The Green Door by O. Henry, 1906
The magic trick:
Starting the story with a pontification about the nature of adventure
This is not the first time O. Henry has made an appearance in our annual week of Valentine’s love stores. In fact, I believe it’s his third story in that category. Easy to forget that O. Henry has quite a catalogue of love stories, but he does. Well, he does as long as you are willing to overlook the rampant racism and sexism. If you can ignore those elements and enjoy the rest of the story, you’ll find some good stuff here.
In “The Green Door,” we find O. Henry at his O. Henry-est in terms of voice. He spends the first third of the story going on about the nature of adventure and fate. It feels like he just started writing a bunch of stuff, chuckled to himself a few times along the way, and never even thought about going back and editing it. People work very hard to get that kind of easy conversational tone.
And that’s quite a trick on O. Henry’s part.
That would be pure adventure. Would you accept it?
No. Your face would turn red. You would drop the bread and butter. You would walk straight along, with one hand over the hole in your coat. This you would do, if you are not one of the very few in whom the pure spirit of adventure is not dead.
There have never been many true adventurers. You can read stories about men called adventurers. But they were really businessmen. There was something they wanted—lady, or money, or a country, or honor. And so they got it. But a true adventurer is different. He starts without any special purpose. He is ready for anything he may meet.
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