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In conclusion, the writer wishes to thank personally all the late editor's fellow-townsmen for the generous tribute of sorrow and regret at his death manifested by one and all. She accepts it not merely as a tribute to a noble man, but to the purpose which he had most nearly at heart. The value and importance of that purpose to Rustler could not be more clearly shown than by these unsolicited tributes. They warm the heart of his successor in this editorial chair, and strengthen us for the work before us. That it may be worthy, in however humble a degree, of the man who has gone from us, and of the town of Rustler, is the hope of
BERNA MINTERMAN DEXTER.
The "copy" from which this was to be set up had reached Rignold stained with the tears it had cost the writer. He read it through with a queer feeling in his throat, then closed and locked the office,-Barton, the foreman, and the boy had gone for the night,—and, lighting the lamp over his case, set it himself. The careful, girlish manuscript, traced among the telltale blurs on little sheets of pink note-paper, impressed at the top with a twisted B. M. D. in gold, was not a sight for other eyes than his.
The sense of what was and what was not good newspaper work had rubbed off on Rignold in eight years' service as one of the compositors, and five years as the foreman, of a New York evening paper. The weekly he had come west to establish had failed; but that was because he had chosen the wrong town. Drifting back eastward by way of Colorado, he had been content to accept Chester's offer, and on another man's paper had displayed the qualities which, if the mines of his Idaho town had panned out richer, would have made his own journal successful. Chester and he had become friends, and had remained so, though it was Chester who finally won Berna; and it was not the smallest testimony to the love that dared warm to life again with the tragic death of his friend, that, denying himself the habit of thought bred by his newspaper experience, Rignold now set Berna's article without an attempt to edit it, and without so much as a preliminary mechanical motion toward the waste-basket. To know so well what his old managing editor would have done with the poor girl's editorial did not make it less pathetic. The thought caused her rather to seem more helpless and more dependent on him, and gave him reason to notify himself in plain terms that the "Telepheme" was to be made a success under its new editor, if it cost a leg. As his sensitive printer's hand, with its five eyes, wove back and forth over the case, he smiled fondly to himself at the little literary graces of her writing, as he often did at the little literary frills of her talk. They were so much part of all his knowledge and thought of her that he
could not have dissociated them from her without doing violence to the sanctuary in which he kept his love: her faults were as dear to him as her virtues - dearer, perhaps, because more accessible than the lofty qualities for which he adored her. He could n't smile affectionately upon her virtues; her faults seemed warm and near.
Nevertheless, he declared to himself, as he stooped beneath the lamp that gathered its rays under the scorched green shade to throw them on Berna's pages, that he was a fool-a chartered, twice-dyed, and double-branded idiotto allow himself to have any business dealings with a woman. Looking out through the window of the Disbrow Block, from which the "Telepheme" regarded the town whose life it recorded, he wondered how they would take it - the people of Rustler, going in and out, and to and fro, below there. The town, engaged under an electric noonday in the feverish play which, in mining-camps, is so much more active to the outward eye than the day's business, would make up its mind precious quick; Rignold only wondered which way. Would their sympathy for her situation, their liking for the grit with which she faced it, their reverence for womanhood carry her through? Would these excellent sentiments weigh against more vital considerations when it came to the scratch? Would they finally feel that they could afford them? The "Telepheme" was of course the fighting-organ through which the railroad was to be brought to Rustler, if it was to be brought at all. Would they trust the fight to a woman? Rignold sighed his heavy doubt to the dumb types in their boxes, and went on setting Berna's exotic editorial, with its singular mixture of easily-come-by newspaperese and far-brought literosity, and its still stranger mingling of shrewd reasoning and highflown inconclusiveness.
When he had pulled the first copy of that week's paper on the old Washington handpress which Chester had originally brought from the East with him, he sent it down to Berna, who lived alone with her mother near the end of the main street of Rustler. The house was an unclapboarded, two-story, frame structure, painted a reddish brown, not unlike the color of the rocks jutting from the mountain that hung above the roof. If you think of a giant pair of pincers standing upright and wide open, you will know how Rustler lay: Big Chief sprang into the air on one side, Ticknor's Mountain on the other; between was a narrow notch, and deep down in it cuddled the town. The greater part of the inhabitants lived on Berna's street; but the miners' cabins, built beside the shafts of a hundred mines, carried a steadily rising overflow up the flanks of
the two mountains. The house in which Berna lived was set close to the street, six feet from the board sidewalk that ran in front of her pink palings. Within this narrow space she had tried, before Aleck's death, to make a bed of pansies grow with the help of water from the irrigating-ditch that raced by the house on its way to the main ditch, supplying Topaz with its water; but the flowers had withered since the accident. As she lay on the sofa in her parlor, torn alternately by her grief for Aleck and by her own pain, she heard, after each shift at the mines, the clumping noise of miners' boots go by on their way to or from the Elegant Booze, the Honeycomb, and Uncle Dick's - establishments where one got two glasses of beer for a quarter, and a good deal of faro for a ten-dollar bill.
The injury which she had sustained in the railroad accident left her good hours, but oftener put her to the torture; and when her mother handed her her first issue she was unable to do more for the first hour than to gaze steadfastly at the heading. The sight of the familiar title made the thought of Aleck overwhelmingly poignant; tears welled into her eyes as she stared at the folded white sheet lying outside the blue Navajo blanket that covered her, and at last she turned from the sight in misery. Nevertheless, she was helpless against the literary pleasure that tingled through her when. finally she took courage to read her editorial, though she was ashamed of it. It was not for the excitement and interest of writing that she had determined to keep the "Telepheme" alve, and to shape it into a force which should carry on Aleck's work, as a son carries on the work of his father. It was as Aleck's child that she was to watch over it. She reproached herself, but finally forgave herself, with the thought that it was through his own pleasure in his work that Aleck had succeeded, and that she must find a like joy in it if she was to be in any sort worthy to follow in his steps. She did not need to stimulate a happiness in writing; she liked it; until she had become engaged to Aleck it had been her ambition to be a magazinist." Berna was one of the halfturned-out women who begin to be common in the West. Her mind had been educated; but her intelligence, her taste, her perceptions remained to all intents as undeveloped as a Kafir's. She was charming; but if she had been as cultured as she supposed herself, it would have been impossible to associate with her. Her charm lay in her simple-mindedness, in her unselfishness and kindness and devotedness and pluck; but what she really liked in herself was her complicatedness. Some of this she had endeavored to explain through the Iowa magazine which printed her earliest contributions to
the press, just after she had "been graduated," as she called it, from Miss Drewett's New England seminary. The contributors to this magazine were almost all women, and were, without exception, complicated.
Her mother came in as she laid down the paper to ask if she would see Ben. Berna drew her shawl about her and nodded, brightening with pleasure. The room in which she lay was stiffly furnished in a stamped red plush, but a comfortable old sofa, covered with chintz, had been moved in for her out of the diningroom. On the walls were two cheap paintings of the Yosemite, Berna's graduating diploma under glass, and a photograph (framed in a deep black-walnut molding) of her father in the uniform of a lieutenant of volunteers — the artist had picked out the epaulets in gold and touched the cheeks with carmine.
Mrs. Dexter asked if she did n't think it would fret her to see Ben.
"You know the doctor said-"
"Yes; I know, mother. But if I am to carry on this work I must n't mind the doctor. Perhaps it will kill me; but if it does, it must. I shall only give in my report to Aleck a little sooner."
The tears, against which she had not yet learned to school herself, once more stood in her eyes.
"Gracious, child! I don't believe Aleck ever in this world expected you to go on with the Telepheme.' How could he think a woman could do such a thing?"
"I don't know, mother. But he trusted me to do it, and I can't be false to him."
"Well, you'll kill yourself," she said weakly. "Why can't you let Ben do it? He's willing and able."
"How can you suggest such a thing, mother? You know he's a stranger in the town." "I don't care if he is. He knows printing." "Of course. But he can't feel as we Rustlerites do. You know that. The railroad is nothing to him."
"No; I suppose not," she owned, downcast. But in a moment she added, with more spirit, "There's lots of folks in the town that it 's plenty to, though. Some of 'em would be glad to edit the paper if you'd let 'em."
They would n't know how." "Well, do you know how?"
"No," answered Berna, shaking her hair loose from her face, raising her head, and drawing in a deep inspiration; "but I've heard Aleck talk!"
"Oh, dear!" exclaimed Mrs. Dexter, rising with the feebleness of rheumatic limbs, wearied with a life's hard work, "I suppose we've got to bear it. But I do hope you 'll be careful of yourself and not overdo. I wish I was n't so
afraid you 'd lose the little money your father left us in the Sons of Honor,"" she added pathetically.
"But I sha'n't, mother. I 've explained that so often. I shall only use Aleck's money. He left me enough to keep up the paper with. When I've sold the Lady Berna' mine I shall have plenty."
"I know you say that, Berna, and you think you mean it. But when once you get started you can't tell what you 'll do. Look at Aleck! I'm sure he would have pawned the coat off his back any minute for the sake of his paper; and I don't believe you 'll do any less for his sake when the time comes."
"Yes, mother," said Berna, soothingly, laying a hand in her mother's work-roughened palm. "Show Ben in, won't you, please?"
Rignold appeared at the door in a moment, halting on the threshold with his slouch-hat in his hand.
"Come in, Ben!" Her voice was still feeble. Mrs. Dexter pushed him gently in from behind. "I'm so glad to see you," Berna continued, putting forth her wasted hand from under the shawl. "Be seated, won't you?"
But Rignold did not immediately seat himself. He stood looking down into her face with a tender studiousness. The high color, which in health shone brilliantly against the creamy pallor and childlike smoothness of skin that often goes with auburn hair and blue eyes, had gone in her illness; her usual roundness of figure and plumpness of cheek were gone also. What remained was the bright vitality of her deep blue eyes, and the extraordinary beauty of her abundant hair, which she was wearing coiled in thick, burnished masses of reddish brown or brownish red, as one chose, or as the light served.
The man standing above her was tall and spare, with a fine figure, a little stoop-shouldered from bending at the case. He carried his large, round head well back; his dark hair curled a little in receding from a high, clear brow; his brown eyes encountered the observer with a singularly honest, straightforward look. He shook hands as if he meant it.
"I did n't feel as if I ought to come, but I did n't see my way to not coming," he said.
"I see I must tell you one thing right away, Ben. You're not to think of me as a woman." A distressed, whimsical smile appeared on his face, which she answered with: "I mean, I'm an editor like anybody else. There are plenty wiser and more adequate, as I said in my editorial. I shall be incompetent in a good many ways at first, and I'm sure to do foolish things. But there are men in the profession who began with less knowledge than I have now, and who have succeeded; and there are others who be
gan with more knowledge, and have failed. I ask no favors that were not accorded to them. I only wish to be judged fundamentally on the same basis."
"I don't feel any call to judge you, Berna," answered Rignold, with a smile, as he took a chair; "but if I did, I don't see but I'd have to judge you as a woman. It's all right to say, think of you as a man. But you ain't a man, and that's just what I like about you, and what makes me want to help you, if I can. You are a woman, but you've got a man's sand.”
"Don't say that, Ben. I haven't got Aleck's."
"See here! Do you think Aleck, or any other man, for the matter of that, would have taken up a job like this two weeks after he 'd lost the only thing that made life worth while to him, and taken it up without turning a hair and without ruffling a feather to call attention to it? If you do, you size men up for a better breed than they are."
A groan burst from her, and she covered her face quickly with her hands.
"I'm a fool to talk like that!" he cried. "No, no! It does me good. You understand. Every one won't, perhaps. They won't think it decent-the ladies particularly. They will say I don't mourn truly for Aleck; as if this were n't the best and only mourning for him! As if it were n't just because I care so much that I can't justify myself in wasting his time in tears! That's the way I feel, Ben-that husband and wife have a double time in this world; and because both times belong to them and to God while they both live, it's the happiness and the sacred responsibility of the survivor to answer for both times when one time is-is frustrated."
Rignold, resolved as he was to keep his wish to help her disinterested and separate from his love for her, could not help wincing at this, while he smiled at her words. He saw, as if looking into the future through a rift in the curtain, how they would be constantly running up against this spectral third presence in their intercourse, and how he should be "stumped" by it, perhaps for always. It was a presence that he had loved in life, but the presence of the man she had preferred to him while it was still open to her to choose, and the presence of the man who he must believe was to be permanently dear to her. He wanted to cry out against this folly of devotion; he wanted to say how crazy it seemed to him—this duty to the dead, this conscience about a ghost. Perhaps he might have said it if he had n't guessed in time that what he took for moral indignation was probably a good deal more like simple jealousy. With his accustomed squareness, he said to himself that if he had gone the way of Aleck
he should have hungered for just such devotion in his place. Perhaps it would n't last forever, and if it did, it was still good to look forward to the prospect of working by her side, helping her where he could.
He spoke the sympathetic words that came to him in answer to her declaration; and then he said, "I suppose you 've figured out how you're going to work this thing-lying down?"
BERNA's first issue was published on the following morning, and by afternoon fifteen new subscribers had handed in their names at the office of the "Telepheme." One or two enthusiasts even paid up long-overdue subscriptions, and ordered the paper sent them for the following year; and Mrs. Dexter was kept busy informing the ladies who called on Berna that as yet she could see nobody. The town was in a state of emotional sympathy which it would gladly have expended in taking the horses from Berna's carriage and dragging it through the streets, if the plucky young editor had owned the carriage or the horses.
Rustler still trembled with the memory of the accident; it had scarcely buried its dead, and the desolation of the bereaved families echoed in its one mountain street. With the inhabitants Chester had enjoyed the repute of a vigorous personality, offering its strength unreckoningly to the town's ambition; and Berna, who hitherto had been less popular in the town on her own account, had, before the publication of her first issue, gained, through the circumstances surrounding her lover's death in her presence on the day before their weddingday, an honor beyond anything that Chester had known. It was only necessary that she should rise from her bed of pain, and, in the midst of her grief, take up Aleck's work, to constitute her a heroine. Rignold had been sure that they would like her "sand," but he had not reckoned sufficiently, he found, with their pleasure in piecing a romance out of any event which concerns a woman publicly. Her devotion to Aleck's memory, which to the women of the place seemed (against Berna's expectation) “just splendid," won the profane praise of the men at the Elegant Booze and on the streetcorners, not merely as showing the right stuff, but as showing it on behalf of the town. They rolled her name relishingly on their tongues in their perception of this final rightness; like the Greeks, it warmed their loyal pride to know that even their women were patriotic. They saw Berna looking well in a newspaper article on Rustler; and this created her part of the town's "material," part of its capital for booming purposes.
Berna was made very happy by her success, and slept that night the sleep of those widowed queens who have had to doubt for the first tremulous hour of sovereignty the allegiance of subjects that mourn a king. Aleck's path lay freely before her; she had only to tread it worthily. The town where she had first known Aleck, and where they had made a grave for him, the town which he had loved and served, the town for which he had been ready to shed his blood and for which she was now so willing to shed hers, the town that he had left to her care-the town had accepted her. But in the morning she put aside merely agreeable thoughts, and day-dreams of what she would yet do for Rustler, and settled down soberly to her work. It was very well for every one to wish her luck, but Berna had a hard-headed little theory that she must make her own luck, and she went about the preparation of a rousing railroad editorial in Aleck's old manner.
The system on which the paper was to be conducted had been fixed upon between her and Rignold at their conference. Its policy was, of course, to be guided wholly by her; she was to take complete charge; all the leading editorials were to be hers, and she was to supervise the news columns. Rignold was to look after the "locals," write the minor editorials, find advertisements, superintend the jobprinting, and manage the business department, and in general represent her to Rustler. Berna had certainly cut out a large undertaking for herself; but in her ignorance she had let Rignold load upon his willing shoulders a heroic proportion of the work. He could not tell her how glad he would be to double his stint for her sake, but he could go forth to scour the town for emotional advertising; and (not to let Berna's boom pass without immediate practical result) he did this on the morning her first number was published. Sensible of the vicissitudes to which such enthusiasms as Rustler's for Berna are liable, he declined to accept any advertisement, under present conditions, for a shorter period than one year: if they wanted a newspaper they must expect to pay for it, he said; and if they really believed in the town, and had the courage of their convictions, they would probably pay for it in advance. His theory did not meet with universal acceptance, but it met with nearly six columns' worth of acceptance, and this, as he explained in the next issue under the heading of " Our Boom," struck him as handsome. He let slip, in the course of this brief editorial, enough restrained self-gratulation on behalf of the "Telepheme," and enough general good feeling and modest sense that Topaz would never have toed the mark so squarely in a similar emergency, to have filled one side of the paper, di
his belief that the best was none too good for Rustler, she endeavored to give the "Telepheme" the catholic tone of the weekly edition of a New York daily. Refusing Rignold's earnest suggestion that they rely upon a patent outside, or at worst upon plate-matter, for the better part of their miscellany, she spent the long hours on her sofa, scissors in hand, culling interesting items of news, and what she had learned from Rignold to call "good stories," from her exchanges guided in her selection, it is to be feared, by the taste of Miss Drewett's rather than by a vision of what Rustler would probably like to read. Scandals, hangings, prize-fights, murders, and all other items of a too vivid interest she excluded; and the “Telepheme" became that ensample of purity and social health for which we all pretend we are longing. One whose reading was confined to Berna's paper might conveniently have imagined himself resident in a good and harmless world, in which was no evil save that engendered by Topaz. She tried to atone for this, which Rignold taught her to regard, from the counting-house standpoint, as the deadly sin, by engaging a weekly telegraphic letter from Denver. It was sent on the morning the paper went to press, and contained all the latest news.
luted as an inferior man would have diluted it. Rignold wrote carefully, with the feeling constantly upon him that he was working for larger issues than the success of Rustler or the "Telepheme." He found Berna in the point of his pencil when he would muse on his next sentence, and the white paper was covered with her name before he wrote a line upon it. He had not needed to inquire his fate in the time before Berna's engagement to Aleck; and he withheld himself now with a sensitive scrupulousness from even the semblance of love-making. He felt in the weeks that followed that he must not allow himself to think directly of her yet; but the habit of thinking of her indirectly lapsed at times into the most straightway regard of her. At these seasons, however, her own attitude corrected his unconsciously; for the profound preoccupation of her whole being with Aleck's memory must have baffled the warmest lover. Rignold's love for her, in fact, made him feel almost foolish in her presence, as if he were trying to catch the attention of an oblivious animal or child. Her detachment from the ordinary affairs of the world sometimes frightened him; she was eating her heart out for her lost lover, and the only sign of it that she allowed any one to see was her joy in events which would have given him joy. It was, of course, chiefly in connection with the "Telepheme" that Rignold witnessed the daily expressions of her simple faithfulness to his dead friend; and it was in work for the "Telepheme❞—that is, in work for her-that he tried to forget her devotion to the spirit of another man, or tried to wish that she might never lose it. He could like it, as he liked everything about her, though it made him miserable and impatient.
It was perhaps his good fortune, though Berna made it difficult for him to manage himself, that this soon became, on the whole, rather simpler than to manage her paper. His young editor's word was "development," and it was pathetic to him to see how she pursued this idea of Aleck's, as she did other ideas derived from the same source, without the strength or the balancing sense and shrewdness which had enabled Aleck to give such words actuality. She became, as the months went by, and as she gained a measure of wisdom from her mistakes and successes, by no means a hopelessly bad newspaper man, as she liked to call herself. She had enterprise and assiduity, and the wish to print the news; and her still stronger wish to make her "diction elegant" she did not allow to interfere seriously with these good qualities. Her real trouble, from a financial point of view, was that she wished to print more news than the paper could afford, or than Rustler could pay for. Having imbibed from Aleck
About this they had many discussions, wherein she met Rignold's objections with arguments in which Aleck's slangy wisdom often mingled curiously with her graduating essay view of life, and her knotted pink-ribbon manner of expression. His suggestion that the Denver letter constituted an expense not justifiable by a circulation three times their own, and, as it did n't bring them a subscriber, that it involved a loss rather larger than the other loss it was designed to set right, she met with something like impatience.
"Do you mean to advise me," she asked, "to do the little thing rather than the great one? Do you really wish me to run a paper on anything but large ideas? Do you expect me to give our readers only what they already want and have learned to expect? The man who attempts to be merely up to the day in the West is going to get left; he must be up to to-morrow!"
As the town looked on at these developments in the "Telepheme" its first sentiment of enthusiasm began to take a very faint chill of bewilderment. The catholic tone by which Berna set such store was indifferent to its citizens, and they could have got along with less diction if they could have been furnished with more sensation. They fortunately continued, however, to admire and rejoice in her railroad editorials. Heaven knows how she wrote them! Her own theory was that she did n't; she rev