A NEWSPAPER STORY
by O. Henry
At 8 A.M. it lay on Giuseppi's news-stand, still damp
from the presses. Giuseppi, with the cunning of his
ilk, philandered on the opposite corner, leaving his
patrons to help themselves, no doubt on a theory related
to the hypothesis of the watched pot.
This particular newspaper was, according to its custom
and design, an educator, a guide, a monitor, a champion,
and a household counsellor and vade mecum.
From its many excellencies might be selected three
editorials. One was in simple and chaste but illuminating
language directed to parents and teachers, deprecating
corporal punishment for children.
Another was an accusive and significant warning addressed
to a notorious labor leader who was on the point of
instigating his clients to a troublesome strike.
The third was an eloquent demand that the police force
be sustained and aided in everything that tended to
increase its efficiency as public guardians and servants.
Besides these more important chidings and requisitions
upon the store of good citizenship was a wise prescription
or form of procedure laid out by the editor of the
heart-to-heart column in the specific case of a young
man who had complained of the obduracy of his lady love,
teaching him how he might win her.
Again, there was, on the beauty page, a complete answer
to a young lady inquirer who desired admonition toward
the securing of bright eyes, rosy cheeks and a beautiful
One other item requiring special cognizance was a brief
"personal," running thus:
DEAR JACK:--Forgive me. You were right. Meet me at
corner of Madison and----th at 8.30 this morning.
We leave at noon.
At 8 o'clock a young man with a haggard look and the
feverish gleam of unrest in his eye dropped a penny
and picked up the top paper as he passed Giuseppi's
stand. A sleepless night had left him a late riser.
There was an office to be reached by nine, and a shave
and a hasty cup of coffee to be crowded into the interval.
He visited his barber shop and then hurried on his
way. He pocketed his paper, meditating a belated
perusal of it at the luncheon hour. At the next corner
it fell from his pocket, carrying with it his pair of
new gloves. Three blocks he walked, missed the gloves
and turned back fuming.
Just on the half-hour he reached the corner where lay
the gloves and the paper. But he strangely ignored that
which he had come to seek. He was holding two little
hands as tightly as ever he could and looking into two
penitent brown eyes, while joy rioted in his heart.
"Dear Jack," she said, "I knew you would be here on
"I wonder what she means by that," he was saying to
himself; "but it's all right, it's all right."
A big wind puffed out of the west, picked up the paper
from the sidewalk, opened it out and sent it flying and
whirling down a side street. Up that street was driving
a skittish bay to a spider-wheel buggy, the young man
who had written to the heart-to-heart editor for a
recipe that he might win her for whom he sighed.
The wind, with a prankish flurry, flapped the flying
newspaper against the face of the skittish bay. There
was a lengthened streak of bay mingled with the red of
running gear that stretched itself out for four blocks.
Then a water-hydrant played its part in the cosmogony,
the buggy became matchwood as foreordained, and the
driver rested very quietly where he had been flung on
the asphalt in front of a certain brownstone mansion.
They came out and had him inside very promptly. And
there was one who made herself a pillow for his head,
and cared for no curious eyes, bending over and saying,
"Oh, it was you; it was you all the time, Bobby! Couldn't
you see it? And if you die, why, so must I, and--"
But in all this wind we must hurry to keep in touch
with our paper.
Policeman O'Brine arrested it as a character dangerous
to traffic. Straightening its dishevelled leaves with
his big, slow fingers, he stood a few feet from the
family entrance of the Shandon Bells Cafe. One headline
he spelled out ponderously: "The Papers to the Front in
a Move to Help the Police."
But, whisht! The voice of Danny, the head bartender,
through the crack of the door: "Here's a nip for ye,
Mike, ould man."
Behind the widespread, amicable columns of the press
Policeman O'Brine receives swiftly his nip of the real
stuff. He moves away, stalwart, refreshed, fortified,
to his duties. Might not the editor man view with pride
the early, the spiritual, the literal fruit that had
blessed his labors.
Policeman O'Brine folded the paper and poked it
playfully under the arm of a small boy that was
passing. That boy was named Johnny, and he took the
paper home with him. His sister was named Gladys, and
she had written to the beauty editor of the paper
asking for the practicable touchstone of beauty.
That was weeks ago, and she had ceased to look for
an answer. Gladys was a pale girl, with dull eyes
and a discontented expression. She was dressing to
go up to the avenue to get some braid. Beneath her
skirt she pinned two leaves of the paper Johnny had
brought. When she walked the rustling sound was an
exact imitation of the real thing.
On the street she met the Brown girl from the flat
below and stopped to talk. The Brown girl turned
green. Only silk at $5 a yard could make the sound
that she heard when Gladys moved. The Brown girl,
consumed by jealousy, said something spiteful and
went her way, with pinched lips.
Gladys proceeded toward the avenue. Her eyes now
sparkled like jagerfonteins. A rosy bloom visited
her cheeks; a triumphant, subtle, vivifying smile
transfigured her face. She was beautiful. Could
the beauty editor have seen her then! There was
something in her answer in the paper, I believe,
about cultivating a kind feeling toward others
in order to make plain features attractive.
The labor leader against whom the paper's solemn
and weighty editorial injunction was laid was the
father of Gladys and Johnny. He picked up the remains
of the journal from which Gladys had ravished a
cosmetic of silken sounds. The editorial did not
come under his eye, but instead it was greeted by
one of those ingenious and specious puzzle problems
that enthrall alike the simpleton and the sage.
The labor leader tore off half of the page, provided
himself with table, pencil and paper and glued himself
to his puzzle.
Three hours later, after waiting vainly for him
at the appointed place, other more conservative
leaders declared and ruled in favor of arbitration,
and the strike with its attendant dangers was averted.
Subsequent editions of the paper referred, in colored
inks, to the clarion tone of its successful denunciation
of the labor leader's intended designs.
The remaining leaves of the active journal also went
loyally to the proving of its potency.
When Johnny returned from school he sought a secluded
spot and removed the missing columns from the inside
of his clothing, where they had been artfully distributed
so as to successfully defend such areas as are generally
attacked during scholastic castigations. Johnny attended
a private school and had had trouble with his teacher.
As has been said, there was an excellent editorial
against corporal punishment in that morning's issue,
and no doubt it had its effect.
After this can any one doubt the power of the press?
~~~~~~~ THE END ~~~~~~~