On that condition Miss Lance consented.
At the office next morning Sloan found the essay in his pocket and looked around the city-room for D.K.T. The staff poet-clown was no daylight saver; professing to burn the midnight oil in the interest of his employer, he seldom drifted in before half-past nine.
“See me. S.S.” wrote Sloan, and dropped Willie’s manuscript on D.K.T.’s desk.
Then he jumped and gasped, and copy-readers and office-boys jumped and gasped, and the religious editor dashed frantically for the stairs, outrunning the entire staff down the hall, though he had farther to go than any other man or woman there. A huge, heart-stopping shock had rocked the building, set the windows to clattering and the lights to swinging, and brought down in a cloud the accumulated dust of a quarter-century.
Within two minutes by the clock Sloan and five reporters had started for the scene of the Rutland disaster, fifteen miles away, where enough giant powder had gone up in one terrific blast to raze Gibraltar. A thriving town lay in ruins; hundreds of families were homeless; a steamship was sunk at her dock; a passenger train blown from the rails.
At eleven o’clock on the night following that pitiful day Sloan journeyed homeward to Ashland in an inter-urban trolley-car in company with a crowd of refugees. A copy of the last edition of the Bee comforted his weary soul.
The first page was a triumph. Count on the office to back up its men in the field! There was the whole story, the whole horror and heartbreak, finely displayed. There were his photographs of the wreckage; there, in a “box” was his interview with the superintendent of the Rutland Company; there was a map of the devastated area. Perhaps someone had found time even to do an editorial; in that case the clean-up would be complete.
Opening the paper to the sixth page, he groaned; for the first thing that caught his eye was Willie Downey’s essay, at the top of D.K.T.’s column, with Willie’s name below the headline.
BY WILLIE DOWNEY
Morel Prinsaples is when you have a nerve to stick up for some thing.
Like last night my Father went in Mires meet shop & stood in line 15 or twenty min. wateing his tirn & when his tirn come he says to mr. Mires Ile have 6 porc chops.
at that inst. the telaphone wrang & mr. Mires slidd for it like it was 2nd base.
Hold on Mires says Pa, who got here 1st, me or that bell wringer. Igscuse me just 1 min. says Mr. mires.
No I be ding if Ile igscuse you says Pa, 1st come 1st served is the rool of bizness all over.
But Mr. mires wyped his hands on his apern & ansered the wring & it was mrs. Will Brum, she was going to eat out at a frends so she wanted 2 lbs, bolony & a dog bone.