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The son of a doctor, William Sydney Porter was a sickly child who was sporadically educated, then sent to a Texas ranch at the age of 20 because of his weak lungs. He worked in Austin as a bookkeeper and draftsman, then as a bank teller. When he was 25, he secretly married a 17-year-old girl he met at choir practice, and had a daughter; his wife, like Porter, was tubercular, and died in 1897. Porter, meanwhile, was indicted for absconding with $1,153.68 from the bank where he worked; he sneaked out of Austin, made it to New Orleans, and sailed for Honduras, traveling throughout South America and Mexico with two fugitive train robbers. He returned to Texas only upon receiving word that his wife was near death. He was finally tried and sentenced to five years in prison. (It isn't clear whether he was actually guilty of embezzlement or merely careless.) In prison he began to write and sell fiction, and was discharged after three years for good behavior. In 1902 he moved to New York; the city's turmoil inspired him to write his best stories, often at the rate of a story a week, under the pseudonym O. Henry. His stories emphasized his romantic view of people's innate goodness and were famous for their surprise endings. Despite his success, Porter was poor all his life, usually drinking his money away or giving it to beggars. He remarried, but his tuberculosis became dramatically worse, and he died at the age of 48.