Dream Tales and Prose Poems/Poems in Prose/The Reporter

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THE REPORTER

Two friends were sitting at a table drinking tea.

A sudden hubbub arose in the street. They heard pitiable groans, furious abuse, bursts of malignant laughter.

'They're beating some one,' observed one of the friends, looking out of window.

'A criminal? A murderer?' inquired the other. 'I say, whatever he may be, we can't allow this illegal chastisement. Let's go and take his part.'

'But it's not a murderer they're beating.'

'Not a murderer? Is it a thief then? It makes no difference, let's go and get him away from the crowd.'

'It's not a thief either.'

'Not a thief? Is it an absconding cashier then, a railway director, an army contractor, a Russian art patron, a lawyer, a Conservative editor, a social reformer? . . . Any way, let's go and help him!'

'No . . . it's a newspaper reporter they 're beating.'

'A reporter? Oh, I tell you what: we'll finish our glasses of tea first then.'

July 1878.