Two classic short stories are "The Ransom of Red Chief" and "The Gift of the Magi," both by O. Henry. Edgar Allan Poe's stories "The Fall of the House of Usher," "The Cask of Amontillado" and "The Masque of the Red Death," along with "The Pit and the Pendulum," "The Purloined Letter" and "The Tell-Tale Heart," are among the most highly regarded of all English-language short stories.
O. Henry, the pseudonym for author William Sydney Porter, was known for short stories with surprise endings. In 'The Ransom of Red Chief," a young boy is kidnapped and held for ransom. His captors expect the boy's parents to pay for his swift and safe return, but they soon find out differently. In the Christmas tale "The Gift of the Magi," readers meet an impoverished couple who both want to buy something special for the other for Christmas. Each thinks of what the other would most appreciate and takes drastic means to afford the gifts. When they come together to exchange their presents, they realize the sacrifice that each was prepared to make for the other.
Edgar Allan Poe was one of the most prolific short story writers of all time. His works often have a dark tone to them. Poe delighted in telling spooky stories that leave readers on the edge of their seats, worrying about what might be around the next corner. Poe's ability to incite feelings of suspense and dread made him a master of the Gothic short story.