Chapter 8 - Being Editors
It was Albert's uncle who thought of our trying a newspaper. He said he thought we should not find the bandit business a paying industry, as a permanency, and that journalism might be.
We had sold Noel's poetry and that piece of information about Lord Tottenham to the good editor, so we thought it would not be a bad idea to have a newspaper of our own. We saw plainly that editors must be very rich and powerful, because of the grand office and the man in the glass case, like a museum, and the soft carpets and big writing-table. Besides our having seen a whole handful of money that the editor pulled out quite carelessly from his trousers pocket when he gave me my five bob.
Dora wanted to be editor and so did Oswald, but he gave way to her because she is a girl, and afterwards he knew that it is true what it says in the copy-books about Virtue being its own Reward. Because you've no idea what a bother it is. Everybody wanted to put in everything just as they liked, no matter how much room there was on the page. It was simply awful! Dora put up with it as long as she could and then she said if she wasn't let alone she wouldn't go on being editor; they could be the paper's editors themselves, so there.
Then Oswald said, like a good brother: 'I will help you if you like, Dora,' and she said, 'You're more trouble than all the rest of them! Come and be editor and see how you like it. I give it up to you.' But she didn't, and we did it together. We let Albert-next-door be sub- editor, because he had hurt his foot with a nail in his boot that gathered.
When it was done Albert-next-door's uncle had it copied for us in typewriting, and we sent copies to all our friends, and then of course there was no one left that we could ask to buy it. We did not think of that until too late. We called the paper the Lewisham Recorder; Lewisham because we live there, and Recorder in memory of the good editor. I could write a better paper on my head, but an editor is not allowed to write all the paper. It is very hard, but he is not. You just have to fill up with what you can get from other writers. If I ever have time I will write a paper all by myself. It won't be patchy. We had no time to make it an illustrated paper, but I drew the ship going down with all hands for the first copy. But the typewriter can't draw ships, so it was left out in the other copies. The time the first paper took to write out no one would believe! This was the Newspaper:
Every paper is written for some reason. Ours is because we want to sell it and get money. If what we have written brings happiness to any sad heart we shall not have laboured in vain. But we want the money too. Many papers are content with the sad heart and the happiness, but we are not like that, and it is best not to be deceitful. EDITORS.
There will be two serial stories; One by Dicky and one by all of us. In a serial story you only put in one chapter at a time. But we shall put all our serial story at once, if Dora has time to copy it. Dicky's will come later on.
The sun was setting behind a romantic-looking tower when two strangers might have been observed descending the crest of the hill. The eldest, a man in the prime of life; the other a handsome youth who reminded everybody of Quentin Durward. They approached the Castle, in which the fair Lady Alicia awaited her deliverers. She leaned from the castellated window and waved her lily hand as they approached. They returned her signal, and retired to seek rest and refreshment at a neighbouring hostelry.
The Princess was very uncomfortable in the tower, because her fairy godmother had told her all sorts of horrid things would happen if she didn't catch a mouse every day, and she had caught so many mice that now there were hardly any left to catch. So she sent her carrier pigeon to ask the noble Strangers if they could send her a few mice - because she would be of age in a few days and then it wouldn't matter. So the fairy godmother - - (I'm very sorry, but there's no room to make the chapters any longer.-ED.)
(I can't - I'd much rather not - I don't know how.)
I must now retrace my steps and tell you something about our hero. You must know he had been to an awfully jolly school, where they had turkey and goose every day for dinner, and never any mutton, and as many helps of pudding as a fellow cared to send up his plate for - so of course they had all grown up very strong, and before he left school he challenged the Head to have it out man to man, and he gave it him, I tell you. That was the education that made him able to fight Red Indians, and to be the stranger who might have been observed in the first chapter.
I think it's time something happened in this story. So then the dragon he came out, blowing fire out of his nose, and he said -
'Come on, you valiant man and true, I'd like to have a set-to along of you!'
(That's bad English. - ED. I don't care; it's what the dragon said. Who told you dragons didn't talk bad English? - Noel.)
So the hero, whose name was Noeloninuris, replied -
'My blade is sharp, my axe is keen, You're not nearly as big as a good many dragons I've seen.'
(Don't put in so much poetry, Noel. It's not fair, because none of the others can do it. - ED.)
And then they went at it, and he beat the dragon, just as he did the Head in Dicky's part of the Story, and so he married the Princess, and they lived - - (No they didn't - not till the last chapter. - ED.)
I think it's a very nice Story - but what about the mice? I don't want to say any more. Dora can have what's left of my chapter.
And so when the dragon was dead there were lots of mice, because he used to kill them for his tea but now they rapidly multiplied and ravaged the country, so the fair lady Alicia, sometimes called the Princess, had to say she would not marry any one unless they could rid the country of this plague of mice. Then the Prince, whose real name didn't begin with N, but was Osrawalddo, waved his magic sword, and the dragon stood before them, bowing gracefully. They made him promise to be good, and then they forgave him; and when the wedding breakfast came, all the bones were saved for him. And so they were married and lived happy ever after.
(What became of the other stranger? - NOEL. The dragon ate him because he asked too many questions. - EDITORS.)
This is the end of the story.
It only takes four hours and a quarter now to get from London to Manchester; but I should not think any one would if they could help it.
A DREADFUL WARNING. A wicked boy told me a very instructive thing about ginger. They had opened one of the large jars, and he happened to take out quite a lot, and he made it all right by dropping marbles in, till there was as much ginger as before. But he told me that on the Sunday, when it was coming near the part where there is only juice generally, I had no idea what his feelings were. I don't see what he could have said when they asked him. I should be sorry to act like it.
Experiments should always be made out of doors. And don't use benzoline. - DICKY. (That was when he burnt his eyebrows off. - ED.)
The earth is 2,400 miles round, and 800 through - at least I think so, but perhaps it's the other way. - DICKY. (You ought to have been sure before you began. - ED.)
In this so-called Nineteenth Century Science is but too little considered in the nurseries of the rich and proud. But we are not like that.
It is not generally known that if you put bits of camphor in luke-warm water it will move about. If you drop sweet oil in, the camphor will dart away and then stop moving. But don't drop any till you are tired of it, because the camphor won't any more afterwards. Much amusement and instruction is lost by not knowing things like this.
If you put a sixpence under a shilling in a wine-glass, and blow hard down the side of the glass, the sixpence will jump up and sit on the top of the shilling. At least I can't do it myself, but my cousin can. He is in the Navy.
Noel. You are very poetical, but I am sorry to say it will not do.
Alice. Nothing will ever make your hair curl, so it's no use. Some people say it's more important to tidy up as you go along. I don't mean you in particular, but every one.
H. O. We never said you were tubby, but the Editor does not know any cure.
Noel. If there is any of the paper over when this newspaper is finished, I will exchange it for your shut-up inkstand, or the knife that has the useful thing in it for taking stones out of horses' feet, but you can't have it without.
H. O. There are many ways how your steam engine might stop working. You might ask Dicky. He knows one of them. I think it is the way yours stopped.
Noel. If you think that by filling the garden with sand you can make crabs build their nests there you are not at all sensible.
You have altered your poem about the battle of Waterloo so often, that we cannot read it except where the Duke waves his sword and says some thing we can't read either. Why did you write it on blotting-paper with purple chalk? - ED. (Because YOU KNOW WHO sneaked my pencil. - NOEL.)
If you hold a guinea-pig up by his tail his eyes drop out.
You can't do half the things yourself that children in books do, making models or soon. I wonder why? - ALICE.
If you take a date's stone out and put in an almond and eat them together, it is prime. I found this out. - SUB-EDITOR.
If you put your wet hand into boiling lead it will not hurt you if you draw it out quickly enough. I have never tried this. - DORA.
If I ever keep a school everything shall be quite different. Nobody shall learn anything they don't want to. And sometimes instead of having masters and mistresses we will have cats, and we will dress up in cat skins and learn purring. 'Now, my dears,' the old cat will say, 'one, two, three all purr together,' and we shall purr like anything.
She won't teach us to mew, but we shall know how without teaching. Children do know some things without being taught. - ALICE.
It is a mistake to think that cats are playful. I often try to get a cat to play with me, and she never seems to care about the game, no matter how little it hurts. - H. O.
Making pots and pans with clay is fun, but do not tell the grown-ups. It is better to surprise them; and then you must say at once how easily it washes off - much easier than ink. - DICKY.
'Well, Annie, I have bad news for you,' said Mr Ridgway, as he entered the comfortable dining-room of his cabin in the Bush. 'Sam Redfern the Bushranger is about this part of the Bush just now. I hope he will not attack us with his gang.'
'I hope not,' responded Annie, a gentle maiden of some sixteen summers.
Just then came a knock at the door of the hut, and a gruff voice asked them to open the door.
'It is Sam Redfern the Bushranger, father,' said the girl.
'The same,' responded the voice, and the next moment the hall door was smashed in, and Sam Redfern sprang in, followed by his gang.
Annie's Father was at once overpowered, and Annie herself lay bound with cords on the drawing-room sofa. Sam Redfern set a guard round the lonely hut, and all human aid was despaired of. But you never know. Far away in the Bush a different scene was being enacted.
'Must be Injuns,' said a tall man to himself as he pushed his way through the brushwood. It was Jim Carlton, the celebrated detective. 'I know them,' he added; 'they are Apaches.' just then ten Indians in full war-paint appeared. Carlton raised his rifle and fired, and slinging their scalps on his arm he hastened towards the humble log hut where resided his affianced bride, Annie Ridgway, sometimes known as the Flower of the Bush.
The moon was low on the horizon, and Sam Redfern was seated at a drinking bout with some of his boon companions.
They had rifled the cellars of the hut, and the rich wines flowed like water in the golden goblets of Mr Ridgway.
But Annie had made friends with one of the gang, a noble, good-hearted man who had joined Sam Redfern by mistake, and she had told him to go and get the police as quickly as possible.
'Ha! ha!' cried Redfern, 'now I am enjoying myself!' He little knew that his doom was near upon him.
Just then Annie gave a piercing scream, and Sam Redfern got up, seizing his revolver. 'Who are you?' he cried, as a man entered.
'I am Jim Carlton, the celebrated detective,' said the new arrival.
Sam Redfern's revolver dropped from his nerveless fingers, but the next moment he had sprung upon the detective with the well-known activity of the mountain sheep, and Annie shrieked, for she had grown to love the rough Bushranger.
(To be continued at the end of the paper if there is room.)
A new slate is horrid till it is washed in milk. I like the green spots on them to draw patterns round. I know a good way to make a slate- pencil squeak, but I won't put it in because I don't want to make it common. - SUB-EDITOR.
Peppermint is a great help with arithmetic. The boy who was second in the Oxford Local always did it. He gave me two. The examiner said to him, 'Are you eating peppermints?' And he said, 'No, Sir.'
He told me afterwards it was quite true, because he was only sucking one. I'm glad I wasn't asked. I should never have thought of that, and I could have had to say 'Yes.' - OSWALD.
(Author of 'A Dream of Ancient Ancestors.') He isn't really - but he put it in to make it seem more real.
It is useless to plant cherry-stones in the hope of eating the fruit, because they don't!
Alice won't lend her gardening tools again, because the last time Noel left them out in the rain, and I don't like it. He said he didn't.
These are useful to play at shop with, until you are ready. Not at dinner-parties, for they will not grow unless uncooked. Potatoes are not grown with seed, but with chopped-up potatoes. Apple trees are grown from twigs, which is less wasteful.
Oak trees come from acorns. Every one knows this. When Noel says he could grow one from a peach stone wrapped up in oak leaves, he shows that he knows nothing about gardening but marigolds, and when I passed by his garden I thought they seemed just like weeds now the flowers have been picked.
A boy once dared me to eat a bulb.
Dogs are very industrious and fond of gardening. Pincher is always planting bones, but they never grow up. There couldn't be a bone tree. I think this is what makes him bark so unhappily at night. He has never tried planting dog-biscuit, but he is fonder of bones, and perhaps he wants to be quite sure about them first.
This would have been a jolly good story if they had let me finish it at the beginning of the paper as I wanted to. But now I have forgotten how I meant it to end, and I have lost my book about Red Indians, and all my Boys of England have been sneaked. The girls say 'Good riddance!' so I expect they did it. They want me just to put in which Annie married, but I shan't, so they will never know.
We have now put everything we can think of into the paper. It takes a lot of thinking about. I don't know how grown-ups manage to write all they do. It must make their heads ache, especially lesson books.
Albert-next-door only wrote one chapter of the serial story, but he could have done some more if he had wanted to. He could not write out any of the things because he cannot spell. He says he can, but it takes him such a long time he might just as well not be able. There are one or two things more. I am sick of it, but Dora says she will write them in.
LEGAL ANSWER WANTED. A quantity of excellent string is offered if you know whether there really is a law passed about not buying gunpowder under thirteen. - DICKY.
The price of this paper is one shilling each, and sixpence extra for the picture of the Malabar going down with all hands. If we sell one hundred copies we will write another paper.
And so we would have done, but we never did. Albert-next-door's uncle gave us two shillings, that was all. You can't restore fallen fortunes with two shillings!