The Clarion HTML version

13. New Blood
Echoes of the Talk-it-Over Breakfast rang briskly in the "Clarion" office. It was
suggested to Hal that the success of the function warranted its being established as a
regular feature of the shop. Later this was done. One of the participants, however, was
very ill-pleased with the morning's entertainment. Dr. Surtaine saw, in retrospect and in
prospect, his son being led astray into various radical and harebrained vagaries of
journalism. None of those at the breakfast had foreseen more clearly than the wise and
sharpened quack what serious difficulties beset the course which Hal had laid out for
Trouble was what Dr. Surtaine hated above all things. Whatever taste for the adventurous
he may have possessed had been sated by his career as an itinerant. Now he asked only to
be allowed to hatch his golden dollars peacefully, afar from all harsh winds of
controversy. That his own son should feel a more stirring ambition left him clucking, a
bewildered hen on the brink of perilous waters.
But he clucked cunningly. And before he undertook his appeal to bring the errant one
back to shore he gave himself two days to think it over. To this extent Dr. Surtaine had
become a partisan of the new enterprise; that he, too, previsioned an ideal newspaper, a
newspaper which, day by day, should uphold and defend the Best Interests of the
Community, and, as an inevitable corollary, nourish itself on their bounty. By the Best
Interests of the Community—he visualized the phrase in large print, as a creed for any
journal—Dr. Surtaine meant, of course, business in the great sense. Gloriously looming
in the future of his fancy was the day when the "Clarion" should develop into the perfect
newspaper, the fine flower of journalism, an organ in which every item of news, every
line of editorial, every word of advertisement, should subserve the one vital purpose,
Business; should aid in some manner, direct or indirect, in making a dollar for the
"Clarion's" patrons and a dime for the "Clarion's" till. But how to introduce these noble
and fortifying ideals into the mind of that flighty young bird, Hal?
Dr. Surtaine, after studying the problem, decided to employ the instance of the Mid-State
and Great Muddy River Railroad as the entering wedge of his argument. Hal owned a
considerable block of stock, earning the handsome dividend of eight per cent. Under
attacks possibly leading to adverse legislation, this return might well be reduced and
Hal's own income suffer a shrinkage. Therefore, in the interests of all concerned, Hal
ought to keep his hands off the subject. Could anything be clearer?
Obviously not, the senior Surtaine thought, and so laid it before the junior, one morning
as they were walking down town together. Hal admitted the assault upon the Mid-and-
Mud; defended it, even; added that there would be another phase of it presently in the
way of an attempt on the part of the paper to force a better passenger service for
Worthington. Dr. Surtaine confessed a melancholious inability to see what the devil
business it was of Hal's.