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ferably impertinent notes to his betters on this memorable "scoop” upon one of the most paper for the past seven years."
loathsome of contemporaries will find standing “ROBERT LONGWORTH!” cried the out boldly in the three columns of leaded city editor in the unmistakable capital letters minion with which, in the figurative and highly of great astonishment.
colored language of the religious editor, the For answer Mr. Forrest again affected an- “ Democratic Banner" "paralyzed that old noyance, and asked if it would be necessary for fraud" at last. him to make an affidavit to support the truth As briefly as possible it may be explained of what he had already said.
that Longworth was undoubtedly a bigamist. But the little personal throes of pride, of He had, many years before, clandestinely triumph, and of ill-nature that attend the oiling married a well-to-do widow in a Pennsylvania of the great engine of information are not to town, and had expended much of her means be idly exhibited to the public; and it is enough in attempting to establish a newspaper. He to say that after those throes had subsided in had then left to seek an opening in the West this instance the staff of the Democratic Ban- and had never returned to his deserted wife. ner” were soon seething with curiosity as to True, he had maintained a most ingenious Longworth and his duplicity. Only briefand de- and constant correspondence with her, which tached outlines had been given by Mr. Forrest, did not cease even in the happy period who, with a masterly and supreme affectation when he was enjoying another honeymoon of indifference, began early in the evening to with a second well-to-do and unsuspecting compose the “story” that his fellow journalists widow. Supporting a most elaborate falsehood awaited so eagerly.
and a most ingenious system of detail with his The details of Mr. Forrest's story will not first wife, he had evidently mailed his letters be given here. Most of its interest was due to her from a suburb across the river, while to his powerful and inimitable style, and only he was as plainly residing in the city. The the entire narrative as he wrote it would pre- end came to this fragile fabric when Robert serve that for full appreciation. It must be Longworth took passage on the steamboat owned that it was one of the most brilliant Evening Star, on that memorable night when efforts of his facile pen, and those who desire her boilers exploded and the souls of forty-six to read it may refer to the files of the “Demo- excursionists never returned to complain of cratic Banner," where Mr. Forrest revealed the crowded accommodations. True, his body was mystery and the crime of Robert Longworth, never recovered, nor had his name appeared under the captions of
in the list of the lost published in the “ Demo
cratic Banner's " splendid account of that deA VILLAIN UNVEILED!
plorable tragedy — an account so infinitely su
perior to the miserably inaccurate and poorly ONE OF THE MOST SURPRISING STORIES IN LEGAL written story in our loathsome contemporary as ANNALS.
to stand out as one of the greatest achievements The Unparalleled and Criminal Duplicity of Robert
in Western journalism. This is not said in Longworth, who Broke Two Hearts and Cruelly Threw One Away.
mere vainglory, but is a well-attested fact, due A Story of FACT RIVALING IN ROMANCE AND of one of the “ Democratic Banner's ” report
to the presence on board the ill-starred boat MYSTERY The Plot of The Most IMPROBABLE Novel!
ers, who swam triumphantly ashore on a hen
coop and walked four miles to a telegraph In denouncing Longworth's duplicity Mr. office to send his report, while our miserable Forrest wrote with all the vigorous and pic- contemporary was forced to content itself with turesque interjectiveness that small capital the untrained hearsay of a country correspond“sub-heads” skillfully placed could lend to a ent. style whetted and nerved by recollections of But though his name was not in the death Longworth's ruthless corrections of certain list Robert Longworth had disappeared in that more or less smuggled reminiscences of the disaster, and his widow-or, to speak more acelder Booth. It must be admitted that while curately, his second widow — had promptly Mr. Forrest wrote with venom he wrote, also, received from the Order of Good Friends, of with certain power.
which he was a member, the sum always paid
to the families of members who had died. THOSE DAMNING RECORDS,
In the mean time his first wife, missing her HIS BASILISK EYES,
accustomed letters, had set on foot a laborious
investigation with the aid of a lawyer, had unA MYSTERIOUS SECRET,
earthed all his conduct, and was now suing to are some of the catch-lines in small capitals recover, as his only lawful wife, the benefit althat the reader who cares to look up this ready paid to the second wife.
“ And this," wrote Mr. Forrest,“ was the one subject. While all agreed that there was punctiliously correct and painfully accurate not another man on the force who possessed person who in 187-, or thereabouts, began Mr. Forrest's ability as a first-class, all-around sending to the ‘Democratic Banner' commu- journalist, yet the opinion seemed to prevail nications of all sorts and upon every conceiva- that he had taken something of an unfair adble subject, finding fault with the statements vantage and a personal delight in making the of everybody. He soon established the repu- whole
thing look as black as possible for Long
tation in the ‘Banner' office of being a first- worth. This view of it came out little by little, class crank, desirous of the notoriety that such and was shared by all except the religious editor. creatures usually achieve in the way of getting That young gentleman, now in the height of their names in print. Longworth was an ag- a career of dissipation and pleasure which gravation of Tax Payer,' the evil quintessence seemed to steel his heart against sympathy, of Citizen,' • Fair-Play,' and `Veritas.' He was relentless. thought he knew more than everybody else, “ Serves him right,” said he; “and Forrest and exhibited his ignorance and presumption can't hit him too hard to suit me. I always with a lavishness of pen, ink, and paper that thought Longworth was too fond of little unmight have bankrupted a stationer.
necessary facts to be any good. People of that “ The trial of this case," so the article con- kind,” continued the religious editor, breezily cluded, “ will be one of the most famous in generalizing, “ are mostly no good. A man can local annals, and the facts unfold to us one of be so confounded accurate, you know, that he those romances of villainy in real life that fic- won't have time to be anything else. I like tion and the stage so often feebly attempt to facts about as well as anybody else, but I don't portray."
go around proving that everybody else is a liar It is needless to say that the proof-slips of because he does n't happen to agree with me. Mr. Forrest's three-column story were discussed That was about Longworth's size. He was so that night before the paper went to press with busy trying to keep other people from straying an interest not often betrayed towards the most that he did n't have time to keep from becomstartling episodes that come within the prac- ing an infernal rascal himself.” tical province of newspaper work. Displaying But this extreme view found not a single in heroic measure his affectation of indiffer- echo. In fact, all recognized that Longworth ence, Mr. Forrest had turned in his copy and had been more or less a mentor and a benefit immediately gone home, and his absence left to the staff, and there was no resentment harthe remainder of the force freer to discuss the bored against his memory.
The fact that he had married two, or even throes of the sick. And as each detaches himmore, wives did not influence us against him. self from his personal feelings deftly to use the In newspaper offices, among the men who scalpel of his profession upon the abstract submake up the chronicle of daily history, the moral ject before him, he devotes no emotion to the sense is not necessarily lost, but it is often not effort and rapidly recoups himself for the next aroused by the discovery of wrong-doing. Tire- “case.” less and inquisitive reporters see so many men So it was with Longworth's story. Next doing wrong with impunity and know that so day the highest feeling left in the bosoms of often punishment is a matter of accident or of the “ Democratic Banner” staff was that it interested malice, that they give a great deal of was a splendid and unqualified “scoop.” In weight to the eleventh commandment, against our loathsome contemporary appeared not a being found out, and become unresponsive to line of the singular romance the three fascinatpersonal morality in others as a moving senti- ing columns of which made the “Democratic ment to repel or attract. Longworth had been Banner” a thing of beauty to the trained jourfound out, but not until he was beyond pun- nalistic eye. ishment, and we bore him no malice on that Even the business manager, a person usually score. That his crime gave us a good “story ” of no journalistic instinct, and useful about rather told in his favor, and as to his notes and newspaper offices only to pay editorial salaries, his corrections, there was no denying he had smiled that morning and was moved to approvalways been right.
ing comment upon the excellence of the ex“Oh, I ’d let it go in that way,” said Mr. clusive story. Burke, from the desk in his corner, illuminated The city editor went to his desk therefore by prints of race-horses and portraits of prize- with buoyant spirit. Only, however, to have fighters, where he used to receive all sorts of even his experienced and well-directed ardor hard-looking persons in pea-jackets, variously dampened by the most unexpected of reactions ornamented with ponderous jewelry. “Long- contained in this note: worth is dead; he won't care, and both his wives will like to see him roasted. That part TO THE EDITOR OF THE “Democratic Banner.” about his letters to the paper is very good, I
Wiil you kindly state in your issue of to-morrow think. It will teach a lot of other ducks of the that the Robert Longworth whose villainies are so kind who think they know it all that there are
vividly and entertainingly described in this mornfellows in the office quietly keeping tab on resided in the thriving suburb of Milltown for so
ing's paper is not the Robert Longworth who has them.”
many years ? I ask this in justice to myself, because And so adopting this view of it, as, on the I infer that your reporter has made the error of conwhole, journalistically sufficient, at two o'clock founding two Longworths. I have written a greai in the morning we buried in three columns of many contributions for the “Democratic Banner," the first page all mortal that had been dis- and may have laid myself open to the reflections in covered of Longworth. He had been of us
which he indulges about them ; but I have not been for seven or eight years, but it was only above and have no desire to be burdened with any other
blown up on the Evening Star, or on any other boat, his grave, and standing, as it were, over the Longworth's shortcomings in addition to those your wreck of his character and his good name, reporter has so vigorously pointed out as perhaps that we knew him at all. As we walked out properly belonging to me. of the great building in the early morning, the
Robert LONGWORTH. moon, bright and cloudless, sailing through the sky and marking shadows black and broad The note was written in the unmistakable along the sidewalk, the burdened and groan- feeble, quavering handwriting of Robert Longing press was busily multiplying the humili- worth himself — the Robert Longworth who, ation of one who in his time had humiliated but the night before, had been dismissed with the active spirit of that very engine's existence. so much of genuine compassionate feeling.
The most startling manifestations of human That note seemed like his ghost suddenly renature, the most unexpected disappointments turned from its mysterious bourn. of life, do not burden the mind or engage the Who left this note ?” the city editor inemotions of the journalist. Wrecks of character, quired of the office-boy. of life, and of hope are, for his professional “An old man laid it on your desk and attention, only just what the most dangerous walked out," answered the boy. wounds or most perilous diseases are to engage “ Did he seem angry — did he say anything?"
– the trained attention of surgeon or physician. pursued the city editor. The one soon becomes accustomed to seeing “ He never showed no signs," answered the all the sorrow and shame of life pass before astute youth, “ of being hot in the collar. He him in sad review, as the other listens to the just says, “Give that to the editor,' and walked moan of pain or watches the unconscious out whenst he come.”
Here was annoyance! And enough of it to this and in no wise deserved. The city editor take the keen edge of satisfaction from the de- relies of course upon the accuracy of the men light of the “scoop.” Evidently Mr. Forrest who obtain the facts for his department, and had jumped at conclusions and confounded if he is responsible it is only for perpetuatwo Longworths. The story was not discredited ting the mistakes of subordinates. And this by that fact, of course; but at best it was a much the city editor remarked to Mr. Forrest, careless and annoying error, entailing upon the adding the off-hand offer to bet fifty dollars paper the mortifying necessity of confusing a against five that if he (the city editor) had
good story by an immaterial explanation and been investigating the story he would not have an amende. The city editor reflected that made the mistake of putting such an error into Kirby, with his steady training and his unerr- copy. ing instinct for facts, would not have made But it is unnecessary to waste space upon such a blunder. If he could not have written these disagreeable details. Kirby made a hasty the story half so well, he would have ferreted remark about jumping at conclusions, and the out the exact identity at least, or restrained city editor admitted in his own mind the abhis desire to wreak his vengeance on Long- solute unreliability of dramatic critics in matworth until identity was established. The sub- ters of pure fact. The sporting editor observed stance of this observation Mr. Kirby did not that as the facts about the other Longworth fail to make to the city editor in confidence were all true, he could not understand why any afterward.
Longworth should raise a howl about it. This Mr. Forrest acknowledged with dignified was unfair in temper, since our Longworth had condescension that he might have taken the not raised a howl. He had, in the politest trouble to make sure, if he had thought there manner only, asked to be exculpated from a was any doubt. He added with stinging irony, false accusation. wholly gratuitous, that, considering how no- The new aspect of the case surprised us all. torious was his error, he was astonished that In the general willingness to let Mr. Forrest the city editor had not detected it in the copy. revenge himself upon a presumptive Long; This was an ill-natured fling at the writer of worth the actual Longworth who had offended
as stirred to activity again. The city tunity to arrest all those errors of haste and editor revolved the situation in his mind all imagination that he had been able to detect day, and, in order to protect Mr. Forrest's heretofore only after they had been betrayed dignity, determined personally to investigate in print. A better man for the post could not the matter further. In the multiplicity of his have been made to hand; and at his table, labors, however, he neglected to do so that alongside the city editor's desk, he soon beday, and the correcting note was left out of came one of the most valuable aids, one of the paper next morning.
the most conscientious and untiring of workers. The next afternoon the foreman of the job- It was curious to notice that not even the printing department came up from his sepa- discursive and pretentious dramatic critic or rate quarters and inquired of the city editor the opinionative Mr. Burke objected to his if a note of that purport had been received. corrections, so long as they were suggested or
"Longworth asked me," said he, “to request made in the privacy of office confidence and you to publish it.”
not in the publicity of print. Indeed, they soon “ Longworth !" echoed the city editor. “Do learned to lean upon his friendly hand and his you know him ? "
unerring memory. It was Longworth's exact“Oh, yes,” said the foreman. “I've known itude of knowledge that lent additional value him for years, and he is out here now.” to their work; it was his patient attention that
He stepped quickly to the door, called out made all the force strong in facts, more effectinto the hall very loudly, "Longworth !" and ive in literary style, and finally more dependent the next moment there entered the benevolent in spirit. Longworth soon pervaded the whole and taciturn old job printer whom the religious local department, and all relied upon him. He editor had been addressing as “Mr. Longworth” for the past two years !
The city editor gave this apparition a keen and reproachful look as if he would not have thought it of him, and then, finding himself at bay, suavely explained that the correction had been carelessly overlooked the night before, but would certainly be published next morning
“I'll be very much obliged,” said Longworth
"A BETTER MAN FOR THE POST COULD NOT HAVE BEEN MADE TO HAND." in a thin and quavering voice, that sounded to the city editor like his was the most honest and toilsome slave that handwriting translated into sound. The old ever served under the lamp. Even the city man said it simply and earnestly, as if it were editor soon took his turn of adding burdens to be a favor bestowed upon him unworthily, to those willing shoulders, and felt safer that and there was a kindly, pleased smile upon his Longworth was at hand to smooth over the face.
difficulties of shirking. Longworth was plainly entitled to the ex- All this is due to him. This story would planation, and his gentleness and lack of self- possess no value if it was not true, and in conassertion had their due effect in softening the fidences such as should exist between the reader city editor to its admission without further in- and this confessor nothing should be reserved. quiry.
So the confession of his value and his faithfulThe announcement to the staff that Robert ness is due to the patient and gentle old man Longworth was the elderly job printer carried who sat night after night at his table, going with its full surprise. Only, the religious editor's rapid fingers through the great piles of copy, eye brightened with the fire of conscious pen- his kindly face illumined, as if by a nimbus, etration in view of the fact that he had even by the gaslight that sifted through his white unwittingly known Longworth so long. hair.
We all knew him better soon; for, needing a Longworth was not talkative, but like other copy-reader to assist the city editor, Longworth agreeable spirits he would converse when the was sought at his “case ” and readily agreed conditions were favorable. When there was a to undertake the duty, which thus gave him lull in work, or during the brief period of rethe revision of all the copy and an oppor- laxation after the night's labor was done and