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The Curious Case of the Contrary Cartridges

Posted by Dirck on 20 June, 2013

Could today’s pen step up to the front, please?

I din’t do nuttin!

Don’t worry, you’re not in trouble. In fact, I owe you an apology.  But let me tell the story behind Monday’s… well, big lie.  Today’s pen was not really Monday’s pen in any more than name, you see.  When I took it out to use, the first time since I’d loaded it the night before, I found an ugly surprise indeed.  The section was covered with ink!  The cap was crammed with it!  My fingers were all besmirched!

I said some immoderate things at and about the pen at that point, reflections upon its nature and utility.  I set it aside after mopping it with a tissue, and took up the Hero 616 I keep at the Regular Job desk as a trap for those who borrow pens unbidden.  That was the actual pen of the day, at least until I got home and took up the next day’s TWSBI.  It wasn’t until the sunny mood of yesterday that I felt up to taking the Waterman out of its paper and discovering why it had gone so wrong.

The culprit, as it turns out, was not the pen at all.  I’d grabbed one of my empty long Waterman cartridges to put the ink in;that ink came to me in one of the little Goulet Ink Drop sample tubes, and getting it out with a 1ml syringe was by far the easiest route.  This cartridge had not sealed firmly to the section, as there was a crack in it.  Not a little, easily overlooked crack, either, but something nearly a full centimeter long, running from the mouth of the cartridge down the wall, just where you’d think someone who was squirting ink into the very same cartridge would notice it.  That’s obviously not going to seal, and the pen can’t be held responsible for failure to commit an physical impossibility.

What casts my title into the plural is the canvass of my other Waterman longs revealed.  I don’t have a bunch of these empties, being disinclined to using that mode of ink storage, but what few I had all had the same crack in them, and all were as useless as the one that had negligently sloshed ink around a perfectly blameless pen.  Not, as I mentioned, a subtle deformity, and I can’t image how I’d missed the problem when rinsing them out.  I spent a few minutes shining a bright light  up the back ends of my modern Waterman pens, and while I can’t say I discovered which were boys and which were girls (the action being much like the sexing of chickens, but quieter and less likely to draw a pooping-on), I also can’t say I found any purpose-made cartridge wrecking apparatus.  Happily, whatever possessed them in this didn’t spread to the other cartridges in the box, as the loss of old C/F patterns and mostly-full Sheaffer slenders would be rather hard to keep a level head about.

This does nothing to move me closer to adopting cartridges into regular use.  The loss of my entire pitiful stock of Rohrer & Klinger Verdigris is softened by the discovery that it is an extremely easy ink to get off of humans with only a little water and soap.  Today’s pen got bumped back into duty somewhat earlier than it may have, so that I could show my contrition for Monday’s hasty words, and it seems that forgiveness is in it’s true nature.  As for the cartridges, though, the mystery remains.  They were not very old, nor regularly applied, nor ever abused.  I suppose further comparative examination might eventually wring the truth out of them, but I’ll leave that investigation for the rats at the dump.

Today’s pen: Waterman Executive
Today’s ink (in a converter): Wancher Imari

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