Paul and the Printing Press
Sara Ware Bassett
Little, Brown and Company
The Invention Series
PAUL AND THE PRINTING PRESS
SARA WARE BASSETT
WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY A. O. SCOTT
BOSTON LITTLE, BROWN, AND COMPANY 1920
Copyright, 1920, BY LITTLE, BROWN, AND COMPANY.
All rights reserved Published April, 1920
Norwood Press Set up and electrotyped by J. S. Cushing Co., Norwood, Mass., U.S.A.
"... Beneath the rule of men entirely great The pen is mightier than the sword. Behold The arch-enchanter's wand!—Itself a nothing— But taking sorcery from the master-hand To paralyze the Caesars—and to strike The loud earth breathless!—Take away the sword— States can be saved without it!" —BULWER-LYTTON, Richelieu
It gives me pleasure to acknowledge the kindness of Mr. Edwin A. Grozier, the Editor and Publisher of The Boston Post, and the courtesy of his employees who have offered me every assistance in the preparation of this manuscript.
S. W. B.
I PAUL CAMERON HAS AN INSPIRATION 1
II THE CLASS MEETING AND WHAT FOLLOWED IT 13
III MR. CAMERON TAKES A HAND IN THE GAME 27
IV ANOTHER ALLY 41
V PAUL GIVES THANKS FOR HIS BLESSINGS 50
VI A GAME OF CARDS 61
VII A MAD TEA PARTY 74
VIII THE ROMANCE OF BOOKMAKING 86
IX PAUL EMBARKS ON ANOTHER VENTURE 101
X A DISASTER 111
XI TEMPTATION ASSAILS PAUL 125
XII TEMPORIZING 138
XIII THE CAMERONS HAVE A VISITOR 149
XIV PAUL MAKES A PILGRIMAGE TO THE CITY 162
XV THE DECISION 184
XVI AN AMAZING MIRACLE 195
XVII THE CLOUDS CLEAR 203
XVIII GRADUATION 212
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
Paul gazed up at the presses that towered high above his head Frontispiece
"The March Hare!" he repeated with enthusiasm. "You've hit it, Cart!" PAGE 10
More than one dignified resident of the town struggled into an incongruous garment " 74
"But I can't take your money, Mr. Carter," gasped Paul " 136
PAUL AND THE PRINTING PRESS
PAUL CAMERON HAS AN INSPIRATION
It was the vision of a monthly paper for the Burmingham High School that first turned Paul Cameron's attention toward a printing press.
"Dad, how much does a printing press cost?" he inquired one evening as he sat down to dinner.
"A printing press."
Mr. Cameron glanced up quizzically from the roast he was carving.
"Aren't you a trifle ambitious?"
"Perhaps I am," he admitted. "But I have often heard you say, 'Nothing venture, nothing have.'"
It was his father's turn to laugh.
"Yet why does your fancy take its flight toward a printing press?"
Eagerly Paul bent forward.
"Why you see, sir," he explained, "ever since I was chosen President of '20 I've wanted my class to be the finest the Burmingham High ever graduated. I want it to leave a record behind it, and do things no other class ever has. There has never been a school paper. They have them in other places. Why shouldn't we?"
Mr. Cameron was all attention now.
"We've plenty of talent," went on Paul with enthusiasm. "Even Mr. Calder, who is at the head of the English department, asserts that. Dick Rogers has had a poem printed in the town paper—"
He saw a twinkle light his father's eye.
"Maybe you'd just call it a verse," the boy smiled apologetically, "but up at school we call it a poem. It was about the war. And Eva Hardy has had an essay published somewhere and got two dollars for it."
"You don't say so!"
"Besides, there is lots of stuff about the football and hockey teams that we want to print—accounts of the games, and notices of the matches to be played. And the girls want to boom their Red Cross work and the fair they are going to have. There'd be plenty of material."
"Enough to fill a good-sized daily, I should think," remarked Mr. Cameron, chuckling.
Paul took the joke good-naturedly.
"How do people run a paper anyhow?" he questioned presently. "Do printing presses cost much? And where do you get them? And do you suppose we fellows could run one if we had it?"
His father leaned back in his chair.
"A fine printing press is a very intricate and expensive piece of property, my son," he replied. "It would take several hundred dollars to equip a plant that would do creditable work. The preparation of copy and the task of getting it out would also take a great deal of time. Considering the work you already have to do, I should not advise you to annex a printer's job to your other duties."
He saw the lad's face cloud.
"The better way to go at such an undertaking," he hastened to add, "would be to have your publication printed by some established press."
"Could we do it that way?"
"Certainly," Mr. Cameron nodded. "There are always firms that are glad to get extra work if paid satisfactorily for it."
There was a pause.
"The pay is just the rub," Paul confessed frankly. "You see we haven't any class treasury to draw on; at least we have one, but there's nothing in it."
The two exchanged a smile.
"But you would plan to take subscriptions," said the elder man. "Surely you are not going to give your literary efforts away free of charge."
"N—o," came slowly from Paul. Then he continued more positively. "Oh, of course we should try to make what we wrote worth selling. We'd make people pay for it. But we couldn't charge much. Most of us have been paying for our Liberty Bonds and haven't a great deal to spare. I know I haven't."
"About what price do you think you could get for a school paper?"
"I don't know. I haven't thought much about it. Perhaps a dollar, or a dollar and a quarter a year. Not more than that."
"And how many members would be likely to take it?"
"There are about fifty seniors," he said. "But of course the other three classes would subscribe—at least some of them would. We shouldn't confine the thing simply to the doings of the seniors. We should put in not only general school news but items about the lower classes as well so that the paper would interest everybody. It ought to bring us in quite a little money. Shouldn't you think we could buy a press and run it for two hundred dollars?"
"Have you considered the price of paper and of ink, son?"
"No; but they can't cost much," was the sanguine response.
"Alas, they not only can but do," replied his father.
"Then you think we couldn't have a school paper."
"I did not say that."
"Well, you mean we couldn't make it pay."
"I shouldn't go so far as that, either," returned Mr. Cameron kindly. "What I mean is that you could not buy a printing press and operate it with the money you would probably have at hand. Nevertheless there are, as I said before, other ways of getting at the matter. If I were in your place I should look them up before I abandoned the project."
"Make sure of your proposition. Find out how many of your schoolmates would pledge themselves to subscribe to a paper if you had one. Then, when you have made a rough estimate of about how much money you would be likely to secure, go and see some printer and put the question up to him. Tell him what you would want and find out exactly what he could do for you. You've always been in a hurry to leave school and take up business. Here is a business proposition right now. Try your hand at it and see how you like it."
Mr. Cameron pushed back his chair, rose, and sauntered into his den; and Paul, familiar with his father's habits, did not follow him, for he knew that from now until late into the evening the elder man would be occupied with law books and papers.
Therefore the lad strolled out into the yard. His studying was done; and even if it had not been he was in no frame of mind to attack it to-night. A myriad of schemes and problems occupied his thought. Slowly he turned into the walk and presently he found himself in the street.
It was a still October twilight,—so still that one could hear the rustle of the dry leaves as they dropped from the trees and blew idly along the sidewalk. There was a tang of smoke in the air, and a blue haze from smoldering bonfires veiled the fall atmosphere.
Aimlessly Paul lingered. No one was in sight. Then the metallic shrillness of a bicycle bell broke the silence. He wheeled about. Noiselessly threading his way down the village highway came a thick-set, rosy-faced boy of sixteen or seventeen years of age.
"Hi, Carter!" called Paul. "Hold on! I want to see you."
Carter grinned; stopping his wheel by rising erect on its pedals, he vaulted to the ground.
"What's up, Paul?"
Without introduction Paul plunged into his subject. He spoke earnestly and with boyish eloquence.
"Say, Cart, what do you think of '20 starting a school paper?"
"A paper! Great hat, Kipper—what for?"
Kipper was Paul's nickname.
"Why, to read, man."
"Oh, don't talk of reading," was Melville Carter's spirited retort. "Aren't we all red-eyed already with Latin and Roman history? Why add a paper to our troubles?"
Paul did not reply.
"What do you want with a paper, Kipper?" persisted Melville.
"Why to print our life histories and obituaries in," he answered. "To extol our friends and damn our enemies."
"Come off," returned he, affectionately knocking Paul's hat down over his eyes.
"Stop your kidding, Cart. I'm serious."
"You really want a newspaper, Kip? Another newspaper! Scott! I don't. I never read the ones there are already."
"I don't mean a newspaper, Cart," explained Paul with a touch of irritation. "I mean a zippy little monthly with all the school news in it—hockey, football, class meetings, and all the things we'd like to read. Not highbrow stuff."
"Oh! I get you, Kipper," replied young Carter, a gleam of interest dawning in his face.
"That wouldn't be half bad. A school paper!" he paused thoughtfully. "But the money, Kip—the money to back such a scheme? What about that?"
"We could take subscriptions."
"At how much a subscrip, oh promoter?"
"I don't know," Paul responded vaguely. "One—twenty-five per—"
"Per—haps," cut in Melville, "and perhaps not. Who do you think, Kipper, is going to pay a perfectly good dollar and a quarter for the privilege of seeing his name in print and reading all the things he knew before?"
In spite of himself Paul chuckled.
"Maybe they wouldn't know them before."
"Football and hockey! Nix! Don't they all go to the games?"
"Not always. Besides, we'd put other things in—grinds on the Freshies—all sorts of stuff."
"I say! That wouldn't be so worse, would it?" declared Melville with appreciation.
He looked down and began to dig a hole in the earth with the toe of his much worn sneaker.
"Your idea is all right, Kip—corking," he asserted at length. "But the ducats—where would those come from? It would cost a pile to print a paper."
"I suppose we couldn't buy a press second-hand and do our own printing," ruminated Paul.
"Buy a press!" shouted Carter, breaking into a guffaw. "You are a green one, Kip, even if you are class president. Why, man alive, a printing press that's any good costs a small fortune—more money than the whole High School has, all put together. I know what presses cost because my father is in the publishing business."
"That's about what my dad said," he affirmed reluctantly. "He suggested we get someone to print the paper for us."
"Oh, we could do that all right if we had the spondulics."
"The subscriptions would net us quite a sum."
"How much could we bank on?"
"I've no idea," Paul murmured.
"I'll bet I could nail most of the Juniors. I'd simply stand them up against the wall and tell them it was their money or their life—death or a subscription to the—what are you going to call this rich and rare newspaper?" he inquired, suddenly breaking off in the midst of his harangue and turning to his companion.
"I hadn't got as far as that," answered Paul blankly.
"But you've got to get a name, you know," Melville declared. "You can't expect to boom something so hazy that it isn't called anything at all. Don't you want to take our class paper won't draw the crowd. You've got to start with a slogan—something spectacular and thrilling. Buy the Nutcracker! Subscribe to the Fire-eater! Have a copy of the Jabberwock! For goodness sake, christen it something! Start out with a punch or you'll never get anywhere. Why not call it The March Hare? That's wild and crazy enough to suit anybody. Then you can publish any old trash in it that you chose. They've brought it on themselves if they stand for such a title."
Paul clapped a hand on his friend's shoulder.
"The March Hare!" he repeated with enthusiasm. "You've hit it, Cart! The March Hare it is! We'll begin getting subscriptions to-morrow."
"You wouldn't want to issue a sample copy first, would you?" Melville suggested.
"No, siree! That'll be the fun. They must go it blind. We'll make the whole thing as spooky and mysterious as we can. Nobody shall know what he is going to eat. It will be twice the sport."
"But suppose after you've collected all your money you find you can't get any one to print the paper?"
"We'll have to take a chance," replied Paul instantly. "If worst comes to worst we can give the money back again. But I shan't figure on doing that. We'll win out, Cart; don't you worry."
"Bully for you, old man! You sure are a sport. Nothing like selling something that doesn't even exist! I see you years hence on Wall Street, peddling nebulous gold mines and watered stocks."
"Oh, shut up, can't you!" laughed Paul good-naturedly. "Quit your joshing! I'm serious. You've got to help me, too. You must start in landing subscriptions to-morrow."
"I! I go around rooting for your March Hare when I know that not a line of it has seen printer's ink!" sniffed Melville.
"Well, you have a nerve!" he affirmed.
"You're going to do it just the same, Cart."
There was a compelling, magnetic quality in Paul Cameron which had won for him his leadership at school; it came to his aid in the present instance.
Melville looked for a second into his chum's face and then smiled.
"All right," he answered. "I'm with you, Kipper. We'll see what we can do toward fooling the public."
"I don't mean to fool them," Paul retorted. "I'm in dead earnest. I mean to get out a good school paper that shall be worth the money people pay for it. There shall be no fake about it. To-morrow I shall call a class meeting and we'll elect an editorial staff—editor-in-chief, publicity committee, board of managers, and all the proper dignitaries. Then we'll get right down to work."
Melville regarded his friend with undisguised admiration.
"You'll make it a go, Kip!" he cried. "I feel it in my bones now. Hurrah for the March Hare! I can hear the shekels chinking into our pockets this minute. Put me down for the first subscription. I'll break the ginger-ale bottle over the treasury."
"Shall it be a dollar, a dollar and a quarter, or an out and out one-fifty?"
"Oh, put it at one-fifty. We're all millionaires and we may as well go in big while we're at it. What is one-fifty for such a ream of wisdom as we're going to get for our money?"
Melville vaulted into his bicycle saddle.
"Well, I'm off, Kipper," he called over his shoulder. "Got to do some errands for the Mater. So long!"
"I can depend on you, Cart?"
"Sure you can. I'll shout for your March Hare with all my lungs. I'm quite keen about it already."
Paul watched him speed through the gathering shadows and disappear round the turn in the road. Then, straightening his shoulders with resolution, he went into the house to seek his pillow and dream dreams of the March Hare.
THE CLASS MEETING AND WHAT FOLLOWED IT
The following day at recess, after a noisy clamor of conversation and laughter, the class meeting came to order.
"I have called you together to-day," began Paul Cameron from the platform, "to lay before 1920 a new undertaking. I am sure there is not one of you who does not want to make our class a unique and illustrious one. The Burmingham High School has never had a paper. 1920 has the great opportunity to give it one and to go down to history as its founder."
"The big dailies do not appreciate us. They never write us up. Why should we not write ourselves up—chronicle our doings, that such noteworthy deeds may never be forgotten?"
A ripple of laughter greeted the interrogation.
Paul saw his advantage and went on. He painted in glowing terms his dream of the March Hare. Every instant the interest and enthusiasm of his audience increased. Once a storm of clapping broke in upon his words but he raised his hand and the noise ceased. Quietly he closed his modest speech with the suggestion that a managing board be appointed to put the project into operation, if such were the pleasure of the meeting. Before he could seat himself a dozen boys were on their feet.
"Mr. President!" shouted Melville Carter.
"Mr. President!" came at the same moment from Donald Hall.
"Mr. President! Mr. President!" The cry rang from every corner of the room.
Paul listened to each speaker in turn.
1920 was not only unanimous but insistent upon the new venture.
In less time than it takes to tell it Paul himself was elected editor-in-chief, an editorial staff had been appointed, Melville Carter was voted in as business manager, and Billie Ransome as publicity agent. Nor did 1920's fervor end there. Before the meeting adjourned every person in the class had not only pledged himself to subscribe to the March Hare but had promised to get one or more outside subscriptions.
Paul, descending from the speaker's desk, was the center of an admiring and eager group of students.
"I say, Kip, where are you going to get the paper printed?" questioned Donald Hall.
"I don't know yet," replied Paul jauntily.
"We'll have to see how much money we are going to have."
"Why don't you get Mel Carter's father to do it? He publishes the Echo, and Mel is our business manager. That ought to give us some pull."
"I never thought of asking Mr. Carter," he returned slowly. "I don't believe Melville did, either. He's kind of a grouch. Still, he couldn't do more than refuse. Of course the Echo is pretty highbrow. Mr. Carter might feel we were beneath his notice."
"No matter," was Donald's cheerful answer. "I guess we could live through it if he did sit on us. Besides, maybe he wouldn't. Perhaps he'd enjoy fostering young genius. You said you were going to make the paper worth while and something more than an athletic journal."
"Yes, I am," retorted Paul promptly. "We've got to make it tally up with what the subscribers pay for it. I mean to put in politics, poetry, philosophy, and every other sort of dope," he concluded with a smile.
"You certainly are the one and only great editor-in-chief!" chuckled Donald. Then he added hastily: "There's Melville now. Why don't you buttonhole him about his father?"
"I will," cried Paul, hurrying across the corridor to waylay his chum.
Melville came to a stop.
"Say, what's the matter with your father printing the March Hare for us?"
"What!" The lad was almost speechless with astonishment.
"I say," repeated Paul earnestly, "what's the matter with your father printing the March Hare? He prints the Echo. Don't you believe he'd print our paper too?"
Melville was plainly disconcerted.
"I—I—don't know," he managed to stammer uneasily. "You see, the Echo office is such a darn busy place. My father is driven most to death. Besides, we couldn't pay much. It wouldn't be worth the bother to the Echo."
"Maybe not," said Paul. "But don't you think if your father knew we were trying to run a decent paper he might like to help us out? Who knows but some of us may become distinguished journalists when we grow up? There may be real geniuses in our midst—celebrities."
"Great Scott, Paul, but you have got a wily tongue! You've kissed the Blarney Stone if ever man has!"
But Paul was not to be cajoled from his purpose.
"Won't you put it up to your Pater when you go home, Cart?"
"I ask him!" exclaimed Melville, drawing back a step or two. "I couldn't, Kip. Don't put me in such a hole. I wouldn't dare. Straight goods, I wouldn't. You don't know my dad. Why, he wouldn't even hear me out. He'd say at the outset that it was all rot and that he couldn't be bothered with such a scheme."
"You absolutely refuse to ask him?"
Melville turned a wretched face toward Paul.
"I'd do most anything for you, Kip," he said miserably. "You know that. But I couldn't ask favors of my father for you or anybody else. He isn't like other people. I'd go to any one else in a minute. But Father's so—well, it would just take more nerve than I've got. He's all right, though. Don't think he isn't. It's only that he's pretty stiff. I'm afraid of him; straight goods, I am."
There was an awkward pause.
"Would you have any objection to somebody else going to him?"
"Not the least in the world," Melville declared. "I don't see why you shouldn't if you want to take a chance. You'll have no luck, though."
"He couldn't any more than kick me out."
"He'll do that all right!" Melville exclaimed, with a grin.
"What if he does?" asked the editor-in-chief with a shrug of his shoulders.
"Well, if you don't mind being turned down and swept out of the office before your mouth is fairly open, go ahead."
"I shan't go to the office," responded Paul deliberately. "I shall go around to the house."
"Well, I don't know why—only it makes Father as mad as hops to be disturbed about business after he gets home."
"I'm not supposed to know that, am I?"
"Then I shall come to the house," reiterated Paul firmly. "Your father will have more leisure there and I think he will be more likely to listen."
"He won't listen to you anywhere."
"We'll see whether he will or not," said Paul. "At least I can make my try and convince myself."
"It'll be no use, Kip," persisted Melville. "I hate to have you disappointed, old chap."
"I shan't be disappointed," said Paul kindly. "I shan't allow myself to expect much. Even if your father does turn me down he may give me a useful pointer or two."
"He won't do anything for you," Melville asserted dubiously. "He'll just have nothing to do with it."
In spite of Paul's optimism he was more than half of Melville's opinion.
Mr. Carter was well known throughout Burmingham as a stern, austere man whom people feared rather than loved. He had the reputation of being shrewd, close-fisted, and sharp at a bargain,—a person of few friends and many enemies. He was a great fighter, carrying a grudge to any length for the sheer pleasure of gratifying it. Therefore many a more mature and courageous promoter than Paul Cameron had shrunk from approaching him with a business proposition.
Even Paul did not at all relish the mission before him; he was, however, too manly to shirk it. Hence that evening, directly after dinner, he made his way to the mansion of Mr. Arthur Presby Carter, the wealthy owner of the Echo, Burmingham's most widely circulated daily.
Fortunately or unfortunately—Paul was uncertain which—the capitalist was at home and at leisure; and with beating heart the boy was ushered into the presence of this illustrious gentleman.
Mr. Carter greeted him politely but with no cordiality.
"So you're Paul Cameron. I've had dealings with your father," he remarked dryly. "What can I do for you?"
Paul's courage ebbed. The question was crisp and direct, demanding a reply of similar tenor. With a gulp of apprehension the lad struggled to make an auspicious opening for his subject; but no words came to his tongue.
"Perhaps you brought a message from your father," suggested the great man, after he had waited impatiently for an interval.
"No, sir. Father didn't know that I was coming," Paul contrived to stammer. "I came on my own account. I wanted to know if you wouldn't like to print the March Hare, a new monthly publication that is soon coming out."
"The March Hare!" repeated Mr. Carter incredulously.
Paul nodded silently.
"Did I hear aright?" inquired Mr. Carter majestically. "Did you say the March Hare?"
The title took on a ludicrous incongruity as it fell from his lips.
"Yes, sir," gasped Paul. "We are going to get out a High School paper and call it the March Hare."
Mr. Carter made no comment. He seemed too stunned with amazement to do so.
"We want to make it a really good paper," went on Paul desperately. "The school has never had a paper before, but I don't see why it shouldn't. We're all studying English and writing compositions. Why shouldn't we write something for publication?"
There was a note of sarcasm, or was it ridicule, in the words, that put Paul on his mettle.
"We intend to make it a good, dignified magazine," he went on quickly. "We plan to have the school news and some more serious articles in it. We've got a managing board, and an editorial staff, and all the things papers have."
"And why do you come to me?"
"Because we need a printer."
"You wish me to print this remarkable document?"
Paul smiled ingenuously. "Yes, sir." There was a silence. Mr. Carter seemed too dumfounded to speak.
"You see," went on the boy, "getting out a paper would give us fellows some business experience and at the same time some practice in writing. I believe we could make the thing pay, too."
"How many subscribers have you?"
"I had two last night—myself and another boy," Paul replied. "But to-day I have a hundred and fifty; by to-morrow I expect to add about two hundred more."
"Your circulation increases rapidly," remarked Mr. Carter, the shadow of a smile on his face.
"Yes, sir, it does," came innocently from Paul.
"How many numbers would you wish to issue annually?"
"Ten. We'd want to bring out a paper the first of each month from October to June. With our studies, that would be about all we could handle, I guess."
"I guess so, too," agreed Mr. Carter caustically.
"How large a paper do you plan to have?" he added an instant later.
"Oh, I hadn't thought much about that. It would depend on how much space we could fill up. Perhaps twenty-five pages."
The magnate nodded.
It was impossible to fathom what was going on in his mind. Was he preparing to burst into a tirade of ridicule, or was he really considering the proposition?
"We'd want some good sort of a cover, of course," Paul put in as an afterthought.
"In colors, I suppose."
"And nice paper and clear print."
"Yes, indeed," said Paul, not noting the increasing sarcasm in the man's voice.
"How much would you charge for an annual subscription?"
"A dollar and a half."
"Have you any idea what it would cost to get out a paper such as you propose?" There was a ring of contempt in the words.
"Well, it would cost a good deal more money than you have to offer, young man." With a cruel satisfaction he saw the boy's face fall.
"Then that's the end of it, I guess, so far as your firm is concerned," replied Paul, turning toward the door. "I'll have to take my proposition somewhere else."
Something in the boy's proud bearing appealed to the man. It had not dawned on him until now that the lad actually considered the proposal a strictly business one. He had thought that he came to wheedle and beg, and Mr. Carter detested having favors asked of him. Calling Paul back, he motioned him to sit down.
"I'm not ready to wind up this matter quite so quickly," he observed. "Let us talk the thing over a little more fully. Suppose I were to make you a proposition."
Leaning forward, he took a cigar from the library table and, lighting it, puffed a series of rings into the air.
"There are certain things that I want to do in Burmingham," he announced in leisurely fashion. There was a twinkle of humor beneath the shaggy brows. "Your father, for example, doesn't take the Echo. He has none too cordial feeling toward me personally, and in addition he says my paper is too conservative. Then there are firms that I can't get to advertise with us—business houses in the town that are not represented on our pages. And lastly, Judge Damon has constantly refused to do a set of political articles for me. Put those deals through for me, and I'll print your March Hare."
He leaned back in his chair, regarding Paul with a provoking smile.
"But how can I?" gasped Paul, bewildered.
Mr. Carter shrugged his shoulders.
"That's up to you," he said. "Sometimes fools rush in where angels fear to tread. Your father, for instance, will certainly want this venture of yours to succeed. Tell him that if he takes the Echo instead of the Mirror, or in addition to it, it will be a big help to you."
"But my father—" burst out Paul, then stopped suddenly.
"I know he doesn't like me," put in Mr. Carter calmly. "We differ in politics and we've had one bad set-to on the subject. He won't take my paper—wouldn't do it for love or money. I know perfectly well how he feels."
"So that's why you want to make him do it?"
"Never you mind, sonny. I want you to get him to. That's enough," was the curt retort.
"And with regard to the advertising I mentioned," continued Mr. Carter, "I am sure you can easily carry that through. The Kimball and Dalrymple boys are in your class, aren't they?"
"Tell them the Echo wants an ad. from the firm of George L. Kimball and from Dalrymple and Company."
"As for Judge Damon—well, if you can't manage the judge, I can't tell you how to do it. All is, I want six articles on The League of Nations. He's an authority on international law and the best man I know to handle the subject. He hasn't, however, much more use for me than your father has, and thus far has politely refused every offer I've made him."
"Carl Damon is on our March Hare literary staff," ventured Paul.
"There you are!" declared Mr. Carter triumphantly. "Set him at his father's heels and tell him to bring me the six articles I'm after. Then you boys flax round and get me ten new firms to advertise in the Echo and I'll sign a contract with you to print your March Hare in good shape."
The lips of the elder man curled humorously.
"It's mighty good of you, sir," he murmured.
"Don't thank me, youngster, until you've landed your bargain," protested Mr. Carter with shame-faced haste. "Remember I said that when you had fulfilled my conditions then I would print your March Hare; I shan't do it until then."
"But I am sure we can fulfill them."
"You seem very certain of it."
"I feel so."
"Humph! Have you ever tried to get an ad?"
"Or asked your father why he didn't take the Echo?"
"Or tried to worm an article out of Judge Damon?"
Paul shook his head.
"Then you've some fun ahead of you," remarked Mr. Carter, rising. "I'd wait to do my crowing if I were you."
With a grim laugh and a gesture of farewell he swept the boy from the room.
MR. CAMERON TAKES A HAND IN THE GAME
As Paul walked down the steps of the Carter mansion he felt, as did David Copperfield in the presence of the waiter, very young indeed. Had Mr. Carter simply been making game of him? And was the business world actually such a network of schemes and complexities?
And how did it happen that the printing of a newspaper was such a difficult and expensive undertaking? Why should it be?
Paper and ink were common enough commodities surely. All that had to be done was to print, and if a press were at hand it must be the easiest thing in the world to do that. Why did people make such a fuss over printing a paper?
Thoughtfully he walked home and turned in at his own door.
He was in a very sober frame of mind, unwontedly sober for him; so sober, in fact, that his father, whom he encountered in the hall, exclaimed:
"Goodness me, son, you look as if your last friend on earth had perished. What's the matter?"
The boy smiled faintly.
"But you'd never look like that if there weren't. Come, tell me all about it. What's the trouble?"
The gray eyes of the man regarded the lad kindly.
"I'm—I'm just thinking."
"About what, pray? Something pretty solemn, I'll be bound," persisted his father.
"Oh, I've a lot of things on my mind," answered Paul hesitatingly.
"Suppose you give me a sample of one of them."
"Just business," replied Paul.
As the words fell with familiar cadence, Mr. Cameron laughed. How often he had met his wife's troubled inquiries with the same retort.
"Business, eh! And how long is it since the burdens of business have fallen on your young shoulders?"
"And already you are bowed to the earth with worry?" commented his father playfully. "Come, son, what's troubling you?"
"The school paper."
"Not going to be able to put it through?"
"Oh, it's not that," said Paul quickly. "We are going to put it through all right, although at this moment I don't exactly see how. I had no idea it cost so much to get a paper printed."
"It isn't the actual printing, so much as the typesetting and all that goes with it, that makes printing an expensive job," explained Mr. Cameron. "Just now, too, paper and ink cost a great deal, and labor is high."
"Did people always have to pay so much for paper?"
"People didn't always use to have paper, my son."
Paul opened his eyes.
"What did they print on, then?"
"They didn't have printing presses, either," answered Mr. Cameron. "Long ago people did not care so much for reading as we do now. Most of them hadn't education enough to read a book or a paper if they had had one. In fact, many kings, bishops, and persons of rank could neither read nor write. Charlemagne could not sign his own name. The era before the Renaissance was an age of unbelievable ignorance. It is a marvel that with the turmoil of war and the utter lack of interest in anything intellectual any learning came out of the period."
"But aren't there very old writings in some of the museums?"
"Yes, we have manuscripts of very ancient date," agreed his father. "Much of the matter in them however—material such as the Norse Sagas and the Odes of Horace—were handed down by word of mouth and were not written until long after they had been chanted or sung. Poets and minstrels passed on their tales to other bards; had they not done so, Homer, Ossian, and the Sanscrit Vedas would have been lost to us. A metric arrangement of the stories was probably made to aid the singers in remembering their subject matter. You know how much easier it is to memorize something that has a swing or rhythm?"
"That without question accounts for the poetic form in which some of our oldest literature has come down to us," Mr. Cameron said. "Then, as good luck would have it, Roman and Greek slaves were compelled to copy many of the writings of the time on long rolls of vellum or papyrus, and in that way more of the ancient literature was preserved. There was only a small reading public in either Rome or Greece, and those who were interested in books could secure what they wished through professional scribes, or could listen to readings of the classics from the portico of some rich nobleman who had been fortunate enough to secure a copy of some rare poem or play. Often, too, such things were read in the baths, which in those days took the place of our modern clubs."
"And that was the way we got our early books?"
"Yes. There were slaves whose duty it was to do nothing but copy manuscripts for their masters. They were given food, shelter, and clothing in return for their labors. Of course they were not an educated class of workers, and in consequence they often made mistakes; but they served to prevent the total destruction of such classics as—"
"Caesar's Commentaries, I suppose," interrupted Paul mischievously.
"Caesar's writings would have been a great loss," declared his father good-humoredly.
"Not to me! Nor Cicero's either."
"But are they not all old and interesting as a relic of history?"
"They are more interesting now that you have told me something about them," admitted Paul, with characteristic honesty.
"Oh, you would find many interesting and even amusing incidents connected with these early writings, were you to study into the matter," continued Mr. Cameron. "Fancy, for example, a hand-written scroll of a book selling for the equivalent of two cents in our money; and fancy others not selling at all, and being used by grocers to wrap up spices and pastries. The modern author thinks he is paid little enough. What, I wonder, would he say to such treatment?"
"Even at a later date when the monks began copying and illuminating manuscripts there was at first no great demand for them. Learning was conceded to be the rightful possession of the rich and powerful, and whether the kings or nobles of the court could read or not, most of the books were bought by them simply as art works. Many, of course, especially the most skillfully illuminated ones, were very beautiful and were well worth owning."
"But think of the time it must have taken to make them by hand!" speculated Paul.
"Time was no object in those days," smiled his father. "There was nothing to hurry about. A monk would toil at a single manuscript day after day, month after month; sometimes year after year. It must have been a sleepy, tiresome business to write out even a short manuscript so carefully, to say nothing of a long one like the Bible. What wonder that the patient workers were so glad when their tedious task was done that they inscribed at the end of it a little song of thanksgiving. I remember seeing one old book in a European museum at the end of which was written:
"'This book was illuminated, bound, and perfected by Henry Cremer, vicar of the Collegiate Church of Saint Stephen in Metz, on the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, in the year of our Lord 1456.
"'Thanks be to God, Hallelujah!'
"No doubt the pious Henry Cremer was thankful for many other things besides the completion of his manuscript, but I am sure he must have been human enough to draw a sigh of relief when he put the last stroke to such a tedious piece of work. Don't you think so?"
"I'll bet he was," agreed Paul.
"Can't you see those patient monks alone in their dimly lighted cells, silently writing day after day?" continued Mr. Cameron. "Many a poor fellow who drudged so mechanically at his task copied the errors in the text quite as faithfully as the rest of it. In consequence, it at last became imperative to demand that the scribes work with more intelligence, and therefore at the end of a manuscript would be such an admonition as this:
"'I adjure thee who shall transcribe this book by our Lord Jesus Christ, and by His glorious coming to judge the quick and the dead, that thou compare what thou transcribest and correct it carefully according to the copy from which thou transcribest, and that thou also annex a copy of this adjuration to what thou hast written.'
"Thus, you see, was the copyist forced to study his text and pass the caution against mistakes on to others. Nevertheless, solemn and reverent as was this warning, it did not prevent errors from slipping into the old illuminated manuscripts, and many a one is marred by misspelling or miswording."
"I don't wonder it is," exclaimed Paul. "Why, the very thought that I must not make a mistake would cause me to make one. Besides, I should get so sleepy after I had written for hours that I should not know what I was doing."
"Probably much of the time they didn't."
Paul thought a moment.
"I suppose, though, the monks were paid for their hard work, so it was only fair for them to be careful," he reflected.
"On the contrary," replied his father, "they were not paid any more than were the slaves whom the Greeks and Romans employed. Their living was given them; that was all. Often the books they made were very beautiful and were sold to dignitaries of the Church or to titled persons for great sums; but any monies received from such a transaction went into the coffers of the Church and not into the monks' pockets. The Church however, in return, provided them with all they needed so they did not go entirely unrewarded. Some day when we can find time we will go to the city and hunt up some of these rare old manuscripts in the museum. You would be interested to see how exquisitely many of them are done. The initial letter, or frequently the catch word, is painted in color, and the borders are richly decorated with intricate scroll-work."
"Did the monks have to design the pages as well as print them?" inquired Paul with surprise.
"The same monk did not always do all the work," his father said. "Some merely inscribed the text and illuminated the first letter or word; afterward the sheets were handed to some one else who designed the decoration and sketched it in. Then it went to the colorist, who in turn illuminated, or painted, the drawing. You will find every inch of some of the more ornate manuscripts filled in with designs. The great objection to this method was that several persons handled the work and therefore in many cases the decoration had no relation whatsoever to the text; in fact, frequently it was entirely inappropriate to it."
"No more relation, I suppose, than the text of our school paper will have to its name: March Hare."
"Just about the same," conceded his father with amusement. "So that's the title you've selected for your monthly?"
"Yes, sir. We couldn't seem to think of anything better."
"It's not bad at all. How are you coming with the project? You seem bothered."
"I am—a little."
"What's the matter? Haven't you money enough to induce anybody to print your publication?"
"Oh, I have a printer," replied Paul confidently. "The Echo is going to get it out for us."
"The Echo!" Mr. Cameron regarded the lad incredulously.
"But—but—how in the name of goodness did you pull off a bargain like that?" demanded the man. "The Echo of all people! Why, I should as soon think of asking the government to do it! Their rates are enormous and they never take outside work. Are you quite sure they have agreed to do it?"
"Yes. There's no mistake about it, Dad. They were perfectly serious. They made a few conditions, though."
"Whom did you see?"
"Carter! Mr. Carter himself? Mr. Arthur Carter?"
"My soul and body!" murmured Mr. Cameron. "I wouldn't have believed he'd see you. You did have a nerve, son! Why, nobody ever asks a favor of Carter. I wouldn't, for a thousand dollars. It's a marvel he listened to you. And he is actually going to print your paper?"
"Yes, sir—that is, under certain conditions." Paul waited an instant, then added dryly: "In fact, Dad, you're one of the conditions."
The boy chuckled.
"Uh-huh. He wants you to subscribe to the Echo."
"He does, does he!" Mr. Cameron cried with indignation. "The impertinence of the man! Well, he can continue to want me to. When he finds me doing it he will be years older than he is now. What does he think? Does he expect to turn me from a broad-minded Democrat into a stand-pat Republican like himself? The old fox! He just enjoyed sending me that message, and by my own son, too. I ran against him for Mayor in 1916 and lost the fight because I wouldn't use the weapons he did. You were a little chap then and so do not remember much about it; but it was a nasty business. Since that day we've never spoken. Take his paper! I wouldn't so much as look at it if he offered it to me free of charge on a silver salver."
Paul regarded his father with consternation.
"But I say, Dad, if you don't help us out, it's all up with the March Hare."
"I can't help that," blustered Mr. Cameron, striding impatiently across the hall. "Why, it's preposterous! He's making a goat of you, son, that's all. He never meant to print your paper. He simply made up a lot of conditions that he knew could never be fulfilled and sent you away with them. It was a mean trick. Just like him, too! He'd think it a great joke."
"I don't believe he was joking," Paul answered slowly. "And anyway, even if he were, I don't have to take it as a joke. I can take him seriously, fulfill his contract, and make him live up to his agreement, can't I? Then if the whole thing were a joke, the joke would be on him."
Mr. Cameron gazed into the boy's eager face a few seconds, then smiled suddenly.
"That's not a bad idea," he observed. "We'd have Carter fast in his own trap then."
"To be sure."
"By Jove, Paul—if I haven't half a mind to help you out!" He slapped his son on the shoulder. "I'll do it! I declare if I won't. I'll send in my subscription to the Echo to-morrow. I needn't read the thing, even if I do take it. What other tasks did the old schemer impose on you?"
"I've got to get some ads for him—ten of them."
"And I've got to ask Judge Damon for six articles on The League of Nations."
"Ha, ha! That's a good one," chuckled Mr. Cameron. "The League of Nations is like a red rag to the Judge. He can't be trusted to speak of it, let alone writing about it."
"Mr. Carter said Judge Damon was an expert on international law," explained Paul.
"So he is, so he is! But he isn't expressing his opinion of The League of Nations, just the same."
"You think he wouldn't do the articles?"
"Do them? Mercy, no!"
"Then I guess it was all a joke," murmured Paul, with a wistful, disappointed quiver of the lip.
Mr. Cameron saw the joyousness fade from the young face.
"It was contemptible for him to put up such a game on you kids!" he ejaculated.
Thrusting his hands into his pockets he stared up at the ceiling.
"I'm not so sure," he presently remarked slowly, "but what, if your uncle knew the circumstances, he might be coaxed into meeting Carter's demand."
"Do you think so?"
Again courage shone in Paul's eyes.
"I'm pretty sure of it."
The lad's brow became radiant.
"I'll see Damon myself," went on Cameron humorously. "I'll tell him I have yielded up my preferences for the common good and that he must do the same. His son Carl is in your class, isn't he?"
"Then it's as much his duty to help on 1920 as mine. He adores that boy of his. You leave him to me. I'll bring him round to our way of thinking all right."
"And the ads?"
"Set your classmates on their fathers," was the terse reply as the elder man clapped on his hat and left the house.
Paul watched him out of sight, then sighed a happy little sigh of satisfaction. With such a sympathetic colleague to fall back upon he felt confident the March Hare would succeed.
Mr. Cameron was as good as his word.
The next morning when Paul appeared at breakfast, he was greeted with the words: "Well, I won Damon over. You're to go around there this evening and he'll have a paper ready for you to the effect that in consideration of the Echo printing the March Hare, the judge will write for the Echo six articles on the pros and cons of The League of Nations. You are to get Carter to sign this agreement and then we'll lock it up in my strong box at the bank."
"That's bully, Dad. It was mighty good of you to take this trouble for us."
"That's all right, son. I'm always glad to help you boys out. Besides," he added whimsically, "I am not entirely philanthropic. The thing amuses me. I always enjoy beating Carter when I get the chance."
Paul regarded his father affectionately. The big man seemed very human just at that moment,—little more, in fact, than a boy like himself.
"Then, as I understand it, all we fellows have to do now is to round up the ten ads.," he said, dropping into his chair at the table and vigorously attacking his grape-fruit.
"What ads. are you talking about, Paul?" asked his mother, who had just entered the room.
"Oh, we boys down at school want to get some ads. to help publish our new paper."
Mrs. Cameron listened while the plans of the March Hare were unfolded to her.
"Hill and Holden, the Garden Street grocers, are going to put a new coffee on the market; their man told me about it yesterday and said they were going to advertise it very extensively."
"There's your chance, Paul!" cried Mr. Cameron. "Call them up this minute and nail them before they send the advertisement to the papers. We're customers of theirs and without doubt they'd just as soon send their announcement to the Echo through you. Tell them they will be doing a service to the High School pupils, most of whose families' names are on their books."
Paul needed no second bidding. He sprang to the telephone. A few instants later he re-entered the room with sparkling eyes.
"O. K.!" he said. "I talked with one of the firm who said they would be glad to help us out. They'll prepare the ad. and let me have it to-morrow. They want a quarter of a page."
"They do? Well, well, Paul! That should net the Echo something," Mr. Cameron remarked. "If all the boys' mothers help them as yours has, your March Hare will be a certainty by to-morrow."
"You were a brick, Mater."
"I just happened to recall hearing the man speak of it," returned Mrs. Cameron.
Nevertheless it was quite evident that she was pleased to aid her boy.
"You don't remember happening to hear any one else mention advertising, do you, my dear?" asked her husband.
"I'm afraid not," was his wife's laughing reply.
"Don't tease Mater, Dad," said Paul. "She's done her bit. May the others do as well."
Rising from breakfast, he bent and kissed his mother affectionately.
"I'm off to school!" he called. "I shall put this advertising stunt up to the business manager. He's got to expect to have something to do."
"That's right, Paul," returned Mr. Cameron approvingly. "The clever business man is the one who organizes his affairs and then throws at least a part of the responsibility of carrying them out on the men in his employ. Nobody is ever interested in an undertaking in which he has no part. Share your work with the other fellow if you want to get the best out of him. Put it on his shoulders and make him feel that you expect him to do it—that you trust him to do it. He'll do ten times as much for you and he will pull with you—not against you. We're all human and like to be important. Remember that in handling men. It is one of the great secrets of success. Now off with you! You'll be late if you stand here philosophizing."
Away scampered Paul. A moment later his wheel was crunching over the blue gravel of the driveway and speeding down the macadam road. Soon he was in the classroom.
Excitement ran high that morning. What Caesar did in Gaul, what Cyrus and the Silician Queen had to say to one another was of far less import to the agitated students than what the Class of 1920 did that day in Burmingham. Nevertheless the recitations dragged on somehow and by and by the geometries, Roman histories, and the peregrinations of Cyrus were tucked into the desks, and the staff of the March Hare got together for a hurried business meeting in the corridor.
The boys were enthusiastic that Paul had found a printer.
"Hurrah for you, Kipper!" they shouted.
"Good work, old man!"
"Leave it to Kip!" they cried in chorus.
"You'll have to get the ads.," announced Paul. "I've secured one. I leave the rest of them to you."
"Right-o! We'll 'tend to them," piped Donald Hall with assurance.
"My father's firm has never advertised," declared Dave Chandler. "I'll put it up to Pater when I get home."
"My uncle will help us out; I bet he will," promised Oscar Hamilton. "Robey and Hamilton, you know."
"The more the merrier," responded Paul gayly. "Just call me up this evening and tell me what luck you've had."
"Sure, old fellow! We'll do that!" came from the boys as they dispersed.
The remainder of the morning Paul mingled fragments of chemistry and Greek with visions of the March Hare, and the moment school was out he dashed home to complete his studying and get it out of the way that he might be free to go to see Judge Damon directly after dinner.
Despite the dignity of his profession the judge was a much less formidable person to face than Mr. Arthur Presby Carter. He was a simple, kindly man, with an ingratiating smile and a keen sympathy with human nature. He was, moreover, very fond of young people. He liked all boys, seeming never to forget the fact that he himself had been one of them not so many years ago.
Therefore, no sooner had Paul presented himself at the front door than he was shown into the study where, before a bright fire blazing on the hearth, the judge sat smoking.
"Come in, Paul," he called cordially. "Your father told me about this undertaking of yours, and I hear I am to be one of your victims."
"I'm afraid you are, sir."
"Well, well! I suppose doing what we do not enjoy is good for our characters," returned the judge mischievously. "If you boys propose to do some serious writing of English and secure a little business experience, certainly your aim is a worthy one and we older folks should back you up. It's a far more sensible vent for your energy, to my mind, than so much football."
"Oh, we're not going to give over our football, sir," asserted Paul with prompt candor.
"No, indeed! Keep up your games by all means. But moderation is a jewel. A little football goes a good way, while business training is never amiss."
"We expect to get quite a bit of business training out of issuing our paper," said Paul modestly.
"And in order to do it, you young rascals are going to rope me into your schemes, are you?" demanded the judge.
"Mr. Carter is."
"It's the same thing—or rather it isn't the same thing, for what I would not consent to do for Mr. Carter I am going to do for you boys."
Paul murmured his thanks.
"Tut, tut! Say no more about it," Judge Damon commanded hastily. "My son is in the class, you know; surely I should be showing little loyalty to 1920 if I were not ready to help make it glorious; and even if I had no boy in the High School it would be the same. I should be glad to promote so worthy an undertaking."
From the litter of papers on the desk the man took up a crisp white sheet which he folded carefully and slipped into an envelope.
"There is a legal contract for Mr. Carter to sign," he said. "It states that in consideration of the Echo Press printing ten numbers of the March Hare, I am to furnish Mr. Carter with six articles on the League of Nations."
"It's mighty good of you, sir."
The judge waved his hand.
"Don't let the favor oppress you, sonny," he said. "Along with your father I am having my little joke on Carter. I'd like to see his face when you confront him with this bit of paper. He'll be bound to carry out his bargain whether he likes it or not."
"You don't think he'll back down."
"Carter back down! No, indeed. Mr. Carter is a man of his word. Although I differ from him on just about every possible subject, I am glad to give the devil his due. What he promises he will stick to; never fear," Judge Damon declared quickly.
This prediction proved to be no idle one for when, within two or three days, Paul presented himself once more in the library of Mr. Arthur Presby Carter and placed in that august person's hand not only the ten advertisements for the Echo but his father's subscription to the same paper, and the written agreement of the judge, Mr. Carter, although plainly chagrined, did not demur.
On the contrary he glanced keenly at the youthful diplomat, observing grimly:
"You are an enterprising young man, I will say that for you. I should not mind knowing to what methods you resorted to win these concessions from these stern-purposed gentlemen. Did you bribe or chloroform them?"
The boy laughed triumphantly.
"The judge, for example—I can't imagine what influence could have been brought to bear on him to have achieved such a result. I have offered him a good price for those articles and he has repeatedly refused it. And now he is going to do them for nothing."
"He just wanted to help us out."
"And your father?"
"He was game, too."
Mr. Carter was silent.
"Well, I guess I can be as good a sport as they can," he observed at length. "Get your material together for your first number of the March Hare and bring it over to the Echo office. I'll see that one of our staff gives you a lesson on how to get it into form. Have you a typewriter?"
"Know how to run one?"
"That's unlucky. We don't like to handle copy that isn't typed. It's too hard on the eyes and takes us too long. However, we must make the best of it, I suppose. Only be sure to write plainly and on but one side of the paper; and do not fold or roll your sheets. That is one thing no publisher will stand for—rolled manuscript. Remember that."
"I will, sir."
"I guess that's all for now. Good night, youngster."
"Good night, sir."
Although the leave-taking was curt it was not unkind and Paul returned home with a feeling that in spite of what he had heard of Mr. Carter's character he neither feared nor disliked the gruff man; in fact, in the sharp-eyed visage there was actually something that appealed. To his surprise the lad found himself rather liking Mr. Carter.
PAUL GIVES THANKS FOR HIS BLESSINGS
When Paul came into the house that afternoon his father called to him from the little den off the hall.
"Come here a moment, son," he cried. "I've something to show you."
The boy hurried forward, all curiosity. He found his father seated before a desk on which was spread an old manuscript, brightened here and there by letters of blue or scarlet.
"Strangely enough, Mr. Jordan, the curio collector, was in my office to-day and had this treasure with him. When I mentioned that I should like to have you see it, immediately, in most generous fashion, he suggested that I bring it home and show it to you. It is almost priceless and of course I demurred; but he insisted. He had just bought it at an auction in New York and was, I fancy, glad to find some one who was interested and would appreciate it. It is not complete; if it were it would be very valuable. It is just a few stray sheets from an ancient psalter. Nevertheless its workmanship is exquisite and it is well worth owning. Notice the beautiful lettering."
Paul bent over the vellum pages. The manuscript, now spotted by age, was marvelously penned, being written evenly and with extreme care in Latin characters.
"Were all the old books written in Latin?" he inquired with surprise.
Mr. Cameron nodded.
"Yes, and not only were the first manuscripts and books phrased in Latin but most of the very early printed books were written in the same language," he answered. "In those days learning was not for the general public. There was no such spirit of democracy known as now exists. It cheapened a thing to have it within the reach of the vulgar herd. Even Horace, much as we honor him, once complained because some of his odes had strayed into the hands of the common people 'for whom they were not intended.' Books, in the olden time, were held to be for only the fortunate few. The educated class considered a little learning a dangerous thing. If the people got to know too much they were liable to become unruly and less easy to handle. Therefore books were kept out of their reach. In Germany there was even a large fine and the penalty of imprisonment imposed on any one who printed, published, or bought a book translated from the Latin or Greek unless such translation had previously been censored by the authorities. Hence the people who could not read the languages were entirely cut off from all literature."
"I never heard of such a thing!" exclaimed Paul indignantly.
"No, you never did, thank God! We live in an age and a country of freedom. But the world has not always been so easy or so comfortable a place to live in as it is now."
Mr. Cameron touched the manuscript before him daintily with his finger, betraying by the gesture the reverence of the true book-lover.
"This book," he remarked, "is, as you see, done on vellum. Most of the illuminators of ancient books preferred that material for their work. Papyrus such as the Romans used was too brittle to be folded or sewed, and therefore could not be bound into book form; it had to be rolled on rollers, and even then was liable to crack. It was far too perishable for bookmaking. Hence the old scribes turned to vellum, or sheepskin. But later, when the printing press came along, vellum became very unpopular indeed, because the grease in the skin spread the ink or else would not absorb it, and the harsh surface destroyed the type. Even had these difficulties not arisen, vellum would have had to be abandoned since the number of skins demanded for the making of a thick book was prohibitive. Imagine three hundred unlucky sheep offering up their skins in order to produce one of the first printed Bibles!"
"Great Scott!" Paul whistled, regarding his father with incredulity.
"I was as surprised as you when I read the statement," declared his father. "At that rate, where would the sheep be in a little while? All slaughtered and made into books. Fortunately the public of that day did not, as I have already explained, care much for reading; so perhaps that is the secret why some of the sheep were spared."
"Why didn't they print their books on paper?" inquired Paul thoughtlessly.
"Paper, you must remember, was not yet discovered; that is, it was unknown in western Europe. It had been in use in China, however, for some time; but China was not a generous country that spread its inventions to other lands. What the Chinese discovered they kept to themselves. Nor, in fact, was there any extended means of spreading such things except through the primitive methods of conquest or travel. Wars enough there were, it is true; but travel was very infrequent. Moreover, I seriously doubt if scribes would have used paper at just that period if they had had it. The first attempts at paper-making resulted in a crude, coarse product that was regarded with great scorn by the rich; and as for printed matter, the educated classes considered it a great drop from handwork and too common a thing to be purchased."
"It smacked of the masses," laughed Mr. Cameron. "Elegant persons refused to use anything so cheap. Snobbery existed among the ancients, you see, quite as extensively as in our own day, and a possession was only valuable while it was the property of the fortunate few. The instant it came within the reach of everybody it was no longer desirable in their eyes. Your snob always treasures a thing less for its intrinsic value than because other people cannot have it. So it was among the snobs that lived hundreds of years ago; the species has not materially changed. No sooner did learning become general through the use of the printing press, and become accessible to the man in moderate circumstances than it lost its savor for the rich, and many a noble boasted that he was unable to read, write, or spell. Learning suddenly became a vulgar accomplishment, a thing to be spurned, ridiculed, and avoided."
"I never heard of anything so absurd!" Paul said with contempt.
"It is no more absurd than is much of our present-day philosophy of life," replied Mr. Cameron. "With all our enlightenment we have not yet outgrown many of our follies."
He stopped, smiling whimsically to himself.
Paul bent over the richly colored pages on the table.
"I don't see," he remarked, "how they ever bound such stuff as this."
"The books of that early time were indeed a marvel," mused his father. "They were not at all like the books we know now. Most of them were ponderous affairs with board covers from one to two inches thick. Around many of these covers went a metal band, usually of iron, to keep the boards from warping; and in addition this band was frequently fastened across the front with a mammoth clasp. Sometimes there were even two of these bands. The corners also were protected with metal, and to guard the great volume from wear while it lay upon its side, massive, round-headed nails studded both covers. More of these big nails were set in the metal corners."
"The thing must have weighed a ton!" exclaimed Paul.
"A single book was a far heavier commodity than you would have cared to hold in your lap," smiled Mr. Cameron. "In fact, it was impossible to hold one of them; hence we find the old-time reading desk used as a support. It was indispensable."
"But what on earth could a person do with such a book?" asked Paul. "Two or three of them would fill a room."
"Almost," laughed his father. "People did not pretend to own many of them. In the first place they cost too much; and in the next place one could not have them lying about because the nails in their sides scratched the tables. Nor could they be arranged side by side on a shelf, as we arrange books now, because of the projecting nails or buttons. Their weight, too, was a menace to safety. Petrarch almost lost his leg by having a volume of Cicero which he was reading fall on it."
"I always thought Cicero would much better be left alone!" cut in Paul wickedly. "Thank goodness that although I have to study Latin, I don't have to do it out of a book of that size!"
"You do right to make the most of your blessings," his father answered, with a twinkle in his eye. "Such books were, to say the least, awkward to handle. Most of them were kept chained to the lecterns or desks of the churches; sometimes even to the pillars."
"Yes, indeed," nodded Mr. Cameron. "Books were too precious and rare to risk their being stolen, as they doubtless would have been had they been left about."
"I shouldn't think anybody would have wanted to carry a book big as the dictionary very far."
"But suppose you were very eager to learn to read and never had the chance to lay hands on a book?"
"Oh, that would be different."
"That was the condition most of the persons faced who were not rich enough to purchase books, or have access to them as the scholars in the monasteries had. For at that period of history, you must recall, the Church was the custodian of learning. Priests wrote the books, copied them, had charge of such meager libraries as there were, and taught the people. There were neither schools nor libraries like ours. What wonder that the public was ignorant and illiterate?"
Paul was thoughtful for a moment or two.
"Maybe schools are not such a bad thing, Dad," he remarked, half in fun. "They are dreadfully inconvenient, to be sure, when you want to go and play football; still I guess we are better off with them than we should be without them."
"I reckon you'd think so, were you to try the experiment of being without any," replied Mr. Cameron. "By the way, how is your football team coming on? I have not heard much about it lately."
"I haven't had time to go out with the fellows for any practice work," confessed Paul, "so I am not so well up in what they are doing as I ought to be. This paper of ours keeps me hopping. We want to make the first issue a bully one—so good that everybody who hasn't subscribed will want to, double-quick. The girls are working up a fine department on Red Cross, canning, and all that sort of thing. I've allowed them three pages for articles and items. Hazel Clement is at the head of it. She's a corking girl, and her mother is going to help her some. Mrs. Clement has been on all sorts of planning boards and committees, and National Leagues and things," concluded Paul vaguely.
"It would be interesting to get Mrs. Clement to write you an article some time," suggested Mr. Cameron.
"Do you suppose she would?"
"Certainly. She is a very public-spirited woman; moreover, she is quite as much interested in the boys and girls of Burmingham as the rest of us are, I am sure."
"I've a great mind to ask her," said Paul. "If we could get one fine article a month from some parent who has something to say, it would help us tremendously. Of course, it would have to be on something the scholars would be keen on though: home gardens, or earning money, or citizenship, or making things."
"I am certain that if you explained your editorial policy to some of the grown-ups they would submit manuscripts to you," returned Mr. Cameron mischievously. "You would not be obliged to bind yourself to publish them if they were not satisfactory. Editors are always at liberty to send contributions back with a slip saying that the inclosed article does not meet the needs of their paper, or else that there is no room for it."
"Gee! Imagine my sending back an article that some parent had written."
"If you are going to be an editor that will be part of your business. You will have to learn to discriminate between the articles that are timely, well written, interesting, and in harmony with the principles you have blocked out for your magazine."
"Do you suppose Mr. Carter has to do that?" asked Paul in an awed tone.
"Then no wonder he looks as if he would freeze the blood in your veins," ejaculated the boy. "It must make him almighty severe just to keep reading stuff and sending back what he doesn't like, regardless of who wrote it."
"He must keep up the standard of his paper, son. His subscribers pay good money for it and they want what they pay for. Were an editor to take pity on every poor soul who sent him an article his publication would soon be filled with every sort of trash. He has to train himself to be unprejudiced and give his readers only the best the market affords. The personal element does not enter into the matter."
"I see. I hadn't thought of that side of it," Paul confessed slowly.
His father watched him in silence.
"I should not let this matter worry me," observed the older man presently, "for I doubt if you have so many unsolicited manuscripts that you will be troubled with returning a great number of them to their owners. And if you find yourself overrun with them you can always call in expert advice."
"I could ask somebody's opinion, couldn't I?" he declared.
"Of course. Or you could consult with your staff."
"My staff! Pooh! They wouldn't know any more about it than I did," chuckled Paul. "But you would, Dad, and so would Judge Damon. I shall come straight to you if I get stuck."
"Two heads are often better than one," responded Mr. Cameron kindly. "Bring your problem home, my boy, if you find it too big for you. Together we'll thrash it out."
"You certainly are a trump, Dad!" cried Paul. "I guess between us all we can make a go of the March Hare."
"I'm sure of it!" responded his father.
A GAME OF CARDS
The first copy of the March Hare came out amid great excitement,—excitement that spread not only through the Burmingham High School but into the home of almost every child in the town. It was a good number, exceptionally so, even as the product of an undergraduate body of students who were most of them amateurs at the writing game.
A page of the magazine was given up to each of the classes and contained items of interest to freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors respectively; there was a page of alumnae notes; another page devoted to general school news; a section on school sports; another section on girls' clubs and handicraft. The drawing master contributed a page or two on poster-making; and Mrs. Clement was prevailed upon to write a bright and practical article on the making of an iceless refrigerator.
Even Mr. Carter, old newspaper warhorse that he was, was compelled to admit that the March Hare was not half so mad as it was painted. In fact, he grudgingly owned to one of his employees that the new publication was quite a masterpiece for the youngsters. He had not dreamed they could do so well. It was a great surprise to him. Why, the product was quite an eye opener! A paper for general home use might not be such a bad thing in Burmingham. There was actually something in this March Hare worth while for grown-ups. If the following issues continued to be of the present order of merit, the Echo had nothing to blush for in fostering the scheme. As for that Paul Cameron, he was a boy worth watching. He would make his mark some day.
Coming from a man who habitually said so little, such praise was phenomenal and it spurred Paul, to whom it was repeated, to increased effort. He must keep his paper up to this standard, that was certain.
With such a varied group of opinions to harmonize as was represented by his editorial staff, this was not altogether an easy task. Each boy stressed the thing he was specially interested in and saw no reason for publishing anything else in the paper. Some thought more room should be given to athletics; some clamored that the "highbrow stuff" be cut out; others were for choking off the girls' articles on canning and fancy work. There were hectic meetings at which the youthful literary pioneers squabbled, and debated, and almost came to blows.
But Paul Cameron was a boy of unusual tact. He heard each objector in turn and patiently smoothed away his objections until, upon a battlefield of argument from which scars of bitterness might have survived, a harmonious body of workers finally stood shoulder to shoulder, each with enthusiasm to make the particular part of the work for which he was responsible finer and more efficient. It was, as Paul declared to his colleagues, a triumph of teamwork.
It had never, perhaps, come to the minds of the boys that teamwork was a term that could be applied to work as well as to play. Business and sport seemed vitally different fields of activity. Yet here they were—a group of boys pulling together, each at the post assigned him—toiling for the success of the whole body. Was it such a different thing from football or baseball after all? Business managers, authors, advertising agents, were working quite as hard to do their part as ever they had worked at right or left tackle; as first baseman, or pitcher, or catcher. The present task simply demanded a different type of energy, that was all. The same old slogan of each for the whole was applicable.
Consequently every man took up his duties with a pride in his especial role on the team, and as a result the second issue of the March Hare over-topped the first, and the third the second.
Young people who did not go to the High School at all mailed subscriptions to the business manager; the alumnae, now scattered in every direction, began to write for the publication to be sent them; it was good, they said, to get once more into touch with their Alma Mater. Older persons who had no children turned in applications for the March Hare. They had seen a copy of the paper and liked it.
Into Paul's editorial sanctum articles from parents who had things to say and wished to say them gradually found their way. Many of these persons had done little writing and would not have presumed to send their attempts to a magazine of a more professional character.
Mr. Lemuel Hardy, for example, submitted a humorous poem on how the grapes disappeared from his stone wall,—a poem so amusing and so good-natured yet withal containing such a pitiful little refrain of disappointment that the seniors at once took it upon themselves to see that no more of Lemuel's grapes were molested.
Mrs. Wilbur wrote on raising, transplanting, and caring for currant bushes. Was it really so hard as that to bring a good crop of fruit to perfection? If so, the boy was a brute who invaded Mrs. Wilbur's garden. 1920 would see that there was no more of that!
Gladys Marvin's father sent to the paper a short article on the beauty of the ordinary stones when polished and offered to polish, for a small sum, any specimen brought him. Many of the pupils of the school availed themselves of this suggestion, and before a month was out there blossomed forth a host of stones of every imaginable hue set in rings or scarfpins of silver. Stone-hunting became a craze and the geological department gained scores of pupils in consequence. One heard murmurs about quartz and crystals as one passed through the school corridors, and one came upon eager scientists comparing rings, brooches, or pendants.
The drawing department was beset with pupils who wished either to make designs for jewelry, or to look over books on ancient settings for gems.
Louise Clausen had a necklace she had made herself at arts and crafts class; it was set with stones she had collected—common pebbles that had been polished—and it was the envy of the entire student body. Her mother had let her melt up an old silver butter-dish to make it, she explained.
Burmingham boys and girls went home en masse and begged to be allowed to melt up old water pitchers, mugs, or napkin rings, and fashion jewelry.
Out of the jumble of material turned in from various sources one number after another of the March Hare appeared, each marked by a freshness of subject matter and a freedom of expression in such complete contrast to other publications that even such an august medium as the Echo broke over its traditions to a sufficient extent to glean an idea here and there from the infant prodigy and enlarge upon it.
Once no less a personage than Mr. Arthur Presby Carter himself asked of Paul permission to reprint in the columns of his paper an article that had particularly appealed to him as unique and interesting.
"I tried," declared Paul, when relating the incident to his father, "not to fall all over myself when granting the permission. I told him that of course the thing was copyrighted, but that we should be glad to have him use it on the condition that he printed the source from which he had obtained it. One of his men told me afterward that we let him off too easy—that Carter was determined to have the article, and would have paid us a good sum for the privilege of republishing it. We never thought of charging him for it; we were proud as Punch to have him reprint it."
Mr. Cameron laughed. Paul's frankness had always been one of the lad's greatest charms.
"Pride goeth before destruction, my son," he remarked jestingly. "However, perhaps you did as well not to put a price on your product. Mr. Carter has done quite a little to boost your undertaking and you can afford to grant him a favor or two. But I will say you are getting pretty deep into newspaper work, Paul."
"I do seem to be, don't I?" smiled Paul, flushing boyishly. "I'm crazy over it, too. The more you do at it the better you like it. I don't know but that when I'm through college, I'd like to go in and be a reporter. I'd like to write up fires and accidents and wear a little badge that would admit me inside the lines at parades and political meetings."
"I'm afraid you'd find there was lots to it besides the badge and the pleasure of stalking under the ropes."
"I suppose so; but I'd like the chance to try it. I've always envied those chaps who whispered some magic word and walked in while the rest of us waited outside."
"There you go!" cried his father. "You are just as bad at wanting what other people cannot have as ever were the early book collectors!"
"I know it," he admitted. "I'm afraid we all enjoy having a pull and getting the best of other people. It is human nature."
"It is human, that is true; nevertheless, the impulse is a very selfish one," said his father.
A silence fell upon the two. They were sitting in the living room and it was almost Paul's bedtime. Outside the rain was beating on the windows; but inside a fire crackled on the hearth and a crimson glow from the silken lampshade made cheery the room.
"I was telling the fellows to-day some of the things you told me about early bookmaking, Dad," remarked Paul. "They wanted to know if printing came soon after the illuminated books, and who invented it. I couldn't answer their question and as yet have had no time to look up the matter. We had quite a discussion about it. Perhaps you can save me the trouble of overhauling an encyclopedia."
"I've no business to save you from such an expedition," retorted Mr. Cameron with amusement. "Morally, the best thing you can do is to look up the answer to your question yourself. It is good for you. However, because the subject happens to interest me, I am going to be weak enough to reply to your query. Printing did follow the hand-illuminated and hand-penned manuscripts and books; but before printed books made their appearance, there was an interval when printers tried to say what they had to say by means of pictures. You know how we give a child a picture book as a first approach to more serious reading. He is too undeveloped to comprehend printed words; but he can understand pictures. It was just so in the olden days. The uneducated masses of people were as simple as children. Hence the pioneer printers' initial efforts were turned in the direction of playing cards, pictures for home decoration—or images, as they were called—and genuine picture books, where the entire story was told by a series of illustrations."
Mr. Cameron paused in his narrative.
"You can readily see, if you think for a moment," he presently went on, "how such an innovation came about. Paper had not been invented, and vellum was not only costly but too limited in supply to permit many books being printed. Moreover, as I told you, hand in hand with this objection was the fact that the majority of the public had no interest in learning. Their intellects were immature. They were nothing but grown-up children, and you know how children like games and picture books. Well, those are the reasons why the next step in the development of printing was in the direction of making playing cards. A coarse, thick, yellowish paper was beginning to be produced—the first crude attempt at paper-making—and on this material were engraved woodcuts of varying degrees of artistic merit. Some of the designs were merely ugly and clumsy; but some, on the other hand, were really exquisite examples of hand-coloring, unique and quaint in pattern. Thus playing cards came speedily into vogue. The finest ones were painted on tablets of ivory, or engraved on thin sheets of silver. It is interesting, too, to note that the old conventional designs then in use have, with very little modification, persisted up to the present day. Probably the playing cards in common use were printed by the same crude method as were the images, and unfortunately history has failed to unravel just what that method was. They may possibly have been stenciled. All we have been able to learn is that cards, images (which were in reality religious pictures), and stenciled altar cloths—the first primitive printing on cloth—all appeared very early in southern Europe, playing cards having their origin in Venice, where in 1400 and even before that date we read of the Venetians playing cards."
"Do you suppose their games were anything like ours?" questioned Paul, much interested.
"I doubt it. Probably, for example, there was no bridge whist in those days," said his father, with a chuckle. "And I'll wager, too, the Venetians were quite as happy and as well off without it. The games of the time were doubtless much more simple. But whatever they were, they proved to be so fascinating that they soon became an actual menace. Amusements were few in those dull, monotonous days, when there were neither theaters, books, moving pictures, railroads, or automobiles. One day was much like another. Therefore even the clergy welcomed a diversion and devoted so much time to cards that the recreation had to be forbidden them. Now and then some great religious movement would sweep over the land and break up card-playing; but after a little respite people always returned to it with even greater zest than before. Nor was it a wholly bad thing. In the absence of schools the games quickened the intellect and made the common people mentally more alert; the ignorant were also trained by this means to count and solve simple problems in arithmetic, of which most of them knew nothing."
"That's a funny way to get arithmetic lessons," said Paul.
"Yet you can see that a knowledge of numbers could be thus obtained?"
"Why, yes. Of course. But I never thought of it before."
"Remember that the race had reverted to its childhood during the Dark Ages," explained Mr. Cameron. "For years all its attention had been given to warfare, and learning and the arts which had been destroyed by constant strife and turmoil had to be built up again."
"But to have people learn arithmetic by means of playing cards!" mused Paul.
"Better that way than not at all. It helped the big result by gradually making them realize how little they knew, and making them want to know more, which was the necessary spur to learning. You will be interested also to know, since we are discussing playing cards, that the four suits are said to represent the four great social classes of society at that time. Hearts stood for the clergy; Spades (spada meaning a sword) for the nobility; Clubs for the peasantry; and Diamonds for the more prosperous citizens or burghers."
"That is interesting, isn't it?"
"Yes, I think so."
"And the images?"
"Oh, the image-prints were small religious pictures done in color," answered his father, "and I fear they were often valued far more for their brilliant hues than for their religious significance. They represented all sorts of subjects, being taken largely from incidents in the lives of the saints. You know that at that time in many countries, especially in Italy, religious dramas were presented—plays such as Everyman and Saint George and the Dragon. Hence such scenes were constantly before the people, and they were very familiar with them. The small image-prints served to perpetuate to a great extent things which they liked and knew; and the picture books, which gave not only these scenes in other form, but also reproduced stories from the Bible, did the same. No text was necessary. The picture told the tale to a people who could not read, just as the stained-glass windows and mosaics in the churches did. Everywhere the feeble literature of the period took the form either of verbal minstrelsy, drama, or pictured representations. You will recall how most of the early races first wrote in pictures instead of letters. There were hieroglyphics in Egypt; 'speaking stories' in Assyria; and picture-writing in Turkey, China, and Japan. The picture book of the time was merely an attempt to put into simple outline, by means of woodcuts, the religious drama, or dumb shows of the day. The city of Florence did much for this form of work, its rappresentazioni being printed as early as 1485. Albrecht Duerer of Germany was one of the later and most skilful woodcut artists. What the ballad was to literature the woodcut was to art—simple, direct, appealing."
The man paused.
"The printed story awaited several necessary factors to bring it into being. One was a public that desired to read—which this one did not; another was a means by which to print reading matter; a third was suitable paper on which to print; and the fourth, but by no means the least important, a good and proper quality of ink. One after another these difficulties were done away with. If they had not been," concluded Mr. Cameron, "you would not now have been publishing such a thing as the March Hare."
A MAD TEA PARTY
It was amazing to see how the general interest in the March Hare increased as the months went by. So successful was the magazine that Paul ventured an improvement in the way of a patriotic cover done in three colors—an eagle and an American flag designed by one of the juniors and submitted for acceptance in a "cover contest", the prize offered being a year's subscription to the paper. After this innovation came the yet more pretentious and far-reaching novelty of the Mad Tea Party, a supper held in the hall of the school with seventy-five-cent tickets for admission. The mothers of the pupils contributed the food, and as Burmingham boasted many an expert cook the meal spread upon the tables was indeed a royal one.
The edict went forth that no guest would be admitted to the festival unless arrayed in an "Alice in Wonderland" costume, and for the sake of witnessing the fun, as well as of helping forward the fete, more than one dignified resident of the town struggled into an incongruous garment and mingled in the train of Alice, the White Queen, the Red Queen, the Duchess, Father William, and the Aged Man. Judge Damon and Mr. Cameron provoked a storm of mirth by appearing as the Walrus and the Carpenter, and Paul's mother, who was still a young and pretty woman, came as the famous Queen of Hearts. As for Mr. Carter, although he pooh-poohed the idea and made all manner of jokes about the party, he astonished the entire community by presenting himself at the last moment as the Dormouse.
Such a revel had not taken place in the village for years. In fact, there had never before been any social function which brought high and low, rich and poor together in such democratic fashion. The frolic had in it a Mardi Gras spirit quite foreign to the wonted quiet and dignity of the place.
"Why, we haven't had such a shaking-up in years!" ejaculated the postmaster. "Seems like we've all got better acquainted with our neighbors in this one evening than we ever did in all the rest of our lives put together. You don't get far at knowing a man if you just bow to him every day; but when you go making an ape of yourself and he goes making an ape of himself, each of you finds out how human the other one is. You've got something in common to talk about."
And it was even as the old postmaster declared. Many a social barrier was broken down and forgotten as a result of the March Hare carnival. Parents ceased to remember their differences by talking together about their children, a topic that never failed to bring them into sympathy. Thus the movement which had its source in an impulse to aid the youngsters proved to be of benefit also to many of the elders. Nor was this the only consequence of the event.
Into the coffers of the class treasury poured undreamed-of wealth which made possible the gift of two fine pictures to the school,—one of Washington and one of Lincoln; a large cast of the Winged Victory was purchased as well, and placed in an empty niche in the assembly hall. Thus did 1920 leave behind it a memory illustrious and not to be forgotten.
In the meantime Paul, absorbed in this successful undertaking, was so busy that he had scarcely leisure to eat. The editing of the paper demanded more and more time, and as new problems were constantly arising concerning its publication he did not neglect to glean from every possible direction all the information he could about printing. The mere act of preparing copy for the press opened to his alert mind a multitude of inquiries.
"I read to-day," he announced to his father one evening, "that the printing press was invented by Lawrence Coster (or Lorenz Koster) of Haarlem. The book said that he went on a picnic with his family, and while idly carving his name on the trunk of a beech tree he conceived the idea that he might in the same way make individual letters of the alphabet on wooden blocks, ink them over, and thus print words."
Mr. Cameron listened attentively.
"Such is the old legend," he replied. "It is an interesting one and many persons believe it to this day. History, however, fails to bear out the tale. Instead, as nearly as we can find out, what Coster is really conceded to have done was not to invent printing but to be the first to make movable type, which was one of the greatest factors in the perfecting of the industry. Holland has done honor, and rightly, to the inventor by placing a statue of him at Haarlem; but the real inventor of printing was probably John Gutenburg, a native of Strasbourg, who made a printing press which, although not so elaborate as that in present use, was nevertheless a properly constructed one. Simple as it was, the principle of it is identical with that used to-day."