“She won’t live forever,” muttered Banneker.
“No. Not long, perhaps.” There was pain and resolution in Io’s eyes as they were lifted to meet his again. “There’s another reason. I can’t tell even you, Ban. The secret isn’t mine.... I’m sorry.”
“Haven’t you any work to do to-day?” she asked after a pause, with a successful effect of lightness.
He roused himself, settled the check, and took her to her car, parked near by.
“Where do you go now?” he asked.
“Back to the country.”
“When shall I see you again?”
“I wonder,” said Io.
Panem et Circenses; bread and the Big Show. The diagnosis of the satyr-like mathematician had been accurate. That same method whereby the tyrants of Rome had sought to beguile the restless and unthinking multitude, Banneker adopted to capture and lead the sensation-avid metropolitan public through his newspaper. As a facture, a creation made to the mind of the creator, The Patriot was Banneker’s own. True, Marrineal reserved full control. But Marrineal, after a few months spent in anxious observation of his editor’s headlong and revolutionary method, had taken the sales reports for his determinative guide and decided to give the new man full sway.
Circulation had gone up as water rises in a tube under irresistible pressure from beneath. Nothing like it had ever been known in local journalism. Barring some set-back, within four years of the time when Banneker’s introductory editorial appeared, the paper would have eclipsed all former records. In less than two years it had climbed to third place, and already Banneker’s salary, under the percentage agreement, was, in the words of the alliterative Gardner, whose article describing The House With Three Eyes and its owner had gone forth on the wings of a far-spreading syndicate, “a stupendous stipend.”
Banneker’s editorials pervaded and gave the keynote. With sublime self-confidence he had adopted the untried scheme of having no set and determined place for the editorial department. Sometimes, his page appeared in the middle of the paper; sometimes on the back; and once, when a most promising scheme of municipal looting was just about to be put through, he fired his blast from the front sheet in extra heavy, double-leaded type, displacing an international yacht race and a most titillating society scandal with no more explanation than was to be found in the opening sentence:
“This is more important to YOU, Mr. New Yorker, than any other news in to-day’s issue.”
“Where Banneker sits,” Russell Edmonds was wont to remark between puffs, “is the head of the paper.”
“Let ’em look for the stuff,” said Banneker confidently. “They’ll think all the more of it when they find it.”
Often he used inset illustrations, not so much to give point to his preachments, as to render them easier of comprehension to the unthinking. And always he sought the utmost of sensationalism in caption and in type, employing italics, capitals, and even heavy-face letters with an effect of detonation.