A Cosmopolite in a Cafe is a short story by O. Henry. You can read it online here or listen to it read to you at the bottom of this post. "Before you start the story, it's important to understand that a "cosmopolite" is someone that fashions themselves as a person or citizen of the world, one that is truly at home in any location or setting. Such a person would be free from local attachments and prejudice, and be free of provincial affections." It begins,
At midnight the cafe was crowded. By some chance the little table at which I sat had escaped the eye of incomers, and two vacant chairs at it extended their arms with venal hospitality to the influx of patrons.
And then a cosmopolite sat in one of them, and I was glad, for I held a theory that since Adam no true citizen of the world has existed. We hear of them, and we see foreign labels on much luggage, but we find travellers instead of cosmopolites.
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 garcons, the music wisely catering to all with its raids upon the composers; the melange of talk and laughter--and, if you will, the Wurzburger 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. I was told by a sculptor from Mauch Chunk that the scene was truly Parisian.
My cosmopolite was named E. Rushmore Coglan, and he will be heard from next summer at Coney Island. He is to establish a new "attraction" there, he informed me, offering kingly diversion. And then his conversation rang along parallels of latitude and longitude. He took the great, round world in his hand, so to speak, familiarly, contemptuously, and it seemed no larger than the seed of a Maraschino cherry in a table d'hote grape fruit. He spoke disrespectfully of the equator, he skipped from continent to continent, he derided the zones, he mopped up the high seas with his napkin. With a wave of his hand he would speak of a certain bazaar in Hyderabad. Whiff! He would have you on skis in Lapland. Zip! Now you rode the breakers with the Kanakas at Kealaikahiki. Presto! He dragged you through an Arkansas post-oak swamp, let you dry for a moment on the alkali plains of his Idaho ranch, then whirled you into the society of Viennese archdukes. Anon he would be telling you of a cold he acquired in a Chicago lake breeze and how old Escamila cured it in Buenos Ayres with a hot infusion of the chuchula weed. You would have addressed a letter to "E. Rushmore Coglan, Esq., the Earth, Solar System, the Universe," and have mailed it, feeling confident that it would be delivered to him.
I was sure that I had found at last the one true cosmopolite since Adam...
...I have heard of O. Henry, but that's about it.ReplyDelete
His stories are short and easy to read, which is a plus for me these days.Delete
I like O. Henry -- I'm surprised I haven't read this one before.ReplyDelete
He wrote so many!Delete
What a great story! I linked to the rest of it, and finished reading.ReplyDelete
best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com
I'm glad you liked it.Delete
Love how you shared O Henry's photo. I didn't know what he looked like.ReplyDelete
To be honest, I spent no little time trying to find a freely shareable image that I felt suited the story. I finally just gave up, so I'm glad you liked what I ended up with.Delete
A delightful story. I was thinking we should all be cosmopolites, but I didn't see the end of the story coming. 😺ReplyDelete
Wouldn't it be nice if we could all be world citizens :(Delete
This has me wanting to read more. I've not read much by O. Henry, except The Gift of the Magi.ReplyDelete
That's his best-known. This one was new to me.Delete
At first I was wondering what cosmopolice is. Then I looked again....Thanks for sharing, ValerieReplyDelete
I'd never heard that term.Delete
"would be free from local attachments and prejudice, and be free of provincial affections." oh wouldn't this be a wonderful way to travel the world as it would free you to truly see the culture, the people, the sites. I find this a really romantic ideal.ReplyDelete
Me, too! If we traveled more, maybe... but even then I'm not sure what it would take to rid us of prejudice :(Delete