O. Henry is the pen name of American writer William Sydney Porter. At vatious times he was employed as a pharmacist, draftsman, bank teller, and journalist. His time as a bank teller led to arrest for embezzlement and a prison sentence. Through it all, he continued to write, producing four hundred short stories. O. Henry stories are famous for their surprise endings. He was considered the the American version of Guy de Maupassant. His stories are set in the early years of th twentieth century, many in New York City, and deal for the most part with ordinary people.
"Whistling Dick's Christmas Stocking" was the first story be to published under the O. Henry name. The title story, "Roads of Destiny," illustrates O. Henry's talent for irony and surprise ending. David Mignot considers packing a bundle and leaving his village of Vernoy, seeking a wider world that might appreciate his poetry. The Left Road, the Right Road, and the Main Road take very differnt paths, but end at the same destination.