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HOME > Biographical > A Book About Myself > CHAPTER LXVI
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 And so this romance ended for me. At the time, of course, I did not know it; on leaving her I was under the impression that I was more than ever attached to her. In the face of this , life took on a grayer and more disappointing aspect. To be forced to wait when at that moment, if ever, was the time!  
And yet I told myself that better days were surely in store. I would return East and in some way place myself so that soon we might be reunited. It was a figment of hope. By the time I was finally capable of maintaining her economically, my earlier mood had changed. That hour which we had known, or might have known, had gone forever. I had seen more of life, more of other women, and although even then she was by no means unattractive the original had vanished. She was now but one of many, and there were those who were younger and more sophisticated, even more attractive.
And yet, before I left her, what days! The sunshine! The lounging under the trees! The summer heat! The wishing for what might not be! Having that her wish was genuine and my impulse to comply with it wise, I stood by it, wishing that it might be otherwise. I consoled myself thinly with the thought that the future must bring us together, and then left, journeying first to St. Louis and later to New York. For while I was here that letter from my brother which urged me once more to come to New York was forwarded to me. Just before leaving Pittsburgh I had sent him a collection of those silly “features” I had been writing, and he also was impressed. I must come to New York. Some paper was the place for me and my material. Anyhow, I would enjoy visiting there in the summer time more than later. I wired him that I would arrive at a certain time, and then set out for St. Louis and a visit among my old newspaper friends there.
I do not know how most people take return visits, but I have often that it has only been as I have grown older and emotionally less mobile that they have become less and less significant to me. In my earlier years nothing could have been more or more than my thoughts on any of these occasions. Whenever I returned to any place in which I had once lived and found things changed, as they always were, I was fairly transfixed by the oppressive sense of the evanescence of everything; a mood so hurtful and dark and yet with so rich if a that I was left wordless with pain. I was all but crucified at realizing how unimportant I was, how nothing stayed but all changed. Scenes passed, never to be recaptured. Moods came and friendships and loves, and were gone forever. Life was perpetually moving on. The beautiful pattern of which each of us, but more especially myself, was a part, was changing from day to day, so that things which were an anchor and a comfort and delight yesterday were tomorrow no more. And though perhaps I desired change, or at least appropriate and agreeable changes for myself, I did not wish this other, this world to shift, and that under my very eyes.
The most haunting and disturbing thought always was that hourly I was growing older. Life was so brief, such a very little cup at best, and so soon, whatever its amount or character, it would be gone. Some had strength or capacity or looks or fortune, or all, at their command, and then all the world was theirs to travel over and explore. Beauty and ease were theirs, and love perhaps, and the companionship of interesting and capable people; but I, poor waif, with no definite or arresting skill of any kind, not even that of commerce, must go about looking in upon life from the outside, as it were. Beautiful women, or so I argued, were to any but me. The great opportunities of the day in trade and commerce were for any but me. I should never have a fraction of the means to do as I wished or to share in the life that I most . I was an Ishmael, a wanderer.
In St. Louis I was oppressed beyond words. Of the newspaper men who had been living on the same floor with me in Broadway there was not one left. At the Globe-Democrat already a new city editor. My two friends, Wood and McCord, while delighted to see me, told me of those who had already gone and seemed immersed in many things that had arisen since I had gone and were curious as to why I should have returned at all. I hung about for a day or two, wondering all the while why I did so, and then took the train going East.
Of all my journeys thus far this to New York was the most impressive. It took on at once, the moment I left St. Louis, the character of a great adventure, for it was all unknown and . For years my mind had been centered on it. True to the law of gravitation, its pull was in proportion to its ever increasing size. As a boy in Indiana, and later in Chicago, I had read daily papers sent on from New York by my sister E——, who lived there. In Chicago, owing to a which existed on Chicago’s part (not on New York’s, I am sure), the papers were studded with invidious comments which, like all poorly based criticism, only served to emphasize the salient and impressive features of the greater city. It had an elevated road that ran through its long streets on of steel and carried hundreds of thousands if not millions in the miniature trains drawn by small engines. It was a long, heavily populated island surrounded by great rivers, and was America’s ocean door to Europe. It had the great Brooklyn Bridge, then unparalleled anywhere, Wall Street, Jay Gould, Cornelius Vanderbilt, a huge company of millionaires. It had Tammany Hall, the Statue of Liberty, unveiled not so many years before (when I was a boy in Southern Indiana), Madison Square Garden, the Metropolitan Opera House, the Horse Show. It was the center and home of fashionable society, of all and actors and actresses. All great successes began there. Of papers of largest circulation and greatest fame, it had nearly all. As an ignorant understrapper I had often contended, and that noisily, with various passing atoms of New York, as as I was ignorant and stubborn, as to the relative merits of New York and Chicago, New York and St. Louis! There could not be so much difference! There were many great things in these places! Some day, surely, Chicago would New York!... Well, I lived to see many changes and things, but not that. Instead I saw the great city grow and grow, until it stood unrivaled, for size and force and wealth at least, anywhere.
And now after all these tentative adventurings I was at last to enter it. Although I was moderately well-placed in Pittsburgh and not coming as a homeless, penniless seeker, still even now I was dreadfully afraid of it—why, I cannot say. Perhaps it was because it was so immense and mentally so much more commanding. Still I consoled myself with the thought that this was only a visit and I was to have a chance to explore it without feeling that I had to make my way then and there.
I recall clearly the hot late afternoon in July when, after stopping off at Pittsburgh to refresh myself and secure a change of clothing, I took the train for New York. I noted with eager, hungry eyes a succession of forge and mining towns, miles of blazing coke ovens paralleling the track and these regions with a glow after dusk, huge dark hills occasionally twinkling with a feeble light or two. I spent a half-wakeful night in the , dreaming and in a nervous chemic way. Before dawn I was awake and watching our passage through Philadelphia, then Trenton, New Brunswick, Metuchen, Menlo Park, Rahway, Elizabeth and Newark. Of all of these, save only Menlo Park, the home of Edison, who was then invariably referred to by journalists and paragraphers as “The Wizard of Menlo Park,” I knew nothing.
As we neared New York at seven the sky was , and at Newark it began to . When I stepped down it was pouring, and there at the end of a long train-shed, the immense steel and glass affair that once stood in City opposite Cortlandt Street of New York, awaited my fat and smiling brother, as sweet-faced and gay and hopeful as a child. At once, he began as was his way, a patter of jests and as to my trip, then led me to a ferry entrance, one of a half dozen in a row, through which, as through the proscenium arch of a stage, I caught my first glimpse of the great Hudson. A heavy mist of rain was suspended over it through which might be seen dimly the walls of the great city beyond. and squatty , as as fat ducks, attended by overhanging of smoke, chugged noisily in the foreground of water. At the foot of the outline of the city beyond, only a few having as yet appeared, lay a fringe of ships and docks and ferry houses. No ferry boat being present, we needs must wait for one labeled Desbrosses, as was labeled the slip in which we stood.
But I was talking to my brother and learning of his life here and of that of my sister E——, with whom he was living. The ferry boat eventually came into the slip and discharged a large crowd, and we, along with a vast company of commuters and travelers, entered it. Its center, as I noted, was stuffed with vehicles of all sizes and descriptions, those carrying light merchandise as well as others carrying coal and stone and and beer. I can recall to this hour the odor of ammonia and saltpeter so characteristic of the ferry boats and ferry houses, the c............
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