Mr. Plummer lived in Winchester, the old capital of England. One day, having to go to London on business, he bought a second-class return ticket and caught the morning express.
After spending the day in London, he reached the station to start his return journey at a time when all the business men were going home to the country from their offices in London. The train was already crowded when Mr. Plummer arrived, and it was clear that, unless he changed his plans, he would have to stand up. He noticed that there were several empty seats in the first-class carriages, and decided to travel in comfort. He could pay the difference when the ticket-collector came to the carriage on the way to Winchester. He got into a first-class carriage and sat down in one of the two remaining empty seats.
The other four men in the carriage had the appearance of ordinary successful business men. They were well dressed in dark suits and were clearly men of good position. But just before the train started, a different kind of person jumped in and sat down, a young man who had certainly never worked in an office.
Mr. Plummer was rather surprised to see such a man in a first-class carriage, until he remembered how full the train was. His coat was tight, and short at the back; his collar and tie were green; his brown shoes narrow and pointed, like a girl's. An unpleasant smell of hair-oil filled the air.
Two of the other men looked up in silence from their newspapers, shook them, and then started to read again; but their expressions showed well enough what they were thinking.
The third man filled his pipe and blew clouds of smoke all over the carriage. The fourth opened the window. Mr. Plummer decided that he was not the only passenger who was going to pay something extra to the ticket-collector, and in this belief he was perfectly correct.
Perhaps the young man hoped that no one would come to examine the tickets. If so, he was mistaken; for when the train had beentraveling for twenty minutes, the door opened and an official entered. Mr. Plummer had the necessary money ready in his hand, and held it out with the ticket. The official then turned to the others.
One by one each of the four business men held out a second-class ticket, and all had to pay the difference. But the young man sat still. Had he no ticket at all?
He had. His was the only first-class ticket in the carriage.
O'Henry, a famous American humorist, is the author of many short stories. His short stories are very popular all over the world. This is what happened to him one day. He had an acquaintance whose name was Tripp. He was a young man but he looked forty. He never shaved, his face was pale and he often asked the writer for a dollar, and then spent it on whisky. Once Tripp met a young girl in New York. She had never been to the city before. She stopped Tripp and asked him where she could find George Brown. She thought that the first man whom she asked could tell her that. She alsotoldTripp that she was going to marry a farmer, named Dodd. But before that she wanted to see George Brown and to have a talk with him. That's why she had come to New York. She had no money and didn't know where to look for George Brown. Tripp, who was kind by nature, could not leave the girl alone. He took her to a hotel and left her there. He told everything to O'Henry and suggested that they should go and see the girl whose name was Ada. Ada and George Brown loved each other dearly. The girl did not want to marry the farmer. She wanted to find George. Tripp suggested that the writer pay the bill at the hotel where Ada was staying and buy a railway ticket for Ada to get back home. He said that it would cost the writer three dollars. He asked for another dollar for himself. He wanted whisky. He added that the writer would be able to write a new short story. It would cost him only four dollars. Ada was really beautiful. She told them all the details. She and George were in love when the boy was eight and she was five. When George was nineteen, he left the village and went to New York. He promised to come back for Ada, but she never saw him again. On the day George left they cut a cent into two pieces till they met again. The two men very sorry for Ada and advised her to go home. They saw her to the station and then went home. When they were going to the bus-stop, Tripp took his cheap watch out of his pocket and the writer saw half of the cent cut in two. George Brown and Tripp were one and the same man. The writer took out a dollar and put into Tripp's hand.