THE editor of _The Daily Chat_ wondered a little vaguely why he had com_own to the office at all. Here was the thermometer down to 11° with ever_rospect of touching zero before daybreak, and you can't fill a morning pape_ith weather reports. Besides, nothing was coming in from the North of th_rent beyond the curt information that all telegraphic and telephoni_ommunication beyond was impossible. There was a huge blizzard, a heavy fal_f snow nipped hard by the terrific frost and—silence.
To-morrow—January 25th—would see a pretty poor paper unless America roused u_o a sense of her responsibility and sent something hot to go on with. Th_and's End cables often obliged in that way. There was the next chapter of th_eef and Bread Trust, for instance. Was Silas X. Brett going to prov_uccessful in his attempt to corner the world's supply? That Brett had been _awnbroker's assistant a year ago mattered little. That he might at any tim_merge a penniless adventurer mattered less. From a press point of view he wa_ood for three columns.
The chief "sub" came in, blowing his fingers. The remark that he was frozen t_he 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 o_he Thames impassable to craft—and well it might be after a week of thi_rctic 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 mea_amine. And we've had our customary gibe at Silas X. Brett. But still, it'_oor stuff."
The editor thought he would go home. Still he dallied, on the off chance o_omething turning up. It was a little after midnight when he began to catc_he suggestion of excitement that seemed to be simmering in the sub-editor'_oom. There was a clatter of footsteps outside. By magic the place began t_um like a hive.
"What have you struck, Gough?" the editor cried.
Gough came tumbling in, a sheaf of flimsies in his hand.
"Brett's burst," he gasped. "It's a real godsend, Mr. Fisher. I've got enoug_ere to make three columns. Brett's committed suicide."
Fisher slipped out of his overcoat. Everything comes to the man who waits. H_an his trained eyes over the flimsies; he could see his way to a prett_laboration.
"The danger of the corner is over," he said, later, "but the fact remains tha_e are still short of supplies; there are few provision ships on the seas, an_f they were close at hand they couldn't get into port with all this ic_bout. Don't say that London is on the verge of a famine, but you can hin_t."
Gough winked slightly and withdrew. An hour later and the presses were kickin_nd coughing away in earnest. There was a flaming contents bill, so tha_isher went off drowsily through the driving snow Bedford Square way with _eeling that there was not much the matter with the world after all.
It was piercingly cold, the wind had come up from the east, the steely blu_ky of the last few days had gone.
Fisher doubled before the wind that seemed to grip his very soul. On reachin_ome he shuddered as he hung over the stove in the hall.
"My word," he muttered as he glanced at the barometer. "Down half-an-inc_ince dinner time. And a depression on top that you could lie in. Don't eve_ecollect London under the lash of a real blizzard, but it's come now."
A blast of wind, as he spoke, shook the house like some unreasoning fury.