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Dawn O'Hara Edna Ferber

Blackie's Philosophy

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"Y' see, girl, it's like this here," Blackie explained one day. "W're all workin' for some good reason. A few of us are workin' for the glory of it, and most of us are workin' t' eat, and lots of us are pluggin' an' savin' in the hopes that some day we'll have money enough to get back at some people we know; but there is some few workin' for the pure love of the work--and I guess I'm one of them fools. Y' see, I started in at this game when I was such a little runt that now it's a ingrowing habit, though it is comfortin' t' know you got a place where you c'n always come in out of the rain, and where you c'n have your mail sent."

"This newspaper work is a curse," I remarked. "Show me a clever newspaper man and I'll show you a failure. There is nothing in it but the glory--and little of that. We contrive and scheme and run about all day getting a story. And then we write it at fever heat, searching our souls for words that are cleancut and virile. And then we turn it in, and what is it? What have we to show for our day's work? An ephemeral thing, lacking the first breath of life; a thing that is dead before it is born. Why, any cub reporter, if he were to put into some other profession the same amount of nerve, and tact, and ingenuity and finesse, and stick-to-it-iveness that he expends in prying a single story out of some unwilling victim, could retire with a fortune in no time."

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Blackie blew down the stem of his pipe, preparatory to re-filling the bowl. There was a quizzical light in his black eyes. The little heap of burned matches at his elbow was growing to kindling wood proportions. It was common knowledge that Blackie's trick of lighting pipe or cigarette and then forgetting to puff at it caused his bill for matches to exceed his tobacco expense account.

"You talk," chuckled Blackie, "like you meant it. But sa-a-ay, girl, it's a lonesome game, this retirin' with a fortune. I've noticed that them guys who retire with a barrel of money usually dies at the end of the first year, of a kind of a lingerin' homesickness. You c'n see their pictures in th' papers, with a pathetic story of how they was just beginnin' t' enjoy life when along comes the grim reaper an' claims 'em."}

Blackie slid down in his chair and blew a column of smoke ceilingward.

"I knew a guy once--newspaper man, too--who retired with a fortune. He used to do the city hall for us. Well, he got in soft with the new administration before election, and made quite a pile in stocks that was tipped off to him by his political friends. His wife was crazy for him to quit the newspaper game. He done it. An' say, that guy kept on gettin' richer and richer till even his wife was almost satisfied. But sa-a-ay, girl, was that chap lonesome! One day he come up here looking like a dog that's run off with the steak. He was just dyin' for a kind word, an' he sniffed the smell of the ink and the hot metal like it was June roses. He kind of wanders over to his old desk and slumps down in the chair, and tips it back, and puts his feet on the desk, with his hat tipped back, and a bum stogie in his mouth. And along came a kid with a bunch of papers wet from the presses and sticks one in his hand, and--well, girl, that fellow, he just wriggled he was so happy. You know as well as I do that every man on a morning paper spends his day off hanging around the office wishin' that a mob or a fire or somethin' big would tear lose so he could get back into the game. I guess I told you about the time Von Gerhard sent me abroad, didn't I?"

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Dawn O'Hara
Edna Ferber

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