The editor of the _Hearthstone Magazine_ has his own ideas about the
selection of manuscript for his publication. His theory is no secret;
in fact, he will expound it to you willingly sitting at his mahogany
desk, smiling benignantly and tapping his knee gently with his
"The _Hearthstone_," he will say, "does not employ a staff of
readers. We obtain opinions of the manuscripts submitted to us
directly from types of the various classes of our readers."
That is the editor's theory; and this is the way he carries it out:
When a batch of MSS. is received the editor stuffs every one of his
pockets full of them and distributes them as he goes about during the
day. The office employees, the hall porter, the janitor, the elevator
man, messenger boys, the waiters at the cafe where the editor has
luncheon, the man at the news-stand where he buys his evening paper,
the grocer and milkman, the guard on the 5.30 uptown elevated train,
the ticket-chopper at Sixty ----th street, the cook and maid at his
home--these are the readers who pass upon MSS. sent in to the
_Hearthstone Magazine_. If his pockets are not entirely emptied by
the time he reaches the bosom of his family the remaining ones are
handed over to his wife to read after the baby goes to sleep. A few
days later the editor gathers in the MSS. during his regular rounds
and considers the verdict of his assorted readers.
This system of making up a magazine has been very successful; and the
circulation, paced by the advertising rates, is making a wonderful
record of speed.
The _Hearthstone_ Company also publishes books, and its imprint is to
be found on several successful works--all recommended, says the
editor, by the _Hearthstone's_ army of volunteer readers. Now and
then (according to talkative members of the editorial staff) the
_Hearthstone_ has allowed manuscripts to slip through its fingers on
the advice of its heterogeneous readers, that afterward proved to be
famous sellers when brought out by other houses.
For instance (the gossips say), "The Rise and Fall of Silas Latham"
was unfavourably passed upon by the elevator-man; the office-boy
unanimously rejected "The Boss"; "In the Bishop's Carriage" was
contemptuously looked upon by the street-car conductor; "The
Deliverance" was turned down by a clerk in the subscription department
whose wife's mother had just begun a two-months' visit at his home;
"The Queen's Quair" came back from the janitor with the comment: "So
is the book."
But nevertheless the _Hearthstone_ adheres to its theory and system,
and it will never lack volunteer readers; for each one of the widely
scattered staff, from the young lady stenographer in the editorial
office to the man who shovels in coal (whose adverse decision lost to
the _Hearthstone_ Company the manuscript of "The Under World"), has
expectations of becoming editor of the magazine some day.
This method of the _Hearthstone_ was well known to Allen Slayton when
he wrote his novelette entitled "Love Is All." Slayton had hung about
the editorial offices of all the magazines so persistently that he was
acquainted with the inner workings of every one in Gotham.
He knew not only that the editor of the Hearthstone handed his MSS.
around among different types of people for reading, but that the
stories of sentimental love-interest went to Miss Puffkin, the
editor's stenographer. Another of the editor's peculiar customs was to
conceal invariably the name of the writer from his readers of MSS. so
that a glittering name might not influence the sincerity of their
Slayton made "Love Is All" the effort of his life. He gave it six
months of the best work of his heart and brain. It was a pure
love-story, fine, elevated, romantic, passionate--a prose poem that
set the divine blessing of love (I am transposing from the manuscript)
high above all earthly gifts and honours, and listed it in the
catalogue of heaven's choicest rewards. Slayton's literary ambition
was intense. He would have sacrificed all other worldly possessions
to have gained fame in his chosen art. He would almost have cut off
his right hand, or have offered himself to the knife of the
appendicitis fancier to have realized his dream of seeing one of his
efforts published in the _Hearthstone_.
Slayton finished "Love Is All," and took it to the _Hearthstone_ in
person. The office of the magazine was in a large, conglomerate
building, presided under by a janitor.
As the writer stepped inside the door on his way to the elevator a
potato masher flew through the hall, wrecking Slayton's hat, and
smashing the glass of the door. Closely following in the wake of the
utensil flew the janitor, a bulky, unwholesome man, suspenderless and
sordid, panic-stricken and breathless. A frowsy, fat woman with
flying hair followed the missile. The janitor's foot slipped on the
tiled floor, he fell in a heap with an exclamation of despair. The
woman pounced upon him and seized his hair. The man bellowed lustily.
Her vengeance wreaked, the virago rose and stalked triumphant as
Minerva, back to some cryptic domestic retreat at the rear. The
janitor got to his feet, blown and humiliated.
"This is married life," he said to Slayton, with a certain bruised
humour. "That's the girl I used to lay awake of nights thinking
about. Sorry about your hat, mister. Say, don't snitch to the tenants
about this, will yer? I don't want to lose me job."
Slayton took the elevator at the end of the hall and went up to the
offices of the _Hearthstone_. He left the MS. of "Love Is All" with
the editor, who agreed to give him an answer as to its availability
at the end of a week.
Slayton formulated his great winning scheme on his way down. It
struck him with one brilliant flash, and he could not refrain from
admiring his own genius in conceiving the idea. That very night he
set about carrying it into execution.
Miss Puffkin, the _Hearthstone_ stenographer, boarded in the same house
with the author. She was an oldish, thin, exclusive, languishing,
sentimental maid; and Slayton had been introduced to her some time
The writer's daring and self-sacrificing project was this: He knew
that the editor of the _Hearthstone_ relied strongly upon Miss
Puffkin's judgment in the manuscript of romantic and sentimental
fiction. Her taste represented the immense average of mediocre women
who devour novels and stories of that type. The central idea and
keynote of "Love Is All" was love at first sight--the enrapturing,
irresistible, soul-thrilling feeling that compels a man or a woman
to recognize his or her spirit-mate as soon as heart speaks to heart.
Suppose he should impress this divine truth upon Miss Puffkin
personally!--would she not surely indorse her new and rapturous
sensations by recommending highly to the editor of the _Hearthstone_
the novelette "Love Is All"?
Slayton thought so. And that night he took Miss Puffkin to the
theatre. The next night he made vehement love to her in the dim
parlour of the boarding-house. He quoted freely from "Love Is All";
and he wound up with Miss Puffkin's head on his shoulder, and visions
of literary fame dancing in his head.
But Slayton did not stop at love-making. This, he said to himself,
was the turning point of his life; and, like a true sportsman, he
"went the limit." On Thursday night he and Miss Puffkin walked over
to the Big Church in the Middle of the Block and were married.
Brave Slayton! Chateaubriand died in a garret, Byron courted a widow,
Keats starved to death, Poe mixed his drinks, De Quincey hit the pipe,
Ade lived in Chicago, James kept on doing it, Dickens wore white
socks, De Maupassant wore a strait-jacket, Tom Watson became a
Populist, Jeremiah wept, all these authors did these things for the
sake of literature, but thou didst cap them all; thou marriedst a wife
for to carve for thyself a niche in the temple of fame!
On Friday morning Mrs. Slayton said she would go over to the
_Hearthstone_ office, hand in one or two manuscripts that the editor
had given to her to read, and resign her position as stenographer.
"Was there anything--er--that--er--you particularly fancied
in the stories you are going to turn in?" asked Slayton with a
"There was one--a novelette, that I liked so much," said his wife. "I
haven't read anything in years that I thought was half as nice and
true to life."
That afternoon Slayton hurried down to the _Hearthstone_ office. He
felt that his reward was close at hand. With a novelette in the
_Hearthstone_, literary reputation would soon be his.
The office boy met him at the railing in the outer office. It was not
for unsuccessful authors to hold personal colloquy with the editor
except at rare intervals.
Slayton, hugging himself internally, was nursing in his heart the
exquisite hope of being able to crush the office boy with his
He inquired concerning his novelette. The office boy went into the
sacred precincts and brought forth a large envelope, thick with more
than the bulk of a thousand checks.
"The boss told me to tell you he's sorry," said the boy, "but your
manuscript ain't available for the magazine."
Slayton stood, dazed. "Can you tell me," he stammered, "whether or
no Miss Puff--that is my--I mean Miss Puffkin--handed in a novelette
this morning that she had been asked to read?"
"Sure she did," answered the office boy wisely. "I heard the old man
say that Miss Puffkin said it was a daisy. The name of it was,
'Married for the Mazuma, or a Working Girl's Triumph.'"
"Say, you!" said the office boy confidentially, "your name's Slayton,
ain't it? I guess I mixed cases on you without meanin' to do it. The
boss give me some manuscript to hand around the other day and I got
the ones for Miss Puffkin and the janitor mixed. I guess it's all
And then Slayton looked closer and saw on the cover of his manuscript,
under the title "Love Is All," the janitor's comment scribbled with a
piece of charcoal:
"The ---- you say!"