December 9, 2019

Supply and Demand part 8

The dust weighed before you, and taken at sixteen dollars the ounco the highest price on the Gaudymala coast.’

“Then the crowd disperses all of a sudden, and I don’t know what’l up. Mac and me packs away the hand-mirrors and jewelry they had handed back to us, and we had the mules back to the corral they had set apart for our garage.

“While we was there we hear great noises of shouting, and down across the plaza runs Patrick Shane, hotfoot, with his clothes ripped half off, and scratches on his face like a cat had fought him hard for every one of its lives.

‘“They’re looting the treasury, W. D.,’ he sings out. ‘They’re going to kill me and you, too. Unlimber a couple of mules at once. We’ll have to make a get-away in a couple of minutes.’

“‘They’ve found out,’ says I, ‘the truth about the law of supply and demand.’

‘“It’s the women, mostly,’ says the King. ‘And they used to admire me so

Supply and Demand part 7

‘“I’ll tell you what you are,’ says I. ‘You’re a plain, contemptible miser. You preach supply and you forget demand. Now, supply,’ I goes on, ‘is never anything but supply. On the contrary,’ says I, ‘demand is a much broader sylogism and assertion. Demand includes the rights of our women and children, and charity and friendship, and even a little begging on the street corners. They’ve both got to harmonize equally. And I’ve got a few things up my commercial sleeve yet,’ says I, ‘that may jostle your preconceived ideas of politics and economy.’


“The next morning I had McClintock bring up another mule-load of goods to the plaza and open it up. The people gathered around the same as before.

“I got out the finest line of necklaces, bracelets, hair-combs, and earrings that I carried, and had the women put ’em on. And then I played trumps.

“Out of my last pack I opened up a half gross of hand-mirro

Supply and Demand part 6

“‘Tell ’em, says I to McClintock, ‘it ain’t money I want tell ’em I’ll take gold-dust. Tell ’em I’ll allow ’em sixteen dollars an ounce for it in trade. That’s what I’m out for the dust.’

“Mac interprets, and you’d have thought a squadron of cops had charged the crowd to disperse it. Every uncle’s nephew and aunt’s niece of ’em faded away inside of two minutes.

“At the royal palace that night me and the King talked it over.

“ ‘They’ve got the dust hid out somewhere,’ says I, ‘or they wouldn’t have been so sensitive about it.’

“ ‘They haven’t,’ says Shane.‘ What’s this gag you’ve got about gold? You been reading Edward Allen Poe? They ain’t got any gold.’

“‘They put it in quills,’ says I, ‘and then they empty it in jars, and then into sacks of twenty-five pounds each. I got it straight.’

“‘W. D.,’ says Shane, laughing and chewing his cigar,

Supply and Demand part 5

“‘I conquered ’em, spectacularly,’ goes on King Shane, ‘and then I’ went at ’em with economical politics, law, sleight-of-hand, and a kind of New England ethics and parsimony. Every Sunday, or as near as I can guess at it, I preach to ’em in the council-house (I’m the council) on the law of supply and demand. I praise supply and knock demand. I use the same text every time. You wouldn’t think, W. D.,’ says Shane, ‘that I had poetry in me, would you?’

“‘Well,’ says I, ‘I wouldn’t know whether to call it poetry or not.’ “‘Tennyson,’ says Shane, ‘furnishes the poetic gospel I preach. I always considered him the boss poet. Here’s the way the text goes:

“For, not to admire, if a man could learn it, were more

Than to walk all day like a Sultan of old in a garden of spice.”

“‘You see, I teach ’em to cut out demand that supply is the main thing. I teach ’em not to desire anything beyond t

Supply and Demand part 4

“He leads me into the biggest house, and sets the chairs and a kind of a drink the color of milk. It was the finest room I ever saw. The stone walls was hung all over with silk shawls, and there was red and yellow rugs on the floor, and jars of red pottery and Angora goat skins, and enough bamboo furniture to misfurnish half a dozen seaside cottages.

‘“In the first place,’ says the man, ‘you want to know who I am. I’m sole lessee and proprietor of this tribe of Indians. They call me the
Grand Yacuma, which is to say King or Main Finger of the bunch. I’ve got more power here than a chargd d’affaires, a charge of dynamite, and a charge account at Tiffany’s combined. In fact, I’m the Big Stick, with as many extra knots on it as there is on the record run of the Lusitania. Oh, I read the papers now and then,’ says he. ‘Now, let’s hear your entitlements,’ he goes on, ‘and the meeting will be open.’

“‘Well,’ says I, ‘I am kno

Supply and Demand part 3

“After this man and me got through our conversation, which left him dry of information, I shook hands with him and told him I was sorry I couldn’t believe him. And a month afterward I landed on the coast of this Gaudymala with $1,300 that I had been saving up for five years. I thought I knew what Indians liked, and I fixed myself accordingly.

I loaded down four pack-mules with red woolen blankets, wrought-iron pails, jeweled side combs for the ladies, glass necklaces, and safety-razors. I hired a black mozo, who was supposed to be a mule- driver and an interpreter too. It turned out that he could interpret mules all right, but he drove the English language much too hard. His name sounded like a Yale key when you push it in wrong side up, but I called him McClintock, which was close to the noise.

One afternoon

“Well, this gold village was forty miles up in the mountains, and it took us nine days to find it. But one afternoon McClintock led the ot

Supply and Demand part 2

“I heard it from a king,” said Finch “the white king of a tribe of Indians in South America.”

I was interested but not surprised. The big city is like a mother’s knrr to many who have strayed far and found the roads rough beneath their uncertain feet. At dusk they come home and sit upon the door-step. I know a piano player in a cheap cafe who has shot lions in Africa, a bellboy who fought in the British army against the Zulus, an express-driver whose left arm had been cracked like a lobster’s claw for a stew-pot of Patagonian cannibals when the boat of his rescuers hove in sight. So a hat-cleaner who had been a friend of a king did not oppress me.
“A new band?” asked Finch, with his dry, barren smile.

“Yes,” said I, “and half an inch wider.” I had had a new band five days before.

Every pocket

“I meets a man one night,” said Finch, beginning his story “a man brown as snuff, with money in every pocket, eating

Supply and Demand part 1

O. Henry (William Sydney Porter) (1862 1910)

William Sydney Porter who wrote under the pen-name “O. Henry” was born at Greensboro, N. C., in 1862. He received only the rudiments of an education. As a young man he went to Texas, working in the General Land Office and later in a bank. He was implicated in a business deal and served a short prison sentence.

While in prison he began writing stories for the magazines. By the time of his death he was one of the most popular story writers in the country. Between the time of his death and 1920 his work became known throughout the entire English-speaking world. He is one of the ablest short-story writers who ever lived: fertile in invention, clever, amusing, and amazingly deft in the handling of the trick plot. Though he is limited in the subject-matter which he treats, and too fond of telling a story simply for the sake of the point, he must be accorded the credit of perfecting his own type of story.