Typo: A Monthly Newspaper and Literary Review, Volume 4
The Ribs and the Broken Leg.
Here is a story from the early seventies which has the merit of being true. The two veteran printers concerned are both in Wellington now—they were then in Canterbury. Mr W. Nation, of Christchurch, bought from Mr Haggett, of Timaru, some second-hand printing plant, including an old press which had seen much service, and was decidedly the worse for wear. When the bulk of the stuff was sent, part of the press remained behind. This was afterwards despatched, and Mr Haggett sent advice by wire as follows: « Ribs and broken leg by afternoon train. » The ghastly message sent an electric thrill of horror through the Christchurch telegraph office, and the mysterious document was privately shown to the Inspector of Police before delivery. At the appointed time Mr Nation repaired to the railway office, when he was touched on the shoulder by a constable, who « wanted to see thim ribs and that broken leg. » Mr Nation had some difficulty in repressing his emotion, but dissembled. With the air of a detected culprit he led the stern officer to the platform, and pointed out the fleshless ribs and fractured limb. The constable had nerved himself for a tragic spectacle, but was not prepared for the reality. It was too much, and he beat a rapid retreat.
Dick was a devil in one of the old-time offices (let us say at Kaikiekie) where founts were limited; and he had his own way of making the most of them. The cap S, the periods, and the thick spaces, were always giving out; but the founder had thoughtfully supplied enough accents to set a column of French if required. There were two easygoing weeklies at Kaikiekie—the Free Press on Wednesdays, and the Independent on Saturdays; each annexed the other's shipping and police-court news for the half-week, as a matter of course, and most of the composition was done by boys. Dick never lost a chance of working in the accents. He was not content with bonâ fide and dépôt, but tried some original experiments with foreign proper names, and generally found them pass muster; though these innovations must sometimes have been a little startling to the readers of the Free Press. At last, however, he nearly got into a serious scrape. It happened that a Roman Catholic church was to be consecrated, and a missionary priest named Poupinet came by sea to take part in the ceremony. Dick set the passenger-list from the Independent, and could not pass so tempting a name without bringing in some of his favourite characters. What were all these accents for, if not to be used? Accordingly the visitor figured in the shipping list as « the Rev. 0. Poupinet. » The Independent devil had evidently noted this; and when Dick set up the departures the following week, he found « the Rev. 0. Poupinet » in the list, and followed copy. It so happened that the editor had some share in the Free Press, and on this occasion be noticed the singular appearance of the reverend gentleman's name. He came to the office, and demanded to know who had put in all those ridiculous accents. « There are three in one man's name, » he said, looking at the paper to refresh his memory— « a grave over the o, a circumflex i, and an acute e. It cannot possibly be right—who set it? » Dick acknowledged to have done it; « but, » said he, « it was that way in the Independent. » « Let me see it, » said the editor, « it's not much they trouble about accents over there. » The copy was produced. « Don't follow anything of that sort again, » he said, « or we'll be laughed at all over the town. Even if it's right—and I don't believe it is—it looks so horribly pedantic!»
This is a Chicago yarn, from the Union Printer. Harry, a Herald comp, is hard of hearing, and uses a pencil for his communications. The other day he handed his mate Jim a slip bearing the words, « Can you tell me where I can get a good drink of whisky for ten cents? » Jim (an authority on the subject), notes down the address of a saloon hard by. The slip is handed back with a second question: « Good. Now can you tell me where I can get the ten cents? » The rest was silence.
« Moxie » is another character on the Chicago Herald. He challenged the proof-reader's decision on a question of grammar, and the reader produced a $10 bill to back his opinion. Moxie fled, and returned to his dis, and finished his lift. Then he suddenly jumped off his stool, exclaiming: « By jove, I'll just take that bet, anyhow. Who'll lend me $10? » He didn't bet.