CHAPTER XXVIII
A Visit to the West

AT twenty-seven years of age, and after having been six years absent from Osage, the little town in which I went to school, I found myself able to re-visit it. My earnings were still humiliatingly less than those of a hod-carrier, but by shameless economy I had saved a little over one hundred dollars and with this as a travelling fund, I set forth at the close of school, on a vacation tour which was planned to include the old home in the Coulee, the Iowa farm, and my father's house in Dakota. I took passage in a first class coach this time, but was still a long way from buying a berth in a sleeping car.

To find myself actually on the train and speeding westward was deeply and pleasurably exciting, but I did not realize how keen my hunger for familiar things had grown, till the next day when I reached the level lands of Indian. Every field of wheat, every broad hat, every honest treatment of the letter "r" gave me assurance that I was approaching my native place. The reapers at work in the fields filled my mind with visions of the past. The very weeds at the roadside had a magical appeal and yet, eager as I was to reach old friends, I found in Chicago a new friend whose sympathy was so stimulating, so helpful that I delayed my journey for two days in order that I might profit by his critical comment.

This meeting came about in a literary way. Some months earlier, in May, to be exact, Hurd of the Transcript

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