The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba - Chanel Cleeton Page 0,1

the appointment I made last week the only manner in which I could ensure admittance given the tightly controlled access to Pulitzer’s offices. I hurry up to the eighteenth floor, which houses the newsroom.

All of my previous articles for the various small newspapers that have seen A. Markham’s advice as fit to print have been sent by post, and so for the first time in my life, I set foot in a newsroom.

I am immediately, irrevocably, in love.

The newsroom feels like a living, breathing entity, the pulse in the air vibrating with excitement. There is shouting and keys tapping, and I’ve never heard more glorious sounds in all my life. Rolltop desks fill the room. Placards on the walls that say: “Accuracy, Accuracy, Accuracy! Who? What? Where? When? How? The Facts—The Color—The Facts!” surround the perimeter of the newsroom. Peeking out between the placards, windows reveal the city below, and beyond, a view all the way to the East River, New York City in all her muck and glory on proud display.

It’s absolutely perfect.

A man approaches me. “Can I help you, miss?”

“I’m here to see Mr. Pulitzer,” I reply. “I have an appointment.”

Due to his declining health, Pulitzer is reportedly rarely at his office, favoring his private homes or yacht instead, so I seized this rare opportunity for a private meeting.

The man’s eyes widen slightly. “And your name?”

“Grace Harrington.”

“Follow me, Miss Harrington.”

I walk behind him through the newsroom to Mr. Pulitzer’s office, struggling to keep from gaping at each new sight that reveals itself. And at the same time, with every step it becomes evident that I am the only woman in the newsroom at the moment, my appearance drawing notice from more than one quarter of the room.

I tried on several outfits before I settled on this one: a sensible white dress with a light blue stripe, fine enough for such a meeting. For all of his success, the rumors that his family in Hungary was wealthy before he arrived in the United States, Pulitzer is a self-made man who understands the divide between rich and poor more than most, considering he’s experienced both strata.

The man leads me into Pulitzer’s office and announces me before shutting the door behind me, leaving me alone with the newspaperman.

Pulitzer rises from his desk for a moment until I take a seat, and then he follows suit after offering a polite greeting.

Pulitzer is a tall, slim man with a full head of red hair and a matching beard. His career in New York is distinguished—he served as a politician before he began running the World. Like my father, he fought with the northern states in the war. Pulitzer had been pulling back from his newspaper’s daily operations, but that was before William Randolph Hearst announced his presence on the scene, and the man who was an unmatched Goliath in New York journalism gained a competitor. In the days when Pulitzer anticipated retiring from professional life, he’s unexpectedly forced to wage a war for his paper’s supremacy.

“Thank you for agreeing to meet with me, Mr. Pulitzer.”

“I was most intrigued by your letter. I admired your father a great deal when we served in the war together. I was sorry to hear of his death.”

There’s a pang at the mention of my father’s passing, one that hasn’t quite faded in the years since I lost him. I’m not proud that I’ve used their past friendship to secure this meeting, but the competition for a job as a reporter is fierce—particularly at a paper as popular as the World—and since my gender is already a hurdle I must overcome, why not even the odds a bit?

“I confess, I was surprised when you asked for this appointment. While I admired your father when we fought alongside each other, it’s been many years. How may I help you, Miss Harrington?”

“I’m here for a job if you have one. As a reporter. I’ve spent the last few years writing for smaller papers, getting experience where I could.” I gesture to the leather folio in my lap. “I’ve brought samples of my work if you’d like to look at them. They’re not necessarily the kinds of stories I want to cover, but they’re a start.”

“Why do you wish to work here, Miss Harrington?” Pulitzer asks, making no move to take the folio from me.

“Because of the stories you investigate, the impact you have. The World has one of the largest circulations in the world.”

Indeed, Mr. Pulitzer has just slashed the