Saturday, November 22, 2014

"A Double-Dyed Deceiver" by O. Henry

Deal Me In Lite, Week 21: "A Double-Dyed Deceiver" by O. Henry

This week of Deal Me In Lite (a "baby" version of the real thing, led by Jay at Bibliophilopolis) led me to the 2 of hearts and the final story in The Classic Humor Megapack volume -- a story by one of the greatest short story writers ever, O. Henry (William Sydney Porter). I was a little apprehensive about this story, given that some of the other stories chosen for this anthology were real duds. But I'm happy to say that this turned out to be a classic O. Henry story, and it did not disappoint.

The story begins with the main character, known as "the Llano Kid," in trouble. He has just killed a man over a dispute in a poker game in Laredo, and now has to clear out of town to escape the retaliation of the murdered man's comrades. He steals a horse and makes his way to the Gulf of Mexico, where he boards a cargo ship headed for South America. Once there, he disembarks at a small town named Buenas Tierras, and he meets the American consul in the town, a man by the name of Thacker.

Thacker immediately has an idea for a plan he wants to involve the Kid in. It seems that Buenas Tierras' wealthiest family lost their son many years ago, due to his running away to the U.S. for fame and fortune. According to Thacker, the Kid bears a strong resemblance to their son, and he wants him to pose as the long-lost son returned to them, get into their mansion and steal their fortune, which he would then split with Thacker. The Kid readily agrees, but there's a problem: the son had the family crest tattooed on the back of his left hand, and Thacker's first task is to replicate that tattoo and make it look natural. Once this is done, the Kid gets introduced to the family and quickly and completely fools them. What happens next is part of the classic O. Henry "twist at the end," so I don't dare tell you about it and spoil it for you. Suffice it to say that this was a great little story and well worth the reading. It's available online here - take a read and tell me what you think in the comments.


  1. If this is like the handful of O. Henry stories that I've read, a lot is packed into relatively few pages. I've enjoyed all of his stories that I've read.

    1. Yes, it's exactly like that. And an interesting story in that the beginning seemed dull, slow, and almost irrelevant -- until you get to the twist at the end and you're flipping back to the beginning to see how O. Henry masterfully set you up! :-)