The Clarion HTML version
Ignorance within one's self is a mist which, upon closer approach, proves a mountain. To
the new editor of the "Clarion" the things he did not know about this enterprise of which
he had suddenly become the master loomed to the skies. Together with the rest of the
outer world, he had comfortably and vaguely regarded a newspaper as a sort of automatic
mill which, by virtue of having a certain amount of grain in the shape of information
dumped into it, worked upon this with an esoteric type-mechanism, and, in due and exact
time, delivered a definite grist of news. Of the refined and articulated processes of
acquisition, selection, and elimination which went to the turning-out of the final product,
he was wholly unwitting. He could as well have manipulated a linotype machine as have
given out a quiet Sunday's assignment list: as readily have built a multiple press as made
up an edition.
So much he admitted to McGuire Ellis late in the afternoon of the day after the Willard
party. Fascinated, he had watched that expert journalist go through page after page of
copy, with what seemed superhuman rapidity and address, distribute the finished product
variously upon hooks, boxes, and copy-boys, and, the immediate task being finished,
lapse upon his desk and fall asleep. Meantime, the owner himself faced the unpleasant
prospect of being smothered under the downfall of proofs, queries, and scribbled sheets
which descended upon his desk from all sides. For a time he struggled manfully: for a
time thereafter he wallowed desperately. Then he sent out a far cry for help. The cry
smote upon the ear of McGuire Ellis, "Hoong!" ejaculated that somnolent toiler, coming
up out of deep waters. "Did you speak?"
"I want to know what I'm to do with all of these things," replied his boss, indicating the
"Throw 'em on the floor, is my advice," said the employee drowsily. "The more stuff you
throw away, the better paper you get out. That's a proverb of the business."
"In other words, you think the paper would get along better without me than with me?"
"But you're enjoying yourself, aren't you?" queried his employee. Heaving himself out of
his chair, he ambled over to Hal's desk and evolved out of the chaos some semblance of
order. "Don't find it as easy as your enthusiasm painted it," he suggested.
"Oh, I've still got the enthusiasm. If only I knew where to begin."
Ellis rubbed his ear thoughtfully and remarked: "Once I knew a man from Phoenix,
Arizona, who was so excited the first time he saw the ocean that he borrowed a uniform
from an absent friend, shinned aboard a five-thousand-ton brigantine, and ordered all
hands to put out to sea immediately in the teeth of a whooping gale. But he," added the
narrator in the judicial tone of one who cites mitigating circumstances, "was drunk at the