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 Concerning these two girls and their odd, unsophisticated, daring point of view and love of life, I have always had the most confused feelings. They were crazy and starving for something different from what they knew. What had become of all the staid and dull sobriety of their parents in this queer American atmosphere? The old people had no interest in or patience with any such restlessness. As for their two girls, it would have been as easy to one or both of them, in the happy, seeking mood in which they met me, as to step off a car. Plainly they liked me, both of them. My conquest was so easy that it detracted from the charm. The weaker sex, in youth at least, has to be sought to be worth while. I began to question whether I should proceed in this matter as fast as they seemed to wish.  
Now that they had made friends with me, I liked them both. When we met the following Wednesday evening, and I had taken them to a commonplace restaurant, I was a little puzzled to know what to do with them, rarely having a whole evening to myself. Finally I invited them to my room, wondering if they would come. It seemed a great adventure to me, most daring, but I could not quite make up my mind which of the two I preferred. Just the same they came with me, looking on the as a great and delicious adventure. As we came along Broadway in the dark after dinner they hung on my arms, laughing and jesting at what their parents would think, and when we went up the dimly lighted stair, an old, wide, squeaky flight, they chortled over the fun and mystery of it all. The room was nothing much—the same old books, hangings and other trifles—but it seemed to please them greatly. What pleased them most was the fact that one could go and come without attracting any attention. They about at first, and I, never having been confronted by just this situation before and being still backward, did little or nothing save discuss generalities. The one I had most favored (the heroine) was more retiring than the younger, less but still gay. I could only be with them from seven to ten-thirty, but they intimated that they would come again when they could stay as late as I chose. The suggestion was too obvious and I lost interest. Soon I told them I had to go back to the office and took them to a car. A few days later I took the medal to Gunda at the store, where she received it with much pleasure, asking where I had been and when she was to see me again. I made an appointment for another day, which I never kept. It meant, as I reasoned it out, that I should have to go further with her and her sister, but not being or I dropped the whole matter. Then, because Miss W—— now seemed more significant than ever, I returned to her with a fuller devotion than ever before.
Owing to a driving desire to get on, to do something, to be more than I was and have all the pleasures I at once, there now set in a period of mental dissatisfaction and unrest which eventually took me out of St. Louis and the West, and resulted in a period of stress and . Sometimes I really believe that certain lives are predestined to undergo a given group of experiences, else why the unconscionable urge to move and be away which drives some people like the cuts of a ? Aside from the question of salary, there was, as I see it now, little reason for the fierce and pains that me, and toward the last even this question of salary was not a factor; for my employers, learning that I was about to leave, were quick enough to offer me more money as well as definite . By then, however, my self-dissatisfaction had become so great that nothing short of a larger salary and higher position than they could afford to give me would have detained me. Toward the last I seemed to be by the idea of leaving St. Louis and going East. New York—or, at least other cities east of this one, seemed to call me far more than anything the West had to offer.
And now, , various things seemed to combine to drive or me , things as clear in as they were indistinguishable and meaningless then. One of these forces, aside from that of being of my new love and lifting her to some high estate which then me, was John Maxwell who had done me such an inestimable service in Chicago when I was trying to break into the newspaper business, and who had now arrived on the scene with the hope of connecting with St. Louis . Fat, , Cyclopean John! Was ever a more Nietzschean mind in a more body! His of ruthless progress, as I now clearly saw, was so tall and strident, whereas his personal modus operandi was so compellingly , human, sympathetic. He was forever talking about burning, , shoving people out of one’s path, doing the best thing by oneself and the like, while at the same time actually extending a hand to almost everybody and doing as little to advantage himself personally as any man I ever knew. It was all theory, plus an inherent desire to . His literary admirations were of a turgidly or romantic character, as, for instance, Jean Valjean of Les Misérables, and the good ; Père Goriot, Camille, poor Smike in Nicholas Nickleby; and, of all things, and yet quite like him in , the various novels of Hall Caine (The Bondman, The , The Deemster).
“My boy!” he used to say to me, with a fat and yet wholly impressive that I could not help admiring whether I agreed with him or not, “that character of Jean Valjean is one of the greatest in the world—a masterpiece—and I’ll tell you why—” and he would then begin to enlarge upon the moral beauty of Valjean carrying the wounded Marius through the , his taking up and caring for the poor degraded mother, abandoned by the students of Paris, his gentle and forgiving attitude toward all poverty and crime.
The amusing thing about all this was, of course, that in the next breath he would that all men were dogs and thieves, that in all cases one had to press one’s advantage to the limit and trust nobody, that one must burn, cut, , if one wished to succeed. Once I said to him, still under the that the world might well be full of tenderness, charity, honesty and the like: “John, you don’t really believe all that. You’re not as hard as you say.”
“The hell I’m not! The trouble with you is that you don’t know me. You’re just a yet, Theodore,” and his face wore that adorable, fat, cynical , “full of college notions of and charity, and all that guff. You think that because I helped you a little in Chicago all men are honest, kind, and true. Well, you’ll have to stow that pretty soon. You’re getting along now, and whatever you think other people ought to do you’ll find it won’t be very convenient to do it yourself—see?” And he angelically once more. To me, in spite of what he said, he seemed anything but hard or mean.
Being in hard lines, he had come to St. Louis, not at my suggestion but at that of Dunlap and Brady, both of whom no doubt assured him that I could secure him a position instanter. I began to think what if anything I could do to help him, but so overawed was I still by his personality that I felt that nothing would do for him less than a place as copy-reader or assistant city editor—and that was a very difficult matter indeed, really beyond my local influence. I was too young and too inexperienced to recommend anybody for such a place, although my Chicago friends had come to imagine that I could do anything here. I had the foolish notion that John would speak to me about it, but so sensitive was he, I presume, on the subject of what was due from me to him that he thought (I am merely guessing) that I should bestir myself without any direct word. He had been here for days, I later learned, without even coming near me. He had gone to a hotel, and in a few days sent word by Dunlap, with whom he was now on the most intimate terms, that he was in town and looking for a place. I assume now that it was but the part of for me to have hurried to call on him, but so different was my position now and so hurried was I with a number of things that I never even thought of doing it at once. I fancied that he would come to the office with Dunlap, or that a day or two would make no difference. At the end of the second day after Dunlap to me of his being here the latter said: “Don’t you want to come along with me and see John?”
I was delighted at the invitation and that same evening followed Dunlap to John’s hotel room. It was a curious meeting, full of an odd diffidence on my part and I know not what on his. From others he had gathered the idea that I was successful here and therefore in a position to be uppish, whereas I was really in a most and affectionate frame of mind toward him. He met me with a most cynical, leering expression, which by no means put me at case. He seemed at once reproachful, and contemptuous.
“Well,” he began at once, “I hear you’re making a big hit down here, Theodore. Everything’s coming your way now, eh?”
“Oh, not so good as that, John,” I said. “I don’t think I’ve done so wonderfully well. I hear you want to stay here; have you found anything yet?”
“Not a thing,” he smiled. “I haven’t been trying very hard, I guess.”
I told him what I knew of St. Louis, how things went generally, and offered to give him letters or personal introductions to McCullagh, a managing editor on the Chronicle, to Wandell, and several others. He thanked me, and then I invited him to come and live in my room, which he declined at the time, taking instead a room next door to mine on the same floor—largely because it was inexpensive and central and not, I am sure, because it was near me. Here he stayed nearly a month, during which time he doubtless made efforts to find something to do, which I also did. Suddenly he was gone, and a little later, and much to my , Dunlap informed me that he had concluded that I had been instrumental in keeping him from obtaining work here! This he had deduced not so much from anything he knew or had heard, but by some amazing process of revers............
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