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A short story by Ambrose Bierce

Why I Am Not Editing "The Stinger"

Title:     Why I Am Not Editing "The Stinger"
Author: Ambrose Bierce [More Titles by Bierce]

_J. Munniglut, Proprietor, to Peter Pitchin, Editor._

"STINGER" OFFICE, Monday, 9 A.M.

A man has called to ask "who wrote that article about Mr. Muskler." I told him to find out, and he says that is what he means to do. He has consented to amuse himself with the exchanges while I ask you. I don't approve the article.


_Peter Pitchin, Editor, to J. Munniglut, Proprietor_.

13 LOFER STREET, Monday, 10 A.M.

Do you happen to remember how Dacier translates _Difficile est proprie communia dicere_? I've made a note of it somewhere, but can't find it. If you remember please leave a memorandum of it on your table, and I'll get it when I come down this afternoon.

P.S.--Tell the man to go away; we can't be bothered about that fellow Muskler.


_J. Munniglut, Proprietor, to Peter Pitchin, Editor._

"STINGER" OFFICE, Monday, 11:30 A.M.

I can't be impolite to a stranger, you know; I must tell him _somebody_ wrote it. He has finished the exchanges, and is drumming on the floor with the end of his stick; I fear the people in the shop below won't like it. Besides, the foreman says it disturbs the compositors in the next room. Suppose you come down.


_Peter Pitchin, Editor, to J. Munniglut, Proprietor._

13 LOFER STREET, Monday, 1 P.M.

I have found the note I made of that translation, but it is in French and I can't make it out. Try the man with the dictionary and the "Books of Dates." They ought to last him till it's time to close the office. I shall be down early to-morrow morning.

P.S.--How big is he? Suggest a civil suit for libel.


_J. Munniglut, Proprietor, to Peter Pitchin, Editor._

"STINGER" OFFICE, Monday, 3 P.M.

He looks larger than he was when he came in. I've offered him the dictionary; he says he has read it before. He is sitting on my table. Come at once!


_Peter Pitchin, Editor, to J. Munniglut, Proprietor._

13 LOFER STREET, Monday, 5 P.M.

I don't think I shall. I am doing an article for this week on "The Present Aspect of the Political Horizon." Expect me _very_ early to-morrow. You had better turn the man out and shut up the office.


_Henry Inxling, Bookkeeper, to Peter Pitchin, Editor._

"STINGER" OFFICE, Tuesday, 8 A.M.

Mr. Munniglut has not arrived, but his friend, the large gentleman who was with him all day yesterday, is here again. He seems very desirous of seeing you, and says he will wait. Perhaps he is your cousin. I thought I would tell you he was here, so that you might hasten down.

Ought I to allow dogs in the office? The gentleman has a bull-dog.


_Peter Pitchin, Editor, to Henry Inxling, Bookkeeper._

13 LOFER STREET, Tuesday, 9.30 A.M.

Certainly _not;_ dogs have fleas. The man is an impostor. Oblige me by turning him out. I shall come down this afternoon--_early_.

P.S.--Don't listen to the rascal's entreaties; out with him!


_Henry Inxling, Bookkeeper, to Peter Pitchin, Editor._

"STINGER" OFFICE, Tuesday, 12 M.

The gentleman carries a revolver. Would you mind coming down and reasoning with him? I have a wife and five children depending on me, and when I lose my temper I am likely to go too far. I would prefer that _you_ should turn him out.


_Peter Pitchin, Editor, to Henry Inxling, Bookkeeper._

13 LOFER STREET, Tuesday, 2 P.M.

Do you suppose I can leave my private correspondence to preserve you from the intrusion and importunities of beggars? Put the scoundrel out at once--neck and heels! I know him; he's Muskler--don't you remember? Muskler, the coward, who assaulted an old man; you'll find the whole circumstances related in last Saturday's issue. Out with him--the unmanly sneak!


_Henry Inxling, Bookkeeper, to Peter Pitchin, Editor._

"STINGER" OFFICE, Tuesday Evening.

I have told him to go, and he laughed. So did the bull-dog. But he is going. He is now making a bed for the pup in one corner of your room, with some rugs and old newspapers, and appears to be about to go to dinner. I have given him your address. The foreman wants some copy to go on with. I beg you will come at once if I am to be left alone with that dog.


_Peter Pitchin, Editor, to Henry Inxling, Bookkeeper._

40 DUNTIONER'S ALLEY, Wednesday, 10 A.M.

I should have come down to the office last evening, but you see I have been moving. My landlady was too filthy dirty for anything! I stood it as long as I could; then I left. I'm coming directly I get your answer to this; but I want to know, first, if my blotter has been changed and my ink-well refilled. This house is a good way out, but the boy can take the car at the corner of Cobble and Slush streets.

O!--about that _man_? Of course you have not seen him since.


_William Quoin, Foreman, to Peter Pitchin, Editor._

"STINGER" OFFICE, Wednesday, 12 M.

I've got your note to Inxling; he ain't come down this morning. I haven't a line of copy on the hooks; the boys are all throwing in dead ads. There's a man and a dog in the proprietor's office; I don't believe they ought to be there, all alone, but they were here all Monday and yesterday, and may be connected with the business management of the paper; so I don't like to order them out. Perhaps you will come down and speak to them. We shall have to go away if you don't send copy.


_Peter Pitchin, Editor, to William Quoin, Foreman._

40 DUNTIONER'S ALLEY, Wednesday, 3 P.M.

Your note astonishes me. The man you describe is a notorious thief. Get the compositors all together, and make a rush at him. Don't try to keep him, but hustle him out of town, and I'll be down as soon as I can get a button sewn on my collar.

P.S.--Give it him good!--don't mention my address and he can't complain to me how you treat him. Bust his bugle!


_J. Munniglut, Proprietor, to Peter Pitchin, Editor._

"STINGER" OFFICE, Friday, 2 P.M.

Business has detained me from the office until now, and what do I find? Not a soul about the place, no copy, not a stickful of live matter on the galleys! There can be no paper this week. What you have all done with yourselves I am sure I don't know; one would suppose there had been smallpox about the place. You will please come down and explain this Hegira at once--at once, if you please!

P.S.--That troublesome Muskler--you may remember he dropped in on Monday to inquire about something or other--has taken a sort of shop exactly opposite here, and seems, at this distance, to be doing something to a shotgun. I presume he is a gunsmith. So we are precious well rid of _him_.


_Peter Pitchin, Editor to J. Munniglut, Proprietor_.

PIER NO. 3, Friday Evening.

Just a line or two to say I am suddenly called away to bury my sick mother. When that is off my mind I'll write you what I know about the Hegira, the Flight into Egypt, the Retreat of the Ten Thousand, and whatever else you would like to learn. There is nothing mean about _me!_ I don't think there has been any wilful desertion. You may engage an editor for, say, fifty years, with the privilege of keeping him regularly, if, at the end of that time, I should break my neck hastening back.

P.S.--I hope that poor fellow Muskier will make a fair profit in the gunsmithing line. Jump him for an ad!

[The end]
Ambrose Bierce's short story: Why I Am Not Editing "the Stinger"