Business Narration. Part 3
And in such a story, if ever, foreshortening of the unimportant is essential. Say on; come to the point. And yet do not loose your cat from its bag before what business men are fond of calling the psychological moment. Here is an anecdote which has but three sentences and yet has suspense.
We had all 'watched children go scuffling along to school, stubbing their toes at every step, and it meant nothing to us. But one day an imaginative man watched them, and saw the effect of putting a thin strip of copper across the toe of the boy's boot. The world gave him a million dollars. - Deland; Imagination in Business.
Here is a longer anecdote by the same author and from the same book. The element of suspense is not strong, for the writer wants to end it with a short lecture.
Let me tell the story of two bootblacks. We can scarcely go lower in the business scale. These two boys, of about the same age, I found stand-ing, one Saturday afternoon, on opposite sides of a crowded thoroughfare in Springfield. So far as could be judged, there was no preference between the different sides of the street, for an equally large crowd seemed to be moving on both sides. The bootblacks had no regular stand, but each had his box slung over his shoulder, and, standing on the curbstone, solicited the passers-by to stop and have a shine. Each boy had one "call," or method of solicitation, which he repeated at regular intervals. The two solicitations were entirely different, but each was composed of four words. They never varied them. Yet one of these boys, by the peculiar wording of his solicitation, secured twice as much business as the other, so far as one could judge, and I watched them for a long time.
The cry of the first boy was, "Shine your boots here." It announced the simple fact that he was prepared to shine their boots. The cry of the second boy was, "Get your Sunday Shine!" It was then Saturday afternoon, and the hour was four o'clock. This second boy employed imagination. He related one attraction to another; he joined facts together; his four simple words told all that the first boy said, and a great deal more. It conveyed the information, not simply that he was there to shine shoes, but that tomorrow was Sunday; that from present appearances it was likely to be a pleasant day; that he, as a bootblack, realized that they would need an extra good shine; .... and that any self-respecting Christian would wish his shoes shined before he repaired to the sanctuary.
And finally here is an anecdote which has lately been going the round of the papers, and which has suspense up to the very last sentence, the very last word. Nay, it leaves us wondering as to whether the story had not a sequel. This anecdote is built with good proportions and just the right amount of dialogue. A good deal of wordy dialogue ruins an anecdote; the right amount and the right sort give it vividness. In this one the spoken sentences are the essence and life of the whole thing.
The Price of his Cards.
A traveling man called on the manager of a large concern down town the other day and sent his card in by the boy at the outside gate. The boy sauntered back lazily and told the traveling man that the manager wouldn't see him.
"Well, you go and ask him for the card I sent in," said the caller.
In a few minutes the boy returned from his second trip. "Say," remarked the boy, "the boss told me to tell you that he tore up that card, but he sent a nickel to you to pay for it."
The traveling man was deeply insulted, but he decided to get back as best he could. He opened his card case and drew out another card, handing it to the boy.
"Give this to your boss," he said, "and tell him that I'll keep the money. My cards are two for five. Much obliged."
The manager rushed out to the gate to find the traveling man, but he was too late. The man had left. - New York Sun.
§ 85. Is there no use for narrative without suspense? The answer stares at us from the front page of any newspaper. What is called the "news story" avoids suspense as a man would the plague. The "head-liner" tries to tell the story in the first line of large type. In the subheads he gives the next most important facts - those that wouldn't squeeze into the first line. Then comes the article, and in the first paragraph or two the reporter gives everything away that he can. Theoretically the end of the story contains the least interesting details. This arrangement of material saves the attention of the busy reader. Also it permits dropping out a paragraph here and there if the story is found by the office to be too long. And in a good many business narratives, notably narrative reports, the newspaper arrangement is a good one to follow.
Here is an illustration of the arrangement.
ADJUST RAILROAD MATTERS.
REORGANIZERS FINALLY WORK OUT BASIS FOR NEW COMPANY.
PRAISES PLAN SET FORTH.
Attorney Rosenthal Believes Security Holders Will Approve.
Notice of reorganization of the Chicago Southern railway company and the Southern Indiana railway company will be given today by committees of the two companies. Months have been consumed in straightening out the tangled affairs of the roads, and the system now in operation will have its liabilities cut down from $32,739,119.52 to $22,137,493.52.
The joint roads are 342 miles in length, extending from Chicago Heights to Westport, Ind,
Tells Plan of Reorganization.
Attorney Lessing Rosenthal, of counsel for the Chicago Southern syndicate, yesterday made the following statement regarding the reorganization:
"The final plan and agreement for the reorganization of the Chicago Southern railway company and the Southern Indiana railway company has been completed and the last signature required has been attached. The plan is the result of efforts on the part of members of the Chicago Southern committee, the Southern Indiana general mortgage committee, the Southern Indiana first mortgage committee, and their counsel.
"The reorganization will be a conservative one and will doubtless commend itself to the judgment of all holders of the securities of the railway companies. A new company will presently be organized to acquire the properties at the foreclosure sale soon to be had."
According to Mr. Rosenthal the new liabilities will include:
• Division of New Securities.
"Holders of the $3,212,000 of Southern Indiana railway general mortgage 5 per cent bonds will receive 85 per cent in the income bonds of the new company and 40 per cent in its common stock," said Mr. Rosenthal. "The holders of the $4,000,000 of Chicago Southern railway company first mortgage 5 per cent bonds and collateral 5 per cent bonds will receive 70 per cent in the new in-come bonds and 40 per cent in the new stock. The holders of the $1,902,500 of Chicago Southern syndicate certificates will receive 42 per cent in the income bonds and 36 per cent in the stock.
"The proceeds of the $2,500,000 of first and refunding bonds of the new company will be required to liquidate outstanding receivers' certificates, equipment obligations, preferred claims, and expenses of reorganization. No allowance will be made to the present holders of stock of either railway company."
The reorganization committee consists of Emile K. Boisot, Chicago; Anton G. Hodenpyl and Christopher D. Smithers, New York; Melvin B. L. Johnson, Cleveland, and Festus J. Wade, St. Louis. Decrees directing the sale and foreclosure of the railway properties were entered in the Circuit courts of the United States for Illinois and Indiana in May of this year.
Byrne & Cutcheon of New York and James C. Hutchins of Chicago will act as counsel for the reorganization committee.