The writer was travelling to Pittsburgh on business. In the compartment, most of the men and women were sitting in their chair-cars, idly gazing here and there. The gentleman sitting in chair No 9, appeared quite familiar and when he turned around, the writer discovered to his delight, that he was an old friend, John A Pescud. Pescud was a travelling salesman for a plate-glass company and the writer had not met him for the last two years.
Pescud was of small built, having a wide smile and he believed that plate-glass was the most important commodity in the world. He told the writer that business was doing well and he was going to get off at Coketown. Pescud was reading the latest bestseller, “The Rose Lady and Trevelyan”. Pointing towards the book, Pescud said that the novel dealt with an American hero who falls in love with a royal princess from Europe. He believed that such romances only happened in novels because, in real life, any sensible fellow will pick out a girl from the same kind of status and family.
After mocking the imaginative content of the novel, talk veers around Pescud’s personal life. Pescud informs the writer that professionally, he was prospering and he had also invested in real estate. On being asked regarding his love-interest, Pescud relates his personal experience. He was going to Cincinnati when he came across a very beautiful girl, whom he wished to marry. He chased her wherever she went, crossing many stations and finally reached Virginia. She was escorted to a palatial mansion by a tall old man. Pescud stayed back in the village and discovered that she was the daughter of Colonel Allyn, who was the biggest and finest man in Virginia. He met the beautiful girl the next day and tried to converse with her.
He discovers that her name was Jessie and her father was the royal descendant of a renowned British family. She had been aware all along that Pescud was following her and warned him that her father would feed him to the hounds if Pescud ever thought of a proposal. Nevertheless, nothing seemed to deter Pescud and with due ceremony, he arrives at the mansion. He was surprised to see that the inside of the palace was very impoverished with very old furniture. Colonel Allyn arrived in great style, despite his shabby clothes. Amidst talking of anecdotes and humorous occurrences, Pescud frankly put forth his proposal, giving all the details of his business and family. He is accepted by Jessie and her family and the marriage had taken place a year ago. Pescud had built a house in the East End and the Colonel was also residing with him. He waited daily at the gate for Pescud to hear a new story. By this time, the train was nearing Coketown. It appeared to be a dull and dreary place and the writer questioned Pescud regarding his purpose of getting down at Coketown.
Pescud told the writer that he was halting there to get some Petunias which Jessie had seen in one of the houses. Pescud invites the writer to pay a visit and gets down at the station. The train moves forward and the writer discovers that Pescud had left his bestseller behind. He picked it up and smiled to himself because Pescud’s own story was no less than a bestseller.