The Bread Line: A Story of a Paper by Paine, Albert Bigelow
scanned images of public domain material from the Internet Archive.
The Bread Line
The Bread Line
A Story of a Paper
By Albert Bigelow Paine
New York The Century Co. 1900
Copyright, 1899, By THE J. B. LIPPINCOTT CO.
* * * * *
Copyright, 1900, By THE CENTURY CO.
To Those Who have Started Papers, to Those Who have Thought of Starting Papers, and to Those Who are Thinking of Starting Papers.
I THE FIRST DINNER 1
II FRISBY'S SCHEME 15
III A LETTER FROM THE "DEAREST GIRL IN THE WORLD," OTHERWISE MISS DOROTHY CASTLE OF CLEVELAND, TO MR. TRUMAN LIVINGSTONE OF NEW YORK 29
IV SOME PREMIUMS 36
V A LETTER FROM MR. TRUMAN LIVINGSTONE OF NEW YORK TO MISS DOROTHY CASTLE OF CLEVELAND 52
VI CASH FOR NAMES 61
VII A LETTER FROM MISS DOROTHY CASTLE OF CLEVELAND TO MR. TRUMAN LIVINGSTONE OF NEW YORK 84
VIII THE COURSE OF EVENTS 92
IX IN THE SANCTUM 108
X A LETTER FROM MR. TRUMAN LIVINGSTONE OF NEW YORK TO MISS DOROTHY CASTLE OF CLEVELAND 116
XI THE GENTLE ART OF ADVERTISING 125
XII A LETTER FROM MISS DOROTHY CASTLE OF CLEVELAND TO MR. TRUMAN LIVINGSTONE OF NEW YORK 144
XIII THE HOUR OF DARK FOREBODING 149
XIV A LETTER FROM MR. TRUMAN LIVINGSTONE OF NEW YORK TO MISS DOROTHY CASTLE OF CLEVELAND 158
XV FINAL STRAWS 165
XVI AT THE END OF THE RAINBOW 176
XVII A TELEGRAM FROM MISS DOROTHY CASTLE OF CLEVELAND TO MR. TRUMAN LIVINGSTONE OF NEW YORK 187
XVIII GRABBING AT STRAWS 188
XIX A LETTER FROM MR. TRUMAN LIVINGSTONE OF NEW YORK TO MISS DOROTHY CASTLE OF CLEVELAND 196
XX THE BARK OF THE WOLF 204
XXI THE LETTER LIVINGSTONE READ 209
XXII THE BREAD LINE 214
XXIII THE LAST LETTER--TO MR. AND MRS. TRUMAN LIVINGSTONE, OLD POINT COMFORT, VIRGINIA 227
The Bread Line
THE FIRST DINNER
This is the story of a year, beginning on New Year's eve.
In the main it is the story of four--two artists and two writers--and of a paper which these four started. Three of them--the artists and one of the writers--toiled and dwelt together in rooms near Union Square, and earned a good deal of money sometimes, when matters went well. The fourth--the other writer--did something in an editorial way, and thus had a fixed income; that is, he fixed it every Saturday in such manner that it sometimes lasted until Wednesday of the following week. Now and then he sold a story or a poem "outside" and was briefly affluent, but these instances were unplentiful. Most of his spare time he spent in dreaming vague and hopeless dreams. His dreams he believed in, and, being possessed of a mesmeric personality, Barrifield sometimes persuaded others to believe also.
It began--the paper above mentioned--in the café of the Hotel Martin, pronounced with the French "tang," and a good place to get a good dinner on New Year's eve or in any other season except that of adversity, no recollection of which period now vexed the mind of the man who did something in an editorial way, or those of the two artists and the writer who worked and dwelt together in rooms near Union Square. In fact, that era of prosperity which began in New York for most bohemians in the summer of '96 was still in its full tide, and these three had been caught and borne upward on a crest that as yet gave no signs of undertow and oblivion beneath. But Barrifield, still editing at his old salary, had grown uneasy and begun to dream dreams. He did not write with ease, and his product, though not without excellence, was of a sort that found market with difficulty in any season and after periods of tedious waiting. He had concluded to become a publisher.
He argued that unless publishers were winning great fortunes they could not afford to pay so liberally for their wares.
He had been himself authorized to pay as much as fifteen cents per word for the product of a certain pen. He forgot, or in his visions refused to recognize, the possibility of this being the result of competition in a field already thickly trampled by periodicals, many of them backed by great capital and struggling, some of them at a frightful loss, toward the final and inevitable survival of the richest. As for his companions, they were on the outside, so to speak, and swallowed stories of marvelous circulations and advertising rates without question. Not that Barrifield was untruthful. Most of what he told them had come to him on good authority. If, in the halo of his conception and the second bottle of champagne, he forgot other things that had come to him on equally good authority, he was hardly to be blamed. We all do that, more or less, in unfolding our plans, and Barrifield was uncommonly optimistic.
He had begun as he served the roast. Previous to this, as is the habit in bohemia, they had been denouncing publishers and discussing work finished, in hand, and still to do; also the prices and competition for their labors. The interest in Barrifield's skill at serving, however, had brought a lull, and the champagne a golden vapor that was fraught with the glory of hope. It was the opportune moment. The publication of the "Whole Family" may be said to have dated from that hour.
Barrifield spoke very slowly, pausing at the end of each sentence to gather himself for the next. Sometimes he would fill a plate as he deliberated. At other times he would half close his eyes and seem to be piercing far into the depths of a roseate future.
"Boys," he began, in a voice that was fraught with possibility, and selecting a particularly tender cut for Perner, who was supposed to have an estate somewhere, "boys,"--he laid the tempting slice on Perner's plate, added a few mushrooms, some brown gravy, and a generous spoonful of potato, then passing the plate to Perner and beginning to fill another,--"I've been thinking of--of a--of the--greatest"--pausing and looking across the table with drowsy, hypnotic eyes--"the greatest scheme on--_earth_!"
Amid the silence that followed this announcement he served the next plate. Then Van Dorn, who had been acquainted with him longer than the others, spoke:
"What is it this time, old man?"
Barrifield turned his gaze on Van Dorn and laughed lazily. He was handsome, rather stout, and of unfailing good nature. He pushed back his blond hair and rested his gray, magnetic eyes steadily on the artist. Then he laughed again and seemed to enjoy it. Van Dorn, who was slender, impulsive, and wore glasses, laughed, too, and was lost. Barrifield handed him a filled plate as he said:
"You're just right, Van, to say _this_ time--just right. There have been--other times; other--times." He was filling the third plate. He paused and laughed till he shook all over. "Van remembers a pictorial syndicate he and I once started," he said to Livingstone, as he handed his plate. "We spent nearly--nearly a thousand dollars and a lot of time--that is, Van did--getting up some stuff, and then sold one picture to one paper for three dollars!"
He leaned back in his chair to enjoy a laugh, in which, this time, all joined.
"And never got the three dollars," added Van Dorn, at last.
"And never got the three dollars," echoed Barrifield. "It was a beautiful scheme, too; Van knows that--beautiful!" At which statement all laughed again.
Barrifield began to furnish his own plate now, and became serious.
"This scheme is different," he observed at last; "it's been tried. It's been tried and it hasn't. The scheme that's been tried"--he helped himself to the rest of the mushrooms and gravy--"we'll improve on."
The others caught the collective pronoun, and began to feel the pleasant sense of ownership that comes with the second bottle and a scheme.
"Our scheme will beat it to death." He lowered his voice and shot a cautious glance at the other tables. "Boys," he whispered, "it's a _high-class weekly_ at a _low price_!"
He looked from one to the other to note the effect of this startling announcement. It was hardly manifest. The three seemed to be eating more or less industriously and without much care of anything else. They were thinking, however.
"It's a field," observed Perner, at last.
"_Barri_field," said Van Dorn, who sometimes made puns.
Barrifield became excited. He did this now and then.
"Field! It's _the_ field," he declared fiercely--"the only field! Everything else is full. There's a ten-cent monthly in every block in New York! And"--whispering hoarsely--"even then they're getting rich! Rich! But there's only one high-class family weekly at less than four dollars in the country, and that's a juvenile! What I propose"--he was talking fast enough now--"is to establish a high-class family weekly--for the whole family--at _one dollar a year_!"
He paused again. His words had not been without effect this time. The three listeners knew thoroughly the field of periodicals, and that no such paper as he proposed existed. His earnestness and eager whisper carried a certain weight, and then, as I have said before, he was strangely persuasive. Perner, who had once been engaged in business, and had, by some rare fortune, kept out of the bankruptcy court, was first to speak. His "ten years' successful business experience," which he referred to on occasion, gave his opinion value in matters of finance, though at present he was finding it no easy problem to keep up with the taxes on a certain tract of vacant property located rather vaguely somewhere in the Southwest and representing the residue of his commercial triumphs. He was a tall, large-featured man, cleanly shaven, and, like Van Dorn, wore glasses.
"Can you do it, Barry?" he said, looking up with an expression of wise and deep reflection. "Won't it cost you more than that to get up the paper?"
"That," observed Barrifield, calmly, "is the case with every great magazine in the country. The paper and printing cost more than they get for it."
"They make it out of the advertising, you know," put in Livingstone, timidly.
Livingstone was younger than the others, and had a smooth, fresh face.
"Of course," snapped Perner; "I know that! But they've got to have circulation before they can get the advertising, and it takes time and money--barrels of it--to get circulation."
"We'll furnish the time," suggested Van Dorn, sawing at his meat, "if Barry'll put up the capital."
Barrifield looked up quickly.
"I'll do it!" he announced eagerly; "I'll do it!"
The others showed immediate interest. Barrifield looked from one to the other, repeating his assertion as if signing a verbal contract. Then his gaze wandered off into nowhere, and he absently fed himself and waited for the spirit to move further.
"I'll furnish the capital," he continued deliberately, at length, "and it won't be money, either." The three faces watching him fell. "That is, not much money. It'll take a little, of course. I think I know where I could get all the money I want--a dozen places, yes, fifty of them. But this isn't a money scheme. If it was I could get it. I know any number of men, capitalists, that would jump at it. But that isn't what we want. We want men who know what a paper is, and can do the work themselves."
"We want a good advertising man first," said Perner the businesslike.
"That's good sense," assented Barrifield, at which Perner felt complimented and began to assume proprietary airs.
"Those things we can hire," Barrifield continued. "We shall want several men in clerical and executive positions. The general direction and management of affairs we shall, of course, attend to personally. We could get a business manager with all the money we need if we wanted him, but he'd be some fellow with no appreciation of the kind of a paper we intend to make, and would try to cut down and stick to old methods until he choked the plan, just as many a good plan has been killed before."
The third bottle of champagne had been opened.
"That's exactly right," declared Perner, as he lifted his glass, while the others nodded. "Half the periodicals running to-day are starved and killed by the business office. Why, MacWilliams of 'Dawn' told me yesterday that he couldn't buy that Easter poem of mine just because there had been a kick down-stairs on the twenty-five he paid me for the Christmas thing, and--"
"What's your scheme, Barry?" interrupted Van Dorn, who did not want Perner to get started on the perennial subject of editorial wrongs.
Barrifield filled his glass and drained it very slowly. Then he set it down and wiped his lips with his napkin. The waiter brought coffee and cigars. He selected a long, dark Panetela, and lighted it with the air of one making ready to unburden himself of deep wisdom.
"Did any of--you--fellows," he began, puffing the smoke into the air and following it with his eyes, "ever hear of a man named Frisby? Did you, Perny? Did you, Stony?" dropping his eyes from one to the other.
"I have," said Van Dorn. "Runs a paper called the 'Voice of Light,' with prize packages and the worst illustrations in the world."
"That's the man!" assented Barrifield. "Old friend of mine. Yankee by birth, and one of the keenest publishers in the country. That paper, the 'Voice of Light,' has a circulation of nearly _one half-million copies_!"
"He ought to get better pictures, then," grunted Van Dorn.
"Exactly!" nodded Barrifield. "And that's one place we'll improve on Frisby's scheme."
"I didn't suppose religious papers ever had schemes," observed Livingstone.
"Did you ever see a copy of the 'Voice'?" he asked.
"I have," said Perner. "It offers twenty-five dollars' worth of books and a trip to the Holy Land for one year's subscription."
"That's it! That's the paper!" laughed Barrifield.
"But our paper won't be a religious paper, will it, old man?" asked Livingstone, anxiously.
"Not in the sense of being ecclesiastic. It will be pure in morals and tone, of course, and, at the same time, artistic and beautiful--such a paper as the 'Youth's Friend,' only larger in its scope. It will, as I have said before, appeal to the whole family, young and old, and that is another improvement we'll make on Frisby's scheme."
"What's the price of Frisby's paper?" asked Perner.
"Two dollars a year. Poor matter, poor pictures, poor paper, poor printing, poor prizes, and two dollars a year. We'll give them high-class matter, high-class pictures, fine printing, beautiful paper, splendid prizes, all for one dollar a year; and that's where we'll make the third and great improvement on Frisby's scheme."
"But how'll you do it without money, Barry? That's the improvement we want," laughed Livingstone.
"That," said Barrifield, letting his voice become a whisper once more--"that isn't an improvement. _That's Frisby's scheme!_"
Barrifield lighted a fresh cigar and blew more smoke into the air.
"Frisby told me himself," he said drowsily, and apparently recalling certain details from the blue curling wreaths. "I lent him money and helped him into a position when he first came here, and he's never forgotten it. He held the position five years and learned the publishing business. Then he started the 'Voice of Light.' He did it without a dollar. He told me so."
Livingstone leaned forward eagerly.
"But I say, old man, how did he do it, then?"
"Nerve. Nerve and keen insight into humanity. The 'Voice of Light' had been started by some fellows who had spent all their money trying to build it up on the old lines and failed completely. They had tried to sell out, but nobody would have it. They had no assets--nothing but debts.
"Then they tried to give it away. They tried a good while. Frisby heard of it at last, and went over and said they might give it to him. They did it. He didn't have a dollar.
"He had some good clothes, though, and he put them on. He put on the best he had, and he went over to the printers. The 'Voice' owed them a good bill, and they were glad to hear the paper had changed hands. Their account couldn't get any worse, and Frisby's clothes and manner indicated that it might become better. He told them he contemplated getting out at once a special edition of a million copies. He intimated that if they couldn't handle such a number of papers he would be obliged to arrange for them elsewhere. They almost hugged Frisby's knees to keep him from going. He didn't have a dollar--not a dollar.
"Then he went across to an advertising agency and engaged a page in the 'Great Home Monthly' and a page in the biggest Sunday-school paper in the world. He asked them the discount for cash, and their special figures to compare with those of other agencies. They looked at his good clothes and sized up his talk, which was to the point and no waste words. They booked his order for four thousand dollars' worth of advertising--quick, before he changed his mind. He didn't have a dollar. He told me so.
"He went up to the Cambridge Bible Company--biggest Bible concern in the world--and asked for cash figures on a quarter of a million Bibles. They thought he was crazy at first, but they made a figure before he went away that was less than a third what the same Bible sold for at retail the world over. They told him they had only half the order on hand. He said that those would do to start with, and that he would let them know when to begin delivering. He would send over a check when he wanted the first lot. They said that settlement on the 1st of each month would do. He did that all in one day,--he told me so,--and he didn't have a dollar--not a dollar."
Barrifield paused and looked from one to the other to note the effect of his statements. The three listeners were waiting eagerly for more. Livingstone and Van Dorn were watching his lips for the next word to issue. Perner was gazing into his glass, but there was a slight flush and a look of deep reflection on his face. Barrifield maintained silence, and the sense of his importance grew powerfully with each second. By and by his eyes half closed and drifted vaguely into the unseen. Livingstone promptly recalled him.
"But go on with the story, old man. What was the next step? It's no fair play to get us all worked up this way and then go to sleep."
Barrifield chuckled lazily.
"That's all," he said; "the rest is mere detail. Frisby went home and got up copy for his advertising. He gave the Bible as a premium. It was a three-dollar Bible; sold at three dollars the world over, and you know there's not supposed to be much profit in Bibles. Frisby filled up the pages he had engaged, offering in glowing terms the Bible and the paper both for two dollars. He got the indorsement of the Rev. Montague Banks, whose name is familiar to every man, woman, and child between the oceans, and he sold over _one hundred thousand Bibles during the first six weeks_! _One hundred thousand! He told me so!_"
Barrifield's voice dropped to an intense whisper as he made this last statement, and the effect was tremendous. The others stared at him, at the ceiling, and at each other. They repeated the figures, and added under their breath various exclamations peculiar to each. Livingstone, who did not swear except when he pounded his finger or stumbled over a chair in the dark, only said:
"By gad! old man, by gad!"
"In one day," continued Barrifield, leaning half across the table and emphasizing each word with a slight motion of his head, "in one day he got in six thousand dollars cash! Think of it!"
The others _were_ thinking, and thinking hard. Perner was first to venture an objection:
"But that was a religious paper, Barry, with a Bible for a premium. We could hardly expect--"
"That's just where you're wrong," anticipated Barrifield. "Ours will be religious in tone, too, and a home paper besides. It will go to every household that Frisby's would reach, and to thousands besides who are not of any particular denomination. We also will offer Bibles, but we will offer other things too. We will offer watches and cameras, and premiums for boys and girls--dolls, fishing-tackle, and guns--"
"I should think," interrupted Van Dorn, dryly, "that with a gun and a Bible we might gather in the most of them."
"Now you're talking sense!" said Barrifield, excitedly. "We'll get all of them. We'll capture the whole country. Frisby had a quarter of a million circulation in six months. We'll have half a million circulation in three months. Mark my words--half a million in three months!"
"But the price, Barry! A dollar a year and a premium." Perner was still unsatisfied. "How are we going to do it?"
Barrifield regarded him in a superior way.
"The paper itself," he said, "will cost us less than fifty cents a year, even figuring on a basis of only a quarter of a million circulation. Most of the premiums can now be bought for less than the other fifty. Those that can't we'll give just the same, only we'll add on the difference in the form of postage and packing. Nobody ever thinks of objecting to a slight additional charge for postage and packing."
He drew forth a paper on which there were figures. A round of chartreuse was being served, and in its yellow radiance all difficulties dissolved and all things became possible. He laid the sheet down where every one could see it more or less distinctly.
"The white paper," he continued, "will cost less than four cents a pound--less than one half-cent for each copy. The paper is always the big expense. Every publisher will tell you that. The paper for quarter of a million copies will cost twelve hundred and fifty dollars, the presswork about five hundred dollars. Everything else will cost less than another five hundred, so that a hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars a year will more than cover the cost of getting out the paper; but say it costs that,--we want to figure full, you know,--and then another hundred and twenty-five for premiums, or quarter of a million in all, which will be covered by actual subscription money, to say nothing of advertising returns, which ought to at least, counting three pages a week, be not less than one hundred and fifty thousand the first year, and that will be clear profit to be divided. I've figured it down to that to be on the safe side. With half a million circulation, of course, it would be twice as much and no extra cost except for presswork and white paper. I tell you, boys, it's the greatest scheme ever conceived."
He ran the items over glibly and pushed the paper across the table for each to examine in turn. The figures were beautifully made, and seemed to add correctly. If there were a few minor items, such as postage, clerk hire, and cost of circulation, omitted, it was probably because they were too insignificant to be considered. The general feeling was one of elation. In the spell of silence that lay upon them each began to dream on his own account, and to build a castle about which shimmered the radiance of easily acquired wealth. In Livingstone's face there was a look that did not appear in the faces of his companions. It was not more eager, perhaps, but it was also tender. He was ten years younger than the others. Affluence meant much to all of them, but to him it meant something different--something of which the others did not know.
"But we'll have to have a little money to start on, won't we, old man?" asked Van Dorn, at last, reflectively, of Barrifield.
"Why, yes; I suppose a few hundred will be needed at the start to pay such little bills as may be presented. We want to impress everybody with the fact that we pay cash, don't you see? And discount everything. By paying the first bill the minute it's presented we'll establish the necessary credit, of course, and the next bill will be held till we call for it. Frisby didn't have a dollar,--not a dollar,--but then, the 'Voice of Light' was established, and possibly had some slight income, besides certain fixtures and connections, all of which we would have to secure, and probably at some cost. I could invite in all the money needed--all we need. Of course, it would be better if we could handle everything ourselves and not feel under any outside obligations. I could manage a fourth of it all right, or even a third--" He hesitated and looked dreamily across the table at the others.
Perner was first to speak.
"I'm like Frisby," he laughed. "I haven't got a dollar--in money." He made this statement in a manner that indicated he might have vast possessions in real properties or stocks. "I suppose I could manage a sixth, though, some way," he concluded suddenly, as if to regain a hold on a golden opportunity that was about to slip from his grasp.
The glamour of prospective riches was upon them. Van Dorn, remembering an old schoolmate who had prospered in commerce, stated incontinently that he could borrow anything from two dollars up to two thousand if he only had a mind to ask for it. Livingstone added hastily that he would take the other sixth interest, even if he didn't have quite enough money saved to pay for it right away. At each of these statements Barrifield assured them that they were talking sense, and that they were as good as millionaires already. The "Whole Family" had become definite. The friends were in high spirits as they rose to leave. The waiter who helped them on with their coats was liberally remembered.
It was eleven o'clock when they stepped out into the winter night. Barrifield, who was a married man and a suburban Brooklynite, took the South Ferry car at Broadway. The other three set their faces north in the direction of their apartments. Van Dorn was a widower, Perner a confirmed bachelor, and Livingstone also unmarried. They were untrammeled, therefore, as to their hours and habits.
As they marched up Broadway they laughed a great deal. They were prone to see the humorous side of life in all its phases, and the new paper with its various premium combinations furnished a novel source of amusement. It may be that the champagne stimulated the tendency to mirth, for the three became really hilarious as they proceeded.
On the corner of Tenth Street they halted. Across the way there was a long line of waiting men that extended around the corner in either direction.
"What's that?" exclaimed Perner.
"Why, don't you know?" said Van Dorn. "That's the bread line. They get a cup of coffee and a loaf of bread every night at twelve o'clock. Old Fleischmann, who founded the bakery, made that provision in his will. They begin to collect here at ten o'clock and before, rain or shine, hot or cold."
"It's cold enough to-night!" said Livingstone.
They drew nearer. The waifs regarded them listlessly. They were a ragged, thinly clad lot--a drift-line of hunger, tossed up by the tide of chance.
The bohemians, remembering their own lavish dinner and their swiftly coming plenitude, regarded these unfortunates with silent compassion.
"I say, fellows," whispered Livingstone, presently, "let's get a lot of nickels and give one to each of them. I guess we can manage it," he added, running his eye down the line in hasty calculation.
The others began emptying their pockets. Perner the businesslike stripped himself of his last cent and borrowed a dollar of Van Dorn to make his share equal. Then they separated and scoured in different directions for change. By the time all had returned the line had increased considerably.
"We'd better start right away or we won't have enough," said Livingstone.
He began at the head of the line and gave to each outstretched hand as far as his store of coins lasted. Then Van Dorn took it up, and after him Perner. They had barely enough to give to the last comers. The men's hands stretched out long before they reached them. Some said "Thank you"; many said "God bless you"; some said nothing at all.
"There's more money in that crowd than there is in this now," said Perner, as they turned away.
"That's so," said Livingstone. "But wait till a year from to-night. We'll come down here and give these poor devils a dollar apiece--maybe ten of them."
Livingstone's face had grown tender again. In fancy he saw them returning a year from to-night with ample charity. And another would come with them--one who would make the charity sweeter because of bestowing it with fair hands.
A LETTER FROM THE "DEAREST GIRL IN THE WORLD," OTHERWISE MISS DOROTHY CASTLE OF CLEVELAND, TO MR. TRUMAN LIVINGSTONE OF NEW YORK
"MY DEAR OLD TRUE: I have both laughed and cried over your letter, and I have thought, too, a great deal. It was awfully jolly to think of you and those good friends of yours dining together on New Year's eve, and there is only one way I would have had it different, and that way would have seemed selfish on my part, and unfair to the others, too.
"I do wish I might have been near by, though, unknown to you, and heard all that passed, for I know you only told me the good things the others said, and not all the best things--those you said yourself. Or, if you did not say them, you thought them, and were only restrained by modesty.
"I suppose you will get over that by and by, when you are as old as Perny and Barry and Van (you see, I am beginning to feel that I know your friends, and call them as you do); only I hope you won't get entirely over it, either, for do you know, True, that is just one reason why I love you--I mean because you are fine and manly and modest--just old True, that's all. And when I came to where you gave the money to the shivering men waiting for bread, I knew just how you felt, and I couldn't keep back the tears to save my life.
"And I know it was you, True, who proposed it, though you didn't say so, for it is exactly what you _would_ do; and when you told how they put out their hands for the money, and some of them said 'God bless you,' and how we would go there together in a year, and with Perny and Van, too, and give them all something again, and perhaps more,--a great deal more,--I wanted to put my arms about you, True, and give you a good hug, and tell you how noble and generous you are, and how I wish I were more like you, for your sake.
"What a wonderful plan that is of Mr. Barrifield's! Do you know, it quite startles me; it seems like some fairy tale. And as for the figures, they fairly make me dizzy. Mr. Barrifield must be a very remarkable man to conceive such an extraordinary idea; and how fortunate for him that he has such men as you and Van and Perny to help him! Between Barry and Perny with their business and literary ability, and you and Van to look after the pictures, I am sure you will get out a beautiful paper, and one that ought to succeed. It seems like magic that it could be made to do so without great capital at the start, but, of course, Mr. Frisby did it 'without a dollar,' so it is possible, and Barry's plan certainly is plausible and fascinating. Then, too, if it should not turn out exactly as planned, he can always get those capitalists to come in, you know; and while I suppose you would be obliged to take a very small share then, it would be better than failure.
"You see, True, I have been thinking, as I said at the start, and I am with you, of course, heart and soul, in whatever you undertake; only, do you know, True, I can't make myself very enthusiastic about it. I mean I don't feel about it as I do about your work, and as I felt when you wrote me that you had got into the big magazines, and had been given a serial to illustrate by the greatest of them all. I hardly slept a wink that night, I was so happy for you and for myself and for everybody. I am glad of this, too, but it is in a different way.
"I know it is hard to save when money is earned with one's hands, for it comes little at a time, and if the paper prospers it will be easier for you afterward. But, somehow, premiums and showy offers in big type don't seem to fit in with my thought of you, and the Bible premium especially doesn't appeal to me entirely. I suppose it is all right, and perhaps, as you say, a great many people will get Bibles who never had them before; but to me there is something almost sacrilegious in the thought of using the Bible as a means of making the paper sell. You know, True, I am not very strait-laced about such matters, either, and, after all, of course, if Mr. Frisby used it, and with the sanction of the Rev. Montague Banks, it must be all right. But you know also, True, that it isn't for money or luxury that I care,--I have had plenty of such things,--and it is just for your own dear, trusting self, and your aims and triumphs, that I love you.
"Your bohemian life there with Perny and Van has always seemed so delightful to me. You are all such good friends, and it must be beautiful to do your work together, and then go out and see the different phases of living and dying, and the struggle of existence, without the cares and worries of business. I have pictured you so often sitting about the fire at evening, smoking your pipes and dreaming the dreams that are only of your world, and happy in that comradeship which only men ever understand and feel for each other. Then I have tried not to be jealous of the others, and to make myself believe that by and by, when I came, it would not be so hard for you to give them up, and that sometimes I would let you go back to them, and then for the evening you could forget that I had ever come into your life and changed it all.
"You must let me say all this, True, because I feel it, and know, in spite of your noble letters to me, that it _will_ make a difference, and that your life will never be quite the same afterward. And that is why I feel about the paper as I do, too, I suppose, for I feel that it will in some way rob you of the quiet happiness and the serene sweetness of art that you now enjoy, and for which I have been more than once tempted to give you up and go out of your life for your own sake. Only, True, I am weak and human, and can't let you go as long as you, too, are weak and human enough to love me and to make us both believe that I will be a help and an inspiration to you by and by.
"As I read over this letter now, it seems to me neither very cheerful nor encouraging, and not at all the letter I started out to write. But if I should write another I fear I should not improve on it, and anyway, True, you know it is from the heart, and that always and always my heart is _with_ you and _for_ you in whatever you do or undertake. Write to me as often as you can, and tell me the good things that happen, and the funny things, too; for I enjoy them all, and your letters are precious to me beyond anything that the days bring. Go right on, True; don't let anything I say make you hesitate for a moment. I am away off here, dreaming idle dreams, while you are there and see and know. I am sure you will do what is best--you always do; and remember that, whatever comes, I am, now and forever, your
It was decided to make Perner the editor. This decision was reached during a lunch on Twenty-third Street, where the proprietors of the "Whole Family" met one day some weeks after the initial dinner. A number of brief and informal meetings had been held, and a liberal amount of talk expended, besides the continuous discussion and badinage in the studio where Livingstone, Van Dorn, and Perner still worked, though in a manner disheartening to their publishers. The idea of starting a vast enterprise with little or no capital had in it something very fascinating to the bohemian temperament, while the consideration of its unique phases and the more or less appropriate premiums to be offered, afforded never-ending amusement. Work lagged, while hope tinted the air rose-color, and the god of mirth perched by the side of Venus Milo on the mantelpiece.
Livingstone, it is true, had begun, and with fine enthusiasm at first, a picture of the bread line as they had seen it on New Year's eve. The sketch was on canvas, and strong in composition and feeling. The others came over and stood one on either side of him and said so. They said so more than once, and with various degrees of emphasis. Perhaps this satisfied Livingstone, for after that his interest in the undertaking became that of a spectator also. The canvas stood on an easel in one corner, and served as a diversion when the "Whole Family" topic was for the moment exhausted.
But one day Barrifield came over just before noon, and announced that they should organize forthwith. He had been investigating certain premium articles, a number of which he had in his pockets. He said it was necessary to have some definite address, and whoever was to be editor should be chosen, that he might begin to cast about for desirable features. So they drifted over to the Twenty-third Street place to "eat things and talk," as Livingstone said. They had done a good deal of this lately.
While they were waiting for the dishes, Barrifield began emptying his pockets. He produced first from his vest an article that caused Livingstone to whisper:
"I say, old man, put that clock out of sight. You can hear it all over the place."
Barrifield stared at him reproachfully.
"That," he said, with great deliberation, "is a watch."
"I wouldn't have believed it," said Van Dorn, taking it in his hand. "I thought it was a water-meter."
Perner held it to his ear. In his youth he had lived on a farm.
"Twenty-horse-power vibrator," he announced, after listening.
"Stem-winder and -setter," continued Barrifield, undisturbed. "Perfect time."
The article was passed around.
"Didn't they have any thicker ones?" asked Livingstone.
"Well, of course," assented Barrifield, "it _is_ a trifle thicker than a fine gold watch, but it's a perfect gem in other respects. The manufacturer of it told me he had carried one of them a year, and that it hadn't varied a second in that time."
"Maybe it was stopped," suggested Van Dorn, but Barrifield ignored this libel.
"Every boy will want one of the 'Whole Family' watches," he went on. "We can sell a barrel of them in every town."
"How many of them come in a barrel?" interrupted Livingstone.
Barrifield leaned across the table.
"And I can buy them," he said eagerly, "I can buy them for seventy-five cents! Think of it! Seventy-five cents! A five-dollar watch, given with the finest weekly paper ever offered, for only one dollar a year!"
"How will you do that?" asked Perner.
"That leaves us twenty-five cents for the paper."
"Why, you know, we'll add something for postage and packing, as I said before."
"Yes, and it will take something. By the time you get a box on that thrashing-machine, properly nailed and mailed, it will cost twenty-five cents." Perner's business experience was manifesting itself.
"Oh, pshaw, Perny!" protested Barrifield, "it won't cost half so much. We can get boys and girls for three dollars or so a week to attend to all that."
Perner closed his eyes for an instant and saw in fancy an army of youthful clerks packing various premiums for mailing. Then, remembering the difficulty with which he had managed even a small business with less than a dozen assistants, he sighed. He knew that big businesses really _were_ conducted, and with a science and precision that was a constant source of wonder to him. Perhaps Barrifield knew the secret of their management.
"Even if it did cost that," proceeded Barrifield, "think of the quantity of them we will sell, and the immense circulation it will give us. We could afford to lose a little on each and make it back on the advertising."
Perner knew nothing of advertising, except that a certain paper received five thousand dollars a page for each issue, and Barrifield had assured them that the circulation of the "Whole Family" would be more than twice as great. He subsided, therefore, while Barrifield drew from his overcoat pocket a flat package of considerable size and weight. He undid the strings carefully, and a leather-bound, limp-covered book lay before them.
"That," he said triumphantly, "is the Bible!"
Van Dorn reached for it and turned some of the leaves curiously.
"First one Van ever saw," said Perner.
Livingstone took up the book with thoughtful regard.
"Do you really think we'd better use this as a premium?" he said hesitatingly. "It seems to me that it--that it's too--that it's overdoing it." Livingstone's smooth face flushed a little. "I mean that it's been overdone already," he added hastily and with confusion.
"Oh, my dear boy," said Barrifield, "the Bible is never overdone. This is a finer one than Frisby used, and I can get it for just what the watch costs. The' Whole Family' and the great Instructor's Bible, worth both together five dollars, all for one dollar!"
"You don't mean to say that _this_ won't cost postage!" said Perner.
"Not a great deal. Book postage is cheap,--very cheap,--and think how many of them we will sell and how much good they will do! One half-million Bibles and the 'Whole Family'--"
"You didn't bring the gun along, did you?" interrupted Van Dorn.
Just then the dishes were served, and the premiums were for the moment put aside. The talk, however, continued. Barrifield spoke of other premiums he had been considering and upon which he had secured "special inside figures" on large quantity. He no longer mentioned hundreds and thousands in relation to the new paper. He was reveling in millions that were as real to him as if they were already to his credit at the banker's. Presently he reviewed once more the story of Frisby and the "Voice of Light," whose cry in the wilderness had brought fortune so promptly to his aid.
He added fresh details recently obtained, and told how during the first month, when he had been waiting for his advertising to appear, he had been obliged to mortgage his household effects at five per cent. a week in order to live. He had received one thousand dollars in the first mail after the advertising appeared. And when that mail was brought in and laid on his desk he didn't have a dollar in his pocket--not a dollar. As Barrifield proceeded, any vague doubts of success that had crept into the minds of his listeners disappeared. They began the work of organization forthwith, and Van Dorn, who had faith in Perner's literary judgment, proposed that he be the editor. Perner, in turn, proposed Van Dorn as art editor, with Livingstone as his assistant. Barrifield was to be nominally business manager, though, for the reason that his present position consumed most of his time, and as the business offices for convenience were to be in the studios occupied by the other three, the management, such as it was, would for a while fall mostly upon Perner, who referred once more to his ten years' successful experience, and assumed his double responsibility with some dignity.
A consideration of the first number's contents was then taken up, with the result that they were to prepare it mostly themselves. They were on familiar ground now, and Perner and Van Dorn each displayed some evidence of fitness for their respective positions. There must be two stirring serials, one of which they would buy. Barrifield knew where one could be had. Livingstone could do the pictures for this story. The other would be more in Van's line.
Then they lighted cigars and went back to the premiums, and Barrifield launched into the details of his recent explorations and discoveries in the vast jungles of Premium Land. He had examined and priced everything, from a nut-cracker to a trip abroad. Presently he began to spread a number of these things on the table, which the waiter had once more cleared. Besides the watch and Bible, there was a fishing-kit, all but the rod, which was described fully in a leaflet, a bicycle lamp, a pamphlet outlining a tour through the Holy Land, sample pages of a cook-book, and a pair of ear-muffs.
Barrifield arranged these on the cloth, explaining as he did so that a beautiful box kite had been too large to bring, as was also a gun of which he could get a limited quantity--a hundred thousand or so--at a ridiculously low figure. Van Dorn picked up the ear-muffs curiously.
"What do these cost?" he asked.
"Forty-eight cents a pair by the gross. Special inside figure because I told him we would want a quarter of a million pairs."
Van Dorn looked at them a little closer.
"The fellow I saw must have stolen his," he said, "for he was selling them yesterday on Broadway for twenty-five cents a pair."
"Impossible, Van! They couldn't be the same, you know," protested Barrifield, earnestly. "There are many qualities of ear-muffs. These are the very best-double-elastic, wire-set and-bound, storm-proof muffs. They cost forty-six cents to make--the manufacturer told me so. What you saw was a cheap imitation."
Barrifield put an end to further discussion on this point by calling attention to the bicycle lamp--something new and superior to any in use. He had been attracted by it in a sporting-goods window on Nassau Street. The price had been steep,--too steep for a premium, of course,--but he had made up his mind that if he could get on the "inside" he would find a price there within their reach. He had got on the inside. He had pursued the elusive "inside" even to Hoboken, and captured it there in the very sanctity of the factory--the president's private office.
"The president was a fine, big, smooth-faced man with one of these rich, hearty laughs," he explained, "and we had a long talk together. I told him we had a new scheme that would put us in a position to use a quarter of a million of these lamps the first year, and that we had been considering another make--which was true."
"It was," said Van Dorn, "and it would have been equally true to have said that we've been considering every known article of commerce, from a mouse-trap with two holes to a four-masted schooner."
"That caught him right away," continued Barrifield, regardless of this interruption. "He said he wanted to get started with a new thing like ours, and that he was going to let us on the inside. He had a talk with the manager, and came back and made me a net cash price of eighty-seven cents! Think of it! Eighty-seven cents for a two-dollar lamp! Given with the 'Whole Family' one year--fifty-two weeks--for one dollar and one new subscriber!"
Perner the businesslike was calculating.
"That would be two dollars we would get in all," he said, "for two subscriptions, two premiums, postage, and handling. Counting, say, seventy-five cents for the other premium, and twenty-five cents for postage and handling, we would have just thirteen cents left for our two subscriptions."
"By gad!" said Livingstone, weakly.
"But the advertising is where we come in," insisted Barrifield, eagerly. "And besides, everybody won't take lamps, either."
Van Dorn was smiling queerly.
"No," he said; "and if they did we can get them over at Cutten & Downum's for sixty-seven cents apiece. I saw them there yesterday."
"Not this lamp!" protested Barrifield. "I'll bet ten dollars it was a cheap imitation. I'll write to President Bright to-night about it. He's a fine man. He'd take some stock in the 'Whole Family' in a minute, if we'd let him. It couldn't have been this lamp!"
"Maybe not," assented Van Dorn; "but they had a big card up, saying 'Bright & Sons' Stellar, sixty-seven cents,' and the lamps looked just like this."
The others said nothing, but their confidence in Barrifield's purchasing ability had received a distinct jar. Presently Perner noticed the head waiter watching them intently. He was about to mention this when the minion walked over and spoke to Barrifield in a whisper. Barrifield grew red and began to drag the things together as the waiter moved away.
"What's the matter? What did he say, Barry?" asked Van Dorn.
At first Barrifield did not answer. Then the humor of it seized him, and he chuckled all over, growing even redder as he hid away the things.
"Come, old man, what did he say?" urged Livingstone.
Barrifield could hardly steady his voice for laughter.
"It's too good to keep," he admitted.
"Out with it, then," said Perner.
"Why," said Barrifield, "he said that they had sample-rooms up-stairs, and that it was against the rules to show samples here in the dining-room."
"Hoo-ee!" shouted Van Dorn. "That calls for something."
"By gad! yes," said Livingstone, "it does!"
It was well along in the afternoon when the friends left the place, and Perner, Van Dorn, and Livingstone returned to their apartments. They went over at first and stood for some moments before the picture of the bread line.
"Why don't you finish it, Stony?" asked Perner. "Finish it up and sell it for enough to pay your part in the 'Whole Family.'"
"Good scheme-- I've thought of it," confessed Livingstone.
"Do you suppose there are any publishers in that line?" mused Van Dorn.
"I say, fellows, let's take a walk up Fifth Avenue and pick out the houses we're going to buy next year!"
As they turned to go, Van Dorn took up a blank piece of drawing-paper and a brush. He worked away a few moments, the others looking on. As they passed out he tacked it to the outer door with pins. Then they all faced about, and, standing abreast, read in the fading light of the hall-way:
THE WHOLE FAMILY
A WEEKLY PAPER
FOR YOUNG AND OLD
A LETTER FROM MR. TRUMAN LIVINGSTONE OF NEW YORK TO MISS DOROTHY CASTLE OF CLEVELAND
MY DEAR, DEAREST DORRY: When I sit down to write to you there is always so much I want to say that I never know where to begin, and in the end I seem to tell you nothing at all except that I love you, which you have heard so much I am always afraid you will grow tired of hearing it again. Then I turn cold at the thought, and rewrite the letter to leave out some of the times, but before I am done I find them all in again somewhere else; so it is no use, you see, and I generally send the first letter, after all. Then, when it is gone I want it back, though I don't know whether I want it to take out some of the times I've said it, or to put in some more that I didn't say.
"Oh, Dorry dear, I do love you, and often when I have thought of you in your beautiful home surrounded by luxury, and then remembered that I have asked you to leave it all and cast your fortunes with a chap whose fortunes depend on the whim of the public and the fancy of the art editor, it has made me feel so guilty that I have more than once put into those letters I didn't send something about letting you take it all back and not allowing you to make such a sacrifice for me, even though you are true and noble and willing.
"And then I didn't send those letters, and I'm glad now that I didn't, for the hard days are going to be over soon, and I feel that I shall be able to offer you comforts that will, perhaps, keep you from regretting altogether those you have left behind. I am glad you are so enthusiastic too, now, about the paper, though you didn't feel just that way at the start, and after I got your first letter I had to talk the scheme all over again with Barry and Perny and Van to get back my courage and to be sure the Bible premium was all right.
"You know, Dorry, that money is a great thing, or at least you don't know, because you never had to do without it, but it is, and especially here where it is so hard to get, and where it takes so much of it to live even respectably. All that you have so often said about the bohemian life is fine and beautiful, and true in a way, too, but there are unpleasant phases of it as well. The struggle is very hard sometimes, and even Perny and Van, who do not need much money, and who will never be anything different from what they are now, even they are glad that they will be worth a million at least by this time next year.
"Perny has some property out West that he'll be able to hire somebody to take off his hands then, and Van wants to buy another old bureau that we saw yesterday at an antique-shop, though he already has two, and nothing in them except fishing-tackle that he gets every spring before it is time to go, and never uses. Then, Van thinks he'd like a house to keep his bureaus in, too, and Perny wants a place where he can have whatever he likes to eat, and a lot of people to help him eat it, while he recites his poetry to them.
"You _know_ what I want a house for--a house that shall be a home for you and for me, and where, in the soft light of dim, quiet rooms, I shall sit by you and talk and listen while time slips on. Do you remember how the time used to fly when we were together? It seemed always as if some one must be turning the clock ahead for a joke. I am going to make a picture some day of two Lovers, and on the mantel above them Cupid laughing and turning up the clock-hands. We will make that picture together next year, for you will slip in and look over my shoulder, and you will take the pen or the brush and touch here and there; and the editors will like my pictures better because of those touches; and when they are printed in the books and papers I will sit dreaming over my own work because it will not be all mine, but part Dorry's, too.
"I have never told Perny and Van anything about you, because I have never quite found the opportunity to do it in the way I would like. But I think sometimes they suspect, for the other day, when we went out to look at houses, Perny said he didn't suppose I'd want my house very close to two old hardened sinners like them. Then we came to a vacant lot that was just about large enough for three houses, and I said we wouldn't buy houses at all, but would buy the lot and build there side by side and just to suit us. And I said we would have our studios on the same floor of each, and opening through into each other as they do now, and that Perny's should be between, because we both illustrate his work sometimes, and that then we would be able to hire editors to run the 'Whole Family,' and we would work at the kind of work we liked to do and at no other. And I said that evenings we would sit together and talk just as we do now, and you would be there, too--though, of course, I didn't say that, but I know they understood and liked it, and you would like it too, sweetheart, for you have said so.
"And then Van said, 'Bully, old man!' and Perny didn't say anything, but he put his arms over Van and me when we came to the stairs, and we went up and took a look at my picture before dark. Perny wants me to finish it and sell it to get the money to put into the paper, and says he is going to buy it back with the first returns that come, to hang over his desk when we get into our new houses. But he isn't, because we are going to give it to him, you and I, when you come, and then we will all go together and try to make the originals of it happier because we are so happy ourselves. The money I have been saving will be enough, I am sure, to pay my share in starting the paper, for we will only have a few little engraving and composition and stationery bills and postage, and maybe some salaries to pay, before the returns begin to come in. But I am going to finish the picture anyway, so's to have it ready, and Perny and Van both say it is the best thing, so far, I have ever done. We don't any of us work as much as we did, but then it has taken such a lot of time to plan for the paper that we couldn't, and, after all, a few dollars invested that way now will count so much for us all by and by. Perny is working at editing, too, a good deal, and Van and I help. We have already got some 'copy' at the printer's, and Van and I have designed some department headings and a title-head that I will send you proofs of as soon as we get them engraved. We are going to have a beautiful paper, and if we can only get presses to print them fast enough when the first issue goes out in November, we will have two or three million circulation anyway by the first of the year.
"I _know_ we will now, even if I have ever had any doubts of it before. I know, because we have a new scheme that simply _cannot fail_. I can't tell you just what it is in this letter, because I don't altogether understand it myself yet, but Van does, and Perny, for it is Van's scheme this time, and Perny helped him work it out. We are going to 'spring' it on Barry to-morrow night, and it simply beats the premium idea to death, so Perny says, and he didn't sleep a wink all night thinking about it, nor Van either, and they have been explaining it to each other all day until I don't know 'where I'm at'; but they do, and they are sitting outside now, smoking and figuring up how many people there are in the world who read English. It is called CASH FOR NAMES, and will catch them all,--every one,--so Perny says; and as soon as we get it type-written I will send you a copy, so you can see just how great it is.
"And now, Dorry dear, I haven't told you anything at all, though I have written a long letter, and there is so much you would rather hear than all the things I have said. When I write I only think of you, Dorry, and how I hunger to see your beautiful face, and how long the time will be until I shall take you in my arms and never let you go again. Oh, sweetheart, I never, _never_ could give you up, unless, of course, something dreadful should happen, such as my going blind or being run over and half killed by a cable car, or if the paper should fail and wreck us all, which I know can't happen now. I have thought I ought to, sometimes, for your sake, but I know now I never could have done it, for, sleeping or waking, I am, Dorothy, through all eternity, your
CASH FOR NAMES
The air was charged with a burden of mystery and moment when the three who strove together in rooms near Union Square joined the man who did something in an editorial way at the latter's office, and proceeded with him to the Grand Union restaurant.
"We have a tale to unfold that will make your hair curl," said Perner, as they stepped out on the lighted street. "Van has had an inspiration. Premiums are not in it with this!"
"By gad, no!" agreed Livingstone. "It's the greatest thing yet!"
"Good!" shouted Barrifield, above the crash of the street. "Good!"
Van Dorn modestly remained silent. Perner made an effort to keep up the conversation, but the roar of the cobble made results unsatisfactory and difficult. It was a good mile to the Grand Union, but Barrifield explained _sotto voce_ as they entered that it was the only place for steamed soft clams in town. Soft clams appealed to Perner, and any lingering doubts he may have had of Barrifield's ability as business manager disappeared at this statement. Livingstone, who was not quite so tall as the others, had kept up with some difficulty, and was puffing a little as they seated themselves at a table in one corner.
"I know now what it means to start a paper," he observed reflectively. "It means first to walk a good ways and then eat something. That's what we've been doing ever since we started."
"Better eat while we've got a chance," said Van Dorn. "If the 'Whole Family' fails we'll walk without eating."
"We can afford to eat on Van's new scheme," said Perner. "It's worth it."
Barrifield laughed comfortably.
"What is your scheme?" he asked, seeing that Perner was waiting anxiously to unload.
"Wait," interrupted Van Dorn. "Here's the waiter. Let's give the order, and then we'll have a couple of hours to talk while he's catching the clams."
Perner subsided, and each seized a bill of fare, which was studied with stern solemnity for some moments. Dinner was a matter of perhaps more respectful consideration with these rather prosperous bohemians than even the new paper, which they still regarded, and possibly with some reason, as a sort of farce, or than the Muses, whom they were inclined to woo somewhat cavalierly.
"I should think two portions of clams would be enough," suggested Van Dorn, at length; "then we can have something solid in the way of meat and things."
"Oh, pshaw, Van! I want a full portion myself, and Barry wants one, too; don't you, Barry?"
Barrifield, who had come from a coast where pie and clams are the natural heritage, suggested that, as the portions here were something less than a peck each, they might compromise on three. This Perner reluctantly agreed to, and the usual extra sirloin with mushrooms was added. Pie was then selected by Perner and Barrifield, and various delicacies by the others.
"A large pot of coffee," concluded Van Dorn.
"Ale with the clams," suggested Livingstone. The others nodded.
"Martinis first," interrupted Perner. Then to the waiter, "Four Martinis--and don't be all night getting them here."
"Rochefort, and Panetela cigars with the coffee," supplemented Barrifield.
"Cigarettes for me," corrected Livingstone, "Turkish Sultanas, small package, gold tips."
There was a note of gold in the atmosphere. The order was not prodigal, but there was an unstinted go-as-you-please manner about it which made the waiter bow and vanish hastily. Barrifield turned to Perner.
"Now," he said, "what's your great scheme?"
Perner had already drawn a folded type-written sheet from his inside coat pocket.
"It's Van's idea," he said, with becoming modesty. "I may have elaborated it some and put it into words, that's all. But it's simply tremendous! Premiums have been done. Cameras and watches have been given with twelve papers of bluing or needles, but this thing has never been done by anybody--at least, not in this form."
"That's right!" said Livingstone.
"No, sir, old man; I don't believe it has," confessed Van Dorn, with some reluctance at doing justice to his own conception.
Barrifield looked from one to the other with large expectancy in his eyes.
"Let's hear it," he said anxiously.
Perner unfolded the paper and glanced at the tables about them to see that no one was listening. Then he began to read in a low, earnest voice:
"CASH PAID FOR NAMES!
"TWENTY-FIVE CENTS FOR EACH!
"The proprietors of the 'Whole Family,' the greatest and most magnificent weekly paper ever published, make to the whole English-speaking world the following unheard-of offer.
"I got that style of eloquence from Frisby's advertisements," Perner paused to explain. "It catches 'em, you know." The others nodded. Perner continued:
"To any one, old or young, in any part of the globe, who will send us a list of twenty names of men or women, boys or girls, likely to be interested in the most beautiful, the most superb, illustrated family weekly ever published, we will send our marvelous paper, the 'Whole Family,' for four consecutive weeks free of charge, and we will pay the sender
"TWENTY-FIVE CENTS IN CASH FOR EACH NAME
"added to our subscription-books on or before November 1, 1897. Remember, there is no canvassing! You select twenty good names and send them to us by letter or postal card. We do the rest. If you pick names of twenty good people we will get twenty subscribers, and you will get
"FIVE DOLLARS IN CASH FOR FIVE MINUTES' WORK,
"besides our matchless paper free for one month! Remember! Five dollars for twenty names--no more!"
Perner finished reading and looked steadily at Barrifield, as did Van Dorn and Livingstone. Barrifield was reflecting deeply with closed eyes.
"They send in the names of twenty people," he meditated; "we mail sample copies to them, and pay the sender twenty-five cents for each one that subscribes. We don't pay till they subscribe, do we?"
"Why, no, of course not!" Perner was slightly annoyed that Barrifield did not catch the scheme instantly, though it had taken him and Van Dorn two full days to become entirely clear on it themselves. "You see," he continued, "we'll send sample copies to each of these names for two weeks. The sender of the names will also be getting his sample copies, and knowing that twenty-five cents is to come from every subscriber, he'll talk up the paper among others. He'll be an agent without knowing it. The unpleasant feature of soliciting subscribers will be all done away with. He'll pick the best names, of course, in the first place--people that he knows are dead sure to take the paper. We'll get up a paper they can't _help_ taking. He'll get five dollars in cash, and we'll get twenty subscribers to the 'Whole Family.'"
"Twenty-one," corrected Van Dorn. "The sender of the names will subscribe, of course--he'll have to, as an example to the others."
"Perny's going to send him a special confidential circular," put in Livingstone, "thanking him for his interest and calling him 'Dear Friend.'"
"And a hundred thousand people will send lists," said Perner. "A hundred thousand lists with twenty names to the list will be two million names. Every one of them will subscribe--every one of them! But say they don't--say, to be on the safe side, that only _ten_ of them subscribe before November 1; say that only _five_ of them do. There's one half-million subscribers to start with--one half-million subscribers on the first day of November, when we mail our first regular subscription issue! What do you think of that?"
It was just the sort of scheme to appeal to Barrifield. As the fascination of it dawned upon him he regarded wonderingly each of the conspirators in turn.
"I think," he said at last, with slow emphasis and gravity, "I think it simply _tre-mendous_!"
Van Dorn's eyes glistened, and Livingstone leaned forward as if to speak. Perner could scarcely keep his seat.
"Wait, then," he said jubilantly, "wait till you hear the rest of it! That's only the beginning. Listen to this!"
"'Sh!" cautioned Van Dorn, glancing at the tables near them, some of whose occupants seemed attracted by the evident excitement of their neighbors. Perner had drawn forth a second paper, and lowered his voice almost to a whisper.
"This," he said, "is the second chapter and contains the climax. The one I just read will appear in outside papers before our first issue is out. This will appear in our own sample copies, and is what will clench and make subscribers of every name that comes. Listen!
"CASH PAID FOR NAMES!
"POTS OF GOLD! POTS OF GOLD! NO WORK!
"Any boy or girl, man or woman, in any part of the world, who shall become a subscriber to the 'Whole Family'--the greatest, cheapest, and most beautiful weekly paper ever published--may send, with his or her subscription price of one dollar, a list of twenty names of those most likely to be interested in this marvelous home paper, and receive
"TWENTY-FIVE CENTS IN CASH FOR EACH AND EVERY NAME
"added to our subscription list before December 1 of the present year. By selecting the best names before they are taken by others, and subscribing _now_, you are certain to get your money back and a snug sum for Christmas besides! Don't wait a moment! Select sure winners and send them to us with the small subscription price of a dollar! You get five for one in return, and the most glorious paper ever printed besides!"
Perner paused and looked straight at Barrifield. The big blond dreamer was regarding them in a dazed way.
"That means," he said at last, huskily, "another list of names with each of our half-million or million subscriptions, and then--"
"And then," said Van Dorn, unable to hold in another second, "sample copies and the same inducements to the new names for another month, and the same to the names these send for still another month, and so on until we have the whole English-reading world on our subscription list, and there are no more names to send, except as people are born and grow up. There are fifteen million English-speaking families in the United States, not to mention Canada, England, Australia, New Zealand, India, and South Africa, and we'll have them all in a year! In a year! Every one of them!"
"In a year!" said Perner. "We'll have them in _six months_! Less! Why," he continued excitedly, "even starting with but a single unit and doubling, you get a million with twenty multiplications, and starting, as we will, with half a million or more names to begin with, and getting twenty new names for each on the next round, and so continuing, we'd have--allowing that only one fourth of them subscribe--we'd have fifty million subscribers--if there were that many in the universe--in three rounds! Six months! Why, in less than a month people will be scratching the world with garden-rakes to find anybody that isn't already a subscriber, and even in China and the interior of Africa the 'Whole Family' will have become the great civilizer and diffuser of the English tongue."
Livingstone's face flushed and paled by turns, and his eyes sparkled.
"By gad, yes!" he said. "By gad!"
It was the last word. In the contemplation of this stupendous proposition no one could utter another syllable.
The Martinis came on just then, and went down with a hot sizzle. Barrifield was first to recover his voice. He was slow and deliberate again, though still gasping a little, perhaps from the cocktail.
"Of course you know, fellows," he said, with an air of profound reflection, "that this plan is going to take a little more money. It involves sending out a large number of sample copies, and there'll be some little clerk hire and postage to pay before the money comes in. It won't be much extra, of course,--a few hundred dollars, perhaps,--but we must be prompt paying our help. And then, we want to have a bank-account. Frisby's scheme didn't call for any outlay, you see, until the money began to come, and Frisby started without a dollar. He didn't--"
"Yes, I know," interrupted Perner; "but Frisby's scheme was new then, and might not work so well now. We've got another and a better one than Frisby or anybody else ever had before. Even if it does take a little more money at the start, any one of us can earn more in a week than it takes to pay all the clerks we'll need."
"Why, yes," said Livingstone; "and we'll do most of the paper ourselves, so we'll save that."
"We've got a great combination, boys," said Barrifield--"great!"
In the brief lull that followed this statement, which so fully expressed the feeling of all present, Perner took occasion to go somewhat into detail.
"In the first place," he said, "we're going to be flooded with names. We'll have our paper all made up and start the presses running at the rate of a hundred thousand a day the week before our advertising appears--not sooner than that, because we want money to be coming in as soon as possible after the papers are printed."
Perner paused to appreciate the admiring glances of the others. His ten years' business experience was crystallizing itself into a beautiful system.
"We'll have our clerks," he continued, "all ready with the books--a book for each State--to enter the names as soon as the answers begin to come. We must have one distributing clerk with a little post-office arrangement to assort the letters and cards into States and give them to the others. These will enter them and turn them over to another set of clerks, who will address wrappers from the letters and cards themselves. Then the wrappers will go to another set of clerks, who will wrap the papers and mail them."
The admiration for Perner grew. It seemed simplicity itself.
"One hundred thousand a day," he continued, "will give us two million papers in about three weeks. That'll be the first round of the first issue. Before those are half out we will be getting subscriptions like hot cakes, and we'll have to double our force to handle them. But subscriptions mean money, and with twenty or thirty thousand dollars a day coming in, we'll have money to double them up with."
"If the subscriptions don't come it will double us up," laughed Van Dorn.
As for Barrifield, he seemed stupefied. He had started the wind, but the cyclone it had grown to was whirling him along faster than he could follow; also the memory of Frisby and Bibles still clung to him somewhat, despite this new and startling method of taking fortune by storm. He started to speak, but Perner, who had taken on fuel enough for a long run, was too quick for him.
"When the first round of the first issue has been going out one day," he said with conviction, "those subscriptions will begin to come. Each subscription will bring twenty new names, and that'll mean another round of the first issue, and the checking off in the books of the people that have subscribed, showing just who sent them and what he is entitled to in cash."
"We'll send it to him in a check," said Van Dorn. "Checks always look well."
"Then," continued Perner, "when these new names begin to come, we'll commence on the third round of the first issue to the names they send, and so on to a fourth and even a fifth. We must send as many rounds of the first issue as possible, for it contains the first chapters of our serials."
"That's so!" interjected Livingstone, "it does!"
"Of course, our first and second issues," Perner went on, "will have to be dated ahead, because we'll start on them about the 1st of October. But the third issue can come in in regular place, and by the time we get to the third round of the first issue, and the second round of the second issue, and the first round of the third issue, we'll have all the names in this country; and by the second round of the third issue they will all be on our subscription books, and we'll have--even counting that only one out of four families subscribe--we'll have four million subscribers, and at least three million dollars in the bank to get out the paper with for a year, to say nothing of the advertisements, which will bring in on a circulation like that at least twelve thousand dollars a page, or, allowing three pages, about one million eight hundred thousand dollars a year in round numbers."
The clams had come and gone, and the meat had been served. Barrifield made a feeble attempt to do the honors, and Livingstone shaped his lips as if to speak. Neither effort was successful. The four sat silent, looking far beyond the fear of penury and the dreams of avarice into a land where mountains were banked with jewels and all the rivers ran gold. Indeed, the face of Livingstone seemed glorified by a sort of ecstasy. The revulsion fell first upon Van Dorn, and wakened in him that spirit of the ludicrous which was never far distant from any of them.
"It's all right, of course," he began with assumed gravity. "We're certain to be millionaires when we get to going, but what I want to know is whether, in the meantime, we can stand off the printer."
The others laughed.
"You see, I know printers," continued Van Dorn. "I had a cousin who was a printer, and I've seen fellows try to stand him off. He nearly always had his sleeves rolled up, and when a man came to stand him off, he used to walk back to the sink, with the fellow following and talking; and my cousin would wash his hands under the tap while he listened, and then wipe them on the towel that hung over it. You never saw a printer's towel, did you? Well, it isn't a very cheerful thing, and my cousin was just about as cheerful as it was. He'd stand there and listen, and wipe and listen, and not say anything, while the fellow'd talk and talk and look at that towel that hadn't been washed since the shop opened. Then he'd look at my cousin and say some of the things over again in a discouraged sort of a way, and commence to miss connection and slip cogs, and pretty soon he'd sneak off, and my cousin would give one more wipe on the paleozoic towel, and then walk back and say a few things to the press-boys that would knock chunks out of the imposing-stone. Now, what I want to know is if we can go to that fellow with his sleeves rolled up and get the second round of the first issue or the first round of any old issue without the money down."
Van Dorn's remarks slackened the tension somewhat, and after considerable banter all around, Perner explained that they would only want accommodation on a hundred thousand copies or so of the first round of the first issue for a few days until subscriptions began to flow in. Frisby, he reminded them, had found no difficulty in getting a million copies without a dollar, and Perner felt sure that, with the present competition, almost any of the big printing-houses would hug their knees, as Barry had put it, to get the work. There would be some small bills for stationery and composition right at the start, perhaps some for the engraving. These they would discount and settle on presentation.
"We'll have to pay our advertising man's salary, too," he said, "and with this scheme we want to get a good, energetic man and start him out soliciting at the earliest possible moment. He can get enough contracts on the basis of even a million circulation to pay for all the rounds of the first issue, and we can use those contracts as a basis of credit, too, if we have to."
This remark created a visible sensation and a fresh regard for Perner's business experience and energy, which was gradually becoming the backbone of the whole enterprise. Barrifield meantime had pulled himself together and was smoking with his usual deliberation.
"Boys," he said, "we've got the biggest thing on earth. We could win either way, hands down--either with premiums or cash for names. But we want to be certain--certain! We don't want any possibility of failure. And to make assurance doubly sure, I am in favor of using both."
This made something of a sensation. Perner showed combative tendencies.
"We can't afford it, Barry," he said with conviction. "We are already giving twenty-five cents out of our dollar to the fellow who sends the names, and if we give even fifty cents more for a premium we'll have only twenty-five cents left."
Barrifield leaned back and closed his eyes.
"We could afford it," he said, "if we didn't have five cents left. Counting even only a million and a half a year return from the advertising, we could, by producing the papers in such quantity, still pay all expenses and have a hundred thousand or so apiece left at the end of the year. It isn't a good plan to try to make too much the first year. It invites competition. I believe in going moderately and being sure--don't you, fellows?" turning to Van Dorn and Livingstone.
Van Dorn looked over at Perner anxiously.
"I shouldn't wonder if Barry was right, old man," he said in a conciliatory tone.
"We don't have to pay for premiums, you know, until we have money coming in to do it with," added Barrifield.
"That's so," said Livingstone,--"that's so! We'll have both! Suppose we go now, fellows," he added, rather anxiously; "I've got a letter to write."
"Stony's always got a letter to write," commented Van Dorn.
The others nodded, but said nothing.
They arose from the table in vast friendship with each other. The repast had been bountiful. In after days it was referred to as the great dinner.
Also--sometimes--as the last dinner.
A LETTER FROM MISS DOROTHY CASTLE OF CLEVELAND TO MR. TRUMAN LIVINGSTONE OF NEW YORK
DEAR OLD TRUE: I am simply in a whirl. The copies you sent of the 'cash for names' circulation plan have set me to going till my feet no longer seem to touch anything. I have covered all my stationery with figures, and my desk fairly reeks with millions. You know I never cared much for figures before, and I was never very good at them when we went to school together, especially fractions; but there are no fractions about this--it's all just tens and hundreds and thousands and millions,--a perfect wilderness of decimals,--and I enjoy them so much that I get up early in the morning to play with them. I have taken all the figures you sent me, showing the cost of paper and printing and so on, and calculated over and over, and then divided by two, and sometimes three to be on the safe side, and even then I don't know what we shall do with all the money.
"I'll tell you, True--we'll build things. We'll build hospitals and asylums and libraries, and first of all we'll build a great place where those poor men who now get a cup of coffee and a loaf of bread can get a good warm meal and have a bed to sleep in afterward. And we'll build one like it for poor women, too. And then, by and by, we'll build a great, beautiful place where artists and writers, when they get old, can live in ease and comfort, and not have anything to pay unless they are able. Not in the way of charity, I mean, but as the just reward that wealth owes to those who have given their years and strength to make the world better and happier. Only, wealth never understands and realizes its debt. But we will, True, because we know, and Van and Perny will help, and Barry, too. And then, when we have grown old, perhaps we will go there to stay. I am not quite sure about that, but it would be beautiful, I know, for it would be like the houses we are going to have side by side, only on a larger scale; and then, it would be in the country, where there are green fields and fresh air and big trees and clear brooks. We will have beautiful grounds reaching in every direction, like those around Windsor Castle, that I once saw when in England. And everybody will do as they please, and read and write and paint what they like, or sit in the sun and shade, and so drift out of life as gently as the brown leaf falls and floats out to the eternal sea.
"I do not mean to grow poetic, True, but I have always thought about such a place as that, and to me it has seemed just as I have tried to make it appear to you. I know you will understand, too, and your artist fancy will conceive things of which I do not even dream. I never hoped that it could be possible for me to realize this vision, though it has always been very near my heart, and once I even spoke about it to papa. But then, he isn't rich like that, and, besides, our family is large and the boys have to be started in life.
"I was perfectly crazy at first to tell papa about the 'cash for names' plan, and should have done so if you hadn't pledged me to solemn secrecy. Of course, I know how dangerous it would be for any other paper to find it out before you get started, but I know papa would not tell a soul if I told him not to. Only I am glad now that I couldn't, for he is so conservative, you know, in his business methods that I am sure he would have laughed at the plan, and perhaps proved to me in some way that it wasn't practical-- I mean, of course, he might have _made me_ believe it wasn't practical, for he knows so much about business and is always so matter-of-fact that I can't argue with him at all. Then I should have been discouraged and uneasy, instead of overflowing with happiness and dreams.
"I am glad you are going to have a good man to solicit advertising right away; and how fine it is that he can get those cash contracts before the paper starts, so you can have ample means right from the first! It all seems so simple and easy now that I wonder people have not done these things long ago. But it is always that way--the simple things are the great ones and the last to be found out. It isn't often, either, that those who discover them get the benefit, and that seems too bad; but it is a comfort to feel that at last genius is to have its just reward, especially when it is the genius of those near and dear to us, and when through it so many others will be benefited and made happy, too.
"I am awfully interested in what you have told me now and then about your picture of the bread line, and the little sketch you made of it on the margin of your last letter is delightful. I hope you will not let it go unfinished, though I know, of course, you are very busy and have so much to think of. But painting will be a rest to you, sometimes, and a change; and then, I like to think of you at your work, too. Besides, it must be completed when I come, you know, and that will be--well, no; I'm not quite ready to fix the exact date yet, because, you see, you will have so much to do for a while, even after the paper is started, that I think we would better wait until it is fairly under way before you try to leave, even if that should not be much before the holidays.
"We can wait and see, and when the time comes I shall be ready, for papa doesn't believe in grand weddings, nor I, either, and I shall have very little preparation to make. Some day, when the 'second round of the third issue' is off, and the 'first round of the fourth issue' is started, when the subscriptions are whirling in like snowflakes through which you are gliding smoothly and well to fortune, then you may write to me, True, that you are coming, and I will be ready. I know that June is the month for weddings, but it is always June in the heart where love is, and, besides, New York is at its best in winter and spring, and when summer really does come we can go where our fancy takes us.
"True, when you went away, and we said to each other that we would wait until you had made a place for yourself in the world,--until you had 'arrived,' as you called it,--the time of waiting seemed long. That was three years ago, but, after all, they have been swift, sweet years, even though we have not seen each other often. For little by little and step by step you did 'arrive,' until we both knew you had the solid ground of success under your feet. The joy of battle made the days go quickly to you, while the joy of watching you has been sweet to me. So you will not be impatient now, for this new triumph which will come still more quickly will make the weeks go even faster, and while it is not my best ambition for you, and only a means to an end, I still rejoice with you and am proud of you in it all. Good-by, True.
"With all my love, "DOROTHY.
"P.S. Papa just came in with the little roll from you containing proofs of the title and department headings. They are beautiful. He noticed all the pages on my desk covered with figures, and asked me if I were estimating the cost of a new Easter bonnet!
THE COURSE OF EVENTS
Matters seemed to start with an exasperating lack of rapidity--so much so that in midsummer Perner declared they seemed considerably farther from the first issue now than they had been on the night at the Hotel Martin. It is true, he had a "dummy" put together, all blank except the first page and the department headings, while at the printer's there was almost enough matter to fill the blank columns, if only Stony and Van would talk less and complete the drawings they had started.
He said despairingly one morning to Barrifield, who had dropped in for a moment:
"We ought to be running a semi-annual instead of a weekly. I think we could just about get out two issues of the paper in a year."
Barrifield assured him that they were doing beautifully, and that matters would go like clockwork when once they got started. For himself, he declared that he was getting along swimmingly, and displayed a number of more or less impossible premiums which he had pursued by mysterious and exciting methods to that guarded and hidden chamber which he still referred to in hushed tones as the "inside." He had also made a discovery in the way of an advertising man whom he described as being the very man for the place--in fact, a jewel!
"Recommended by Jackson, of the Jackson & Marsh Advertising Agency," he announced triumphantly, "and by Rushly, of the 'Home Monthly'--been with them two years and had the benefit of Rushly's training. Says Bates--that's his name--is a great hustler."
"Why doesn't he stay with the 'Home,' then?" Perner spoke rather impatiently.
"No chance of advancement. Rushly is head man there and certain to stay. Bates wants to begin with a new paper that is sure to go. I was talking to Jackson to-day about what we were going to do and he mentioned Bates. Jackson, by the way, thinks our scheme great. He'd take stock in it in a minute if we'd let him."
"Did he say so?"
"No; of course he couldn't do that, but I could tell by the way he talked. There'll be no trouble, though, about getting all the time of him we want on our advertising."
"Did he say that?"
"No; I didn't ask him. But he was as friendly as _could_ be, and gave me a lot of good advice about advertising and advertisers. He said we ought to have a man like Bates, and then put those matters entirely into his hands. I gathered from him that there was a sort of an inside circle that worked together, and that unless a man was in it he didn't have much show."
"Bates is in the ring, of course."
"Of course! And in addition to securing advertising contracts for us, he can place our ads too. Jackson said he would do better for Bates on a cash discount than he would for anybody."
"But I thought we were going to get credit?"
"Of course, until the advertising is out. That's cash, you know, and when it's out we'll have money coming right in to pay for it. That's the way Frisby did."
"Did you mention that to him?"
"Why, no; but--well you know I look prosperous. That's what Frisby did, too, and he didn't have a dollar. Jackson said Bates could also help out with the business management."
Barrifield rose to go.
"We can't get him any too quick, either," he added. "You've got your hands about full. I can see that!"
In fact, Perner was beginning to look worn. It had been decided some weeks previous that a time had arrived when one of them must devote himself wholly to the affairs of the forthcoming publication, and as Perner was to be editor as well as manager _pro tem._, besides having but little cash to put in, as he had confessed in the beginning, he was selected for the sacrifice. A stated salary was agreed upon, which amount was to be applied each week on his stock subscription in lieu of cash. How he was to live on the comfortable-looking, though intangible, figure that he passed each Saturday to his credit on stock until such times as returns began to assume definite form, he did not, with all his business experience, pause to consider. He began at once the task of shaping their more or less formless fancies, and the equally difficult one of subsisting on the returns from certain labors already concluded and disposed of to those periodicals here and there which, in some unexplained manner, have assumed the privilege of holding matter to suit their convenience and paying for it on publication. These checks fluttered in now and then, and were as rare jewels found by the wayside. He was still confident of success. If his enthusiasm and flesh had waned the least bit, it was because realities hitherto unconsidered were becoming daily more assertive and vigorous. Of these there were many. From the moment of his return from breakfast--two hours earlier than he had ever thought necessary in the old days--there were men and also women waiting to see him. The fact of the "Whole Family" had become known, even as the hunted stag becomes known to birds of prey in the far empyrean, and solicitors of all kinds had begun to gather at the first croaking note of rumor.
There were those who wished to advertise it upon illuminated cards set in frames to be placed in country hotels and railway stations; there were others who would announce it by a system of painted signs sown broadcast on the fences; and still others who for a consideration would display the good news upon dizzy mountain cliffs and the trees of the mighty forest, where even the four-footed kingdoms might see and rejoice at the glad tidings.
Of those who solicited for publications there were a legion. Monthlies and weeklies of which Perner had not even heard marshalled their clans and swooped down in companies, battalions, and brigades. All of these he could turn over to Bates when he came on: the printers, engravers, contributors, and the people with circulation schemes were enough for him.
As to the latter contingent, Van Dorn and Livingstone relieved him somewhat, and rather enjoyed doing so. It was in the nature of a diversion to them to listen to these wordy emissaries of the east wind, who unfolded more or less startling schemes that ranged all the way from a house-to-house canvass for subscribers, through various voting contests, up to the securing by lobby an act of Congress adopting the paper as the official organ of some forty millions of school-children. It was more pleasant to listen and to discuss with this garrulous advance-guard of fortune in her various guises than to pursue her more ploddingly at the easel. This gave some relief to Perner, though, on the whole, he would have preferred seeing them at work. Livingstone, it is true, did work feverishly at his painting now and then, for as much as an hour or more at a time, and between him and Van Dorn the various headings and one or two other drawings had come into being. But there was still much for them to do, and their seeming inability to get down to business, now that matters were really under way, was sometimes, as he had hinted to Barrifield, altogether discouraging. Later in the day he abused them roundly.
"How do you expect we are going to get out a paper once a week?" he asked. There had come the lull which precedes lunch-time, and Perner was standing in his door and glaring at them with undisguised scorn. His disarranged hair and the light on his glasses gave him the appearance of a very tall beetle. "Once a week! Do you know what that means? It means not once a year, nor once a month, but every seven days! Here we've been going nearly seven months, and you haven't got pictures for one issue yet! How in the world do you expect to get out from six to eight pictures a week for the next issues? That's what you've got to do, you know, until we get started and money is coming in to buy outside work with. Even then we can't depend on that for the class of stuff we want. You could do it, too, without turning a hair, if you'd just puncture a few of these wind-bags that come along, and get down to work!"
"Oh, pshaw! Perny; there's plenty of time," said Van Dorn, pacifically. "Stony and I are Committee on Circulation."
"That's so," said Livingstone. "We had one man to-day who wanted to put copies of our first issue into seventeen million packages of starch for distribution throughout the entire civilized world. Van told him it was a stiff proposition."
"He didn't see the joke, though," complained Van Dorn, in a grieved voice, "and he looked at us pityingly when I told him we had a better scheme."
"You didn't hint at what it was, of course," said Perner, anxiously.
"Not much! He'd have gobbled it up in a minute if I had."
Perner dropped into a chair and stretched out his feet.
"When Bates comes we'll turn a lot of these fellows over to him," he mused aloud. "The rooms below us are empty. We'll get them and put him in there. Then we can all get down to work."
"Those rooms will more than double the rent, won't they?" asked Van Dorn.
"Yes; but we can't have that gang up here, even if it trebles it. We're not going to have any too much money, either, to run us through. The engraving bill came in to-day, and the letter postage is no small item. There'll be a bill for composition on the 1st, and it'll be a good deal, because we've changed the style of type so often. Then, Bates's salary will commence right away, and he'll probably have to have a stenographer, and an allowance for incidentals, and a desk and some other furniture. You see, Frisby had a lot of things when he took the 'Voice' that we'll have to buy, and it's like building a house--it always takes more than you expect it to. Of course, when we once get started we'll have money to throw at the birds, but, whatever Frisby may have done, it's beginning to be pretty clear to me that we'll have to throw a good deal into other places before that time comes. You and Stony had better be hustling on a little outside work, too, so, in case of another assessment--"
They drifted over to the Continental for lunch, where presently Barrifield joined them. The Continental was handy and it was also cheaper than some of the places they had heretofore frequented. Barrifield was aglow with a sort of triumphant excitement.
"I've just seen Bates," he began, as he seated himself. "Great! Told me more about advertising in five minutes than I ever dreamed of. I could hardly get away from him."
"Why didn't you bring him along?" said Livingstone.
"Well, you see," said Barrifield, lowering his voice, "he'd been out hustling all the morning, and he'd had a drink or two,--they have to do that, you know,--and I didn't know but he'd want to talk too much. He's all right, though. The smartest man I ever knew couldn't do business well until he'd had a few drinks."
"That's so!" assented Perner. "There's lots of people that way. When's he coming?"
"Monday. And I engaged a circulation man, too."
Barrifield paused to note the effect of this remark. The others were regarding him questioningly. They had not calculated on an expense in this direction for the present.
"He doesn't cost anything, either," he added triumphantly.
The look all around became one of pleasure. Barrifield explained.
"An old war-horse," he said. "Been circulation manager for some of the greatest publications in the country. Retired from the business years ago. Been speculating more or less since, and not doing much of anything lately. Great traveler, and used to write, too. Money probably to live on now, and wants to get back into the smoke of battle for the mere joy of the thing. He happened into the 'Home' office while I was there, and heard we were starting the 'Whole Family.' Said he'd be delighted to come and help us out until we got to going, and then we could do what we wanted to with him. I closed a bargain on the spot. He can take a big load off of you fellows. Great, isn't it?"
"Bully!" said Van Dorn. "I suppose he'll want to buy some stock later on, though."
Barrifield looked wise.
"That's what I suspected," he admitted. "Well, if he does us a good turn now, we might let him have a share or two later, eh, fellows?"
The others assented eagerly. They were not to be outdone in liberality. They knew nothing of this new acquisition, but Barrifield's description appealed to them.
"We'll put him down-stairs with Bates," reflected Perner.
"What's his name, Barry?" asked Van Dorn.
"Hazard--Colonel Hazard. Officer in the Civil War. All the big battles. If we got pinched before the returns come he'd loan us money, too."
"That's good," said Perner. "We may need it."
They studied the bill of fare intently.
"They serve all portions for two here, don't they?" asked Perner, rather cautiously, at last.
A waiter standing near by replied in the affirmative.
"That soup looks good," suggested Van Dorn. "Creme of tomatoes with rice. Suppose we try two portions of that?"
Livingstone hastily referred to the price, which he was gratified to find was unusually moderate.
"By gad, yes," he said. "Tomato soup--that's it! It's good and substantial."
"Filling," agreed Van Dorn.
"And corn-beef hash," said Perner. "I haven't had any corn-beef hash for a dog's age."
"Let's see," said Livingstone and Van Dorn together.
There was another hasty and surreptitious reference to the price.
"Hash, that's it!" suddenly exclaimed Barrifield, who had also been studying the various economies set forth on the rather elaborate list. "Nice brown hash without the poached egg or any trimmings. Just good, plain, old-fashioned hash! Two portions of soup and two of hash will make a lunch fit for a king. It makes my mouth water to think about it. What shall we have to drink?"
"I find it interferes with my work, afternoons," said Perner. "Nothing for me."
"Me, too," agreed Van Dorn. "I'm going to do without even coffee in the middle of the day."
"Same here," said Livingstone.
"How about pie?" suggested Barrifield, wistfully.
Perner's eyes, too, grew hungry at the sound of the word, but he maintained silence. A peculiar smile grew about Van Dorn's mouth.
"They won't serve two portions of pie for four of us, I suppose," he said.
There was a laugh in which all joined, and the flimsy wall of pretense was swept away.
"Let's own up, boys," said Barrifield, "it's a matter of economy just now with all of us. We'll be lunching at Del's this time next year, but for a few months we want to go a little slow. Let's have pie, though, once more, anyway."
IN THE SANCTUM
Perner's days were not without compensations. There was correspondence with certain celebrities whom they had decided to engage for the coming year, and to be addressed by these as "Dear Mr. Perner," and even as "My dear Perner" more than once, was worth the foregoing of certain luxuries of a grosser nature.
Then, too, the news of the "Whole Family" had gone abroad among the bohemians of the town, and the poet and the fictionist unearthed from the dark corners of their desks--technically known as their "barrels"--the sketches, poems, and stories that had already (and more than once, perhaps, as editors came and went) gone the hopeless round from Franklin Square to Irvington-on-the-Hudson. They shook the dust from these, cleaned them carefully with an eraser, and brought them to Perner's door. They were a merry crowd, these bohemians, and most of them Perner knew. He had waited with them in editorial anterooms, had striven hip to thigh with them in the daily turmoil of Park Row, and in more convivial and prosperous moments had touched glasses and nibbled cheese with them at Lipton's or in Perry's back room. It was really rather fine, therefore, to have become all at once a potentate before whom, with due respect, they now dumped the various contents of their several "barrels."
He informed one and all graciously that contributions would be promptly passed upon, and such as were selected promptly paid for, speaking as one with ample means in reserve. He knew, of course, the venerable character of most of these offerings,--he could detect a renovated manuscript across the room in poor light,--but he also knew that some of his own most successful work had become much travel-worn. He was willing to wade through the pile of chaff in the hope of discovering a gem, and, besides, the dignity of an editorial desk with heaped-up manuscript was gratifying.
Also, the bohemians were entertaining. They knew the peculiarities of every editor in town, and exchanged with Perner characteristic experiences. Among them was a stout, middle-aged man named Capers. He was partly bald, with a smooth baby face that gave him somewhat the appearance of Cupid, and, with his merry disposition, made him seem much younger than he really was.
"Well, I've just had a round with Jacky," he said, as he came in one morning, puffing somewhat after the long climb. (Jacky was the name by which a certain very prominent and somewhat difficult magazine editor was irreverently known among the bohemians.) "It was a pretty stiff tussle, but I landed him."
Perner's face showed interest. Jacky, to him, had been always a trying problem.
"How was it?" he asked. "What did you land him with?"
"Christmas poem--twenty-four lines. Wrote it for an autumn poem--twelve lines in the first place. Too late for this year."
"You could change it, of course, easy enough."
"Changed it right there. Put the golden apples and brown nuts in a pan on the table instead of on the sear and yellow trees. Then I showed it to him again, and he said he didn't care much for nuts and apples anyway, so I took 'em out, and put back the trees, and hung tinsel and embroidered slippers on them. I had to add four more lines to do that, and spoke of the holidays connecting the years like a 'joyous snow-clad isthmus' to rhyme with 'Christmas.' He liked that pretty well, but thought it ought to have a little more atmosphere, so I put in at the beginning a stanza with a Star in the East in it, and another at the end with Christmas day as a star in the heart of humanity--sort of a reflection like--"
"That was good--tiptop!"
"Yes; he took it then. He said, if he didn't, I'd keep on adding to it and break up the magazine. Now, Perny, I'll tell you, I've got a poem that runs right straight through the year. Every stanza is complete in itself, and I can give you any kind of a cut you want. You can have it all as it is, or I'll take out the bones and trim it up for you, or you can have slices out of it here and there at so much a slice."
Perner took the manuscript and ran his eye over it casually.
"That's a good thing on September," he said. "The figure of the goldenrod like a plumed warder closing the gates of summer is striking. We don't publish till November, though."
"That's all right! What's the matter with making it chrysanthemum--a royal goddess at the gates of fall?"
"Why, yes; I suppose that will do." Perner handed back the sheet, and Capers immediately set about recasting his stanzas. Perner had been too long in literature himself to be shocked by this phase of it. He was only amused. Furthermore, he was fond of Capers, as was every editor in town. They knew him to be far more conscientious in his work than most of those who affected the poetic manner and dress. These and others were less entertaining. Some of them Perner would rather not have seen.
There was the faded, middle-aged woman whose poor, impossible manuscript was offered to him with hands made heavy by toil. There was the pale, eager girl who trembled before him until Perner himself was so disturbed that words meant to be kindly and encouraging became only rude and meaningless. There was the handsomely dressed woman of fashion, who, with the air of a benefactor, laid before him stories of bad execution and worse morals--stories to which was attached neither the author's signature nor stamps for their return. Then there was the sharp-featured woman with spectacles, who regarded him severely and proceeded to read her poem aloud. Once this contributor brought a song, and insisted on singing it to him, much to the enjoyment of Van Dorn and Livingstone in the next room.
There were men who tried him, too: men who brought bad pictures and a recommendation from their instructors; men who were worn and threadbare, and smelled of liquor and opium; men, and women, too, who offered their ancestry, or their relationship with better-known people, as an argument of their ability; men who accompanied their contributions with a card bearing a picture of themselves as well as their names, and on the reverse side local press notices complimentary to their talents.
All of these, however, were the exceptions. For the most part, the bohemians were sensible, cheerful people who had adopted the uncertain paths of art, and were following them, in storm and sun, bravely and perseveringly, to the end. They were nearly always light-hearted--on the surface, at least,--and bore away their unaccepted offerings or left others with equally good nature. Now and then a new aspirant came, in whose work Perner recognized the elements of success. Toward these his heart warmed, and out of his well of experience he gave to them an abundance of encouragement and priceless counsel. Indeed, this was a keen enjoyment to him. His own struggle, begun somewhat late in life, had not been altogether an easy one, and there was delight in renewing each step of his success. There was regret, too--regret that the old days of freedom, and nights without responsibility, were over. Still, it was something to be the editor of a great paper, and then, by and by, there would be for him--for all of them--the comforts of wealth, and with it time in which to do only such work as gave them most pleasure. The strain was rather hard now, sometimes, and might become even harder before the final triumph. But the end of their rainbow was drawing each day nearer, and in the summer dusk, under their open skylight, the friends still drowsed and talked far into the night of pots of gold.
A LETTER FROM MR. TRUMAN LIVINGSTONE OF NEW YORK TO MISS DOROTHY CASTLE OF CLEVELAND
"MY OWN DEAR DORRY: When I wrote to you last we had just arranged to have Bates come and Colonel Hazard. Well, they are both here now, and it is a perfect circus. Bates came a few days before the Colonel. Then when the Colonel did come Bates regarded him in some way as a rival, and because he isn't dressed very well tried to intimidate him. Bates is like all solicitors,--at least, all that we have seen,--full of talk and rather overpowering in his manner; but the Colonel is a white-haired old army officer, and can put on some dignity, and talk some, himself. Perny had to go down and straighten them out, and now they've got the door locked between them. They are all right, though, both of them, I suppose, in their way. I don't care for Bates-- I don't like his way, though Perny and Barry say that some of the smartest men they ever knew were like him. But the Colonel is an old brick. He's traveled all over the world and been in about all the battles that ever were fought. He's been in a lot of different kinds of business, too, and has made a great many people rich. I don't think he's very rich now himself--at least, he doesn't look like it, though, of course, you can't always tell. I know he's expecting money in a few days, for I lent him a dollar this morning until it comes. I'm going to get him to pose for me, if he will, for he's a perfect type for the bread-line picture if he only won't get any new clothes. I'm almost afraid to ask him, though he's so good-natured I know he can't refuse. He's a boon to Perny, for he talks to all the people with circulation schemes and keeps them down-stairs, so Van and I can get out the rest of the pictures for the first issue and begin some for the second. Bates takes care of the advertising solicitors, too, which is a help, though he worries Perny a good deal trying to find out how much money we've got. He made up to the Colonel yesterday and questioned him on the subject. The Colonel told him we had _millions back of us_. Of course, we've never told the Colonel about Frisby, and he doesn't know any more than Bates, or just how _far_ back of us the millions are any more than we do, but wasn't it a jolly answer? The Colonel is always amusing, while Bates never is. Bates wants a lot of things, too, and we've got new tables and letter-presses and chairs that all cost a good deal more than you'd think for. You've no idea how things count up, and now, with Bates's salary and the stenographer's and double rent, it really almost scares me sometimes. Still, Frisby did it without money, though, of course, he had some things that we have to buy, and then he got credit, too. We'll either have to do that soon or make another assessment, for there is something new that we have to buy every day.
"You should see our new mail-box. The Colonel bought it--that is, he had it made to order, because there were no ready-made boxes in the city, he said, big enough to hold our mail when our advertisements come out, and I suppose that is so. But it really is very large, and it has an opening in it big enough to take in almost any size package. We put it down-stairs by the door, and people come all the way up the outside steps just to look at it. I don't know what they think it is--perhaps a receiver of old clothes and things for charity; at least, some must have thought so, for there was a pair of little worn baby-shoes in it the other day, and yesterday a hat. You see, it says 'The Whole Family' on it in big black letters, and I suppose people think it means contributions for all ages. I took the baby-shoes to use as models, and the Colonel is wearing the hat. It is pretty good and better than the one he had. Van says if the paper fails we'll have to depend on our mail-box for support.
"Of course, that was in fun, for the paper can't fail now. Bates says he's already got contracts enough made and promised to fill up nearly all the space in the first issue. He says we must advertise more ourselves than we calculated on, as that helps us to get ads in exchange, and I suppose that is true; and then, as soon as our advertising is out, we'll have money coming in right away to pay for it. That is what they call 'cash terms.' I am learning a good deal about business, and even Perny, who, as you know, was in business once for ten years, is learning some things, too. You see, the publishing business is different. I never realized it so much before.
"We have lots of advice. People come in every day to tell us how to run the paper, and yesterday a little boy about ten years old walked in and said to Perny:
"'I'll tell you what you want in that paper: you want a chapter every week that tells boys how to make things.'
"Wasn't it jolly? Perny is going to have it, too. Then, he's going to have another one like it for girls, and correspondence, and cooking receipts, and agriculture, and puzzles, and games, and sciences, and school features, besides all the stories and articles. I tell you, we've got our hands full--at least, Perny has, and, of course, we help him plan and talk about it.
"The Colonel helps, too, and he is a good hand. Then, when we are tired, he tells us his adventures. He's a great traveler and has written articles and stories. He knows Egypt and the Holy Land like a book. Bates also comes up and talks evenings, when we want to be alone. I suppose we ought to listen to him, for he talks business, but he is an awful bore, and we don't care much who his contracts are with, if he's just got them. I'd put a good deal more faith in Bates if he had different ways, but, of course, everything can't be pleasant. Van tried to seem interested, the other night, and asked Bates to let him see his contracts. Then he became quite offended. He seemed to think we doubted his having them. We don't want to get him mad, for the advertising is where our profit comes in, and I suppose Bates is a great hustler, only I wish he'd hustle and be satisfied without telling us over and over about Lawson's Baby Powder, and the Slick Shaving Stick, or the H. M. Rolled Oats, double column agate every other week, and a lot more things, till we're stone-blind and black in the face.
"And now, Dorry dear, I tried to write you all the news, as you wanted me to, and I haven't told you once in all these pages that I love you. I do, though, Dorry, and it breaks my heart that I am not going to see you this summer. Of course, as you say, I ought not to leave now until the paper is out, and must be economical; but it is very hard, and if you were not so taken up now with the paper yourself, I should be tempted to drop everything and come away. There are drawbacks, after all, in having a great responsibility like this, but, of course, when it gets to going I suppose we'll have leisure, and next summer we'll have a steam-yacht of our own and go around the world together. Then we'll come back and begin building the houses and all the different institutions you have planned. You are very noble, sweetheart, to be always thinking of others. It will be beautiful to be rich for that reason, if for nothing else. For my part, any condition of life would be happiness with you at my side. God bless you, Dorothy!
"P.S. The Colonel was just in, and I made this sketch of him. He's going to pose for me, too, in the bread line. He looked a little queer when I asked him, but he laughed the next instant and said he would. Isn't he fine?
"P.P.S.--Bates was in, too. He was flourishing a paper triumphantly and saying, 'You fellows don't think I have any contracts, do you?' He said that two or three times, and then sat down and told us all over a lot of stuff we've heard before--at least, it sounded like it. When he went out he accidentally dropped the paper on the floor. Perny picked it up and looked at it. It was a contract for a two-line cosmetic ad in two issues for two dollars! Perny figured up and found that it made our space worth less than five hundred dollars a page, or about seven thousand dollars a year in all, when we had been figuring on a million or so. Perny is going to investigate to-morrow.
THE GENTLE ART OF ADVERTISING
To the proprietors of the "Whole Family" the discovery that Mr. Bates was over-fond of strong liquors was not altogether in the nature of a surprise. Indeed, this weakness was rather condoned at first as being one believed to be common to some of the brightest minds. Barrifield, it will be remembered, had put it in this way about the time of Bates's engagement, and in his opinion had been ably seconded by Perner, against whose judgment neither Van Dorn nor Livingstone had, at this period, dared to oppose themselves. It will be seen from his letters to Miss Castle of Cleveland, however, that Livingstone's faith in the bibulous solicitor of advertising was by no means complete; also that Mr. Bates had become to all of them the unmitigated bore which the man of his temperament and habit is more than likely to become toward evening after a day of persistent enterprise.
Could they have seen the following letter, prepared and forwarded by Mr. Bates during one of his more lucid intervals, the faith of all might have crumbled somewhat sooner than it did:
OFFICE OF THE "WHOLE FAMILY"
A WEEKLY PAPER FOR YOUNG AND OLD
NEW YORK, August 10, 1897.
_To Richard Cleaver, c/o Jackson & Marsh Adv. Agency, New York,_
FRIEND DICK: I have gone into this business as deep as possible, and as near as I can find out these fellows have got some money. I don't know how much yet, but at least they pay salaries regular and any bills that come.
There is a broken-down old stuff here by the name of Hazard. He calls himself Colonel, and has been mixed up in all kinds of wild-cat enterprises for the past forty years. He knows something about running a paper of the vintage of '68 and they think he's a great man. He says they're backed by millions, but probably knows no more about it than I do. Whatever they've got, they are "lambs," and one of them, Livingstone, is a regular infant in arms. They're going to lose their "bundle," of course, whatever it is, and we want to get as much of it as we can and as quick as possible. Here's what _you_ want to do.
Go right to the "Family Friend" people and tell them that the "Whole Family" is placing a big lot of advertising and will cut into them in great shape. The "Friend" will give you a lot of advertising to place for them, for they are always "leery" of competition. I have already told these chumps that they will have to do a lot more advertising than they counted on in order to get ads themselves. They are going to let me pick the places, and you can stand to win on my picking places where the commission will be worth something. You can't do that so well with the "Friend" people, of course,--they'll pick for themselves,--but whatever we get from that end will be just so much to the good, and we'll divide profits in the middle.
Now about the money here. Tell Jackson to present his bill before he turns their copy in. They will have to pay then if they have got any money, and if they haven't we'll find it out. They can't kick, for they've talked cash all the time, though they seem to think that means when the advertising is out, and I'll let them keep on thinking so awhile longer.
Now, Dick, we ought to get a pretty good thing out of this by making it cut both ways, and I want you to attend to your end all O. K. You hustle the "Friend" folks and I'll "round up" these duffers. Then I'll come down in a day or two, and we'll go out where we can have a quiet drink and talk it over. Your commissions ought to swell up pretty well this month if we work this through properly, and mine ought to help out my salary here, which I shall go on pulling as long as their "dough" holds out to burn. Oh, but these fellows are a lot of jays! They instructed me when I came to take ads on the basis of a million circulation _at least_, and to charge _ten dollars a line_ for space. How's that? I'm doing it, of course!
About the time, possibly, that Mr. Bates was preparing this letter, the proprietors of the "Whole Family" were gathered about a table under the studio skylight in earnest discussion. In the center of the table lay a large and loud-voiced watch, a small, inoffensive-looking camera, a savage-looking gun, and a rather showy Bible. After much argument they had finally agreed upon these articles as their premiums, as well as upon the necessity of following up their "cash for names" announcement with premium offers both in their own and other periodicals. They were gathered now to prepare the copy for this advertising. Perner was performing the mechanical labor, while the others assisted him with appropriate adjectives and sentences.
"I don't think 'excellent' is a strong enough word for the watch," objected Van Dorn, picking up the noisy little tin box and regarding it rather sternly, perhaps because it did not suggest something more gratifying to the ear.
Perner scowled and scratched his head.
"I don't think so myself," he admitted, "but I've used up everything else on the paper. I've said 'splendid,' 'magnificent,' 'grand,' 'glorious,' and all those. There isn't anything left that I can think of. Get my Thesaurus, Stony, off the desk in the next room, and turn to 'beauty.' That'll give us a starting-point."
Livingstone obeyed, and was presently running his finger down the page.
"'Gorgeous' wouldn't quite do, would it?" he asked doubtfully.
"N-no, hardly. Look along a little farther. What comes after that?"
"Then--let's see--there's 'good-looking,' 'well-made,' 'proper,' 'shapely,' and 'symmetrical.' I don't think much of any of those, do you?"
"Well, no," reflected Van Dorn; "however true they might be of the proprietors, we'd hardly want to say that our watch was 'good-looking' and 'proper.'"
"How about 'dazzling,' 'showy,' 'majestic,' 'sumptuous'?"
"Oh, pshaw, Stony, give me the book!" said Perner, impatiently. "Here, Barry, you look. These artists don't know any more about a dictionary than we do about a paint-shop."
Barrifield took the book and examined it a moment in silence.
"How would 'elegant' do, and 'superb'?" he asked.
"Good, but we've used them already on the paper."
"'Delicate,' 'dainty,' 'refined'--"
Livingstone looked down at the fat-bellied, moon-faced time-piece and laughed. Van Dorn took it more seriously.
"Too tappy," he said. "We want to land on the solar plexus every time. Why not call it 'world-beating,' or--"
"Now you're talking sense!" interrupted Barrifield. "That's better than a dictionary. 'The great, world-beating "Whole Family" watch! Stem-winding and -setting! Full-jeweled! Diamond balance! Eighteen--'"
"Hold on, Barry; I can't get it down."
Perner was scribbling rapidly. "And what does 'diamond balance' mean?"
"Never mind what it means. It sounds rich, and that's what we want."
"Don't you think we ought to have in something about the escapement?" asked Livingstone. "All watches have escapements, don't they?"
"Why, yes," nodded Van Dorn,--"cylinder escapement--duplex action--"
"Oh, nonsense, Van! It's the camera that has duplex action."
"'Tisn't, either--it's the watch!"
"Oh, well, let's give it to the camera, anyway," compromised Barrifield. "We've got enough for the watch. How does it read now, Perny?"
Perner added a few more lines to what he had already written, then, leaning back in his chair, read slowly and with emphasis:
"OUR MAGNIFICENT PREMIUM OFFERS
"In addition to giving you our superb paper at the unheard-of price of ONE DOLLAR A YEAR FOR FIFTY-TWO ISSUES, we make to the _entire world_ the following supreme premium offers:
"I think," Perner paused to comment, "that that goes a few degrees better than Frisby. Here's what he says."
He picked up a copy of a paper that gave evidence of having had much careful reading and even commentary study.
"Never mind Frisby," objected Van Dorn. "We know that by heart. Let's hear what you say."
"All right," cheerfully assented Perner.
"OFFER NO. 1
"Our splendid paper, 'The Whole Family,' for one year, fifty-two issues, and our great world-beating, stem-winding and -setting, cylinder-escapement, diamond-balance, crown-jeweled watch! Worth, both together, five dollars in gold! Given by us, until present limited quantity is exhausted, for the mere ridiculous bagatelle of
"and twenty-five cents to pay for postage and packing."
Perner paused and caught his breath. Then he added:
"The last line, of course, will be in small type, so it won't seem to count. It's the dollar that will catch them. And what do you think of 'crown-jeweled'? Wasn't that an inspiration? You see, 'full-jeweled' means a certain number, and we don't want to deceive anybody, while 'crown-jeweled' means just jewels, because any kind of jewels are suitable for a crown."
Perner regarded them triumphantly. Barrifield and Livingstone murmured assent.
"Yes, that was a great stroke," agreed Van Dorn; "but I object to the 'mere ridiculous bagatelle.'"
Perner looked injured. It was evident that he valued this form.
"You see, they'll think it means another premium--something they don't get," Van Dorn continued.
"Yes; sounds like a game I used to have," suggested Livingstone.
Barrifield nodded dreamily, while Perner scratched out the offending words.
"You fellows are such good hands to find fault with what I do," he complained, "why don't you do something yourselves?"
"Give me the pencil and paper, then," commanded Van Dorn. Perner surrendered the articles with dignity, and for some moments the artist wrote busily.
"Now," he exclaimed at last, "how does this sound?
"OFFER NO. 2
"Paper, same as you had, Perny, and
"our marvelous cracker-jack, kodak, double-rack, swing-back camera--"
"Bully!" shouted Livingstone, "that's a regular college yell!"
"Of course--that's what we want!" Van Dorn acknowledged eagerly. "That'll make every college boy want one!"
Perner assented, but he did not look altogether happy. Perhaps he felt that he had been defeated by a maker of pictures in what was properly a literary undertaking.
"Now let Barry and Stony do the gun and the Bible," he said wearily. "I'm tired."
The door opened just then, and Colonel Hazard entered. In spite of his disreputable clothing, he possessed considerable dignity and a manner calculated to inspire in those about him something akin to confidence. It was, perhaps, this very quality that had been from time to time the downfall of himself and others. The stream of Pactolus had flowed often at his touch, though only to waste its golden waters in treacherous sands and unseen pitfalls. Nevertheless, he had retained what was even more precious--hope and unfailing good nature. It is true Bates had provoked him to wrath, but then, Bates's manner had been exceptional.
"You're just the man we want to see, Colonel," called Van Dorn, as he entered.
"We're getting up our ads. Come and help us."
The Colonel was always willing and courteous. He cleared his throat and came forward smiling.
"Certainly, gentlemen. I think I may really be able to assist you somewhat. When I was business manager of the 'Family Post' in its palmy days I always arranged my own advertising copy. I remember once of running the circulation up something like two hundred thousand on a single feature I introduced. Also, when I was editor-in-chief of the 'Saturday Globe' they often came to me for such things. It is quite an art, I assure you. May I be allowed to consider what you have already done?"
The work, so far as completed, was exhibited and read aloud for his delectation.
"Very good, gentlemen, very good indeed," he assented, when they had finished. "You have also made careful selection, no doubt, of the periodicals in which these advertisements are to appear. A great deal depends on the choice of proper mediums. For instance, you would not wish to offer the gun in a ladies' journal, nor, from a business standpoint, the Bible in a sportsmen's magazine, however commendable such a course might appear from a moral point of view. You see, gentlemen, I speak from long and dearly bought experience, and these matters are worth considering."
"But Bates attends to all that," said Perner. "He knows the best places to advertise better than we do, and can get better prices. Wouldn't you think so?"
The face of the Colonel grew almost stern.
"I do not wish, gentlemen, to interfere in any of your plans," he said with some dignity, "and you must excuse me if I do not coincide with your opinions concerning my colleague, Mr. Joseph Bates. He impresses me as merely a boasting, unscrupulous fellow when he is sober, and a maudlin Ananias when he's intoxicated. In neither condition do I consider him trustworthy."
"By gad! nor I, either!" declared Livingstone.
"Oh, come, now," protested Barrifield, laughing lazily. "You fellows are down on Bates because he drinks. Why, some of the smartest men we ever had in this country were the hardest drinkers."
"Rather in spite of it than because of it, however, I fancy," smiled the Colonel. "If I were employing men I should hardly regard inebriety as an evidence of either superior intelligence or moral integrity. Personally, I have no respect for my colleague,--no respect whatever,--though, as long as he remains such, I shall treat him with the courtesy due to his position."
There was something about the Colonel's manner that commanded sufficient respect for himself to prevent the laughter which his appearance and remarks might otherwise have encouraged. With his assistance the proprietors of the "Whole Family" proceeded with the descriptions of the gun and the Bible. They had finished and Colonel Hazard had arisen to go when Bates himself entered. He was unsteady on his feet, and paused for a moment to regard the Colonel with drunken scorn. Then he made a motion toward a chair, lurched heavily, barely saved himself by grasping the table, and stood swaying like an inverted pendulum. The Colonel hesitated for an instant, then with a deft motion he pushed a chair behind the oscillating figure.
"Allow me, Mr. Bates. Good evening, gentlemen." And with a stately bow he passed out just as the helpless Bates sank into the chair thus thoughtfully provided by his enemy, and was saved. Once in the chair, he partially recovered and found speech.
"No r'spect f'r that chap!" he said thickly, shaking his head, "no r'spect wh'tever. He's 'n old stuff--'at's w'at he is--no r'spect wh'tever."
"Oh, come, Bates, brace up! If it hadn't been for the Colonel you'd have been on the floor! Brace up, now; we want to talk business!"
Perner spoke sharply, and it had the effect of bringing the solicitor partly to his senses. The proprietors of the "Whole Family" had been indulgent heretofore--even submissive; he could not afford to disturb these conditions--not yet. Barrifield and Van Dorn also regarded him severely. Livingstone, disgusted, walked over to the window and looked down on the street.
"We have been getting up our ads," continued Perner, "and we want them placed right away. We've left the selection of the places to you, but if you're going to attend to it you've got to brace up and answer some questions. What we want to know is whether this advertising is going to pay us--pay right away, I mean--so enough returns will come in to cover the investment as soon as it's out."
The effect of this on Bates was certainly remarkable. By the time Perner had finished speaking, except for a slightly heavy look in his eyes and a trifling uncertainty as to consonants, you could hardly have told he had been drinking.
"Gen'lemen," he said with great conviction, "there is no question about it. I've been in the adve'tising business ten years, an' I know what I'm talkin' about. You've got a beautiful paper, gen'lemen, beautiful. I sat up t'll one o'clock las' night reading it. All it wan's is adve'tising. No question about it, gen'lemen."
Barrifield looked across triumphantly at Van Dorn. Bates was all right when it came to business. They read him the advertisements, of which he approved heartily. Later, he began telling them of some vast sum appropriated by an artificial food company for advertising purposes and of which he would secure for them a handsome slice.
Perner listened a moment; then he drew a paper from his pocket.
"Oh, by the way, Bates," he asked, "what does this mean? This contract you left here last night reads, 'Two lines, two insertions, for two dollars.' What does that mean?"
Bates stared a moment; then he took the paper and pretended to examine it very carefully. A moment later he chuckled.
"Why, yes," he owned, "that's so. I never noticed that b'fore. S'pose I got to writin' twos an' couldn't stop. Should have been 'forty' in the blank b'fore 'dollars.' Have it fixed t'-morrow."
He pocketed the contract and rose to go. Barrifield and Perner again looked across at each other with satisfaction. Bates took a step toward the door. Then it was observed that his self-control had been but temporary, or perhaps had not extended to his legs. He staggered, reached for the knob, missed, and plunged helplessly into the corner in a heap. They helped him up, brushed him, and steadied him down-stairs. As they came back to the studio Van Dorn remarked disgustedly:
"Well, smart men that drink, or no smart men, I wouldn't hire another man like that."
"But wasn't it wonderful how he braced up when it came to talking business?" insisted Barrifield.
"Yes; he's all right on business," agreed Perner; "but I am with Van on the drink question."
"I'm with the Colonel," said Livingstone.
A LETTER FROM MISS DOROTHY CASTLE OF CLEVELAND TO MR. TRUMAN LIVINGSTONE OF NEW YORK
"MY DEAR TRUE: Your last letter, and package containing 'dummy' of the first issue of the 'Whole Family,' so far as complete, came last night. I have read every word in it--the 'Whole Family,' I mean (and your letter, too, of course)--over and over. I think it splendid (both splendid). The stories and drawings are all of the very highest order, if I am any judge, and the 'make-up' and all beautiful. (I am talking of the paper this time.) There is a little typographical error on the fourth page,--in the second column, just below the first paragraph,--but I know Perny will find that before you go to press. Of course, I think your drawings are the best, but Van's are fine, too. I think all of you ought to be proud of such a beautiful first issue, and I am sure you will be able to keep up the standard, for, as Barry told Perny, it will go like clockwork when you get to going.
"You mustn't get discouraged, True. Your letters, lately, have been rather blue sometimes, and I know just how you feel. But, whatever you do, stick it out to the end. Don't think for a moment of giving it up; don't do it, True, after putting in as much thought and time and money as you have already. For, after all, as you once said, True, money is a great thing,--a lot of money,--you can do so much with it; and now, when we are almost at the turn of the tide, is the very time to pull hardest and get over the bar. Even if it takes every cent you can scrape together to pay you through, put it in, and if it takes more than that I can buy a share and put in a little, too, for I have five hundred dollars that papa gave me last August when I was twenty-one, and I will have five hundred more soon, because I am not going away at all this summer, and papa is going to give me, in money, what it would cost.
"I thought of going at first, and then I kept putting it off from week to week, and remembered you working away there in the heat for me, and I made up my mind at last that I wouldn't go, either. Besides, our home is cool and beautiful, and I am alone, and can do as I please, and not have to dress and go and be torn to pieces. Next summer we will go together.
"So you see, True, I will have a thousand dollars of my own, and if your assessments take more than you have I will send it to you, and you can invest it for me. I had intended to buy things for our house with it, but we won't need it by that time, and the success of the paper now is the all-important thing. I did not care so much at first, but now it has gone along so well, and with all the new plans and such a beautiful paper as you can get up, I want to see it make the success and fortune for you that I am sure it must. Besides, True, won't it be fine to own our interest together?
"I know, of course, that there are many unpleasant things about it,--some, I suspect, that you don't tell me of,--and that it isn't altogether the money that bothers you; but you must put up with the burden and suspense a little longer, and with Bates, who must be a dreadful nuisance, though he surely means well and works hard to get so much advertising. I should love to meet the Colonel. The first little sketch you sent me of him I have pinned up over my desk, and when I read your letters about him I look up at it and laugh and imagine just how he looks and acts. What a beautiful model he must make for the picture, and how glad I am you are working at it so enthusiastically again! Perhaps that is one reason why you are less interested in the paper, and worried over the annoyances that must always come with the more practical pursuits of life.
"You see, True, I think a good deal about all these things, and I realized even from the first that a nature like yours is not at all suited to hard and shrewd commercial enterprise, though this is not quite that, either, and the hard days will soon be over. Work right along on the picture, True, but don't think of giving up your interest in the paper. The picture will rest and comfort you now, and the paper will furnish the means of rest and comfort by and by. Then, when that time comes, perhaps I shall be able to add happiness to your life, too, and together in our beautiful home we will add happiness to the lives of others. Good-by, True. Stick fast, and remember that I am
"Always your "DOROTHY.
"P.S. True, I can send the money any time, and you must let me do it if you find it will be needed. I do not offer it as assistance, but _claim the opportunity of investment_.
THE HOUR OF DARK FOREBODING
With the first days of September the tension became more severe. Bills sprang up from every quarter like mushrooms, and while no one of them was very large the accumulation was considerable. The humors of the enterprise were not altogether lost sight of, however, and still furnished some relief, though there was a manifest touch of bitterness in many of their whimsicalities. There were moments of individual doubt and discouragement also--not as to the final outcome, but as to their ability to exist until such time as the crumbs which they were sowing so lavishly upon the outgoing waters should return in good brown loaves. Indeed, these were likely to be needed presently, for they were economizing at every point, and the dairy lunch and cheap table-d'hôte places served most frequently their needs. There were no more go-as-you-please dinners, and those of the past were remembered with fondness and referred to with respect.
It may have been that this system of diet resulted in clearer mental vision, or it may have been that Perner's early business training really manifested itself feebly at last, and set him to thinking logically. Whatever it was, he suddenly came out of his den into the studio, one afternoon, looking rather pale and startled. He had been through a hard day with printers and engravers, as well as voracious collectors, whose bills had an almost universal habit of error on the wrong side. The others knew the conditions and did not suspect anything unusual when he flung himself down on the Turkish couch and stared up at the skylight. Then at last he said:
"Boys, it's a failure. It won't work!"
The others looked around quickly.
"What is it? What's a failure?" They spoke together.
"The 'cash for names'; it's a fallacy."
"How? Why? Won't they do it?" This from Van Dorn.
"Oh, yes; _they_ may, and will, probably; but _we_ won't!"
"Oh, pshaw! Perny, what are you talking about?"
Van Dorn was becoming a little impatient--it was his scheme. Perner rose to a sitting position on the couch.
"Why, look!" said he. "We send the paper free for two weeks to each of the twenty names sent by each subscriber. That's forty papers free for every subscriber that comes."
"Of course," admitted Livingstone; "but some of those twenty names--most of them--will subscribe."
"Certainly; and each one that does so will send twenty more names, which means forty more free papers--forty papers besides the fifty-two they are to receive afterward, or ninety-two papers in all. Ninety-two papers will cost us, mailed, something like seventy-five cents; the premium will cost us at least fifty cents more, even where we charge for postage and packing. Then there is the twenty-five cents cash we pay to the sender of names. Total, one dollar and fifty cents outlay, for which we receive one dollar cash in return."
Perner looked steadily first at Livingstone, then at Van Dorn. Neither of them answered for a moment, and both became a trifle grave. Then Van Dorn said:
"But the advertising, Perny--you forget that. Even if we do lose money on subscriptions the first few months, we can afford it for the sake of a subscription list that will swell the advertising returns."
"By gad, yes," said Livingstone. "That's so--the advertising!"
Perner lay back on the couch wearily.
"Yes," he admitted; "the advertising ought to help. I keep forgetting that. I wish Bates would make a statement, though, of just what he's done in that line. He talks enough and seems to be getting along. He's kept pretty straight lately, too."
"Why don't you call on him for a statement?" asked Livingstone.
"Well, I have meant to, but he's so peculiar, you know, and I didn't want to offend him."
"No; of course, we can't afford to do that now," Van Dorn agreed. "We're under obligations to Bates for placing our advertising with Jackson. I don't believe anybody else would have taken it without money down. Bates having worked there once is the reason he did it."
Livingstone was painting on his picture of the bread line.
"I've a mind to make one of these fellows look like Bates," he laughed, "out of gratitude."
"Do it," urged Perner. "He'll be there some day if he keeps on drinking."
"How much advertising did we take, in all?" asked Van Dorn, presently.
Perner went somewhat into detail in his reply:
"Well, you see, we made the 'Sunday-School Union' a page instead of a half-page so we could get in the big cut of the Bible, and we took a half-page instead of a quarter in 'Boy's Own' so's to get in the gun and the camera, with a small cut of the watch. Then we took a page each in two school papers to get in the gun and Bible both, and the small cuts of the watch and camera. All these, of course, are in addition to what we had counted on before. It amounts to about thirteen hundred dollars in all."
There were some moments of silence after this statement. None of them had any superstition concerning this particular number of hundreds, and the amount was pitifully small compared to the figures they had used from time to time so recklessly in estimating their returns. For some unexplained reason, however, the sudden reality of the sum, and the dead certainty that this was not a mirage of champagne or a fancy of smoke, but a hard, cold fact that had to be met with money, caused the two listeners to have a cold, sinking sensation in stomachs that were none too full. Van Dorn was first to recover. He said with weak cheerfulness:
"Oh, well, it isn't a third what Frisby took, and he didn't have a dollar."
"Sure enough!" rejoiced Livingstone. "Lucky we don't have to pay it now though." There was another period of silence; then he added, "What time is it getting to be, Perny?"
As there was no immediate answer to this, Livingstone wheeled half-way around from his easel for the reply, and saw Perner studying somewhat solemnly the dial of one of the fat "Whole Family" watches. Perner usually carried a rather elegant gold time-piece, a memory of his business career, and the only one in the party. Livingstone was about to comment on its absence, but was restrained by a sudden delicacy. Perner's watch might be out for repairs, or he might be wearing this ridiculous affair out of loyalty to the paper; but these were troublous times, and there was the possibility of still another solution of the matter.
"Five o'clock," decided Perner, at last, "lacking four minutes. I suppose I'm through with the leeches for to-day."
The words were barely uttered when the door opened and a boy entered with bills in one hand and a letter in the other.
"I spoke a little too soon, it seems," Perner concluded, taking the envelop which the boy had extended uncertainly toward each of them in turn.
The envelop contained a brief communication--also a bill. Perner held the latter in his hand while he ran his eye hastily over the former. Then he glanced at the amount of the bill, and Van Dorn, who was watching him, saw that he was rather white. He turned to the boy quite carelessly, however.
"You may leave these. We will attend to them to-morrow." Then, as the collector vanished, he looked up at Van Dorn with, "It's the bill for the advertising. We are to pay before it goes in."
Van Dorn half rose to his feet. Livingstone gasped.
"Listen," said Perner, and he read the letter to them:
"OFFICE OF JACKSON & MARSH, ETC.
"NEW YORK, September 2, 1897.
"_Publishers of the 'Whole Family,' New York._
"GENTLEMEN: We hand you herewith net bill of your advertising, cash discount being taken off as per your instructions through Mr. Bates. Upon receipt of your check for the amount we will give our final O. K. to the various periodicals, most of which are now ready for the press. With thanks for your order, we ask, therefore, that you kindly be very prompt, and greatly oblige,
"Yours, etc., "JACKSON & MARSH. "Per C."
Perner looked up from the letter at Van Dorn. The artist regarded him a full minute in silence. Then he said huskily:
"Don't that beat hell?"
"It does," groaned Livingstone. "Bully for Bates!"
A LETTER FROM MR. TRUMAN LIVINGSTONE OF NEW YORK TO MISS DOROTHY CASTLE OF CLEVELAND
"MY DEAREST DORRY: I have not written to you as promptly as usual, because there have been other things that had to be attended to a good deal _more_ promptly, and there was an uncertainty about everything lately that made whatever I might say to you more or less guesswork. I mean about the paper. It seems that 'cash terms' doesn't mean when the advertising is out, after all, but _before it goes in_, and this misunderstanding made matters about as lively as anything you can imagine in the financial department of the 'Whole Family' office for a day or two. I think Bates was mostly to blame, but we couldn't say anything to him because it would expose the weakness of our capital; and then, we _did_ tell him that we wanted to pay cash, though I am sure he knew we understood that that meant to pay as Frisby did--when advertising came out.
"However, we got through with it. We thought at first we'd have to capitalize, but Barry sold a small piece of property he had somewhere, and the rest of us skirmished about where we could. I did not let you know, because I have made up my mind to go through with this as I began, whatever happens. It can't take a great deal more now until it begins to come our way, and what you have said about sticking it out is the right thing, and I mean to follow it to the letter. With your money, however, it is different. That is just your own, and as for having an interest in the paper, if I stay by it, as I mean to, and get through safely, as I'm sure I can, you will have that anyway. We are going right ahead now with matter and pictures for the second and third issues, and if it were not for the salaries and rent and incidentals we could feel pretty easy, for Barry says he is sure we can get 'the first round of the first issue' from 'the man who stands with his sleeves rolled up, wiping his hands on the prehistoric towel while he talks,' without the money down.
"That, of course, will be all we need, for as soon as the first few thousand papers are out there will be plenty of money coming in for everything. Then we can take it easier, and, as you say, Dorry, it is worth putting up with a good deal to be able to have means for everything afterward. We all appreciate that, now, and Perny says he is looking forward to the day when he can have some other kind of dessert besides hard-baked, barber-pole ice-cream, which is what they give us at the little table-d'hôte place where we have been eating dinner lately.
"The Colonel is as good-natured and jolly as ever. He poses for me whenever I want him to, and allows me to lend him a dollar now and then, which I am sure comes in handy, for the money he is expecting hasn't come yet. We give him a little salary now, too, though we had to insist on his taking it. But he is enthusiastic and a great help, and deserves it. He is getting the circulation books ready, and has bought himself some new clothes, though, fortunately for my picture, he doesn't always wear them.
"I am still working on it a little every day, and have been down to the 'line' one or two evenings. For some reason, however, the work doesn't seem to have quite the feeling the first sketch had--I mean quite the feeling of forlornness and destitution. Van says it's because I've seen the 'line' lately in warm weather, when the men are only hungry and not cold. That must be so, I think, and I am not going to finish it entirely until it gets cold again, so I can get back all that wretchedness we saw on last New Year's eve. Perhaps that sounds cruel to you, but it is the artist's way to make capital out of the emotions of others, and anyhow, dear, this isn't like 'Prometheus Bound,' that we used to read at school, for it does nobody any harm and may even do good.
"It's likely to be cold and bitter almost any time after the 1st of October, but it ought to be very cold,--I mean in the picture,--and there should be snow or sleet. I think sleet would be better--a driving, stinging sleet, and a deadly hard look on the pavement where the light reflects. There is something in the way a man crouches and shrinks from sleet that you never quite get any other way. Of course, I don't want it to sleet on those poor fellows, but I know it will, and when it does I must be there to see it.
"You see, the boys think this is the best thing I have done, and I can't afford to fail on it at the end, though I'd like to have it all done by Christmas, and it may not sleet before January, or even then. But I'm not going to worry over it,--think about it, I mean,--for, as I said, I wouldn't really want it to be very cold and sleet at all, if I could help it, only I know I can't.
"How good and noble you are, Dorry! When I think about your not having gone away this summer on my account, it makes me ashamed of myself, for really we have had a jolly time here in town. Van says that even if we never get anything else out of the paper, we have had a million dollars' worth of fun, and it's about so. I am sorry I have ever seemed discouraged or out of patience with things, for it made you have a lot of sympathy with me, and though I liked it, of course, and wanted it, I knew I didn't deserve it at all.
"I am glad, though, that the struggle will be over now in a few days. Our first advertising--the 'cash for names'--comes out on the 15th, and the rest--the premium offers--about the 25th. Also in our own sample copies. So you see, before the 1st of October the wheels will be turning very fast. Of course, we may not have quite the great rush we expect, but even if only half it will be enough.
"Good-by, sweetheart. I wish we might be together these beautiful September days. The parks are fine now in the early morning. Next year we will get up and walk out in them together.
"With all my heart,
One morning when the busy writer and two artists who lived and toiled together in apartments near Union Square--now the offices of the "Whole Family"--returned to them after a light and wholesome breakfast, they found their stairway full of girls--girls of almost every age and apparently of almost every station in life. There were tall girls, short girls, slender girls, stout girls, girls of every complexion and every manner of dress. Also, more girls were constantly coming and pressing their way into the hall. The friends stood aghast.
Van Dorn swore under his breath.
"What is it?" whispered Livingstone, fearfully. "What have we done now?"
A flicker of light flitted across Perner's face.
"I guess the Colonel did it," he said. "He put a line in one of the papers last night for a few girls to help him. I suppose this is the result."
"Do you call this a few?" gasped Livingstone.
"Well, of course we couldn't tell just how many would come. That paper must have a good many readers. We don't have to take 'em all, you know."
Livingstone stared at the gathering of the clans helplessly.
"No," he commented; "I should think not." Then a moment later he added thoughtfully: "I suppose all these girls have to work to live. Let's take all of them we can, fellows."
And Van Dorn asked hopelessly:
"How are we going to get up-stairs?"
They worked their way through, at last, to the Colonel's room above. It was filled to the edges, as were the halls and stairways outside. The Colonel was already at his desk--his white hair tossed in every direction and a hunted look in his eyes. About him billowed the eager applicants, crowding and forcing their way toward the sheet of paper upon which he was having each write her name and address, both to show the style and rapidity of penmanship, and as a means of finding the ones selected. The friends watched the proceedings for some moments with interest. The girls regarded them curiously. Some of them whispered to each other and giggled. Van Dorn wedged his way to the Colonel's elbow and said in a subdued voice:
"Well, Colonel, this beats Gettysburg, doesn't it?"
The Colonel affected a great self-possession.
"Oh, this is nothing at all," he laughed. "I've been through this all my life. Once I engaged five hundred girls. I won't be able to get more than a dozen good ones out of this crowd."
"A dozen! I should think you could get a million!"
The Colonel tipped over an ink-bottle to show his superior calmness, and a black-eyed, rosy-cheeked girl jumped back with a tiny scream. The friends made their way to the room above, where, several hours later, Colonel Hazard joined them, somewhat pale and worn. He had sifted out ten good girls, he told them, after careful examination of the throng. It was learned later that he had locked the doors below as soon as possible to keep out the hordes that continued to come. Indeed, girls came singly and in groups all day. Those engaged were familiarizing themselves with the books in which names were to be entered. On to-morrow the first advertising was to appear. Barrifield, who was temporarily absent from the city in the interest of his employers, had arranged before he started to have the presses going on the papers. The end was in sight.
In fact, answers to their advertisements began to come the next afternoon, and the proprietors were much elated. There were only a few, to be sure,--not enough to cover the bottom of the big mail-box,--but they indicated that their offers had been seen and appreciated. Even Perner forgot his former misgivings and rejoiced. The answers were coming. The paper was ready for the press. The long-looked-for hour was at hand.
At dusk, however, came a slight shock.
Colonel Hazard came up with several letters. He remarked, handing them to Perner:
"There are some queer people in the world. Read one or two of those letters aloud."
Perner held one of the communications to the light. It said:
GENTLEMEN: I inclose you twenty good names of people likely to be interested in your paper. Please send me the five dollars as promised without delay. My birthday comes on Saturday, and I want it before that time.
Yours hastily, BESSIE GREEN.
"Humph! well named," said Van Dorn, while the others uttered various exclamations. "Well, I'm sorry for Bessie, but I'm afraid she'll be disappointed."
Perner selected another letter.
"This is from a boy," he commented; "his name is Robert Bright. You wouldn't suspect it, however, from his communication.
"GENTLEMEN: Here are ure twentie naims. Now send mi five dollers, and dont be so slo about it or i will have the polese on ure track. I have ben foold one or twise by advertisment fellers but this time i mean to have wat is coming."
The exclamations that followed this possessed an added degree of emphasis. Perner picked up a third letter.
"From a woman," he said.
"GENTLEMEN: I am sending the twenty names, and you don't know how grateful I am or how happy it makes me to be able to earn money for my little family, who are in need of the necessaries of life. I hope you can send me the five dollars to-night, and I am sure Heaven will reward you for your great undertaking."
Nobody uttered a word for some moments. Then Livingstone said:
"Do you suppose there'll be many letters like that?"
And Van Dorn growled:
"Some people haven't got the sense they were born with. That advertisement was as clear as sunlight."
"It was," said Perner; "I wrote it myself."
Nevertheless, they made up the five dollars between them and mailed a check for it on their way to dinner. The next morning there were more answers in the big mail-box. The bottom was quite covered with postal cards containing lists of twenty names each.
Also, there was a letter from the man of the rolled-up sleeves, stating that he was prepared to run some twenty thousand copies of the paper, and would start the press upon receipt of a check for the amount. This was a severe blow, but as the amount was comparatively small it was not fatal. Besides, they had grown somewhat accustomed to such things. They were not even surprised when their landlord, who, with his family, occupied apartments in the rear, came in to demand his rent in the middle of the month--a thing he had never dreamed of doing since the first year of their occupancy. Not that he was at all afraid, he said, but he was only a poor man who sublet to them, and had met with ill fortune. Later, the Colonel came up with still further strange letters, though none so pathetic as the one of the night before.
However, there were other complications. People in small villages were sending lists containing the same names. Some of the lists were almost identical. When Perner realized this he scowled anxiously, and lay down on the couch to think.
"Good heavens! fellows," he exclaimed, "we'll ruin the nation!"
"What's the matter? What do you mean?" asked Van Dorn.
"Why, see here! People will be sending in the same names, and sending each other's names, till they get us so mixed up we can't straighten the thing out in a hundred years! Then they'll accuse us of fraud, and blame each other for a lot of things, too. The result will be that they'll get into a fight until the whole nation is in one immense wrangle. We'll ruin the country! That's what we'll do! We'll ruin the country!"
Perner had arisen and was walking the floor excitedly.
"I tell you, Van, your 'cash for names' scheme is a fallacy! I said so the other day, and I say so all the more now. I'll admit that I believed in it and abetted it at first. It looked like a big thing, and we all thought it was, but it isn't. In the first place, we can't afford it, as I told you before. In the next place, the people don't understand it, and we're going to be deluged with letters like those that came with the first mail. And even if we could afford it, and even if those letters didn't count, we can't afford to disturb the peace of the whole nation by creating hard feelings in every village and hamlet, that will finally end, not only with the utter ruin of our paper, but in riots and rebellion and government interference, if not in one mighty civil war and the total destruction of the whole English-speaking world!"
Perner's old manner--the manner in which he had set forth the scheme on the night of the golden dinner--had returned to him. It had returned, but with a difference: then he had been painting the glories of the plan; now he was depicting its horrors. The ten years' business experience had wallowed through a cloudland of dreams, but had materialized in very harsh daylight at last. As for Van Dorn and Livingstone, they sat gloomily silent. The Colonel was first to express himself. He said:
"I hardly think we need to disturb ourselves so seriously. At the rate the replies are coming I should say that there is no immediate danger of upsetting the universe with our plans. We have received a number, it is true, but unless there is a marked increase to-morrow, I may safely reduce my force of assistants by one half."
"You don't think, then, we'll get a hundred thousand lists of twenty names each in reply to our 'cash for names' advertisement?" Perner asked--somewhat relieved, it would seem.
"I don't think we'll get to exceed _five_ thousand."
In fact, they received somewhat less than one thousand, and the original twenty thousand papers were found sufficient. These, though paid for with some degrees of promptness, were not immediately forthcoming. It is the printer's way. The "man with his sleeves rolled up" does not hasten in the process of "wiping his hands on the cheerless towel" even after the requested check has been received and cashed. Though pleaded for, argued for, demanded at last violently, the "first round of the first issue" did not arrive until the morning of the 24th, at which time Colonel Hazard put on sufficient force to dispose of them in one day.
And so the "first round of the first issue" was out at last. Also, on to-morrow their premium advertisements would appear. The dice which they had been jingling so merrily for the better part of a year they had cast, finally, on the round green table of the world.
AT THE END OF THE RAINBOW
They were elated to find a subscription in the big mail-box on the following morning; at least, Perner and Van Dorn were, and Livingstone, though less demonstrative, seemed also gratified. Few, if any, of the sample copies could have reached their destination, and it must have been an early riser indeed who had already seen their advertising and forwarded a subscription. When the letter was found to be from one Dorothy Castle of Cleveland, the wonder grew.
"She must have got hold of an advance copy," commented Perner. "You came from Cleveland, Stony; do you know any Castles out there?"
Livingstone thought hard, and admitted that the name sounded familiar; his people might know her.
Then there was a careful examination of the precious document by each in turn.
"I'll bet that's a bully girl!" decided Van Dorn, with emphasis. "I can tell by the handwriting."
"She is that," agreed Livingstone.
"Let's have it framed and hung up as a souvenir," suggested Perner.
"Give it to me," said Livingstone. "I have an idea."
Perner made a copy of it first for the Colonel. His enthusiasm had returned.
"She wants a Bible," he commented. "I say, fellows, don't you think we'd better have a thousand Bibles sent right up? That seems to be the premium they want."
"Better wait till to-morrow," advised Van Dorn; "then we'll have the money to pay for them with."
This seemed good advice. The rest of the day they spent between the studios and the circulation department below. No further subscriptions were received, however, and though they remarked to each other that of course they did not expect them, it was evident that evening found them somewhat more silent than usual.
They were up next morning early. Breakfast was a mere form, and conversation difficult. They made a pretense of the usual banter, it is true, but the laughter sounded spasmodic and strange. The long strain upon them had told.
Perner reached the big mail-box first, and struck it with his foot. It rang hollow. He peered down through the long opening in the top.
"Empty," he said; "postman hasn't come yet. Perhaps there's such a lot it delayed him, or they're sending it in a special sack."
"Maybe the Colonel's already got it," suggested Van Dorn.
They ran up the stairs like boys. Colonel Hazard sat at his desk, his assistants ranged about a long table behind him. Some of them were idle. The others were entering a few belated lists of names.
"Mail come?" panted Livingstone, breathlessly.
The Colonel nodded.
"Came just as I did. Met the postman in the hall. Several lists of twenty names each, and two subscriptions--two very nice subscriptions, gentlemen, one from a sample copy, one from the advertisement in the 'Home.' We shall do nicely, gentlemen, when we get to going. It takes patience, of course, and capital; but we shall succeed with time and perseverance."
They dragged up the next flight to the studios. When they were inside, and the door closed, Van Dorn said:
"Do you know, the Colonel's getting so he makes me tired!"
"I guess he never heard of a man named Frisby," said Livingstone.
"I'll tell you," said Perner, "it's too soon. The paper just got out yesterday. People have to have a chance to read it, first, then to buy a money-order and a stamp. Even those that live nearest couldn't get their subscriptions in much before to-night."
"But the ones we've already got did," observed Livingstone, gloomily.
"And Frisby got in a thousand dollars the first day after his advertising appeared," remembered Van Dorn.
"Oh, well, that probably meant the _second_ day. I'll bet he didn't count the first day at all. Of course he didn't."
Livingstone suddenly brightened.
"Perhaps that wasn't all the mail; maybe they're bringing the rest of it in a sack."
There was a perceptible revival at this suggestion. Perner even became merry.
"Maybe in pots," he said,--"pots of gold!"
And Van Dorn, looking out of the window, remarked:
"We're like Frisby in one respect, anyway. He didn't have a dollar when his first subscription came--not a dollar!"
But the sack did not appear--nor the pots. Neither did they receive any further subscriptions on _that_ day. By night it was almost impossible to see humor in the situation, which shows that the bohemian spirit must have reached a very low ebb indeed.
On the following morning they did not think it worth while to go to breakfast, but waited at the foot of the stairs in a body for the postman. He came after what seemed an endless period, and brought quite a bundle of mail. There were a number of twenty-name lists and a quantity of circulars, also one subscription.
Even the Colonel appeared somewhat depressed at this falling off of a clean fifty per cent. in the returns, while the proprietors ascended to the floor above in silence. Perner fell into a chair and rocked gently. Van Dorn stared out of the window, as was his wont. Livingstone walked over and stood before his picture of the bread line.
All at once Perner began to laugh violently. The others turned and stared at him. He rocked harder and laughed louder. The faces of Livingstone and Van Dorn became really concerned. The latter said soothingly:
"Oh, come, old man, that won't do. You're overworked and nervous. You must take it calmly, you know."
But Perner only rocked and laughed more wildly. Finally he gasped out:
"I'm all right! I haven't got 'em! But _four subscriptions_! A year's work for four men, and one subscription apiece to show for it! The mountain rocked and groaned and brought forth a mouse! Oh, Lord! Ten years' business experience and four subscriptions! Twelve months' hard labor for two well-known artists, several thousand dollars in cash, and four subscriptions!"
He reeled off into another wild fit of merriment, and this time the others joined him. The humor of it had seized them all. Van Dorn toppled over on the couch. Livingstone lay down on a prayer-rug to laugh.
"Four subscriptions!" they shouted. "And Frisby got in a thousand dollars the first day. Cash paid for names, and four subscriptions! The crown-jeweled watch! The marvelous cracker-jack, double-rack, Hackensack camera! Money for Christmas shopping, and checks mailed promptly! Oh, Lord! Oh, Lord!"
They were not so far from hysteria, after all. When at last they could laugh no more, they were weak and exhausted.
"How about our steam-yacht, and houses on Fifth Avenue?" asked Van Dorn, and this was followed by a feeble aftermath of mirth.
"I'm glad we didn't take vacations," said Perner; "we'll enjoy them so much more next year, when we can go in style."
Livingstone said nothing, and his face had saddened. Presently one of the girls from below entered with a letter. It was postmarked at Chicago, and they recognized Barrifield's handwriting. It was addressed to Perner. He read it aloud:
"DEAR PERNY AND ALL: You will have things fairly under way by the time you get this, and we will be already as good as millionaires.
"Humph! Yes," commented Perner. "_Better_ than some millionaires, I hope!
"The subscriptions will be pouring in--"
"See 'em pour!" interrupted Van Dorn.
"and the premiums going out in a steady stream."
At this there was a general yell and another fit of laughter.
"I am sorry," the letter continued, "that we adopted that watch, however, for I have found a much better one here, and have got on the 'inside.' I have sent on a number of them, which you can use where people call in person for their premiums."
"They'll call," said Livingstone. "'Line forms up on the right. Come early to avoid the rush.'"
"I have sent them to you C.O.D."
Perner gaped up at the others.
"Oh, he has! He's sent them C.O.D.! Um! well, I don't think we'll use many of those watches--not _this_ week.
"I am anxious to know, of course, just how matters are going, and if we beat Frisby the first day. Wire me to this address just what we did and are doing. I will be with you in a few days more."
"We'll wire him," grunted Van Dorn. "The wire'll be so hot he'll dance when it touches him. Beat Frisby! Oh, yes; we'll wire him!"
They did, in fact, at once, and within the hour received Barrifield's reply. It was conveyed in a single brief word:
CHICAGO, October 27, 1897.
_To the "Whole Family," New York._
Perner read it, and it was handed to each of the others in turn. Then they looked at each other. Van Dorn said pleasantly:
"Why, yes; that's so. Capitalize! I hadn't thought of that. Stony, get up here and capitalize!"
Livingstone dug down in his pockets and brought up fifty-six cents.
"All right," he said. "That's every nickel I've got in the world. Let's capitalize!"
Almost immediately there came another telegram from Barrifield.
_To the "Whole Family," New York._
Don't sell any of my stock.
This promptly sent Perner off into another fit of hysterics.
"Oh, no; don't sell any of his stock!" he howled. "Don't! Don't sell any of _his_ stock! Please don't! Sell mine!"
A TELEGRAM FROM MISS DOROTHY CASTLE OF CLEVELAND TO MR. TRUMAN LIVINGSTONE OF NEW YORK
CLEVELAND, October 29, 1897.
_To Truman Livingstone, c/o the "Whole Family", New York._
Don't give up. Check one thousand to-day. Use it. Letter.
GRABBING AT STRAWS
Barrifield arrived three days later and began at once his effort to secure capital. In this he was quite alone, as no one of the others made even an attempt to produce friends of financial ability. True, the Colonel, who was a friend of them all, and who at last knew something of the situation, declared that he would take a very satisfactory interest in the enterprise if the money he was expecting would but come. This event did not occur, however, and matters grew more precarious.
To be sure, the number of subscriptions increased somewhat for a time, and on one day in November reached the maximum of thirty-two. This, Perner figured, would give them something like ten thousand in a year if they could rely on that many every day. But on the next day the number was less than twenty, and the tendency continued downward.
As for Barrifield, he made a most noble effort. He interviewed men of means whom he had known for many years, and others whom he had known for less than as many minutes. He came in each evening to report. He spoke of capital as being "timid" at this season, but he never lost hope. The others, whose faith had become a mere rag, and who were inclined to regard further effort as a farce, still kept on, at his urging, preparing the second and third issues, though in a hopeless and half-hearted way. Some one has said that it is harder to stop a paper than to start one. The proprietors of the "Whole Family" realized this daily. The money coming in was far from sufficient for the expense, but it served to prolong the death agony from week to week.
Perner, who had carefully figured out by this time the impossibility of success from any standpoint, was for quitting forthwith and getting back to work. Van Dorn was somewhat inclined in the same direction; Livingstone also, perhaps, though he announced his readiness to stay in the field as long as there was anything to fight for. Barrifield and Colonel Hazard were for an effort to the death.
The Colonel was invaluable at this period. All bills that came were referred to him. It was hard enough not to be able to meet them, but what was still harder, payment, he averted with a skill and kindly grace that would have done credit to Beau Brummel himself. The landlord went away empty-handed and laughing, and the landlady, who called later with an offspring clinging to either side of her skirts, was flattered by the Colonel into leniency, and the offsprings kissed by him in the jolliest manner possible. When, a few days later, she came again, he said:
"I will do anything, madam, anything in the world to oblige you. I would even pay you if I could. I have kissed the children--I will do so again. I will--if you will permit me, madam-- I--" But the blushing landlady had hurried away laughing, leaving the gallant Colonel and his assistants--now reduced in numbers to two--blushing and laughing behind her. No one could be offended at the Colonel.
As for Bates, they still managed to pay his salary, and he appeared to be very busy--also, at times, very drunk. However, he kept away from them for the most part, for which they were duly grateful.
Each night Barrifield had some one in view who would certainly come to the rescue on the morrow. Each night it was a different one. The rescuer of the night before had just invested his capital, was just about to do so, or had just lost largely on some former investment. Rushly of the "Home," and President Bright of Bright & Sons' Stellar, were both enthusiastic over the opportunity, and would certainly mention it to their friends. For themselves, it was, unfortunately, out of the question for the present. Rushly had purchased stock in his own paper. President Bright, in conjunction with his sons, had made large additions to their factory, etc. Truly, capital _was_ timid--unusually so.
Still Barrifield did not despair wholly. He gave a dinner, at last, to a number of men who were believed to have more or less capital at their command. At this dinner he set forth his plan in the most magnetic manner and glowing terms. His speech made a decided sensation. Almost to a man his guests declared it a good thing. One of them, the next morning, more conscientious than the others,--a noble spirit, in fact,--sent in his check for ten dollars--the first assessment on a single share.
And so the weeks dragged on. Subsequent rounds of the first issue were handled with no appreciable difficulty by the Colonel and his two assistants, and "the first round of the second issue" they managed to obtain from the printers in fairly decent season. But the third number dragged--dragged horribly--dragged until those who had subscribed began to write letters of inquiry that were not always polite. The "man with his sleeves rolled up" came to the rescue at last on this issue. He let them have it without the check. He even delivered the papers to the post-office for them, and advanced the postage from his own purse.
Matters being now sufficiently desperate, Perner urged daily that they turn their subscriptions over to some other publication to fill, and quit, short off. He was getting frightfully pinched for means, and the others, except Barrifield, no less so. Barrifield still had his salary. To be sure, they now had time in which to do some outside work, but the market had changed during the year, and it seemed almost impossible to dispose of matter which a year before the editors had fought for.
"Why, a year ago," grumbled Perner, "my quatrains used to be legal tender anywhere on Park Row for a dollar. Now they want to charge me advertising rates to print them."
"Same with pictures," echoed Van Dorn. "My opinion is that a lot of us will be back plowing corn next spring."
"It's a good while till spring," reflected Livingstone, gloomily. He was working on his painting a good deal these days, and perhaps getting truer feelings into it because of his own despair.
Barrifield came in at this juncture, filled with the usual enthusiasm. He had learned of a man who was thought to be anxious to invest in just such an enterprise as the "Whole Family." He was going to see him in the morning--he would almost certainly come to the rescue. They were discussing this possibility when Colonel Hazard entered. For the first time he looked worn and discouraged.
"What's the matter, Colonel?" asked Perner. "You look tired."
"Yes," assented the Colonel; "the landlady's been in again after the rent. The landlord was there, too, this afternoon. I think I've paid it in kind words and kisses about as long as I can. They said we'd either have to pay or give up the rooms."
This statement cast a momentary gloom even over Barrifield.
"And Bates," continued the Colonel, "has been in, too. He came to notify me that he would quit to-night unless he got his money for last week. We didn't pay him last week, you know. I should very promptly have told him to quit had I felt authorized to do so."
"No, no; don't do that!" protested Barrifield, anxiously. "Tell him to wait till to-morrow. Tell him"--he hesitated a moment, and then added in all seriousness, "tell him we'll raise his salary."
A LETTER FROM MR. TRUMAN LIVINGSTONE OF NEW YORK TO MISS DOROTHY CASTLE OF CLEVELAND
NEW YORK, December 28, 1897.
DEAR, DEAR DORRY: Well, Dorry, it's all over. All our hopes and dreams have come to nothing. Perny pulled down the sign in the hall this morning, and the furniture is being taken out of the rooms below to sell for whatever it will bring to pay as far as it will go on the rent. Perny said he wouldn't go into a new year with this hanging over us, nor Van Dorn, either, and I think it's just as well myself.
"You see, Dorry, it would be no use. Our plan looked well, but it was all wrong; and even if it hadn't been, it would have taken more money than we could ever have got hold of, and a long, long time besides, to get started. Of course, Frisby did it without money, but that was a good while ago, and he was first in the field. It is like a prize drawn in a lottery--the chances are against another being won by anything near the same ticket number. And then, even Frisby may not have done exactly as he said--people don't always tell things of this kind just as they happened.
"Barrifield still hopes against hope that sometime he may find some one with capital who will bring the 'Whole Family' to life. He has taken the lists and books and things away to show to such people; but I think it would be better if he did not show them, for they could not seem much of an inducement to any one with money already made and safely locked in the bank. The Colonel has gone, too, and Bates, and the last is the one bright spot in all this sad affair. He went some weeks before the Colonel-- I believe I wrote you at the time. Bates was a great trial to us all--a greater trial even than I ever told you, for though I did not speak of it before, he drank to excess, and we also know now that he was unreliable in many ways. On all the advertising he placed for us he received a commission, while from the advertising he obtained for us we received no returns, for it was all taken on trial, or in some such way, and he had no contracts at all except the one of two dollars I once mentioned. That was genuine, and we got the two dollars.
"We thought, Dorry, with all of us together, we had a good combination of people for starting a paper, but I realize now that we probably had about the worst one that could be imagined. Artists and writers can make a good paper, and the 'Whole Family' was not bad, as papers go, but it takes somebody else to run it, and even Perny's ten years' business experience was worse than nothing after being mixed with about as many more years of bohemia. He says so himself now. The Colonel was as bad as the rest of us--worse, because he is older, and with him the habit of getting rich on paper has had time to grow and become fixed. He will go on chasing rainbows, I suppose, until the end of his days. Poor old chap! When I shut my eyes I can imagine him in his frayed clothes, with his white hair and his eager face, racing madly across rain-wet meadows for the imaginary pot of gold. That is what we have all been doing, Dorry, and had our combination been ever so strong and our feet ever so swift, we never should have found it.
"For I realize a great many things now that none of us realized at the start. The cost of producing a paper is very great, and there were many things that we did not know of at all. Perny knows all about it now, and has figured it out for me and Van, so that we see clearly at last that no matter how much money we had started with, or how capable we were, we should only have failed, for, unless we changed our plans and charged higher for the paper and gave less premiums, the more subscribers we got the more we should have lost. It is some consolation to know that, for we might have lost a hundred thousand dollars very easily in a year if we had had it, or had raised it by subscription, as we tried to do. Your little thousand would have been but a drop in the ocean, and would have lasted only a few days. So I send back the draft to you, now that everything is ended and you cannot refuse to take it. As for my part of the assessments, I managed to keep up and a little more, for I was still in favor of going on when the others had reached the limit of their means.
"And now comes the hardest part of all. For oh, Dorry dear, I am going to do what I once said I would do if anything happened to me, or if the paper failed and ruined us all. I am going to release you. I could not think, Dorry, after all that has passed, of letting you come here now to share my poverty. For that is what it is, dear--just poverty; and poverty in a big city is more humiliating and deadening to all the joys of life than it can possibly be elsewhere. I have nothing now but my hands, Dorry, and they are of little value, for times have changed and there is much less work than formerly. I have less even than that, because there are some debts that have accumulated and must be paid.
"I never realized what riches were until I had them,--I mean until I thought I had them, which was the same thing while it lasted,--nor what poverty meant. And Perny says so, too, and Van. Barry, of course, still has his salary. But I realize now, and I am not going to let you leave comfort and plenty, without care, to come here and share only privation and care, without comfort, with me. It breaks my heart to give you up, Dorry, but I know it is right, and while you might still be willing, if I asked it, to fulfil your promise to me, and do not realize all that it would mean, I cannot ask you--I cannot allow you--to do it.
"Some day, Dorry, things may be different again. Some day, if we both live and you are still free, and still care, I may come to you and ask you to give me back your promise. For you are free now, Dorry. I would be less than I am if I did not give you your freedom now, after holding out to you all the promises of wealth, and leading you to believe in all my vain dreams. How beautiful you were through it all! You only thought of others. Dear heart, what will the poor poets and artists do now without the beautiful place you were going to build for them? I suppose they must always be poor dreamers like me to the end, and it is that poverty and that end, darling, that I cannot ask you to share.
"Good-by, Dorry. We have been friends from childhood, and friends we must still, be, for, whatever comes, I am always
"Your faithful "TRUE."
"P.S. I believe I wrote you that your Christmas remembrance came. I thank you for it once more. It is very beautiful. I thought you might care for the book because it is an autograph copy. I must not forget to wish you a happy and beautiful New Year. It will be different from what we had planned--different from the year just passed, which, I suppose, has been happy, too, though I would not, for some reasons, wish to repeat it. I forgot to tell you about my picture. I am only waiting for a cold sleet to come, so I can finish it. I had intended it, you know, for Perny's Christmas, to hang over his desk in the new house; but there is no new house, and he would not let me give it to him now, so I shall try to sell it.
THE BARK OF THE WOLF
In the studios near Union Square, where two artists and a writer lived and toiled together, there was an atmosphere of heavy gloom. It was a bitter, dark day without, for one thing, raw and windy, while within there was little in the way of cheerfulness besides the open fire, which, for economy's sake, was not allowed to manifest any undue spirit of enterprise. Being the last day in the year--a year that had not been overkind to them--also added something to the feeling of pervading melancholy, and the fact that no one of the three had eaten since the previous evening was not conducive to joy.
They were not altogether without hope. They had tobacco, such as it was, and coal for the time being. Food was more or less of a luxury compared with these. They had scraped together their last fractional funds and invested them in necessaries. Then, too, there was to be more money; not much, of course,--there was not much money anywhere now,--but enough to satisfy for a time the gaunt wolf that was marching up and down in the hall outside, pausing now and then to grin up at the spot where the sign of the "Whole Family" had hung, and show his gleaming white teeth. It was Van Dorn who had pictured the situation in this manner, and added:
"I'm afraid to go out in the hall after dark, for fear he'll get me by the leg."
"I think we'd better invite him in. Maybe he's brought something."
Livingstone looked wearily in the fire.
"I wish the 'Decade' would send me that check they promised to-day," he muttered presently.
"And 'Dawn' the one they were to send me," said Van Dorn.
"And the 'Columbian' mine," echoed Perner. "If I thought I could get it now by going over there, I'd go."
"Too late, Perny; they're closed. You should have got it when you were there yesterday."
"Yes, I know; but I thought some of us would surely get one, and I didn't want to appear broke. I suppose, if they'd mentioned it, I'd have been fool enough to have said, 'No hurry--any time-- I don't need it.'"
Van Dorn regarded Perner gravely.
"Perny," he said severely, "it is my opinion that you did say those very words. Were you, or were you not, offered a check yesterday in the 'Columbian' office?"
"I _were not_! Though I believe there was some mention of having it made out if I wished it, and--"
"And you told them that any time next week, or next month, or next year would do! Let in the wolf, Stony; we're betrayed."
"Well," said Perner, "it'll be next year before it's next week, anyway."
Livingstone arose and marched up and down the floor.
"Don't do that," said Van Dorn. "It'll make you hungrier."
"I suppose Barry's gone home," reflected Perner, "hasn't he, Van, by this time?"
"Yes; and he lives seven miles beyond the bridge--too far to walk to-night."
Livingstone paused in his exercise.
"I believe there's one more mail," he said; "isn't there, fellows?"
"Why, yes, that's so!" declared Perner. "And if there isn't, go down anyway. Maybe somebody's put something in the Colonel's mail-box that we can eat or sell."
Livingstone disappeared and was gone for some minutes.
"I guess the wolf's got him," said Perner.
Then they heard him coming three steps at a time.
"Bully!" said Van Dorn. "That means a check!"
"A check, sure as the world!" echoed Perner, joyfully.
Livingstone plunged in--his face flushed, his eyes shining, and an open letter in his hand.
"How much is it?" asked Van Dorn and Perner together.
Livingstone regarded them as if he did not understand.
"How much is what?" he asked--then added joyously: "Oh, yes--oh, no; it isn't from the 'Decade'--it's--it's a _letter_!"
Van Dorn and Perner rose grimly. Van Dorn's voice was very stern.
"And what do you mean," he demanded, "by looking as you do now over a letter--simply a _letter_?"
But Livingstone was in no wise daunted.
"Sit down, Van!" he shouted, "you and Perny! I've always wanted to tell you, and never could quite do it before. Sit down now, and I'll read you this letter! It's from the girl that sent in our first subscription. It's the best letter that was ever written--from the best girl that God ever made!"
THE LETTER LIVINGSTONE READ
MY OWN DEAR FOOLISH TRUE: I wonder if you think that because we have all been asleep, dreaming wonderful dreams,--chasing a rainbow, as you say,--that it is going to make any real difference in our lives now that we are awake. It may seem to make differences for a time--trifling differences in trifling things; it may even give us something to look back on and laugh about--something in the way of experience that to such as Van and Perny and yourself may be of use as material: but as to making any vital difference in whatever makes life full and beautiful and worth having, and that is love,--our love for each other, I mean,--why, True, the very thought of it is so absurd that I try not to be offended with you for even thinking it.
"Do you remember, True, long ago, when you first wrote me about the paper, and I wrote you that, while I was glad for your sake, I was not enthusiastic over the undertaking? That was my real self, True, and was from the heart--the same heart that is more enthusiastic now over the failure of it all than it ever was over the beginning. If I was dazzled for a time by the fair colors in the sky,--if I seized your hand, and with you and Barry and Perny and Van and the Colonel went racing down the wet meadows for the pot of gold,--it does not mean that I am any the less glad to wake up now and find that life is something better than all that; that true life lies in doing conscientiously whatever we can do best; that such dreams only serve to make our best work better, and that still better than all of these is youth and love--our youth, True, and our love for each other.
"No, True; I am not going to take back my promise. What do you suppose I care for the few dollars you have lost? You are no less good and noble--no less capable than before; and as for the times, they will change--they always do. It almost hurts me to realize that you could think I would ever let you send me off even for what you considered my own good. And I will not go, you see. You can't send me away--unless, indeed, you do not want me any more, and then, of course, you will say so, and I will go. Forgive me, True; I do not mean that; but I must punish you the least bit because--because I am a woman, I suppose.
"And now, True, about this draft for a thousand dollars which I am sending back to you. It was right, of course, for you to hold it as you did when you felt that it could do no good, and it is better to have it now, when it will. I want you to have it cashed at once, and let Van and Perny have just whatever they need of it to tide them over, and I want you to help the Colonel, too, if you can find him. Then you are to take the rest of it, and, after using whatever you need for yourself, go out and find the smallest and cheapest little apartment in New York that we can live in. Furnish it with the fewest things you can buy, and if there is any money left, we will take a wedding trip on it just as far as it will take us. Then we will come back to our little apartment, you will go back to your beloved art, and we will start really as Mr. Frisby did this time--without a dollar! I have no preparation to make. Let me know when you are coming and I will be ready.
"And now, True, good-by, with the happiest of New Years for you and your good friends, who will, I am sure, be my good friends, too, though I take you away from them in part. I wonder if it would be right for me to say I am glad we failed? I am afraid that, even if it is wrong, it is the truth. I _know_ it is! There are many things that we could do with wealth, but there are so many things so much sweeter that we might not have; and oh, dear True, I am only a woman, and selfish, after all.
"Always and always your
"P.S. I almost forgot to thank you for the autograph volume. You could not have pleased me more.
THE BREAD LINE
Livingstone did not read quite all the letter. There were lines and paragraphs here and there that he entered, stumbled, and backed out of--taking at last a road around that was so evidently his own as to make Perner remark once:
"Don't revise, Stony; you can't improve on the original."
And when he had finished, none of the three spoke for at least a minute. Then Van Dorn said huskily:
"I knew she was a bully girl when she sent that subscription-- I could tell by the writing."
And Perner added:
"That subscription letter is mine, Stony. As acting manager of the 'Whole Family' I claim it."
Then, all at once, they had hold of Livingstone's hands, and when the three faced the fire again it reflected in their eyes with unusual brightness.
"I can't get it cashed to-night," Livingstone reflected presently; "it's too big."
"No; and you are not to get it cashed any night until you find that apartment," said Van Dorn.
"Van and I are grateful," he assented, "but with our few wants, and our marvelous talents, coupled with my ten years' business experience--"
"But you haven't had any dinner, nor any lunch, nor breakfast," interrupted Livingstone, speaking as one who had himself fared sumptuously.
"A letter like that is worth more than a good many dinners," said Van Dorn.
"Yes," agreed Perner; "it is--to all of us."
The faces of the two older men had become reminiscent. Perhaps they were remembering--one a wife, the other a sweetheart--both memories now for a dozen years or more.
"Boys, do you recollect the dinner we had a year ago to-night?" This from Livingstone.
The others nodded. They were remembering that, too, perhaps.
"Then the bread line afterward?" said Perner. "We gave them a nickel apiece all around, and were going to give them a dollar apiece to-night. And now, instead of that--"
"Instead of that," finished Van Dorn, "we can go down to-night and get into the line ourselves. Light up, Stony; we'll take a look at your picture, anyhow."
There was a brisk, whipping sound against the skylight above them. It drew their attention, and presently came again. Livingstone arose hastily.
He spoke eagerly, and looked up at the glass overhead. Then he added in a sort of joyous excitement:
"Fellows, let's do it! Let's go down there and get into the line ourselves! I've been waiting for this sleet to see how they would _look_ in it. Now we're hungry, too. Let's go down and get into the line and see how it _feels_!"
Van Dorn and Perner stared at him a moment to make sure that he was in earnest. There was consent in the laugh that followed. The proposition appealed to their sense of artistic fitness. There was a picturesque completeness in thus rounding out the year. Besides, as Livingstone had said, they were hungry.
They set forth somewhat later. There was a strong wind, and the sleet bit into their flesh keenly. It got into their eyes and, when they spoke, into their mouths.
"I don't know about this," shouted Van Dorn, presently. "I think it's undertaking a good deal for the sake of art."
"Oh, pshaw, Van, this is bully!" Livingstone called back. He was well in advance, and did not seem to mind the storm.
Perner, who was tall, was shrunken and bent by the cold and storm. His voice, however, he lifted above it.
"Art!" he yelled. "I'm going for the sake of the coffee!"
The line that began on Tenth Street had made the turn on Broadway and reached almost to Grace Church when they arrived. The men stood motionless, huddled back into their scanty collars, their heads bent forward to shield their faces from the sharp, flying ice. Strong electric light shone on them. The driving sleet grew on their hats and shoulders. Those who had just arrived found it even colder standing still. Van Dorn's teeth were rattling.
"Do you suppose there's always enough to go round?" he asked of Perner, who stood ahead of him.
Talking was not pleasant, but the waif behind him answered:
"Wasn't last night. I was on the end of the line and didn't git no coffee. Guess there'll be enough to-night, though, 'cause it's New Year."
"If they don't have coffee to-night I'll die," shivered Perner.
Livingstone stood ahead of Perner in the line.
"If it stops with me I'll give you mine," he said. "I'm not hungry, nor cold, either."
The waif in front of him and the waif behind Van Dorn both made an effort to see Livingstone.
"What are you doing here, then?" growled the man behind. He saw that the three ahead of him were better dressed than the others and regarded them suspiciously. "What did you fellers come here for, anyway?"
There was a chance for a final joke. It fell to Perner:
"We've been keeping up a whole family," he chattered,--"several whole families. Now we're broke."
"You can have my place in the line," added Livingstone, and they changed.
The incident attracted little attention. Storm, cold, and hunger had deadened the instinct of curiosity natural to every human bosom. Presently Livingstone leaned forward and murmured to Van Dorn:
"Look at that old chap ahead yonder--around the corner. How he crouches and shivers! Isn't that great?"
Van Dorn looked as directed--then more keenly.
"Good God!" he said, "it's Colonel Hazard!" He leaned forward to Perner. "Isn't that the Colonel," he asked,--"that old fellow just around the corner, with his collar full of sleet?"
"By gad, it is!" decided Livingstone.
"We'll take him back with us," said Perner. "Poor old Colonel!"
The waif from behind was talking again. He had turned around so they could hear.
"Last New Year there was some blokes come along an' give us a nickel apiece all round. I was on the end an' got two. When they went away one of 'em said they was comin' back to-night to give us a dollar apiece."
"They won't come," said Perner.
"How d' y' know?"
"We're the men."
"Aw, what yeh givin' us?"
"Facts. We've started a paper since then."
A party of roisterers came shouting across the street.
"Come and have a drink," they called. "Come on, you fellows, and have a drink with us!"
A number of men left their places in the line and went. Perner watched one of them intently.
"If that fellow isn't Bates you can drink my coffee," he said, pointing.
Van Dorn and Livingstone looked, but could not be certain. They did not see him return.
It was somewhat after midnight, and the chimes of Grace Church, mingled with a pandemonium of horns and whistles, were still roaring in the glad New Year, when they finally obtained the brown loaf and the cup of hot coffee, which by this time they needed desperately. The bread they thrust under their coats, and some minutes later were in the studios.
Colonel Hazard was with them. He had maintained a wonderful self-possession when overhauled at Fleischmann's.
"Excellent place to study character," he remarked, after the first moment of surprise. "I come here now and then for the feeling."
And Van Dorn had answered:
"I've got enough to last me forever!"
The coals were still red in their grate, and over them they toasted the bread. For a while they attended to this busily, and talked but little. Then came the tobacco. It was like heaven.
Presently Perner told the Colonel of some Egyptian articles wanted by the "Columbian."
"They offered them to me," he said, "and I took them, because I haven't had the courage to refuse anything lately. But I had you in mind at the time to help me on with them, and now I've something else on hand, I'll turn them over to you altogether, if you'll take them."
The Colonel was very near to losing his quiet dignity at this news. He was obliged to clear his throat several times before replying. At last he said, quite naturally:
"I shall be happy to oblige you, Mr. Perner--very happy indeed." Then he turned suddenly and shook Perner's hand.
They talked on. By and by the Colonel refilled his pipe and leaned back in his chair.
"Fortune is a fickle jade," he said. "I have won and lost her seven times. I do not know that I shall ever do so again--it takes money to make money. Such resources as I have are not at present convertible into cash. Speculation without capital may win," he continued, "but the chances are much against it. It takes money to start anything, even a paper, as you gentlemen can testify."
The others assented silently.
"I might have told you that, in the beginning," Colonel Hazard went on, "had you asked me. Of course, I did not know the true condition of affairs until a state of dissolution had been reached. I could have advised you from past experience and observation."
The Colonel drew a number of luxurious whiffs from his pipe. The others only listened. The Colonel resumed:
"I knew a man some years ago who started a paper with forty thousand dollars in cash and an excellent scheme--premiums similar to yours. He spent that forty thousand, and another forty thousand on top of it--money from his people. Then he borrowed all he could get, at any rate of interest. He was bound to make it go, and he did make it go at last; but when the tide turned and commenced to flow his way he didn't have a dollar--not a dollar!"
Colonel Hazard looked into the fire and smoked reflectively.
"Humph!" commented Perner, "that part of it was like Frisby."
The Colonel turned quickly.
"Frisby--yes, that was his name. Why, do you know him?"
The others had shouted this in chorus, and were staring at the Colonel stupidly.
"Why, yes," he repeated, looking from one to the other; "Frisby of the 'Voice of Light.' I saw a copy of it lying here on the table one day. It's a big property now. Do you know him?"
Perner had risen and was standing directly in front of the Colonel.
"We do," he admitted. His voice sounded rather unusual in its quality, and he spoke very deliberately. "At least, we know _of_ him. It was what happened to Frisby, or, at least, what we _heard_ happened to Frisby, that we were banking on."
"By gad, yes," put in Livingstone.
"What did you hear happened to Frisby?" asked the Colonel, quietly.
"We heard," continued Perner, "that Frisby bought the 'Voice of Light' without putting down a dollar--that he didn't have a dollar to put down--that he contracted for papers and advertising without a dollar--that he didn't have a dollar when his first advertising appeared--that he got a thousand dollars in the first mail, and six thousand dollars in one day! That's what we heard happened to Frisby."
Colonel Hazard rose and walked across the room and back. Above him the gray of the New Year lay on the sleet-drifted skylight like the dawn of truth. He paused in front of the fire and regarded the three listening men.
"Well," he said, "it didn't happen to us, did it?"
THE LAST LETTER--TO MR. AND MRS. TRUMAN LIVINGSTONE, OLD POINT COMFORT, VIRGINIA
"DEAR PEOPLE: You can go right on to Florida or to any other seaport where honeymoons shine upon summer seas from skies that are always cloudless. You can go, and with our permission, as soon as you get this letter, and you may stay as long as the inclosed check lasts--provided you first buy your return tickets for New York.
"You see, the 'Bread Line' sold at Macbeth's, and this is the net result. It is a good deal more than the picture is worth, but then, if people will go on being so unreasonable in their tastes, I suppose you will have to go on profiting by it. Van and I went up to-day to take a last look at it. You can't paint much, old man, but after living with that picture a year, and knowing all that it means, it wasn't quite easy to part with it.
"Well, times are some better. Van made a comic series of some fellows running a paper, and sold it to 'Dawn.' It was ripping! I am just finishing a story on the subject for the 'Decade.' They are going to have you illustrate it. The Colonel is well on with his Egyptian articles.
"Van says, when you can't go any place else, come home and be forgiven. As ever,
"P.S. Barrifield was just in, and sends you his 'best.' And now, listen! He has disposed of the lists and good will of the 'Whole Family' to--whom do you think? Why, to Frisby, of course, who, in return, will fill out our subscriptions with his new paper, entitled
"'THE ROAD TO FORTUNE.'"