Into the city room of the New York Leader hurried Mr. Whiggen, the telegraph editor. In his hand was a slip of paper, containing a few typewritten words. Mr. Whiggen laid it on the desk of Bruce Emberg, the city editor.
“Just came in over our special wire,” said Mr. Whiggen. “Looks as if it might be a bad wreck. That’s a dangerous coast. I thought you might like to send one of your men down to cover it.”
“Thanks,” replied the city editor. “I will. Let’s see,” and, while he read the message, a score of reporters in the room looked up to see what had caused the telegraph editor to come in with such a rush.
This is what Mr. Emberg read from the slip Mr. Whiggen handed him:
“Bulletin.—S.S. Olivia ashore off Seven Mile Beach, on sand bar. Big steerage list, some cabin passengers—fruit cargo. Ship badly listed, but may get off at high tide. If not, liable to break up in storm. Passengers safe yet.—Associated press.”
There followed a brief description of the vessel, compiled from the maritime register, giving her tonnage, size, and when built.
“Um,” remarked Mr. Emberg when he had read the short message, which was what newspaper men call a “flash” or bulletin, intended to notify the journals of the barest facts of the story. “This looks as if it would amount to something. I’ll send a man down. Have we any one there?”
“We’ve got a man in Ocean City,” replied the telegraph editor, “but I’m afraid I can’t reach him. Have to depend on the Associated Press until we can get some one down.”
“All right, I’ll send right away.”
The telegraph editor went back to his sanctum on the run, for it was near first-edition time and he wanted to get a display head written for the wreck story. Mr. Emberg looked over the room, in which many reporters were at work, most of them typewriting stories as fast as their fingers could fly over the keys. Several of the news-gatherers who had heard the conversation between the two editors hoped they might be sent on that assignment, for though it meant hard work it was a chance to get out of the city for a while.
“Are you up, Newton?” asked Mr. Emberg of a reporter in the far corner of the room.
“No, I’ve got that political story to write yet.”
“That’s so. I can’t spare you. How about you, Larry?”
“I’m up,” was the answer, which is the newspaper man’s way of saying his particular task is finished.
“Here, then, jump out on this,” and the city editor handed the telegram to a tall, good-looking youth, who arose from his desk near a window.
Larry Dexter, who had risen from the rank of office boy to reporter, took in the message at a glance.
“Shall I start now?” he asked.
“As soon as you can get a train. Seven Mile Beach is down on the Jersey coast, near Anglesea. You can’t get there in time to wire us anything for to-day, but rush a good story for to-morrow. If a storm comes up, and they have to rescue the passengers, it will make a corker. Don’t be afraid of slinging your words if it turns out worth while. Here’s an order on the cashier for some money. Hustle now,” and Mr. Emberg scribbled down something on a slip of paper which he handed to the young reporter.