O.Henry: A Cosmopolite in a cafe

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Senior Member
Chinese, China
it's O Henry's "A Cosmopolite in a cafe". this 'cosmopolite' was telling several stories to prove that he's truely a 'world citizen' and that he's not like others who judged people by his /her native place or postal address etc. he told this story:

------- I knew a New Yorker who was kidnapped for ransom by some Afghanistan bandits. His people sent over the money and he came back to Kabul with the agent.
'Afghanistan?' the natives said to him through an interpreter.
'Well, not so slow, do you think?' 'Oh, I don't know,' says he, and he begins to tell them about a cab driver at Sixth avenue and Broadway. --------

here 'natives' refers to afghanistans or americans? 'not so slow' refers to what?

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  • Harry Batt

    Senior Member
    USA English
    The moral to this story is O. Henry, himself. Here is a quote made at the unveiling of O. Henry's portrait, that "O. Henry was a typical American--a cosmopolite who was always at home even in his country," In the Cosmopolite the author was doing what he was very good at. He was best at description and in this story he is describing the guy who has a story for every occassion. The use of "not so slow" indicates that the chap is very quick at concocting a story, a reply, or whatever is needed at the moment. He would be like the eloquent guy who is faced with the task of explained to his wife how a garter got under the sheets of their bed.


    Senior Member
    English UK
    Well, I've had a look at the short story (here), and I think this part is a bit obscure.

    But I'd say that:

    • the 'natives' were natives of Afghanistan
    • what they said to the man was 'Afghanistan? Well, not so slow, do you think?'
    • this was presumably a reference to the speed with which he had been recovered from the kidnappers (?)
    • the man responds by mentioning a cab driver in his home town
    • the aim of the anecdote was to show that however far people travel, they remain bound to their home town.
    The person telling the anecdote was of course the eponymous "Cosmopolite", who professes that, unlike others, he is a citizen of the world, but ends up in a brawl at the end of the story because someone criticises his home town.
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