streets of New York," who, as the Atlantic Monthly] put it, "seems to possess the happy gift of picking up gold pieces from the asphalt pavement," was a pursuivant of romance all his life. Sometimes the sources from which he drew his ro- mantic inspiration could hardly in themselves be called romantic.
His fertile imagination at once converted this into a great castle inhabited by a cruel giant who kept imprisoned within its grim walls a beautiful maiden whom he and I, after doing vahant battle as her loyal knights, were to trmmphantly rescue At this remote period I cannot of course recall all the details of this wonderful story as he told it, but I feel sure that if it could be faithfully reproduced, it would make tlirillingly inter- esting reading of its kind. But in these early days playing Indian was O. Indian arrow-heads were plentiful around Greensboro and O.
Henry, it will be remembered, treasured above all others one tbat he had found sticking in the Revolutionary log that formed a part of his home. The Indian game took many forms but all gave scope and career to his imagi- nation as well as zest and vividness to his early reading. Tate describes two forms of the Indian play as follows: My father kept a large flock of turkeys and the tail feathers of these furnished us material for our "war bonnets" when we played Indian, much to the detriment of the turkeys' appearance and to my father's displeasure.
We played this game more than any other. Our bows were of our own make as were the arrows, and were quite effective as the Poland Chinas, Berkshires, and Chester Whites could testify if they had not long since gone the way of all good hogs— which is not Jerusalem. These hogs acted in turns the part of giizzlies, deer, horses, etc. Another feature of the Indian play, or rather an- other setting to our action, was on a muddy bank down at the creek. We would take our toy gun, owned in common, go down to the soft, slippery bank — strip and paint up properly and wage warfare on each other.
Dying a thousand deaths was a small item to us; we did it thoroughly that many times each day. Dui'ing these years O. Henry cared little for indoor games and sports. In chess he could hold his own with the veterans of the town before he had reached his teens and in roller-skating he won the championship prize. He was also a good boxer and a trained fencer.
But his favourite recreation was to roam around the fields and woods with a congenial companion. A book was usually taken along and was read in some shady spot or, in winter time, beneath the shelter of pines and broomsedge on a favourite hillside over- looking old Caldwell's Pond. Even when he went fishing or swimming or hunting for chinquapins or hickory nuts, he found his chief exhilaration in the breadth and freedom of out of doors rather than in the nominal object of the jaunt. An outing with a set purpose was never to his liking. He was always shy, his exuberant humour and rare gift of story telHng seeming to take flight within the walls of a house.
He preferred the front gate or, as a halfway station, the porch. Even in a small group out of doors, if there was a stranger or one uncongenial companion, O. Henry would not be heard from. But the next day he would tell you what happened and with such a wealth of original comment and keenness of insight and alchemy of exaggeration, all framed in a droll or dramatic story, that you would think you had missed the time of your life in not being present. Henry of himself in the words already cited, "but he learns afterward from reading and life.
Hers was undoubtedly the strongest personal influence brought to bear on O. Henry during his twenty years in North Carolina. The death of his mother when he was only three years old and the in- creasing absorption of his father in futile inventions resulted in Miss Lina's taking the place of both parents, and this she did not only with whole-souled devotion but with rare and efficient intelligence.
She was a handsome woman with none of her father's happy-go- lucky disposition but with much of her mother's direc- 71 O. She had been educated at Edgeworth Female Seminary and in the late 'sixties opened a small school in one of the rooms of her mother's home. Her mother assisted her and in a few years, the school having outgrown its accommodations, a small building was erected on the Porter premises. Here Miss Lina taught until the growth of the public graded school system, which Greensboro was the first town in the State to adopt, began to encroach upon her domain and to render her work less remunerative and less needful.
When she closed her school she carried with her the love and the increasing admiration of all whom she had taught. No teacher of a private preparatory school in Greensboro ever taught as many pupils as Miss Lina or was followed by a heartier plaudit of "Well done. It was not the fashion in those days to spare it. The emendation must have appealed to the youthful O. But there was no cruelty In Miss LIna's disposition. She tempered justice If not with mercy at least with rigid Impartiality and with hearty laughter.
I have never known a pupil of her school, whether doctor, teacher, preacher, merchant, lawyer, or judge, who did not say that every application of the rod, so far as he was concerned, was amply and urgently deserved. To have been soundly whipped by Miss LIna Is still regarded In Greensboro as a sort of spiritual bond of union, linking together the older citizens of the town in a community of cutaneous experience for which they would not exchange a college diploma. The little schoolroom was removed many years ago but it still lives In the grateful memory of all who attended It and has attained a new immortality in the fame of its most Illustrious pupil.
Henry attended no other school, and he attended this only to the age of fifteen. He was always a favourite with Miss LIna and with the other pupils. The gentleness of his disposition and his genius for original kinds of play won his schoolmates while his aunt held up his interest in his books, his good deport- ment, and his skill in drawing as worthy of all emula- tion.
Miss LIna taught drawing, but O. Henry's sketches were almost from the start so far superior 73 O. Some of his best free-hand sketches Miss Lina never saw, though she deserves the credit of having inspired them. She had a way of sending the arithmetic class to the blackboard while she paced the floor with the bundle of switches. Henry would work his "sum" with his right hand and sketch Miss Lina with his left at the same time. The likeness was perfect, not a feature or switch being omitted. The whole thing had to be done as she walked from one side of the little room to the other with her back to the blackboard.
To insure safety through instantaneous erasure the fingers of the left hand held not only the rapidly moving crayon but also the erasing rag. Henry's ear, long practised told him accurately how near Miss Lina was to the end of her promenade, and just before her last step was taken and the return trip begun the rag would descend and she would behold only a sum so neatly worked that it would become the subject of another address on good work and model workers.
But we are more concerned here with Miss Lina's method of teaching literature. She had a method, and O. Henry's lifelong love of good books was in part the fruitage of her method. She did not teach the history of literature, but she laboured in season and out of season to have her pupils assimilate the spirit of litera- ture.
She loved books as she loved flowers, because her nature demanded them. Fiction and poetry were her means of widening and enriching her own inner life, not of learning facts about the world without. Scott and Dickens were her favourite novelists and Father Ryan her favourite poet. She did not measure literature by life but life by literature. Henry at that time, but he was later to transpose his standards, putting life first.
I have often thought that Miss Lina must have been in O.
She was a product of the old South, gently nurtured in the sheltered life. Her learning was not broad, but was deep and of splendid originality in its somewhat narrow scope. She had been educated at home, and her knowledge of the world was derived from inference and by inspiration. Of such is the precious, small group of essayists made. While she talked to me I kept brushing my fingers, trying, unconsciously, to rid them guiltily of the absent dust from the half-calf backs of Lamb, Chaucer, HazUtt, Marcus Aurelius, Montaigne, and Hood.
She was ex- quisite; she was a valuable discovery. Nearly everybody nowa- days knows too much — oh, so much too much — of real life. Miss Lina used regularly to gather her boys about her at recess and read to them from some standard author. When she saw that she had caught their interest she would announce a Friday night meeting in the schoolroom at which they would pop corn and roast chestnuts and she would continue the readings.
Henry, "between my thirteenth and nineteenth years than I have done in all the years since, and my taste at that time was much better than it is now, for I used to read nothing but the classics. I did all my reading before I was twenty. But Miss Lina believed that the best way to learn or to appreciate the art of narration was to try your hand at it yourself. You might never become a great writer, but you would at least have a first-hand ac- quaintance with the discipline that well-knit narrative involves.
In the intervals, therefore, between chest- nut roastings and classic readings an original story would be started, every one present having to make an impromptu contribution when called on. Each con- tribution, being expected to grow naturally out of the incidents that preceded it, demanded, of course, the closest attention to all that had hitherto been said.
The most difficult role in this narrative program fell, of course, to the pupil who tried to halt the windings of the story by an interesting and adequate conclusion. Need I say that the creator of "The Four Milhon" found his keenest de- Hght in this exercise or that his contributions were those most eagerly awaited by teacher and pupil? In the long summer evenings after school Miss Lina's boys would gather on the old Edgeworth grounds for a kind of recreation which the contracted Porter premises did not permit.
In an English magazine O. Henry had read two serial stories called "Jack Hark- away" and "Dick Lightheart. One was the Brickbats, the other the Union Jacks. The Union Jacks, to which 0. Henry belonged, had selected for their armory one of the few minor buildings on the Edgeworth campus which had been spared by the fire. Here they had stored a rich col- lection of wooden battleaxes, shields, spears, helmets, cavalry sabres, and all other things Jane Porterish, and here they held nightly conclave.
The planning of raids which never took place, the discussion of the relative values of medieval weapons of which they had read, the facile citation of well-known non-existent authorities on attack and counter-attack, the bestowal of knightly titles on themselves and of less knightly 77 O. Henry during his more malleable years. Porter was the leading spirit in the daring enterprises and many were the hair- raising adventures these ten-year-old heroes encoun- tered.
The shields and battleaxes were often thrown hastily aside when safety lay in flight. Ghosts were not uncommon in those days, or rather nights, and only good, sturdy legs could cope with the supernatural. Henry's brief school days will illustrate the artistic use that he so often makes in his stories of scraps of verse stored in the memory as well as the longing that he had to play the venturer beyond the confines of his native town and State.
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By way of introduction the reader will recall the dramatic manner in which O. Henry uses in "The Caballero's Way" these lines: Smith, of Mount Airy, North Carolina, writes: I went to jump out of the window and in doing so dislocated my ankle. Not being able to walk Will and his brother Shirley carried me into the house, and sent for old Doctor Porter.
He had about quit practising, but the ankle had to be set at once, so Shirley held me on the floor while Will seized my leg and the old doctor started to twist my ankle oflf, it seemed to me. I began to cry out, and then Will began to sing, and you know he could not sing, but this was his song: If you don't stop fooling with my Lula I tell you what I'll do; I'll feel around your heart with a razor And I'll cut your liver out too.
The next adventure that I can recall was: There was a boy who lived opposite the school by the name of Robertson, whose father was a dentist.
He ran away and went on a whaling vessel, but finally came back, and we would meet around and hear him tell about the sea, and how much money he made catching whales. Will and Tom Tate and I would meet and caucus whether we would go and catch whales or fight the Indians. Tom was for fighting the Indians, and Will and I decided that we would make our fortunes catchmg whales, so we started for the sea. Our money gave out at Raleigh and, after spending all we had for something to eat, we decided to go home if we could get there.
O. Henry Book List - FictionDB
We went to the depot and, as luck would have it, we saw a freight 79 0. He told us to crawl up on the box cars, and that two blows meant put on brakes, and one to take them off, and for us to mind or he would put us off. That is the first and last time I have ever been on top of a box car running.
After we had gotten up good speed I saw the engine disappear around a curve, and it seemed to me that the box car that Will and I were on was going direct to the woods. Then we both gave up as lost, and lay right down on the running board, and Will began to repeat what Miss Lina Porter had taught him, "Now I lay me down to sleep," etc. I had my eyes closed, expecting the car to hit the woods every minute.
Finally, when nothing hap- pened, it seemed that we both raised up about the same time, and just looked at each other. Then Will began his song. If you don't stop fooling with my Lula, but in rather a sheepish manner. Here he was known and loved by old and young, black and white, rich and poor. He was the wag of the town, but so quiet, so unobtru- sive, so apparently preoccupied that it was his pencil rather than his tongue that spread his local fame.
His youthful devotion to drawing was stimulated in large part by the pictures painted by his mother. Many of these hung in the Porter home. Some were portraits and some landscapes. They were part of the atmosphere in which O. Henry was then only ten years old but the picture that he drew of a playmate rescuing an empty churn from the basement of the burning building, with the milk spilled all over him, Is remem- bered for Its ludicrous conception and for Its striking fidelity to the boy and to the surroundings.
His five years in his uncle's drug store meant much to him as a cartoonist. His feeling for the ludicrous, for the odd, for the distinctive. In speech, tone, appear- ance, conduct, or character responded Instantly to the appeal made by the drug store constituency. Not that he was not witty; he was.
But his best things were said with the pencil. There was not a man or woman in the town whom he could not reproduce recognizably with a few strokes of a lead pencil. Thus It was a common occurrence, when Clark Porter returned to the store from lunch, for a conversation like this to take place: He was an artist with chalk on a blackboard. But he could not accept my offer for lack of means to provide for his uniform and books. Henry was never heard to allude to it. His pencil sketches sometimes gave offence, es- pecially when some admirer would hang them in the store window, but rarely.
He was absolutely without malice. There was about him also a gentleness of manner, a delicacy of feeling, a refinement in speech and demeanour that was as much a part of him as his humour. I have received no reminiscences of him that do not make mention of his purity of speech and thought. Yet he was never sissy. He could be genuinely funny so easily himself without striking beneath the belt that a resort to underhand tactics seemed crude and awkward to him. In the presence of such methods he seemed to me uneasy and bored rather than indignant or shocked.
No one at least who knew him in the old days will wonder at the surprise with which in later years he resented the constant comparison of his work with that of De Maupassant, though toward the last he kept a copy of De Maupassant always at hand. No two writers ever lived more diametrically opposed than O. Henry and De Maupassant except in technique. Well, I never wrote a filthy word in my life, and I don't like to be compared to a filthy writer. Henry was honoured during his whole life with the understanding friendship of a few noble-spirited women who in the early days, as in the later, helped, I think, to keep his compass true.
After Miss Lina's school the drug store was to O. Henry a sort of advanced course in human nature and in the cartoonist's art. George Eliot tells in "Romola" of the part played in medieval Florence by the barber shop. A somewhat analogous part was played in Greens- boro forty years ago by Clark Porter's drug store.
It was the rendezvous of all classes, though the rear room was reserved for the more elect. The two rooms con- stituted in fact the social, political, and anecdotal clearing house of the town. The patronage of the 83 O. It was also a sort of physical confessional. The man who would expend only a few words in purchasing a ham or a hat would talk half an hour of his aches and ills or those of his family before buying twenty-five cents' worth of pills or a ten-cent bottle of liniment.
When the ham or the hat was paid for and taken away there was usually an end of it. Not so with the pills or the liniment. The patient usually came back to continue his personal or family history and to add a sketch of the character and con- duct of the pills or liniment. All this was grist to O.
No one, I thinly, without a training similar to O. Henry's, would be likely to write such a story as "Makes the Whole World Kin. A burglar, you remember, has entered a house at night. The inflammation has gone down. If all the snakes I've used the oil of was strung out in a row they'd reach eight times as far as Saturn, and the rattles could be heard at Valparaiso, Indiana, and back. The drawings that O. Henry used to make of the characters that frequented the drug store were not caricatures. There was usually, it is true, an over- emphasis put upon some one trait, but this trait was the central trait, the over-emphasis serving only to interpret and reveal the character as a whole.
Ex- amining these sketches anew, when the characters themselves are thirty odd years older than they were then, one is struck with the resemblance still existing. Henry's sketches reproduce the characters as they are to-day more faithfully than do the photo- graphs taken at the same time.
The photographs have been outgrown, but not the sketches; for the sketches caught the central and permanent, while the photographs made no distinction. Henry's story called "A Madison Square Arabian Night," an artist, picked at random from the "free-bed line," is made to say: Wlienever I finished a picture people would come to see it, and whisper and look queerly at one another.
I soon found out 85 O. I had a knack of bringing out in the face of a portrait the hidden character of the original. I don't know how I did it — I painted what I saw. Henry's distinctive skill, the skill of the story teller that was to be, is seen to better advantage in his pictures of groups than in his pictures of individuals.
Into the group pictures, which he soon came to prefer to any others, he put more of himself and more of the life of the community. They gave room for a sort of collective interpretation which seems to me very closely related to the plots of his short stories. There is the same selection of a central theme, the same saturation with a controlling idea, the same careful choice of con- tributory details, the same rejection of non-essentials, and the same ability to fuse both theme and details into a single totality of effect.
Those of us who were on the inside could read the story as if printed. Let me show you," and he entered into an affectionate rhapsody over a little pen and ink sketch which he still carried in his inside coat pocket. An illustration is found in a sketch of the interior of Clark Porter's drug store. The date is Every character is drawn to the life, but what gives unity to the whole is the grouping and the implied comment, rather than criticism, that the grouping suggests.
Henry's story names, "The Hypothesis of Failure. But the failure is due to good-natured foibles rather than to faults. The cen- tral figure is the speaker. He was a sign painter in Greensboro, a dark, Italianate-looking man, whose shop was immediately behind the drug store. He was one of the first to recognize O. Henry's genius and treasured with mingled affection and admiration every drawing of the master's that he could find. He did not rightfully belong, however, to the inner circle of the drug store habitues.
If he had, he would never have said "I'll pay you for it. His ostensible quest is ice, but the protrusions from the pitcher indicate that another ingredient of "The Lost Blend" is a more urgent necessity. His plaintive query about cigars finds its answer in the abundant remains, mute em- blems of hospitality abused, that already bestrew the floor.
On the right is the Superintendent of the Presbyterian Sunday School. He was also a deacon and kept a curiosity shop of a store. His specialties were rabbit skins and Mason and Hamlin organs. But he made his most lasting impression on O. Llenry as a dispenser of kerosene oil. It happened in this way: But one day the Superin- tendent's emporium was closed and the pastoral can journeyed on to the hardware store of another deacon.
Henry, who no more doubted Brother M's good intentions than he did his uncle's or the sign painter's, put him promptly into the picture as en- titled to all the rights and privileges of the quartette. The venerable figure on the left is Dr. Hall, the Nestor of the drug store coterie and the leading physician of Greensboro. He was a sort of second father to O. Henry, whom he loved as a son, though O. Henry drew about as many cartoons of him as he filled prescriptions made by him.
Three years later Doctor Hall was to take O. Henry with him to Texas where the second chapter in his life was to begin. Doctor Hall was the tallest man in Greensboro and the stoop, the pose of the head, the very bend of the knee in the picture are perfect. He is sketched at the moment when, having contributed his full quota of cigar stumps, he is WTiting a prescription for Clark or O.
Henry's reading at this time as well as his draw- ing had begun to widen and deepen. At first he had been gripped by the dime novel. Henry what Skelt's melodramas were to Robert Louis Stevenson. Henry's schoolmate and co-reader, "I have ever seen outside of a cigar stand, and I don't think we could have been over seven or eight years old. Will soon imbibed the style and could tell as good a thriller as the author of 'Red-Eyed Rube.
Henry's were stories, but by acting on the banks of Caldwell's Pond the more romantic episodes in the Munro tales O. If we may make the distinction between the acquisitive reader and the assimilative reader we should say that O. Henry was first and last assimilative. For facts as facts in books he cared but little, but for the way they were put together, for the way they were fused and used, for the after-tones and after-glow that the writer's per- sonality imparted, he cared everything. We have often wondered what effect a college education would have had upon him.
The effect, we think, that it would have had upon Bret Harte or Joel Chandler Harris or Mark Twain, that of making each more acquisitive and less assimilative. After the dime novel came the supernatural story, when "the clutch of a clammy hand" replaced the solitary horseman and the dutiful sun. Before leaving Greensboro, however, O.
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