A hundred years ago when I went to school, The ransom of Red Chief was REQUIRED (gag me with a spoon!) reading. I was an avid reading convert from then on. This book is full of great stories (Tobin?s Palm, The Gift Of The Magi, A Cosmopolite In A Café, Between Rounds, The Skylight Room, A Service Of Love, The Coming-Out Of Maggie, Man About Town, The Cop And The Anthem, An Adjustment Of Nature, Memoirs Of A Yellow Dog, The Love-Philtre Of Ikey Schoenstein, Mammon And The Archer, Springtime À La Carte, The Green Door, From The Cabby?s Seat, An Unfinished Story, The Caliph, Cupid And The Clock, Sisters Of The Golden Circle, The Romance Of A Busy Broker, After Twenty Years, Lost On Dress Parade, By Courier, The Furnished Room, The Brief Début Of Tildy) and neat phrases (He was the kind of guy that if he saw a dollar in another mans hand, he would take it as a personal insult, if he couldnt get it any other way. He was as busy as a one armed paper hanger with the nettle rash.) Do yourself a favor. Allow the Grand Master of the Short Story to fill your empty hours with pure delight. Enjoy this classic work. These few paragraphs distill the contents and give you a quick look inside: By the two signs, answers Tobin, trying to explain, which ye display according to the reading of the Egyptian palmist from the sole of me hand, yeve been nominated to offset with good luck the lines of trouble leading to the nigger man and the blonde lady with her feet crossed in the boat, besides the financial loss of a dollar sixty-five, all so far fulfilled according to Hoyle. ...And thats what Im doing, says I, for, in my opinion, theres no fortune to be read from the palm of me hand that wasnt printed there with the handle of a pick. ...I invoke your consideration of the scene?the marble-topped tables, the range of leather-upholstered wall seats, the gay company, the ladies dressed in demi-state toilets, speaking in an exquisite visible chorus of taste, economy, opulence or art; the sedulous and largess-loving garçons, the music wisely catering to all with its raids upon the composers; the mélange of talk and laughter?and, if you will, the Würzburger in the tall glass cones that bend to your lips as a ripe cherry sways on its branch to the beak of a robber jay. ...In a poem he has to say that there is pride and rivalry between the cities of the earth, and that the men that breed from them, they traffic up and down, but cling to their cities hem as a child to the mothers gown. ...Why, Ive seen Kentuckians who hated whiskey, Virginians who werent descended from Pocahontas, Indianians who hadnt written a novel, Mexicans who didnt wear velvet trousers with silver dollars sewed along the seams, funny Englishmen, spendthrift Yankees, cold-blooded Southerners, narrow-minded Westerners, and New Yorkers who were too busy to stop for an hour on the street to watch a one-armed grocers clerk do up cranberries in paper bags.