A Strange Story
by O. Henry
In the northern part of Austin there once dwelt an honest family by the name of Smothers. The family consisted of John Smothers, his wife, himself, their little daughter, five years of age, and her parents, making six people toward the population of the city when counted for a special write-up, but only three by actual count.
One night after supper the little girl was seized with a severe colic, and John Smothers hurried down town to get some medicine.
He never came back.
The little girl recovered and in time grew up to womanhood.
The mother grieved very much over her husband’s disappearance, and it was nearly three months before she married again, and moved to San Antonio.
The little girl also married in time, and after a few years had rolled around, she also had a little girl five years of age.
She still lived in the same house where they dwelt when her father had left and never returned.
One night by a remarkable coincidence her little girl was taken with cramp colic on the anniversary of the disappearance of John Smothers, who would now have been her grandfather if he had been alive and had a steady job.
“I will go downtown and get some medicine for her,” said John Smith (for it was none other than he whom she had married).
“No, no, dear John,” cried his wife. “You, too, might disappear forever, and then forget to come back.”
So John Smith did not go, and together they sat by the bedside of little Pansy (for that was Pansy’s name).
After a little Pansy seemed to grow worse, and John Smith again attempted to go for medicine, but his wife would not let him.
Suddenly the door opened, and an old man, stooped and bent, with long white hair, entered the room.
“Hello, here is grandpa,” said Pansy. She had recognized him before any of the others.
The old man drew a bottle of medicine from his pocket and gave Pansy a spoonful.
She got well immediately.
“I was a little late,” said John Smothers, “as I waited for a street car.”