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The Old Subscriber
by [?]

But not so the man who is tall enough to see into the future about nine feet. He still remembers that he must live in the hearts of his subscribers, and he makes their wants his own. He is not to proud to listen to suggestions from the man who works. He recognizes that it is not the man with the diamond-mounted stomach who has contributed most to his success, but the man who never dips into society much with the exception of his family, perhaps, and that ought to be good society. A man ought not to feel too good to associate with his wife and children. Generally my sympathies are with his wife and children, if they have to associate with him very much.

But if I could ever get down to it, I would like to say a word on behalf of the old subscriber. Being an old subscriber myself, I feel an interest in his cause; and as he rarely rushes into print except to ask why the police contrive to keep aloof from anything that might look like a fight, or to inquire why the fire department will continue year after year to run through the streets killing little children who never injured the department in any way, just so that they will be in time to chop a hole in the roof of a house that is not on fire, and pour some water down into the library, then whoop through an old tin dipper a few times and go away–as the old subscriber does not generally say much in print except on the above subjects, I make bold to say on his behalf that as a rule, he is not treated half as well as the prodigal son, who has been spending his substance on a rival paper, or stealing his news outright from the old subscriber.

Why should we pat the new subscriber on the back, and give him a new album that will fall to pieces whenever you laugh in the same room? Why should you forget the old love for the new? Do we not often impose on the old subscriber by giving up the space he has paid for to flaming advertisements to catch the coy and skittish gudgeon who still lurks outside the fold? Do we not ofttimes offer a family Bible for a new subscriber when an old subscriber may be in a lost and undone state?

Do we not again and again offer to the wife of our new subscriber a beautiful, plain gold ring, or a lace pin for a year’s subscription and $1, while the wife of our old subscriber is just in the shank of a long, hard, cold winter, without a ring or a pin to her back?

We ought to remember that the old subscriber came to us with his money when we most needed it. He bore with us when we were new in the business, and used such provincialisms as “We have saw” and “If we had knew.” He bore with us when the new column rules were so sharp that they chawed the paper all up, and the office was so cold, waiting for wood to come in on subscription, that the “color” was greasy and reluctant. He took our paper and paid for it, while the new subscriber was in the penitentiary for all we know. He made a mild kick sometimes when he “didn’t git his paper reggler;” but he paid on the first day of January every year in advance, out of an old calfskin wallet that opened out like a concertina, and had a strap that went around it four times, and looked as shiny, and sweaty, and good-natured as the razor-strop that might have been used by Noah.

The old subscriber never asked any rebate, or requested a prize volume of poetry with a red cover, because he had paid for another year; but he simply warmed his numb fingers, so that he could loosen his overalls and lower one side enough to let his hand into the pocket of his best pantaloons underneath, and there he always found the smooth wallet, and inside of it there was always a $2 bill, that had been put there to pay for the paper. Then the old subscriber would warm his hands some more, ask “How’s tricks?” but never begin to run down the paper, and then he would go away to work for another year.