He is sick. He cannot conclude his day’s work. His evident distress secures a leave for the day.
“Get somebody in my place if I am not here tomorrow,” he says, thoughtfully, for they have been his only friends, little as they suspect it. “Chicago in mourning for David Lockwin!” he cries in astonishment, as he purchases great files of old Chicago papers. “Chicago dedicating a monument to David Lockwin! It is beyond conception! And so soon! The monument of Douglas waited for twenty years.”
The air and the ride revive the man. He even enters a restaurant and tries to eat a table d’hote dinner with a bottle of Jersey wine, all for 50 cents, To do a perfunctory act seems to resuscitate him. He takes up his heavy load of newspapers and finds a boy to carry them. He remembers that he is a book-keeper on a small salary, and discharges the boy at half-way.
He reaches his apartments and prepares for the long perusal of his files of Chicago news. Each item seems to feed his self-love. He is not Robert Chalmers. He is David Lockwin.
Hour by hour the reader goes on. Paper after paper falls aside, to be followed by the succeeding issue. At last the tale is complete. David Lockwin, dead, is the idol of the day at Chicago.
The man stretches his legs, puts one ankle over the other, sinks his hands deep in his pockets, a newspaper entering with the left arm, and lowers his head far down on his chest. The clock strikes and recalls him to action.
“I can reach Chicago in time for that dedication,” he says. “I guess, after all, that I am David Lockwin’s chief mourner.”
Ah, yes! Why has not this second life brought more joy? The man ponders and questions himself.
“I am Davy’s chief mourner, too!” he says, and sobs. “By heaven, it is Davy that has made me unhappy! I thought it was Chicago. I thought it was politics. I thought it was Esther. It must have been Davy!”
“If it were Davy,” he says, an hour later, “I have made a mistake.”
Down he looks into his heart, whither he has not dared to search before. He is homesick. Nobody loves Robert Chalmers. Nobody respects Robert Chalmers. David Lockwin dead is great and good. How about David Lockwin living?
His hands go deeper in his pockets at this. The motion rustles the newspaper. He strives to shake free of the sheet. His eye rests on the railway timetables.
He falls into profound meditation again. He considers himself miserable. He is, in fact, happy, if absence of dreadful pain and turmoil be a human blessing. At last his eye lights up, and the heavy face grows cheerful.
“I will go to Chicago!” he says.
BEFORE THE TELEGRAPH OFFICE
Robert Chalmers is in Chicago this morning of the dedication, and has slept well. He tossed in his bed at New York. He snores at the Western inn.