The editor of The Daily Chat wondered a little vaguely why he had come down to the office at all. Here was the thermometer down to 11° with every prospect of touching zero before daybreak, and you can't fill a morning paper with weather reports. Besides, nothing was coming in from the North of the Trent beyond the curt information that all telegraphic and telephonic communication beyond was impossible. There was a huge blizzard, a heavy fall of snow nipped hard by the terrific frost and—silence.
To-morrow—January 25th—would see a pretty poor paper unless America roused up to a sense of her responsibility and sent something hot to go on with. The Land's End cables often obliged in that way. There was the next chapter of the Beef and Bread Trust, for instance. Was Silas X. Brett going to prove successful in his attempt to corner the world's supply? That Brett had been a pawnbroker's assistant a year ago mattered little. That he might at any time emerge a penniless adventurer mattered less. From a press point of view he was good for three columns.
The chief "sub" came in, blowing his fingers. The remark that he was frozen to the marrow caused no particular sympathy.
"Going to be a funeral rag to-morrow," the editor said curtly.
"That's so," Gough admitted cheerfully. "We've drawn a thrilling picture of the Thames impassable to craft—and well it might be after a week of this Arctic weather. For days not a carcase or a sack of flour has been brought in. Under the circumstances we were justified in prophesying a bread and meat famine. And we've had our customary gibe at Silas X. Brett. But still, it's poor stuff."
The editor thought he would go home. Still he dallied, on the off chance of something turning up. It was a little after midnight when he began to catch the suggestion of excitement that seemed to be simmering in the sub-editor's room. There was a clatter of footsteps outside. By magic the place began to hum like a hive.