Best-Seller (Henry)

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Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A man named John A. Pescud meets an old acquaintance on a train and discusses his dislike for best-selling novels that feature American men falling in love with European princesses.

John A. Pescud, a traveling salesman from Pittsburgh, was on a train when he noticed a best-selling novel on the floor. He began discussing the book with an old acquaintance, expressing his disdain for the unrealistic love stories in which American men fall in love with European royalty. He believed that people should stick to their own class and that such stories were far from reality.

"Say not so, dearest and sweetest of earth's fairest flowers. Would I aspire? You are a star set high above me in a royal heaven; I am only—myself."

Pescud then shared his own love story, which began when he saw a beautiful girl on a train. He followed her across several states, eventually discovering that she was the daughter of a proud, aristocratic Virginian family.

John A. Pescud — travelling salesman for a plate-glass company; small man with a wide smile; hardworking and true; believes in cuff-holders and button-shoes.
Jessie Allyn — young woman from Virginia; daughter of Colonel Allyn; proud and serious.
Colonel Allyn — father of Jessie Allyn; proud and distinguished; tells humorous stories.

Despite the differences in their social status, Pescud was determined to win her heart. He managed to befriend her father, Colonel Allyn, by sharing humorous stories and anecdotes. Eventually, Pescud was invited to stay at the family's grand estate, where he continued to bond with the Colonel and his daughter, Jessie.

One evening, Pescud and Jessie had a private conversation on the porch. She revealed that she had been aware of his presence on the trains and had been worried for his safety. Touched by her concern, Pescud realized that their love transcended social boundaries.

"I never had any one talk like this to me before, Mr. Pescud," says she. "What did you say your name is—John?"

They married a year later, and Pescud built a house for them in Pittsburgh, where the Colonel also lived.

"I married her a year ago," said John. "I told you I built a house in the East End. The belted—I mean the colonel—is there, too."

One day, while traveling with Jessie, she noticed some petunias in a window of a small, dismal town. Pescud decided to stop there and find some petunias for his wife, as a reminder of her old Virginia home. This act of love demonstrated that, despite his earlier beliefs, true love can indeed overcome social barriers and geographical boundaries.