The ransom of Red Chief and other O. Henry stories for boys/Introduction

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Boys, meet O. Henry! That’s the proper way, it seems to me, to begin an “Introduction” for you lads. As a teller of tales and spinner of yarns, by very many he is counted our country’s greatest short story writer. The earlier in life you get acquainted with him, the longer you will enjoy him and the fewer will be your regrets that you didn’t know him sooner. He didn’t write stories for boys, but a big bunch of them might just as well have been, and after reading the ones I have chosen, you lads are likely to develop a taste for more that will make all his stories equally easy and delightful reading.

In this selection you will find stories of the wild and woolly west. Cow-punchers, Indians, desperadoes, “greasers,” good men and bad aplenty, crowd one another on and off the page. As you read, one moment you will be thrilled and the very next, if you don’t watch out, you will find yourself laughing so loudly you’ll have to tell “what’s the joke.”

Above all, you boys demand the surprise, or unexpected happening in or at the end of the story. That’s why you like detective stories so well. Run your eye down the table of contents and there greets you a goodly number of these, such as only O. Henry could write. Here again you will find the thrill, and again the rollicking fun to make you laugh. I promise you that, unless it be you are unlike other boys I know.

I might describe individual stories. But why should I? When the titles don’t tell their own stories they so provoke your curiosity you want yourself to read the story; to tell you about it would be in part to spoil it. You want to find out for yourself what “One Dollar’s Worth” is all about. And you know, of course, that “The Adventures of Shamrock Jolnes” is full of laughs, as must be “The Ransom of Red Chief.”

There’s another fine thing about it, too. Here’s a book where it doesn’t matter much whether you begin at the beginning or in the middle or at the end, it’s all the same—you are bound to be immensely pleased. So, good luck to you! Perhaps some day in our travels we’ll come upon each other. Should that pleasure ever be mine, I am confident you will thank me for having introduced you to O. Henry.

F. K. Mathiews
Chief Scout Librarian,

Boy Scouts of America.