Two friends, William and Jack, moved to New York City from the West with dreams of making it big. They were determined to conquer the city and not let it change them.
Four years later, they met for lunch and discussed their experiences in the city. William had become a successful businessman, earning $8,000 a year selling automatic pumps. He had fully embraced the city's lifestyle and culture, enjoying its many pleasures and opportunities. Jack, on the other hand, was an artist who despised the city and saw it as a leech that drained the blood of the country.
This town is a leech. It drains the blood of the country. Whoever comes to it accepts a challenge to a duel.
He believed that the city had conquered William and changed him for the worse. During their lunch meeting, Jack told William, "You’ve lost, Billy. It shall never conquer me. I hate it as one hates sin or pestilence or—the color work in a ten-cent magazine."
You’ve lost, Billy. It shall never conquer me. I hate it as one hates sin or pestilence or—the color work in a ten-cent magazine.
One night, Jack received a telegram from a woman named Dolly in the West, asking him to come back and promising a positive response to a proposal. He considered the offer but ultimately decided that he could not leave New York City at that time.
Impossible to leave here at present.
He continued to sit by his window, taking in the sights and sounds of the city that both fascinated and repulsed him.
The story leaves it up to the reader to decide which of the two friends, if either, truly won the battle against the city.