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"The Rose of Dixie"
by [?]

“I beg your pardon,” said Colonel Telfair, stiffening in his chair. “What was the name?”

“Oh, I see,” said Thacker, with half a grin. Yes, he’s a son of the General. We’ll pass that manuscript up. But, if you’ll excuse me, Colonel, it’s a magazine we’re trying to make go off–not the first gun at Fort Sumter. Now, here’s a thing that’s bound to get next to you. It’s an original poem by James Whitcomb Riley. J.W. himself. You know what that means to a magazine. I won’t tell you what I had to pay for that poem; but I’ll tell you this–Riley can make more money writing with a fountain-pen than you or I can with one that lets the ink run. I’ll read you the last two stanzas:

“‘Pa lays around ‘n’ loafs all day,
‘N’ reads and makes us leave him be.
He lets me do just like I please,
‘N’ when I’m in bad he laughs at me,
‘N’ when I holler loud ‘n’ say
Bad words ‘n’ then begin to tease
The cat, ‘n’ pa just smiles, ma’s mad
‘N’ gives me Jesse crost her knees.
I always wondered why that wuz-
I guess it’s cause
Pa never does.

“”N’ after all the lights are out
I’m sorry ’bout it; so I creep
Out of my trundle bed to ma’s
‘N’ say I love her a whole heap,
‘N’ kiss her, ‘n’ I hug her tight.
‘N’ it’s too dark to see her eyes,
But every time I do I know
She cries ‘n’ cries ‘n’ cries ‘n’ cries.
I always wondered why that wuz-
I guess it’s ’cause
Pa never does.’

“That’s the stuff,” continued Thacker. “What do you think of that?”

“I am not unfamiliar with the works of Mr. Riley,” said the colonel, deliberately. “I believe he lives in Indiana. For the last ten years I have been somewhat of a literary recluse, and am familiar with nearly all the books in the Cedar Heights library. I am also of the opinion that a magazine should contain a certain amount of poetry. Many of the sweetest singers of the South have already contributed to the pages of The Rose of Dixie. I, myself, have thought of translating from the original for publication in its pages the works of the great Italian poet Tasso. Have you ever drunk from the fountain of this immortal poet’s lines, Mr. Thacker?”

“Not even a demi-Tasso,” said Thacker.

Now, let’s come to the point, Colonel Telfair. I’ve already invested some money in this as a flyer. That bunch of manuscripts cost me $4,000. My object was to try a number of them in the next issue-I believe you make up less than a month ahead–and see what effect it has on the circulation. I believe that by printing the best stuff we can get in the North, South, East, or West we can make the magazine go. You have there the letter from the owning company asking you to co-operate with me in the plan. Let’s chuck out some of this slush that you’ve been publishing just because the writers are related to the Skoopdoodles of Skoopdoodle County. Are you with me?”

“As long as I continue to be the editor of The Rose,” said Colonel Telfair, with dignity, “I shall be its editor. But I desire also to conform to the wishes of its owners if I can do so conscientiously.”

“That’s the talk,” said Thacker, briskly. “Now, how much of this stuff I’ve brought can we get into the January number? We want to begin right away.”

“There is yet space in the January number,” said the editor, “for about eight thousand words, roughly estimated.”