But the door opened again a little way, almost at once, and the trim-cut, academic face, with the lamplight falling upon the round glasses and blotting them out in a yellow smudge, appeared in the crevice.
“By the way, you were wrong in saying that I pulled down my blind on the evolutionary process now going on in the South. I give four thousand words to it in my Historical Perspective, volume one.”
In which Klinker quotes Scripture, and Queed has helped Fifi with her Lessons for the Last Time.
The tax-articles in the Post had ceased after the adjournment of the Legislature, which body gave no signs of ever having heard of them. Mr. Queed’s new series dealt authoritatively with “Currency Systems of the World.” He polished the systems off at the rate of three a week. But he had asked and obtained permission to submit, also, voluntary contributions on topics of his own choosing, and now for a fortnight these offerings had died daily in Colonel Cowles’s waste-basket.
As for his book, Queed could not bear to think of it in these days. Deliberately he had put a winding-sheet about his heart’s desire, and laid it away in a drawer, until such time as he had indisputably qualified himself to be editor of the Post. Having qualified, he could open that drawer again, with a rushing access of stifled ardor, and await the Colonel’s demise; but to do this, he figured now, would take him not less than two months and a half. Two months and a half wrenched from the Schedule! That sacred bill of rights not merely corrupted, but for a space nullified and cancelled! Yes, it was the ultimate sacrifice that outraged pride of intellect had demanded; but the young man would not flinch. And there were moments when Trainer Klinker was startled by the close-shut misery of his face.
The Scriptorium had been degraded into a sickening school of journalism. Day after day, night after night, Queed sat at his tiny table poring over back files of the Post, examining Colonel Cowles’s editorials as a geologist examines a Silurian deposit. He analyzed, classified, tabulated, computed averages, worked out underlying laws; and gradually, with great travail—for the journalese language was to him as Greek to another—he deduced from a thousand editorials a few broad principles, somewhat as follows:—
1. That the Colonel dealt with a very wide range of concrete topics, including many that appeared extremely trivial. (Whereas he, Queed, had dealt almost exclusively with abstract principles, rarely taking cognizance of any event that had happened later than 1850.)
2. That nearly all the Colonel’s “best” articles—i.e., best-liked, most popular: the kind that Major Brooke and Mr. Bylash, or even Miss Miller, were apt to talk about at the supper-table—dealt with topics of a purely local and ephemeral interest.