The city editor blocked the door for the third time, and looked at Bronson with a faint smile of sceptical appreciation.
“Is that very important?” he asked.
Bronson said, “Not very,” doubtfully, as though he did not think his opinion should be trusted on such a matter, and eyed the paragraph with critical interest. Conway rushed his pencil over his paper, with the tip of his tongue showing between his teeth, and became suddenly absorbed.
“Well, then, if you are not very busy,” said the city editor, “I wish you would go down to Moyamensing. They release that bank-robber Quinn to-night, and it ought to make a good story. He was sentenced for six years, I think, but he has been commuted for good conduct and bad health. There was a preliminary story about it in the paper this morning, and you can get all the facts from that. It’s Christmas Eve, and all that sort of thing, and you ought to be able to make something of it.”
There are certain stories written for a Philadelphia newspaper that circle into print with the regularity of the seasons. There is the “First Sunday in the Park,” for example, which comes on the first warm Sunday in the spring, and which is made up of a talk with a park policeman who guesses at the number of people who have passed through the gates that day, and announcements of the re-painting of the boat-houses and the near approach of the open-air concerts. You end this story with an allusion to the presence in the park of the “wan-faced children of the tenement,” and the worthy workingmen (if it is a one-cent paper which the workingmen are likely to read), and tell how they worshipped nature in the open air, instead of saying that in place of going properly to church, they sat around in their shirt-sleeves and scattered egg-shells and empty beer bottles and greasy Sunday newspapers over the green grass for which the worthy men who do not work pay taxes. Then there is the “Hottest Sunday in the Park,” which comes up a month later, when you increase the park policeman’s former guess by fifteen thousand, and give it a news value by adding a list of the small boys drowned in bathing.
The “First Haul of Shad” in the Delaware is another reliable story, as is also the first ice fit for skating in the park; and then there is always the Thanksgiving story, when you ask the theatrical managers what they have to be thankful for, and have them tell you, “For the best season that this theatre has ever known, sir,” and offer you a pass for two; and there is the New Year’s story when you interview the local celebrities as to what they most want for the new year, and turn their commonplace replies into something clever. There is also a story on Christmas Day, and the one Conway had just written on the street scenes of Christmas Eve. After you have written one of these stories two or three times, you find it just as easy to write it in the office as anywhere else. One gentleman of