Boys with armfuls of newspapers were everywhere, selling news that in the rapid-fire change of the statistics seemed almost archeologically old.
Lights blazed on every side. Automobiles honked and ground their gears. The lobster palaces, where for weeks, Francois, Carl, and William had been taking small treasury notes for tables reserved against the occasion, were thronged. In theatres people squirmed uneasily until the ends of acts, in order to listen to returns read from the stage before the curtain. Police were everywhere. People with horns, and bells, and all manner of noise-making devices, with confetti and “ticklers” pushed up on one side of Broadway and down on the other.
At every square they congested foot and vehicle traffic, as they paused ravenously to feed on the meagre bulletins of news.
Yet back of all the noise and human energy, as a newspaperman, I could think only of the silent, systematic gathering and editing of the news, of the busy scenes that each journal’s office presented, the haste, the excitement, the thrill in the very smell of the printer’s ink.
Miss Ashton, I was glad to note, as we proceeded downtown, fell more and more into the spirit of the adventure.
High up in the League headquarters in the tower, when we arrived, it was almost like a newspaper office, to me. A corps of clerks was tabulating returns, comparing official and semi-official reports. As first the city swung one way, then another, our hopes rose and fell.
I could not help noticing, however, after a while that Miss Ashton seemed cold and ill at ease. There was such a crowd there of Leaguers and their friends that it was easily possible for her not to meet Carton. But as I circulated about in the throng, I came upon him. Carton looked worried and was paying less attention to the returns than seemed natural. It was evident that, in spite of the crowd, she had avoided him and he hesitated to seek her out.
There were so many things to think of thrusting themselves into one’s attention that I could follow none consistently. First I found myself wondering about Carton and Miss Ashton. Before I knew it I was delivering a snap judgment on whether the uptown residence district returns would be large enough to overcome the hostile downtown vote. I was frankly amazed, now, to see how strongly the city as a whole was turning to the Reform League.
A boy, pushing through the crowd, came upon Kennedy and myself, talking to Miss Ashton. He shoved a message quickly into Craig’s hand and disappeared.
“For heaven’s sake!” he exclaimed as he tore open the envelope and read. “What do you think of that? My shadows report that Martin Ogleby has been arrested and his confession will be enough, with the Black Book and Betty Blackwell, to indict Dorgan. Kahn has committed suicide! Hartley Langhorne has sailed for Paris on the French line, with Mrs. Ogleby!”