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A Scoop Repaid,


[ALL RIGHTS Resbkved.] A Scoop Repaid, EX j EUAN MEE, j or of "The Man Who Always Had ftaoney, Rosa's Mendacity," The Fairy Ghost," &c. j "A Scoop," in journalistic pnraseology, if fetting an exclusive item of news, and tiara- j scoring over one's contemporaries. Frequently the esjrrit de corps that exist* apon a newspaper will give birth to laudable emulation upo the part of the literary staff to steal a malCl upon competitive journals, and sometimes even to score off one another individually in csttine a "special" for its columns. Hence it was that late on one particular j evening Charles Hartley, the smartest of all the smart journalists of the "Daily Courier," ] was, quite unofficially—for he had finished a i kard day's work at the office-in search of a ".coop. It was at- the particular time when London I was fast becoming terrorised by a series of dynamite explosions which were getting seri- ously on the nerves of the public. The more yellow of the halfpenny journals were shrieking forth columns of vivid sensation, while some were not wanting in their denun- ciation of what they described, in scathing terms, as "the criminal ineptitude of the authorities." To obtain exclusive details of any new out- rage or attempted outrage on the part of those implicated in these cowardly attacks would, naturally, be a glorious scoop for any paper; and, through the good offices of one of the City police, who had excellent reasons for being grateful to Charles Hartley, that enterprising young man had had a quiet hint conveyed to him, which had sent him off on the track of another bomb outrage, and in search of the latest scoop for the "Courier." And a gigantic scoop in truth it proved to be, for with the inborn persistence of t-liq true journalist, Hartley soon ferretted out the facts, and, in something under an hour, bad gleaned all the details of how a fresh terrorising attack had been planned and frustrated; frustrated, it seemed, by the linger of Providence. The miscreants had, in this case, depart- ing from the usual procedure of placing a bomb in close proximity to some famou. buiiclmg, or the residence of a popular or un- popular public personage, deposited the in- fernal machine in a small Gladstone bag in 'tl w2% the cloak-room of one of the large railway termini, just as any ordinary passenger might leave his luggage there for a while. The bacy ii-Iiiel-t was left at the station early in the evening, had been placed, with other miscellaneous property, upon one of the shelves of the cloak-room, and naturally nothing had been suspected of its deadly contents. Then a chain of curious coincidences fol- lowed. A traveller, arriving that evening in Lon- don, had also left a brown Gladstone bag, al- most identical in appearance, in the same .cloak-room. He returned for it later that I flight, when the attendant, tired out with a long day's work, was nodding, half asleep, on his stool is the corner, and was given by the drowsy man the wrong bag: the one con- taining the, ^weag>on of the terrorist— the bomb! 1 For the moment he did not notice the mis- take, and, with the bag in his hand, went ,ppt into the street and hailed a cab. As the rubber-tyred hansom went swiftly along, over the smooth asphalte of the City, the man became conscious of a curious tick- ing sound. At first he paid little attention to it; if he really heeded it at all he re- garded it only as the clicking of some part of the horse's harness; but by-and-bye it became more pronounced, and he realised with a flash that it came from the bag at bis side. Then he saw that the bag was not his #wn. "Heaven," he gasped, "a bomb!" An absolutely clammy fear held him; his first frenzied thought was to escape from the cab or to seize the bag and hurl it into the road, but he stayed the wild impulse as -swiftly as it was formed. Such an action would only precipitate matters and probably oause the death of passers-by, so, taking his courage in both hands, he pushed up the trap in the roof and told the man to drive to i3ie nearest police-station. It was a weird and terrible five minutes that he passed as the distance was covered, with, for all he knew, the chance of being blown to atoms at any moment. He breathed a sigh of relief as the cab stopped at the police-station; so far he was aafe. In the inspector's office he swiftly ex- plained the circumstances of how he had be- come the temporary possessor of the bag, And told his fears as to its contents. The naturally grave face of the official grew graver still as lie listened In the silence of the office the ticking was quite audible to them all, and the bag was taken out into the courtyard and immersed in I a tank of water. I When sufficient time had elapsed to stop I the mechanism, they opened the bag and found an infernal machine of the most in- genious type. It was partially constructed from the works ot an ordinary alarum clock, which, at a cer- tain time, would release a hammer that, fall- ing on a cap, would fire the explosive. The hour fixed had come and gone, the hammer had fallen, but, in its descent, had been stopped by a projecting screw. The clock had ticked on in safety until the tooment when the water, into which it was plunged, had stopped it. I Such was the scoop that Charles Hartley liad got for the "Courier," and as he walked rapidly back to Fleet-street, revolving in his mind the style of the snecial he would write, be gloried in the thought that his paper would again score over all its rivals. He had reached the bottom of Ludgate- hill, so engrossed in thought that he scarcely I heeded where lie was going, when he mn Jjito a man slouching along by the edge of the pavement. "Where the deuce are you coming?" the man irritably demanded, and then suddenly changed his tone as he recognised in Charles Hartley an old comrade in the great frater- nity of the pen. 11 "Hallo Charley," lie cried. What! Markwick," the other answered. "Man alive, how ill you look." "Ill," he echoed with a hollow laugh. -11111! I'm dying. I "Dying," gasped Hartley, as a glance into the other's ashen face showed that his words were very near the truth. "Dying. Yes, it's all up with me cJsJ -akup. It's only a matter of a few montlas uow. The sentence ended with the distressing loask of the consumptive's cough that Mm at the end of the paroxysm fighting to regain his reath. s stood looking at his old id as though he had seen a ghost, and r.-I i rt Hi Markwiek' was but the ghost of IllS ft i r self—the well set up, well-dressed i {fleet-street some two or uun, 't. '1> i en the moment the journalistic instinct 5'* dead. The scoop was forgotten, special neglected. He only ikouglit or his friend and wondered what horrible freak of fate had brought him to this pitiful pass. Then he took Edward Markwick by the airnj stanl led him into one of the wine bars with which the neighbourhood abounds. "What luneyou been after to-night, Charley?" Markwiek asked, as the wine he drank brought a faint glow of colour into his leaden cheek#—"A scoop, as usual." "Yes, dear old chap, a scoop for the Courier, s column special, with half-a- dozen aeare heads." "Yoa always were lucky," Markwiek an- swered almost enviously, "Good God! If I'd only got a scoop to-night that I could send tuto one of these infernal rags in Fleet-street, I might get a chance of a billet for a while aDd make a bit to save my life; not that it's worth the trouble," lie added bitterly, and again his sentence ended with that hacking ¡' cough which racked him through and con- firmed the truth of his sententious view. Charles Hartley stood with the fingers round the stem of his glass, making wet j circles with its baae upon the polished maho- j gaiiy counter, thinking quickly. j What, after all, was one scoop more or less to Mint What? When it would mean so much, everything", perhaps life itself, to his old-time friend Ted Markwiek. "We've always been old pals," said Mark- wick, presently, "can't you put in a word for me for something on the Courier?' A bit of liaaage, anything. I'm simply down to bed rock, my luck's petered clean out this time." "Old pals," the phrase fixed Hartley's de- cision instantly. He had fine instincts, although he was a journalist, and he did not want to offer an old friend money, it looked like that hateful word "Charity." He'd do more. He'd give him copy, give him his own scoop. "It'll do better than that, old chap," he said, "rn give you my scoop. You can write the best special that London will have to-morrow. Sell it to any rag you like. The Conner* won't get it this time." Only a journalist can appreciate Charles Hartley's self-abnegation. Markwiek, his pale face flushing with ex- citement, the scent of battle already in his nostrils, tried to speak, to stammer mingled expostulations and thanks, but that cruel cough caught him again and left him breath- less and exhausted. Then Hartley glanced at his watch. "It's twelve now," he said, "we'll drive to my place and you ean write the stuff in less than an hour, and send it where you like." They came. out arm in arm, hailed a cab, and were driven swiftly to Hartley's rooms in Holborn, and as they drove, in sharp, inci- aive sentences, that went home to the brain of the journalist, Charles Hartley gave his friend the scoop. And equally briefly Edward Markwick told him how ill fortune had persistently dogged his steps since he left Fleet-street to make, as he hoped, a big fortune put West, told how all the thrifty savings he had accumu- lated during his strenuous and successful press career had; been, stolen from hiro by a man with whom he had gone into partner- ship for the exploitation of a gold extraction patent in America. "And fJO," he concluded, "I've drifted back to London, been hanging around for a week or two trying to get a job, hopelessly, until luck threw me against you, old pal," and he laid his thin hand affectionately, almost as one caresses a favourite dog, upon his friend's arm. "Whv didn't you come to see me at the 'Courier/ or send me a line?" the other asked,. with something of a choke in his voice. I wouldn't disgrace jow, Charlie, and I didn't want to look like a waster." Good Heaven! A waster—never," was all the other answered. Who cab stopped at Hartley's rooms. "Wait," he said to the driver, and the two friends went in together. In under an hour the scoop was written, and Hartley saw his chum to the door and paid the cabman as Markwick got inside. I. Where shall I tell him?" The Herald/ thanks, old pal/' said Markwiek, as tihey gripped hands. I've stolen yonr scoop this time, but I'll give you one some day. Good night." The Herald" scored with its news next 4ay, and the "Courier," for once, was hope- lessly left, but it never knew it owed its de- feat to one of its own staff, who helped a pal, and Markwiek, through the scoop, got a little odd work upon the "Herald" that kept him going for a while, but the life of I mad dissipation that he had plunged into when misfortune came upon him and all his hopes were shattered in the States, had told on him too deeply. The deadly grip of the devouring disease was upon him. Daily he grew worse, and yet daily he prayed with a fierce intensity that he might not die until he had wreaked vengeance upon the man who had ruined his life. Three weeks had gone, and late one even- ing Charley Hartley was writing in the Courier" office when the telephone bell rang sharply. One of the juniors answered the call. "Hallo! Are you there?" "Are you the 'Daily Courier'?" came the voice over the wire. Yes, sir." Is Mr. Charles Hartley in?" Yes, sir." Kindl7 ask him to speak to me." U Certainly, sir. Hold the line please. Mr. Hartley, there's someone wants you." Hartley threw down his pen and walked over to the instrument. "Hallo, who are you?" Markwiek," came the voice. I "Hallo, old chap. How are you? Haven't teen you for a week. Where have you been. "Hunting up a scoop." "Good business." I've got it, too/' "Bravo." "Can yon come round at once to Flat B, Piccadilly-chambers ? One good turn deserves be another, I want to repay my debt and give yov an exclusive item in return for the one you gave me." "But don't you need it for yourself?" "No, my dear boy, I'm retiring from journalism." "What, got some of your money back? I congratulate you." Kyo got all my own back. You'll have The voice failed and broke into a hacking cough, which presently ceased, and Mark- wiek spoke again. You'll have to let yourself in, the tay's SHK&ar the mat outside the door." "Right, I'll come at once." "Cheer oh!" "Cheer oh!" And Markwick rang off. "Back in fll: hGlr," s8;cl "P-r^Vr. h9 leized his hat and darted ci.i .in.-et. Ten minutes later found him outside Fiat 0 l'i B, Piccadilly-chambers. He took ç" kef from under the mat and opened the door. "Hallo, Markwick," he cclled, but them was no answer to his greeting. He crossed the entrance hall with a curi- ous feeling creeping into his brain at the op- pressive silence of the place. A few yards brought him to the smoking- room door to find fastened upon it au enve- lope with the message, in Markwick's hand- writing, Dear old chap, we're quits now. You'll find your scoop inside. Good night, Ted." He turned the handle, switched on the light, and entered. And this was the ex- clusive item that appeared in the "Courier" sloae next day. TERRIBLE TRAGEDY IN PICCADILLY. MURDER OF A FINANCIER. SUICIDE OF A JOURNALIST. 11& A terrible tragedy was discovered late last night to have taken place at the flat in Piccadilly-chambers, which has lately been in the occupation of an American financier and company promoter, Mr. Oscar Westron. "He was found in his smoking room Itabbed to the heart, while, close by. with a revolver bullet through his brain* lay the body of Edward Markwiek, a well-known London journalist. "o.c.r Westron had apparently met his death at the hands of Edward Markwiek, who had afterwards shot himself. And so this was the end of Markwiek. Scarcely more than two years a<o, with the flush of health upon him, and carrying the good wishes of all his confreres, he quitted Fleet-street, to make, as he fondly thought, a fortune in America, the land of so many will-o'-the-wisp hopes. Unhappily he had become, like manv others, infatuated with the promises of Oscar ffestron, and joined in a scheme that the adventurer had promulgated for the exploita- tion of a gold patent. The scheme seemed an alluring one, and fascinating. Markwiek saw Croesus-like dreams of wealth before him, but the whole thing was a fraud from start to finish, the process a pretence, and in the end, robbed of all he had saved and invested. ha drifted back to London, friendless and alone, heartbroken and penniless. He tried to find work, but failed his pride was greater even than his necessity, and he would not come to his old comrades beseech- ing help. Broken down in health and dejected in spirit, the fire of revenge still burnt within hta veins, and the ring of his voice as he spoke of his wrongs boded ill for Oscar Wes- tron whenever they should meet. For a while Markwick worked steadily on the "Herald," but a week before the tragedy I Ike had failed to turn up at the office, "ajid apparently had disappeared from London again. He had discovered the whereabouts el Oscar Westron. Fate, in the turning of her wheel, had brought Westron within the sphere of Mark- wicki revenge, and he had taken it.



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