The New York Enterprise sent H. B. Calloway as special correspondent to the Russo-Japanese-Portsmouth war.
For two months Calloway hung about Yokohama and Tokio, shaking dice with the other correspondents for drinks of rickshawsoh, no, thats something to ride in; anyhow, he wasnt earning the salary that his paper was paying him. But that was not Calloways fault. The little brown men who held the strings of Fate between their fingers were not ready for the readers of the Enterprise to season their breakfast bacon and eggs with the battles of the descendants of the gods.
But soon the column of correspondents that were to go out with the First Army tightened their field-glass belts and went down to the Yalu with Kuroki. Calloway was one of these.
Now, this is no history of the battle of the Yalu River. That has been told in detail by the correspondents who gazed at the shrapnel smoke rings from a distance of three miles. But, for justices sake, let it be understood that the Japanese commander prohibited a nearer view.
Calloways feat was accomplished before the battle. What he did was to furnish the Enterprise with the biggest beat of the war. That paper published exclusively and in detail the news of the attack on the lines of the Russian General Zassulitch on the same day that it was made. No other paper printed a word about it for two days afterward, except a London paper, whose account was absolutely incorrect and untrue.
Calloway did this in face of the fact that General Kuroki was making his moves and laying his plans with the profoundest secrecy as far as the world outside his camps was concerned. The correspondents were forbidden to send out any news whatever of his plans; and every message that was allowed on the wires was censored with rigid severity.
The correspondent for the London paper handed in a cablegram describing Kurokis plans; but as it was wrong from beginning to end the censor grinned and let it go through.
So, there they wereKuroki on one side of the Yalu with forty-two thousand infantry, five thousand cavalry, and one hundred and twenty-four guns. On the other side, Zassulitch waited for him with only twenty- three thousand men, and with a long stretch of river to guard. And Calloway had got hold of some important inside information that he knew would bring the Enterprise staff around a cablegram as thick as flies around a Park Row lemonade stand. If he could only get that message past the censorthe new censor who had arrived and taken his post that day.
Calloway did the obviously proper thing. He lit his pipe and sat down on a gun carriage to think it over. And there we must leave him; for the rest of the story belongs to Vesey, a sixteen-dollar-a-week reporter on the Enterprise.
Calloways cablegram was handed to the managing editor at four oclock in the afternoon. He read it three times; and then drew a pocket mirror from a pigeon-hole in his desk, and looked at his reflection carefully. Then he went over to the desk of Boyd, his assistant (he usually called Boyd when he wanted him), and laid the cablegram before him.
Its from Calloway, he said. See what you make of it.
The message was dated at Wi-ju, and these were the words of it:
Foregone preconcerted rash witching goes muffled rumour mine dark silent unfortunate richmond existing great hotly brute select mooted parlous beggars ye angel incontrovertible.
Boyd read it twice.
Its either a cipher or a sunstroke, said he.
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