The Snow Man Page: 231
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The Snow Man
By O. Henry
EDITORIAL NOTE.-Before the recent fatal illness of \Villiam Sydney Porter (known
through his literary work as "O. Henry") this American master of short-story writing had newn
for HAMPTON'S MAGAZINE the story printed below. Illness crept upon him rapidly and e
was compelled to give up writing before the tale was quite completed.
When he realized that he could do no more (it was his life-long habit to write with a
pencil, never dictating to a stenographer), O. Henry told in detail the remainder of " The Snow
Man" to Harris Merton Lyon, whom he had often spoken of as one of the most effective short
story writers of the present time. Mr. Porter had delineated all of the characters, leaving only the
rounding out of the plot in the final pages to Mr. Lyon.
OUSED and windowpaned from it,
the greatest wonder to little children
is the snow. To men, it is something like
a crucible in which their world melts into a
white star ten million miles away. The
man who can stand the test is a Snow Mlan;
and this is his reading by Fahrenheit, Rau-
mtur, or Moses's carven tables of stone.
Night had fluttered a sable pinion above
he canon of Big Lost River, and I urged
my horse toward the Bay lorse Ranch be-
cause the snow was deepening. The fllakes
were as large as an hour's circular tatting
by Miss Wilkin's ablest spinster, betoken-
ing a heavy snowfall and less entertainment
and more adventure than the completion
of the tatting could promise. I knew Ross
Curtis of the Bay Horse, and that I would
be welcome as a snow-bound pilgrim, both
for hospitality's sake and because Ross had
few chances to confide in living creatures
who did not neigh, bellow, bleat, yelp, or
hol, during his discourse.
The ranch house was just within the jaws
of the cairon where its builder may have
iatluously fancied that the timbered and
rocky walls on both sides would have pro-
tected it from the wintry Colorado winds;
but I feared the drift. lEvcn now throuuhl
thie endless, bottomless rift in the hill -
he speaking tube of the four winds-came
raring the voice of the proprietor to the
little room on the top lmoor.
At my "hello," a ranch hand came from
an outer building and received my thankful
horse. In another minute, Ross and I sat
by a stove in the diuing-ro om of he four
room ranch house, while the lig, simple
welcome of the household lay at my dis-
posal. Fanned by the whizzing inrther,
the fine, dry snow was sifted and holted
through the cracks and knot holes of the
logs. The cook room, without a separating
In there I could see a short, sturdy, lei-
surely and weather-lbeaten malal imll ingx with
professionalsurenessabout his red-hot stove.
His face was solid and unreadable -some-
thing like that of a great thinker. or of one
who had no thoughts to conceal. I thought
his eye seemed unwarrantablv superior ito
the elements and to the manl, ibut quickly
attributed that to the characteristic self-
importance of a petty chef. " Camp coo "
was the niche that I gave him in the IHll Ofi
Types; and he litted it as an apple fits a
Cold it was, in spite of the glowing stove;
and Ross and I sat and talked, shuddering
frequently, half from nerves and half from
the freezing draughts. So he brought the
bottle, and the cook brought boiling water,
and we made prodigious hoit todlies against
the attacks of Boreas. We clinked glasses
often. 'IThey sounded like icichle dropping
from the caves, or like the tinkle of a thou-
sand prisms on a Louisi Xl chandelier that
I once heard at a bo/lrdcr's d:ace in the
Iparlor of a ten-a-wtk boarding-house in
Gramercy Sqcuare. Sic transit.
Silence in the terrible beauty of the snow
and of the Sphinx and of the stars but they
II 9C ~- ~1 IC - I II~
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Reference the current page of this Prose (Fiction).
Henry, O., 1862-1910. The Snow Man, prose (fiction), August 1910; New York. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth139328/m1/3/: accessed September 27, 2020), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Austin History Center, Austin Public Library.