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 That evening at seven I carried my bags down to the great union Station, feeling that I was a failure. Other men had money; they need not thus go jerking about the world seeking a career. So many youths and maids had all that was needful to their case and comfort arranged from the beginning. They did not need to about the making of a bare living. The ugly favoritism of life which piles comforts in the laps of some while snatching the smallest of satisfaction from the lips of others was never more apparent to me. I was in a black despair, and made short work of getting into my . For a long time I stared at dark fields flashing by, by lamps in cottages, the gloomy and lonely little towns of Illinois and Indiana. Then I slept.  
I was aroused by a ray of sunshine in my eyes. I lifted one of my blinds and saw the cornfields of Northern Ohio, the brown of last year’s crop through the snow. Commonplace little towns, the small brown or red railway stations with the adjoining cattle-runs, and tall gas-well derricks protruding out of dirty, snowless soil, made me realize that I was approaching the end of my journey. I found that I had ample time to shave, dress and breakfast in the adjoining buffet—a thing I proposed to do if it proved the last , liberal, deed of my life.
For I was not too well provided with cash, and was I not leaving civilization? Though I had but a hundred dollars, might not my state soon be much worse? I have often smiled since over the in which I then held the Pullman car, its porter, conductor, and all that went with it. To my inexperienced soul it seemed to be the of and . Could life offer anything more than the privilege of riding about the world in these mobile palaces? And here was I this sunny winter morning with enough money to indulge in a breakfast in one of these grand , though if I kept up this reckless pace there was no telling where I should end.
I selected a table adjoining one at which sat two drummers who talked of journeys far and wide, of large sales of and and the condition of trade. They seemed to me to be among the most fortunate of men, high up in the world as positions go, able to straight and profitable courses for themselves. Because they had half a spring chicken, I had one, and coffee and rolls and French fried potatoes, as did they, feeling all the while that I was indulging in limitless grandeur. At one station at which the train stopped some poor-looking farmer boys in jeans and “galluses” and wrinkled hats looking up at me with interest as I ate, I stared down at them, hoping that I should be taken for a millionaire to whom this was little more than a wearisome commonplace. I felt capable of playing the part and so gave the boys a cold and repressive glance, as much as to say, ! I assured myself that the way to establish my true worth was to make every one else feel small by comparison.
The town of Grand Rapids lay in the extreme northwestern portion of Ohio on the Maumee, a little stream which begins somewhere west of Fort Wayne, Indiana, and runs northeast to Toledo, emptying into Lake Erie. The town was traversed by this one railroad, which began at St. Louis and ended at Toledo, and consisted of a number of small frame houses and stores, with a few brick structures of one and two stories. I had not arranged with Michaelson that he should meet me at any given time, having been uncertain as to the time of my departure from St. Louis, and so I had to look him up. As I stepped down at the little . I the small houses with snow-covered yards, the bare trees and the glimpse of rolling country which I caught through the open spaces between. There was the river, wide and shallow, flowing directly through the heart of the town and tumbling rapidly and over gray stones. I was far more concerned as to whether I should sometime be able to write a poem or a story about this river than I was to know if a local weekly could here. And after the hurry and of St. Louis, the town did not impress me. I felt now that I had made a dreadful mistake and wondered why I had been so foolish as to give up the opportunities suggested by my friends on the Republic, and my sweetheart, when I might have remained and married her under the new editorial conditions me.
Yet I walked on to the main corner and inquired where my friend lived, then out a country road indicated to me as leading toward his home. I found an old frame house, facing the Maumee River, with a lean-to and kitchen and springhouse, corncribs, a barn twice the size of the house, and smaller buildings, all resting comfortably on a rise of ground. Apple and pear trees surrounded it, now leafless in the wind. A curl of smoke rose from the lean-to and told me where the cookstove was. As I entered the front gate I felt the joy of a country home. It told of simple and plain things, food, warmth, comfort, minds content with routine. Michaelson appeared at the door and greeted me most enthusiastically. He introduced me to his family with the youthfulness of a schoolboy.
I met the father, a little old dried-up quizzical man, who looked at me over his glasses in a wondering way and rubbed his mouth with the back of his hand. I met the mother, small, , , looking as though she had gone through a thousand worries. Then I met Michaelson’s wife, a dark, , brown-skinned woman, stocky and not over-intelligent. They asked me to make myself at home, listened to an account of my experiences in getting there, and then Michaelson volunteered to show me about the place.
My mind revolted at the thought of such a life as this for myself, though I was constantly touched by its charm—for others. I followed the elder Mrs. Michaelson into the lean-to and watched her cook, went with Michaelson to the barn to look over the live stock and returned to talk with Michaelson senior about the of the Republican party in Ohio. He was much interested in a man named McKinley, a politician of Ohio, who had been a for years and who was now being talked of as the next candidate of the Republican party for the . I had scarcely heard of him up to that time, but I gave my host my opinion, such as it was. We sat about the big drum sheet-iron stove, heated by natural gas, then but newly discovered and piped in that region. After dinner I proposed to my friend that we go into the village and inspect the printing plant which he had said was for sale. We walked along the road discussing the possibilities, and it seemed to me as we walked that he was not as enthusiastic as he had been in St. Louis.
“I’ve been looking at this fellow’s plant,” he said , “and I don’t know whether I want to give him two hundred down for it. He hasn’t got anything. That old press he has is in pretty bad shape, and his type is all worn down.”
“Can we get it for two hundred?” I asked innocently.
“Sure, two hundred down. I wouldn’t think of giving him more. All he wants now is enough to get out of here, some one to take it off his hands. He can’t run it.”
We went to the office of the , a long dark over a feed store, and found there a press and............
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