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19. Donnybrook
Worthington began to find the "Clarion" amusing. It blared a new note. Common matter
of everyday acceptance which no other paper in town had ever considered as news,
became, when trumpeted from between the rampant roosters, vital with interest. And
whithersoever it directed the public attention, some highly respectable private privilege
winced and snarled. Worthington did not particularly love the "Clarion" for the enemies it
made. But it read it.
Now, a newspaper makes its enemies overnight. Friends take months or years in the
making. Hence the "Clarion," whilst rapidly broadening its circle of readers, owed its
success to the curiosity rather than to the confidence which it inspired. Meantime the
effect upon its advertising income was disastrous. If credence could be placed in the
lamenting Shearson, wherever it attacked an abuse, whether by denunciation or ridicule,
it lost an advertiser. Moreover the public, not yet ready to credit any journal with honest
intentions, was inclined to regard the "Clarion" as "a chronic kicker." The "Banner's"
gibing suggestion of a reversal of the editorial motto between the triumphant birds to read
"With malice toward all," stuck.
But there were compensations. The blatant cocks had occasional opportunity for crowing.
With no small justification did they shrill their triumph over the Midland & Big Muddy
Railroad. The "Mid and Mud" had declared war upon the "Clarion," following the paper's
statement of the true cause of the Walkersville wreck, as suggested by Marchmont, the
reporter, at the breakfast. Marchmont himself had been banished from the railroad
offices. All sources of regular news were closed to him. Therefore, backed by the
"Clarion," he proceeded to open up a line of irregular news which stirred the town. For
years the "Mid and Mud" had given to Worthington a passenger service so bad that no
community less enslaved to a laissez-faire policy would have endured it. Through trains
drifted in anywhere from one to four hours late. Local trains, drawn by wheezy, tin-pot
locomotives of outworn pattern, arrived and departed with such casualness as to render
schedules a joke, and not infrequently "bogged down" between stations until some
antediluvian engine could be resuscitated and sent out to the rescue. The day coaches
were of the old, dangerous, wooden type. The Pullman service was utterly unreliable, and
the station in which the traveling populace of Worthington spent much of its time, a draft-
ridden barn. Yet Worthington suffered all this because it was accustomed to it and lacked
any means of making protest vocal.
Then the "Clarion" started in publishing its "Yesterday's Time-Table of the Midland &
Big Muddy R.R. Co." to this general effect:
Day Express
Due 10.00 A.M.
Arrived 11.43 A.M.
Late 1 hour 43 min.