One day last summer I went to Pittsburgh--well, I had to go there on business.
My chair-car was profitably well filled with people of the kind one usually sees on chair-
cars. Most of them were ladies in brown-silk dresses cut with square yokes, with lace
insertion, and dotted veils, who refused to have the windows raised. Then there was the
usual number of men who looked as if they might be in almost any business and going
almost anywhere. Some students of human nature can look at a man in a Pullman and tell
you where he is from, his occupation and his stations in life, both flag and social; but I
never could. The only way I can correctly judge a fellow-traveller is when the train is
held up by robbers, or when he reaches at the same time I do for the last towel in the
dressing-room of the sleeper.
The porter came and brushed the collection of soot on the window-sill off to the left knee
of my trousers. I removed it with an air of apology. The temperature was eighty-eight.
One of the dotted-veiled ladies demanded the closing of two more ventilators, and spoke
loudly of Interlaken. I leaned back idly in chair No. 7, and looked with the tepidest
curiosity at the small, black, bald-spotted head just visible above the back of No. 9.
Suddenly No. 9 hurled a book to the floor between his chair and the window, and,
looking, I saw that it was The Rose-Lady and Trevelyan, one of the best-selling novels of
the present day. And then the critic or Philistine, whichever he was, veered his chair
toward the window, and I knew him at once for John A. Pescud, of Pittsburgh, travelling
salesman for a plate-glass company--an old acquaintance whom I had not seen in two
In two minutes we were faced, had shaken hands, and had finished with such topics as
rain, prosperity, health, residence, and destination. Politics might have followed next; but
I was not so ill-fated.
I wish you might know John A. Pescud. He is of the stuff that heroes are not often lucky
enough to be made of. He is a small man with a wide smile, and an eye that seems to be
fixed upon that little red spot on the end of your nose. I never saw him wear but one kind
of necktie, and he believes in cuff-holders and button-shoes. He is as hard and true as
anything ever turned out by the Cambria Steel Works; and he believes that as soon as
Pittsburgh makes smoke-consumers compulsory, St. Peter will come down and sit at the
foot of Smithfield Street, and let somebody else attend to the gate up in the branch
heaven. He believes that "our" plate-glass is the most important commodity in the world,
and that when a man is in his home town he ought to be decent and law-abiding.
During my acquaintance with him in the City of Diurnal Night I had never known his
views on life, romance, literature, and ethics. We had browsed, during our meetings, on