man who broke through their lines, rushed into the building, and was in everyone's way. A tragedy had occurred, murder had been committed, and the fire was started to conceal it. The stranger, utterly oblivious to every one, picked up the parts of a dismembered body one by one, gazed at them wildly, noted every detail of the scene, rushed out and disappeared.
Early that morning, just before the paper went to press, the newcomer broke into the rooms, seized pen and paper, and, lying half across a table with his nose within a few inches of the paper, began to push off page after page of manuscript in rapid succession upon the floor.
The city editor, greatly amused at the sight, picked up the pages and read them.
"Stop the presses," he ordered; "hold the paper and make room for this copy. Never mind its length; crowd out something else. This must go just as it is."
The article appeared, and was one of the most remarkably dramatic and beautifully written stories in the newspaper world.
In one night Lafcadio Hearn had won for himself a place in journalism.
At nineteen he was then and always a ready linguist, speaking Greek, Italian, and English from his childhood. His first work in America was proof-reading: in Cincinnati he began to report for newspapers, then worked up into editorial writing, and after a while went to New Orleans and was employed on The Democrat (afterward The Times-Democrat), becoming an editorial writer; translating the shallow and fascinating books of Pierre Loti, and writing about the Creoles, his first book being 'Gombo Zhebes," a compilation of sayings in Creole patois. He spent two or three years in the West Indies, and then, returning to New York City, became a part of the literary life. His rhapsodic prose, something new and exotic in America, a compound of Maupassant, Daudet, and Loti, blended with that native bent he got from Irish and Greek ancestry, suggested to the Harper house that he was the man to write them a book on Japan, and accordingly he went there in 1890, with Charles D. Welton, the artist, to make pictures to accompany his articles for Harper's Magazine. For some reason or other he threw up his contract with the Harpers, and his writings about
[Continued on page 723]
Thanks to Catherine Bradford for transcribing this page.
Copyright (c) 1999, 2007 Brian Cragun.