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Newspaper Page Text
AN UNFINISHED STORY
By Harold Carter
"If John Ayre were to leave me,"
said Fitten & Co., '1 don't know what
I should do."
Fitton & Co. was Henry Fitton, the
, famous publisher. He had started in
the business five years before with a
capital of $1,000 and his record since
then had been one of continuous suc
cess. Many publishers stated that they
desired only literary merit in their
productions and not big names; but
Henry Fitton meant it He had
brought half a dozen new authors to
the front He was always represented
on the list of best sellers. But John
Ayre was the cause" of his success.
Ayre was his head reader and ap
peared omniscient. Ayre had never
let a masterpiece slip through his fin
gers. He had an intiuitive instinct
which told him whenever a novel,
submitted to the firm, was going to
succeed. Ayre seemed able to plumb
tle depths of the human heart in
But not in life.
"Ayre," said Fitton & Co. one day,
"I wish y,ou were a mixer. I'd take
you into the firm. But you aren't
You are only a mixer in theory. I
wish you were the sort of fellow who
would put a little personality into
your work, make good impressions
and build up the business.
"I guess I'm only cut out to be a
reader," answered John Ayre.
"You're a darned good one, any
how," said Fitton & Co., and that
was true. Ayre had picked that lit
tle schoolgirl manuscript from Arkan
sas, which every publisher but Fit
ton had rejected. He had spotted its
human qualities, he had punctuated
and revised it, and it had sold into
He had taken that illiterate cow
boy tale, with its marvelous realism,
and changed the title, rewriting most
of the book, except the descriptions.
He had changed the hero into a hero
ine and given her blonde hair ana a
fancy name. That book had sold to
the extent of 250,000.
Avre was a mvsterv. He was a
man of 35. Fitton had given him a
job out of pity four years Derore. ine
man looked half insane. He seemea
ta have been throueh some mental
stress which had changed his nature.
Fitton suspected him of drinking. juc
Ayre never touched liquor and inside
of a year he was head reader.
About a week after Fitton's re
marks Ayre brought him a manu-
"What's This, Ayre?"
script It was written with the pen
a thing which would have condemned
it in nine offices out of ten. It was
in a woman's hand and it was tied
with pink ribbon, a think which would
have killed its chances in nineteen
offices out of twenty. For usually
one ran tell the type of mind that
produces fiction from the appearance
of the story.
"What's this-, Ayre?" inquired the
publisher. . .