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Full text of "Deadlines"

Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2007 with funding from 

IVIicrosoft Corporation 



http://www.archive.org/details/deadlinesOOsmitrich 






DEADLINES 



HENK/OUSHN-SMITH 



1 



BEING 



THR-QUAINT 



THHaviUSING 



THETRAGIC 



MEMOIRS OFA 



CHICAGO 



(on) 



m covrrT-M^GEE m 



DESIGN-BV JP2.S HM^MAN.ROSSE 






Copyright 1922 

Covici-cMcGee 

Chicago 



First Printing, December, 1922 
Second Printing, February, 1923 



|HE character portraits in 
this book are composites. The 
incidents are fictionized. It was 
inevitable that much of the at- 
mosphere should be borrowed 
from that of a certain famous 
and fascinating newsroom; but 
the author believes that he will 
be forgiven for purloining a bit 
of atmosphere. It is his hope 
that no one, a part of whose like- 
ness may be visible in the mirror, 
will imagine that he discovers a 
full-length portrait of himself; 
that not a line of the writing will 
cav^e distress to a single one of 
those to whom the book may 
be considered dedicated — ''the 
boys." 

H.J.S. 




504u29 



Contents 



Page 

^ The Day . 1 

In The Cave of Tongues 25 

^ The Star 41 

"^ The Drunkard 55 

- YouAg-Man-Going-Somewhere 69 

The Cub 85 

The Old Man 97 

The Poet 113 

The Ghost 125 

The Socialized Copy-Boy 143 

The Triumphant Comma-Hound .... 161 

Josslyn,— (Part One) , . 179 

Josslyn,--(Part Two) , . 207 

The Late Watch ......... 231 



[11 



DSAbLlNBS 



[13 
The Day 




[I] 



T is still dark in the streets, still 
dark among the fiat roofs of our 
block, when the day begins. 

It is a winter morning before 
seven o'clock. Night clings to the 
city. Windows in some of the tall 
with a radiance never extin- 



buildings burn 
guished; others spring into color ahead of the 
belated sun. On street cars and elevated trains 
that sail through the darkness like lighted ships 
the seven o'clock workers are arriving "down- 
town." They are shabbier, more morose, than 
those who come later. It is hard to be buoyant 
before seven o'clock in the morning. 

In the newspaper office desks and long tables 
stand in a twilight due to glimmerings that pene- 
trate through the windows. Typewriters, gro- 
tesquely hooded, lie in ranks. Waste-baskets yawn. 
The wires, clinging to the desks, are asleep; tele- 



DEADLINES [2} 

phones have not yet found their tongues. The 
electric contact with the waking world is in sus- 
pension. What happened yesterday? What will 
happen today? The wires do not care. 

A sleepy boy, shivering, his shoes trickling 
melted snow, enters the spectral room, carrying 
a bundle of morning newspapers which he lets 
fall upon a table. He sighs. He turns an electric 
switch, and the desks and tables spring into 
outline. The boy stares about him, stumbles over 
a waste-basket, kicks it away, sits in a battered 
chair in front of the mouth of a tarnished copper 
tube that runs through the ceiling, and drowses. 
He has barely settled down when he hears men 
coming in, and starts up. The men are two ; young, 
but with graying hair. They have not much to 
say to each other. They do not even glance toward 
the boy. With a manner somewhat repressed, but 
alert enough, they go to desks, call out for the 
morning papers, and start slicing them up with 
scissors. Ten minutes go by, while the clock ticks 
serenely and the windows become grey with creep- 
ing daylight ; daylight that sifts down among the 
roofs and through veils of smoke and fog, that 
comes cold and ashamed and reluctant. It envel- 
ops in new shadows the bowed shoulders of the 
two young rnen, touching their cheeks with its 
own pallor, casting pale reminders upon the papers 
they are cutting. One man glances over his 
shoulder at the clock. The clock presently strikes 




m DEADLINES 

a puny but peremptory "Ping!" It is seven o'clock. 
The day has begun. 

Now enter through the swinging door, which 
flies back and forth impatiently, the staff. For 
some time the tramping of their feet, the sound 
of their breathing, their low laughter, the swish 
and creak of the door, fills the room. There are 
ruddy, careless fellows in this company, sanguine 
youths to whom strain and difficulty are nothing. 
They tramp, tramp, past the desks and tables, doff 
overcoats, strip the typewriters of their hoods, 
whistle, wink at each other, take final puffs of for- 
bidden cigarettes, chuckle together over amusing 
things in the morning papers, and meantime 
remain secretly alert — for what? Not merely for 
the calling of a name by the city editor (now 
established at his desk and scowling at clippings). 
Not merely for the chatter of a telephone bell, 
which may mean a day's work for some or all. 
The possibilities are vague. The tingling of blood 
means only that this is a new day. Something is 
bound to happen. They do not mention this to 
each other. It is against the code for one man to 
say to his mate : "John, this may be a momentous 
day. It may bring fame to someone. This may be 
our great opportunity." Instead, one reporter 
stretches and yawns: "Well, here we are again, 
boys; back in the old squirrel cage, to do a few 
more turns for the antique Press. What of it? 
Say, do you suppose such a thing could happen as 



DEADLINES m 

that rd get an interesting assignment? Where's 
the bird who said newspaper work was excit- 
ing? . . . ." 

They are like hunting dogs, pretending to be 
asleep, but with their ears cocked for the mys- 
terious, the shapeless approaching event that is 
in the spirit of the day. 

'^ ^ [II] 

THE room is now full. In this loft, some ninety 
feet long by thirty wide, place is found for 
nearly forty men. At one end, the end farthest 
from the thunder of "L** trains, sits the city 
editor, surrounded by assistants, tables, tele- 
phones, filing cases, wire baskets, spindles, and 
boys — in that order of usefulness. Within elbow 
distance are the copy-readers, whom the city 
editor both prizes and reviles. They bend over 
their long, battered desk, some of them chewing 
tobacco unobtrusively, and jab with their pencils 
at piles of manuscript, giving it an earnest and 
sardonic scrutiny. Just beyond them sit the 
telegraph editors, older men and more solemn of 
face, as befits those whose judgment grapples 
with majestic cables and Washington dispatches. 
The chief of these worthies presides at a roll- 
top desk upon which boys periodically dump a 
mess of Associated Press sheets, damp from their 
passage through the tube. The desk has pigeon- 
holes crammed with dusty reports, statistics, 



[jj DEADLINES 

speeches not yet delivered, and biographies of 
men not yet dead. The telegraph editor is just 
now arguing with the head proofreader over the 
spelling of a Russian name. The argument waxes 
hot. We pass on. 

There is a group of desks pertaining to the 
three men who attend to the "make-up"; two of 
the arm-chairs vacant because their owners are 
in the composing room. And there is a large and 
excessively dusty desk before which, with his 
back to its intricate recesses, sits the news editor, 
from whom are supposed to issue ideas, solutions, 
and enthusiasm. None of them have issued from 
him thus far ; but the day is still young. 

Behind all this is the ampler space occupied 
by the staff. Three reporters, sprawled over 
their typewriters and strings of clippings, are 
doggedly pounding out "re-writes" of morning 
paper articles. Two more are deciphering notes 
of matters they have just heard over the tele- 
phone. Four others stand by a window, engaged 
in brisk discussion. Are they discussing politics, 
prurient plays, or prohibition? None of these 
things. One overhears: "I doubt if Wells is 
such a scream in England as he is in America. 
Now, when it comes to Compton Mackenzie " 

A boy approaches one of these reporters and 
says, triumphantly: 

"Wallace, Mr. Brown wants you." 

"Right." 



DEADLINES m 

The literary causerie continues during Wallace's 
absence. He returns, pulling on his gloves. A stir 
among the unassigned. 

"IVe got to interview Sir Scammon Scammon- 
ton. LaSalle station/* 

"Sorry for you. Must be dull day." 

"It is," grimaces Wallace, swaggering off. 

A dark-haired reporter sits penciling lines upon 
rough paper, and looking out dreamily into the 
hurly-burly of traffic and over the chaos of cor- 
nices and water tanks visible from the window. 
He is far, far away from all this. The lines he 
scrawls are mystical, tender. He is a poet. And 
he is a very good reporter but his habits 

A stout man in a corner is writing : "It is under- 
stood that the non-partisan element in the county 
board " but half his thoughts are upon Japan- 
ese prints. He is an amateur of Japanese prints. 

In another corner a tall and slightly grey-haired 
reporter stabs with his cane at a vagrant cock- 
roach, while shadows of reverie and discontent 
flit across his face. He was lately in Europe, 
whence he returned in disgust, shouting for the 
"good old life." Now he is yearning for Europe 
again. A novel that he began to write lies, yellow- 
ing, in a corner of his desk. He would like to go 
to Mexico, or to California. He applies every week 
for some trip or other. Meantime he meticulously 
does what he is told to do. 



m DEADLINES 

And then, there is a Cub, who sits bolt upright 
before his idle typewriter, eagerly, lovingly watch- 
ing the distant city editor from whom today — yes, 
this very day — ^may come that "good assignment." 
Something exciting. Good Lord, if they would 
only let him 

It is a dull day, yet there is a resistless move- 
ment of the commonplace which at last pulls 
nearly all these men from their trifling or their 
brooding and sends them out into the city, out into 
the slushy and gloom-fast streets, out into the 
enormous glittering skyscrapers, to run down little 
events. They scatter, with their various moods of 
hope, disgust, scorn, or vivacity, to thread their 
way through the city. 

The oflfice, emptied of the staff, retains only the 
"desk men." These are now a little relaxed. Not 
only has the day's program been laid down, as far 
as possible, but the first edition, which has fur- 
nished a few minutes of tension, is on the presses. 
From regions far below there comes a muffled 
thunder, a jarring that faintly shakes the desks. 
In the news-room silence, compared with the 
recent pecking of typewriters and murmur of 
voices, prevails. The desk men straighten up in 
their chairs, sigh, and stretch. One of them pulls 
from a drawer a thick novel and reads. 

It is a pause. But during this pause life goes 
on, climaxes prepare. Something draws nearer. 

The managing editor, a heavily-built being with 



DEADLINES m 

harsh spectacles, prowls into the room, gazes about 
and halts, watched apprehensively by a benchful 
of small boys. He disregards the juvenile array 
and swings heavily, thoughtfully, over toward 
the desk of the news editor. 

"What's doing?" he demands, in that voice 
whose cadences can convey so much wrath, so 
much bitterness — and so much sweetness. 

"Nothing 'special." 

"Humph !" exclaims the Old Man, and retires to 
his den. 

[HI] 

npHE Old Man has officially stigmatized the day 
-^ as dull. 

Boredom is the word. 

Take a score of keenly sensitized men, confront 
them with routine, and the result is boredom. 
However, they can endure this, just as they are 
able to stand severe and long-continued excite- 
ment. To those who most tremble with suspense 
or burn with pride there comes the profoundest 
lethargy; but they have learned to swim in it 
without impairment of the spirit. Here is a faculty 
which they have in common with musicians, 
actors, and other artists. These men in the news 
room have traces of the creative temperament, 
which hibernates, then springs up with new vigor. 
In some of them it is faded, grown old, or hidden 
behind stoicism. But in the oldest and most 
morose of the "desk men" there lives a spark of 



m DEADLINES 

dramatic instinct, which lights the weariest face 
at the coming of a "good story." 

Nothing of the kind now animates them. They 
labor on in an incessancy of tasks which must be 
done at once, even though scarcely worth doing. 
They must be rapid and skillful without being 
driven by interest. Throughout the newspaper i 
plant a finely-timed engine, deftly blended ofi 
the human and mechanical, is turning, turning.' 
Everything must move : The grotesque arms of the 
linotypes, the lumpishly-moving tables of the 
stereotypers, the gigantic, glistening coils of the 
presses, the rolling sidewalks upon which the 
finished papers slide toward the deli verjv wagons. 
All must turn with the clock-tick. It makes no 
difference whether the day be dull or thrilling. 
The relentless machinery waits for its injections I 
of human intelligence. The world waits for the 
news. And always, among these men in the news- 
room, there is a dim sense of the mechanisms 
forever at work below them, a tinge of fear lest, 
through some fault, there be a break in the 
process, a dreadful pause in the endless tune. So, 
driven by habit and by their sub-conscious percep- 
tion of their membership in the whole activity of 
the building, they contribute by pencil-strokes, by 
orders, by corrections on proofs, to the flow of this 
activity. 

As the half -hours pass and the day mounts to 
its meridian, there is a tensing of effort. Almost 



DEADLINES noj 

casually, two editions have already been issued, 
inspected and forgotten. But now one can feel 
the climb toward a greater enterprise, the "home 
edition," the daily bugbear whose tradition is that 
it must be more comprehensive and correct than 
either of its predecessors. There is no more lassi- 
tude along the copy-desks; the piles of unread 
manuscript mount too fast. The staff is back, for 
the most part, and the spatter of typewriters 
deluges the silence. Boys run by with clumsy 
steps. Bells ring. The air hisses in the pneumatic 
tubes. The long, low room echoes to a thousand 
movements, a thousand utterances. Yet despite 
the forte of the news-room, one is aware of the 
fortissimo of the city itself. For outside of the 
newspaper office, as well as within it, the day is 
at its height. Skyscrapers now are belching out 
lunch-hour crowds, and the shopping streets are 
filled with joyous, vivid streams of people. Mes- 
sages from this turbulence reach the newspaper 
office; cries come across the roof tops; the 
symphony of the city, with its roars, whistles, 
bellowings, arrives modified but clear. And if one 
puts his ear to the wires he can fancy that he 
hears the shrill and terrible voices of a hundred 
other cities where life seethes, even though 
"nothing is happening." One has a vision of 
potentialities of achievement or of disaster in 
these agitated centers of life. Straight out of the 
seeming commonplace of their movement in pur- 



[11] DEADLINES 

suit of tasks or fun will emerge the dramatic 
shock that the news-room is waiting for. Some- 
thing is bound to happen. 

[IV] 

SOMETHING does happen. 
First there is the sharp outcry of the Asso- 
ciated Press telephone, distinct from all the other 
bell-signals. The telegraph editor picks up the 
receiver and listens. Without a quiver of lips or 
eyebrows he reaches for paper, and scrawls. The 
vigilant news editor sees the rigidity of his shoul- 
ders, the slight gleam of his eye, and rises. The 
copy-readers look up. An instinct awakened by 
tiny signs, too tiny for the eye of laity, warns 
"the desk" that this bulletin has a high voltage. 

The news editor stands reading as the hand of 
the telegraph editor traces : 

"Washtn . . . bomb on steps . . . treasury 
building ... 2 killed." 

The telegraph editor hangs up the receiver. For 
an instant he and his chief stare into each other's 
eyes. But nothing is said. The implications of 
this message are self-evident. 

"Ask Mr. Barlow to come here," the news editor 
murmurs to a boy. 

While the boy skates nonchalantly off, the 
editor, with a hand that cannot keep pace with 
his brain, is writing notes that fly from his pad 
to distant parts of the building. Simultaneously 



\ 

\ 



DEADLINES U2] 

he is calling earnestly on the house telephone for 
the circulation department. 

Barlow, the make-up editor, enters, heavy-set, 
frowning at being called from his nearly-com- 
plete pages of the home edition. At his heels 
treads easily but ominously the Old Man, whose 
presence pervades the room like fate. 

The news editor flies at Barlow and mutters to 
him a paraphrase of the bulletin, which by this 
time is being masticated by a linotype machine. 
Barlow's frown vanishes. He gives an eager nod, 
seizes a just- written sheet of paper headed "eight- 
column line, rush extra," and takes it with him as 
he makes long, heavy strides toward the compos- 
ing-room door. His mind's eye has mapped out a 
new first page. At the door he stumbles against a 
boy and leaves behind him an echo of brief pro- 
fanity. 

The Old Man is told the news. 

"I thought it would happen some day," he 
remarks. He eyes calmly the "telegraph desk" 
where now two men are working frantically, while 
another takes more bulletins from the telephone. 
Elsewhere in the room there is little commotion. 
The usual group of reporters are arguing the 
usual topics. "Peck-peck" goes the Cub's type- 
writer, grinding out some trifle or other. 

Suddenly the young city editor emerges from 
his nest of telephones and comes down the room 
at a half -trot. 



[13] DEADLINES 

"They've tried to blow up the federal building 
here," he snaps, with a half-joyous, half-bitter 
gleam in his eyes. He dashes back to his desk, 
followed by the shadowy bulk of the Old Man. 

The news editor begins to swear, and laughs 
instead, having in mind Barlow and his forms. 
"This will finish him," he thinks, as he speeds 
toward the composing room. Out there he finds 
Barlow and his assistant under full steam "break- 
ing up the paper," ordering gleaming stacks of 
type about, shouting at printers above the per- 
petual clackety-swish of the linotypes, crossing 
out and writing in words upon the "schedules" 
that name the leading articles for various pages. 
The coatless printers paw the type with their 
blackened fingers, chew tobacco, and register 
unconcern. Type lies strewn, in bundles of lines, 
all over the "stone." Long galleys of brass are 
piled up like cord-wood. Up to the high, glass- 
roofed ceiling resounds the turmoil of the "stone." 
The battered clock points imperturbably to 12 :05. 
And at 12 :25 all this puzzle must be cleared. 

Taking Barlow by the elbow, the news editor 
speaks in his ear. The color surges into Barlow's 
face. Still speechless, he darts to the half -com- 
plete first-page "form," and roars at the printer 
whose hands are flying over its columns. The 
printer hears and nods. He must change every- 
thing. What of it? All in the day's work. But the 
composing-room foreman, sauntering up, tosses in 



DEADLINES uii 

the remark, **Tearin' up again? You'll never make 
it," and with a wave toward the clock, passes on. 

"We've got to make it, Jim," the news editor 
cries after him. Then, like a man watching two 
boiling kettles at once, he hastens back to the 
news-room. 

Within the last two minutes the news-room 
has been transformed in spirit. Everybody has 
straightened; everybody has caught the stroke. 
Who said newspaper work was monotonous ? seems 
to shine from the faces. It is gorgeous. The 
telegraph editor and the city editor are in two 
separate whirlpools of movement. Boys rush at 
the telegraph editor and slam sheets of copy upon 
his desk; the man at the telephone shoves scrib- 
bled slips toward him. He rapidly assembles and 
groups these, discarding some, piecing others 
together, laboring with his whole mind to form a 
story sequential and lucid. A series of flashes are 
passing through his mind: "Doubt if they'll get 
this bulletin in. . . . There'll be an awful mess for 
the next edition." And farther back in his mind 
occur thoughts more private, such as: "That 
rumor the other day about the reds was right," 
and "I suppose the wrong man will be caught, as 
usual." But his routine brain-cells, his hands, go 
on shaping, shaping. And save for an out-thrust 
lower lip he betrays no agitation. 

The city editor is twice as busy as this. He has 
had to scratch off a dozen lines of copy for the 



[15 1 DEADLWES 

home edition, to dispatch six men to the federal 
building, answer (and get rid of) three persons 
wanting to know if he was "posted," listen to 
general orders from the Old Man, alter a headline 
that did not "fit," and map out a sort of program 
for the rest of the day. His mind is ablaze with 
enterprise and pierced with apprehensions. Who 
knows but a rival paper has already beaten him? 
He will not be beaten. He sends out to every part 
of himself a desperate signal to function, to be 
alive. His tongue is dry; his voice threatens to 
scream. He is at bay, fighting an invincible alli- 
ance of enemies : The clock, his rivals, the tangle 
of things to do, his own rebellious nerves, the 
nerve reactions of everybody else. He calls upon 
his uttermost reserve. He is four men in one. He 
is enraged at life — but he is deliriously happy. 
And there flits through him a wan joke : "I sup- 
pose the police will call it a sewer-gas explosion." 
The joke, which goes unspoken, is extinguished 
by a wave of perception, vaguer than these words, 
but suggesting to him that society is a brutal and 
turbulent thing, and bringing to him like a passing 
flash of the cinema, a picture of the federal build- 
ing portico in ruins, and of bodies lying there. 

Through all this pierces the realization that the 
home edition has gone to press. The turmoil 
around him is no less, but here is the face of his 
friend, the news editor, emerging from the 
delirium. 



DEADLINES ny 

"How's it going, George?" 

"All right," he hears himself reply. 

Wallace, the reporter, leans up against the desk. 

"Well, boss," inquires Wallace with a subdued 
twinkle, "how much on the great Sir Scammon 
Scammonton? He says " 

The city editor becomes aware of Wallace, and 
halts him with: 

"John, jump down to federal building . . . take 
taxi . . . forget about that damned lord " 

Wallace is off, murmuring quaintly: "I obey, 
boss, I obey." 

City editor to news editor: "They think there 
are six dead down there. A delivery wagon was 
blown up. There are pieces of horse all over the 
street. The district attorney says — — " 

"We'll have to make four separate stories of it 
for the First Final. At least four " 

"I know. It's a big plot, of course. Oh, is that 
Billy on the wire? Give him here." 

The news editor moves on, devoting a glance to 
the bowed backs of the local copy-readers, to whom 
the fury that began with the telegraph desk has 
now been transmitted. Their eyes bulge with the 
interest, the horror, of what they are reading. 
One counts with his fingers the number of letters 
required for a certain heading. A book that 
another, a placid, grey-haired man, was reading, 
has fallen to the floor, and lies open at the title 
page, "Growth of the Soil." 



ti7] DEADLINES 

Reporters who have come in already from the 
explosion are mauling their typewriters, slamming 
the cylinders back and forth with a rattle like 
rifle fire. A constant yell of "Boy !" Dust, colored 
by the pale noonday sunlight, swims, serene and 
beautiful above their heads. Murmurs, chuck- 
lings, imprecations mingle in a flow of sound ; the 
expressions of the fever that has seized the staff. 
They are painting, painting. The picture will be 
hurled out into the streets, seen, and lost. All are 
artists now, co-operating on the big canvas of the 
First Final. They are instinctively making art of 
it, discarding, heightening and coloring. Yes, they 
color some things, so that the hasty reader can 
tell them as more important than others. / Maybe 
they do not distort facts; they do not so much 
distort as rearrange. They suggest perspectives, 
and introduce good lighting for this tale of tales. 

All the while, into their hands is being poured 
more material, and more. The wires say that the 
nation is aroused. "The White House has let it be 
known that . . ." The wires sing with theories, 
conjectures, revelations. The tragedy here at the 
federal building is in the foreground. A notebook 
has been found among the rags of one of the 
corpses, with code words in it. Wallace is reading 
sentences from this book over the 'phone. The 
district attorney is giving out a long statement. 
Every minute a member of the staff enters with 
details which he regards as "bigger stuff than 



DEADLINES yy 

anything." Evidently the mystery of this story is 
deeper than we thought. It will be unraveling 
itself for days. We shall be pestered with it for 
days. What a plague ! But what joy ! 

Meantime, behold it is two o'clock, and the First 
Final stares us in the face. Ah, here comes the 
Old Man. "The composing room is swamped." 
We thought so. "Throw away everything except 
explosion stuff." The market reports must go in 
uncorrected. The speech of a distinguished guest 
at a luncheon goes on the floor. The Cub has 
written five hundred words about scenes at hos- 
pitals and is told he is a fool. 

The inexorable clock — the damnable, gliding 
clock. The waiting machines. The waiting world. 

We are desperate men. 

We go to the "stone" to make up the First 
Final. Once more, chaos ; bigger heaps of galleys, 
greater muddles of type. Parts of stories are lost ; 
parts of others are still lagging on the linotypes. 
We lose our heads, and quarrel. We become chil- 
dren, and say: "Who's blaming me for it?" "I 
told him to do it." "Good God, this gang is going 
to pieces." 

The type pours to the "stone" from all sides. 
The pages lie, broken, hopeless. 

This time we shall never "get out." 

And suddenly we find that it is all done. The 
forms are full. The last one is being locked up, 



[19] DEADLINES 

and slid into the outstretched hands of the 
stereotypers. 

We glance at each other, wipe off sweaty and 
grin. 

[V] 

THIS is a splendid product of ours, after all. 
The boys are bringing in papers, staggering 
under the bundles. We spread them out on the 
desks, admire and criticize. It is scarcely possible 
we did this. Thirty minutes, twenty minutes, ago 
we were writing the words that now peer at us 
from the pages, faintly familiar creations that 
have arrayed themselves in a manner distinctively 
their own. It is all there as we planned it in our 
frenzy. The house has risen from that chaos at 
the "stone." The event that has shaken the 
country's nerves lies there embodied in types of 
varying blackness and size, making a structure 
with girders and gables, with foundations and 
flourishes. A structure nevertheless built to last 
but a day, to outlast scarcely even our pride in it. 

Our pride in it is momentary. We are conscious 
that we have conquered. This feeling is confirmed 
when our rivals are brought in, and their paltry 
efforts to keep pace with us are seen. But we are 
too wise, or too weary, to gloat more than for 
that moment. Tomorrow may snatch this triumph 
away from us. And besides 

It is the Old Man's voice: 



DEADLINES 



[20] 



"Look here, we say in this head that three 
wheels of the wagon were blown off; but in the 
eye-witness account it says -" 

And he lays a broad thumb upon the column. 

Two or three men, among them the city editor, 
respectfully examine the discrepancy. 

"There^s always something to spoil it all," 
grumbles the Old Man, and bears his newspaper 
away, grasped in both hands, while the staff 
exchanges rueful winks. The city editor slips on 
his coat and says savagely to the news editor: "If 
I don't show up tomorrow you can guess why." 
His eyes burn in his pale young face. He flings 
himself out, biting off the end of a cigar. The eyes 
of the grey-haired copy-reader follow him humor- 
ously, tenderly. 

The news editor turns to the disposal of mat- 
ters for the afternoon. The greater part of the 
afternoon still remains. There are still "late 
developments." There will be a "rush hour extra." 
The news editor walks back through the room, 
remarking to the "desk" as he goes : "Nobody off 
early today. We'll need all hands." 

They look up, unamazed. Were it to go on 
forever, they would still be unamazed. 



[Vl] 
pjUT at last it is five o'clock, and the very last 
^-^ extra of all has been patched up, and there is 
nothing more to do. 



f2i] DEADLINES 



Darkness has come again. It seems now to 
have been scarcely ten minutes since the first of 
those alert figures entered through the swinging 
door; but the evidences of a complete day are all 
about : Waste-paper ankle deep around the desks ; 
waste-baskets crammed with torn newspaper 
sheets; pencil-butts, proofs, crumpled notes. 

The men, the last of them, are putting on hats 
and coats and departing. They go wearily and 
sulkily. The emotional storm in which they have 
been tossed has left them chilled. The more thrill- 
ing the day, the more leaden its close. This prod- 
uct, conceived with such skill and speed and 
evolved with such a fury of zeal, is already 
scarcely more than waste-paper. The men tramp 
gloomily into the hall, turning up the collars of 
their overcoats and peering into the shadows of 
the gloomy corridor. They go down the elevator, 
grumbling, but still with a vestige of elation. 

"Well, that was some day," they mutter. 

**Some day," echo the dying voices of the lino- 
types. 

''Some day," groan the presses from the base- 
ment. 

The men, slackened in spirit, cynical about it 
all, exuding revolt, are happy in spite of every- 
thing. ''Some day," to be sure. They will tell 
their wives and children about it. They will meet 
acquaintances who will respectfully ask their 
opinions, because they are newspaper men. 



DEADLINES [22] 

There are new furrows in their faces ; but their 
youth is inextinguishable. 

The grey-haired copy-reader, who is last to 
leave, watches them go, turns out a light or two, 
and slowly prepares for the street. And he thinks 
about these men, whom, in a way, he loves : 

"I wonder what draws them into this game? I 
wonder why they keep at it, the game being what 
it is. I wonder what the fascination of news is. 
I wonder what news really is. . . . 

"The continuousness of it all; the knowledge 
that no matter what we do today, we must do 
better tomorrow. . . . 

"The unendurable boredom; the unendurable 
excitement 

"Maybe we stay on because life is like that, and 
we get more of life here than somewhere else." 

[VII] 

THE only lights remaining are two that burn 
dispiritedly at either end of the long room. The 
wires sleep again, oblivious of the sparkling, but 
dreadful world. The battlefield is deserted. 

Now enter two sad-faced, elderly males in soiled 
and shapeless clothing, carrying large sacks. Into 
these they dump contents of waste-baskets, and 
bundles of scraps. They seem very, very old and 
depressed. In and out among the desks they go, 
muttering to themselves, and clearing away the 
dull traces of the splendid task. These specters 



t23] DEADLINES 

know nothing of the efforts or the victories just 
recorded. The voices of the city, the cries of 
newsboys, the tootings and tinklings of the 
streets, are nothing at all to these aged scav- 
engers. Outlived .... all outlived. 

Having finished their funereal task, they go out 
and the room is left to its memories, the wires to 
their slumber. 

So ends the day. 



[25] 



DEADLINES 



[n] 

In the Cave of Tongues 



[I] 



j OUR stories removed from the 
news-room, but connected with it 
impalpably in a thousand ways, is 
our haunt. 

This haunt is a cigar store 
^1 which faces the street from our 
building, and is indeed often mistaken for our 
front door. In winter storms we turn up our 
collars and skate joyously the ten paces distance, 
plunging into the warm fog of the store like sheep 
in a blizzard. In summer we go hatless and stand 
languidly in the door of tl>e place, or sit on the 
benches within, sheltered from the sun. At all 
times we talk. There is no place like this for talk- 
ing with unbridled tongues. 

The cigar store has no plate-glass cases, no 
leather-covered chairs, no polished metal, no pretty 
pictures. It is ancient, foul, dilapidated, frowsy. 
Around its walls run the benches, which are cov- 
ered with moth-eaten carpet. Benches and floor 
are strewn with burnt matches, bits of paper, and 



DEADLINES ^26j 

dried mud. In the misty windows hang limply on 
wires a few story-magazines, while in other 
conspicuous spots stand theater posters, signs 
advertising many species of cigarettes, and piles 
of "peppy" reading. In ridiculous contrast, the 
ceiling is lofty and handsomely carved. Once, in a 
prior incarnation, this was a bar-room. Now it is 
a store, with the pressroom just beyond a par- 
tition. 

A single case contains the cigars. It is heaped 
promiscuously with boxes of cheap smokes, chew- 
ing-gum, and candy. In a clear space the vivacious 
proprietor shakes endless dice with noisy patrons. 

We sit on the benches in this cave, and are 
utterly at home. 

[11] 

NOON of a winter day has passed. The home 
edition has just been "sent away." The lunch 
hour has released not only men from the news- 
room, but an assorted lot from other departments. 
Here are several printers, one in mammoth over- 
alls, another in cheviot but without collar or tie, 
still another properly clad, except his feet, upon 
which he wears the shattered, comfortable shoes 
that ease his work. Present also are two or three 
wagon drivers, sharp-faced youths whose cheeks 
bulge with tobacco, whose overcoats are drawn in 
by belts, and whose legs are shapeless with pad- 
ding. Elbow to elbow with these are several sleek 
young advertising men, with their cigarettes. 



[271 DEADLINES 

We of the news-room sit a little apart, as befits 
our caste. With unseeing eyes we gaze at the 
group shaking dice. The spasmodic "click" regis- 
ters nothing to us, accustomed as we are to the 
whole bedlam of noises within and without the 
store. For we are habituated to this haunt, and to 
this street, just as the forester is habituated to 
his forest and hears nothing, unless by an effort, 
of the poem of sighing trees, crooning insects, and 
twittering birds. There is nothing noticeable by 
us in the street, where the elevated trains flee by 
with insane clatter, where trucks and street cars 
manage a slow progress under the spur of profane 
warnings, and where the tread of people is heavy 
and constant. Even a fire-engine can pass, with 
its inspired shriek, and scarcely we lift an eyelid. 

The city is our cradle, and its song is a soporific. 
We sit pondering this thing or that, oblivious to 
the chatter about us, lazily annoyed at the clamor 
of the dice-shakers. There is really only one 
important thing, besides keeping our cigars and 
pipes aglow. It is that the badly-hung door of the 
wretched cave persists in hanging ajar after each 
person comes in, and the draft chills our ankles. 

"Shut the door!" we yell. 

Somebody goes out. Of course, he has left the 
door ajar. 

"There, that damn fool has left it open again." 

It is our sole grievance. Someone must sulkily 
rise and push the door to, and then upon the next 



DEADLINES [28j 

arrival the process must be repeated. It intensi- 
fies our disbelief in the progress of the human 
race. More and more sulkily we smoke, and 
smoke, and smoke. 

[HI] 

TpHERE are three of us sitting in a row — 
•*• Brown, the city editor. Barlow, the make-up 
editor, and myself. All three are still a trifle dazed, 
a little breathless, from the effort of "sending 
away the home edition." It was no worse than 
usual, but it was worse than the devil. The mem- 
ory of those exasperations is fading now, but 
they have left us feeling battered and uneasy. 

Barlow, his full body held erect and his cigar 
sticking straight out, has shrouded himself in 
reticence. The city editor crosses and uncrosses 
his legs, and murmurs : 

"I got a bit excited up there. It's the very hell 
to get excited like that. Always say things I 
regret." 

This is an oblique apology to Barlow, who emits 
a muffled sound, ambiguous but probably amiable. 
We judge, rightly, that the incident beginning 
at "the stone" is closed. There are twenty such 
incidents a day. 

"My wife says," goes on the city editor, "that 
I'm too well-balanced. 'You're so well-balanced,' 
she complains, as though it was a crime. She gets 
mad because I don't fly out and break things at 
home. Imagine that!" 



[29] DEADLINES 

"Shut the door!" someone bawls. There are 
grins among the drivers, and a subdued voice: 
"Them cold-blooded editors." 

"It's indifference, plain indifference, that makes 
me seem so well-balanced," further explains the 
city editor. "I don't get worked up enough even 
here, maybe. The Old Man says, 'You're so damn 
calm.' Well, if I am, it's because I don't attach 
much importance to little things. Big ones, either. 
I don't care if the staff quits, I don't care if we 
get scooped, I wouldn't mind if the paper went 
bankrupt, or the whole population got smallpox, 
or the human race went and got itself hung." 

(A flicker of a smile on Barlow's face.) 

The city editor, continuing: "When I say I 
don't care, I mean that when I'm taking my rest, 
between nightmares, I can let myself down into a 
pile of soft cushions of absolute apathy about the 
fate of anybody or anything. It's a great rest. 
It bores one, but it's a relief. There's no such 
vacation for the mind as being totally bored." 

"The trouble with us," I suggest, "is too much 
neurosis." 

"Too much adrenal gland," corrects the city 
editor. 

Barlow takes his cigar from his mouth and is 
listened to. 

"Too much of everything except income," says 
he, and restores the cigar. 

"That," says the city editor semi-officially, "is 



DEADLINES yoj 

a matter to be taken up with the Old Man." Clear- 
ing his throat, he proceeds : "But the real question 
is, how to face life; that's it, how to face life. 
Whether to take it hard or easy. Whether to let 
your imagination build up tremendous obstacles, 
and then go around breathing like an exhaust pipe 
fancying you're overcoming them, or just to take 
things as they come and go smilin' through. I was 
taught to do the latter, but" — he strikes another 
match — "somehow it doesn't work." 

"And no wonder," growls Barlow. 

"No, it's no wonder," assents the news editor. 
"Say, boys, when you figure what our life is like, 
how we're forever straining ahead, looking out for 
the least little atom of possibility of a blunder and 
realizing that we've only one chance in a thousand 
of getting through a day without a kick, why . ." 

"Incidentally, are we all hooked up to cover that 
hanging tomorrow?" I inquire. 

"Absolutely. As I was saying, we being aware 
that we are born to trouble, and our luck is usually 
no good, what's the chance of our being optimists? 
Poor. Now . . ." 

"Here comes a chap who's a regular walking 
Pollyanna," mutters Barlow. 

"Oh, that's only an advertising solicitor. He's 
got to look that way." 

The newcomer enters, eyed by the participants 
in an interrupted dice game, selects a cigar, lights 
it, flips the skirts of his overcoat airily out into the 



[31] DEADLINES 

street and vanishes, pursued by shouts of "Shut 
the door!" 

We have lost the thread of our conversation. 
The crowd and the smoke seem thicker, as we 
muse. An elderly printer is heard to say, "The 
dentist claims I'll feel better when they're all out." 
We smoke. 

[IV] 

A GUST of wind, a momentary louder roar from 
the street, and a long-legged youth, hatless, 
bursts into the store, laughing. 

It is the Cub. He seats himself circumspectly 
at a little distance from us, cocks his cigarette at 
the same angle as Barlow's cigar, and inspects 
his finger-nails. We do not notice him; yet his 
entrance has somehow affected the turn of our 
thought. For the worse, too. 

"Here we are, in this poisonous old cave, worn 
out, tired of it all, glad to be let breathe," grum- 
bles the city editor. "Another edition to think 
about in half an hour. Why aren't we over at some 
club, lolling over our coffee and cigars, and maybe 
organizing a billiard game? Why aren't we streak- 
ing for the 2:15 train with our golf clubs?" 

"Why don't we go into advertising?" demands 
Barlow. 

"Or insurance " 

"Or selling bonds." 

"Anything — anything that would make a fellow 
feel like a white man. This news game is like 



DEADLINES [^ 

being caught in a fly-wheel by the sleeve. It 
whirls you around like a plaything, cracks you 
bit by bit, and throws you aside, limp and shat- 
tered. Why . . ." 

I observe the bright, scandalized stare of the 
Cub, and interpose : "A great game, all the same." 

Barlow and the city editor simultaneously 
remove cigars and expectorate. 

"Where does it get you?" scoffs a listener. 

"Yes, where?" from the city editor. His gloomy 
gaze encompasses the Cub, and he impulsively 
flings a question: 

"You, kid, where do you expect the newspaper 
business to land you?" 

The Cub, startled at being addressed, gulps, 
drops ashes, then replies, blushing. 

"Why — I'd like to be London correspondent." 

(Titters from the listening group of printers.) 

"To London! Is that all? Think you can become 
Young-Man-Going-Somewhere in three months? 
Sinful Goode, eh?" But some memory of his own 
lost ambitions, perhaps, brings a kindlier note 
into the city editor's voice. "Kid," he says, "that's 
where we all wanted to go — once. Certainly. We 
would all be London correspondents, or something, 
if . . . It's all right. Dream on." 

The Cub says nothing. 

"Did you ever ask for a foreign job?" I chal- 
lenge the city editor. 



[33] DEADLINES 

He emits a cloud of smoke and makes indirect 
reply : 

"If they find you can do a desk job, then that's 
what you do !" 

"How about Josslyn?" I pursue. 

"Ah, Josslyn !" murmurs Barlow. 

" Josslyn V* echoes the city editor, as though the 
name had a mysterious background. "That was 
an exception. Yes, that was a rare case. And look 
how it ended. You know the story, H. J. ?" 

"Yes," I own. 

"I'd like to hear it," ventures the Cub, edging 
closer. 

"No," says the city editor, emphatically. "Not 
now ; not here." He glances at his watch, uncrosses 
his legs, and brushes ashes from his knees. It is 
apparent that not only the printers, but others, 
are listening to our jawing. The dice-game has 
languished. Shall the story of poor Josslyn be 
thus published to the world. Our delicacy says 
no. 

Thus we are about to lift our seance. But sud- 
denly there is a commotion at the door, the usual 
blast of cold air, a subtle animation in the air, and 
there appears a gallant figure in a tan cameFs- 
hair overcoat. He carries a heavy, crook-necked 
cane, and his grey hat is tipped fetchingly over 
one eye. On the way to us he delivers a separate 
greeting to each of the elderly printers. He taps 
Barlow on the knee with his cane, winks at the 



DEADLINES nn 

Gub, and brings up before the city editor with: 
"Hello, boss!" 

It is the Star, come to cheer us. 

It is our radiant Best Writer, who travels daz- 
zlingly an orbit we cannot follow, who gives us 
hope of what we may become or cheats us with 
thoughts of what we might have been. Delightful 
fellow. Exasperating fellow! 

The cigar dealer hails him with: "Shake you 
one flop, Larry ; two or nothing." The loungers at 
the counter fall aside. 

"Not now," replies the Star absently. We make 
room for him on the bench. 

[V] 

WHATS new?" is asked. 
Finished my play. Wrote the whole last 
act last night." He taps his toes carelessly with 
the cane. 

"Sent it away yet?" 

"No. Got telegram from Barrymore, though. 
Interested as hell. Wired him back: 'Send four 
hundred expense to New York.* I think he'll come 
through. If he doesn't, I — say, boss," at a sudden 
thought, "Fm garnisheed again." 

No agitation at this announcement. The Star 
goes on, to a full audience of printers and wagon- 
drivers: "He hasn't a chance to collect. Beastly 
little tailor on Market street. It's that bill I 
refused to pay a year ago. You remember the 



[35] DEADLINES 

suit ; blue thing a dead cat wouldn't wear. Gen- 
tlemen, I could not wear the suit ! A church deacon 
wouldn't go to his own funeral in it. A convict 
wouldn't be turned loose in it ... . Well, boss, 
what dor 

"See the Old Man," says the city editor, lacon- 
ically. 

"Thought maybe you'd stand me a small loan." 

"No." 

"No?" The Star's smile is undiminished. "Very 
well, gentlemen, let us talk of other matters. Of 
love, say, or war, or literature. Or facing life. 
Let us fling up our brows, and say with Kipling 
(he beats time with his cane) : 

**My head .... bloody, but unbowed .... 

"Er — how does it go ? 

*'I am the captain of my soul . . . ." 

"Henley, not Kipling," comments Barlow. 

"As you will," nods the Star. "Or Childe 
Harold " 

"Roland, you mean." 

"Roland, naturally. I quote: 

" *The hills, like giants at a hunting lay, 
Chin upon hand, to see the prey at bay .... 

"Let's see, it goes on : 

" *Now stab and end the fool . . . .' 

"Anyway, it ends: 

'I saw them and I knew them all. And yet 
Dauntless the horn to my fair lips I set, 
And blew: Childe Harold to the dark tower 
came.* " 

"Roland, you idiot." 



DEADLINES ^aej 

"Of course. NHmporte. The theory is the same." 
A pause. The drivers and printers have listened 
quizzically, yet with tolerance for any freakish 
outbreak of the editors. The Star produces a pipe, 
hangs it in his mouth upside down, and remarks: 
"That was a swell suicide story today." 
Another pause. The Cub, humbly: 
"Have you written your story for tomorrow, 
Mr. Larrabee?" 

The Star turns his mocking gaze toward the 
youngster. 

"Who spoke? It was my conscience, perhaps. 
My conscience, speaking through this genteel soph- 
omore .... Sir, I have not written my story for 
tomorrow. I shall write it when I get good and 
ready." He means this shot for the city editor, 
who remains stolid. "I abhor writing. I can't 
conceive why any two-legged being adopts writing 
as an occupation. Putting words on paper. Ugh !" 
The tirade continues uninterrupted. 
"In the last four months I have written three 
hundred thousand words for this blackguardly 
sheet ; three complete novels, but witli nothing to 
show for it. Nothing but a pile of letters, mostly 
kicks. Women say to me: Tt must be so intur- 
resting, writing for the papers.' God ! I made a 
speech to a woman's club. I said: 'Literature is 
all slop. Your favorite authors are a bunch of 
fakers. I am an idiot. You are all idiots, or you 
wouldn't listen to me.' There was no applause. I 



[371 DEADLINES 



said what I thought and there was no applause. 
N'importe, I continue, nevertheless, to say what 
I think " 

"Don't talk nonsense," scoffs the city editor. 
"You couldn't live without writing." 

"Or applause," from Barlow. 

The Star grins. His grin fades by degrees ; his 
face becomes plaintive. 

"I need money," he says. "Heaps of money. I 
earn hundreds, but I must have thousands. I owe 
.... really, I can't remember. Everybody is on 
my notes; everybody. Garnisheed again! . . . 
What will the Old Man say, do you think?" 

"He'll say, 'This must be the last time.' " 

The Star sits up straight. 

"That reminds me. Murray's in town." 

This is news of real importance. The city editor 
looks uneasy. 

"Are you sure? It couldn't have been." 

"Think I could be wrong?" he scowls. "I saw 
him over at Chillson's." 

We glance at each other. There is an odd por- 
tent in the name of Murray. Dropping my voice, 
I ask: "Sober?" 

The Star shrugs. 

"He'll be back," Barlow chuckles. He mocks: 
" I'm on the wagon now, Mr. Thain, for good.' " 

The city editor makes to speak, but remains 
silent. Everybody is silent. The rumble from the 
press-room is like a surging of surf. The dice-game 



DEADLINES t^sj 

has been resumed, "Click-click." A great truck 
swaggers out from the alley, piled to the roof with 
bundles of the home edition. We should return to 
the office at once. But we linger on, with our 
cigar-ends white with ash. Our thoughts busy 
themselves, now with Murray, now with Josslyn, 
now with ourselves. 

It is a muddle, indeed, this life of ours. We are, 
as we have said, disappointed with our lot. Those 
of us who should have been writers are now "desk- 
men," and those who write call writing bosh. Yet 
is this true ! Perhaps, after all, we are in the right 
berths; and somehow, certainly, we are all con- 
tributing to the momentum of a vast institution, 
faulty but tremendous. The mass-consciousness ; 
that is what saves us. I do not dare use this word 
in the Star's hearing. 

[VI] 
TJARLOW, however, is saying: 
-■-^ "Think how we crawl down here every day 
before daylight. Think of the unspeakable alarm- 
clock. Oh, Lord, the alarm clock." 

"Think of the next edition," says the city editor. 
"1*11 bet we're ten columns overset this minute." 

"Think of my debts," sighs the Star. 

"Think how we might be lunching at the club 
and golfing all afternoon," says the city editor, 
returning to his original grievance. 

"And think how they leave my stuff out all the 
time," comes from the Cub. 



t39] DEADLINES 

But no one hears him. Into this doleful reverie 
of ours, into the chorus of our pessimism (which 
is quite unreal) and our gossip of Josslyn and 
Murray (our zest in which is very real) there 
comes a message. We can almost hear it approach- 
ing. Indeed, we prick up our ears somehow; we 
hold ourselves rigid, ready to spring in response 
to this unknown summons. 

Sure enough, a boy with a huge head and a 
freckled grin appears at the door. He is hatless. 
In his hand he carelessly holds a piece of copy- 
paper, with some words scrawled on it. 

He peers in, then fumbles at the latch. 

The city editor has already arisen. He receives 
the note through the door; reads: "Four-eleven 
fire rung in from Gloria theater. Extra?" 

We read over his shoulder. A sort of wine pours 
into our veins. Together, three abreast, we race 
away, leaving behind the Star tapping his toes 
with his cane. A cry of "Shut the door!" follows us 
as we flee from the mournful voices of the Cave of 
Tongues, flee from our doubts and our troubles, 
and rush joyously toward the work we were meant 
to do. 



[41] 



DEADLINES 



[HI] 
The Star 



[I] 



I j ji HIS way, if you please. Come right 

^ W ^ through this aisle between the 

I desks. Look out for that *phone 

I cord. Rather dark here. Over in 

B this corner is the place. Have a 

==Jl seat. Well, now you are sitting in 

the Star's own chair. You find the bottom pretty 

hard? Well, the Star doesn't mind that. He 

doesn't sit in his chair very much. 

This is his desk. Perfectly plain, like all the 
others ; battered old thing with a typewriter in it 
that's always threatening to slip its fastenings. 
Not a roll-top, of course ; no pigeonholes ; nothing 
but those drawers, in which (unlocked) the Star 
keeps his secrets. Observe this litter on top of 
the desk. Faugh! These papers are dusty. He 
never throws anything away; just shoves the 
litter back and lets it lie. A lot of good ideas are 
penciled on some of those papers, and a lot of 
foolish ones mixed up with the good ones. Let 
'em lie. 



DEADLINES H^ 

The old-fashioned desk-light hooded in a piece 
of copy paper is one of his hobbies. Without that 
paper it would blind his eyes. The paper is always 
falling off. Nuisance. But when the Old Man 
came by one day and growled, "Need a new desk- 
light, don't you" he only got the reply: "What 
for? What's use bothering?" 

On the paper is scrawled a notice : 

"Light-fingered fiend in human form who took 
my 'Philosophy of Love,* by Reimy de Gourmont: 
Return or take consequences." 

Look at the wall alongside the desk. He writes 
things on the wall; memoranda, scraps of verse, 
ideas. And, you see, he's pasted up a few pictures. 
These futurist things out of the Dial are probably 
his favorites. As for this poster advertising a 
Griffith movie, I suppose he put it up as a joke on 
himself, a piece of irony. That newspaper half- 
tone — fellow smoking a pipe — is a picture of his 
best friend. 

Of course everything's covered with soot and 
smeared up with pencil-marks and the light here 
is vile. God knows why he likes this corner so 
well, but it's certain that if we gave him a place 
by a window, or a nice private room with a shiny 
desk and a push-button, he'd get peevish and 
wouldn't write. He likes it here in the alcove. He 
likes this old, smeary news-room, with its cracked 
plastering and its quaint shadows; and he likes 
the noises from outdoors when the room is quiet. 



[431 DEADLINES 

the hoots and shrieks and crashes; and he likes 
the city, so romantically woven of the crude and 
the elegant, the horrible and the lovely .... 

But I mustn't get into that vein .... Watch 
out ! Oh, it's only the Star's pet mouse that lives 
in his desk. , ^ 

[II] 

PERHAPS it would be as well to stop calling 
him the Star — a sobriquet which he loathes — 
and introduce him, though absent, by his name, 
which is Philo Austin Larrabee. He won't stand 
for the Philo, and the office somehow balks at the 
Larrabee, so the office generally calls him Larry. 
He signs himself, on his stories, as Austin 
Larrabee. 

Names seldom call up a true picture of a man. 
I suspect that this one suggests a matinee-idol 
sort of fellow, with spats and hair slicked down; 
or a parlor poet with horn spectacles, clothed in 
meekness. Larry's name is no more harmonious 
with him than is his desk. The desk and its envi- 
ronment make you imagine a seedy, alpaca-coat 
type of genius, with pockets stuffed full of manu- 
scripts, smoking a corn-cob, don't they ? But Larry 
is so little like either the horn spectacles or the 
alpaca coat that he would surprise you. I'll shut 
my eyes and get him vividly in mind, and then 
describe him. 

Let's see. It wouldn't tell you much to say that 
his hair is brown, his height medium, and so on. 



DEADLINES luj 

I believe his hair is brown; at least, I have an 
impression of a dark overgrowth, sometimes 
furiously tangled, sometimes neatly clipped and 
brushed. He doesn't look the same way all the 
time. It seems as though his personal appearance 
is a matter of chance. There are days when his 
oval face is a peaceful pink, as though from 
massage, and then it may be sallow, haggard, and 
savage. His eyes don't change, however. They 
glint the same blue, and the brows over-arch them 
with the same fine, half -oriental lines, on all days. 
Intelligence, humor, disdain, are uttered by his 
eyes ; and there comes into them, rarely, a furious 
glow. It comes only when he works. He is most 
natural when braced before that typewriter, with 
one of his long legs drawn up under him, and the 
other stretched straight out, with the Keel of his 
brightly-polished shoe grinding into the floor. He 
makes quick dabs, between sentences, at the hair 
over his left ear. Actually I believe he has worn 
a bare spot there with his slender fingers, upon 
one of which he wears a worthless ring. Often he 
looks up, with a curious, belligerent stare, at any- 
one who may be passing. 

Just as his face wears different aspects, his 
costume undergoes the most freakish of changes. 
He has days when he shambles in with shameful 
trousers and a cap fit for a safe blower ; and there 
are others when he arrays himself in fine linen 
and rich blue, and flaunts his cameFs-hair over- 



[45] DEADLINES 

coat and twirls a cane. There is utterly no premed- 
itation about his clothes. He would just as soon as 
not wear a sweater and an old raincoat to a 
luncheon at the Hotel Splendo-Majestic, or parade 
Little Hell in afternoon dress. Clearly, he spends 
much money on apparel, for he is constantly sur- 
prising us with hitherto, unobserved suits and 
overcoats and hats ; and indeed he naively tells us 
whenever he thus invests, and adds that he has 
done it on the principle of "part down." His 
plumage is as varied as that of a prima donna. 
It would be useless for me, in describing him to 
you, to say "he wears this" or "he wears that." 
Except in summer. Then he demurely wears 
white, and his only gauds are his ties, which are 
a fantasy in color and color combinations, reveal- 
ing more than anything else the earnestness of 
his search for something novel. Well, of course, 
there are also his shirts. Very exotic, naturally. 
In summer he often leaves his white linen coat 
hanging over his chair and strolls about the office, 
or even through the streets, displaying stripes 
like unto an awning. 

On the days when his face has that pink look 
his walk is elastic, blithe, triumphant; on the 
sallow and haggard days he slumps between the 
door and his desk with never a wink of gayety. 
There are also intermediate states, grave and 
taciturn days, when he moves slowly at a com- 
monplace stride, without interest. Perhaps those 



DEADLINES tiy 

days are the worst, when he is neither elated by 
the discovery of a new costume-effect nor deli- 
ciously sunken in gloom; those days when he is 
apparently an ordinary being, with duties, body- 
functions, and bills to pay, and perhaps not a Star 
at all. 

At all times, at his very worst, an incalculable, 
fascinating, graceful being, a delicately-hung 
organism, just a bit off balance; a boy with singu- 
lar traces of age. Delacroix would have painted 
him with a half-starved look and his deepest 
frown, and his finely-modeled, half -sneering nose 
sharp against a dark background. I paint him 
for you, quivering and tousle-headed, against that 
smudged window-pane there, pouring his genius 
into a typewriter. One of us. A comrade .... 
But I mustn't drop into that vein. What time is it ? 

[Ill] 

YOU ask: Who is he, after all? What does he 
"do on the paper?" 
Well, he is a reporter; nothing but a reporter. 
He goes out and sees things happen and hears 
people talk; then he comes in and writes about 
them. We have twenty others who do that and 
do it very well. So what is it that makes Larry 
a star? Mark this, my friend: He is not a star 
because he pursues desperate criminals in an 
airplane, or because single-handed he extorts 
confessions from political grafters, or on account 



t47] DEADLINES 

of this or that spectacular folly of reporting such 
as the cinema clownishly flashes. If we have to 
send somebody to ride in a locomotive cab, we send 
one of the "ordinary" men ; one of the rough-and- 
tumble sort whose skins aren*t worth much, and 
who can't write a lick. 

Larry is a star because .he emits rays of light. 
I mean — I mean his nature is a lens from which 
the drab colors of this earth are reflected in hues 
that fascinate one, confound one, and are yet real. 
He never sees things as anyone else sees them ; we 
gave up long ago trying to make him do so. It 
is simply impossible for him to interpret life from 
the viewpoint of the trite and self-satisfied mul- 
titude. He cannot, to save him, lead up to a 
conclusion that "all's right with the world," that 
"to the brave belong the fair," or "boost, and the 
world boosts with you." As for actually uttering 
such a sentiment, he would commit murder first. 
He is death on pretenders, hypocrites, and opti- 
mists. He punctures their toy balloons by mere 
statements of fact, shorn of comment, but barbed 
by the peculiar keenness of his words. His style 
is very direct. Larry has discarded more cir- 
cumlocutions, more "literary phrases," than the 
average doctor of philosophy has learned. I sus- 
pect that he has spent long, smoky hours inventing 
escapes from the academic. I know that he has 
prowled the streets day and night searching, 
searching for the words that would express the 



DEADLINES ysj 

buildings, the people, the noises, the odors. Little 
words ; little, torch-like words. Those are what he 
wants, and what he uses. Therefore, what Larry 
writes is very easy to read ; but not naive. Oh, no ! 
That complexity of his, that odd refracting quality 
that I mentioned, makes a composition by Austin 
Larrabee something peculiar in its effect, disturb- 
ing, prismatic. 

The city editor. Brown, found it so disturbing 
that after Larry had worked on the paper a year 
he went to the Old Man about it. And the Old 
Man said : "Either fire him, or stop sending him 
out on routine assignments." So the city editor 
told Larry to report what he liked, and write what 
he liked. 

There have been precedents for that sort of 
thing, even in our office; but it hasn't always 
worked out as it did with Larry. A normal human 
being, given complete freedom, is apt to waste it, 
get lazy, frazzle out. Not so our friend who occu- 
pies this corner.! The new order had an unforeseen 
effect upon hitrT Brown says he started back as 
though he had been struck, and then snapped out : 

"Want to put it all onto me, eh? All right!" 

This fit lasted an hour, and then he strolled back 
to Brown's desk, and with one of his most fasci- 
nating and affectionate smiles he said: "Say, I 
believe I can write some good stories for you, old 
boy." He was all flushed up, and he had dabbed 
at his forelock until it hung in strings. Without 



t49] DEADLINES 

waiting for Brown's response, he dashed back to 
his typewriter and in a few minutes it began to 
clatter like a drill. 

That was the beginning of an arrangement 
whose fruits have astonished us all, have aston- 
ished the city itself. The city never knew it was 
like Larry's pictures of it. The city fancied itself 
busy, or noisy, or prosperous, or admirable, or 
monotonous ; it never knew it was complex, impul- 
sive, romantic — gorgeously romantic. It thought 
its buildings were handsome; it did not realize 
they were beautiful, beautiful with a stunningly 
futurist design. It thought its people were "inter- 
esting," but it never delved into the million 
variations of type brought here by the People of 
Fifty Lands. The city laughed at hundreds of 
"freaks," it vaguely pitied thousands of unfortu- 
nates, it flung dimes to innumerable beggars, it 
dreamed about scores of younger lovers, it revered 
many a millionaire, it shrank from jails full of 
criminals — but it never realized any of them. Not 
until Larry was "turned loose." 

Larry can interpret the city because he loves it. 
He doesn't want to write about anything else. 
Say Paris or New York to him, and get a sneer 
for your pains. He has found the city big enough 
for him, and feverish enough, and beautiful 
enough; he has not nearly exhausted it; he has 
only just started. And the more he plunges into 
its jungle and fishes in its cesspools for the rare 



DEADLINES [50] 

deposits of human treasure that make up his 
"stories," the more unending seems his search. 
Let it go on. For God's sake, let it go on. I do 
hope Larry won't get morose, and quit. But I 
mustn't be led into that vein. Who's coming in? 

[IV] 

T'M glad it's not Larry, for I wanted to tell you 
* what kind of a fellow he is. 

Well, he's the kind of fellow who appears to 
have out-grown, or cast aside, practically all the 
known precepts for normal living, and doesn't give 
a copper for anybody or anything. 

Larry declares that he doesn't believe in religion 
or even in ethics. He takes pleasure in repudiating 
most of the ten commandments, the Golden rule, 
and a large part of the Sermon on the Mount. He 
uses up the time of somebody nearly every day 
rejecting honor in the abstract, loyalty in the 
rough, and such things. Most heartily he scoffs at 
success. ,He does not demean himself to ridicule 
such things as riches or fashion, but he does talk 
venomously about success, and not enviously, 
either. It is an inflammatory subject for him that 
some people attain what they want, or at least 
think that they have attained it. Perhaps it only 
maddens him because they think they are content, 
whereas he insists that nobody is content. Him- 
self least of all. If he were to come in here just 
now, and you should say that he looks happy, you 



fsi] ^ DEADLINES 



would get a tongue-lashing in Larry's best style, 
which would include some words you hadn't heard 
before. 

This young man strolls through the world with 
a queerly bitter greeting for it, yet with an engag- 
ing smile. He asserts he hates the world, hates 
the human race, spurns its .contrivances for being 
peaceable and joyous, and has no hope of it. 

He says he does not believe in marriage or in 
honesty. But he is married and lives true to his 
wife. And he never stole anything. 

Honor? Why, he wouldn't go back on a friend 
for— for all that he owes. Loyalty? Well, I can 
only judge of that by the way he clings to us, and 
the way he works. He adores Brown, who gave 
him his big chance. He would drag himself out 
of a hospital on one leg if he thought Brown 
needed him. When he has his little illnesses he 
scrawls notes to Brown, in a big school-boy hand, 
saying, "Don't worry. I'm sending down a story 
by messenger." He is loyal to us, and he is loyal 
to Mrs. Larry. Of course you understand that he 
is rather run after by foolish women, literature- 
mad girls who want to learn his secret of writing, 
and others who are plain crazy. But just let Mrs. 
Larry come in sight, and he shakes off the insects 
in petticoats and waves them good-bye. For their 
pains they can see Larry escorting her down the 
street, twirling his cane and plainly an affection- 
ate husband. 



DEADLINES t^2i 

It's bosh that he hates the human race. Or 
perhaps he does hate the race as such. Lots of 
brainy men have indulged in that large and harm- 
less habit of hating the species, of denouncing its 
general attributes, its frailties, its inconsistencies, 
and so on. Lots of men who have a terrible vigor 
and a divine irritability bottled up in them let 
drive at people in general so as to avoid hurting 
people in particular. For individuals, whether 
encountered in small groups or large, these same 
men have a half -pitying geniality that frequently 
concentrates into acts of kindness. Look at Mark 
Twain. Look at Bob Ingersoll. And now look at 
Larry. He shouts that he despises mankind, but 
in all his contacts with mankind he is gentle, 
amiable, brotherly. Ah, he absolutely rejoices in 
scraping elbows with people. See him in a crowd, 
content with his absorption in the feeling of being 
among people. See him enter a room; how his 
face lights up; how everybody's face lights up! 
Maybe he hates humanity, but he is himself 
human. 

[V] 

I OUGHTN'T to have got into that vein. It 
would be certain death if Larry were to over- 
hear me. . . . 

Who's that mooning about by the front window, 
watching the city put on its paste diamonds for 
the evening? It's Larry, isn't it? No, it's 
Murray. It's only our drunkard. 



[53] DEADLINES 

There is an affinity between the Star and the 
drunkard. Larry pretends that he is interested 
in poor Chick only as a pathological case : studies 
his retrogression, and all that. Again his pose. 
Once when they were police reporters together — 
but Josslyn tells that story better than I do. I 
was only going to cite it to. prove that Larry has 
in him that deftly guarded quality of compassion 
that is in all us newspaper people more or less, 
and that either makes great men of us — or breaks 
us. He does more for poor Chick than any of us 
do, unless it is Josslyn. Still, there may be a 
fascination for Larry in observing the tortuous 
ways of our stumbling Murray. His own mind 
is tortuous ; his processes, too, a trifle pathological. 
So thin is the film that divides genius from its 
most terrible caricature. 

Where's Chick going? See him grope. 

I don't suppose he's going anywhere, really. 

Perhaps Larry isn't, either. 



[55] 



DEADLINES 



[IV] 
The Drunkard 



[I] 




U R R A Y ' S case started before 
prohibition, and continued after 
prohibition. So far as Murray is 
concerned, there is no prohibition. 
It started years ago, and hasn't 
stopped. There seems to be no 
end to it. Every now and then the Old Man 
explodes, rolls his eyes terribly, and says there 
must be an end. Everybody responds, "Yes, that's 
right ; it must be the last time." But, one by one, 
everybody weakens, and here is Murray back on 
the staff. 

We are ashamed of ourselves. We are stupen- 
dously bored. The whole thing is an ungodly 
nuisance. Worse than that, it is a blow to our 
morale, it is a frightful example to the "younger 
men," it has no excuse even in the name of 
humanity. Its last shred of justification as a 
humane thing vanished months ago. There is no 
reason anywhere; nothing, not the least hypo- 



y^ 



DEADLINES ^ ^sej 

critical, disingenuous atom of a reason, why we 
should have Murray back on the staff. But here 
he is. 

Sometimes months pass without Murray. He 
is somewhere else, doing heaven knows what. He 
becomes a fiction, a legendary person who once 
worked here, and about whom cluster amusing 
reminiscences. Then one day we arrive at the 
office, distributing ourselves to our various desks 
and duties, and behold! there is a familiar sleek 
black head half hidden behind a morning paper, 
a well-known pair of pointed shoes cocked upon 
a chair. And Murray's half -sheepish, half -defiant 
grin greets us. 

"Hello, Chick." 

"Hello, fellows." 

We shake our heads as we take up our work. 
To think that Murray should have come back! 
To think that he should have the nerve to come 
back ! The fact is both entertaining and irksome ; 
and it goes deeper. It is a symbol of the cycle 
of vanishing and returning events to which our 
lives are attached. The endless activity of machin- 
ery, the recurrence of the same incidents both 
within and without the office, the performance of 
the same work in the same way — it is with things 
like these that the resuscitation of Murray blends 
vaguely but pertinently. This makes the fact of 
his return not only entertaining, not only irksome, 
but curiously comforting. 



f57] DEADLINES 



[II] 

a' course there must be one bad boy in every 
large family, one villain in every cast. And 
in a modernized office, where personality is better 
poised than it used to be, there has to be at least 
one "throw-back." 

For the most part we in the news-room are 
regenerate. We are men of family, sober men. 
Here and there is the face of a reformed drunkard 
— a face sad and reminiscent. It would be unspeak- 
ably shocking should one of these older men, 
whose career in liquor lies so far behind as to 
lose even the value of anecdote, come in some 
morning and break the furniture. Why, he simply 
could not do it! The completeness with which 
regeneration has captured the majority of us 
makes the utter unregenerateness of Murray, his 
debonair and unashamed irresponsibility, a very 
piquant thing in our lives. He is like a wine 
goblet (time of Charles II) among a collection of 
Mayflower crockery. He is a story of old times. 
He reminds the older men of their youth. 

Whenever Murray comes back, Josslyn, the 
grey-haired copy-reader, tells once more about 
the staff as it was when he was first city editor. 
Even the Old Man is known to unbend, and to 
relate how when he was a reporter. . . . Yes, 
sir, newspaper men were devils in those days. 
Why, when there was to be a hanging every man 
Jack assigned to "cover" it used to get drunk, and 



DEADLINES [^j 

when it was over they used to come into the office 
roaring "Danny Deever." And say! Do you 
remember the First Ward Ball, that terrific annual 
orgy when politicians, crooks, and libertines used 
to keep it up until daylight, and reporters had 
free tickets. The day after the First Ward Ball 
hardly anybody could come to work. (Chuckles.) 
Josslyn digs out of his archives some crude 
verses, written on such a day: 

The morning after the First Ward Ball 
Nary a reporter reported at all. 
And such as did wore a doleful smile, 
Nor did Josslyn's glance his dander rile. 

First Fox came in with half -shut eyes, 
Vowing at six he began to rise. 
He "just couldn't help the train blockade," 
And for the Desk's mercy he earnestly prayed. 

Then came Jones a half hour later, 
Resembling, we thought, a half -drowned satyr. 
"I was out at the ball pretty late," he said, 
Pressing his hands to the side of his head. 

But poor old George never came at all — 
They found him asleep when they cleaned the hall. 
From under a table he crawled to the 'phone 
And rei-jrted for work with a piteous moan. 

The First Ward Ball is no more. That genera- 
tion is no more. "Hinky Dink" Kenna's place is a 
soft drink parlor. The stories of those days have 
a flavor like the anecdotes of the California gold 



[59] DEADLINES 

stampede. There remains only Murray, who is 
not at all a physical relic of our drunkard age, but 
a sort of reincarnation, mysteriously alive among 
us, of which we have lost the secret. 

In our more solemn moments we realize that 
he is a terrible figure. This reincarnation is some- 
thing that should never have been. We ask each 
other earnestly, "Where does he get it?" and 
when we ask that we are asking a whole modern 
society why, if it really was determined to turn 
a new leaf, it did not turn it so effectively that 
even Murray could be "readjusted." And some- 
times — usually just after he has disappeared 
again and "left us flat" — we bang our fists down 
and exclaim: "What's the use of prohibition if 
it doesn't prohibit?" But not often do we grow 
so much impassioned about anything. We have 
to accept Murray with all his implications; we 
have to reconcile ourselves, day upon day, to the 
fact that nothing grievous is ever cured, that 
this plague or that is sure to return, that laws 
are fifty per cent failures, and that we spend our 
lives accommodating ourselves to matters that are 
all wrong and won't grow better. So we balance 
ourselves in a mood of half -humorous pessimism, 
shrug our shoulders at irritations and grotes- 
queries, make epigrams upon our woes — and 
welcome Murray back. 

"Hello. Chick. O. K. again, eh?" 



f 



DEADLINES [mj 

"Hello, fellows. Yes, Fm on the wagon now, for 
good." 

He is tapping out on his typewriter an article 
for the next edition. There is an abnormally clean 
and alert look about him. A subdued look, too. 
He has had a hair-cut, a shave, and a massage. 
The flesh of his face is fine-drawn, pale, refined 
by the suffering that has attended his latest spree, 
and especially by the awakening from it. His 
trimly-built figure wears a new, dark-brown suit 
that speaks of his latest Herculean effort to con- 
vince the world that this is a new Murray. He 
writes intensely, careful of the diction. Yes, it is 
all past. Nothing has happened. His body and 
soul went wandering in a strange spectral land 
with purple trees and a red sky, from which 
flashed eerie lightnings, and now they have come 
back, the same body and soul, and dropped with- 
out a jolt into the grey world of the normal, 
and Murray has taken up silently the routine of 
talking and writing. He even writes poetry. He 
is a wonder! 

[HI] 

THEY say that it is now seven times that he 
has fallen, and has "reformed." 
There is never any warning. He goes on looking 
just like that, a compact, nicely-dressed fellow 
writing clean English. He is sent out on an 
errand of some importance, perhaps. Then — 
silence. Blankness. No Murray. A typewriter 



[61] DEADLINES 

that remains hooded. Letters for Murray in the 
mail box. "Where's Murray ?" "Damn it, where's 
Murray today?" The city editor slams inoffensive 
papers and spindles around his desk. Then he 
smiles a smile that the men have seen before. Then 
he gets up and goes into the Old Man's room. 

The copy-readers begin to. whisper and shrug. 
Same old scandal. They watch Brown curiously 
when he comes out of the Old Man's room. Brown 
squares his elbows to his work. The copy-readers 
can reconstruct his conversation with the Old 
Man, even without a clew to it. 

"Murray's gone again, Mr. Thain." 

"Well, I told you not to take him back. Good 
God, how long am I going to . . ." 

"But you remember I consulted you, and you 
said we should give him one more chance." 

"Don't remember such a conversation. I've 
always said he was impossible. I've warned you 
repeatedly not to give him any important assign- 
ment. This is just plain stupidity of yours. 
Brown." 

(A hard-breathing silence on Brown's part.) 

"Where do you suppose he got it?" muses the 
Old Man. 

"Why, you know he can get it anywhere. He's 
so popular they throw it at him." 

(Silence on the Old Man's part.) 

"Well . . ." 

"Well . . ." 




DEADLINES ^^ 

The days go by, and nothing is heard from 
Murray. It seems impossible that anybody could 
drop so completely from sight. Inquiry is made 
at his home. His wife has gone back to her 
parents for the third time. Nobody at the flat 
except a hovering swarm of bill-collectors. Mrs. 
Murray, when seen, says that this is the end. 
Her mother reinforces the verdict. 

Reporters who occasionally visit bootlegging 
haunts tell us there is no sign of Murray. Actually 
it seems as though something must have hap- 
pened to him this time. We are a little disturbed 
with each report of an unidentified body in the 
lake. But this fear is laughed down, and pure 
blankness again characterizes the case of Murray, 
except for those piquant anecdotes of "the pre- 
vious incident." The story he went out to get has 
long since been obtained by some other reporter, 
printed, and forgotten. The mystery lasts until 
his reappearance, which is also a mystery. 

Once or twice it has varied a little. On one 
occasion Murray emerged unaccountably during 
his headlong dive into liquor, called up the Old 
Man at his house at eleven o'clock at night, and 
asked for a loan of ten dollars. The Old Man 
roared at him, "I'll loan you a tub of ice, you booze- 
fighter!" and then started shouting "Where are 
you? Where are you?" But in the meantime 
Murray had hung up. He was gone for six weeks. 

One other day of lapse he came into the office 



^Mjlilliy^ 



[631 DEADLINES 

late in the afternoon after all the editions had 
gone and someone else had "done" his neglected 
story, and insisted on writing the story himself. 
Brown had gone home, and Josslyn had to deal 
with the case. He refused to let Murray use a 
typewriter, so Murray went to the office of a 
rival paper, and asked to be permitted to write 
a story for us ! They threw him out of that office. 
He went to a second, where the man in charge 
treated the matter humorously, led Murray to a 
typewriter and even loaned him a messenger boy 
to bring the story to our office two paragraphs 
at a time. Josslyn has the pieces yet. 

The morning after that exploit in came Chick 
and upbraided Brown for not printing his article. 

"You're fired, Chick," said Brown quietly. 

"I — I most heartily regret to hear it," replied 
Murray, balancing himself carefully. He then 
took off his hat to the city editor's office boy, and 
disappeared for a month. 

During two of his disappearances, as we have 
now learned, he went to distant cities and worked 
there. First it was San Francisco, then it was 
Philadelphia. Each time he was a faithful, reliable 
employe — for a while. He wrote from San Fran- 
cisco to Josslyn: 

"They think a lot of me here. I've got a strong 
tip that I'll be made city editor in a few months. 
Like the town fine. I haven't had any trouble 
about — you know. Would you mind paying a debt 



'^^^: 



\ 




DEADLINES ^64^ 

or two with this money-order? Larrabee and 
Barlow, $5 each. Keep out your own five, of 
course. No, I'm never coming back." 

Within two weeks he appeared, very downcast. 
There was the usual secret session in the Old 
Man's room, and the usual reinstatement. 

While he was on the Philadelphia paper he was 
sent out here to cover a railroad "strike crisis." 
He was very, very sure of himself. That day he 
came in, shook hands all around with much dig- 
nity, and told us he was going to "sign his stuff." 
To Josslyn he confided the fact that he and his 
wife were reconciled, and that as soon as he could 
find a flat in Philadelphia he was going to send 
for her. He left breezily to attend the wage 
conference. 

In the afternoon he appeared in our office with 
his hair somewhat ruffled, and the satyr-like smile 
that often put us on our guard. He leaned against 
a desk, and carefully explained that he had some- 
how missed the conference; asked if he couldn't 
use our proofs to send a story east. Also he 
pleaded with Barlow in whispers for quite a 
while, but to no avail. He left jauntily, colliding 
with the Old Man in the hall, and saying, "Beg 
pardon, old chap." We heard nothing more of him 
for two months. Then came a telegram from the 
Philadelphia paper; "Look out for one Chick Mur- 
ray. He may try to get job with you. He drinks." 

It was after this that we made our most Her- 



[65] DEADLINES 

culean eifort to save him. We collected a fund 
and sent him to the "cure." He went most 
humbly. He returned "cured." His wife herself 
brought him in, showed him to the Old Man, and 
tearfully thanked that august person for all he 
had done. Chick cried, too, and I fancy it was a 
near thing that the Old Man didn't cry. Murray 
was given his most formal reinstatement of them 
all, and the office advanced him two weeks* salary 
to pay his debts. (I've heard that the Old Man 
guaranteed the apartment rent for three months.) 
All this was just before the Volstead act took 
effect. Of course, everybody felt that if Chick 
could last until that January first he would be 
safe. And he did ! He worked quietly and effec- 
tively far into that January, and the boys who 
had bet that he wouldn't were forced to pay. 

Then Brown had a brilliant idea. He would 
send Murray out on an assignment to discover 
whether prohibition was being enforced. He said 
to him : "Look here, you know where all the joints 
are. You know all the bartenders. I guess you 
know better than to take a drink yourself. Here's 
some expense money. That's all." 
"Yes, sir," replied Murray. 
Two days later, when he hadn't returned, some- 
one mildly suggested to Brown that perhaps he 
had dangled too great a temptation before the 
reformed drunkard, even during a prohibition 
regime. Brown angrily replied : "He'll come back, 



DEADLINES reej 

and sober. He's cured, ain't he? Don't anybody 
preach a sermon to me. That fellow knows he 
can't afford to break faith with George Brown." 

Three days more, and behold ! Murray did come 
back. He sat down on Brown's desk, put his arm 
around the city editor's neck, and made a speech, 
substantially as follows : 

"Brown, you've been — ^best friend I had. I 
think you're greatest newspaper man in the world. 
Brown. Thass what I think. When all else fails, 
rely on good ol' Brown ; thass what I say. Brown 
don't ever ask a feller, 'Where's that story, or 
those money' ; does he. Brown ?" 

"Where is that story?" demanded Brown, 
throwing off Chick's arm. 

Murray pulled out some silver, laid it before his 
chief and said, "There." He added, "Ac-kick- 
counting." 

Just then the Old Man passed through the 
local room without noticing his protege. Murray 
craftily gained the door and vanished. 

[IV] 

I TELL these things not with an eye to humorous 
anecdote. I tell them only to illustrate the 
plight we have been in. We have been kind to a 
fellow worker, we have dared to take pity upon 
one who is outcast by every standard of "honor- 
able action," and we have been paying the penalty. 
Why should we be cursed by Murray, the spector 
of Liquor? 



[671 DEADLINES 

Well, we should not be thus cursed did we not 
yield to this passion for taking Murray back. 
And so why have we yielded? It must be that 
there lurks in us a reprehensible secret delight 
in his abandonment to habits that we dare not 
harbor. For we cannot claim so great a natural 
benevolence as to endure these annoyances and 
countenance these broken promises, just for love. 
We love Murray ; yes, it is true. There is a warm, 
glad feeling when we find him once more at his 
typewriter, glancing up at us with that veiled 
gratitude of his. But our affection will not brook 
everything. It must be that our subconscious 
passion for liberty, a passion now strangled in 
the company of men steadied, reconciled, tamed, 
takes form in the delight in Murray, who cannot 
prevent himself from following his appetites. He 
is only an intimate manifestation of a fallible 
world which, perhaps, we understood better than 
other people do. We pity it more ; we tolerate it 
more. We know that this world has aspirations, 
as we have, and fails, as we do. It has not been 
in us to withhold forgiveness from its Chick 
Murrays. 

Nevertheless, this is now certain : 

He cannot work here any more. The Old Man 
has said so — despite appeals from Brown and 
Josslyn — and if the Old Man is not consistent, 
who is? And if the Old Man cannot throttle his 
affection for this boy, and shut the door upon him. 



DEADLINES tjs^ 

who can ? It's all over with Murray, so far as the 
news-room is concerned. 

[V] 
T ATER — he's back. He isn't going to drink any 
^^ more. He has paid off his debts. He has 
made peace with his wife. He has a new suit on, 
and is writing a story, very carefully. This time 
we think he is saved. 

"Hello, Chick. Back again, eh?" 

"Hello, fellows. Yes, Vm on the wagon for good. 



[69] 



DEADLINES 



[V] 

Young-Man-Going- 
Somewhere 




[I] 

OUNG - MAN - GOING - SOME- 
WHERE is the comrade men- 
tioned in the first of these 
sketches who sat stabbing with 
his cane at migratory cockroaches 
and wishing he were — ^anywhere. 
Most of us are reconciled to staying in or near 
the news-room, doing our stuff, eating lunch in 
the same place, going home to the same homes, 
and expressing generally the humdrummery of 
being efficient and reliable. Young-Man-Going- 
Somewhere — his name is John Goode, but his 
sobriquet is Sinful — is unreconciled. In his own 
way he is both efficient and reliable, but he would 
rather be them some other place than where he is. 
He expresses for us the everlasting restlessness 
of our tribe, just as the Drunkard expresses our 
submerged liberties; and thus, requiring some- 



DEADLINES ^701 

body to travel for us, since we cannot travel 
ourselves, we find Sinful Goode very essential. 
Indeed, he and his type are useful to the pro- 
fession and useful even, it might be said, to 
civilization. For if there were not newspaper 
men whose souls demanded movement and explo- 
ration, and hardship and long, long trails, if there 
were not men whose curiosity gives them no rest, 
first pages would be a great deal duller than they 
are. 

With this much superfluous reflection, let us 
apply our microscope to Young-Man-Going-Some- 
where. 

[11] 

T CONFESS that I have not given you his real 
•*• name. Were I to mention it you might recog- 
nize it. At least it would be well known in a 
certain small town where Sinful Goode was born, 
and where he was once expelled from the Debating 
Society. Between trips, I have heard, he makes 
surreptitious visits to his aged parents, who still 
live in the town ; but these do not count among his 
globe-trottings, and he is said to come back rather 
saddened. 

We don't really know anything about that. We 
do know that Goode got on our staff somehow or 
other about ten years ago, and that within six 
months he was calling the chief of police, the 
state's attorney, and most of the judges, by their 
first names. Also he seemed to know about streets 



[71] DEADLINES 

that we had never heard of, and he kept making 
allusions to saloonkeepers, yeggmen, and Chinese 
tong leaders whose very existence was news to us. 
He must have spent his evenings just ferreting 
about. He was tortured by that terrible curi- 
osity, and gifted with that faculty of making 
intimates, that has taken him all over the world. 
I suppose he calls various Japanese samurai and 
Russian novelists and French deputies by their 
first names, too. 

It was after he had been here only a year that 
he was given his first long trip. It was to cover 
a revolution in Venezuela, or maybe Nicaragua. 
Now don't imagine I'm going to spin a yarn that 
Sinful Goode led the army and settled the revo- 
lution. This is not a novel. Sinful didn't do 
anything but send home some cables that were 
printed on the fourth page, and then come home 
himself and growl because they weren't printed 
on the first. <But, having proved that he could 
live on tortillas and tarantulas, he was the logical 
man to go to Mexico when a revolution broke out 
there. The revolution was opportune, for Goode 
had by now developed his restlessness in full 
degree, and had nearly worn the Old Man to death 
suggesting that he sail around the world or 
something. 

"Goode's going to Mexico," the Old Man told 
the city editor. 

"Glad of it. Hope he croaks," replied the c. e., 



DEADLINES [J2j 

whose nerves had also been worn a bit thin by 
having Sinful Goode in barracks. 

The rest of us were more benevolent. We gave 
Goode a farewell dinner, at which and to which 
our doggerel experts did great execution. Next 
day we inspected his new riding breeches, his 
camera, and his horrendous revolver. And then 
we forgot him. 

It must have been that the revolution was one 
of those that prove more exciting in El Paso than 
anywhere else, for I don't recall a single story 
that Goode sent to the paper. The thing that does 
reverberate in memory was the office gossip about 
Sinfurs expense account, which was so remarkable 
that not even the Old Man could keep still about 
it. The chief item was one horse, which Goode 
bought without thinking it worth while to ask 
permission of the office. And under the general 
heading of "horse" there were entries such as 
"food," "stabling" and "equipment." Everything 
at war prices, (Mex.) . Everything neatly arranged 
in columns, and a balance at the bottom, decidedly 
in Goode*s favor. 

The Old Man, according to report, wired our 
new-fledged war correspondent: "Sell horse at 
once." The reply, which the city editor showed 
to some of us in confidence, was in almost these 
words : "Assure you no sense in selling horse at 
this time. Advise wait for rising market. Mean- 
time cannot traverse this God-forsaken country 



[73J DEADLINES 

on foot. If dissatisfied with my work say so and 
I'll go back to police reporting." 

Well, the painful episode dragged itself along, 
to the great advantage of the telegraph company. 
The Old Man really was at Goode's mercy, for if 
a correspondent down there among the mesquite 
chose to argue instead of obeying or resigning, 
the only way the Old Man could end the argument 
was by wiring Sinful a discharge ; and he thought 
far too much of the brash youngster to do that. 
How it all might have ended we know not ; for the 
logical end was lost in the outbreak of the Great 
war, which made Mexico, Goode, and his horse 
seem like first-reader stuff. 

Naturally, we were all frantic with work when 
the calamity swept down on us; and yet, from 
occasional bulletins that reached us from the Old 
Man's room, or gossip told us in chuckles by the 
telegraph operators, we knew that Sinful Goode 
was not idle. 

One little file of telegrams, shown us by Bungey, 
the "chief operator," revealed the situation : 

"Mexico City. 
"Thain, the Press: Am leaving for Vera 
Cruz Saturday ; arrive New York Thursday ; 
can catch Baltic arrive France before German 
invasion; wire three thousand dollars Vera 
Cruz. GOODE." 

"Goode, care American consul Mexico City : 
You have not been ordered Europe. Come 
home. THAIN." 



DEADLINES [74] 

"Vera Cruz, Thain, The Press: No answer 
received my message am sailing for New York 
Monday. Need money. Can borrow but 
request place three thousand my credit Guar- 
anty Trust Company. Wire Washington issue 
my passport for France ask war department 
give me correspondent credentials. 

"GOODE." 
"Goode,care Guaranty Trust Company ,New 
York: You have exceeded all orders in going 
to New York. Come home at once. Wiring 
hundred dollars carefare. . THAIN." 

"New York, Thain, The Press: Why quib- 
ble about exceeding orders ? I am logical man 
cover this scrap for you where can you get 
better? Have already engaged passage Bal- 
tic. Paid deposit my private funds. Does 
the Press want to be in debt to me? Have 
arranged with Washington my passport. 
Rush three thousand. "GOODE." 

"Goode, care Steamer Baltic, New York: 
Can see advantages your going since already 
gone part way. Did you get money? Take 
care of yourself. "THAIN." 

We all read these messages with eagerness and 
with awe. Not one of us could have wrangled 
thus with the Old Man and escaped alive. . Sinful 
Goode, with his insubordination and his enterprise, 
had made the terrible Thain surrender. How we 
wished we had been born that way! How 



[753 DEADLINES 

we envied the correspondent, joyously afloat, 
freighted with money and bound for the Supreme 
Adventure ! 

And yet, would we stand in his place, destined 
for hardship, peril and the chance of disgrace 
instead of glory? Would we gamble with life as 
did he? 

Alas, we sighed, we were not born to do it. 

[Ill] 

THE war swamped us. The war sprung upon 
us portentous surprises, incredible emergen- 
cies. It blinded us with its horror and its 
splendor ; and, meantime, it so involved us in new 
meshes of routine that we could scarcely afford 
time for pleasurable gossip. Thus Sinful Goode 
and his Odyssey became remote interests, thrust 
upon us only occasionally by the task of decipher- 
ing his cables. 

We gathered that he managed to get arrested 
by the Germans in Belgium ; that he argued his 
way to freedom and then argued himself into 
favor with the advance French troops. One story 
told us how he watched the first bombardment of 
Rheims as he lay among the waving grain; 
another how he observed an engagement from the 
roof of a shell-torn house. Later — we scarcely 
knew whether it was months or years — he was 
fleeing from Antwerp among the refugees ; again, 
he was at Dunkirk when the first big shells fell 



DEADLINES [jej 

in that quaint city. Somehow or other he got to 
the eastern battle front and from there he sent 
an interview with Von Hindenburg. Astonish- 
ingly, he was in London when the Lusitania was 
sunk; and yet he was one of the few correspon- 
dents who saw the French advance near Arras. 

During those early stages of the war he must 
have performed prodigies of travel, of battle with 
censors, of writing well under trying conditions, 
and of risking his idiotic neck. We did not think 
much about it at the time, but now when I run 
through a scrap-book of Sinful Goode's cables I 
am astonished. 

The Old Man, meantime, made no secret of his 
delight in the work of "our own correspondent." 
He used to say: "Best inspiration I ever had, 
sending that chap to the war. Of course, he'll get 
killed, but — fortunes of the profession, you know." 

Goode did not get killed. Instead, he got bored. 
When the western front settled down to its dead- 
lock in the trenches Goode became silent, and 
probably sulky. There were long weeks when he 
sent nothing. It was even rumored that he was 
coming home. The Gallipoli campaign, however, 
restored him. I don't recall how it was he got 
there, if we ever knew; but suddenly he was heard 
from in a dispatch that proved to be his first 
blunder. He cabled us that the British landings 
had succeeded, and that the capture of the penin- 



[77] DEADLINES 

sula was certain. I remember well the flurry in 
the office that day; the telegraph editor rushing 
in to the Old Man with Goode's cable, and rushing 
out again red in the face ; also, later, how a dubious 
conference developed the fact that the Associated 
Press did not support Sinf ul's story, and how the 
Old Man said: "I don't care. I stick by Goode. 
What's the use of having a special correspondent 
if you don't believe him ?" We kept up the eight- 
column head, and kept up our spirits by talking 
about the censor. 

It all seemed so exciting then, and now seems 
so dead! 

Well, we rushed a "query" by cable, and after 
about a week we began to wonder if the Old Man 
would recall our friend Sinful. Whether he con- 
sidered this we never learned; but evidently he 
could not have done it if he had tried. Young- 
Man-Going-Somewhere had always just gone 
somewhere else before messages of that kind 
arrived. And by the time it had become fully 
clear that Constantinople was not to be captured 
Goode was up in the Balkans. 

Does it seem incredible that a correspondent — 
especially one working for the Old Man — should 
dodge about so independent of office orders ? Well, 
if it does, I can only say that Sinful Goode was 
sui generis, that he followed no traditions, and 
that he would not have obeyed orders if he had 



DEADLINES [jn 

had them. The Old Man was wise enough not to 
send him any. 

The Old Man would never, for example, have 
ordered Sinful Goode to join the Serbian army on 
its great retreat. Goode sent himself on that 
assignment. Pursuing his faculty of getting "in" 
with big people, he attached himself to the per- 
sonal headquarters of Prince Alexander — called 
the prince by his first name, probably — and went 
clear through to the coast with that valiant group 
leading a streaan of ragged, desperate men. Goode 
slept on the frozen ground along with the prince 
and his army; starved with them; fought their 
battles against marauding bands, and helped save 
the remnants. At the coast he separated from the 
army, took a rowboat out into the Adriatic and 
caught some kind of tramp steamer, whereon he 
made a long and hideous journey to Athens. 
Arriving there, a very skeleton of the ruddy and 
cheerful Sinful Goode, he dictated ten thousand 
words, and then collapsed. 

When the Old Man received that cable, he sent 
Goode the single word: "Congratulations." 
This was the answer : 

"Congratulations received. After a man 
has had all the infernal starvation tours of 
the war and has been the goat for the tough- 
est assignments and got nothing out of it but 
dysentery it feels great to get a boost like 
yours, that cost such tolls — oh, yes, I assure 



f79] DEADLINES 

you it does! How about that salary raise? 
How about that request for 5,000 French 
francs I never got ? Does anybody ever think 
about me? Does office know I'm alive? Just 
received copies paper see my Balkan stuff 
butchered and stuck on inside pages. Nice 
work, thank you. Congratulations. 

"GOODE." 
He was so angry, you see, that he put in a lot of 
"thes" and "ands," at commercial rate. 

The Old Man, looking grieved, brought in the 
message to the city editor, and remarked: "I 
don't know what to do with that fellow." 

The city editor pondered, and together they 
concocted this: 

"Goode, Athens: Do you want to come 
home?" 

But Sinful never got this message, for he had 
started for Paris, there to squander huge amounts 
of the Press funds in peach Melbas at Ame- 
nonville, and raspberry tarts at Paillard's and 
"American cocktails" at the Chatham. 

[IV] 

IT would hardly be worth while to describe in 
so much detail the rest of SinfuFs war experi- 
ence. He got into Russia right after the first 
revolution, and got out again in time to see the 
vanguard of the American troops land in France. 
Later in the year he returned to Russia, where he 



DEADLINES ijoj 

made friends with the bolsheviki and had three 
meals a day quite regularly. He was here, there 
and everywhere during the next year ; had typhus 
in Warsaw, got part of an ear clipped off near 
St. Mihiel, and fought a duel with a French editor. 
He was growing restless and homesick, that was 
evident. We began to get post-cards from him 
begging for news of the staff. He sent Josslyn 
the latest book by Barbusse, and wrote: "For 
God's sake, try to smuggle some American cigars 
to me." Then — ^the armistice. And a cable from 
Goode : "Sailing Thursday Adriatic." I fancy the 
Old Man breathed a luxurious sigh. 

Among the staff there was both glee and incer- 
titude over the approaching return of the Great 
Correspondent. Would Goodey (as we had taken 
to calling him) show signs of being "up-stage"? 
Was it possible for this distinguished journalist, 
who had been consorting with princes, generals, 
premiers and proprietors of Parisian cafes to meet 
us on our level? Would he overwhelm us with 
French and Italian ? Would he be wearing spats 
and a fur-collared overcoat? 

These mild anxieties we kept mostly to our- 
selves; only it was said more than once, with a 
certain disgust, "He'll think he's too good for 
ordinary news work." 

After about a week the signs of his approach 
began to accumulate. A letter or two with foreign 
post-marks, addressed "John Temple Goode, Esq." 



[81] DEADLINES 

Telephone message from prominent citizens, ask- 
ing when Mr. Goode might be expected. Then a 
telegram from Sinful himself: "Arriving Satur- 
day noon be ready to develop first photos armistice 
celebration Paris." 

About one o'clock Saturday a group of us 
sitting in the cigar store saw passing a tallish, 
square -shouldered figure surmounted by a 
weather-stained fedora and slung about with a 
camera. It was Goode, God bless him! The 
same ruddy, challenging face ; the same old man- 
gled cigar between his teeth. Even the same suit 
of clothes he wore to Mexico, I shouldn't wonder. 

Forgetting his greatness, we rushed out into 
the street, shook him and slapped him; and we 
said, "Sinful, you old eggV* and we cried, "You 
big stiff, you're looking fine — but you're getting 
grey." 

And the friend of princes grinned and spat, and 
then said: "Look here, fellows, I've got some 
photos to get developed. Got a story to write, too. 
Gosh, but the old loop looks great. How's the Old 
Man ? How's Josslyn ? How's everybody ?" 

In fifteen minutes he was in the Old Man's room 
arguing about his expense account; and we knew 
that Sinful Goode had returned unchanged. 

[V] 

TJE is unchanged still. 

^ ^ It is now some years since the war. Every- 
body, including Goode, has almost forgotten it. 



DEADLINES [82j 

He has been away twice, the first time in South 
America, the second in Siberia. On both trips he 
worked like fury, "kicked" continually by cable, 
lived among outlandish folk and took insane risks ; 
only to return unchanged. 

He attends luncheons given by bankers, to 
obtain his opinion of possibilities of foreign trade. 
He receives mysterious letters from the State 
Department, desiring information. He makes 
addresses before chambers of commerce. Three 
publishing houses have asked him for books, but 
he has been too lazy to write them, and he has 
never been able to finish his novel. 

Sometimes when I see him pondering at his 
desk I suspect he finds greater futility in life than 
any of us. He has never had a home. During his 
frantic dashes about the world he has accumulated 
nothing but a crazy-quilt of baggage labels and a 
collection of room keys. His wife — did I mention 
that he has a wife? — has seen him only about 
three weeks of each year; her life has been a 
procession of pensions. Goode has saved nothing ; 
he owns nothing, save a helter-skelter collection 
of pipes, Prussian helmets, Japanese fans, auto- 
graphs, and time tables. 

Ah, but he has his friendships! Like the rest 
of us, he has these, though all else may have 
failed. Indeed, he has a home. This is it, this 
news-room, with its battered desks and its cracked 
plastering. Here, amid the happy family— the 



r83] DEADLINES 

Star, Josslyn, Brown, the city editor, amiable 
Barlow and others — he sinks into a contented 
comradeship that is faintly like drawing up to a 
table full of brothers and sisters. 

Then there is the cigar store. Sinful Goode sits 
smoking a mangled cigar, and grinning at each of 
us in turn. 

"Say, Goodey, why don't you write those books 
and get famous?" 

"Yes, Goodey, why don't you capitalize your 
name?" 

"My name? It stands for fried fish, I guess. 
Write books! I'm a newspaper guy, I am. So 
long's I get my stuff in the paper . . . ." 

A pause. 

"What are Russian hotels like? Do they heat 
'em?" 

Goode yawns. 

"Say, when did they start the new Madison 
street bridge ?" he inquires with real interest. 

There is nothing to be got out of him. 

[VI] 

TT almost seems as though he might stay at 
•*- home now. 

But no. He confides that this very afternoon 
he is going to "talk turkey to the old man," and 
tell him he has a chance to go to the polar regions 
in an aeroplane, and shall he try it on ? 

Until he is silver-haired and palsied, and until 



DEADLINES [j4i 

his fingers can no longer pound a portable type- 
writer, he will always be the Young-Man-Going- 
Somewhere. 



[85] 



DEADLINES 



[VI] 
The Cub 



x^ 



[I] 




F wishes were horses, the Cub 
would ride long, dusty trails with 
Sinful Goode. As it is, he sits 
much of the time with his feet 
on his desk, and his hands in his 
pockets, and his head sunken upon 
his breast, and dreams. 

He is not asleep; not quite. Therefore his 
dreams are not of fantasy, but of probability. 
They are ambitions. They are his present life a 
thousand times glorified and decorated. But they 
are as futile as any dreams; and when they are 
over they are just as bitter. 

The Cub half slumbers at his desk, while far 
down the room a group of "executives," tran- 
scendent beings to whom the Cub says "sir," 
discuss matters in general and occasionally, catch- 
ing sight of the Cub, discuss him. These voices 
are inaudible to the Cub. Could he hear them 
they would make a strange accompaniment to his 



DEADLINES ij^ 

dreams, much as the distant and irrelevant 
remarks made by doctors and nurses sound to a 
patient half-way under an anaesthetic. 

This is an antiphony of the Cub's illusions and 
the "executives' " voices. 

[11] 

IT should be noted that the Cub has been here 
only a fortnight. ' He was recommended to the 
city editor by the advertising manager, who 
learned of him through a big advertiser who has 
a great friend whose son the Cub is. ■ 

A voice: "Of course, I don't usually fall for 
these fish that get in by way of business office. 
But I'm the chief sufferer, after all." 

Second voice : "No, you're wrong ; I am." 

Third voice (to first) : "We know you, George. 
You're as soft as the advertising manager, and 
the two of you together, if it wasn't for the Old 
Man, would soon have the shop full of Oxford- 
men and lap-dogs." 

First voice: "You chaps go to hell. As for this 
Cub, I think he's got the makin's." 

A new voice : "I think so, too." 

Third voice: "Oh, as for you, Josslyn, if you 
found a sow's ear on the sidewalk you'd advertise 
it in the Lost and Found." 

Et seq. 



[87] DEADLINES 

[HI] 
T TE dreams. 

rX At last he is a journalist. Behold, he is 
here, surrounded by great news-men and great 
writers ; he is sitting, as by right, in this chamber 
of fascinating shadows. Only a little while ago 
he walked in for the first time, passing the door- 
boy loftily because he had a right to come in. He 
remembers other doors and other door-boys; 
remembers them with pain and with disdain. He 
recalls pacing various corridors, while his card, 
inscribed "Frederick Reid Dunstane," went with 
his soul into the invisible. Now all that is over. 
He is "in." 

In the dream he is a larger, more dignified, more 
intellectual being than formerly. During those 
waits in various corridors he was a puny and 
forlorn soul, a lip-biter, a waif quite without 
standing or importance. He forgot that he was 
a member of select college organizations, a tea- 
fighter of prowess, a superb figure on the dance- 
floor, and a D. S. M. As he stood in those corri- 
dors, leaning sullenly against the wall, he eyed 
the light-hearted, fraternizing young men, plainly 
members of the staff, who passed into the elevator 
and who gave him glances he considered mocking ; 
and no shivering Lazarus ever eyed banquet 
guests more humbly or more enviously than he. 
But now he is grown once more to fill out his 
clothes, and he carries a cane at the same angle 



DEADLINES [jsj 

as the Star's cane, and he has already lent five 
dollars to the Drunkard, and he calls the city 
editor half-familiarly "boss." Also he reads the 
paper's editorials scornfully, as is the news-room 
habit, and he has learned to speak of contemporary 
publications as loutish and unenterprising. 

In his dreams he is already quite the equal of 
his mates in resource of undertaking and in 
savoir-faire; and he feels more than competent 
stylistically. He is, in fact, bursting with literary 
impulse. Original phrases are spurting within 
him. (He does not dream that they were sug- 
gested to him by the Star's latest story.) In fancy 
he opens his typewriter and writes. He writes 
furiously, fluently, in an ecstasy. And boys in 
relays stand at his elbow, seizing the sheets as 
they pour from the machine. And the city editor 
strolls up behind him and says, affectionately: 
"Take it easy, old chap ; you've got fifteen minutes 
yet." Then the presses thunder more loudly, and 
behold, here is his story, long, black, and lovely, 
on the first page. And there are groups of great 
journalists about, devouring his story. All the 
copy-readers are talking about it. 

What figure is this, marching in through the 
swinging door, and crying out, "Who wrote this 
splendid story?" 

"Why, it is the Old Man, who somehow has over- 
looked the Cub's presence hitherto, but who now 
seeks him out with a warm grip of the hand, and 



DEADLINES 



the tribute, **You are the sort of material we 
need." 

[IV] 

T7IRST voice: "The reason is that if I gave him 
•*• more than two sticks to write he'd murder it." 

Second voice : "Yes, they're all alike, those cubs. 
If old Rud Kipling himself were to tackle a good, 
snappy fire his story would have to be rewritten." 

Third voice : "I read his copy yesferday. Lord, 
it was fierce !" 

A new voice : "Oh, he'll catch on. I was talking 
to him this morning . . . ." 

All the previous voices: "Josslyn, when will 
you learn?" 

[V] 

HE is dreaming about being called out of bed 
at six a. m. and sent to take charge of a 
special crew assigned to cover the city's greatest 
fire. 

The taxicab tears westward over the river, 
toward the typhoon of smoke and flame. The Cub 
is sternly calm. To one of his three companions 
he says : "You, Billy, you'd better get the list of 
firms and losses"; to another, "Murray, you are 
assigned to dead and injured"; he directs the 
third, "Wallace, do features. I'll go on ahead with 
the chief, up into the building." He pulls up his 
overcoat collar. "Report to me in half an hour. 



DEADLINES tioj 

I'll take your stuff into the office and write the 
story/' 

They arrive at the fire. The great reporter, 
formerly the Cub, descries the fire chief, a mas- 
sive figure in rubber coat, peering up at the tall 
streams of water and piercing the steam-clouds 
with his old eyes. 

"Hello, chief ; Fm Dunstane, of the Press." 
"Why, hello, Dunstane ; glad you're here." 
The inside facts of the fire are immediately in 
the Cub's possession. He rushes on, on, quite 
to the foremost skirmish line of the battle. He 
climbs with a group of pipemen to an upper floor, 
swirling with smoke, and with its windows yawn- 
ing empty to the sky. In this deserted loft he 
discovers a telephone. Good ! The wire is working. 
He connects the office — it is now seven o'clock — 
and calls the city desk, calmly and sternly. 

"Mr. Brown? I'm up in the burning building, 
cut off from rescue, if anything should happen. 
. . . No, I think there is no real danger. Those 
crashes you hear are only falling bricks. . . . 
Give you the complete story in half an hour. 
Ta-ta!" 

He drops from the window in safety. He 
brushes aside anxious firemen who would give 
him first aid. Though bruised and half choked, 
he rounds up his crew, receives their reports, and 
taxis back to the office, where he curtly announces: 
"Two million loss ; gimme some copy-paper quick." 



t9i] DEADLINES 

The staff watch him with awe. From a far comer 
a Cub — oh, a much more verdant and ineffective 
Cub than Dunstane once was — projects himself 
into the dream, steals up and eyes Dunstane's 
flying fingers. And afterward Dunstane kindly 
allows the Cub to speak to him, and he tells how 
he did it. And the Cub accepts a cigar 

[VI] 

A VOICE : "He was out with Wallace the other 
day on that 4-11 alarm. Wallace says he 
kicked the whole time because we weren't going to 
let him write anything. Got several of his figures 
wrong, too. I wonder if it's any use. . . ." 

Second voice : "Oh, he must have got some good 
experience out of it." 

Third voice : "He ought to have plenty of nerve. 
Fm told he brought down three German planes 
in the Argonne.*' 

First voice : "But look at him over there, half- 
asleep. What do you suppose he's day-dreaming 
about?" 

[VII] ""^^ 

THIS time it is about Europe. Europe, where 
he once was. How he hated it! With what 
zest he enjoyed everything which read, looked or 
smelled like America. Ah, if he ever got back to 
God's country, why, never again ! 
But now, if he could only get back to Europe ! 



DEADLINES l92j 

He would make a distinguished Paris corre- 
spondent, he would, what with his knowledge of 
French. Would they let him try it? Why, the 
cables he would send would place the Press on sC 
new basis, internationally speaking. He could go 
tomorrow — tomorrow, and start in at once inter- 
viewing monarchs and presidents. In this vision 
he has passed far beyond the level of that grimy 
being of a moment ago, condescending to talk to 
fire chiefs. He now has the entree to intellectual 
salons and to grave council chambers. He has no 
need to make appointments with premiers and 
those fellows; but immediately he sends in his 
card, "Frederick Reid Dunstane," obsequious sec- 
retaries usher him into gilded bureaus of "the 
most high, and he confers — he does not interview, 
he confers — with the men who are making a hew 
Europe. 

There is no present hope, perhaps. But wait- 
wait! They will find him out. They are bound to 
realize soon that he is the very man for the Paris 
post. Preferably Paris, but as a second choice, 
London. The dream sweeps on. A war breaks out. 
He is the first correspondent to be informed of 
the ultimatum. He rushes to the cable office, and 
barriers of censorship are officially lifted, that the 
great Frederick Dunstane may send the TRUTH. 

The President of the United States cables to 
Mr. Dunstane to learn further details. Mr. Dun- 
stane advises intervention by the United States. 



[93] DEADLINES 

And all this is chronicled in the Press as the work 
of "our correspondent." 

In the evening Mr. Dunstane repairs to the 
Cafe Napolitain, on the Boulevard des Capucines, 
where all the great correspondents meet to sip 
brandy, and where all the monde, together with 
no small part of the demi-monde, sit at small 
tables and gaze at celebrities. Mr. Dunstane 
appears, great but modest. Groups of drinkers 
spring up to offer him their chairs, or to grasp his 
hand, or to demand the latest inside news. He is 
unaffected by his distinction, speaks democratic- 
ally to the correspondents of the Times and the 
Morning >Telegraph, accepts one of the proffered 
chairs, and sips brandy — ^very abstemiously. The 
great city, the great world, in whose center he sits 
and of which, in fact, he is the center, gyrates 
around him. And he, breaker of nations, but still 
a journalist, takes his ease. 

[VIII] 

VOICE : "You know the first day he came he 
asked if there wasn't a job open in Paris." 
Laughter. 

[IX] 

THE news room seems to be emptying for the 
day. The group of "executives" has scattered, 
all save the city editor. He is folding up his 
copies of the late editions, and pinning discarded 
stuff on spindles, preparatory to closing his desk. 



DEADLINES [911 

The mysterious shadows of the long, gloomy 
room are deepening. And the Cub is rousing from 
his visions. 

But not before he sees himself grey, portly 
and whiskered, as it is possible some day he may 
be. Yes, he can prefigure even that far-away time. 
And what will he be then? Well, surely an owner, 
nothing else. He will be a cultured, traveled, 
urbane owner, sitting at a polished mahogany desk 
entirely clear of papers, and conducting business 
over a battery of telephones. He will wear a 
frock coat with silk lapels, and be spoken of for 
senator. He will be too busy, probably, to do any 
actual editorial work, but he will have many, many 
able men to do this for him ; and they will know 
that although his writing days are over, he was 
once the best of them all, and still possesses such 
professional acuteness that "it's no use trying to 
put anything over on the old man." 

He will have a new building, instead of this 
modest structure from which the Press is issued. 
It will have a tower, and a huge clock with a 
luminous face, and there will be letters in blazing 
electricity all around the cornice: "The Press; 
Frederick Reid Dunstane, Proprietor." On an 
election night his portrait, as the man who chose 
the new President of the United States, will be 
displayed in red fire. 

But he will remain democratic. He will invite 
his editors to lunch, and know his printers by 



t953 DEADLINES 

their first names. Yes, even the newest and 
homeliest of the copy-boys shall have access to 
him. 

.■■-*' 

[X] 

THERE is a shuffling of feet beside the Cub's 
desk. A grimy paw musses the papers on the 
desk. A voice of adolescence speaks in rather 
execrable accents : 

"Say, Mr. Brown says you should finish that 
club notice for tomorrow's paper. He says you 
should hurry." 

The Cub slowly removes his feet from his desk, 
takes his hands from his pockets, and blinks. 

In the full light of reason he perceives the blunt 
truth : He is but one rung higher than the copy- 
boy. 



[97] 



DEADLINES 



[vn] 

The Old Man 



[I] 



^ '^ n^ these days it seems incredible 

W that the Old Man was ever a Cub. 

I Yet such he was. I have seen a 

I photograph of him at the age of 

I twenty. There looks out from the 

* =J| frame a lean, eager face, with 

wide eyes and sensitive lips. A startling brush of 

hair, a la pompadour, crowns the forehead. The 

personality that quivers there is vivid despite the 

fading of the print. It looks wistfully and severely 

down the years, and offers silent criticism of the 

bulkier personality that it has become. 

The Old Man now confesses "fifty odd." His hair 
crosses his skull in sparse, grey-black strands. 
His blue eyes smolder behind heavy spectacles. 
His shoulders, his hands, his limbs, his walk, 
have become ponderous. The floor creaks when 
he traverses it. His chair groans at his touch. 
The weight of his responsibility is upon him and 
all that he does ; and the weight of his authority 
is upon us. We are now the lean, eager creatures 



DEADLINES [jsj 

straining at life. The Old Man has become a 
figure of another generation and another signifi- 
cance. He symbolizes government, importance 
and permanence. Pie is our law-giver, our 
repressor ; but he is also our security, our refuge. 
Who shall chastise us? The Old Man. But who 
shall restore and comfort us? None but the Old 
Man. He sits there supporting "the office" upon 
his broad shoulders, suggesting in his formidable 
physique itself that the institution we belong to 
is no fragile thing. To be able to do this has 
cost him something; it has cost him the ardency 
and sensitiveness of the photograph. All of that 
is grown over by the protective layers, both 
physical and mental, that he has had to build up. 
It is grown over — but perhaps it still lives. 

[11] 

PROMPTLY on the stroke of eight in the morn- 
ing the Old Man emerges from the elevator, 
and a minute later one can hear the lid of his 
private desk go up with a rush and crash. The 
swivel chair gives its familiar groan. There is a 
moment's silence, and then the Old Man's voice 
is heard, calling for the morning papers. 

His voice is a curious organ, musical with 
chest tones, but sharpening easily to acrimony, 
and sometimes, in extreme impatience, becoming 
plaintive, despairing. At this hour of the day, 
when the boy, as usual, has forgotten the morning 



[99] 



DEADLINES 



papers, the Old Man's voice is always at its highest 
note of weary insolence. In the few words it 
utters, it suggests the immense distance between 
the Old Man and the boy, and the utter triviality 
of the process of discharging the boy. But, some- 
how, the Old Man never does discharge the boy. 
The small, round face of this functionary reflects 
surprise, fear and enormous stupidity as he peers 
in at the Old Man's door. He sums up everything 
with his "Yessir." 

"Tell Brown to come here," commands the Old 
Man, with an impatient jounce in his chair. 

Brown arrives, in shirt-sleeves and eye-shade. 
His lean face is apprehensive, but his chin is 
determined, and there is a twist of something like 
humor about his mouth. He stands silently in the 
door, with his hands in his pockets. 

The Old Man pretends to be busy reading a 
letter. At length he slowly turns his fearsome 
spectacles, through which his eyes appear magni- 
fied and very bright, in Brown's direction, and 
he emits a slight sound, unrecognizable either as 
greeting or as warning. A pause, a»d he says : 

"We muffed that jewel robbery story yesterday. 
The Journal had it all over us." 

Another pause. 

"The Journal always beats us on a police story." 

This rouses Brown, as is the intention. 

"Not always," he says quietly. 

The Old Man brings down his hand upon his 
letters. 



DEADLINES yooj 

"Yes — always. When I say always, I mean — 
always. Yesterday, today, and forever. Our police 
staff is no good. It needs a shaking up — nothing's 
ever done unless I start it myself." The chair 
groans. "Here I am, twenty years older than any 
of you, and I have to furnish the ginger. You 
young fellows . . ." another untranslatable sound. 

Brown is paler than before. 

"Maybe you think," he counters in his thin, 
steady voice, "maybe you thing the staff shake-up 
should begin at the top." 

"Maybe it should," retorts the Old Man 
instantly. He always rises to a challenge of this 
sort. The two men eye each other. Outside in 
the hall the boy is telegraphing to other boys that 
hell is popping. 

"Well," says Brown, taking his hands out of his 
pockets, "IVe done my best." 

"All I can say to that," blurts the Old Man, 
with his habitual answer to the plea he has heard 
a thousand times, "is that your best isn't good 
enough." 

"Very well," says the city editor, taking off his 
eye-shade, as though by the act he lays down 
office ; "very well, then, I . . ." 

At this moment the telephone on the Old Man's 
desk rings. Compressing his lips, he takes up 
the receiver and listens, his cold blue gaze resting 
absently upon Brown. He speaks shortly once, 
and hangs up. 



[1011 



'Deadlines 



"Look here," he remarks, quite in his ordinary 
tone, "there's going to be a riot on the Board of 
Trade this morning. Better start somebody down 
early." He speaks now on terms of equality and 
complete friendliness. "The situation has been 
cooking up for some time. You'd better have 
Manlius go down and help out Riggs. It'll be 
some story." 

"It may be the big line for the second mail," 
suggests Brown, brightening up. "I'll write that 
head myself. I'll . . ." 

"Go and start something. Get out pi here while 
I read my mail. Scat !" „^^<" - '\ 

The incident is closed. The day has started 
right. Both the Old Man and Brown, stimulated 
by their tiff and reconciliation, plunge into work 
with vim and zest. An hour later, the Old Man, 
having run through his mail, clipped out three 
suggestions for editorials, delivered various orders 
to the composing room and elsewhere, telegraphed 
instructions to New York and Washington corre- 
spondents, and disposed of a politician concerned 
about the "injudicious policy of our leading after- 
noon paper," strolls into the news-room for a look 
around. Brown's razor back is bent over a mass 
of proofs. 

"Don't strain your eyes, my boy," says the Old 
Man, pausing beside him ; "you need a better light 
here." 



DEADiJNBfS' •'"-"'••- [102] 

He passes on, past the copy-readers, crabbedly 
disposing of their work, past the bench-full of 
small boys, who look demurely downcast as he 
passes and scowl terribly behind his back, and on 
among the desks of the reporters. He halts at 
a desk in a corner. The occupant instantly stops 
typewriting, and rises. 

"How's Fosket?" asks the Old Man. "Were you 
out at the hospital last night?" 

There is reassurance about the appendix of 
Fosket, and the reporter is left to his work. The 
Old Man wanders on, arriving at the row of win- 
dows that overlook the street. In the street is the 
usual daily swarm of trucks, taxis, pedestrians, 
thronging by under the jagged level of the ele- 
vated railroad. It is a grim perspective. It is a 
segment of the city ridden by mechanisms, ridden 
by routine, by desperate errands. Here at its 
vortex the city is harsh, dour, fearfully in a hurry. 
It sends up a voice, an influence, into this news- 
paper office! it sends up messages of the conflict, 
the confusion, of its forty-eight nationalities and 
its forty-eight thousand ambitions. Anything may 
happen here. There may be at any moment an 
outbreak of crime committed in a blunt, dauntless 
manner rivaling the Mexican border. There may 
be accident, swift and hideous. There may be 
some less overt but quite as startling manifesta- 
tion of the intricate, violent, dazzlingly vital city. 



[ 103 ] DEADLINES 

The Old Man sniffs the air, loving this city of 
his. He is for the moment deaf to what is behind 
his back ; he is in an interlude, forgetting his desk 
and all that is upon it. He gazes down critically, 
masterfully, with an appearance of premonition, 
into the familiar street. And there is about him 
almost a kind of majesty, because of his power 
of impressing himself upon this multitude, and 
because of the air of the patrician that hangs 
always about him. 

For the Old Man was not born of this swarm. 
He was thrust into his present environment and 
his present tasks, partly by destiny, partly by his 
own complex nature. 

His full name (only a few of us know this) is 
Norbert William DeLancy Thain. He signs him- 
self "N. W. Thain." 

[Ill] 

A FEW years ago a dispatch announced the 
death of a wealthy maiden lady named 
Thain. She was said to be "almost the last sur- 
vivor of a distinguished eastern family." There 
were hints about rich acres on Long Island, about 
libraries full of old masters, and the like. Soon 
after the dispatch was published the Old Man was 
absent for a few days, and it was rumored that 
he had gone east. The rumor subsided upon his 
return, and the very, very faint conjecture that 
he was a connection of the baronial Miss Thain 
was speedily forgotten. 



DEADLINES [i04j 

But the fact, which a few of us know, is that 
the Old Man was her brother. It is not difficult to 
fill in the outlines of the story. Indeed, the Old 
Man, in his rare moments of reminiscence, has 
supplied all that was needed. 

Why, then, is he not at this moment living 
as a country gentleman on Long Island, buying 
and selling racing stables, and occasionally scaring 
Wall street into fits, instead of inviting soul 
devastation by managing a newspaper? The 
answer revolves around a mystery not peculiar 
to The Mysterious Profession, but common to all ; 
the mystery of a young man's ambition, the 
thing that "sends them into it." Norbert William 
DeLancy Thain did not wish to be a country 
gentleman. He did want to be a newspaper man. 
Perhaps he wanted as well to be a writer — a 
novelist or a poet. We do not know this. In these 
days he speaks with profound disdain of novelists 
and poets. But he himself has told us that he 
was determined to be a newspaper man. He — yes, 
I am sure he said this — he "gave up everything 
for it." So we have a pretty reliable picture of 
him engaging in a stormy argument with his 
father, then declaring his independence and join- 
ing the motley company, half genius and half 
charlatan, then common along Park Row. He has 
told us about Park Row, with the slight hyperbole 
that tinges his reminiscences. Sometimes he has 
declared that he belonged to a golden age of 



[105] DEADLINES 

journalism, when enterprise reached its zenith, 
and the pursuit of a "beat" recked no cost, and 
that of this golden age he himself was one of 
the most luminous figures. At other times he has 
satirized both Park Row and his younger self, 
and assured us that we ourselves belonged to "the 
greatest newspaper in history." But it remains 
certain that he was a reporter in New York, and 
eventually a writer much prized. Was it not he 
who as a mere boy "covered" the rush to settle 
Oklahoma, the great Chicago railway strike, and 
the Santiago campaign? It was. He has told us 
so, and has shown us the scar on his neck made 
by a Spanish bullet. The Old Man has given us 
details of these things during the long hours of 
waiting for a court verdict or a strike settlement. 
Expansive hours, these, when more than one 
department chief ^reminisced," and we youngsters 
hung about, fascinated. 

But there is^ very little to show at what period 
the Old Man gave up star reporting for desk work, 
or to tell us why he did it. We can only surmise ; 
we can only apply to his case the things that 
govern most newspaper careers and assume that, 
having committed himself to the hazards of the 
profession, he was forced to accept his destiny. 
This destiny usually assumes one of two forms: 
either the acceptance of high responsibility, 
together with crushing worry and deadening 



DEADLINES [io6] 

routine, or a decadence from the position of Star 
to one of shabby obscurity. It was impossible 
for a man of the Old Man's temper to take the 
slide to the level of "once a great reporter." One 
day it became inevitable for him to be an execu- 
tive and thus to exert the acuteness, the immense 
energy, the professional wisdom, that had come 
with his years. 

But on that day, mind you, he laid aside forever 
the delight of "seeing himself in print." He for- 
feited his literary creative powers. He parted 
with a section of his individuality. It is all very 
well to say that his imaginative gifts now figure 
on every page of the paper, that he "expresses 
himself through others," and so on. All very well, 
but every time such words are spoken of a man 
bom a literary artist, they utter a requiem. The 
funeral of the Old Man as a writer has now been 
held so often that every one supposes him to be 
used to it. But is he? Does not there persist in 
him, will there not persist to his death day, the 
strange, bitter-sweet egoism that vdll not be 
satisfied without "seeing one's-self in print"? 

Sometimes — rarely — ^the Old Man dictates an 
editorial, or perhaps a few lines of flourish at the 
beginning of an important news story. There is 
in these fragments a deadly acid quality, or more 
often a felicitous turn of phrase, that shows what 
power still smolders in the Old Man's spirit. It 
is revealed further by his treatment of us, by his 



[107] DEADLINES 

disdain for crude, hackneyed expression, by his 
delight in a piece of writing that has original 
color, by his tenderness toward the sensitive 
gropers among us. 

He comes out of his room sometimes, grasping 
the latest issue in both hands, and with his eyes 
blazing. 

"Who wrote this?" he demands. "By G , 

it's good!" 

And he returns to his lair, satisfied with the 
outburst, without waiting for an answer to his 
question. 

Or it may be that he finds in a rival paper a 
story that rises above mediocrity, that has a note 
of "the real thing." He will rave for half an hour 
about the ability of this anonymous literary rival. 
And we hang our heads. 

Meantime, although it is so plain that the Old 
Man is at heart an artist, and that he loves 
excellent writing with the consuming love others 
have for music, we never think of him as a writer 
at all; that is, we know what he could do, but 
we never expect him to do it. There he is in his 
niche, a huge and conspicuous niche, with a sign 
over him "Executive." Oh, yes, he could and did 
do things; he was an artist once; but not now. 
Now he is the Boss — a being of whom to ask 
questions or from whom to receive maledictions, 
a being who controls pay-rolls. He is stage- 



DEADLINES ijm 

director and prompter. Someone else speaks the 
parts and receives the curtain calls. 
All of this constitutes a sort of tragedy. 

[IV] 

THERE can be no doubt that the Old Man has 
a plural nature. "Dual" seems scarcely to be 
the word. 

Two of his selves are the artist and the 
executive. The executive, when that phase of 
DeLancy Thain's life opened, rose into preponder- 
ance over the artist very easily ; and as time went 
on his increasing virility and love of conflict 
demanded more and more a tempestuous field. 
Perhaps from the first he instinctively sought 
trouble, as the saying is. It is certain that in this 
city which I have characterized as intricate and 
violent he is at home. The fact, to some extent, 
mitigates the tragedy of the suppressed artist. 

A newspaper with the breath of life in it is 
ever on the offensive. Its hates stream out to 
"Little Hell," "The Valley," and the Gashouse 
District," breathing challenge to bad men where- 
ever they hide. Even if there be no battle for 
the time being with crooks and gangsters there 
is conflict with somebody. To be the leader in 
this amiable business of making enemies requires 
a big fist and a blunt answer. It involves the 
Old Man from time to time in clashes — usually 
verbal — with uncouth persons in whom somehow 



fio9] DEADLINES 



or other there was born a devil both fierce and 
canny. This is no place for a lily-fingered, lisping 
individual. The Old Man has to be prepared, and 
is, to oppose to brutal, foul speech a resistance 
quite as brutal, though perhaps not as foul. He 
casts off, almost daily, his hereditary cloak of the 
patrician and "mixes it" with jail-bird sons of 
jail-birds. He is a match — he who might have 
spent his afternoons at tea dances at the Ritz- 
Carleton — for any of the products of this city that 
includes in its composite soul the low instincts 
of a dozen races. 

When his telephone bell rings there may come 
to him the voice of a six-foot gangster announcing, 

"You , I'm comin* around there today 

to beat your block off." 

And the Old Man must be prepared to answer 
the gangster at once, and not in French, either. 

There are conflicts of a more diplomatic sort; 
political struggles, or controversies involving even 
women and scholars. The Old Man has mastered 
the weapons of these as well. The point with him 
is, never to yield. On no account does the Old Man 
give ground. There are times when it suits him 
to revert to the patrician, and then it is a 
delightful experience to hear him suavely, perhaps 
ironically, dispose of the opposition. It is even 
more delicious to see him plume himself after the 
encounter; to observe how his whole personality 
glistens with the consciousness that neither in 
breeding nor in intellect does he concede an atom 



DEADLINES [noi 

to these persons who speak with the accents of 
Harvard and of Vassar. 

He is equipped, too, with every art needed to 
cope with the disputes that come up in the office. 
To us he is capable of being blunt or suave, per- 
suasive or sarcastic, as the nature of the tangle 
requires. He is death upon the frequent situation 
in which two minor executives come to him with 
"I can't go on working here if Wade does," and 
vice versa. He merely says : "You may both quit, 
then." Equally fatal is he to the youth who com- 
plains that "credit" is being subtracted from him. 
The Old Man sweetly and in the purest English 
subtracts the rest of the credit. 

It is we, of course, who see the Old Man in all 
his moods, who have learned that his nature is 
really plural. We see him morose, joyous, tender, 
abusive, frivolous, weary. We see him uplifted in 
one of those gorgeous moments of great news 
which come so rarely; and we see him grimly 
assailed by routine, bored to death, but hanging 
on. Sometimes he suggests to us a hollow, hope- 
less soul, sucked dry of enthusiasm or initiative. 
An hour later, and he may be leading us with the 
fury of a youth ; or, coatless at the "stone," sing- 
ing over his proofs and slapping printers on the 
back. 

There are days when he seems to hate us all. 
There are days when his affection enfolds us like 
sunshine. 



till] DEADLINES 

He is brief with the Cub, sardonic with Sinful 
Goode, amiable and savage by turns with the Star, 
majestic with the Drunkard, and strictly on his 
good behavior with Josslyn. There must be a 
story about his relations with Josslyn, "the old- 
timer." We shall have to look into it before we 
finish. 

[V] 

IN this haphazard world of ours, so easily upset 
by a word, by a false touch or an unprofessional 
act, the Old Man is the symbol of permanence. 
That powerful body seems never to weaken, that 
mind returns every morning to the challenge, to 
the battle, to the semi-paternal care of us all. 

Ten years hence, how will it be? Surely by 
that time he will have begun to weaken. And 
with what memories can he mitigate the distress 
of age. To what can he point with the words, "I 
made this"? For the record of his days will be 
the hundreds of trivial thoughts and motions 
spent upon "getting out the paper" ; the lavishing 
of immense zeal upon an evanescent product, for- 
gotten as soon as made. 

Perhaps, when the false fires are quenched, 
there will be nothing for him to rejoice over — 
nothing but us. There will remain among the 
ashes of his public and his enterprises only us, 
his children, his disciples. Perhaps we shall have 
become, in our turn, weighty, authoritative per- 



DEADLINES ni2] 

sons, who can "get out a paper." He will have 
bequeathed his life to us, and we shall bequeath 
it again to vivid youths like the one pictured in 
the Old Man's photograph. 



[113] 



DEADLINES 



[VIII] 
The Poet 




[I] 

ENTLEMEN, should you meet a 

stalwart person walking the 

streets bareheaded and glowing 

with mysterious ecstasy, will you 

kindly bring him back to the 

office? That is our Poet. 

The Old Man would like to see him. 

It is a whim of the Old Man's, and of nobody 

else, that we shall employ a poet to write critical 

articles. An incongruity, surely; what do you 

think? Are not critics supposed to be bloodless, 

blue-nosed persons, pedantic, prudent, prim, and 

accurate on the typewriter? And do they not 

punch clocks faithfully? Poets never punch clocks. 

There is a disposition in our office, however, to 

forgive the Old Man his eccentricity ; to love him 

the more because he employs The Poet. Beyond 

doubt, the presence of The Poet lends color to 

this pasture wherein we dig post-holes and hunt 



DEADLINES [juj 

mares-nests. It is certain that our days would be 
gloomier were it not for the leisurely, genial, 
enigmatic being who moves about among the 
shades. To find him at one's elbow, quite unex- 
pectedly, furnishes a moment of novelty and of 
warmth. To hear him boom: "Some first page 
today — man, that's journalism!" is almost as 
forceful praise as a note from the Owner. Besides 
this, it does us good to gather around his desk and 
hear him talk. There is nearly always — at least, 
during The Poet's variable "office hours," there is 
usually a knot of young reporters listening to his 
wisdom. And it sometimes makes the Old Man 
nervous when he comes in and finds work at a 
standstill. But the Old Man knows he is chiefly 
to blame, so he smiles secretly and goes away. 

The Old Man is wont to boast: "Fve managed 
to keep that man on my staff for five years without 
a break." 

A rightful boast. It is no joke to keep a poet 
anywhere. 

[11] 
TLTE has been here five years. He has been 
•*• ^ happy, we think. As for us, we have seen 
poems born. We have watched The Poet at his 
window, lounging deep in his chair, his powerful 
hands knotted, his dark, rugged face locked in a 
solemn dream. The poems themselves have been 
on exhibition at various stages : as pencilled yellow 
slips, as clean sheets re-typed for the printer, as 



ni5j DEADLINES 

long rolls of galley-proofs. We have seen poems 
fresh from the shell, shivering in a philistine 
world; and we have seen them again, months 
later, fricaseed in books, or set forth with pro- 
fessorial comment, or translated into French and 
Italian and Spanish. All this makes The Poet 
more incongruous than ever. Who is he, after all? 
A great man, or only one of us? One cannot 
doubt that he travels in an orbit that often takes 
him very far away, and that at his perihelion he 
is quite beyond our vision. Yet he returns as 
regularly as he goes, and when he is again within 
our range, and when the flight of gaudy and 
tawdry events does not engross us too much, he 
is as actual as Barlow, and as vivid as The Star. 
In these returns to earth he shares the office 
dramas. He is one of the first to be told of a 
big scoop, a grievous quarrel, or a new baby. He 
is interested in the people of the news-room ; and 
he has periods of absorption in news itself. 

Sitting in his deep old chair he may preach to 
us like this : 

"You and I are artists ; you as much as I. They 
call newspaper work a trade, or a profession. 
More often it is an art. ... Besides writing, 
there is staging the effect. Dramatists do that; 
so do newspaper men. Dramatists set a stage; 
newspaper men, dealing with a great event, give 
a setting of type and a proper bally-hoo. . . . The 
novelist has his 'control,' — character ; the painter 



DEADLINES niej 

has his — beauty. The newspaperman has his 
*contror — news. What is news? It is what inter- 
ests everybody. How do we know it interests 
everybody? Why, we simply know . . ." etc., etc. 

[HI] 

OR IN the cigar store he may suddenly appear 
among the clouds of smoke, with a long, 
loose-rolled stogie in his lips, and argue about the 
current murder trial. And then, quite as though 
he were no more august than the Cub, he may 
say: "Who's for a cup of Java?" 

Or on an election night he may saunter in 
between the littered desks and inquire: "How*s 
Diamond Joe running?" 

But for all this, we know that he is an extrane- 
ous spirit, who dwells among us, yet apart. He 
travels in mysterious spaces beyond our tired 
vision. He is the office mystery, just as the 
Drunkard is its bad boy, and Josslyn its Sir Philip 
Sidney. He has another life somewhere; perhaps 
in his country cottage, where through an attic 
window he drinks star-light. We can't tell just 
why the world makes so much of him. Some of 
us shake our heads over his poetry, and say "I 
can't make sense of it." Or we ask The Poet what 
it means, and he replies, "God knows." 

Can't we get at our mystery somehow, can't 
we solve him? 



[117] DEADLINES 

Suppose that we step outside of the news-room, 
just for once, and follow him to the antipodes; 
to the other side of the orbit. Let's assemble 
the crowd; make it a night off. Tomorrow the 
news-room again, the detestable clock, the insane 
telephones, the petty conflicts. Tonight, The Poet. 

CIV] 

"Pl'GHT steps down from the level of the glossy 
•*-' boulevard. Two steps to the right into the 
restaurant with red chairs and green walls. This 
is the place. The red chairs stand in semi-circles 
before a fire-place, and on the mantel-shelf there 
are plaster statuettes, and Quimper plates, and 
this and that. All very chic. It is not a restaurant 
this evening; it is a setting for The Poet. But 
what a setting! Think of him among the statu- 
ettes and the tall candles, the cages of imitation 
parrots, the walls frescoed with pink flower- 
baskets. Our poet! May he step softly amid 
this porcelain. 

The red chairs gradually fill up. From the 
boulevard swept by snow squalls and by streaks 
of motor-lights people are blowing in. We, the 
news-room "crowd," blow in and are dumfounded 
to find there are no seats for us. The place is 
packed. "Everybody" is here: The cognoscenti, 
and the literati, and the younger intellectuals and 
the neo-Bohemians and the academics, and the 



DEADLINES [iisi 

iconoclasts and the abracadabrists. Everybody 
who writes, or writes about writings or knows 
people who talk about those who write about 
writing. The serene small editress of a magazine 
enters, and five young poets jump up to offer her 
their places. A literary critic appears in the door- 
way, leading an abashed-looking trio of suburban 
friends. In a corner glowers a group of long- 
haired youths with horn spectacles and scornful 
conversation. An old man, white bearded, is 
squeezed between two bobbed-haired screechers. 
Sophomores and sub-debs arrive, clutching the 
poet's poems conspicuously. Professors prowl the 
aisles. We, the news-room crowd, flatten our- 
selves against the wall. The hubble-bubble rises 
around us. 

"That's So-and-so. I met him at the Midland 
Authors' last feed." 

"Isn't he dear? I wonder who that ..." 
"What do you s'pose he'll read tonight?" 
"Did you see my villanelle in the Scat-book?" 
"Isn't it fearfully hawt by this fire?" 
"I wonder if it would be a scandal if I smoked 
a teeny cigarette." 

There is a hush near the door; a craning of 
necks ; a flurry of snow as the door opens. There 
is blown in — The Poet. 

He is muffled to the eyes and he is wearing, 
tonight, his black rain-proof cap, which is so ugly 
that he idolizes it. He steps forward and beams. 



tii9] DEADLINES 

A half dozen people rise from their seats and 
stretch out hands in vain. The Poet is unbutton- 
ing the tall collar of his ulster. He is as pleased 
as Punch over the warmth of affection that sweeps 
toward him ; but he does not act like a man receiv- 
ing homage. He is just the same as when he 
strolls into the cigar-store and says "Hello, fel- 
lows." There is no bunk about The Poet. We see 
now that he is the same old kid. This is whole- 
some; we were beginning to be affected by the 
mawkish worship of the neo-Bohemians and poet- 
asters. He sees us now, and we call to him 
carelessly, "Hello; how are yu?" 

Now he picks his way to his table in front of 
the fireplace, where priestesses have set up a sort 
of altar for him, lit with candles, very pretty. 
But it won't do. Put out the candles, please, and 
will somebody open a window? 

Well, now it seems everything is ready. 

[V] 

THE POET stands against a background of 
ochre flames, statuettes, and bon-bon boxes, 
before the dinky table upon which are piled his 
books, with shreds of newspaper marking the 
selected poems. He faces the semi-circle of list- 
eners, swinging his head about so that his gaze 
takes in everybody. He is in no hurry to begin. 
Quizzical thoughts seem to stir his lips ; his ashen- 
grey eyes, with their bold, black pupils, twinkle 



DEADLINES [mj 

a little with the recognition of people, or perhaps 
with some inward whimsy. His cragged chin lifts 
in a curious gesture that throws back his whole 
head; that head, clothed in its cloak of shining 
silvered hair, black at the roots, which is — well, 
the word is "leonine/* But what an amiable lion 
it is ! A lion well-fed and purring, it seems ; but 
no moving-picture lion, this; no exhibition lion; 
sodden with leisure. This is a capricious spirit, 
capable of stern flashes from under his shaggy- 
grey brows, and of great abstract rages. As the 
eyelids droop over his deep eyes, and as his lips 
work, it is anybody's guess what he will say, or 
read. Will his words scorch the flower-baskets 
off the green walls? Will they rock the statuettes 
upon their pedestals? 

There is silence now. The more distinguished 
auditors sit with folded arms, breathless. We of 
the news-room, nobodies — merely the poet's 
friends — shuffle our feet where we stand. 

The Poet reads. 

It is a voice familiar enough, yet charged with 
a new element. It is a deep voice, deliberate, 
casual, rich with earth-tones. It comes as though 
some organist were idly exploring the pedals. 
What is the voice saying? Mysteries. And grad- 
ually there grows upon us news-room visitors a 
sense of a spell, of being quaintly lost. The figure 
before us, with its luxurious bangs of grey hair, 
with the military shoulders and the careless drab 



[121] DEADLINES 

clothes, is familiar. Yet it is now remote, inex- 
plicable. Well, there is something we have 
overlooked. We have seen him write, but we never 
have heard him read. We have thumbed over his 
poems, and asked him questions about them, and 
he has shown them to us and we have given him 

encouraging grins, but boys, we never 

fathomed him at all. We are fascinated, every 
one of us, by this public Poet whom we did not 
know. Nobody in the room is staring at him 
harder than we. He is changing before our eyes. 
The companionable chuckle with which he greets 
us is gone. He has a stern, white look that 
abashes us. Concentration is cutting that familiar 
face into hollows. The black pupils blot out the 
grey of his eyes ; deep, deep thought and the mem- 
ory of creative hours veil the black. And the 
voice, striking chords that do not dwell in "Good 
morning'' and "Good night," the voice is uttering 
phrases that we once saw written, that we once 
ticketed as "good stuff" — and let them go. 

Comrades, we never fathomed him. There is 
something else here, and we can't quite describe 
it. Those phrases — whence did they come, and 
whither bound? They are irradiated and clari- 
fied by his voice. By his voice those queer masses 
of printing are explained. The cubes of type melt 
together, the eruptions of strange, "unpoetic" 
words acquire a melody. And those maimed sen- 
tences that he never chose to finish, those 



DEADLINES vm^ 

implicatory phrases, like great thumb-marks- 
complete, complete. His voice is trying to tell 
us — us, his news-room comrades — what he felt 
months ago, when all this was written. Up there 
to his eyrie above the skyscrapers, and out into 
his starlit nights in the corn-fields, and abroad 
on his long treks across the deserts — ^that is 
where he is trying to take us. But we can follow 
only a little way ; we, whose desks are next to his. 

He reads; pauses; reads again. He dips into 
this book and that. Now we are in the city, tor- 
tured and deafened by it. Now we are skimming 
toward the "sun-burnt west," among purple 
rocks and powdered trails and the bones of trav- 
lers. Now we are on slopes of woodland ; and now 
the baby moon sails and sails in the Indian west, 
for us. And now we are once more in the city, 
where broken, work-torn figures are brought to 
our feet to speak in their horrible, hopeless jargon 
that we may pity them. The voice of The Poet 
searches, searches among the meshes of the 
poems. It comes slow, deep and tender ; it comes 
furious, menacing, sardonic. We are altogether 
swept away from the city's rigmarole, from our 
normal moods, from all consciousness of the chic 
little restaurant. We are sharing The Poet's long- 
seeing fearless vision; we are learning what his 
world is. 

Very distant at last, the news-room, its clamors 
and clankings, the babel of nervous voices, the 



[123 3 DEADLINES 

flutter of printed sheets. But from this distance, 
where The Poet dwells, we regard the news-room 
in a new light. We share The Poet's grand disdain 
for successes, and his pity for failures. We see 
ourselves as part of an immense and tragic pro- 
cession, in which, despite its shabby ranks and 
its numerous stragglers, we are proud to march. 
And when The Poet has finished, we walk home 
in the peaceful night, convinced of the majesty of 
ourselves. 

[VI] 

npOMORROW morning, if you see us glumly 
•*• clipping, writing and correcting, and if we 
seem unchanged, you must still believe us to be 
under The Poet's spell. 

And if you meet The Poet himself on the street, 
with his gaze fixed on the roof-tops and his very 
footsteps proclaiming his indifference to time and 
space, will you please bring him back to the office? 
The Old Man wants him. 
Besides, he belongs here. 



11251 



DEADLINES 



The Ghost 



[I] 



» — n T is mid-summer, and the door of 

■ the cigar store stands open, so 
I that we on the benches have a 

■ close view of passers-by. They 
B cross the path of our vision, exist 

==j| for a moment, and vanish. It is 
the world ; it is humanity brought near to us and 
seeming, when thus foreshortened, ill worth the 
beholding. 

This time it is the news editor, the Star, Camp- 
bell and I who muse, gossip, and smoke. Campbell 
is a man whom I ought to have introduced before. 
He is a person of some authority and of great lore 
in recondite questions like the allotment of edi- 
torial space and the timing of editions. Privately, 
he is a philosopher; he goes home to live among 
tall ghosts of thought, which solace him for the 
brutal facts to which his working life is devoted. 
The Star loves to awaken this private passion and 



DEADLINES i^&j 

see it live, quaintly, amid the architecture of the 
working day. 

So the Star and Campbell, here in the cigar 
store, are carrying on a metaphysical conversa- 
tion, far over the heads of the new^s editor and 
myself. I hear phrases like "Nietsche! An 
inverted Baptist" ; "No doubt Kant was the under- 
lying cause of the French revolution," and "The 
theory that man is a time-binding animal . . . ." 

Suddenly the news editor leans forward, watches 
the passing swarm intently, and exclaims : 

"Old Slater!" 

Campbell looks, and nods. 

For my part, I have seen only a disappearing 
bit of bent shoulder, and a wisp of grey hair. 
They are gone. 

[11] 

T UCKY he didn't look in and see me," says the 
'■^ news editor. "By golly, I dread the sight 
of the man. Don't know exactly why, either, for 
it's not a question of his asking me for a job. He's 

long past that, and he knows it Maybe I 

hate the thought of a 'touch,' though. Lord knows, 
he's about past that, too. I fancy he'll never show 
his poor old phiz in our office again. Instead of 
that, — well, it's a curious thing, but he's present, 
just the same. He haunts us." 

"In what way?" I inquire with a yawn. 

"Oh, it's no ghost story; not exactly. It isn't 



ti27] DEADLINES 

that his shade inhabits dark corners on late 
watches. This is a plain, businesslike Chamber 
of Commerce sort of haunting, that consists of 
recommendations. You don't think a fellow can 
haunt an office by means of recommendations ; or, 
rather, by requests for recommendations? Try 
my job once. Notice the letters I get from snappy 
employment managers of stores, packing houses, 
railroads, and so on. Neat letters, with your 
name sticking through those tissue-covered holes 
in the envelopes, and a stamped return envelope. 
All very businesslike. The form generally reads : 
*You will oblige us by confidential information 
about Blank Blank, who says he was employed 
by you in the years so-and-so; please advise 
promptly about his character, habits, application 
to duty; are you relative of applicant, would you 
re-employ,* and all that tosh. It's through these 
that old Slater haunts us, fellows. And I always 
write cheerfully in the forms that he was an A-1 
newspaper-man, and is a guy perfectly sober and 
industrious. I guess I do this so as to lay the 
ghost ; the ghost of his long, sad, grey face." 

Campbell takes out his cigar and says: "You 
can truthfully say that he was a first-class news- 
paper man. He was that, and more." 

"Then how did he blow up ?" I inquire. 

The news editor and Campbell start to reply 
simultaneously, and beg pardon. 

"You tell it, then." 



DEADLINES U28^i 

"No; you know it better. You were here." 
So the narrative falls to the metaphysician, who 
exchanges for this occasion his delight in his 
illusory world for a certain twinkling zest in the 
drama of our groundling existence. Meanwhile 
we gaze vacantly upon the passing figures: Old 
men, young men, brisk persons, crippled persons, 
bob-haired women, shawl-covered women, beggars, 
toilers, blackguards. The personality and the story 
of Old Slater blend well with this unlovely parade. 

[Ill] 

"T'M no great lover of yarns about old days," 
•*• says Campbell. "Telling them is a habit 
among newspaper men when they get to a certain 
age; and after a fellow has listened to all the 
grey-backed memoirs I have, he may be pardoned 
if he hesitates to add to them. This business of 
old Slater has a special tang, though, for me. 
Probably because I sort of respected the chap. 
He was very well educated ; one might almost call 
him cultured. We used to have some searching 
talks when time hung heavy during late watches 
and so on. He was a great talker, swaggered 
when he walked, and his opinions were fearfully 
positive. No doubt he had an inferiority com- 
plex." 

This exordium Campbell delivers in the medi- 
tative way peculiar to him. With a bit more 
spirit he continues: 



[129] DEADLINES 

"A great, big, broad-stomached, hearty and 
sports-loving individual was Slater when I first 
knew him. He could have encircled my neck with 
one hand. When he sat at the copy desk he didn't 
slouch, like so many of them, but sat almost bolt 
upright, making marks on the copy with a flourish 
almost of disdain. He was very fast, and tireless. 
It seemed in those days as though we couldn't 
give him enough to do. While other copy-readers 
were sweating blood, and groaning between their 
teeth. Slater would polish off twice as much copy 
as they, and have plenty of time to sit with his 
thumbs in his huge waistcoat, gazing around and 
chuckling. 

"Now, a man like that should have been an 
executive, you may think. But I don't know . . . 
The Old Man's intuition was very acute. Of 
course, it may have been that all the responsible 
jobs were filled. Anyhow, up to the time of the 
turning point. Slater, with all his education, his 
skill and his enormous professional blah, remained 
just a drudge on the desk. He towered among 
the youngsters, the derelicts, and the riff-raff 
that we had at that time ; he saw a succession of 
copy-readers tackle the desk, and flunk, either 
because they were worthless or because they fell 
foul of our wonderful system. They looked up to 
Slater in a way. He was the expert; they the 
bunglers and the never-do-rights. They respected 
his opinion, too; his opinions so freely uttered 



DEADLINES yiaoj 

on all questions of the day. They fed his vanity. 
They grumbled in his hearing that he was a 
powerful sight more competent than the city 
editor (Franklin, I think it was) and they said he 
would be a four times better man at the stone than 
I was. (I was doing make-up at the time.) 

"All this naturally swelled old Slater to a pon- 
derable figure in the office. He loomed there at 
the desk, with his huge head and his balloon-like 
shirt sleeves, like a relic of some age of mammoth 
newspaper men. He lent the place dignity. There 
were legends that he had held a big job under 
Dana ; also that he had edited a paper in Nevada 
in the mine-rush days. Well, I knew as much about 
his history as anybody, and the truth was that he 
had never done anything more sensational than 
read copy. Just the same, it was impossible to 
deprive him of his halo. Whenever visiting news- 
paper men, or former comrades visiting *the old 
shop,' came in, they always paused to chat with 
Slater. And half the time outsiders who called 
to make requests, or to register kicks with the 
city editor, mistook the stately Slater for 'the 
desk.' I remember his austere wave of the hand, 
and his deep voice : Tardon me ; see Mr. Franklin.* 

"But in spite of all this auto-suggestion that 
Slater was a great personage, the Old Man never 
fell for it. There was always a reserve in his 
manner toward the supposed *right-hand man of 
Dana.' He never discussed Slater, for or against; 



[131] DEADLINES 

even exempted him from the periodical razooing 
that he gave the copy-readers. When he had to 
call attention to some solecism in Slater's work 
he would do it quietly, but, I thought, a bit sar- 
donically. There was a curious gravity in his 
manner toward the big fellow, too, as though he 
felt he was more of an equal somehow — I don't 
know " 

"Devilish cute person, the Old Man; devilish 
cute," interposes the Star. 

"Devilish devilish," puts in the news editor. 

"A great judge of men," nods Campbell. 

"And of women,"grins the Star. 

We all grin. 

[IV] 

" A S I have intimated," continues the narrator, 
•^^ "the Old Man rejected all suggestions that 
he give Slater a responsible job. If he treated 
him as an equal it wasn't because he thought him 
an equal. I suppose it was simply because, with 
his peculiar sensitiveness to personality, he felt 
that Slater was of sterner stuff than the majority, 
and he wasn't quite sure of the result should they 
— but no use speculating on that. The two swash- 
bucklers continued in an attitude of business-like 
politeness. The Old Man continued to think that 
he, and no other, was the greatest newspaper man 
in the world, and Slater went on feeding his own 
inferiority complex and hinting that he was a vic- 
tim of prejudice. 



DEADLINES imj 

"So we trundled along for some years. And then 
came the episode that furnishes the point of my 
foolish old shop yarn. 

"I don't suppose this gang recalls much about 
the Russo-Japanese war, unless some of the 
ungodly Oriental names we had to learn still stick. 
We didn't mind the war — although it caused a 
pernicious lot of late watches — except for the fact 
that it caught us short-handed. We were more 
short-handed than ever, — and that was being dev- 
ilish short. Right on top of it all, and right in the 
middle of the war, it came time for the telegraph 
editor's vacation. The Old Man tried to devil him 
out of it, but the telegraph editor — it was Al 
Traubel, whom none of you remember — ^he was a 
hard-headed son of a gun, and he said to the Old 
Man: 'Postpone it? No. I've shipped my wife 
and kids down to the Springs ; we've been looking 
forward to this for a year. I'll pay a "sub" ; I'll 
do anything else you say. But I won't give up 
this vacation for anybody.' 

"Now, the assistant telegraph editor was a 
drunkard. Couldn't be depended on for an hour. 
There was nobody handy to shift to the job which, 
just then, meant a horrible mess of A. P., of 
special cable, and of emergency problems. And 
besides — mark this — the censorship in the Far 
East was veiling and muddling dispatches in a 
way that passed anything known before or since. 
A Japanese censor can beat even the British. 



ti33 3 DEADLINES 

"There sat Slater, huge, hearty, competent, 
voluble, surrounded by prepossessions that he was 
a whiz of a newspaper man. 1 recall that the Old 
Man came in, looked up and down the desk as 
though searching for someone to wipe his feet on, 
and then said casually, 'Slater, take the telegraph 
for a few days, please/ Slater hove his ample 
body out of one chair into another, seized a wad 
of copy-paper, and fell to. 

"All right. It worked very well. As make-up 
editor I had a close-up of the fellows on the desk ; 
and nothing could have come to me cleaner, faster, 
and better-edited than the war stuff as it came 
from Slater. There had been no decisive event for 
a while. Matters were working up to the Russian 
debacle. There were plenty of late watches, how- 
ever, and these Slater took, working four days a 
week until midnight, and showing up at seven 
next morning, fresh as a flower. 

"I remember saying to the Old Man : *We don't 
seem to miss Al Traubel much, after all.' 

"His reply was : *Never forget how God raised 
up General Grant.' Which was sarcasm. But 
when the Old Man is sarcastic, you know, it often 
means he's pleased. 

"The effect of responsibility upon different men 
is worth watching. Some of them, such as 
Josslyn, it depresses; others it makes chattery 
and loose-elbowed. The effect upon Slater was 
that of expansion. It seemed even to increase 



DEADLINES [i34i 

his physical bulk. And he let drop more and more 
remarks that showed how swollen he was getting. 
He would prate to the youngsters, after the First 
Final went in, about the pride of the profession ; 
how the profession had its faults, but how we 
ought to realize what a splendid public service 
it really was. And mistakes ? It wasn't the bawl- 
ing out, he said, that made bulls serious; it was 
the departure from professional standards, which 
was all we had, our whole stock in trade, etc., etc. 

"He gave everybody to understand, did old 
Slater, that if he made a shocking blunder he 
would just quit; that's all. Not from fear, but 
from self -disgust. 

"And now Well, I'll spare you the 

fiction flourishes, such as *a day came,' and all 
that. What I recall about the episode is that we 
were sending away the First Final in the usual 
cyclone of bad temper and balled-up stories (most 
of my memories are of making up the First Final) . 
We were jamming the type together any old way, 
and butchering local news until Franklin darned 
near cried, and trying to watch our proofs during 
the hullabaloo. 

"I remember the Russian story was made up 
one column wide on the first page, with a head 
over it something like 'Russians Threaten Revolt.' 
And just as we were closing, the tail of my eye 
caught a proof, under a small head follovdng the 
big one, with the words in it: *The historic event 



[135] DEADLINES 

in the Sea of Japan.' That odd phrase struck me ; 
it warned me, as it were ; it set alive a tiny little 
prescience of trouble. But this warning died 
under the avalanche of things I had to do. And we 
went to press. 

"Three other afternoon papers went to press at 
the same hour. Copies of the three were brought 
up from downstairs at the same time with our 
paper. All four were laid on my desk together." 

Campbell pauses, chuckles, and slaps his knee. 

"Oh, those headlines ! Thundering Jabberwock !" 

"Come now," scoffs the Star, "you're using a 
story-teller's trick; suspensory pause, and so on. 
Cut it out!" 

"Those headlines said." continues Campbell, 
"those rival headlines — not ours — said : ^Terrific 
Naval Battle in Sea of Japan.' Togo Defeats 
Russ in Great Sea Fight.' *Epoch-Making Naval 
Engagement; Japanese Reported Victors.' Our 
big head said; 'Russians Threaten Revolt.' A 
thundering scoop on us. Every line of it A. P. 
stuff, too. Stuff that had come to us as well as 
to them. Professional pride, good-night. Great- 
ness of old Slater, good-night. Oh, Lord !" 

And Campbell rocks himself with the memory. 

"Tho Old Man burst into the room with an 
armful of papers. *Look at this, and this, and 
this,' he said to Slater. *And look what we have 
— a wretched follow head. You can hardly find 
our story in the paper. My good Lord, what will 



DEADLINES [isy 

people say? How in the devil can I ever explain 
itr 

"Slater sat upright and bland before the terrible 
exhibits. He took out a pair of eye-glasses he 
used on rare occasions, and amiably examined the 
evidence. 

"*Isn*t that curious?' he said (and everybody 
was listening, you bet.) 'Isn't that curious ? Now 
I never interpreted the dispatch in that way.' 

"The Old Man stood back of him, trembling. 

" 'Today's historic event in the Sea of Japan' 
could mean but one thing, Mr. Slater,' he said. 
'Haven't we been expecting this battle for days? 
And as the cable comes from the Japanese, would 
they release it if it hadn't meant their victory?' 

" 'Very good deduction,' smiled Slater. 'But the 
first rule of the profession is, never make deduc- 
tions.' 

"The Old Man's hair stood on end. He smoothed 
it down carefully, glared at Slater's fat back, and 
strode out." 

[V] 

OAMPBELL takes off his spectacles and wipes 
^^ them. We see his "philosophical look" com- 
ing on. 

"About at that period," he says, "must have 
been when the subconscious in Slater became the 
conscious. He stepped over the subliminal thres- 
hold, and . . . ." 



[137] DEADLINES 

"Come now," I object. "Did he quit, like the 
good soldier he claimed to be?" 

Campbell resumes his spectacles and rubs his 
nose. 

"No. I don't think he did. In fact. I know he 
didn't. The Old Man was too short-handed to fire 
him. No ; Slater continued on the desk. It would 
have been hard for some men to come to work at 
all after a boner like that. But Slater faced it 
out. He became more expansive and resonant 
than ever. The rest of us, out of decency, kept 
quiet about that dispatch ; but Slater wouldn't let 
it rest. He was still talking about it when Roose- 
velt called the peace conference. He had half a 
dozen ways of accounting for it, and tried them 
all out on his silent desk-mates. *It's funny, you 
know,' he would say, *I don't believe I saw that 
sheet of copy at all ; it must have gone out uned- 
ited.' Next day it would be: 'Nothing unusual 
about that little oversight of mine; I remember 
back on the old Sun . . . .' 

"Of course, everybody got sick and tired of the 
thing. As for the Old Man, I never heard him 
refer to it after the first day. He kept Slater on 
telegraph until Traubel got back; but he never 
addressed him. Just sent in boys with notes, 
when he had any instructions. 

"Well, the incident and the war itself rolled 
back into history, and Slater, settled down into 
his old groove, hardly seemed to change at all. 



DEADLINES t_i38j 

But I can see now that, little by little, he was 
decaying. His discourses upon topics of the day 
became more and more vacuous. There came into 
his eyes a spark of anxiety — not over the quality 
of his work, but due to the fear, I guess, that peo- 
ple would quit listening to him. He gradually gave 
up trying to impress the older men and picked 
out newcomers, cubs, anything, for his audience, 
switching from foreign affairs to sports, in which 
he was well versed. After a while he was taken 
off the local desk, and set to reading sporting 
copy. Slide number one. Then he moved to the 
afternoon watch, where he had little to handle 
except 'specials.' Slide number two. He took to 
avoiding the staff, and he was found frequently 
looking into space, with a kind of sadness. He 
was growing grey-headed. 

"The reporters who had played poker with him 
many a night began to organize their games with- 
out him. There were a few of the staff, of course, 
who secretly rejoiced over his fall, owing to old 
trifling arguments over their 'stuff.' But on the 
whole nobody bore him malice. It was simply 
that as his atmosphere of great man wore out, 
and his essential puniness showed itself, he dwin- 
dled, and dwindled, and shrank into himself. 
People stopped speaking to him in the elevator; 
he didn't appear to expect a salutation. 

"Only Josslyn, who had become city editor; 
Josslyn, who overlooks nobody and pities every- 



[139] DEADLINES 

body, treated him like an equal. I suspect Josslyn 
made small loans to the fellow. Slater had come 
to that. 

"You see, his inferiority complex . . ." 

[VI] 

LET me finish it," interrupts the news-editor. 
"I found him on the desk when I took 
charge. A hollow-eyed relic with shaky legs. 
There seemed to be no way to get him off. By 
that time he would let almost anything go by in 
a piece of copy; and his heads were just blind 
staggers. Fellows, I had to get rid of him. But 
still he looked so like a copy-reader of the old 
school, what with his eye-shade and his old black 
sleeve-guards, that I couldn't treat him rough. So 
I manoeuvered to have him offered a job on a trade 
paper, paying better than we paid him, at that; 
and when he told me about it I rapped out, 'You 
quit Monday, then?' before he had actually 
resigned. And he gulped, and replied, *Yes, sir.' 
Er — I let him have a dollar. 

"Within a month here comes one of those cursed 
recommendation forms, a big gilt-edged one from 
some bonding company. Slater was going to be 
a high-class salesman of something or other. I 
filled it in carefully, my pen scratching 'excellent,' 
'excellent,' everywhere. (I couldn't get over the 
remnant of dignity and breeding that he showed 
to the last.) Not two weeks went by before I got 



DEADLINES yioj 

another blank. This time he had applied for a 
clerkship in a department store. The qualifications 
not so severe. I scrawled my dishonest opinion, 
and sent it along. Next . . . ." 

"You see, his complex had passed the sublim- 
inal. He was finding his level," puts in Campbell. 

"His complex had a few to go yet. I O. K.'d 
him for a job as bill clerk, for a proof-reading 
job in Omaha, for a place as timekeeper v^ith a 
cloak and suit firm, and then for a night ticket 
agent on the L. I could imagine all the time his 
shoulders getting more stooped, his cheeks falling 
in, and that queer look of anxiety Campbell men- 
tioned growing sharper. 

"Twice I passed him on the street. He didn't 
see me. Evidently he was unemployed. Once he 
came in late in the afternoon, touched Barlow for 
a half-dollar, and avoided my desk. 1 saw him 
leave the building, gazing around at the old bar- 
racks with a wistful look. 

"Some months went by. Then came a recom- 
mendation blank in which it was stated that Fin- 
lay Slater had applied for a position as a night 
watchman ; and what about his honesty, sobriety, 
and all that? . . . Quick curtain." 

[VII] 
T\7^ smoke silently. 

VV "Kotten story," remarks the Star. "No 
climax/' 



[141] DEADLINES 

"It may be inferior as fiction/' Campbell defends 
himself. "But I assure you it's psychologically 
sound." 

"Clack-clack" go the feet of the dusty, wrinkled 
pedestrians, past our door. The voice of the street 
comes with a note of despair. We consult our 
watches. 

And now, to our confounding, a long, loose 
phantom of a man, with grey hair crowned by an 
absurd polo cap, halts at the threshold. He sur- 
veys us with a nervous smirk, and enters, holding 
out a mottled hand to the news editor. 

"That little debt," he murmurs, and departs. 

The news editor discovers in his hand a mouldy 
dollar bill. 



[143] 



DEADLINES 



[X] 

The Socialized 
Copy-Boy 

[I] 




OME fifty times a day— oh, nearer 
a hundred times — the cry goes up 
from us: "Boy," or "Hey, boy!" 
Toward edition times that 
shout, or bark, is heard all over 
the news-room. It comes from us 
automatically. "Boy!" What boy? Why, any boy. 
What are you talking about? Any one of those 
starvelings on the bench. They're all alike, aren't 
they? Who knows their names? Who cares who 
they are, or what they think, or what they wear, 
so they have legs ? 

It happens frequently that one of them is fired. 
The head boy then identifies the departing 
employe as "You know, the long-nosed boy," or 
"the boy that wears the brown sweater." This is 
enough. It is understood that the long-nosed boy 



DEADLINES [i44j 

is no longer with us, and for that hour, as he 
retires crestfallen, he is an actuality. But the 
benchful that is left remains a mere blur of 
heads and faces, half -visualized, nameless except 
Qs a job-lot of consonants. 

[II] 

HOWEVER, there is Joe ; or rather, there was 
Joe. For he is gone. We got so far as to 
recognize him as Joe James, which, by the way, 
was not the name used on the pay-roll. He was 
on the pay-roll as Valdimir Sziewiscwicz. 

He was the boy we hired after he had been 
fattened at the North Shore camp. A charity lady 
interceded for him with the city editor, and he 
"went on" at six dollars a week, which was two 
dollars less than the scale. We felt that we were 
rather benevolent as it was. 'X^^ 

The charity lady gave iis Joe's history in a 
manner that appealed even to the most "hard- 
boiled" among us. She pictured Joe's home, which 
she had seen : The second house west of the C. & 
N. W. tracks on Iron street; the house with two 
boards missing from the front steps, and a clothes 
line in the rear always full of Lilliputian under- 
wear. She pictured Joe's mother, a distracted 
shrew with a moustache, always stumbling over 
her own babies; and she described how Joe's 
mother had thrust Joe down those dangerous 
steps, yelling: "You got no job you don't come 
back." 



[145] DEADLINES 

The problem thus presented to Joe was quite 
insoluble, not only because of his unlovely appear- 
ance, but also because of a law; a law which 
provided that no boy weighing less than eighty 
pounds could obtain the necessary working certifi- 
cate, the passport of boydom to the great world 
of toil. The best Joe could muster was sixty-eight 
pounds. 

The charity lady found him in the ante-room 
of the school examiner's office, weeping over those 
missing pounds. He was clearly a case for the 
Camp, whither he was with some diffiiculty 
removed. They put him to bed twice a day, and 
made him lie still under the rough blankets ; they 
fed him milk, gallons of milk ; and they taught 
him how to play, really to play. Every evening 
they marked on a chart the ascending curve of 
Joe's weight. 

The only time it deflected was the day his 
mother appeared at the camp, with a kid on 
each arm, and demanded him, and there was a 
scene — but let us pass on. In about six weeks 
Joe tipped the scale at eighty, and despite adenoids 
and a few other things he passed the school 
examination and was awarded his work certificate. 

It was then that the charity lady called on us. 

"And I thought," she said, "that you kind news- 
paper men would like to help out by giving Joe a 
position. I do so want him to become a member 
of society." She beamed upon the city editor and 



DEADLINES [uy 

the desk men. "Besides, it would be so nice if you 
could make a little story of it — what we did for 
him and all. You could even print photos of him 
before and — er — after. I could give you some 
good photos . . . ." 

We drew the line at the pictures; but we did 
"write up" Joe for a merry little half column. 

Thereupon, quite unmoved by his distinction, 
Joe took his place upon the bench among the half- 
visualized, and we forgot him for a while. 

[Ill] 
15 UT nof for long. 

^^ Perhaps a month passed. The news-room 
floundered on, with its usual dramas, controver- 
sies, and excitements. The bench pursued its 
quarrelsome way, with the average amount of 
bickerings, of hirings and firings. We still yelled 
"Hey, boy!" at the bench indiscriminately, nor 
marked which urchin sprang to the call. Joe, with 
his close-cropped head, large, stupid eyes and 
skimpy body, had become absorbed in the melee. 

Then the head boy came to the city editor. 

"You know that, now, kid got his weight by that 
camp. He says you should pay him off, as he got 
to quit." 

"What! scowled the city editor. "What boy?" 

Patient explanation. 

"Oh, that one. Well, what's wrong with him?" 

The head boy shifted from one foot to the other. 

"Well, he says account he lives at home now 



[147] : DEADLINES 

he's lost two pounds, and so he can't work no 
more." 

The city editor called his assistant. 

"See about it, will you?" he begged; and 
plunged his nose into a pile of copy. 

The assistant investigated. He even consulted 
authorities, learning thereby that to maintain Joe 
at par would require some two pints of milk per 
diem. It seemed unnecessary to tell the city 
editor about this. The obvious thing was to sup- 
ply the milk ; and, in order that the expense might 
not fall upon the office treasury, thus upsetting 
various sacred rules, the assistant city editor took 
up a collection among the Star, the Drunkard, 
Josslyn and a few others of "the crowd," and a 
restaurant downstairs supplied Joe's milk at cost. 
The school authorities, consulted by telephone, 
grandly permitted the Great Example to continue 
at work provided only that he be weighed each 
week by them, and be maintained at normal. 

Faithfully did the Joe's Milk Society hew to the 
line. Once a week the head boy took up the 
collection ; twice a day he escorted Joe to the res- 
taurant and prevailed upon him to swallow the 
milk. The matter fell into the routine ; it became 
automatic, like keeping the assignment book or 
sweeping out the office. Thus are the little varia- 
tions of our news-room life drifted over by the 
sands of the commonplace. 

The next thing that came up was a question of 



DEADLINES imj 

working-hours. In this we enjoyed the enthusi- 
astic interference of our old friends the school 
authorities. I don't know how many records they 
had Joe card-indexed in ; but now they dug up one 
that stumped us. Solemnly each week they had 
weighed him and passed him; with suspicion, I 
suppose, they had marked the fact that he con- 
tinued to draw six dollars a week. And now, with 
an efficiency suitable to the enforcement of a law 
occupying several pages in the statute-book, they 
brought forward the fact that Joe required more 
schooling. 

"Form AAZ," the notice read. "You are hereby 
informed that your employe Vladimir Sziewisc- 
wicz must attend continuation school four (4) 
hours a week ." 

The city editor slammed the notice on the floor. 

"What's all this about? Good Lord, the things 
a fellow gets in the mail. I say, Frank, see about 
it, will you?" 

The suave assistant picked up the crumpled 
notice, and by some inquiry discovered that Vladi- 
mir S — etc., meant Joe. There was a session of 
the milk guarantors, and the suggestion was put 
forward that if Joe was to become a member of 
society some way must be found of keeping him 
at work and at the same time sending him to 
school. The head boy brought up the point that 
in this event he must add another member to the 
bench. The addition was at once authorized by 



[149] DEADLINES 

the assistant city editor, and the following red- 
tape started unwinding: (1) examination and 
approval of the new boy's work certificate; (2) 
order to cashier placing him on pay-roll ; (3) entry 
of new name on pay-roll ; (4) issuance of identifi- 
cation check, locker key, etc. ; (5) drawing up of 
new pay-check; (6) checking against pay-roll to 
make sure amount correct; (7) auditing of revised 
aggregate pay-roll by auditor; (8) recording of 
revised figures on three or four index cards; (9) 
identification of new boy as the one entitled to 
check; (10) cashing of check at pay-clerk's win- 
dow. I mention these things only to suggest the 
social forces put into play by establishing a mem- 
ber of society. 

Yes, the advent of Joe began to be felt in other 
departmenxs than ours. It was presently felt in 
the medical department, which consisted of two 
doctors in an office around the corner. They had 
not had a case from our shop for over a year, and 
the placard on the wall saying "In case of accident, 

notify Dr. B " had become illegible from dust. 

But Joe became a case. He reported one morning 
with an angry-looking patch of skin on his right 
forearm, more or less covered by court-plaster. 
It developed that he had scratched himself the 
day before on the pneumatic tube leading to 
the composing room. He exhibited the wound to 
the head boy, who thought nothing of it. Nobody 
thought anything of it. The bench was always 



DEADLINES ysy 

getting itself bruised, or black-eyed, or consump- 
tive. But after a few days Josslyn, passing on 
his way to lunch, noticed Joe's arm. It was 
swollen to astounding dimensions and bound with 
loathsome rags. The sight stopped the compas- 
sionate Josslyn in his tracks. 

"What on earth's happened to you?" he 
demanded. 

Joe merely rolled his large, stupid eyes. 

"Sore arm," he mumbled. 

"But have you had a doctor?" 

Joe looked blank. 

Then Josslyn hailed the city editor. Had he 
seen this kid's arm? Ought the kid be allowed 
to work? 

"Gad, I haven't time to inspect their arms," 
complained the C. E. Nevertheless, he took time 
to inspect Joe's ; and a copy-reader or two strolled 
over, and somebody remarked "blood poison." 
Joe met the inspection and remarks dispassion- 
ately. But once, when someone inquired, "Does 
it hurt?" his eyes filled with tears, and for a 
moment he seemed human. 

The fact emerging that he had been scratched 
upon our pneumatic tube, and not any pneumatic 

tube belonging to the S , etc., family, it seemed 

proper to invoke the privilege of calling up Dr. 

B . The doctor entered into the matter with 

alacrity. Not so Joe, however. He grumbled, he 
protested, he showed every sign of fear, at last 



[151] DEADLINES 

he fought — like many other beings in process of 
being made members of society. But, being prac- 
tically one-armed, he could not prevail against the 
head boy and the numerous volunteers from the 
bench. 

A small procession, consisting of Joe, the head 
boy and Josslyn, followed the little-known path 
to the doctor's office, pausing on the way for milk. 
They returned with the arm in a beautiful bandage 
and a wondering look in Joe's eyes. 

I realize that these incidents do not carry an 
ascending curve of interest. Joe did not die. His 
arm "went down," both as a swelling and as an 
event. But, to prove that establishing him in the 
status in which we were establishing him carries 
consequences of some sort, consider these results : 
(1) Three signatures to be obtained to a document 
resembling an income tax schedule, describing the 
accident, the parentage of Joe, and so on; (2) a 
physician's bill very simply conceived, but requir- 
ing the signature of four department heads before 
being valid ; (3) an order permitting Joe to remain 
at home with full pay ; (4) a written explanation 
to the ever-vigilant school people that he was 
absent from school owing to circumstances beyond 
our control ; (5) the sudden awareness of the Old 
Man — through his having to sign two of the docu- 
ments — that Joe existed as an office problem. 



DEADLINES v^\ 

[IV] 

THE Old Man, however, did not yet know Joe 
by sight. Perhaps, indeed, he never came to 
do so. I don't know that even the catastrophe 
next following shocked the Old Man as it did us. 

For some weeks after the medical incident noth- 
ing happened to our Great Example. Glancing 
casually at him, we seemed to observe that he was 
looking more prosperous, as well as rather more 
than half-witted. The milk contributions had 
stopped. Joe had safely and permanently passed 
the eighty mark. The school people had stopped 
weighing him. He came down every morning, 
went blindly but faithfully about his tasks, and 
had nothing to say. 

But one afternoon, when there was hell of some 
sort popping — ^I believe it was a Board of Trade 
failure — the unlucky destiny of the Sziewiscwicz 
line showed itself once more. 

The Old Man, who was considerably excited by 
the failure, had made several trips into the news- 
room, asking questions and giving orders. Most 
of us knew when he was coming — we knew his 
step a mile away — and when he approached the 
swing door from the news room into the hall, his 
mere shadow was enough to make us stand aside. 
About two o'clock he started to come through, 
with his gaze, as usual, fixed some five feet above 
the floor. Just then Joe started to gallop out the 
other way, carrying a proof with a rush correction. 



[153 3 ' DEADLINES 

He hit the door like a small battering ram, flung 
it smartly against the Old Man's knuckles and 
knees ; and then he tried to squeeze past the man- 
aging editor's large bulk and escape. 

The boss, with half the breath knocked out of 
him, snatched at Joe's shoulder, but missed. Joe 
sprawled on all fours; but his instinct of escape 
from authority gave him new strength, and he 
made off down the hall, dropping the corrected 
proof as he fled. 

As soon as the Old Man could recover he stuck 
his head in at the door, and yelled to all the 
executives in sight : "Fire that boy ! Fire him at 
once." 

Rueful glances went about the desk. 

The Old Man (dusting his knees) — "What boy 
was that?" 

City Editor — "I didn't notice. Did anybody see 
which boy it was?" 

Silence. 

Old Man (to head boy)— -"You know who it was. 
Speak up." 

Head Boy— "It's a lad we call Joe." 

Old Man— "Well, bounce him." (To city editor) : 
"Damn it. Brown, what do you have those calf- 
headed Bohunks around here for? I'll make an 
example of him." 

City Editor (with a sly look at Josslyn)— 
"We've been figuring he was an example already. 
You see, sir, he's the kid we got from the camp 



DEADLINES n54j 

where he was fattened. He's an unusual case. 
He . . . :' 

Old Man — "Fat or lean, out he goes. Now see 
here, I don't think these figures on the liabili- 
ties . . . ." 

And that was all of that. Reluctantly we gave 
Joe his hat, and an order for his pay, and broke it 
to him that he was severed from the pay roll. He 
took the news easily, and clumped out of the office 
without regrets or good-byes. Well, so long, Joe. 

I was not present the next day when a Slavic 
gentleman with a very radical moustache, bulging 
eyes and dirty overalls, came up to see the city 
editor, dragging a small urchin called Vladimir, 
but I heard about it. It seems the low-browed 
person offered to break every bone in the boy's 
body if we so desired. The low-browed person 
offered apologies to our honorable newspaper for 
the conduct of his son ; he took off his cap to the 
assistant city editor, who went out to see him; 
and renewed the bone-breaking offer. The A. C. E., 
alarmed, advised against this solution. "You see, 
Joe didn't do anything much," he told the elder 
Bohunk. "It wasn't serious at all." Whereupon 
the bone-breaker bade a polite adieu to the A. C. E. 
and dragged Joe away with him. 

So ended that lesson. 



/ 



[1551 DEADLINES 

m 

/"CHRISTMAS began to approach. I mention 
^^ Christmas not in order to lend a new and 
saccharine element to this tale, but because with 
Christmas came always a new set of problems 
surrounding the bench, a new spirit entirely 
among the mob of boys. The office had a custom 
of giving a turkey to each employe. It was 
noticeable that discipline on the bench improved 
as Christmas came near. Sometimes, too, there 
seemed to be an unusually large membership. 

The quota this December was considerable. The 
city editor had called the head boy to him and had 
declared: "Don't you hire any more of 'em now, 
do you hear me?" 

About December 20 a very familiar figure was 
found one morning sitting on the bench. The only 
unfamiliar thing about it was that it wore long 
trousers. Barring this, it bore a striking resem- 
blance to a member colloquially known as Joe, but 
officially as Sziewiscwicz. 

How did this materialization accord with the 
orders given to the head boy? That was the 
question asked in whispers on the copy desk. Had 
Josslyn interceded for Joe? No, Josslyn had not. 
The attention of the other members of the defunct 
milk society was called to the apparition. "Oh, I 
suppose Frank (the assistant city editor) got him 
put back. It's nearly Christmas, you know. 



DEADLINES ysn 

But Frank denied having done this. In fact, he 
looked alarmed and went over to the head boy, and 
without meeting Joe's appealing eyes, inquired: 
"What's this kid doing here?" 

"He's just visiting," explained the head boy. 

"Oh! Visiting!" 

The copy desk suppressed smiles. 

Here the city editor, annoyed by the voices, 
looked up. He, too, became aware of the presence 
of Joe. He got up and went over to the bench, and 
spoke with undue gentleness. 

"I don't think it looks very well for you to visit 
here, Joe," he said. "You'd better go." 

The head boy looked embarrassed. 

"Can I speak to you at your desk a minute, Mr. 
Brown?" he begged. Permission given, he fol- 
lowed his chief to the desk, where he bent over 
him and mumbled earnestly for quite a while. 

As we learned later, the plea involved the fol- 
lowing details : Joe had saved out of his earnings, 
both what we paid him and what he had gained 
by odd jobs later, enough to purchase on part pay- 
ments the long-trousered suit he now wore. It 
was the only suit he had, those of previous winters 
having descended to his small brothers. "Well, 
his father, now," the head boy may be imagined 
saying, "his father says he won't let him go out 
of the house Christmas; he'll take his clothes 
away and make him stay in bed, account he's got 
only one suit you see that's what he'll have to do. 



[157] DEADLINES 

unless . . . ." And the alternative made Brown 
first swear and then laugh. The alternative was 
that Joe must get back his job on the paper. Yes, 
that was it, incredible as it sounds ; Joe must be 
hired back or stay in bed all day Christmas. 

I heard the city editor and his assistant dis- 
cussing it. 

"Of course, I can't let that bulldozing Bohunk 
put it over," he said. "Fine chance." 

"It ain't the kid's fault," mused the assistant. 

The city editor tapped his desk with his pencil 
for some minutes. 

"He was a good kid, wasn't he?" he seemed to 
remind himself. "But," he broke out, on a sudden 
thought, "he's the one who crashed into the Old 
Man at the door. Gee, I'd forgotten that." 

"The Old Man would never remember him," 
murmured the assistant. "He's got long trousers 
now." 

There was a pause, and the city editor's face 
lit up. 

"Say, I'll put him on as an extra till after 
Christmas," he announced. "Then we'll can him 
again, see?" And he sent for the head boy. 

I heard this conversation, and I record it because 
it is typical of the things that make us fond of 
Brown, and that make us fond of our crowd as a 
whole, and of the news-room atmosphere gener- 
ally. Oh, yes, we break all the rules of 100 per 
cent efficiency and economy sometimes; and we 



DEADLINES ussj 

contradict ourselves; and we act like fools trying 
to make people members of society; and alto- 
gether we're a shiftless, a cynical and untruth- 
ful crew. And we put Joe back on the pay-roll 
under an entirely new name; and we taught him 
to keep his head down when he passed the Old 
Man (though the Old Man never looked at him 
twice). And Joe walked home with the biggest 
turkey of the lot that Christmas, besides getting 
his share of the $5.75 the staff contributed as the 
annual Yuletide donation to the bench. To cap the 
climax. Brown forgot to take Joe off from the 
pay-roll after Christmas was over, and he stayed 
at work, drawing six dollars a week and picking 
up a dime now and then for extra errands. 

The years pass. Joe's limbs grow thick and 
powerful. He begins to have a slight moustache. 
He is reliable, and "runs" even the Old Man's 
proofs with distinction. He is spoken of for head 
boy. He is a success. The experiment 

[VI] 

aTE day not long ago the city editor met the 
charity lady at a committee meeting. 
"Oh, Mr. Brown," she gushed. "Fd so like to 
know what became of that boy — really, I don't 
recall his name — ^the one you so kindly gave a 
position to after his treatment at the camp. Is 
he still in your office?" 



[1591 DEADLINES 

"No," replied Brown. "He isn't." 

"Dear, dear; I'm sorry. I thought it would be 
such a nice position for him." 

"It was," said Brown. "Yes, it was a good place 
for Joe. We did everything for him we could ; and 
I suppose that as a sociological experiment it was 
A number 1. But . . . ." 

"Do tell me about it." 

"Well, you see, he was raised two dollars a week. 
We thought that was pretty good — considering 
everything. But about two months after he got 
the raise, he — well, I remember that just as I was 
cleaning up copy for the Home Edition one day the 
shadow of a stocky form fell across my desk, and 
although I was trying to talk to three other people 
at once this person insisted on talking to me. It 
was our friend Joe, now nearly full grown (for a 
Bohunk), well fed, confident, sophisticated, argu- 
mentative, and angry. He looked at me with 
smoldering black eyes from under a safe-blower's 
cap he was wearing. And he said, *Mr. Brown, I 
got to have more money, see, or I quit, see?* I 
was very busy, so I said — well, it was to the effect 
that he should retire at once. He swaggered out 
of the office, and that was the last we saw of 
him." 

"I'm sorry," bewailed the charity lady. "I never 
dreamed he would become that sort of person, 
after so much kindness." 



DEADLINES neoj 

"Well," said Brown (and I don't suppose he 
meant it cynically at all), "at least we admit that 
Joe became quite a typical member of society." 



[161] 



DEADLINES 



[XI] 

The Triumphant 
Comma-Hound 



[I] 




OMETIMES, although rarely, 
Josslyn tells us a story. He is 
full of fables of the news room, 
this "old inhabitant." We like to 
sit about, with our feet cushioned 
upon piles of early editions, and 
isten to his narratives. And we like, too, to watch 
the changes upon Josslyn's serene face, and the 
growing warmth that brings back his youth. Yes, 
and we laugh more heartily, perhaps, than his 
humor demands. 

This afternoon he told us the story of the 
Triumphant Comma Hound. I give it, not quite 
in his words, and excluding most of the techni- 
calities. I forget what evoked the story ; perhaps 
that egregious but no longer shocking typograph- 
ical error of three editions since, when a bank was 
referred to by the clearing house as "solvent," and 
the paper declared it "insolvent." 
But to the story ; or rather, the paraphrase. 



DEADLINES vm\ 

[III 

IT was one soggy, dark, dreadful morning some 
ten years ago. The "gang" had got in late 
that morning. Everybody's brain was like mush. 
It was the same in the composing room as in the 
news-room; the disgusting soot blanket of the 
city seemed to have closed down over one's head. 
The printers worked droopily. Editors collided 
with them. There were peevish exchanges. The 
first edition was sent away ten minutes late. 

During the lull before the next edition, Josslyn 
says, the feeling got about the news-room that 
something was sure to go wrong ; or already had. 
Sometimes you aren't certain what may lurk for 
you among the ample folds of the paper just 
issued. "I remember," said our raconteur, "that 
Frank Wade, the head copy-reader (this was just 
before I quit the city desk) , called over to me that 
morning : "I'm using all four eyes today. It seems 
to drip errors." 

Still, Josslyn shaped up his work for the next 
edition, the "Market Special," without much 
thought of trouble. He went to lunch, as usual, 
just after his copy was all out; and returned in 
his wonted twenty minutes in time to meet the 
printed papers coming up the elevator under a 
boy's arm. Josslyn stepped inside the door of the 
news-room, letting the boy squeeze by him. Before 
he had time to seize a paper the boy had dumped 



[163] DEADLINES 

the bundle on the copy desk, and the terrible 
discovery was made by Wade. 

"Great gosh, fellows, look at this!" was the 
"head's" horrified yell. Josslyn gave one look, and 
— well it was awful enough ! 

The copy-readers seized their papers with a 
single motion, and spread them out. Murmurs of 
"Holy sailors!" and "Well, of all the dymna- 
tion " 

They were looking, with varying attitudes of 
awe, stupefaction or amusement, at the big two- 
column head at the right hand of the page. This 
headline (in at least 36-point) read: 
"BLODGETT IS THIEF." 

The subordinate line— "pyramid," Josslyn called 
it — followed, with astounding inconsequence, or 
subtle logic, as one chose to look at it : 

"Well-Known Banker Elected President 
of Chamber of Commerce." 

The Drunkard (just then in favor) caught hold 
of a chair in mock panic, and shouted: "Some 
paper today, fellows ! Come and look at it." 

Everybody was looking at it. Josslyn confesses 
he was too stunned for a moment to act. Frank 
Wade recovered himself first, rushed to the 'phone, 
and started howling for the pressroom to stop the 
run. There were explosions of laughter and pro- 
fanity all through the room. A copy-boy seized 
upon the occasion to fall over backward in his 
chair with a devastating crash. Josslyn stood 



DEADLINES ney 

fingering the paper, his paper of whose reputation 
he thought so much, with that furious libel on 
top of one of his stories — the story that was being 
at that moment fed out to the financial district 
with the motto in an "ear" on the corner of the 
page : "Latest and Most Reliable Market Reports." 

The Drunkard mounted a chair and read, as 
though at a public meeting: 

"BLODGETT IS THIEF. 

"Weil-Known Banker Elected President of 

Chamber of Commerce." 

But just then there was a hush; a truce alike 
upon hilarity and debate. The Old Man came in. 
He grasped a copy of the paper in both hands. 

The copy-readers dropped into their chairs as 
though at drill. The Drunkard sprang to the floor, 
and started to whistle. Josslyn advanced to meet 
the Old Man. 

[Ill] 

TJE says the calm of the managing editor was 
**• '*• admirable. But one can imagine the way 
his eyes must have glittered through his well- 
known spectacles, and how like marble his jaw 
was set. 

"Have you stopped the run?" were the Old 
Man's words. 

"IVe been 'phoning," cried Wade from the booth, 
"but I can't get a connection." 

"Don't waste your highly valuable energy 



[165] DEADLINES 

then," said the Old Man. "By this time the edition 
has been printed — fortunately or unfortunately, 
as may be." 

He walked up to the copy-desk, and only then, 
Josslyn says, could it be seen how his powerful 
hands were trembling. 

"If any gentleman who writes heads," he 
remarked placidly, "if any journalist here present 
sent out a head reading that way, I invite him 
to take my place in the county jail after Mr. 
Blodgett brings criminal libel proceedings. And I 
invite him to draw the pay due him at once. In 
fact . . . ." 

A copy-reader whose name Josslyn recalls only 
as "Ruddy" rose from his seat and spoke like a 
child at school : 

"I wrote that head, Mr. Thain. I — I swear I 
wrote it 'chief.' " 

" 'Chief,' not 'thief* ?" in the Old Man's most 
punctilious tone. 

"Sure, I wrote it 'Blodgett Is Chief/ just like 
that. Believe me, Mr. Thain . . . ." 

But the Old Man had already started for the 
composing room. Josslyn flitted at his elbow; 
Frank Wade and a couple of others followed the 
Old Man's dark, brooding bulk. A "curious 
throng," as the News Bureau says, trickled after 
at a distance. 

Somebody in the procession murmured a 
"secret" known to all: "Why, Blodgett is one of 



DEADLINES ijm 

Mr. Jefferson's best friends! A swell thing to 
hang on the composing room." And somebody- 
else: "I wonder who the poor devil of a proof- 
reader is, and what he'll get." 

You see, everybody figured that, whoever he 
was, the proofreader was bound to be a poor devil. 
Proofreaders (commonly called "comma-hounds") 
are that, anyway. Ask the copy-desk. 

[IV] 

I WAS considerably dazed as we entered the 
composing room," Josslyn Siaid. "I hardly 
knew what was going on. But," giving us one of 
those glimpses of his reflective nature, "I felt, as 
I often do, the majesty of the place. Yes, majesty ! 
The composing room, for me, has twice the class 
of the news-room. The beat of the linotypes alone, 
the queer rushing sound, like showers of warm 
rain, gives one a feeling of scope, of — er, I don't 
know what. And everything, except maybe at the 
stone, is so orderly, so heavy with tradition. You 
feel the unity of that gang of workers, their craft- 
pride; you get a sense of rules upon rules. And 
you divine how men have become cogs in this mass 
of machinery, how they turn, turn, until they 
wear out. Especially the comma-hounds." 

We politely endured this digression. Someone 
remarked, "I don't suppose the Old Man was think- 
ing about that as he bore down on Big Jim." 

Josslyn was certain he was not. The Old Man 



[167] DEADLINES 

was out to demolish something. He tramped down 
the aisle between the linotypes, uttering not a 
word. The floor shook under him. 

Arrived at the stone with his accusing copy of 
the paper still clasped in both hands, he found 
Big Jim in the center of a circle of printers, some 
grinning, others scratching their heads with ink- 
black fingers. An old fellow with a leather apron 
and a stained beard was doing a lot of explaining 
to the foreman. He was the man who set up the 
head. 

"I just picked out o* the wrong box," he was 
saying. "Might 'a* happened to anybody. I just 
picked out 0* the wrong box . . . ." 

The Old Man burst into this leisurely post- 
mortem like Death itself visiting a coroner's 
inquest. 

"Mr. Muldoon," he said, in the high, arrogant 
way he kept for such encounters, "I suppose you 
have seen this — this pleasing example of typog- 
raphy. I only wonder your men did not set it in 
ninety-six point, although ordered in thirty-six." 

"IVe seen it; yes, Mr. Thain," replied Big Jim. 
He was a head taller than the Old Man, and 
a heap more combative. 

"Well, what would you suggest doing about it?" 

"I would suggest that you leave that to me," 
answered Jim, folding his great, muscle-ridged 
arms. 

The Old Man swung his gaze about, as though 



DEADLINES nesj 

to overawe the entire membership of the typo- 
graphical union, if possible — also to see whether 
the editors present were listening. 

"The trouble with this place," he declaimed, "is 
that there's no penalty — no penalty. Mistakes 
like this will go on in this composing room indefi- 
nitely. No one will be fired." 

The printers, safe though they were under the 
shadow of Big Jim, shrank before the Old Man's 
spectacles. The foreman, however, only remarked : 
"What you'd better be doin' is to see if your editor 
wrote the head so my man could read it." 

Approving murmurs from the printers; mur- 
murs of, "You bet ! Plenty of blind handwriting 
nowadays." 

"Send for the copy," blurted the Old Man. 
"Have you got the copy?" 

Then he had another thought. 

"Who read proof on this ? Must have been one 
of that new crew you hired. They've been letting 
things go by for weeks." 

Big Jim grinned. 

"One of the new crew, eh? Look here, Mr. 
Thain, I'll let you have a look at the proofreader 
who 0. K.'d this head. He's no chicken. It was 
old Johnny Donahue, and no other. Old Johnny." 

This name, which may have meant something 
to Big Jim, carried no idea at all to the visiting 
editors, Josslyn said. It was odd, too. They 
thought they knew everybody in the composing 



[ 169 ] DEADLINES 

room. Yet Jim's words described someone who had 
worked for years in the comma-hounds' kennel, 
and never had shown his face to an editor ; never 
had walked in at a busy time and argued about the 
meaning of a word like "transpired" or "pene- 
trated" ; never had come up to the stone and said, 
"Look here, I suppose you'll say this is all right, 
but I can't make sense of it" ; never — and this was 
strangest of all — never had requested free tickets 
to the poultry show or the six-day bicycle race. 
Who was this man ? Why, Johnny Donahue ! 

"Send for Donahue," ordered Big Jim. A galley 
boy went scurrying. 

There was a pause in the interchange of cour- 
tesies. The audience at the clinic hung about 
talking in whispers. Our Old Man, upon whose 
forehead gleamed drops of perspiration, stood and 
scowled at the words, "Blodgett Is Thief." The 
great swish of the machines went on in waves. 
The tall clock grimaced down over the room. 

And suddenly it was found, Josslyn dramatic- 
ally declared, that Mr. Jefferson was among them. 
How he had arrived so silently no one knew. He 
had come without warning ; he had not been sent 
for. In fact, this manifestation was without prec- 
edent. 

Josslyn remembers that the owner wore an 
elegant black morning-coat, and carried eye- 
glasses pinned to his silken lapel. His grey 
moustache was neatly trimmed. He might have 



DEADLINES [1701 

been on his way to an audience at the White 
House. 

[V] 

THE news of the owner's arrival in person 
traveled electrically up and down the ranks 
of machines. Heads appeared here and there, 
popping up in unexpected places. It was a lull 
in the morning's work, anyhow; the lull became 
a recess. By twos and threes printers stole up 
to the edge of our group, until the assemblage 
suggested a union chapel meeting. A knot of 
galley boys jostled and winked at a distance. 
Everything hung fire, awaiting Mr. Jefferson's 
words. 

That he was very angry nobody needed to be 
told. 

But though angry, and hurt, and perhaps a bit 
rattled, the owner showed his employes the quality 
of his self-control. He was more deliberate than 
the Old Man ; he was calmer than Big Jim. Evi- 
dently during the few minutes since he had seen 
that appalling head he had felt, digested, and 
lived down the emotions that still racked his 
responsible editors. The only evidence of unusual 
disturbance was the fact that he had invaded the 
composing room, instead of sending for somebody. 
He had to know at once, hear with his own ears, 
the reason why his friend Blodgett had been set 
down a 36-point thief. 

"Now, just who did this?" he inquired in gen- 
tlemanly tones. His level gaze was fixed at a 



[1713 DEADLINES 

point midway between the Old Man and Jim. 

As for those gentlemanly tones, not an editor 
or printer doubted that they veiled the intention 
of scalping somebody; or maybe everybody. 
"After a bull like that, what would you expect?" 
Josslyn asked us. 

Well, just who did this? was what Mr. Jefferson 
wanted to know. The elderly printer who set up 
the head was seen to swallow hard. However, 
while the owner's question still hung unanswered 
there was a slight commotion at the edge of the 
crowd, and up strolled the ancient comma-hound, 
the mysterious Mr. Donahue, who had put a 
damning "0. K." upon that "Blodgett Is Thief." 

"We knew him at once," Josslyn said. *T*m 
sure none of us had seen him before, but his type 
was unmistakable. Sparse white hair, tired eyes, 
narrow, stoop shoulders — all the rest of it. He 
was a little fellow with a queer hobble, and yet a 
remnant of dignity. As he came forward, he 
didn't seem the least bit impressed, or alarmed, 
or remorseful. He was in his shirt sleeves, and 
kept his hands in his pockets; didn't even take 
'em out when he faced the owner." 

It must have been worth seeing, that encounter. 
Josslyn had by this time almost forgotten the 
nature of the "bull," he was so interested in the 
contrast between erect, dapper, fully competent 
Mr. Jefferson and the poor little spindleshanks 
with his blinking eyes and his underfed look; 



DEADLINES £1721 

the contrast between authority and humility; 
the eternal and dreadful contrast between 
success and failure. If they had searched 
all the business offices and second-hand stores 
and old people's homes in town to find somebody 
.to enact the part of Failure in this morality 
play they couldn't have discovered a better 
actor than old Johnny Donahue. The only 
thing was, he wasn't at all aware of it. He seemed 
only mildly interested in the show. Apparently 
he wanted to get the interruption in his work 
over with, and go back to his coop. 

When Mr. Jefferson put up his eye-glass and 
studied the human wisp that had been brought 
before him, he appeared a little nonplussed. He 
glanced around at Big Jim, who said; "This is 
the man, sir, who read the proof of that head. 
He let the blunder go by; he put his initials on 
the proof, meaning *0. K.' Then, you see, in the 
rush at the stone " 

Mr. Jefferson waggled his head impatiently, and 
Jim stopped. 

"So you are the proofreader," said the owner. 

Donahue looked at him stolidly, with his pink- 
rimmed blue eyes. 

"There's eight of us in there altogether," he 
began. But Big Jim spoke up: "Mr. Jefferson 
wants to know how you come to let that bull go 
by. Wake up now, Johnny, and let's have the 



[173] DEADLINES 

Donahue stood there with his hands in his 
pockets, apparently thinking hard. Evidently the 
problem interested hitn. A nice professional prob- 
lem, really. 

"When I was editor of a paper," he at last 
replied, in his thin quaver, "I used to ask the boys 
that. I dunno's I ever got the right answer. I 
dunno's that there is any answer." 

"You were editor of a paper?" The owner's 
tone was inscrutable. 

"Yes, sir; the Cherryville Democrat. But o' 
course that doesn't mean I would be competent 
to edit — well, this paper, for instance. Mine was 
only a little paper; and all that was thirty years 
ago." 

"Where have you worked since?" 

"Here." 

"For thirty years ?" The owner put up his eye- 
glass again. "As proofreader throughout?" 

"Yes, sir. Right in that same coop there." Old 
Johnny winked affectionately at Big Jim. 

There was a pause. The spectators had begun 
to lose their shocked appearance. The Old Man 
seemed to be breathing more freely. And yet — 
could Mr. Jefferson let this thing pass without at 
least "docking" somebody? 

He cleared his throat, took out a large mono- 
grammed handkerchief and touched his mous- 
tached lips with it. 



DEADLINES [1743 

"Thirty years ago," he said (and he seemed to 
have quite forgotten the crowd about him), "my 
father was publisher of this paper." 

"I know it," grinned old Johnny. "He hired 
me." 

The owner actually smiled. 

"Yes, he used to hire and — er — fire the hands 
himself. But — ^ahem — we are getting away from 
the point of all this. ... Of course, you under- 
stand, Mr. Donahue, that this is a very serious 
thing to have happen to the Press. We shall be 
a laughing-stock for days, if no worse. That is 
aside from the fact that Mr. Blodgett will feel 
very much injured; an estimable man, Mr. Blod- 
gett. Now do you think, Mr. Donahue, that I can 
let the matter pass ?" 

"No, sir," was old Johnny's reply. "I suppose 
I'm canned." 

"I was going to suggest . . . ." began Big Jim, 
but Mr. Jefferson again held up his hand. 

"I am not yet clear," he said to the proof- 
reader, "how you could overlook the error; how 
you could fail to see that large black T ; why you 
didn't change it." 

Donahue scratched his head. 

"I been trying to remember ever since I saw 
the Market Edition. Now, 0' course, I did see that 
T ; it's no use sayin* I didn't see it. I ain't blind." 
He glanced whimsically around the circle of listen- 
ers. "I guess I must 'a' thought the editor meant 



[1753 DEADLINES 

to write it that way. I guess I must *a' thought 
*Maybe this Blodgett is a thief* and I must 'a' 
thought 1 suppose they're willing to chance a 
libel suit.' But, good Lord, man, what's the use 
bothering about what I thought? It's all got 
pretty dim to me, what editors do things for. I 
used to go briskin' around asking editors why this 
and why that, but . . . ." 

He paused and eyed Mr. Jefferson, expecting a 
verdict. Everybody expected it. But Mr. Jefferson 
only leaned back against a truck, and pondered. 
Presently Big Jim seemed to wake up. He glared 
about at the crowd, and shouted : "Back to work, 
you skulkers. Th' home edition '11 be on us first 
thing you know." 

The eager listeners faded. Linotype men, 
"make-ups" and galley boys ambled off to their 
tasks. There remained at length only the owner, 
the Old Man, the foreman, Josslyn — and the cul- 
prit. Amid this diminished assemblage Mr. Jeffer- 
son still leaned against the truck, dangling his 
eye-glasses. Finally he said : 

"Donahue, I have a large private library in this 
building, as you may have heard. It needs cata- 
loguing. Would you like the job ?" 

The old proofreader blinked, glanced at Big 
Jim, sidled back and forth a moment on his heels, 
and shook his head. 

Upon this, according to Josslyn, Mr. Jefferson, 
without uttering another word, strode down the 



DEADLINES [1763 

aisle between the machines and out of the com- 
posing room, his head lowered in thought. The 
Old Man, looking disappointed, followed. 
And old Johnny hobbled back to his coop. 

[VI] 
"npHATS all,'* said Josslyn, with a benign 

A glance around. 

"You don't mean to finish with such an anti- 
climax as that," complained one of us. "Wasn't 
the old bird fired?" 

"Of course not. He kept at work until he died, 
three years ago. 

I thrust in a surmise of my own: "I suppose 
the remorse over his blunder pursued him to the 
grave." 

Josslyn laughed. 

"Remorse ! We all forgot the thing within two 
days. Of course, we printed a first-page skin- 
back : 'Regrettable typographical error' and so on. 
But Donahue I'll tell you what happened to him: 
He became locally famous. He was the man who 
had stood up to the boss and had got away with it. 
He became a hero. Everybody forgot what the 
blunder was, but nobody forgot that something 
or other had put old Johnny into the limelight. 
No longer was he a wraith in a cave — a ghost 
who didn't even haunt anybody — ^but he became 
a personage to whom people said *Good morning, 
Mr. Donahue, m the elevator He was pointed 



[177] DEADLINES 

out to visiting printers: That's Donahue. He 
don't look much, but he's a friend of the owner's.' 
The triumphant comma-hound gained flesh, stood 
up straighter, wore better clothes. I've heard, 
indeed, that his work became practically perfect." 

Josslyn's listeners looked skeptical. 

"Now tell us he got a raise on the strength of 
his bull, and the yarn'll be complete," someone 
said. 

"No, not that," smiled Josslyn. "Not quite like 
that. But I'll tell you what did happen: About 
two months after the famous post-mortem, old 
Johnny wandered into the Old Man's office, tee- 
tered on his heels a moment, then stuck out his 
jaw, and says he: 'Mr. Thain, I've got a little 
favor to ask; if you could spare 'em, would you 
kindly let me have a couple of tickets to the 
poultry show?" 



[179] 



DEADLINES 



[XII] 
Josslyn 



PART ONE 



[I] 



— '^^ '^ ^^^ come time to deal adequately 
^ with this character, that has 

I hovered on the margin of one 

I portrait after another. It could 

I not help coming in. For although 

^ =!] Josslyn never obtrudes himself 
upon the news-room, he is in fact the most 
pervasive being whom we have — unless it be the 
Old Man — the oftenest quoted, the oftenest con- 
sulted. And yet there is no one about whom we 
have known less. To deal adequately with him 
presents difficulties. 

I offer acknowledgments, first of all, to the 
Star, who has sat in the cigar store with Josslyn 
for many an hour, and has drawn from him, bit 
by bit, the torn manuscript of his experience. 
There is a sympathy between these two. The 
aging, sweet-natured veteran looks tenderly upon 
the boy with his outbursts and his foibles; and 



DEADLINES ysoi 

the whirling brain of the Star seems to come to 
rest, to rest gladly and admiringly, in the presence 
of the man who has attempted so much, been 
disappointed so often, and yet retained goodness. 

An elderly printer is another of my authorities 
for this sketch. He remembers when Josslyn 
came to the news-room. That was a long time 
back, alas ! The printer recalls a day when, stroll- 
ing into the editors' zoo to beg some favor, he 
noticed a "new guy" sitting at a desk; a youth 
with more legs than body, and more eyes than 
anything else. The printer, a sociable creature, 
said to him : "Say hand me that paper over there, 
will you?" and added, out of suddenly-born 
instinct : "Thanks." The youth smiled wanly and 
replied: You are quite welcome." The printer 
went away mysteriously impressed. 

And then, there is a man once a staff photog- 
rapher, but now grown rich in the "movies," who 
sometimes relates anecdotes of his leaner past, 
and who recollects how he and Josslyn went on 
assignments when both were young. He tells of a 
fire which they "covered"; a small fire in a hos- 
pital. It was out when they arrived, but there were 
nurses to be photographed and interviewed. Joss- 
lyn, says the photographer with a chuckle, was 
too timid to cross the street and ply the nurses 
with questions ; so the photographer did this for 
him. And Josslyn wrote out the notes on the 
train and brought into the office a fairly good 



[181] DEADLINES 

story. The photographer, never having met a 
timid reporter, questioned Josslyn deftly, and 
found out that he was a Phi Beta Kappa, and 
had been intended for a professor of English, but 
that he liked journalism much better— or at least 
thought he would like it. 

"It's a tough game," the photographer warned 
him. "It eats chaps like you alive." 

But Josslyn, he says, only shook his head smil- 
ingly. As they all do. 

[11] 
T^HE STAR'S discoveries go farther back than 
* this ; back to a village settlement which lay 
near the city, but remained quite isolated from it. 
Although the smoke clouds, growing bigger year 
by year, were clearly visible on the horizon, and 
at night the flares of furnaces furnished a sulky 
Aurora, the storms and fevers of our turbulent 
center never reached Happyville, as the village 
was called. Josslyn's parents were quiet folk, 
with a fondness for Browning and Wordsworth, 
a dislike of Emerson, a positive horror of Robert 
Ingersoll. Their favorite quotations were "God's 
in His heaven," and "All things work together 
for good." Their theory of bringing up children 
was to shield them from all knowledge of evil; 
even to deny them newspapers that featured 
crime. Their idea was to create an atmosphere 
of love that would shut out the world, to breathe 



DEADLINES ^ 

into their son and daughter their own pure and 
gracious natures, and to shape these children into 
fragile, trustful creatures like themselves. They 
succeeded. 

"But what becomes of children like that after 
the parents are gone?" asks the Star with his 
wry smile. Josslyn could answer the question; 
so, perhaps, could the sister whom he has always 
cherished. (For, it seems, he has never married.) 

What happened to Josslyn was that, imme- 
diately after he left college, with an excellent 
degree and an ability to write masterful critiques 
of the English poets, both the parents died, and 
a different face was put upon everything. Good- 
bye, haloed professorship of English! It was a 
case of supplying immediate wants. Fanny, the 
sister, went to work in a library. Arthur, the 
brother, took his writing talent into the nearest 
market. 

In his narrative to the Star he skipped over 
most of the period during which he knocked at 
doors. We find him suddenly entering a news- 
paper office in search of a "staff position." Not 
the Press, though, this first one; it was the old 
Times, whose owner in those days was a very 
religious man, and had known Professor Josslyn 
in denominational affairs. Perhaps Mrs. Josslyn 
suggested that Arthur consult this journalistic 
friend; we do not know. But Arthur sat for an 
hour in the luxurious ante-room of Ransom, editor 



[1833 DEADLINES 

oi the Times, and then was received, only to be 
handed a card on the back of which was written 
the words: "Mr. Blather, I refer Mr. Josslyn to 
you." 

"Give this to our managing editor," said the 
kindly Ransom. "So sorry to hear of your emi- 
nent father's death." 

Blather was kind too. He gave Arthur a minute 
and a half, asked him one question — "What news- 
paper experience have you had?" — and regretted 
that the staff was full. 

Arthur went out into the street, both downcast 
and exhilarated. A mere glance about the editorial 
rooms, a mere hint of the subdued professional 
bustle of the place, had cast over him the miser- 
able shroud of his timidity. And yet at the same 
time, it had given him a strange delight; it had 
made him conscious of something; that he was 
really meant for newspaper work, and it for him. 
He had a dim feeling of being at home in that 
office. He had intuitions of what the men were 
doing; the bits of talk he had heard, obscured 
though they were by newspaper dialect, sounded 
almost intelligible, sounded like a language which 
he must have spoken, centuries ago. 

He walked along pondering this, and presently 
found himself in front of the fabled building of 
the Press. Some instinct guided him into the 
door; a queer pressure upon his brain, a sudden 



DEADLINES y84j 

incomprehensible daring, made him go up the 
elevator and ask for the managing editor. 

He sat down in an ante-room and under the eyes 
of an amused stenographer filled out a form: 
"Name," "age," "married" and "position desired." 
Under this last heading Josslyn wrote "editorial 
writer"; which seemed to be the only position 
suitable to a literary person. 

After considerable delay a buzzer sounded at 
the desk of the stenographer, who said to Arthur : 
"Mr. Thain will see you now." Josslyn started. 
At the same instant the door opened, and a keen- 
faced youth, wearing an eye-shade and looking 
very angry, burst out, ignoring Josslyn, who 
slipped past him through the door. 

At a large and badly scratched cherry-wood desk 
sat a bulky person about thirty years old (but 
looking older, Josslyn says), who wore spec- 
tacles and had a ruddy complexion, and looked 
quite as angry as the young man who had just 
gone out. He bent upon Arthur Josslyn a piercing 
and surprised stare. He looked at the filled-out 
form. 

"What makes you think you could write edi- 
torials ?" he demanded without preliminary. 

"I don't know," Arthur replied. 

The managing editor's mouth twitched. He 
flipped the form between his thick fingers, whis- 
tled gently and kept on staring at the limp but 
attentive young man before him. 



[185 1 DEADLINES 

"Supposing William D. Frost should drop dead 
on the street, what would you write about him?" 

(Frost, Josslyn says, was then the most promi- 
nent banker in the city.) 

The applicant hesitated. Had he known it, 
more than the mere question of writing editorials 
hung upon his answer. The truth was that Thain, 
a man of lightning impulses, had already made up 
his mind to hire Josslyn, not as an expert, but as 
a cub. He had seen in the youngster*s face a 
sincerity, an alertness, even a power that he 
wanted to harness. Josslyn did not guess this; 
nor did he know that his answer to the question 
just put would reveal whether he was genuine; 
that if he tried a pretense of knowing about 
William D. Frsot he was doomed. 

Well, Josslyn blushed fiery red (as he admits) 
and replied: 

"I'm sorry. I never even heard that name." 

Thain threw himself back in his chair and 
laughed, a bit triumphantly. Straightening up, 
he turned his spectacles once more upon Josslyn 
and said: 

"Suppose you try reporting. Twelve a week to 
start." 

The weird feeling that all this was familiar, 
that he had heard it all before, seized Josslyn 
again. Reporting! The word had dazzling sug- 
gestions, it had terrors, but it was delicious. He 
answered weakly : 



DEADLINES ysej 

"111 try it." 

He heard Thain call out : "Miss T ^, take Mr. 

Josslyn to Mr. Franklin." 

And the stenographer, more amused-looking 
than ever, conducted him to the youth with the 
eye-shade, and so into journalism. 



[HI] 

FROM Happyville to the city ; this was the leap 
Josslyn had made. 

Imagine it. He did not know that justice is 
not only blind, but corrupt and often ghastly. He 
had never been told that politics, as then prac- 
ticed in the city (if not now) was mainly a bestial 
struggle for salaried office, and that most politi- 
cians were degraded wire pullers, liars and thieves, 
who would stoop to anything, betray any kind of 
trust, to gain an advantage. He had never heard 
that criminals bought their freedom, that innocent 
men were hanged in order to fatten the records 
of prosecutors, that women were bought and sold 
by the police, that landlords let tenants rot in 
order to save a few dollars, that buildings were 
falsely constructed and that when they collapsed 
the victims were cheated out of damages. Those 
were only a few of the things he did not know — 
nor worry about. He liked the city. The moving 
processions of people and vehicles in the streets 
had an air of happiness. Rapidly he grew less 



[187 3 DEADLINES 

timid. He held his head up and smiled at people, 
and they returned his smile. 

Sometimes he was puzzled, sometimes shocked. 
But faithfully he repeated the Happyville motto 
"God's in His heaven," and at such times, high 
in the blue above the gigantic smoking buildings, 
up there beyond the tangles of wires and scaffold- 
ing and water-tanks, he fancied he could actually 
see God, serene in His heaven, disposing of mat- 
ters to the ultimate advantage of everybody. 

The Star mentioned this with a grimace. 

[IV] 

IN those days the city was considerably smaller. 
It had much the same landmarks; that is, the 
stock yards smoked over here, and the steel mills 
over there, and the tall buildings stood by the 
lake, and the river wound itself three ways, 
through extraordinary aisles of factories and 
warehouses. But there were great areas of land, 
now covered with apartment houses or flat roofs, 
which at that time were merely expanses of clay 
and chickweed, or bloomed with the black-eyed 
Susan and wild geranium, or were tousled with 
scrub oak trees. The city was a congeries of vil- 
lages, swarming industrial villages, rather than a 
metropolis. The immense strides toward metro- 
politanism had not yet fairly begun. Nowhere 
was to be found that glossy, opulent appearance 
that so much of the city wears at present. The 



DEADLINES ussj 

downtown buildings, for the most part, were only 
six or eight stories high, and fairly dingy. 
Outlying districts gave birth mainly to wooden 
residences, lining long, monotonous streets. 
Everything seemed temporary, neglected — and 
yet bursting with ambition. 

Life was terrific. The great inrush of foreigners 
had reached a peak. The jargon of speech, the 
jostling of antagonistic races, the introduction 
of weird ethnic blends from the utmost corners 
of Europe, made the city continually more won- 
derful, but more terrible. Strange crimes, strange 
customs, made the daily page of the city's history 
a bizarre placard shocking to the staid, half- 
Puritan older residents, mainly of New England 
stock. Big conflicts and contrasts were every- 
where; life was fought out in the open. Openly, 
aldermen stole streets and alleys, contractors 
grafted, bankers embezzled, foreigners pursued 
Old World feuds, railroads killed people at grade 
crossings, and blackmailers stole children. But 
the "decent element" was waging war on these 
things; and there were men who exposed the 
grafters and embezzlers, and hanged the mur- 
derers, and began the education of the foreigners. 
There, at the dawn of the new century, dwelt side 
by side the extremes of coarseness and refinement, 
ignorance and culture, generosity and greed. 

Through the swarming streets, along the 
wooden sidewalks bordering these still-blooming 



1189] DEADLINES 

prairies, down festering alleys, in and out of 
hospitals and morgues, went Arthur Josslyn in 
pursuit of news. 

Sometimes another reporter would say to him : 
"What a hell-hole the city is, ain't it?" But 
Josslyn would reply, wondering, "I don't think 
it's so bad." 

Usually he thought it was glorious. At least, 
it was thrillingly new. He began to recognize 
here and there signs that humanity has faults; 
but nothing, so far, destroyed his certainty that 
the majority of men were well-meaning. Natur- 
ally he discovered as much good as bad, and at 
this stage of his growth the good things — oh, 
such as a policeman saving a group of school- 
children from a runaway — made the greater 
impression upon him. Deep within him lay a love 
of people that softened in his eyes the brutal 
gestures of the city, and there burned steadily 
in him a flame of poetry that lit his spirit on his 
worst of days. 

Lake ships, sullenly followed their tugs out 
into the white-caps of the lake; the scarlet flare 
of open furnaces at night; the wonderful rush of 
a long train over a viaduct; the boulevards, with 
their processions of vehicles under shade trees; 
the West Side blocks swarming with children, and 
a tall cathedral bell sending down its blessing; 
religious processions in the foreign quarters; an 
old, cupolaed mansion, brooding far back among 



DEADLINES yao] 

maples ; a glimpse of a tall spire, with the sunset 
on it — such things as these Josslyn took home 
with him from his daily rounds. 

In the office he was a cub — a promising cub. 
No one knew that he loved everybody; although 
some did know that he scribbled verse. The Old 

- Man heard about it, and remarked curtly to 
Franklin, "Break him in." It was done. His 
salary was advanced two dollars a week — and his 

f leisure was reduced. He was hustled here; hus- 
tled there. No more reverie for him. He was 
sent out on impossible pursuits of impossible 
mysteries ; compelled to ring hostile door-bells and 
freeze on inhospitable front porches; ask crude 
questions of scholarly spinsters; watch heart- 
broken women identify relatives at the county 
morgue ; demand of berserk city officials the truth 
about their resignations; interview indignant 
college presidents about "freak" questions of the 
hour ; travel mile after mournful mile upon street 
cars; freeze, starve, and keep hopeless vigils for 
news that did not happen ; spend his own money 
to the last cent on assignments and receive censure 

tfor spending so much. 

He was being "broken in." The appraisers had 
determined that he was metal. Week by week he 
was assaying higher value. But he remained 
essentially the same Josslyn. 



[^ DEADLINES 

[VI] 

FROM this memoir and that, I can easily con- 
struct the scene of Josslyn's early endeavors. 
The news-room was in the same place, but it 
housed several departments since banished, and 
was crowded beyond belief. The Old Man spent his 
mornings there, growling and creaking at a desk 
by a window; his private office he used in the 
afternoons only. A good many of the reporters 
were denied desks, and did their typing on a low 
shelf that ran around the walls. There was hardly 
gangway. Toward press-time the noise must have 
been awful. Add to the staff numerous callers, 
who had no place to wait except among the desks ; 
add especially the parasites of the sporting depart- 
ment, which had a turbulent corner of its own, 
and fancy it all ! Three chairs near the sporting 
editor's desk were nearly always occupied by 
rising prize fighters, who glared, shuffled their 
feet, and spat. There was usually a group of press- 
agents telling someone foul stories. 

In this place the gentle Josslyn began his 
career; writing his maiden stories upon a shelf, 
amid all that din, and with volleys of strange talk 
in his ears. 

The staff was a rare mixture; it was "the pick 
of the town." There was Billy Fleming, immoral, 
witty, and pock-marked, a writer of ribald verse 
and graceful obituaries ; Tom Griggs, the sad-eyed 
"police man," connoisseur of corpses and motives ; 



DEADLINES [i92] 

those two drunkards, Fox and Jones; "little Ed." 
Moore, a tramp reporter said to have been part 
Mexican ; the debonaire Ernest Tripe, whose pay 
check was always drawn in advance ; and various 
less memorable beings. A quaint, smeared, turbu- 
lent company of reprobates, full of fight and 
liquor, desperate in their pursuit of news, ignorant 
of all the modern "ethics of the profession," and 
clever as the devil himself. It must have taken 
months for Josslyn even to arrive on passable 
terms with them. I picture him laboring at his 
typewriter, trying to shape his stories according 
to the iron-bound model of the time, and conscious 
of the grins and whispers of those devils behind 
his back. I imagine him timorously submitting 
his copy to the fiery-tempered Franklin. I see him 
sitting silently in a comer, while the copy desk 
slaughtered his phrases. But still more vividly 
I vision him amid a group of those tobacco-spitting 
pirates, listening after hours to their memoirs, 
their theories, and their advice. For they did give 
him advice, I am sure. No doubt they were even 
kind to him. There is a sort of lofty and casual 
concern for the neophyte in the most abandoned 
and sophisticated of reporters. And besides, 
Josslyn always had a vein of good nature dis- 
arming to the cynic. 

As for Franklin, he was gentle to his "cub." 
They saw quite a bit of each other, for they two 
were always the first to report in the morning; 



[1931 DEADLINES 

and Franklin, groaning and cursing, would start 
slashing the morning paper with his long scissors, 
and would have Josslyn help him. One morning, 
Josslyn recalls, the city editor delivered this lec- 
ture from the corner of his mouth : 

"Kid, I like your work, but you don't belong 
here. You're too sensitive. You're too well edu- 
cated. . . . Gimme that pile of clippings. . 
. . Thanks. . . . Business'U kill you if you 
keep on. Look at me, hauled out of bed at five 
every morning; rush to my desk, stay there till 
last dog's hung. Fight, fight, fight, all the time. 
Fight with the staff, with the readers of the paper, 
with the town itself. Damn the town ! It would 
get on anybody's nerves. . . . Get a quieter 
job, where you can write those poems of yours. 
Nothing in this boiler-shop grind. . . ." 

The Old Man opened his door just then. Per- 
haps he had overheard some of the tirade, for 
that afternoon Franklin approached Josslyn and 
blurted : 

"Don't take too seriously what I said this morn- 
ing, r was sore at the world, that's all. You've 
got a nice style, and you'll get on in the business 
all right." 

"Yes, sir," replied Jpsslyn, as he had learned to 
reply. 

There could be no doubt that the Old Man prized 
Josslyn, in a way. He never spoke a word directly 
to him, and yet Josslyn had a singular feeling 



DEADLINES n94i 

that he was watched, and not unkindly. More 
than once he suspected that the assignments 
Franklin gave him were inspired by the managing 
editor. On one occasion Josslyn was sent out of 
town with a group of aldermen "junketing" to 
New York. He muffed the assignment terribly, 
and returned to the office in a tremor. But 
nothing was said until the young reporter took 
courage to ask Franklin, "Just how badly did I 
fail on that trip?" The city editor pushed up his 
eye-shade, looked at Josslyn in his melancholy 
way, and said, gruffly, "It doesn't matter now. 
But I'll tell you if it had been anybody else the 
Old Man would have canned him without notice." 
Whence arose this interest, this semi-benevolent 
interest, which Thain, formidable and ruthless 
being that he was, felt in the shrinking amateur? 
It was more unusual in those days than now, for 
it was said of the Old Man that when compara- 
tively young he had "no favorites and no friends." 
He was a battler, like his creation Franklin, with 
his hand against the world. There is, though, no 
accounting for affections ; and it was to be demon- 
strated that the Old Man loved Josslyn like a son ; 
loved him at first sight, as one might say, rejoiced 
like any father at Josslyn's later success, and 
grieved like one when at last 



ri95] D EADLINES 

[VII] 

AFTER he had been on the staff five years 
Jossljm was made city editor. Franklin 
in a burst of fury, had resigned. The Old Man 
said to Josslyn, "Take the desk, and let's see how 
long you can hold it." He did not reveal that he 
had offered the post to several of the older men, 
and that they had excused themselves. Josslyn, 
elate, apprehensive, the most competent of them 
all but the most humble, took the desk. 

A good many of the piratical crew still remained. 
After having been Josslyn's comrades and critics, 
they now found themselves his subordinates. 
There was no complaint. They regarded Josslyn 
with that curious mixture of respect, pity, and 
disdain which they would have shown toward any 
other city editor. ("Little Ed" Moore said: "I 
was offered the job, but my God! d'ye think I'd 
take it? Under the Old Man?"). They liked 
Josslyn. They rallied about him— good old pirate 
crew. Perhaps the assignments he gave them 
were not always to their taste; no matter, they 
covered these assignments and stolidly wrote the 
results. Perhaps Josslyn made mistakes in orders, 
charted the wrong course. The old hands merely 
left the office humming, and got the news after 
their own fashion. There grew up a warm loyalty 
to Josslyn. He had lost none of his gentility 
during the years of reporting. He could always 
see the other fellow's side of an argument. Often 



DEADLINES ysej 

he forgave a man when he got drunk. Often when 
the Old Man told him to discharge such-and-such 
a scapegrace, Josslyn forgot to discharge him. 

In the meantime he found that, having served 
one apprenticeship, he was now serving another. 
He was being "broken in" again. Not so much 
now by contact with the city and its people, but 
by the mechanisms of the office, by the emergen- 
cies of his work, by the thousands of shocks and 
griefs that went with responsibility. The com- 
parative ease of mind that is the underling's only 
recompense for being an underling began to leave 
him. The little flame of interest with which he 
used to await his morning assignment was now 
denied. He awoke each day quivering with pres- 
science of what he must face. No day was ever the 
same as its predecessor. No problem ever arose 
in precisely the same guise. The incalculable 
world prepared for Josslyn incalculable emergen- 
cies and pitfalls. Glory and disgrace both lay in 
wait for him at his desk. He was satisfied to 
escape disgrace. He was satisfied to end the day 
without a reprimand from the Old Man, or without 
some failure too abject even for comment. He 
was alternately elate with hope and smothered in 
shame. He was a poet compelled to face a despot 
— and to be one. 

This growing torment received a new compli- 
cation when he moved to a suburb. It was a 
charming suburb, more beautiful than Happy ville ; 



[1971 DEADLINES 

a forest spot, with great elms overshadowing the 
streets, and with the children of the forest, ferns, 
flowers and wild creatures, still occupying the 
glades. Fanny, the sister, had insisted upon 
moving thither from the city flat. The change 
improved Josslyn's physical health, but the coun- 
try drew away a lot of the affection and confidence 
that he had bestowed upon the city. In its high 
seasons, with its gorgeous flowerings, it made the 
city hideous by contrast; and at its saddest of 
times it had a repose, a sanity, that made Josslyn 
more and more regretful to leave it, even for a 
few hours. Sunday afternoons and holidays came 
to be colored with regret and foreboding; regret 
that so perfect tranquillity could not be kept just 
a little longer; foreboding of the new plunge, 
tomorrov/, into chaos. 

He knew it to be chaos, even though he tasted 
there a bitter intoxicant. Born newspaper man 
though he was, carried beyond himself by news, 
subject to all the ecstasies of that weird and 
perishable form of experience, there was still his 
temperament, one-half of which craved peace, 
craved even more the expression of the wistful 
poetry in him. He managed somehow to strangle 
these more feminine impulses while he was busy 
with the affairs of "the desk"; that is, for all 
those years he managed to do so. But though 
strangled, they were not dead, and they often con- 
fused him, rising before his eyes at inopportune 



DEADLINES y98j 

times. The Old Man was keen to detect these 
waverings in his young city editor. He seemed 
to sense them out while sitting in his room. 
Presently he would appear, perhaps clutching a 
copy of an opposition paper. 

"Scooped again I Really, Josslyn . . . Didn't 
you have this affair down in the assignment book? 
Well, how can you expect to cover advance dates 
without putting them down? Depend on your 
memory; is that it? . . . Well, for goodness' sake, 
get a little of the thing written for the last 
Final." 

Exit, with his shoulders high. 

Or this: 

"Josslyn, I must have a talk with you. I'm 
doing my best to build you up into an efficient 
newspaper man. Sometimes I think you'll never 
make it. Sometimes I think you're writing those 
— er — pesky poems, in your head. Come out of 
it. Poetry'U get you nowhere." 

"I'm not writing poetry, Mr. Thain." 

"Well, if it isn't poetry, it's love. If you're in 
love, for God's sake, get married. That's the only 
cure. And get a blonde; they're safer." 

He would follow this with things that would 
make Josslyn blush. Josslyn believes the Old 
Man liked to see him blush. Thain was, no doubt, 
puzzled and plagued by this temperament, which 
partly mocked him with what he himself had been, 
and partly eluded his analysis. He always posed 



[199] DEADLINES 

before Josslyn as a bitter cynic, pagan, hater of 
all religions, and defier of all conventions. He 
usually held up to the youth a harsh, sordid con- 
ception of life, and a stern view of journalism, 
which he said was an exact science. This was his 
way of ^'building up a spine in the fellow" ; and it 
worked — for a good while. But we all think that, 
while he was administering the bitter tonic, he 
laughed strangely in private. He was cute. Once 
when he and Josslyn had worked together prepar- 
ing a tremendously hot story, and Josslyn was just 
leaving the stone, collarless and with flying hair, 
the Old Man spoke a loud aside to Big Jim, the 
foreman: "There goes a great newspaper man." 
Intend Josslyn to overhear it? Surely. And he 
knew, of course, that the young man would carry 
away that immense compliment with him, and 
that the yeast would work and work ; and that, for 
a week at least, it would fill him with a sense of 
high enterprise. 

But it was the Old Man's weakness at that 
period that he grimly refused to know anything 
about the private lives of his staff. So he knew 
nothing about Josslyn's house, or about his flowers. 
And he did not know that, when walking home 
in the evening along the elm-shaded streets of the 
village, Josslyn looked back with vague disgust 
upon what he had done. 

He was conscious only of a grey retrospect, out 
of which some incidents stood sharply; incidents 



DEADLINES [200] 

whose effect upon his inner structure he did not 
fully understand. Such as — well, such as the 
story of an old murder trial dug up twenty years 
late to confront the innocent children of the for- 
gotten murderer. Complaint from the widow. 
Reference of complaint to the Old Man. Josslyn 
exonerated. A feeling of regret, tempered by 
elation over having scooped the Journal. 

Or such as the publication of a wrong picture; 
the picture of the twin brother of an accused 
thief. Twin brother a grocer. Grocery ruined. 
The wrong twin writes misspelled letter, hinting 
at libel suit. Josslyn sends Griggs, the paper's 
best "fixer,'' to settle the matter. Griggs settles 
it for seventy-five dollars. Immense relief on the 
part of Josslyn; coupled with scruples. 

Moral complexities, these. They don't, after all, 
get to the bottom of Josslyn. There at the bottom 
was his instinct to bestow affection, to condone, to 
work for the happiness of everybody. Now this 
is impossible in an executive. He must decide 
sharp issues, and always someone gets hurt. Let 
there be a dispute between a reporter and a copy 
reader. Josslyn must decide it somehow. Some- 
one injured. Both men dear to him. Someone 
must subside, with a flushed face and a biting 
of lips, and, looking at him, Josslyn is wretched. 
Perhaps he decided wrongfully. He takes the 
doubt home with him. 



[201] DEADLINES 

Josslyn told the Star that of all things most 
abhorrent to him were the quarrels. Next to 
this, the eternal naggings about salaries. The 
requests for increases had to go to the Old Man 
for decision, but they always came to Josslyn 
first. 

The symptoms? Josslyn tells them with a 
shudder. 

A reporter or copy reader comes to "the desk" 
after the First Final has gone. He hovers at the 
desk. The appeal in his eye is unmistakable. 

"Well, John." 

"Ahem I've been working here almost 

two years now^ Mr. Josslyn. . . I . . ." 

"It's about your salary, I suppose." 

"Yes, sir; that's it." (At other times he may 
call Josslyn "A. J.," but now it is "sir.") He goes 
on : "I thought maybe you wouldn't mind speaking 
to the Old Man about me." 

A pause. Josslyn is fairly sick He looks down 
at his desk, twiddles his pencil, and says: "I'll 
do what I can, John." 

The poor, hang-dog chap, the work-worn, bank- 
rupt ne'er-do-well, brightens pitifully. Ah, but 
Josslyn is sorry for him! A "raise"? Josslyn 
would give him a doubled, a trebled salary. Josslyn 
starts to speak, but gulps it back. He must not 
"commit himself". John the reporter goes away, 
whistling. 



DEADLINES [2023 

That's all. Just things like that. Nothing at 
all to an iron man, such as an executive ought to 
be. Executives should sit at desks, full of blood 
and confidence, and shoot back defiant things when 
people make requests. And they ought to go home 
with hearty step, certain they have done right, 
and with some such thought as '^Greatest editor 
of greatest paper on earth; 's what I am." 

Lots of them do. 

[VIII] 

PICTURE Josslyn on a tranquil spring morning, 
going to work with the sweetness of flowers in 
his nostrils, with the budding trees whispering to 
him a mood of peace. And then suppose him enter- 
ing the office and being greeted by : "Boss, there's 
a four-eleven fire in the Yards. Six bodies taken 
out. It's been burning since six o'clock. What 
shall we do?" Or, "The bureau has just 'phoned 
Marshall Field is dying. Shall I get somebody 
started with the obit? Who do you want to go up 
to the house?" Or picture him with big news 
"breaking" and three of his best men sick. Or 
suppose him quietly opening his morning mail and 
finding in it a notice of a $100,000 libel suit. Or 
fancy him starting to close his desk at night, and 
picking up a rival to discover a triumphant "beat." 
Or consider him a moment when griefs are in a 
lull, when he gazes about the office in reverie, and 
then a voice at his desk, the voice of his best 



[203 3 DEADLINES 

reporter: "Boss, I'm sorry, but Fve got a better 
offer from the Globe. I'm leaving Saturday." 

Reader, not of the profession, these things mean 
little to you. But to Josslyn every one of these 
surprises, these threats or disappointments, con- 
tains poison. And for our Jossljoi every one was 
magnified by his imagination. Was he "scooped ?" 
He saw the black type of his rival dancing jigs 
upon the news-stands, he saw thousands grasping 
for the story missing in so ghastly fashion from 
the Press, he imagined a murmur of comment on 
the streets, in the trains, and himself skulking in 
by-ways. Was he sued? He previsioned a stem 
jury handing down the verdict of thousands, the 
Old Man frantic, the paper bankrupt, himself out- 
cast, the city pointing a huge collective finger. 

But correspondingly vivid his triumphs. Ah, 
yes ! to conquer them all, to breathe deeply for a 
moment over what he and his men had done — 
even Josslyn's nature had rich delights over that. 
Delights lasting sometimes an hour or two. Then 
the dark cloud of premonition, the goad of new 
emergencies. Into it again. "Josslyn, Moore on 
the 'phone ; murder in Little Hell " 

And the great clock upon the wall, never stop- 
ping never relenting ; the clock that makes slaves 
of us all. . . . 

Despite everything, he grew. Certain motions 
and mental processes became automatic. His 
adjustment to the swift and deadly requirements 



DEADLINES [204) 

of his job became easier. The shrinking, appre- 
hensive Josslyn still dwelt in him, but over this 
seemed to grow another personality with an appar- 
ent defiance of disaster. Long ago it had become 
unnecessary for the older men to tell him what to 
do; they now respectfully sought his judgment. 
It began to be whispered about that he was "one 
of the best city editors in town." The slim body 
and the gentle, sensitive mind had seemingly with- 
stood the efforts of fate, the Old Man and the devil 
to crush them. And not only the office, but the 
city itself and all it could send lay at Josslyn's 
feet. The great city roared about him, challenging 
him with its brutal voices, preparing for him 
sudden horrors, ringing his telephone with the 
message : "Ah, — ha, Josslyn ! See what's happened 
now." But he seemed to be a match for the city. 
Nothing it could do but would find him ready. 
With a stroke he could turn its challenges and 
fierce taunts, its outbursts, the jets from its cal- 
drons, to serve the paper. And, daily, he seemed 
to grow calmer. The boys said he was "hard- 
boiled." Josslyn, the master! Well, well! 

Then one day he went in to the Old Man and 
said : "Mr. Thain, Til have to stop. I'll have to 
give up the city desk. It's got the best of me. 
I 1 just can't " 

And Josslyn fainted away, right there on the 
Old Man's Brussels rug. 



[205] DEADLINES 

The Old Man and the office boy raised him to 
an old lounge in the "private room," and they inex- 
pertly poured water on him, and the staff gathered 
around. I was there myself. I shall never forget 
the quaint surprised tenderness with which the 
Old Man gazed, blinking, upon his downfallen 
greyhound of a city editor, and how he said, 
oratorically : "My Lord, I guess a six months' 
vacation won't be too much for this boy .... 
The best city editor I ever .... He's just 
simply done himself." 

But when Josslyn opened his eyes, this speech 
changed to : "Billy, fetch a cab .... You, sir, go 
home and take a hot drink. The rest of you, why 
the devil aren't you working?" 

[IX] 

JOSSLYN, grey man of the copy desk, do you 
think of those days? Can you remember how 
the telephone spoke to you, straight from the 
fierce heart of the city, and how you used to say 
to us, with a slap on the shoulder, and such a 
light in your eyes, "Go after it, old chap ; go after 
it and get it?" And do you remember days of 
tension, of waiting and waiting ; and how as we 
all sat there waiting, the Great Event would at 
last "break?" Josslyn, those days of anxiety, 
strain, effort, accomplishment, gladness, when you 
were the leader of us all! And, Josslyn, those 
afternoons when we would hang about your desk 



DEADLINES [206] 

when the paper was out, and bring smiles to your 
face with our banter. And how sweet it was, 
when the city could do no more to us for a few 
hours, to put on our coats and go out — free! — 
into the streets, lighting our pipes. Those tre- 
mendous years, Josslyn, when you were the Boss, 
and life was vivid. Remember, Josslyn, grey 
creature writing head-lines? 



[207] 



DEADLINES 



Josslyn 



PART TWO 



[I] 



== ilT WOULD have surprised anyone 
■ unacquainted with newspaper 

I offices to hear how little stir the 

I break-down of the city editor of 

I the great Press caused in our 

^ z=: news-room. There is a special 
optimism — or perhaps a special callousness — for 
such cases. It is based upon the knowledge that, 
no matter who falls, the army always advances, 
the machine never stops. And then, we have seen 
so many men "blow up," fall ill, or go crazy, that 
when something happens we merely look sympa- 
thetic and wait until the patient is cured. 

Naturally it did seem a little strange, the next 
morning after Josslyn's collapse, to hear George 
Brown coolly say into Josslyn's telephone : 

"He isn't here. He's sick. Anything I can do 
for your 

And it did impress us queerly when we walked 
up to take assignments from Brown and had to 
say "yes, sir" to a comrade with whom we had 
wrangled the day before on equal terms. But 



DEADLINES [208] 

this feeling wore off. Presently we were used to 
Brown, with his cool, abrupt manner ; and barring 
a vague sense of loss — ^the lack of some intangible, 
supporting presence — we breasted our tasks the 
same as ever. 

There was plenty of talk, certainly. It fed upon 
the fact that we were cautioned not to go to 
Josslyn's home, nor even to call him on the tele- 
phone. A rumor started that he was dying; but 
this was exploded by someone who had seen him 
walking with his sister. Then the melodramatic 
stories gave way to an assurance that he was only 
taking a "good long rest." And by and by the 
word came officially from the Old Man's room that 
Josslyn was going to Europe. Promptly after this 
announcement, Josslyn reappeared in the office. 
He was thin and somewhat silent; but he was 
whole. I recall that we gave him a "banquet," 
which would have been desperately dull had not 
/ the Drunkard (then on his first term of service) 
•1 arrived intoxicated and made all the speeches. 
Josslyn himself had little to say. He sat at the 
head of the table fingering his fork, and with a 
wistful look in his eyes. The affair broke up at 
nine o'clock. We forgot to tip the waiters. 

[11] 
TLTE WENT to London to "investigate industrial 
•*• •■• conditions." From there he crossed to Paris, 
without having cabled a word. 






[209] DEADLINES 

I return now to what I have learned through my 
proxy, the Star. Without him I never should have 
got so close to Josslyn's memories of Paris, nor 
should I be able to set down almost word for word 
Josslyn's terse, but eloquent picture of the Beau- 
tiful City: 

Paris from the Butte of Montmartre: A laby- 
rinth of slums, watched over by the Basilica, slums 
in which foulness and poetry dwell side by side, 
and beyond which rises Paris quivering in the 
vapor from myriad chimneys. Brown masses of 
buildings, blending into the lavender shadows of 
the surrounding hills ; mysterious cloud-shapes of 
roofs, from which loom the towers of Notre Dame 
and St. Sulpice, the dome of the Invalides, the 
peaks, tiny in perspective, of great houses once 
imperial. 

Paris from the region of the Trocadero ; at one's 
feet the river; then the armored limbs of the 
Eiffel Tower, spanning a broad promenade; then 
the dwindling harmony of buildings and the wist- 
ful horizon. Belated sunbeams drift over the 
Trocadero hill, tingeing the river with pink, touch- 
ing with slow fire the windows of houses lining 
the river in its curve toward the northeast. Far 
away, a flash, perhaps from the golden lions of the 
Pont Alexander III. 

Paris of the Champs Elysees; Paris from the 
Arc de Triomphe : That thrilling downward sweep 
of pearly "hotels," veteran chestnut trees, and 



DEADLINES [2103 

avenue. The finger of the obelisk, poised against 
the distant color-splashes of the Tuileries. Beauty 
after the manner of the Bourbons and Bonapartes. 
Sublimity created by a sweep of the scepter. 

Paris of the Grand Boulevard: Buildings lacy 
with gilt-lettered signs; windows flashing with 
jewelry, perfumes, costumes, pictures; writhing 
masses of people in gaudy uniforms or gaudier 
gowns; arc-lights quivering red and yellow by 
night and conveying their tints to the languid tree- 
branches; tides of people chattering, murmuring, 
shuffling; streams of motors, clashing, hooting; 
cafes roaring, sparkling. A mild, indulgent moon 
sailing over all. 

Paris of the "left bank" : Crooked, tatterdema- 
lion streets, concealed convent gardens, slim, 
monocled studios, crack-brained huddles of roofs, 
mansards, ruins; churches rotting behind hoard- 
ings ; dim by-ways, green lanterns on the comers ; 
gurgles of laughter and music. 

Paris of the Seine : The essence of what is love- 
liest and most mysterious in the Beautiful City. 
Below there, below the parapet, "she" glides. 
(The Seine is always "elle" to the Parisian.) 
"She" glides by, rapid but solemn, infatuated with 
herself. She wears satin, shading from blue to 
black. "She" hurries under bridges, drifts rever- 
ently past Notre Dame, boils proudly past the 
Chambre des Deputes. And the grey houses seem 



£2113 DEADLINES 

to bend over, Narcissus-like, to gaze into the pas- 
sionate stream. 

No one can look back without emotion upon 
these and manifold other things one has seen in 
Paris. The Bautiful City lies there behind, a 
receding spectacle, an interlude in the imperative 
rhythm of life, to most people a memory like a 
passing love affair. 

Such a memory remains still in Josslyn's mind, 
but blurred by his misery — ^for he was miserable. 
He remembers journeys, conversations, meager 
errands and half-hearted literary work of that 
strange period. A few faces peer out spectrally 
from the fog; a few glimpse of the beauty and 
vivacity of the amazing capital remains with him, 
strangely woven with black moods when he was 
all but casting himself into the Seine. And there 
was one day when he walked in the Luxembourg, 
by accident, with France Herself; a girl of the 
quarter who pitied him, spoke caressingly to him, 
and nearly tempted him to fall in love with her, 
and remain in Paris for life. 

The Star smiled his wisest smile at this point in 
his narrative. 

"You should have seen," said he, "how the good 
old fellow blinked when he let slip that glimpse of 
his European experience. He shut himself up 
quickly and switched to a description of Parisian 
streets. And then he told me of a day he spent on 
Montmartre hill, looking down over the magic 



DEADLINES [2123 

city, and imagining a leap into Hell. A different 
sort of Hell from being city editor. This would 
be a complete abandonment of duty, of effort, of 
morals. It would be easy, he fancied, to walk 
down into that valley of beckoning arms and 
gaudy carnival and simply disappear. In a few 
weeks or days, he would be buried under the tide 
of pleasure. He would get drunk, and stay drunk. 
He would cast anchor at Maxim's or the Hole in 
the Wall, would hurl the last of his expense money 
upon the table, and would swim in the prismatic 
flood of booze until he sank. And at last, 
exhausted, he would be cast upon some desolate 
urban beach, finished, drowned." 

Over and over, the Star tells me, this tempta- 
tion came to Josslyn. It would have been a 
cheerful ending, would it not, to the history of a 
specially constructed optimist? Yet as one reviews 
our friend's mental struggle, such a crisis as he 
passed through seems inevitable. To be bred in 
the belief that the world is altogether a safe and 
beautiful place, to be shielded from the sorry 
pageantry of cities, and then to have suddenly 
spread before his eyes the real thing, is a shock 
that would unsettle any intellect. There is nothing 
new about it. It has happened to any number of 
scholars, and to innumerable honest theological 
students. It has even happened to newspaper 
men. The majority of these last, however, are able 
to shield their feelings in professional unconcern. 



[213 3 DEADLINES 

Their flashes of sympathy, though genuine, are 
brief. They go home laughing, shutting off 
instinctively the hideous kinetoscope of the day. 

Now it may be guessed that on that day of his 
fainting fit there had broken down in Josslyn — at 
least for a while — the last supports of his faith 
that "God's in His heaven." Physical depression 
was piled upon mental. It had been a terrible day, 
anyhow. I forgot to mention that it was "Black 
Friday," when murderers are hanged. Always the 
worst of all days for Josslyn; always days of 
strain, of mental torment, of pity, and of anger. 
Everything culminated in his collapse, which had 
been preparing for weeks under his poise; the 
collapse of his beliefs, his self-confidence, and his 
sense of authority. 

There would have been no use making sugges- 
tions to the Old Man, but Europe was not the 
place for Josslyn. Beside some peaceful lake, near 
home, he might have recovered the illusions of 
Happyville, at least in some degree. In Europe 
he absorbed poisons from which he did not recover. 
In that new and intoxicating atmosphere, alone 
among thousands of fatalistic and indifferent peo- 
ple, he listened to the messages that lead to 
madness ; the messages : "Do what you like ; go to 
Hell if you like; who cares?" 

Imagine him lying awake in his hotel room in 
the Latin Quarter, and thinking, thinking, think- 
ing. Should he ever go back? If so, to what? 



DEADLINES £2i4j 

He is a failure. At home he has collapsed; col- 
lapsed shamefully. Here he is supposed to write 
things, and he cannot write them. He is adrift, 
lost. He is quite as aimless as those drunkards, 
or drug fiends, howling in the streets .... How 
they howl! There is a woman who always comes 
through Josslyn's street about midnight, shriek- 
ing prayers, or curses .... One cannot under- 
stand her. There is a sound of crashing boards 
down at the wine-shop on the corner. There is a 
scurrying of feet ; a flurry of insane laughter . . . 

Paris is full of weird sounds. Its bells are 
mournful. The clatter of its carts and tram- 
wheels among the silent stone houses is strange. 
Locomotive whistles have a piercing, puny, fading 
note, terribly distressing. Eerie voices hover 
among the mansards. 

Josslyn is all alone, thinking, wondering. 

Perhaps he goes upon the boulevards, there to 
mingle with slow-moving promenaders, all — ^he 
thinks — wearing a fatalistic grimace, an expres- 
sion of "Do what you like ; who cares ?" In cafes 
he sees throngs of people leaning over little tables, 
people of all nationalities and types, mingled in 
feverish carouse. And in the streets there is a 
continuous, maddening tinkle, toot and swish, 
which compared with the good-natured roar of 
Josslyn's own city is like a crack-brained circus. 

"Gay" Paris! Josslyn thought it sad. The 
lavishness, the brilliant, the hoydenishness, the 



[215] DEADLINES 

"who cares?" of it all, smote him with a fancy 
that he was sliding with it to a soft, sickening 
death. 

And there was always the thought seeping into 
his mind — maybe a transmission of thought from 
the boulevardiers — "You have lived long enough ; 
worked long enough. Rest and play here. Go on 
to death with us. There's nothing in success. 
There's no effort worth while. Work is a fetich, 
and results — pooh, there are none !" 

Sometimes he got out his portable typewriter 
and wrote in his room ; wrote things that started 
sanely enough, and trailed off always into mere 
words. He threw away these writings. He never 
sent a line from Europe. This is why the legend 
of Josslyn's "trip abroad" has always been, in the 
news-room, an illustration of failure. His adven- 
ture has been unfavorably compared with the 
odysseys of Sinful Goode, and the sage remark 
always added : "It takes a certain type of man to 
do foreign service." This was what was meant 
in that cigar-store conversation, away back there. 

I am glad to tell the truth as the Star learned 
it from Josslyn. 

[HI] 

IN the office, I recall, there had begun to be mur- 
murs and rumors again. Murmurs because — 
oh, we were merely human! — we didn't think "a 
man should be kept on the pay roll indefinitely, 
loafing in Europe." And there was considerable 



DEADLINES [2i6j 

wonder because Josslyn didn't write to us. Not 
so much as a post-card. Campbell, who had the 
Old Man's ear, carefully sounded him for news. 
There was none. Josslyn hadn't written to the 
Old Man himself. But Campbell obtained the mail 
address of the absentee, and we all wrote to him. 
We gave him the latest news of the news-room; 
how Barlow had sprained his ankle, and Wade was 
doing make-up; how Old Slater had finally quit; 
how O'Toole, the photographer, had blown up the 
chancel of a church with his flash-light. Then we 
waited for a cheerful, brotherly answer from 
Josslyn. None came. 

One day, quite unexpectedly, we learned that he 
was coming home. The rumor ran in no time from 
news-room to composing room; from composing 
room to cigar store. "Josslyn's coming back." 
Brown added the detail: "And darn glad I'll be 
to hand over his job." The office buzzed with 
honest pleasure. We liked Brown — but we wanted 
Josslyn. 

Now bulletins began coming in earnest. He had 
sailed. He had reached New York. He was start- 
ing wesward by twenty hour train. He was well. 

We collaborated in a telegram : "Welcome home, 
Boss. The city is pickling hell for you." 

It was astonishing how much we talked about 
this trifling matter, the return of Josslyn to the 
news-room ; and also, how vividly we remembered 
things about him. The figure that had for a while 



[217 1 DEADLINES 

been lost, that had become blurred by absence and 
preoccupation, now lived again before us, quiet, 
steady, and winsome. And we realized that we 
had, inwardly, given up ever seeing him again. 
We had accepted, in our fatalistic way, an 
unspoken suspicion that he had left the paper 
forever. Now there was no doubt of his return. 

But no one should believe that we said things 
such as I have written. No, the things said among 
the desks were like this : 

(From Brown) "I hope he's feeling strong and 
ugly. I'm going to tell him what I think of this 
lazy gang." 

(From Barlow) "111 take my vacation soon as 
he gets here. Got it all fixed, boys." 

(From Wade) "Fm going to put in my applica- 
tion for a trip abroad. If he can go, I can." 

(From the staff generally) "Soon as he gets 
back, watch me strike for my raise. "They've 
stalled me long enough." 

It was not until much later that it was learned 
that the Old Man had ordered Josslyn back; 
ordered him back in three preemptory words. 

It is only now that I am able to reveal — as those 
pompous foreign correspondents say — that the Old 
Man's cable reached Josslyn just as he was writing 
a letter of resignation from the staff. 



DEADLINES [2i8j 

[IV] 

THE STAR has passed on to me Josslyn's 
description of his homeward journey ; of how 
he paced the deck, gazed out over limpid seas, and 
flung away, bit by bit, the saffron fancies of his 
sick time; how he wept when he entered New 
York harbor; how he rushed home, with his face 
glued to the car-window, gulping in every detail 
of the American landscape. He could not sleep. 
The night hours he spent in the smoking-compart- 
ment, thinking, thinking, and adjusting himself 
anew to the city, the office, the men; trying to 
remember their faces; knowing that all that he 
cared for was there, in the news-room. 

The city drew near. The shoulders of sand- 
dunes rose against the pale sky ; they gave way to 
groups of wooden roofs, then to isolated, enormous 
factory buildings, and to flocks of chimneys. 
Silent, stolid, trains of freight-cars, oil-tanks, coal- 
barges, slid past. Tall cranes appeared, gigantic, 
foolish. Presently chimneys and roofs blended 
into masses. A narrow river was crossed, reflect- 
ing in its murky waters the masts of steamers. 
A brief rush through a valley of narrow streets, 
and there appeared the great, ghostly bodies of 
the steel mills, wrapped in ruby clouds of smoke. 
More streets ; long, straight streets, wheeling by ; 
a tall spire, like a monument; glimpses of parks 
and boulevards; then renewed chaos, upended 
bridges, mournful limbs and shoulders of fac- 



[219] DEADLINES 

tories, and enormous, monotonous assemblages of 
freight cars. 

And at last he was among buildings fifteen 
stories tall, and taller; buildings with dazzling 
batteries of windows reflecting the morning sun. 
From among them rose, to surprise him, the slim, 
graceful body of a new hotel, with white stone 
facings, and the peaks of many another new land- 
mark. Above rose the old characteristic clouds of 
smoke; and he could hear familiar voices, ear- 
splitting sounds, mysterious mechanical wails and 
groans. It was his own city again, his own bril- 
liant, challenging, fascinating but fearsome city. 
He looked upon its huge stone masses and its 
radiance of a million windows with a height- 
ened pulse, and yet with a sort of despair. He 
had forgotten that it was all so gigantic. He had 
forgotten its tremendous impact. 

On the way to the office new fears shook him ; 
new certainty that he was a failure. No question, 
it was all gone, all that buoyancy with which he 
had endured the city desk, and defied the city 
itself. 

When he reached the office, what should he do? 

He did not know. 

[V] 

WE had wired : "The city's pickling hell for 
you." And in fact, it had done just about 
that. 

Events had started with a little strike of whole- 
sale grocery clerks. Overnight, this petty griev- 



DEADLINES [220] 



ance had swollen into a walkout of truck 
teamsters; and before anybody could catch his 
breath all the "Jehus" had laid down the reins 
and swarmed into the streets to make trouble. 
The owners had sworn defiance, and had sent out 
wagons, manned by gloomy-looking drivers and by 
two policemen apiece, to "break the strike." The 
usual result: chaos. On the day we telegraphed 
Josslyn our welcome, wagons were being crippled 
and burned in various places about town, and iso- 
lated reports were coming in of strike-breakers 
being stoned and chased down alleys. On the next 
day the down-town district was just one solid riot. 
Caravans of guarded wagons were being driven 
through the main streets ; and the sidewalks were 
pre-empted by mobs that followed these wagons 
with imprecations, and worse. Right in front of 
the city hall bricks flew like chaff ; a stray revolver 
shot broke a window in the mayor's office ; a patrol 
wagon was tipped over. 

In front of our office, that day about ten o'clock, 
the trouble came to a head. The mob concentrated 
in the narrow street under our windows, and there 
was a tempest of shooting, shouts, and unex- 
plained crashes. Across the street we could see 
the windows full of people, some merely gazing 
curiously down, but others, I regret to say, throw- 
ing ink-stands, chair-legs, and other missiles down 
upon the police. One group of young devils on a 
fire-escape poured boiling water on the back of a 



[2213 DEADLINES 

team of horses, which proceeded to dash into the 
crowd and mow down a few innocent by-standers. 
Half of the staff was at the windows, enjoying the 
spectacle, while the other half wrote descriptions 
like mad, or scrawled head-lines for extras. Peo- 
ple ran about yelling above the awful noise that 
came in from the street. And at his big desk 
Brown, with his collar off and his shirt open at the 
neck, jumped up and down and side-wise, trying to 
write "leads," answer telephones, and say "Yes, 
sir; yes, sir" to the Old Man, all with the same 
motion. 

Into this bedlam suddenly came Josslyn. 

We had almost forgotten him. Nobody had had 
any time to gossip, to busy himself with absentees. 
So Josslyn came in as though it were out of the 
blue, instead of out of that murderous street. I 
recall that he slipped in at the door of the news- 
room, pretty quietly, set down his suit-case, and 
drew his handkerchief across his forehead. A boy, 
vaulting for the door with copy, nearly upset his 
old Boss and never looked to see who it was. One 
of the desk-men looked up and smiled. And 
Josslyn just stood there, seeming a bit dazed and 
out of place. 

Pretty soon Brown had a breathing-space, bit 
a piece from an unlit cigar and whirled around to 
find the rightful owner of his desk standing there. 
George jumped up with a "Well !" He held out his 
hand, but just then his private telephone buzzed, 



DEADLINES ^222j 

and he leaped to answer it. Josslyn, halted mid- 
way of a greeting, looked more taken aback than 
ever. He caught sight of me, and his eyes took 
on that affectionate light that was so natural to 
them; but he did not come forward. He hung 
there by the door, with the strangest, timid, 
baffled manner. I noticed now that he was more 
carefully dressed than he used to be, and that 
there was an odd deliberateness about his move- 
ments. 

The staff, by now, was beginning to wake up to 
his presence. Two or three of the men started up 
to shake hands, and a couple of new chaps stand- 
ing near me whispered "That's Josslyn, used to 
be city editor, you know." There might have been 
quite a reception in a minute or two, had it not 
been for the entrance of the Old Man. He came in 
at long strides, and with a furious frown, and 
with his hands full of proofs. Josslyn heard him 
coming, and stepped to one side, and the Old Man 
brushed by him heedlessly, his old specks flashing 
sparks. 

"Look here. Brown, what do you mean by this 
. . . . " was the beginning of the sentence he left 
trailing in his path as he went by. There was a 
buzz and clatter around the city desk for five min- 
utes, during which we by-standers kept our noses 
on our copy-reading or clattered our typewriters 
dutifully. When I looked up from work Josslyn 
had disappeared. 



[223] DEADLINES 

That was all until afternoon, when I was told 
there was something going on in the composing 
room. I went out, and found a ring of printers 
and editors gathered about the stone, from which 
the last forms of the First Final had just been 
slid to the stereotypers. The gang stood about 
with grins and great brawny arms folded ; smeary 
faced "galley boys" hung nearby, open-mouthed. 
Big Jim, the foreman, was making a speech to 
somebody. Through the ring I could just see the 
slim form and quiet face of Josslyn. The face 
was not only quiet; it was tired; and it was 
dejected. He stood there with a sort of wistful 
smile, a bashful shadow of a smile, his mouth 
quivering with — well, I wouldn't swear that it was 
a smile at all. And Big Jim was making a speech 
of welcome, working in all the old bromides and 
stale jokes appropriate to such an event. Josslyn 
was always a tremendously popular man with the 
printers. 

Going back into the hall, I met Brown just com- 
ing out of the Old Man's room. He seized me by 
the shoulder, mysteriously. 

"Look here," he said. "Don't tell anybody just 
yet; but Josslyn isn't coming back to the desk." 

He looked such a combination of ruefulness and 
elation that I almost laughed. 

"You're keeping the job, then?" I asked. 

"Yes.'' We looked at each other, both thinking 
of that figure, so like and yet so unlike our Josslyn 
of old, who was being toasted at the stone. 



DEADLINES [224] 

"The Old Man says," Brown murmured confi- 
dentially, "the Old Man says Josslyn is afraid to 
take the desk again. Lost his nerve, he says. I 
don't mean to tell anyone but you. Looks as 
though I was knocking my predecessor, don't you 
see? But, Harry, the gist of it is, Josslyn is 
through .... Well, I must look after the late 
Final." 

[VI] 

WAS it fair to say he had "lost his nerve?" 
You may judge from the interview as I 
have it through the Star. 

They were together in the Old Man's room, with 
the door shut. The Old Man had done Josslyn the 
honor to get out of his chair and shake hands 
with him. 

They looked into each other's faces, and they 
concealed as best they could the affection born 
years before, and always invulnerable to quarrels. 

And the Old Man said : 

"I've been thinking — you ought to have another 
assistant. The paper's been growing. Job's too 
much for one man and a greenhorn ... By the 
way, I've been using your old desk sometimes. 
You can have it back." 

Josslyn made no reply. He sat staring at the 
floor. 

The Old Man wiped his glasses and went on, 
with a change of mood : 

"That crowd out there .... need somebody to 



[2251 DEADLINES 

take hold of 'em. Brown's all right, but too calm ; 
too calm. I can't shout at 'em all the time. Fm 
getting old, Josslyn." 

This could go no further. Josslyn said : 

"Mr. Thain, please don't make plans — I can't go 
back to the city desk." 

The Old Man almost dropped his glasses. How- 
ever, he managed to put them on, very cautiously, 
and he favored Josslyn with one of his heavy 
looks. 

"I presume," he remarked at length, "that this 
is one of your temperamental days. I remember 
you used to have 'em. Poetry, poetry ! . . . Well, 
that's all past and gone. You can't fool me, kid." 

"No, Mr. Thain, I assure you that I " 

"Assure me of nothing. You are city editor. 
Tomorrow you take hold of the desk and the 

assignment book. I we understand each other. 

Been on the job too many years. I want you, first 
of all, to give the pay-roll a good winnowing. It'll 
stand it." 

Josslyn rose. (I am giving this exactly as he 
told it to the Star.) 

"Mr. Thain Fm sorry. You've always been 

more than good to me." 

His voice broke. He admits it. 

"Don't be a baby !" The Old Man was furious. 
He was beginning to believe Josslyn now, and he 
was frightened — and grieved. "Don't blubber. 
Just look the thing over. In the first place I 



DEADLINES [226] 

taught you the business. I built up a spine in 
you, inch by inch. I — damn you — I half killed 
you, but I made you. Now you come back here, 
and you think you can slip out from under. No, 
sir ! I say you can't. You can't treat me like that. 
No human being would stand it/' 

Josslyn was silent. 

"There," went on the Old Man more mildly, 
"you begin to see the point, don't you? Why, kid, 
it wouldn't stand to reason that you would pass 
me up, any more than I would pass you up. We've 
been through too much together." 

He waited. 

Josslyn said: "You don't suppose I want to 
leave the paper? I wasn't thinking of that. I 
don't want to quit ... I want a job writing, or 
something ... I can't go back to the desk." 

The Old Man thrust his hands in his pockets, 
and leaned back in his chair. His face, Josslyn, 
says, was a study in injured dignity, perplexity, 
and wrath. But his eyes, when he turned them 
Josslyn's way, had a softer glint, somehow. Was 
it possible he was thinking of his own disappoint- 
ments; of his own ambitions of years ago, when 
very likely he had said the same thing to some- 
body; that he wanted to be a writer, and not an 
executive? 

But his voice came cold. 

"We don't need any writers. We need hard- 
boiled editors." 



[227] DEADLINES 

"Well, then, Mr. Thain, I resign/' 

The Old Man glared, opened his mouth, but held 
hi3 peace. 

"How about the copy-desk?*' asked Josslyn, 
after three minutes of ghastly silence. 

"Talk to George Brown," snapped the Old Man. 
"He's the city editor." 

It was the beginning of his new relationship 
with Josslyn, his relation of frigid business, shorn 
of all personal touch. 

It was the end of the great interview, of which 
we knew so little at the time, and about which 
Josslyn has never talked until the Star got it out 
of him. 

It was the beginning of Josslyn's final phase — 
for he will never have another, in this news-room. 

[VI] 

COMPREHENDING him now, I sometimes 
watch this comrade at his work, and think: 
"After all, is his fate so deplorable?" I think 
also : "After all, perhaps the outcome was best for 
everyone." 

George Brown is city editor. He is built for it. 
Brown never falters, never doubts. He gives 
orders and administers discipline with a fine air 
He assails difficulties with quivering nostrils; 
downs them, then laughs. There are few complex- 
ities about Brown. It is ordained that he shall 
have men under him like Josslyn ; that Josslyn, a 



DEADLINES ^2^ 

finer, keener spirit, shall take orders from a man 
who never has wavered, as he himself wavered. 
"Josslyn, read this quick, will you?*' "Hurry that 
eight-column line, Josslyn." "I say, Josslyn, do 
the make-up today, will you?" "Or, "Here's a 
problem, Josslyn; what do you make of it?" 
Josslyn? Why he can do anything; knows all 
about the business. They say that he knows the 
initials of every prominent citizen ; that his mind 
is stored with useful details of past events; that 
he can locate a classical quotation unerringly ; and 
that he can tell you the capitals of even the French 
colonies in Africa. 

He isn't anybody; only Josslyn. 

Well, then, shall we conclude that he is soured, 
despondent, or bitter? Surely, we know him too 
well to think that he is. The despair that seized 
him ten years ago, the violent negation of his 
youthful trust, the urge to taste death and Hell, 
are gone. Ten years of quiet work at his profes- 
sion have wrought a cure. He takes life now 
without frenzies, without eagerness or illusions. 
He is not to be fooled by ignes f atui ; nor is he to 
be terrorized by scare-crows. 

For him, it has settled down to this: He will 
face what comes, and do what offers ; and always, 
always, he will bear himself in this news-room so 
as to encourage gladness and assuage unhappi- 
ness. Titles, distinctions, jurisdiction — empty 
words, all. 



f229i DEADLINES 

He will be the best man he can in his little cir- 
cle of the world ; the masters of larger circles are 
welcome to them. 

This, if you please, is his Career. 



[231] 



DEADLINES 



[xni] 

The Late Watch 



[1] 




IX O'CLOCK, and all's well. The 
watch changes. 

It has become dark by a slow 
dropping of shade into the valley 
where our building squats among 

sky-scrapers. Lights burn in the 

news-room; one illumines the city desk, others, 
widely scattered among patches of darkness, beam 
casually upon other desks. The day is really done. 
But the day is stretching itself into a night. 

Six o'clock. The Old Man, like a true sentinel, 
thrusts his head in at the door, and perceives that 
all is well. He wears a new and handsome derby 
and is pink with barbering. He is going out, one 
suspects. His glasses twinkle. 
"Good-night, Josslyn." 
"Good-night." 

The Old Man takes a step into the room. 
"You'd better go to dinner soon. Dunstane can 
watch the 'phone while you're out .... A child 
could let go the dummy anyhow ... I doubt if 
he'll die before morning." 



DEADLINES [2321 

Josslyn appears to understand these cryptic 
sentences. He stands by the city desk, newspaper 
in hand, his shirt-sleeves gleaming snow-white in 
the oblique radiance. His bearing is respectful, 
but slightly indifferent. 

"I'll see to everything," he says. 

"Well, good-night." 

"Good-night." 

Barlow, passing through the room from his 
locker, makes the floor creak with his heavy and 
hurried stride. He looks strange with his coat on. 
His hat clings to his large head in a sort of trepi- 
dation. He is in great haste to catch his elevated 
train, which passes the building at 6:03 exactly; 
so that he flings to Josslyn a hurried farewell, and 
he attacks the swinging-door impatiently, as 
though it might frustrate him in getting away. 
Following more tranquilly at his heels is a 
reporter, Wallace, who fondles a cigarette and 
pauses a few paces from Josslyn. 

"Commiserations, old chap. Any news?" 

"No, replies Josslyn. "He might live the night 
out ; can't tell." 

"How late you stuck?" 

"Eleven o'clock — if nothing happens." 

Wallace shrugs, lights his cigarette, departs. 

Josslyn is left alone, except for Dunstane, the 
Cub, who is sprawling at his desk, yawning, and 
reading a moving picture magazine. 



[233] DEADLINES 

It is the Late Watch. Josslyn is in charge of 
it, and the Cub is his staff. An august person, no 
other than the governor of this, our state, lies 
dying in the capital two hundred miles away. 
Death, when it releases him, will release Josslyn 
also. 

[11] 

THE Late Watch. There hover about this insti- 
tution suggestions of gloom, of boredom, of 
mystery, of anticipation, of reflection. The Late 
Watch is uncanny. It hints of the unusual, pos- 
sibly the dreadful. One knows that there has been 
a full day's work; a complete procession of the 
ordinary episodes and crises of a day. There has 
been a summing up and a final punctuation of all 
that twelve hours could do. And yet there per- 
sists an unfinished event, a shadow of probability, 
so potent that here are Josslyn and his "staff," 
still on duty. The allegro of the day's action is to 
have a coda — ^that is, if "he" dies. The city is now 
hurrying home, weary, full-stuffed with impres- 
sions and experiences. The street-cars and the 
elevated trains are carrying home the crowds, 
who throw off rapidly their interest in affairs. 
The city is bound for sleep. But the city will 
awaken again, will spring up alert, wondering, 
regretful, voluble, if "he" dies. At least, this is 
the theory of the Late Watch. 

In the capital the august person lies on a carved 
bedstead in the middle of a huge, high-ceilinged 



DEADLINES t^sy 

chamber on the second floor of the "executive 
mansion." He lies as though dead, barely breath- 
ing. Each breath is an affair of state. It is noted 
by physicians and secretaries. The words "he 
still breathes" are passed out from the group of 
physicians, narrow-eyed by the bed, to the secre- 
taries who murmur and wait in the ante-chamber. 
Reporters prowl around, murmuring with the 
secretaries; and there are messengers who sit 
against the wall, snoring into their caps; and in 
a farther room, there are telegraph operators who 
lounge in front of instruments, and listen to 
strange, irrelevant messages as they pass. Thus 
evening closes down over the capital, and over 
the executive mansion, and in that domain also 
there is a Late Watch. 

The wires, hissing with divers things, and mak- 
ing long, mysterious streaks over meadows and 
along railroad tracks, connect the capital with 
Josslyn's newspaper office, as with some hundreds 
of others. Here in Josslyn's office there is a room 
where a telegraph operator waits, half listening 
to chatter from New York and Philadelphia, ready 
to spring when there emerges the call that is for 
his ear alone. From his chair the operator can 
see through the open door Josslyn's gray head and 
the contour of Josslyn's oval cheek, under the 
desk-light. It will be ten strides only to Josslyn's 
side. It will be a "quick flash." 



[2353 DEADLINES 

Thus the two Late Watches are joined. There 
is a chain of efficiency and professional pride all 
the way from the sleepless physicians and the 
nimble secretaries to our office and to Josslyn. 

"Will *he' die? Will *he' live out the night?" 
these questions are written huge both in the cap- 
ital and here. But the answer is written else- 
where. 

[Ill] 

TN the face of this mystery, which is only 
•■• artificially greater than the fate of some 
dipsomaniac now dying in the county hospital, a 
very notable calmness prevails in the news-room. 

Josslyn sits reading. He has put on a pair of 
horn-rimmed spectacles, which he wears for night 
work only. He is held by his book; not a muscle 
of his serious, youthfully-cast, but greying face 
moves. Deliberately he turns pages ; thoughtfully 
he absorbs the printed lines, missing none. After 
all, it must be that what he is reading surpasses 
in importance the question whether the governor 
will die. A circle of electric light and a solemn 
book form Josslyn's radius. 

Dunstane, the Cub, is restless. He flicks the 
pages of his magazine, and throws it away. He 
discovers a deck of cards, and spreads them out 
for solitaire. Abandoning this, he yawns twice, 
with an impatient "yawp!" at the end, and 
gets up. 

"Say Josslyn " 



DEADLINES [2363 

"H— m?" 

"How long do you think we'll be stuck?" 

Before replying, Josslyn has to unfasten his 
mind from the page. 

"H — m? Oh, we're due to stay until eleven — 
if nothing happens." 

"Well, do you think the old beggar*ll last till 
then?" 

"How can I tell, kid?" 

"Well, I thought there might be some late bul- 
letin or something — my gosh, I didn't sign up for 
this sort of stuff. If this is newspaper work, 
gimme back my army job." 

Josslyn is again deep in his book. The Cub 
thrusts his hands into his poskets, and makes a 
turn about the news-room, part of the way in 
dance-step. Returning, apparently much bright- 
ened, he says : "Say, Josslyn, did I tell you about 
that girl that I — oh, you're reading." 

Josslyn turns a page. The Cub walks away to 
a window, over-looking the street. Down there 
the stragglers in the army of home-going workers 
are footing it to the street-cars, or waiting to 
cross between the close procession of teams and 
motor-cars. A cross-hatch of electric lights plays 
among the crowds. The shadows are black and 
eccentric. Above the roof-tops a huge sign flares 
out: "The Wonder Theater." 

It is all very gay, the Cub thinks. The burble of 
the street comes to him softened, but winning. 



[237 3 DEADLINES 

He can hear the laughter of girls, the rough glad 
warnings of teamsters from their howdahs, the 
shriek of whistles at the crossing, the whole 
entrancing, fluid voice of the city. It is going 
somewhere. It is free. 

But he, the Cub, is a prisoner. 

He scowls at the clock on the wall ; the beastly, 
crawling clock. He compares the clock fantas- 
tically with "Old Josslyn," the stationary and 
reconciled Josslyn, who can read, read, read while 
a golden evening spreads its pageantry in the 
streets. He is vexed with the idea that Josslyn 
can so calmly await the Event, and the release. 
Will he ever be like Josslyn? Good God, no! 
There's got to be something happening when he's 
around, you bet ! If it doesn't happen he'll make 
it. This room, with its atmosphere of dead effort, 
is intolerable .... Nothing to do ; nothing to do. 
Supposing even that the "flash" comes, he will 
accomplish nothing, unless to carry a message 
somewhere. Josslyn will do it all . . . And what 
if they wait until eleven o'clock, and no "flash" 
comes? Worse and worse. Then they will have 
waited for nothing at all ... . 

During these reflections the Cub stretches his 
powerful young arms, and rises on his toes, in 
gymnastics. Suddenly he comes down on his 
heels. The telegraph key is raining taps. The Cub 
becomes rigid. He thrusts his head toward the 
calm, moon-faced operator as the latter emerges 



DEADLINES £238] 

from his room. The Cub takes a step, and snatches 
the message from the telegraph man, and reads : 
"Bulletin : 6 :30 p. m. 

Temperature, 101 ; pulse, 120 ; respiration, 32. 

Morphy. 
Jennings." 
The Cub, scowling, conveys the yellow slip to 
Josslyn's desk and lays it in front of him. 
**There you are ; still alive." 
Josslyn glances at the message ; nods. 
"All right. Thanks." 
The room is again silent, save for the clock-tick. 

[IV] 

npHERE now sounds in the hall a clatter of 
-*• clumsy feet, and a swashing sound. In a few 
minutes a group of scrub- women, bearing pails, 
push into the news-room, and go to work, quite 
oblivious of Josslyn and the Cub. They are stout, 
shapeless creatures, with lank hair piled on their 
heads; and they murmur among themselves, in 
some foreign tongue, gossip of their own world. 

The Cub, with hands in his trousers pockets, 
eyes the women with disgust. They slosh water 
toward where Josslyn sits; they move furniture 
about firmly and efficiently. At length they 
advance upon Josslyn, and he is forced to get up, 
with his finger in his book. Thus interrupted, he 
percieves the Cub and his fevers. His eyes soften. 

It's pretty hard to do nothing, isn't it?" says 



[239] DEADLINES 

he to his "staff." "Go out and smoke if you want 
to. r can manage alone. Well, then," as the Cub 
shakes his head, "stick around, and think of your 
sins .... There's a lot of this sort of hum-drum 
in the newspaper business." They perch side by 
side upon an unmolested desk. "Wait until youVe 
hung two days and nights for a verdict. Wait 
till you've done a stunt at a national convention. 
.... The Late Watch was invented to prove the 
whimsicality of events; in other words, the fact 
that no law, nor any human control, rules News. 
You take it as it comes. You wait." 

(The Cub will say tomorrow : "You ought to've 
heard the string of philosophical bunk Josslyn 
handed me.") 

"I've been reading history," goes on the elder 
man. "History tells you how there are long grey 
days and nights while an event piles up, and then 
comes the event, like a lightning stroke ; and there 
is a roll of thunder ; then the monotonous rumble 
of ordinary affairs goes on again. The big men of 
history were always there to deal the lightning- 
stroke — or to get struck. That's newspaper work ; 
you're there, or else you aren't." 

Josslyn smiles, and, folding his arms, gazes 
about the news-room — scene of all his achieve- 
ments. 

"I suppose so," returns the Cub aimlessly. 

There is a diversion. The Drunkard enters, 
involving himself quaintly with the outgoing 



D EADLINES ijmj 

scrubwomen and their pails. Making a successful 
detour, he approaches Josslyn and the Cub. His 
expression is demure, but a satanic twinkle as of 
triumph — or maybe of strategy — dwells in his 
black eyes. He is not very drunk. 

"Is th' — th' old beezer — dead yet?" he inquires, 
clutching the edge of a desk. 

"No," returns Josslyn shortly. 

"Can I — can I — do anything for you?" 

"No," Josslyn does not turn his head. 

The Drunkard looks reproachfully at Josslyn, 
perceives he is implacable, and sits down outside 
the circle of electric light. And he grins weakly 
at the Cub, as though he would address him. But 
he recalls in time that he owes him money. 

Another diversion. A printer, wearing a leather 
apron and huge shoes slashed to ease his feet, 
shambles in from the corridor. He is well on in 
middle age, deliberate of movement, and wears 
the aspect of a professional buffoon. He waves a 
blackened hand at the Drunkard, glances about 
the desks for newspapers which he may purloin, 
and at last addresses Josslyn : 

"So he ain't dead yet?" 

"Not yet, Billy." 

"Well .... I was wondering if I could go to 
dinner." 

There is a brief dialogue about ways and means 
which postpones the printer's design of going to 
dinner. In the meantime another man has 



[2411 DEADLINES 

entered the room. He is a deep-chested bullock 
with a countenance both determined and good- 
humored. He walks in with a solid tread very 
much like the Old Man's ; and in fact he belongs 
to the Old Man's generation of never-say-die. 

"Well, ain't the governor goin' to kick in 
tonight, after all?" is his paraphrase of the 
stock query. 

Josslyn merely smiles. 

The stout man seats himself as though it were 
his first pause that day. And perhaps it is, for 
he works in the depths of the building, watching 
the streams of papers as they come from the 
presses and directing the flow into wagons and 
trucks. He is "the mailing-room boss," who, it 
is said, never sits down. 

"What say we start a little game?" he grins. 

The Cub and the Drunkard look alive, but 
Josslyn shakes his head, with, "You know the 
Old Man barred it the last time." 

The mailing-room boss shrugs his fleshy shoul- 
ders, but drops the subject. 

"Well, it's many a late watch you and Fve had 
together," he remarks to Josslyn. "Do you 
remember the time we hung out for the Pope's 
death ten years ago? And things got balled up, 
too. You flashed me over the 'phone Tope dead,* 
sure as you're bom; and we started th' paper 
out with a whoop. Two seconds, and there were 
you on the 'phone again. 'Kill 'em,' says you. I 
remember how your voice sounded." 



DEADLINES ^2^ 

"Ai^d I remember how you swore/' counters 
Josslyn. 

"We got back all but about three hundred 
papers, though," says the mailing-room man, 
smacking his lips at the memory of that battle. 
"The Old Man never heard about it till weeks 
afterward." 

The Cub's eyes grow bright and wondering at 
these memoirs. The Drunkard now snores. 

"Speakin* of long chances and all that," pipes 
up the printer, "I was a boy in the old Times 
office when Grant died. I remember the night 
darn well, bet you. We was on all night, an' the 
gang played seven-up. Well, sir, I'll never forget 
it. It got toward morning, and I remember old 
Poison Green, foreman in them days, was a dol- 
lar an' a quarter to the bad. Hadn't been for that 
I reckon we'd 'a broke up the watch. But we had 
a wire strung to — ^to— where was it Grant died ?" 

"Mount McGregor," someone prompts. 

"Yes, an' we had a full first page made up an' 
stereotyped. Well, it got on toward mornin', and 
there was Green an' Foxy Dunlap, the editor, and 
a telegraph operator there. The wire was sput- 
terin' away in the other room. Suddenly, just as 
Green starts to rake in a pot that would 'a put 
him even, the operator pricks up his head, like a 
horse, and he jumps up and hollers: 'Grant's 
dead!' 'n Poison Green gives a whoop and heads 
for th' composin' room, and Dunlap goes an' 



[243] DEADLINES 

whistles down th* tube to th' mailin' room, and 
only after they'd let the paper go did they think 
to ask what the operator knew about it all, and 
then they find he'd only heard a flash goin' over 
the wire, an' it might be true, an' it mightn't. 
But it turned out all right " 

"Come, Billy," says Josslyn. "You don't mean 
to say they let the extra go on a message for some 
other paper?" 

"It might 'a been for some other paperi It 
might 'a been for th' governor o' Timbuctoo. Any- 
ways, they let 'er go, and they scooped the town. 
But old Poison Green never did collect all of that 
pot." 

There is mild laughter over this ; then yawns, 
and a stretching of arms. Josslyn alone is 
thoughtful, wide-awake. He says to the mailing- 
room boss, "You got that dummy plate all safe 
downstairs ?" 

"Nobody can release it but me," returns the 
boss, surveying his big fist. "If they did, they'd 
get killed — or worse." 

(Even the Cub understands that a dummy plate 
is a prepared page, stereotyped, ready for the 
press.) 

More yawns. 

"He'll hang on till morning," predicts the mail- 
ing-room man, wagging his head. "Them politi- 
cians are tough." 



DEADLINES [24y 

He and the printer stroll out of the room, 
muttering. The Cub obtains permission to eat 
dinner. The Drunkard follows him into the hall, 
waveringly. Josslyn is left alone. 

m 

ALONE, he is suddenly the prey of nervous 
forebodings. That was only his shell that 
the Cub saw him in. Within the shell he is a 
ganglion of emotions, foresights and fears. 
Though he **hung out" for a thousand verdicts 
and kept late watches on a thousand death-beds, 
he would ever be the same. The mere presence of 
the incalculable works upon his brain; the con- 
sciousness of an approaching "flashV sets up a 
painful tingle of dread. 

He paces the room slowly, angry with himself. 
Surely, he has faced this sort of responsibility 
often enough. By now he should be able to apply 
the fatalism of the profession ; he should be hard- 
ened, and should say "I don't care a damn." 
Indeed, he pretends that he doesn't care. He says 
to himself: "What if something did go wrong? 
Suppose I did let go the extra before the governor 
died? I shouldn't die of it myself, should I?" 
But this thought only makes him aware that he 
would care, terribly. He would — ^he would resign 
next morning, of course; he would leave town, 
that he would. He would bury himself and his 
humiliation in oblivion. 



[2453 : DEADLINES 

Well, what can go wrong? How can anything 
possibly go wrong? "Let's see," he reasons, pacing 
the floor: "The operator will get the flash; he'll 
write it out, must have him write it out ; then a 
telephone call to the mailing-room, and" — ^that 
ends Josslyn's responsibility. Simple. Inevitable. 

But — ^the correspondent at the capital might 
blunder. Josslyn might get his tongue twisted at 
the telephone. Something .... the queerest 
things have been known to occur in these Late 
Watches. Everybody keyed to a high pitch. 
Everybody inclined to gamble .... 

He pulls himself together. But he cannot 
return to his book ; nor can he maintain any defi- 
nite flow of thought. The mystery is greater than 
that merely of "When will he die?" The sense of 
helplessness before this or any other unfinished 
event is overpowering. The whole thing is part of 
the great veil which Life draws over profound 
matters, and with which it mocks men and at the 
same time perpetuates them. Josslyn is helpless 
before it. His grasp on simple, ordinary ideas is 
disorganized. As he stands at the window, spec- 
tator of the night where dwell thousands of 
creatures, as helpless as he, his fingers are a little 
clenched, his face frowns, "When— when will it 
come?" 

But this is newspaper work. Would he exchange 
it for the dull certainty of a book-keeper's desk? 
No, though it may wreck him some day, though 



DEADLINES [246i 

it' almost certainly leads to failure and can 
scarcely lead, even for a day, to glory, this is bet- 
ter than the work which one can control by certain 
processes, and fold away in a pigeon-hole. No! 
Face out the eccentric future, breast the chances 
of success or disgrace: This is worth many a 
"tamer" job. 

Thus in the complex soul of Josslyn there rises 
the courage of a gamester with life, challenging 
and making way against the weakness of sick 
imagination. 

Suddenly he whirls. The operator has spoken. 

Or did he speak? The long half -dark news- 
room is full of phantoms, of eerie voices. 

"It's all right," calls the operator from his 
room. "I thought I got the flash. It was a 
mistake." 

Josslyn turns again to the window. The sky, 
sallow with electric flares, is ghostly. The roof- 
tops, outlined against it, are broken into turmoil, 
like waves. A turmoil of things guessed. 

[VI] 

THERE is a step in the room and Josslyn, turn- 
ing, beholds the Star, who walks rapidly to 
the mail-box, finds a letter, and leaves the room 
as quickly as he entered it. Josslyn would have 
liked him to stay, for the Star is cheerful com- 
pany, and he knows nothing of responsibility and 
its tremors. But the Star is only passing through. 



izvn DEADLINES 

arjd the scent of his cigarette, smoked in despite 
of rules, is all that remains of him. 

Josslyn falls to thinking of his comrades; not 
only of the Star, but of the incorrigible Drunkard, 
and the comic Cub; of the globe-trotting Goode, 
now somewhere on a rolling sea ; of Barlow, sweet- 
tempered and gruff -spoken ; of Brown, the young 
city editor, and Emmett, the pervasive news edi- 
tor ; of Campbell, the philosopher, and of the grey 
Poet; of the Old Man, who has never quite 
forgiven Josslyn, yet cherishes him ; and of all the 
others, notable or not, the quick-silver company of 
the news-room, bound together in a great pride of 
work, but expressing it in growls and barks of 
apparent displeasure. 

Others besides the men of the news-room come 
to Josslyn's mind. He thinks of the intent com- 
positors at their linotypes, the grave, leisurely 
printers in the "ad-room." He remembers with 
sympathy and fondness certain stereotypers, 
elderly men perhaps, clad in smeared overalls, 
grey-faced with early rising. His fancy descends 
to the depths, among the proud, vociferous 
presses, and embraces the big-handed fellows who 
jovially control the cylinders. And he thinks with 
a blend of pity and humor of the aged "infor- 
mation man" in the hall, snow-bearded, puncti- 
lious, and humble. He remembers many a sharp- 
eyed, swaggering driver of wagons or trucks, men 
who drive in all weathers, and always arrive. 



DEADLINES [2«i 



And he thinks even of spinsterly book-keepers in 
the business office, doing a man's work. And he 
regards with particular affection the taciturn old 
fellow who runs the elevator, up and down, up and 
down .... There is no end to their number, 
bowed or bustling at the common task, all through 
the rooms, corridors, basements of the Press 
building; these people who move incessantly, like 
Josslyn himself, slaves of the clock. 

His regard for these people is very great. Yes, 
he is among friends, day and night. "What more 
can a man ask ? He thinks, "Perhaps there is some 
of all these people in me. I must have absorbed a 
bit from all, during these years." 

And above this, there is the inexplicable bond 
that holds him to the paper itself; there is his 
curious affection for an inanimate mass of pulp — 
the paper. He will fight for it, not for himself. 
He will not let it stumble. It 

What's that? 

Yes: "Governor dead!" 

The operator bounds from his chair. He has 
scrawled the two words. Josslyn, on a quick 
stride, snatches the paper. He travels the room 
in leaps, and deftly lifts the telephone receiver. 
There is a tremendous second of waiting, then : 

"George! Let 'er go! Governor dead!" 

In the moments while he dashed down the room, 
in that instant at the telephone, he has thought 



[249 3 DEADLINES 

of nothing, he has had not a single tremor ; action 
has sublimated the doubting Josslyn. 

He stands beside the desk, mentally numb. The 
flash has come, the dreaded moment has passed, 
as softly and nonchalantly as a drop of rain. The 
silent room belies the fact that the clouds have 
emitted a bolt. The clock-hands seem to stand 
still. 

But presently there is a thunder from below, a 
churning of mighty monsters. And there come up, 
distantly, from the streets the wails of newsboys, 
crying the tidings that the august person breathes 
no more. 

And the Cub, entering a moment later, finds 
Josslyn smiling. 

[VII] 

SO it goes, the dim procession of days and 
nights, illumined by great flares from the 
world beyond. The presses roar endlessly, in time 
with the eternity of news. 



The End 



Typography and Printing by Printing Sennce Company, 
Electrotypes by Simpson-Bevans Company, Chicag 
Binding by The Engdahl Bindery, Chicago 



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