home | authors | books | about

Home -> O. Henry -> A Little Talk about Mobs

A Little Talk about Mobs

Short Stories


A Bird of Bagdad

A Blackjack Bargainer

A Call Loan

A Chaparral Christmas Gift

A Chaparral Prince

A Comedy in Rubber

A Cosmopolite in a Cafe

A Departmental Case

A Dinner at--------*

A Double-Dyed Deceiver

A Fog in Santone

A Harlem Tragedy

A Lickpenny Lover

A Little Local Colour

A Little Talk about Mobs

A Madison Square Arabian Night

A Matter of Mean Elevation

A Midsummer Knight's Dream

A Midsummer Masquerade

A Municipal Report

A Newspaper Story

A Night in New Arabia

A Philistine in Bohemia

A Poor Rule

A Ramble in Aphasia

A Retrieved Reformation

A Ruler of Men

A Sacrifice Hit

A Service of Love

A Snapshot at the President

A Strange Story

A Technical Error

A Tempered Wind

According to Their Lights

After Twenty Years

An Adjustment of Nature

An Afternoon Miracle

An Apology

An Unfinished Christmas Story

An Unfinished Story

Aristocracy Versus Hash

Art and the Bronco

At Arms With Morpheus

Babes in the Jungle


Between Rounds

Bexar Scrip No. 2692

Blind Man's Holiday

Brickdust Row

Buried Treasure

By Courier

Calloway's Code


Cherchez La Femme

Christmas by Injunction

Compliments of the Season

Confessions of a Humorist

Conscience in Art

Cupid a La Carte

Cupid's Exile Number Two


Dougherty's Eye-Opener

Elsie in New York

Extradited from Bohemia

Fickle Fortune or How Gladys Hustled

Friends in San Rosario

From Each According to His Ability

From the Cabby's Seat

Georgia's Ruling


He Also Serves

Hearts and Crosses

Hearts and Hands

Helping the Other Fellow

Holding Up a Train

Hostages to Momus

Hygeia at the Solito

Innocents of Broadway

Jeff Peters as a Personal Magnet

Jimmy Hayes and Muriel

Law and Order

Let Me Feel Your Pulse

Little Speck in Garnered Fruit

Lord Oakhurst's Curse

Lost on Dress Parade

Madame Bo-Peep, of the Ranches

Makes the Whole World Kin

Mammon and the Archer

Man About Town

Masters of Arts

Memoirs of a Yellow Dog

Modern Rural Sports

Money Maze

Nemesis and the Candy Man

New York by Camp Fire Light

Next to Reading Matter

No Story

October and June

On Behalf of the Management

One Dollar's Worth

One Thousand Dollars

Out of Nazareth

Past One at Rooney's


Proof of the Pudding

Psyche and the Pskyscraper

Queries and Answers

Roads of Destiny

Roses, Ruses and Romance

Rouge et Noir

Round the Circle

Rus in Urbe

Schools and Schools

Seats of the Haughty

Shearing the Wolf



Sisters of the Golden Circle


Sociology in Serge and Straw

Sound and Fury

Springtime a La Carte

Squaring the Circle

Strictly Business

Strictly Business

Suite Homes and Their Romance

Telemachus, Friend

The Admiral

The Adventures of Shamrock Jolnes

The Assessor of Success

The Atavism of John Tom Little Bear

The Badge of Policeman O'Roon

The Brief Debut of Tildy

The Buyer From Cactus City

The Caballero's Way

The Cactus

The Caliph and the Cad

The Caliph, Cupid and the Clock

The Call of the Tame

The Chair of Philanthromathematics

The Champion of the Weather

The Church with an Overshot-Wheel

The City of Dreadful Night

The Clarion Call

The Coming-Out of Maggie

The Complete Life of John Hopkins

The Cop and the Anthem

The Count and the Wedding Guest

The Country of Elusion

The Day Resurgent

The Day We Celebrate

The Defeat of the City

The Detective Detector

The Diamond of Kali

The Discounters of Money

The Dog and the Playlet

The Door of Unrest

The Dream

The Duel

The Duplicity of Hargraves

The Easter of the Soul

The Emancipation of Billy

The Enchanted Kiss

The Enchanted Profile

The Ethics of Pig

The Exact Science of Matrimony

The Ferry of Unfulfilment

The Fifth Wheel

The Flag Paramount

The Fool-Killer

The Foreign Policy of Company 99

The Fourth in Salvador

The Friendly Call

The Furnished Room

The Gift of the Magi

The Girl and the Graft

The Girl and the Habit

The Gold That Glittered

The Greater Coney

The Green Door

The Guardian of the Accolade

The Guilty Party - An East Side Tragedy

The Halberdier of the Little Rheinschloss

The Hand that Riles the World

The Handbook of Hymen

The Harbinger

The Head-Hunter

The Hiding of Black Bill

The Higher Abdication

The Higher Pragmatism

The Hypotheses of Failure

The Indian Summer of Dry Valley Johnson

The Lady Higher Up

The Last Leaf

The Last of the Troubadours

The Lonesome Road

The Lost Blend

The Lotus And The Bottle

The Love-Philtre of Ikey Schoenstein

The Making of a New Yorker

The Man Higher Up

The Marionettes

The Marquis and Miss Sally

The Marry Month of May

The Memento

The Missing Chord

The Moment of Victory

The Octopus Marooned

The Passing of Black Eagle

The Pendulum

The Phonograph and the Graft

The Pimienta Pancakes

The Plutonian Fire

The Poet and the Peasant

The Pride of the Cities

The Princess and the Puma

The Prisoner of Zembla

The Proem

The Purple Dress

The Ransom of Mack

The Ransom of Red Chief

The Rathskeller and the Rose

The Red Roses of Tonia

The Reformation of Calliope

The Remnants of the Code

The Renaissance at Charleroi

The Roads We Take

The Robe of Peace

The Romance of a Busy Broker

The Rose of Dixie

The Rubaiyat of a Scotch Highball

The Rubber Plant's Story

The Shamrock and the Palm

The Shocks of Doom

The Skylight Room

The Sleuths

The Snow Man

The Social Triangle

The Song and the Sergeant

The Sparrows in Madison Square

The Sphinx Apple

The Tale of a Tainted Tenner

The Theory and the Hound

The Thing's the Play

The Third Ingredient

The Trimmed Lamp

The Unknown Quantity

The Unprofitable Servant

The Venturers

The Vitagraphoscope

The Voice of the City

The Whirligig of Life

The World and the Door

Thimble, Thimble


To Him Who Waits

Tobin's Palm

Tommy's Burglar

Tracked to Doom

Transformation of Martin Burney

Transients in Arcadia

Two Recalls

Two Renegades

Two Thanksgiving Day Gentlemen

Ulysses and the Dogman

Vanity and Some Sables

What You Want

While the Auto Waits

Whistling Dick's Christmas Stocking

Witches' Loaves

"I see," remarked the tall gentleman in the frock coat and black
slouch hat, "that another street car motorman in your city has
narrowly excaped lynching at the hands of an infuriated mob by
lighting a cigar and walking a couple of blocks down the street."

"Do you think they would have lynched him?" asked the New Yorker,
in the next seat of the ferry station, who was also waiting for
the boat.

"Not until after the election," said the tall man, cutting a corner
off his plug of tobacco. "I've been in your city long enough to know
something about your mobs. The motorman's mob is about the least
dangerous of them all, except the National Guard and the Dressmakers'

"You see, when little Willie Goldstein is sent by his mother for pigs'
knuckles, with a nickel tightly grasped in his chubby fist, he always
crosses the street car track safely twenty feet ahead of the car; and
then suddenly turns back to ask his inother whether it was pale ale
or a spool of 80 white cotton that she wanted. The motorman yells
and throws himself on the brakes like a football player. There is
a horrible grinding and then a ripping sound, and a piercing shriek,
and Willie is sitting, with part of his trousers torn away by the
fender, screaming for his lost nickel.

"In ten seconds the car is surrounded by 600 infuriated citizens,
crying, 'Lynch the motorman! Lynch the motorman!' at the top of
their voices. Some of them run to the nearest cigar store to get a
rope; but they find the last one has just been cut up and labelled.
Hundreds of the excited mob press close to the cowering motorman,
whose hand is observed to tremble perceptibly as he transfers a stick
of pepsin gum from his pocket to his mouth.

"When the bloodthirsty mob of maddened citizens has closed in on the
motorman, some bringing camp stools and sitting quite close to him,
and all shouting, 'Lynch him!' Policeman Fogarty forces his way
through them to the side of their prospective victim.

"'Hello, Mike,' says the motorman in a low voice, 'nice day. Shall
I sneak off a block or so, or would you like to rescue me?'

"'Well, Jerry, if you don't mind,' says the policeman, 'I'd like
to disperse the infuriated mob singlehanded. I haven't defeated a
lynching mob since last Tuesday; and that was a small one of only
300, that wanted to string up a Dago boy for selling wormy pears.
It would boost me some down at the station.'

"'All right, Mike,' says the motorman, 'anything to oblige. I'll
turn pale and tremble.'

"And he does so; and Policeman Fogarty draws his club and says,
'G'wan wid yez!' and in eight seconds the desperate mob has scattered
and gone about its business, except about a hundred who remain to
search for Willie's nickel."

"I never heard of a mob in our city doing violence to a motorman
because of an accident," said the New Yorker.

"You are not liable to," said the tall man. "They know the
motorman's all right, and that he wouldn't even run over a stray
dog if he could help it. And they know that not a man among 'em
would tie the knot to hang even a Thomas cat that had been tried
and condemned and sentenced according to law."

"Then why do they become infuriated and make threats of lynching?"
asked the New Yorker.

"To assure the motorman," answered the tall man, "that he is safe.
If they really wanted to do him up they would go into the houses
and drop bricks on him from the third-story windows."

"New Yorkers are not cowards," said the other man, a little stiffly.

"Not one at a time," agreed the tall man, promptly. "You've got a
fine lot of single-handed scrappers in your town. I'd rather fight
three of you than one; and I'd go up against all the Gas Trust's
victims in a bunch before I'd pass two citizens on a dark corner,
with my watch chain showing. When you get rounded up in a bunch you
lose your nerve. Get you in crowds and you're easy. Ask the 'L'
road guards and George B. Cortelyou and the tintype booths at Coney
Island. Divided you stand, united you fall. ~E pluribus nihil.~
Whenever one of your mobs surrounds a man and begins to holler,
"Lynch him!' he says to himself, "Oh, dear, I suppose I must look
pale to please the boys, but I will, forsooth, let my life insurance
premium lapse to-morrow. This is a sure tip for me to play Methuselah
straight across the board in the next handicap.'

"I can imagine the tortured feelings of a prisoner in the hands of
New York policemen when an infuriated mob demands that he be turned
over to them for lynching. "For God's sake, officers,' cries the
distracted wretch, 'have ye hearts of stone, that ye will not let
them wrest me from ye?'

"'Sorry, Jimmy,' says one of the policemen, 'but it won't do. There's
three of us--me and Darrel and the plain-clothes man; and there's only
sivin thousand of the mob. How'd we explain it at the office if they
took ye? Jist chase the infuriated aggregation around the corner,
Darrel, and we'll be movin' along to the station.'"

"Some of our gatherings of excited citizens have not been so
harmless," said the New Yorker, with a faint note of civic pride.

"I'll admit that," said the tall man. "A cousin of mine who was on
a visit here once had an arm broken and lost an ear in one of them."

"That must have been during the Cooper Union riots," remarked the
New Yorker.

"Not the Cooper Union," explained the tall man--"but it was a union
riot--at the Vanastor wedding."

"You seem to be in favor of lynch law," said the New Yorker,

"No, sir, I am not. No intelligent man is. But, sir, there are
certain cases when people rise in their just majesty and take a
righteous vengeance for crimes that the law is slow in punishing.
I am an advocate of law and order, but I will say to you that less
than six months ago I myself assisted at the lynching of one "of
that race that is creating a wide chasm between your section of
country and mine, sir."

"It is a deplorable condition," said the New Yorker, "that exists
in the South, but--"

"I am from Indiana, sir," said the tall man, taking another chew;
"and I don't think you will condemn my course when I tell you that
the colored man in question had stolen $9.60 in cash, sir, from my
own brother."

© Art Branch Inc. | English Dictionary