“In other words,” said Banneker thoughtfully, “where the facts conflict with The Ledger’s theories, I’m expected to adjust the facts. Is that it?”
“Certainly not! You are expected to present the news fairly and without editorial emphasis.”
“I’m sorry, Mr. Gordon, but I don’t believe I could rewrite that story so as to give a favorable slant to the International’s side. Shooting down women and kids, you know—”
Mr. Gordon’s voice was crisp as he cut in. “There is no question of your rewriting it. That has been turned over to a man we can trust.”
“To handle facts tactfully,” put in Banneker in his mildest voice.
Considerably to his surprise, he saw a smile spread over Mr. Gordon’s face. “You’re an obstinate young animal, Banneker,” he said. “Take this proof home, put it under your pillow and dream over it. Tell me a week from now what you think of it.”
Banneker rose. “Then, I’m not fired?” he said.
“Not by me.”
“Because I’m trusting in your essential honesty to bring you around.”
“To be quite frank,” returned Banneker after a moment’s thought, “I’m afraid I’ve got to be convinced of The Ledger’s essential honesty to come around.”
“Go home and think it over,” suggested the managing editor.
To his associate, Andreas, he said, looking at Banneker’s retreating back: “We’re going to lose that young man, Andy. And we can’t afford to lose him.”
“What’s the matter?” inquired Andreas, the fanatical devotee of the creed of news for news’ sake.
“Quixotism. Did you read his story?”
Mr. Gordon looked up from his inflamed knuckles for an opinion.
“A great job,” pronounced Andreas, almost reverently.
“But not for us.”
“No; no. Not for us.”
“It wasn’t a fair story,” alleged the managing editor with a hint of the defensive in his voice.
“Too hot for that,” the assistant supported his chief. “And yet perhaps—”
“Perhaps what?” inquired Mr. Gordon with roving and anxious eye.
“Nothing,” said Andreas.
As well as if he had finished, Mr. Gordon supplied the conclusion. “Perhaps it is quite as fair as our recast article will be.”
It was, on the whole, fairer.
Sound though Mr. Gordon’s suggestion was, Banneker after the interview did not go home to think it over. He went to a telephone booth and called up the Avon Theater. Was the curtain down? It was, just. Could he speak to Miss Raleigh? The affair was managed.
“How nearly dressed are you?”
“Oh—half an hour or so.”
“Go out for a bite, if I come up there?”
The telephone receiver gave a transferred effect of conscientious consideration. “No: I don’t think so. I’m tired. This is my night for sleep.”