folding table in the middle, tall heaps of dampened paper all about, a quietly-running steam engine of nine-horse power on one side, twenty-five inky men and boys variously employed, and the whole brilliantly lighted up by jets of gas, numerous and flaring.
On one side is a kind of desk or pulpit, with a table before it, and the whole separated from the rest of the apartment by a rail.
In the pulpit, the night-clerk stands, counts and serves out the papers, with a nonchalant and graceful rapidity, that must be seen to be appreciated.
The regular carriers were all served an hour ago; they have folded their papers and gone their several ways; and early risers, two miles off, have already read the news of the day. The later newsboys, now, keep dropping in, singly, or in squads of three or four, each with his money ready in his hand.
Usually, no words pass between them and the clerk; he either knows how many papers they have come for, or they show him by exhibiting their money; and in three seconds after his eye lights upon a newly-arrived dirty face, he has counted the requisite number of papers, counted the money for them, and thrown the papers in a heap into the boy's arms, who slings them over his shoulder and hurries off for his supply of Times
. Occasionally a woman comes in for a few papers, or a little girl, or a boy so small that he cannot see over the low rail in front of the clerk, and is obliged to announce his presence and his desires by holding above it his little cash capital in his little black paw. In another part of the pressroom, a dozen or fifteen boys are folding papers for the early mails, and folding them at the average rate of thirty a minute.
A boy has
folded sixty papers a minute in that press-room.
Each paper has to be folded six times, and then laid evenly on the pile; and the velocity of movement required for the performance of such a minute's work, the reader can have no idea of till he sees it done.
As a feat, nothing known to the sporting world approaches it. The huge presses, that shed six printed leaves at a stroke, are in deep vaults adjoining the press-room.
They are motionless now, but the gas that has lighted them during their morning's work still spurts out in flame all over them, and men with blue shirts and black faces are hoisting out the ‘forms’ that have stamped their story on thirty thousand sheets.
The vaults are oily, inky, and warm.
Let us ascend.