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1931. The book begins: It was raining, and the spleen and the vapors afflicted Jim Cardiff. The still, gray Sabbath had gone, and in the night beyond his study window a stream from a leaking eave was drumming on a sheet of tin. A song so constant and so melancholy revived an old regret that he had not moved to California, but this regret, when often it arose to face him, was attended by a dream, fluid and shining like an emperor's garment. He dreamed of serving in the Young Men's Christian Association in San Francisco or in Los Angeles, and of being summoned at length to New York and the international councils.