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 Once the ice was broken in this way with these twain came fast enough, although I never became quite as intimate with Dick as I did with Peter, largely because I could not think him as important. Wood had some feminine characteristics; he could be very jealous of anybody’s interest in Peter as well as Peter’s interest in anybody else. He was big enough, at times, to see the pettiness of this and try to rise above it, but at other times it would show. Years later McCord to me in the most amused way how, when I first appeared on the scene, Dick at once began to me and to resent my obvious desire to “break in,” as he phrased it, these two, according to Dick, having established some excluding secret union.  
But the union was not exclusive, in so far as Peter was concerned. Shortly after my arrival young Hartung had begun running into the art room (so Peter told me) with amazing tales of the new man, his exploits in Chicago. I had been sent for to come to this paper—that was the great thing. I was for by no less a person than John T. McEnnis, one of the famous newspaper men of St. Louis and a former city editor of this same paper; also by a Mr. Somebody (the Washington correspondent of the paper), for whom I had worked in Chicago on the World’s Fair. He had hurried to the art department with his tales of me, wishing, I fancy, to be on friendly and happy terms there. Dick, however, considered Hartung’s as less than nothing, himself an upstart, a office rat; to have him endeavor to introduce anybody was too much. At first he received me very coldly, then finding me perhaps better than he thought, he hastened to make friends with me.
The hours with these two that followed. Not infrequently Peter and Dick would dine together at some downtown restaurant; or, if a rush of work were on and they were compelled to linger, they had a late supper in some German saloon. It was Peter who first invited me to one of these late séances, and later Wood did the same, but this last was based on another development in connection with myself which I should here.
The office of the Globe proved a sprouting-bed for literary talent. Hazard had, some fifteen or eighteen months before, in company with another newspaper man of whom later I heard amazing things, written a novel entitled Theo, which was plainly a bog-fire by those blazing French suns, Zola and Balzac. The scene was laid in Paris (imagine two Western newspaper men who had never been out of America writing a novel of French life and laying it in Paris!) and had much of the atmosphere of Zola’s Nana, plus the delicious idealism of Balzac’s The Great Man from the Provinces. Never having read either of these authors at this time, I did not see the similarity, but later I saw it plainly. One or both of these men had fed up on the French realists to such an extent that they were able to create the illusion of France (for me at least) and at the same time to fire me with a desire to create something, perhaps a novel of this kind but preferably a play. It seemed intensely beautiful to me at the time, this book, with its frank pictures of raw, greedy, sensual human nature, and its open pictures of self-indulgence and .
The way this came about was interesting but I would not relate it save that it had such a marked effect on me. I was sitting in the city reportorial room later one gloomy December afternoon, having returned from a fruitless assignment, when a letter was handed me. It was postmarked Chicago and addressed in the handwriting of Alice. Up to then I had allowed matters to drift, having, as I have said, written but one letter in which I apologized rather indifferently for having come away without seeing her. But my conscience had been paining me so much that when I saw her writing I started. I tore the letter open and read with a sense of shame:
“Dear Theo:
“I got your letter the day you left, but then it was too late. I know what you say is true, about your being called away, and I don’t blame you. I’m only sorry our quarrel” (there had been none save of my making) “didn’t let you come to see me before you left. Still, that was my fault too, I guess. I can’t blame you for that.
“Anyhow, Theo, that isn’t what I’m writing you for. You know that you haven’t been just the same to me as you once were. I know how you feel. I have felt it too. I want to know if you won’t send me back the letters I wrote you. You won’t want them now. Please send them, Theo, and believe I am as ever your friend,
There was a little blank space on the paper, and then:
“I stood by the window last night and looked out on the street. The moon was shining and those dead trees over the way were waving in the wind. I saw the moon on that little pool of water over in the field. It looked like silver. Oh, Theo, I wish I were dead.”
As I read this I jumped up and clutched the letter. The of it cut me to the quick. To think I should have left her so! To think I should be here and she there! Why hadn’t I written? Why had I shilly-shallied these many days? Of course she wished to die. And I—what of me?
I went over the situation and tried to figure out what I should do. Should I send for her? Twenty dollars a week was very little for two. My expenses made a total of eleven a week. I wished to keep myself looking well, to have a decent room, to eat three fair meals a day. And I was in no position to return to Chicago, where I had earned less. Then my new friendships with Wood and McCord as well as with other newspaper men, nearly all of whom liked to drink, were costing me something extra; I could not associate with them without buying an occasional drink. I did not see where I was to save much or how I could support a wife. In addition, there was the newness of my position here. I could not very well leave it now, having just come from Chicago. By nature where things material of futurial were concerned I was timid, but little inclined to battle for my rights or desires, and consequently not often realizing them. I was in a trying situation............
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