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Two Ways Of Telling It
by [?]

I remember one sunny day in summer, we were sitting in the Boomerang office, I and the city editor, and he was speaking enviously of my salary of $150 per month as compared with his of $80, and I had just given him the venerable minstrel witticism that of course my salary was much larger than his, but he ought not to forget that he got his.

Just then there was a revolver shot at the foot of our stairs, and then another. The printers rushed into the stairway from the composing room, and to save time I ran out on the balcony that hung over the sidewalk and which gave me a bird’s-eye view of the murder. The next issue of the paper contained an account about like this:

Cold-Blooded Murder.–Yesterday, between 12 and 1 o’clock, in front of this office on Second street, James McKeon, in a manner almost wholly unprovoked, shot James Smith, commonly known as Windy Smith. Smith died at 2 o’clock this morning of his wounds. Windy Smith was not a bad man, but, as his nickname would imply, he was a kind of noisy, harmless fellow, and McKeon, who is a gambler and professional bad man, can give no good reason for the killing. There is a determined effort on foot to lynch the murderer.

This account was brief, but it seemed to set forth the facts pretty clearly, I thought, and I felt considerably chagrined when I saw an account of the matter latter on, as written up by the prosecuting attorney. I may be inaccurate as to dates and some other points of detail, but, as nearly as I can remember, his version of the matter was like this:


THE TERRITORY OF WYOMING, }
COUNTY OF ALBANY. } ss.

In Justice’s Court, before E.W. Nye, Esq., Justice of the Peace.

The Territory of Wyoming, plt’ff.}
vs. } Complaint.
James McKeon, def’t. }

The above named defendant, James McKeon, is accused of the crime of murder, for that he, the said defendant, James McKeon, at the town of Laramie City, in the County of Albany and Territory of Wyoming, and on the 13th day of July, Anno Domini 1880, then and there being, he, the said defendant, James McKeon, did wilfully, maliciously, feloniously, wickedly, unlawfully, criminally, illegally, unjustly, premeditatedly, coolly and murderously, by means of a certain deadly weapon commonly called a Smith & Wesson revolver, or revolving pistol, so constructed as to revolve upon itself and to be discharged by means of a spring and hammer, and with six chambers thereto, and known commonly as a self-cocker, the same loaded with gun-powder and leaden bullets, and in the hands of him, the said defendant, James McKeon, level at, to, upon, by, contiguous to and against the body of one James Smith, commonly called Windy Smith, in the peace of the commonwealth then and there being, and that by means of said deadly weapon commonly called a Smith & Wesson revolver, or revolving pistol, so constructed as to revolve upon itself and to be discharged by means of a spring or hammer, and with six chambers thereto and known commonly as a self-cocker, the same loaded with gunpowder and leaden bullets and in the hands of him the said defendant, James McKeon, held at, to, upon, by, contiguous to and against the body of him, the said James Smith, commonly called Windy Smith, he, the said James McKeon, did wilfully, maliciously, feloniously, wickedly, fraudulently, virulently, unlawfully, criminally, illegally, brutally, unjustly, premeditatedly, coolly and murderously, of his malice aforethought with the deadly weapon aforesaid held in the right hand of him, the said defendant, James McKeon, to, at, against, etc., the body of him, the said James Smith, commonly called Windy Smith, he, the said defendant, James McKeon, at the said town of Laramie City, in the said County of Albany, and in the heretofore enumerated Territory of Wyoming, and on the hereinbefore mentioned 13th day of July, Anno Domini 1880, did inflict to, at, upon, by, contiguous to, adjacent to, adjoining, over and against the body of him, the said James Smith, commonly called Windy Smith, one certain deadly, mortal, dangerous and painful wound, to-wit: Over, against, to, at, by, upon, contiguous to, near, adjacent to and bisecting the intestines of him, the said James Smith, commonly called Windy Smith, by reason of which he, the said James Smith, commonly called Windy Smith, did in great agony linger, and lingering did die, on the 14th day of July, Anno Domini 1880, at 2 o’clock in the forenoon of said day, contrary to the statutes in such case made and provided, and against the peace and dignity of the Territory of Wyoming.

I am now convinced that although the published account was correct, it was not as full as it might have been. Perhaps the tendency of modern journalism is to epitomize too much. In the hurry of daily newspaper work and the press of matter upon our pages, very likely we are fatally brief, and sacrifice rhetorical beauty to naked and goose-pimply facts.