SUSAN CLARK: And now, the weekly VOA Special English program AMERICAN
Our story today is called "A Municipal Report." It was written by O. Henry and first published in 1904. Here is Shep O'Neal with the story.
SHEP O'NEAL: It was raining as I got off the train in Nashville, Tennessee -- a slow, gray rain. I was tired so I went straight to my hotel.
A big, heavy man was walking up and down in the hotel lobby. Something about the way he moved made me think of a hungry dog looking for a bone. He had a big, fat, red face and a sleepy expression in his eyes. He introduced himself as Wentworth Caswell -- Major Wentworth Caswell -- from "a fine southern family." Caswell pulled me into the hotel's barroom and yelled for a waiter. We ordered drinks. While we drank, he talked continually about himself, his family, his wife and her family. He said his wife was rich. He showed me a handful of silver coins that he pulled from his coat pocket.
By this time, I had decided that I wanted no more of him. I said good night.
I went up to my room and looked out the window. It was ten o'clock but the town was silent. "A nice quiet place," I said to myself as I got ready for bed. Just an ordinary, sleepy southern town."
I was born in the south myself. But I live in New York now. I write for a large magazine. My boss had asked me to go to Nashville. The magazine had received some stories and poems from a writer in Nashville, named Azalea Adair. The editor liked her work very much. The publisher asked me to get her to sign an agreement to write only for his magazine.
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