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CHAPTER 2: In Which Joseph Rouktabille Appears for the First Time (continued)
"This foot," he cried, "will make a great headline."
Then, when he had confided the gruesome packet to the medical lawyer attached to the journal, he asked the lad, who was shortly to become famous as Rouletabille, what he would expect to earn as a general reporter onthe "Epoque"?
"Two hundred francs a month," the youngster replied modestly, hardly able to breathe from surprise at the proposal.
"You shall have two hundred and fifty," said the editor-in-chief; only you must tell everybody that you have been engaged on the paper for a month. Let it be quite understood that it was not you but the 'Epoque' that discovered the left foot of the Rue Oberskampf. Here, my young friend, the man is nothing, the paper everything."
Having said this, he begged the new reporter to retire, but before the youth had reached the door he called him back to ask his name. The other replied:
"That's not a name," said the editor-in-chief, "but since you will not be required to sign what you write it is of no consequence."
The boy-faced reporter speedily made himself many friends, for he was serviceable and gifted with a good humour that enchanted the most severe-tempered and disarmed the most zealous of his companions. At the Bar cafe, where the reporters assembled before going to any of the courts, or to the Prefecture, in search of their news of crime, he began to win a reputation as an unraveller of intricate and obscure affairs which found its way to the office of the Chief of the Surete. When a case was worth the trouble and Rouletabille - he had already been given his nickname - had been started on the scent by his editor-in-chief, he often got the better of the most famous detective.
It was at the Bar cafe that I became intimately acquainted with him. Criminal lawyers and journalists are not enemies, the former need advertisement, the latter information. We chatted together, and I soon warmed towards him. His intelligence was so keen, and so original! -and he had a quality of thought such as I have never found in any other person.
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