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 It made me happy to know that whether or not I was taken on I had at least achieved one friend at court. Maxwell advised me to stick.  
“You’ll get on,” he said a day or two later. “I believe you’ve got the stuff in you. Maybe I can help you. You’ll probably be like every other damned newspaper man once you get a start: an ; but I’ll help you just the same. Hang around. That convention will begin in three or four weeks now. I’ll speak a good word for you, unless you tie up with some other paper before then.”
And to my really, he was as good as his word. He must have spoken to the city editor soon after this, for the latter asked me what I had been doing and told me to hang around in case something should turn up.
But before a newspaper story appeared for me to do a new situation arose which tied me up closer with this than I had hoped for. The editorial writer mentioned, a friend and intimate of the city editor, had just completed a small work of fiction which he and the city editor in combination had had printed, and which they were very eager to sell. It was, as I recall it, very badly done, an imitation of Tom Sawyer without any real charm or human interest. The author himself, Mr. Gissel, was a picayune yellow-haired person. He spent all his working hours, as I came to know, writing those , envenomed and bedeviling editorials which are required by journals. I gathered as much from conversations that were openly carried on before me between himself and the city editor, the managing editor and an individual who I later learned was the political man. They were “out” as I heard the managing editor say, one day “to get” some one—on orders from some individual of whom at that time I knew nothing, and Mr. Gissel was your true henchman or editorial mercenary, a “peanut” or “squeak” writer, penning what he was ordered to pen. Once I understood I despised him but at first he amused me though I could not like him. Whenever he had some particularly or defaming line as I learned in time, he would get up and dance about, chortling and cackling in a disconcerting way. So for the first time I began to see how party councils and party tendencies were manufactured or twisted or , and it still further reduced my estimate of humanity. Men, as I was beginning to find—all of us—were small, , nasty in their struggle for existence. This little editor, for instance, was not interested in the Democratic party (which this paper was supposed to represent), or indeed in party principles of any kind. He did not believe what he wrote, but, receiving forty dollars a week, he was anxious to make a workmanlike job of it. Just at this time he was engaged in throwing mud at the national Republican administration, the mayor and the governor, as well as various local politicians, whom the owner of the paper wished him to attack.
What a pitiful thing or our “free press” was, I then and there began to gather—dimly enough at first I must admit. What a shabby compound of back-room councils, public professions, all looking to public favors and fames which should lead again to public contracts and financial ! Journalism, like politics, as I was now soon to see, was a of muck in which men were raking busily and for what their wretched rakes might uncover in the way of financial, social, political returns. I looked at this office and then at this little yellow-haired rat of an editor one afternoon as he worked, and it came to me what a subtle and shifty thing life was. Here he was, this little runt, busily, and above him were strong, dark, secretive men, never appearing publicly perhaps but paying him his little salary privately, it down to him through a publisher and an editor-in-chief and a managing editor, so that he might be kept busy misconstruing, lying, intellectually cheating.
But the plan he had in regard to his book: The graduating class of the Hyde Park High School, of which he had been a member a few years before, had numbered about three hundred students. Of these two hundred were girls, one hundred and fifty of whom he claimed to have known personally. One afternoon as I was preparing to leave after all the assignments had been given out, the city editor called me over and, with the help of this scheming little editorial writer, began to explain to me a plan by which, if I carried it out faithfully, I could conn............
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