Come with me on to the bridge. Ah, see there, far below, the dark, turbid stream. Rushing
and whirling and eddying under the dark pillars with ghostly murmur and siren whisper.
What shall we find in your depths? The stars do not reflect themselves in your waters,
they are too dark and troubled and swift! What shall we find in your depths? Rest?—
Peace?—catfish? Who knows? 'Tis but a moment. A leap! A plunge!—and—then
oblivion or another world? Who can tell? A man once dived into your depths and brought
up a horse collar and a hoop-skirt. Ah! what do we know of the beyond? We know that
death comes, and we return no more to our world of trouble and care—but where do we
go? Are there lands where no traveler has been? A chaos—perhaps where no human foot
has trod—perhaps Bastrop—perhaps New Jersey! Who knows? Where do people go who
are in McDade? Do they go where they have to fare worse? They cannot go where they
have worse fare!
Let us leave the river. The night grows cold. We could not pierce the future or pay the
toll. Come, the ice factory is deserted! No one sees us. My partner, W. P. Anderson, will
never destroy himself. Why? His credit is good. No one will sue a side-partner of mine!
You have heard of a brook murmuring, but you never knew a sewer sighed! But we
digress! We will no longer pursue a side issue like this. Au revoir. I will see you later.
WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE INGOMAR JUNIUS BRUTUS CALLIOPE SIX-
HANDED EUCHRE GROVER CLEVELAND HILL CITY QUARTETTE JOHNSON.
AN EARLY PARABLE
[In one of his early letters, written from Austin, O. Henry wrote a long parable that was
evidently to tell his correspondent some of the local gossip. Here it is:]
Once upon a time there was a maiden in a land not far away—a maiden of much beauty
and rare accomplishments. She was beloved by all on account of her goodness of heart,
and her many charms of disposition. Her father was a great lord, rich and powerful, and a
mighty man, and he loved his daughter with exceeding great love, and he cared for her
with jealous and loving watchfulness, lest any harm should befall her, or even the least
discomfort should mar her happiness and cause any trouble in her smooth and peaceful
life. The cunningest masters were engaged to teach her from her youngest days; she
played upon the harpsichord the loveliest and sweetest music; she wrought fancy work in
divers strange and wonderful forms that might puzzle all beholders as to what manner of
things they might be; she sang; and all listeners hearkened thereunto, as to the voice of an
angel; she danced stately minuets with the gay knights as graceful as a queen and as light
as the thistledown borne above the clover blossoms by the wind; she could paint upon