"The Cop and the Anthem" is one of O. Henry's best and most frequently anthologized short stories. Typically of his stories, it is set in New York City. Soapy is characterized as a thoroughly experienced vagrant who sleeps on a park bench in Madison Square. He has one bench which he considers his own, and he knows when he can sleep there and when a patrolman is likely to be coming along to roust all his fellow vagrants by a rap on the feet with a billy club. The opening paragraph contains the following phrase:
...and when Soapy moves uneasily on his bench in the park, you may know that winter is near at hand.
Soapy has been living this way for years. He knows all the ins and outs of living on the streets. No doubt he eats in soup kitchens and store-front rescue missions. He is also certainly an experienced panhandler. When winter comes, he is in the habit of getting himself sentenced to three months in jail on Blackwell's Island on the open-ended charge of vagrancy or loitering. O. Henry...
(The entire section contains 596 words.)