In their modest California home, Johnny, his father Ben, Alexander, an unsuccessful poet, and his grandmother, who speaks and sings only Armenian, live precariously, getting food on credit from the grocer, Kosak. They are visited by an old actor, Jasper MacGregor, who has escaped from the old people’s home. His strong character, virtuosity on the cornet, and insistence that his heart is in the highlands, wins over the family and neighbors, who bring gifts of food. After a few weeks, Philip Carmichael comes to take MacGregor back. Ben’s poems are rejected by the Atlantic Monthly. His despair is deepened when Mr. Cunningham, a real estate man, brings a young couple to view the house, on which three months’ rent is due. Ben gives his poems to Kosak in lieu of money. The family joyfully opens the door as MacGregor reappears. His cornet draws neighbors, who again bring offerings of food. MacGregor obliges the neighbors with a grand reading from Shakespeare, then collapses as attendants come for him. The young couple reappear to claim the house, and Johnny, along with his father and grandmother, pack up their possessions and take to the road.
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