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A Sacrifice Hit
by [?]

The editor of the Hearthstone Magazine has his own ideas about the selection of manuscript for his publication. His theory is no secret; in fact, he will expound it to you willingly sitting at his mahogany desk, smiling benignantly and tapping his knee gently with his gold-rimmed eye-glasses.

“The Hearthstone,” he will say, “does not employ a staff of readers. We obtain opinions of the manuscripts submitted to us directly from types of the various classes of our readers.”

That is the editor’s theory; and this is the way he carries it out:

When a batch of MSS. is received the editor stuffs every one of his pockets full of them and distributes them as he goes about during the day. The office employees, the hall porter, the janitor, the elevator man, messenger boys, the waiters at the cafe where the editor has luncheon, the man at the news-stand where he buys his evening paper, the grocer and milkman, the guard on the 5.30 uptown elevated train, the ticket-chopper at Sixty —-th street, the cook and maid at his home–these are the readers who pass upon MSS. sent in to the Hearthstone Magazine. If his pockets are not entirely emptied by the time he reaches the bosom of his family the remaining ones are handed over to his wife to read after the baby goes to sleep. A few days later the editor gathers in the MSS. during his regular rounds and considers the verdict of his assorted readers.

This system of making up a magazine has been very successful; and the circulation, paced by the advertising rates, is making a wonderful record of speed.

The Hearthstone Company also publishes books, and its imprint is to be found on several successful works–all recommended, says the editor, by the Hearthstone’s army of volunteer readers. Now and then (according to talkative members of the editorial staff) the Hearthstone has allowed manuscripts to slip through its fingers on the advice of its heterogeneous readers, that afterward proved to be famous sellers when brought out by other houses.

For instance (the gossips say), “The Rise and Fall of Silas Latham” was unfavourably passed upon by the elevator-man; the office-boy unanimously rejected “The Boss”; “In the Bishop’s Carriage” was contemptuously looked upon by the street-car conductor; “The Deliverance” was turned down by a clerk in the subscription department whose wife’s mother had just begun a two-months’ visit at his home; “The Queen’s Quair” came back from the janitor with the comment: “So is the book.”

But nevertheless the Hearthstone adheres to its theory and system, and it will never lack volunteer readers; for each one of the widely scattered staff, from the young lady stenographer in the editorial office to the man who shovels in coal (whose adverse decision lost to the Hearthstone Company the manuscript of “The Under World”), has expectations of becoming editor of the magazine some day.

This method of the Hearthstone was well known to Allen Slayton when he wrote his novelette entitled “Love Is All.” Slayton had hung about the editorial offices of all the magazines so persistently that he was acquainted with the inner workings of every one in Gotham.

He knew not only that the editor of the Hearthstone handed his MSS. around among different types of people for reading, but that the stories of sentimental love-interest went to Miss Puffkin, the editor’s stenographer. Another of the editor’s peculiar customs was to conceal invariably the name of the writer from his readers of MSS. so that a glittering name might not influence the sincerity of their reports.

Slayton made “Love Is All” the effort of his life. He gave it six months of the best work of his heart and brain. It was a pure love-story, fine, elevated, romantic, passionate–a prose poem that set the divine blessing of love (I am transposing from the manuscript) high above all earthly gifts and honours, and listed it in the catalogue of heaven’s choicest rewards. Slayton’s literary ambition was intense. He would have sacrificed all other worldly possessions to have gained fame in his chosen art. He would almost have cut off his right hand, or have offered himself to the knife of the appendicitis fancier to have realized his dream of seeing one of his efforts published in the Hearthstone.