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The Florida agriculturist. [volume] (DeLand, Fla.) 1878-1911, January 16, 1907, Image 15

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn96027724/1907-01-16/ed-1/seq-15/

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you have no work for me? Why, you
can’t drive me away. I’ve got two
years to give you, and you must take
He spoke with eager impetuosity. 1
His rapid sentences moved the city
editor. He knew not what to say in
reply, but at last he answered
“Well, Mr. Thompson, I haven’t
anything for you, but if you want to
hang on, you’d better go and get a
room somewhere and look in again.”
“Room? In New Orleans in carni
val? I’m not so rich, Mr. Duncan.
No, sir! I’ll .just step down to the
levee and engage a berth on one of
the excursion boats for the night and
leave my grip. I’ll be back.”
Long after he was gone the city
editor leaned back in his chair and
stared at the door out of which the
slender figure had vanished. In his
ears still sounded the cheerful voice,
and he caught himself repeating
“The best two years of his life.”
With a newspaper man’s quick in
stinct for the pathetic, for the humor
ous, for the “human interest” in a
character or an event, he felt a cer
tain elation which he was accustomed
to experience only when he had found
some “story” that would stir the
laughter or bring the tears of his
And indeed it was such a story he
had found. For had not his visitor
been a man condemned to die, a man
with but two short years of life ahead
of him, who yet had cheerfully ac
cepted his fate and determined to
make those two years successful and
worth while?
Ah, well, here it was seven o’clock
and the men would be coming back
soon, and nothing done. “Go to
work, Duncan,” he said to himself.
“You’ve got forty years and you
can’t make up your mind to make
any one or all of them especially
A moment later he called one of his
copy readers.
“Here, Newman,” he said, I’ll have
to help out on copy, I guess. You
take a run up to the Harmony club.
I haven’t a man near there, and
there'll be something special when
the parade gets to the turn.”
He entered the assignment and
breathed a sigh of relief. There was
one less to look after. Now if noth
ing happened—well, he would get
through somehow.
An hour later he was busy at work
at his desk, and did not hear the door
open. He seldom did, for that matter.
In a newspaper office one hears only
what concerns oneself. Half a dozen
reporters were busily clicking their
typewriters, a single copy-reader was
struggling with a mass of copy at the
table, and Mr. Duncan himself was
literally “swamped” in the mass of
telegraph “flimsy” and local items
which covered his desk. There was a
quick step on the floor, and Mr. Wil
bur Henry Thompson of Leake stood
beside him.
“Goodness gracious, Mr. Duncan!
and you said there was no work for
me! Give me some of that copy and
let me help you out. I’m one of the
best copy-readers you ever saw.”
He waited for no consent, but pick
ing up a handful of typewritten paper,
the newcomer walked hastily to the
table, while a couple of reporters
turned and stared at him and the city
editor fairly gasped.
“I say,” Thompson demanded of
the amazed copy-reader, “what are
the heads? Got a style sheet?
Thanks! Oh, these are easy.”
Duncan had risen to his feet, and
now walking to the table, he looked
over the young man’s shoulder. With
a rapidity which was a novelty in the
office, Thompson’s pencil was flying
along the lines, correcting spelling,
punctuating, paragraphing, now and
then deftly inserting a subhead, now
crossing out a line or a sentence. In
the eyes of a newspaper man it was
indeed beautiful work and the city
editor watched it a moment, and
then decided not to interfere.
After a moment Thompson looked
up, cast his eyes about for the basket
in which to file his copy, saw a hook
instead, called “Copy-boy!” loudly,
and “spindled” a story. The boy took
it to the city editor who hardly
glanced at it.
“All right,” he said, and the copy
was taken to the composing-room
The best two years had begun.
“You know;” said Duncan, at mid
night, “I can’t pay you anything when
I have another man to send. If I get
stuck I can pay you space once in a
while, but if you do any other work
I can’t pay you.”
“That’s all right,” declared Thomp
son. Don’t want pay till I prove my
self. What I want is work. Two
years, Mr. Duncan, and I’m deter
mined they shall be two fine years.”
For three weeks Wilbur Henry
Thompson performed labors of love
in the office of the World-Democrat.
Occasionally, when the office was
empty of reporters and an emergency
rose, the city editor was able to send
him on r 1 assignment for which he
could give him space rates; so the
young man was able to pay his board,
and that was all he asked. He was a
bright, cheerful youth, and was in a
day a general favorite in the office.
His briskness did not fail, his cheer
fulness was never wanting, his op
timism was never conquered. There
was no better copy turned in at the
“W.D’s” desk than came from his pen
He had found a boarding house
when the carnival crowds had depart
ed. One day there appeared at ta
ble a man whom he recognized as a
famous traveler, just returned from
a long journey through Central and
South America.
That is teh region toward which
much of the trade of New Orleans is
looking. Here was the man who
would know about it. He had come
into the city without ostentation and
had not made his presence known.
Tt was an ideal opportunity for the
Thompson engaged the stranger in
conversation and drew from him long
discussions of the conditions of the
markets in the countries he had visit
ed; of the manners and customs; of
the feeling toward the United States
and especially toward the people of
New Orleans; of the prospects of new
steamship lines being able to pay, and
of the extent of country the various
ports would serve.
He hastened to his room with the
information still fresh in his ears
and for three hours drove his pencil
swiftly along the paper. Then he has
tened to the “W.D” office.
“Here you are, Mr. Duncan!” he
exclaimed. “Here’s the* best thing
T’ve done yet. A real interview.”
He laid the copy on the desk.
“Why, what’s this?” asked Mr.
“Interview. George X Bolling.
Great traveler. You know him.”
“But he’s not in town.”
“Yes he is. I found him.”
“But look here, Thompson I’m sor
ry, but the chief doesn’t like paying
you so much space. He said to quit
it. So I can’t take this.
“Oh yes, you can. I didn’t offer
to sell that to you. I don’t want pay.
I’ve earned enough for my board al
ready this week. That’s a present.
Mr. Duncan. Won’t be able to make
many presents in two years. Only one
more Christmas, maybe. Got to get
in extras. You print that for me.”
So it was printed. It was a clear
“beat.” Not another paper had a line
on Mr. Bolling’s return. And in the
early hours of the next forenoon Mr.
Duncan was roused from a sound
sleep by the telephone bell to answer
the queries of his chief.
“Who did that Bolling interview?’
was the question.
“Well, you put that man at work.
Thirty dollars a week. You ought to
have had sense enough to put him at
work long ago.”
So the best two years of Thomp
son’s life were provided for. Busy
years they were, years in which he
aid all that a newspaper man can for
the upbuilding of his city and of his
paper, years in which his cheerful
helpfulness shone like a sun in the
dingy office of the World-Democrat.
From the copy-boys up to the chief
himself, and back to the stero-room
and the steam-table, every man and
the society editor, too, swore by Wil
bur Henry Thompson, and blessed
the day that brought him to New Or
But as the days went on he grew
weaker and thinner. His voice was as
cheerful but not as strong, his step
as quick but not as firm.
At last came a day when his desk
was vacant. Duncan was worried.
Half a dozen reporters gathered in
one corner, discussing the absence in
low tones. A telephone bell rang,
and Duncan answered. A weak voice
came to him through the receiver:
“Hello! Hello, Duncan? Say, this
is Thompson. Well, I’m afraid the
two years are up. I’m in the hospital.
Nice place. Gentlest nurse you ever
saw. Good-by, Mr. Duncan! They’ve
been fine years to me.”
The city editor dropped his head on
his arms and cried. He could not
help it. Nor could any of the others
when they heard the message.
They took up a collection hastily.
The chief added to it and Wilbur
Henry Thompson was rushed to Cali
fornia. But it was too late for any
lasting good. A month after he
reached the coast the final message
came. The best two years of his life
were ended. —Youth’s Companion.
John, if you were to fall over board,
what is the first thing you would fall
John: — Against my will.
Say! If you were your father’s own
dear child, and were not his son, what
kin would you be?
His daughter.
Say! how come your coat to be such
a fine fit?
Why, my wife cut it out wi'th the
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