"How I Edited an Agricultural Paper"
by Mark Twain

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     In about half an hour an old gentleman, with a flowing beard and a fine but rather austere face, entered, and sat down at my invitation. He seemed to have something on his mind. He took off his hat and set it on the floor, and got out of it a red silk handkerchief and a copy of our paper. He put the paper on his lap, and, while he polished his spectacles with his handkerchief, he said:

     "Are you the new editor?"

     I said I was.

     "Have you ever edited an agricultural paper before?"

     "No," I said; "this is my first attempt."


     "Very likely. Have you had any experience in agriculture, practically?"

     "No, I believe I have not."

     "Some instinct told me so," said the old gentleman, putting on his spectacles and looking over them at me with asperity, while he folded his paper into a convenient shape. "I wish to read you what must have made me have that instinct. It was this editorial. Listen, and see if it was you that wrote it:

     "Turnips should never be pulled -- it injures them. It is much better to send a boy up and let him shake the tree.

     "Now, what do you think of that? -- for I really suppose you wrote it?"

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