“Kill the epidemic story, Mr. Ellis,” he ordered.
Red passion surged up into Ellis’s face.
“Kill—” he began, in a strangled voice.
“Kill it. You understand?” The associate editor’s color receded. He looked with slow contempt from father to son.
“Oh, yes, I understand,” he said. “Any other orders to-day?”
Hal made no reply. His father, divining that this was no time for further speech, took his departure. McGuire Ellis went out with black despair at his heart, a soldier betrayed by his captain. And the proprietor of the “Clarion,” his feet now set in the path of success and profit, turned back to his work in sodden disenchantment, sighing as youth alone sighs, and as youth sighs only when it foregoes the dream of ideals which is its immortal birthright.
“WHOSE BREAD I EAT”
Having yielded, Hal proposed to take profit by his surrender. With a cynicism born of his bitter disappointment and self-contempt, he took a certain savage and painful satisfaction in stating the new policy editorially.
“As the ‘Clarion’ is going to be a journalistic prostitute,” said he to his father, across the luncheon table, where they were consulting on details of the new policy, “I’m going to go after the business on that basis.”
Dr. Surtaine was pained. Every effort of his own convenient logic he put forth to prove that, in this instance, the path of duty and of glory (financial) was one and the same. Hal refused the proffered gloss. “At least you and I can call things by their right names now,” said he.
But however Hal might talk, what he wrote met his elder’s unqualified approval, as it appeared in the proof sent him by his son. It was a cunningly worded leading editorial, headed “Standards,” and it dealt appreciatively, not to say reverently, with the commercial greatness of Worthington. Business, the editor stated, might have to adjust itself to new conditions and opinions in Worthington as elsewhere, but nobody who understood the character of the city’s leading men could doubt their good purpose or ability to effect the change with the least damage to material prosperity. Meantime the fitting attitude for the public was one not of criticism but of forbearance and assistance. This was equally true of journalism. The “Clarion” admitted seeing a new light. Constructive rather than destructive effort was called for. And so forth, and so on. No intelligent reader could have failed, reading it, to understand that the “Clarion” had hauled down its flag.
Yet the capitulation must not, for business reasons, be too obvious. Hal spent some toilful hours over the proof, inserting plausible phrases, covering his tracks with qualifying clauses, putting the best front on the shameful matter, with a sick but determined heart, and was about to send it up with the final “O.K.” when he came out of his absorption to realize that some one was standing waiting, had been standing waiting, for some minutes at his elbow. He looked around and met the intent gaze of the foreman of the composing-room.