Transients In Arcadia by O. Henry, 1904
The magic trick:
Establishing a setting and then totally playing against everything the reader thought they knew
I really like this story. If you ever want to write in the style of O. Henry, here is your model. It’s a classic template.
First, establish the setting.
Second, describe the characters.
Third, totally flip the script on what the reader just spent the last five pages believing.
Done. Send to the glossies. Collect your millions.
And that’s quite a trick on O. Henry’s part.
Madame Beaumont was a guest such as the Hotel Lotus loved. She possessed the fine air of the elite, tempered and sweetened by a cordial graciousness that made the hotel employees her slaves. Bell-boys fought for the honor of answering her ring; the clerks, but for the question of ownership, would have deeded to her the hotel and its contents; the other guests regarded her as the final touch of feminine exclusiveness and beauty that rendered the entourage perfect.
This super-excellent guest rarely left the hotel. Her habits were consonant with the customs of the discriminating patrons of the Hotel Lotus. To enjoy that delectable hostelry one must forego the city as though it were leagues away. By night a brief excursion to the nearby roofs is in order; but during the torrid day one remains in the umbrageous fastnesses of the Lotus as a trout hangs poised in the pellucid sanctuaries of his favorite pool.
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