Tuesday, February 9, 2010

"The Passing of Black Eagle" by O. Henry

This is another western story, like "The Caballero's Way," about a badman at large in he Texas border country. This tale, collected in Roads of Destiny (1919), first appeared in the pages of Ainslee's Magazine during 1901, when O. Henry (William Sidney Porter) first began publishing tales in that publication.

Unlike the better-heralded "The Caballero's Way," which introduced the Cisco Kid to the world (see The Spur & Lock's entry on that story), this tale doesn't dazzle quite so much. The twist at the end isn't so surprising, nor is the tale-telling quite so delightful as in "Caballero." However, the names of the badmen are colorful, and Henry includes some passages whose language suggest the writer he would become:

For a week that car was trundled southward, shifted, laid over, and manipulated after the manner of rolling stock, but Chicken stuck to it, leaving it only at necessary times to satisfy his hunger and thirst. He knew it must go down to the cattle country, and San Antonio, in the heart of it, was his goal. There the air was salubrious and mild; the people indulgent and long-suffering. The bartenders there would not kick him. If he should eat too long or too often at one place they would swear at him as if by rote and without heat. They swore so drawlingly, and they rarely paused short of their full vocabulary, which was copious, so that Chicken had often gulped a good meal during the process of the vituperative prohibition.

Bill Pronzini tells us the story was the basis of a 1948 film, Black Eagle, directed by Robert Gordon and starring William Bishop and Virginia Patton. The story is so slight, I'm surprised an entire movie could be developed from its form.

The story is online in the file for Roads of Destiny at Gutenberg, but also can be found in The Second Reel West, ed. Bill Pronzini and Martin H. Greenberg (New York: Doubleday, 1985).

1 comment:

性感的我 said...