A prominent attorney tells the story of how his wife, in her customary fashion, kissed him goodbye as he left for work. He had been working very hard on a famous railroad law case, and his doctor warned him that if he didn't slow down and take it easy, he could end up with a case of aphasia, where a man loses his memory, his past and identity. He thought about this as he walked to work.
The story shifts then to a day coach. The man wakes up with no knowledge as to whom he is. He has quite a large sum of money on him, so he knows he is someone important. Starting a conversation with a man, a druggist going to a convention, he finds himself in a predicament when he has to introduce himself. Glancing at an advertisement in the newspaper, and assisted by an aroma from the druggist, he introduces himself as Mr. Edward Pinkhammer, a druggist from Cornopolis, Kansas. The two men discuss issues that will be at the forefront of the convention, and then the man notices an article about a missing man from Denver. The man is Elwyn C. Bellford, a prominant lawyer, who disappeared three days ago. They believe he is suffering from aphasia.
That night he checks into a hotel in New York City. He suddenly realizes that he could start a whole new life, a fresh start. He then goes out and totally enjoys the New York lifestyle.
"I went here and there at my own dear will, bound by no limits of space, time or comportment." (pg 4)
One day a man approaches him as he enters his hotel. He calls him, Mr. Bellford. He denies being Bellford, and introduces himself as Mr. Pinkhammer. When the man asks the hotel staff for a blank telegraph form, Mr. Pinkhammer changes hotels.
Soon after he enters a restaurant off Broadway, he feels someone tug at his sleeve, and turns to find a very attractive woman of about thirty. She addresses him as Mr. Bellford. She says that they had not seen each other in fifteen years. He tries to convince her that his name is Pinkhammer, and he is in town for a druggist convention. She thinks that he is saying that because his wife isn't in town. It is obvious that they know each other, and she tells him that she has kept up with his career as a prominent attorney. She married a wealthy man six months after his marriage. She did have one question for him,
"...have you ever dared since that night to touch or smell or look at white roses --- at white roses wet with rain and dew?" (pg 5)
He tells her he could not remember, and again tries to convince her he is Mr. Pinkhammer. She still says goodbye to Mr. Bellford when he puts her in her carriage.
That night he attends the theater, and when he returns, a man is waiting for him at the hotel. He asks to speak with him in another room. Inside this room are his wife and the doctor. They tell him that they found him from the telegam sent by the other man, and they are taking him home. He tries to convince them he is Mr. Pinkhammer. His wife runs into his arms and pleads with him to come home, at which time the doctor sends her to her room. He talks with Bellford, telling him the medical situation. White roses are brought into the room by the hotel staff. The man stands up, throws them out the window, and then, addressing the doctor as "Bobby", says to the doctor that it is best to have the cure happen quickly. But then says,
"But, oh, Doc........good ol' Doc....it was glorious." (pg 7)