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The Boom In The "Calaveras Clarion"
by [?]

The editorial sanctum of the “Calaveras Clarion” opened upon the “composing-room” of that paper on the one side, and gave apparently upon the rest of Calaveras County upon the other. For, situated on the very outskirts of the settlement and the summit of a very steep hill, the pines sloped away from the editorial windows to the long valley of the South Fork and–infinity. The little wooden building had invaded Nature without subduing it. It was filled night and day with the murmur of pines and their fragrance. Squirrels scampered over its roof when it was not preoccupied by woodpeckers, and a printer’s devil had once seen a nest-building blue jay enter the composing window, flutter before one of the slanting type-cases with an air of deliberate selection, and then fly off with a vowel in its bill.

Amidst these sylvan surroundings the temporary editor of the “Clarion” sat at his sanctum, reading the proofs of an editorial. As he was occupying that position during a six weeks’ absence of the bona fide editor and proprietor, he was consequently reading the proof with some anxiety and responsibility. It had been suggested to him by certain citizens that the “Clarion” needed a firmer and more aggressive policy towards the Bill before the Legislature for the wagon road to the South Fork. Several Assembly men had been “got at” by the rival settlement of Liberty Hill, and a scathing exposure and denunciation of such methods was necessary. The interests of their own township were also to be “whooped up.” All this had been vigorously explained to him, and he had grasped the spirit, if not always the facts, of his informants. It is to be feared, therefore, that he was perusing his article more with reference to its vigor than his own convictions. And yet he was not so greatly absorbed as to be unmindful of the murmur of the pines without, his half-savage environment, and the lazy talk of his sole companions,–the foreman and printer in the adjoining room.

“Bet your life! I’ve always said that a man INSIDE a newspaper office could hold his own agin any outsider that wanted to play rough or tried to raid the office! Thar’s the press, and thar’s the printin’ ink and roller! Folks talk a heap o’ the power o’ the Press!–I tell ye, ye don’t half know it. Why, when old Kernel Fish was editin’ the ‘Sierra Banner,’ one o’ them bullies that he’d lampooned in the ‘Banner’ fought his way past the Kernel in the office, into the composin’-room, to wreck everythin’ and ‘pye’ all the types. Spoffrel–ye don’t remember Spoffrel?–little red-haired man?–was foreman. Spoffrel fended him off with the roller and got one good dab inter his eyes that blinded him, and then Spoffrel sorter skirmished him over to the press,–a plain lever just like ours,–whar the locked-up form of the inside was still a-lyin’! Then, quick as lightnin’, Spoffrel tilts him over agin it, and HE throws out his hand and ketches hold o’ the form to steady himself, when Spoffrel just runs the form and the hand under the press and down with the lever! And that held the feller fast as grim death! And when at last he begs off, and Spoff lets him loose, the hull o’ that ‘ere lampooning article he objected to was printed right onto the skin o’ his hand! Fact, and it wouldn’t come off, either.”

“Gosh, but I’d like to hev seen it,” said the printer. “There ain’t any chance, I reckon, o’ such a sight here. The boss don’t take no risks lampoonin’, and he” (the editor knew he was being indicated by some unseen gesture of the unseen workman) “ain’t that style.”

“Ye never kin tell,” said the foreman didactically, “what might happen! I’ve known editors to get into a fight jest for a little innercent bedevilin’ o’ the opposite party. Sometimes for a misprint. Old man Pritchard of the ‘Argus’ oncet had a hole blown through his arm because his proofreader had called Colonel Starbottle’s speech an ‘ignominious’ defense, when the old man hed written ‘ingenuous’ defense.”