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Cam Bargain! Reality only came to John Smith in this respect after he left college and went out into the world. It was here, right out in the world, that he married Abigail Price. It was the first time either of the young people had ever been married.
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They lived in a tiny apartment and sang and laughed and were happy all day long, for the whole ten days of their marriage. They might have stayed married ever so long, only John's boss--he had gone into the flour and feed business--wanted him to move to Ypsilanti, Michigan, and Abigail didn't like the name. So they parted, still friends, while there was yet time. John Smith used to look back to those bright earlier days of the first marriage he ever made with a sigh of regret.
Certain things, he used to say, seem only to come once in life; and a first marriage is one of them. In Ypsilanti, John married Mrs. Thompson--Bessie Thompson. That was, as nearly as he could remember, her name; but it may have been Jessie. The marriage turned out to be an error, a fatal error, one of those life errors that we make in love.
Within a month each realized that he, or she, didn't love her, or him. John found himself staring at the blank wall--it seems the only thing to do in that case--and realizing that his life was wrecked. They parted. And for a long, long time, nearly a year, John Smith remained unmarried. His heart, he said, was numb. He drove out a little in a buggy with one of the local girls. But his heart was numb all the time they were out. John's business in the flour and feed failed. So he moved away and opened a drug store in Montpelier, Vermont, and then closed the drug store and went into the wholesale and retail cigar business in Topeka, Kansas.
And after that he was for a while up in Canada in real estate in Saskatoon, and after that he went into the school book business on Commission in Bangor, Maine, with a side line of patent ginger ale bottle tops. John always said that he felt the full charm of business life--the joy that so many have felt in founding a business and seeing it grow and expand for perhaps three or four months, before it collapses. During all these years of his business life, Mutation Smith was married--in fact, several times.
But there were no children. The rules of the apartments where they lived never permitted it--except in Saskatoon, but then there were no apartments in Saskatoon. In the end, John began to grow old. He would sit for hours in the chimney corner, or rather in the gas grate, musing on his past life, thinking of all his birthplaces, and all his playmates, and of each of his first loves, and of the dear old town, each of the dear old towns, where the old crowd, all the old crowds, could be pictured waiting to welcome him--if he could only sort them out in his mind.
And thinking thus, I imagine that John Mutation Smith, child and citizen of our time, often grew thoroughly sick of the time in which he lived. Meantime in the merely worldly sense Smith had accumulated a very fair competence. He had done well out of his failures at Ypsilanti and two or three other places, he had had a disastrous fire in Topeka on which he had cleaned up a good deal, and he had incurred a total bankruptcy in Saskatoon that had put him on his feet. But his heart was sad. He often asked himself what his life had amounted to anyway, and it didn't add up to much.
And now I hear, quite recently--or perhaps I have imagined--a strange thing about John Mutation Smith, namely, that he is about to make a new move in life. It seems that he met again the other day Abigail Price--the same one of long ago. And Abigail, like all the Abigails, has waited and has never married again. And they are going to be remarried and are going to go back and settle again in Mutation, Massachusetts, where nothing ever changes.
They have bought a frame house with walnut trees in front of it. They are old people now, of course, nearly thirty-six both of them, but it's a large house, such a large house, and there are no rules against children within fifty miles. So perhaps you can't tell. I suppose that there is nothing so fascinating to the human intellect as the following out of a close chain of reasoning--the kind of thing that is called in the detective stories "an inexorable concatenation of logic.
Personally I must say that I like now and then to try my hand at such an exercise, and to see what conclusions I can draw in regard to the casual people whom I meet or see--a stranger observed on a train or a random passenger on a street-car. No doubt I am not alone in this.
I imagine that the attempt to unravel the mystery of our fellow-men in this fashion is a favorite pastime with many of us. I lay no claim to any particular skill in observation or reasoning power. But I may at least say that interest and industry have brought to me what might seem a rather surprising measure of success; so much so that at times I find myself "arguing out" the person whom I see with results that presently justify each separate stage of my reasoning. I had, no later than last week, a curious illustration of this.
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It happened that I was on a train, in a chair-car, going north from my own city for a vacation in the woods. At such-and-such a station--the name is of no consequence; if necessary, though, I could furnish it upon request--there entered into the train a party of five persons. I set myself to observe them quietly from behind my newspaper.
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It was at once evident that they all knew one another. The fact that they got on the train together, that they were all talking together, and that one, the senior of the party, held the tickets for all, justified this first step of reasoning. Of the party themselves the oldest was a man of about thirty-five to forty years, the next a lady perhaps a little younger, then a girl in her teens, and finally two little boys dressed almost alike.
Here then was a second problem--what was the connection or relationship between them?
heckpademi.tk I set myself to thinking it out. Under what circumstances does a man carry with him two little boys in similar suits? Why should a woman say to a man, "Have you got the children's hold-all? And why were they holding it?
Related MARY McGINNIS IS MISSING HER SOCK (rhyming, bedtime, reading, children, kids, short, stories)
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