Download PDF
Calloway's Code
O Henry
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 'rickshaws -- oh, no, that's something to ride in; anyhow, he
wasn't earning the salary that his paper was paying him. But that was not Calloway's
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 justice's sake, let it be understood that the Japanese commander prohibited a
nearer view.
Calloway's feat was accomplished before the battle. What he did was to furnish the
Enterprise with the biggest beat of the war. That paper published exclu- sively and in
detail the news of the attack on the lines of the Russian General 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
living his plans with the pro- foundest 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
The correspondent for the London paper handed in a cablegram describing, Kuroki's
plans; but as it was wrong from beginning to end the censor grinned and let it go
So, there they were -- Kuroki 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 censor -- the 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.
Calloway's cablegram was handed to the managing editor at four o'clock in the
Livros Grátis
Milhares de livros grátis para download.
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.
"It's 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
Boyd read it twice.
"It's either a cipher or a sunstroke," said he.
"Ever hear of anything like a code in the office -- a secret code?" asked the m. e., who
had held his desk for only two years. Managing editors come and go.
"None except the vernacular that the lady specials write in," said Boyd. "Couldn't be an
acrostic, could it?"
"I thought of that," said the m. e., "but the beginning letters contain only four vowels. It
must be a code of some sort."
"Try em in groups," suggested Boyd. "Let's see -- 'Rash witching goes' -- not with me it
doesn't. 'Muf- fled rumour mine' -- must have an underground wire. 'Dark silent
unfortunate richmond' -- no reason why he should knock that town so hard. 'Existing
great hotly' -- no it doesn't pan out I'll call Scott."
The city editor came in a hurry, and tried his luck. A city editor must know something
about everything; so Scott knew a little about cipher-writing.
"It may be what is called an inverted alphabet cipher," said he. "I'll try that. 'R' seems to
be the oftenest used initial letter, with the exception of 'm.' Assuming 'r' to mean 'e', the
most frequently used vowel, we transpose the letters -- so."
Scott worked rapidly with his pencil for two minutes; and then showed the first word
according to his reading -- the word "Scejtzez."
"Great!" cried Boyd. "It's a charade. My first is a Russian general. Go on, Scott."
"No, that won't work," said the city editor. "It's undoubtedly a code. It's impossible to
read it without the key. Has the office ever used a cipher code?"
"Just what I was asking," said the m.e. "Hustle everybody up that ought to know. We
must get at it some way. Calloway has evidently got hold of some- thing big, and the
censor has put the screws on, or he wouldn't have cabled in a lot of chop suey like this."
Throughout the office of the Enterprise a dragnet was sent, hauling in such members of
the staff as would be likely to know of a code, past or present, by reason of their
wisdom, information, natural intelligence, or length of servitude. They got together in a
group in the city room, with the m. e. in the centre. No one had heard of a code. All
began to explain to the head investi- gator that newspapers never use a code, anyhow --
that is, a cipher code. Of course the Associated Press stuff is a sort of code -- an
abbreviation, rather -- but --
The m. e. knew all that, and said so. He asked each man how long he had worked on the
paper. Not one of them had drawn pay from an Enterprise envelope for longer than six
years. Calloway had been on the paper twelve years. "Try old Heffelbauer," said the m.
e. "He was here when Park Row was a potato patch."
Heffelbauer was an institution. He was half janitor, half handy-man about the office, and
half watchman -- thus becoming the peer of thirteen and one-half tailors.
Sent for, he came, radiating his nationality. "Heffelbauer," said the m. e., "did you ever
hear of a code belonging to the office a long time ago - a private code? You know what
a code is, don't you?"
"Yah," said Heffelbauer. "Sure I know vat a code is. Yah, apout dwelf or fifteen year
ago der office had a code. Der reborters in der city-room haf it here."
"Ah!" said the m. e. "We're getting on the trail now. Where was it kept, Heffelbauer?
What do you know about it?"
"Somedimes," said the retainer, "dey keep it in der little room behind der library room."
"Can you find it asked the m. e. eagerly. "Do you know where it is?"
"Mein Gott!" said Heffelbauer. "How long you dink a code live? Der reborters call him
a maskeet. But von day he butt mit his head der editor, und -- "
"Oh, he's talking about a goat," said Boyd. "Get out, Heffelbauer."
Again discomfited, the concerted wit and resource of the Enterprise huddled around
Calloway's puzzle, con- sidering its mysterious words in vain.
Then Vesey came in.
Vesey was the youngest reporter. He had a thirty- two-inch chest and wore a number
fourteen collar; but his bright Scotch plaid suit gave him presence and con- ferred no
obscurity upon his whereabouts. He wore his hat in such a position that people followed
him about to see him take it off, convinced that it must be hung upon a peg driven into
the back of his head. He was never without an immense, knotted, hard-wood cane with a
German-silver tip on its crooked handle. Vesey was the best photograph hustler in the
office. Scott said it was because no living human being could resist the per- sonal
triumph it was to hand his picture over to Vesey. Vesey always wrote his own news
stories, except the big ones, which were sent to the rewrite men. Add to this fact that
among all the inhabitants, temples, and groves of the earth nothing existed that could
abash Vesey, and his dim sketch is concluded.
Vesey butted into the circle of cipher readers very much as Heffelbauer's "code" would
have done, and asked what was up. Some one explained, with the touch of half-familiar
condescension that they always used toward him. Vesey reached out and took the
cablegram from the m. e.'s hand. Under the protection of some special Providence, he
was always doing appalling things like that, and coming, off unscathed.
"It's a code," said Vesey. "Anybody got the key?"
"The office has no code," said Boyd, reaching for the message. Vesey held to it.
"Then old Callowav expects us to read it, anyhow," said he. "He's up a tree, or
something, and he's made this up so as to get it by, the censor. It's up to us. Gee! I wish
they had sell, me, too. Say -- we can't afford to fall down on our end of it. 'Foregone,
preconcerted rash, witching' -- h'm."
Vesey sat down on a table corner and began to whistle softly, frowning at the cablegram.
"Let's have it, please," said the m. e. "We've got to get to work on it."
"I believe I've got a line on it," said Vesey. "Give me ten minutes."
He walked to his desk, threw his hat into a waste-basket, spread out flat on his chest like
a gorgeous lizard, and started his pencil going. The wit and wisdom of the Enterprise
remained in a loose group, and smiled at one another, nodding their heads toward
Vesey. Then they began to exchange their theories about the cipher.
It took Vesey exactly fifteen minutes. He brought to the m. e. a pad with the code-key
written on it.
"I felt the swing of it as soon as I saw it," said Vesey. "Hurrah for old Calloway! He's
done the Japs and every paper in town that prints literature instead of news. Take a look
at that."
Thus had Vesey set forth the reading of the code:
Foregone - conclusion Preconcerted - arrangement Rash - act Witching - hour of
midnight Goes - without saying Muffled - report Rumour - hath it Mine - host Dark -
horse Silent - majority Unfortunate - pedestrians Richmond - in the field Existing -
conditions Great-White Way Hotly - contested Brute - force Select - few Mooted -
question Parlous - times Beggars - description Ye - correspondent Angel - unawares
Incontrovertible - fact
*Mr. Vesey afterward explained that the logical journalistic complement of the word
"unfortunate" was once the word "victim." But, since the automobile be- came so
popular, the correct following word is now pedestrians. Of course, in Calloway's code it
meant infantry.
"It's simply newspaper English," explained Vesey. "I've been reporting on the Enterprise
long enough to know it by heart. Old Calloway gives us the cue word, and we use the
word that naturally follows it just as we em in the paper. Read it over, and you'll see
how pat they drop into their places. Now, here's the message he intended us to get."
Vesey handed out another sheet of paper.
Concluded arrangement to act at hour of midnight without saying. Report hath it that a
large body of cavalry and an overwhelming force of infantry will be thrown into the
field. Conditions white. Way con- tested by only a small force. Question the Times
descrip- tion. Its correspondent is unaware of the facts.
"Great stuff!" cried Boyd excitedly. "Kuroki crosses the Yalu to-night and attacks. Oh,
we won't do a thing to the sheets that make up with Addison's essays, real estate
transfers, and bowling scores!"
"Mr. Vesey," said the m. e., with his jollying - which - you - should - regard - as - a -
favour manner, "you have cast a serious reflection upon the literary standards of the
paper that employs you. You have also assisted materially in giving us the biggest 'beat'
of the year. I will let you know in a day or two whether you are to be discharged or
retained at a larger salary. Somebody send Ames to me."
Ames was the king-pin, the snowy-petalled Marguerite, the star-bright looloo of the
rewrite men. He saw attempted murder in the pains of green-apple colic, cyclones in the
summer zephyr, lost children in every top- spinning urchin, an uprising of the down-
trodden masses in every hurling of a derelict potato at a passing automobile. When not
rewriting, Ames sat on the porch of his Brooklyn villa playing checkers with his ten-
year-old son.
Ames and the "war editor" shut themselves in a room. There was a map in there stuck
full of little pins that represented armies and divisions. Their fingers had been itching
for days to move those pins along the crooked line of the Yalu. They did so now; and in
words of fire Ames translated Calloway's brief message into a front page masterpiece
that set the world talking. He told of the secret councils of the Japanese officers; gave
Kuroki's flaming speeches in full; counted the cavalry and infantry to a man and a horse;
described the quick and silent building, of the bridge at Stuikauchen, across which the
Mikado's legions were hurled upon the surprised Zas- sulitch, whose troops were widely
scattered along the river. And the battle! -- well, you know what Ames can do with a
battle if you give him just one smell of smoke for a foundation. And in the same story,
with seemingly supernatural knowledge, he gleefully scored the most profound and
ponderous paper in England for the false and misleading account of the intended
movements of the Japanese First Army printed in its issue of the same date.
Only one error was made; and that was the fault of the cable operator at Wi-ju.
Calloway pointed it out after he came back. The word "great" in his code should have
been "gage," and its complemental words "of battle." But it went to Ames "conditions
white," and of course he took that to mean snow. His description of the Japanese army
strum, struggling through the snowstorm, blinded by the whirling, flakes, was thrillingly
vivid. The artists turned out some effective illustrations that made a hit as pictures of the
artillery dragging their guns through the drifts. But, as the attack was made on the first
day of May, "conditions white" excited some amusement. But it in made no difference
to the Enterprise, anyway.
It was wonderful. And Calloway was wonderful in having made the new censor believe
that his jargon of words meant no more than a complaint of the dearth of news and a
petition for more expense money. And Vesey was wonderful. And most wonderful of all
are words, and how they make friends one with another, being oft associated, until not
even obituary notices them do part.
On the second day following, the city editor halted at Vesey's desk where the reporter
was writing the story of a man who had broken his leg by falling into a coal-hole --
Ames having failed to find a murder motive in it.
"The old man says your salary is to be raised to twenty a week," said Scott.
"All right," said Vesey. "Every little helps. Say -- Mr. Scott, which would you say -- 'We
can state without fear of successful contradiction,' or, 'On the whole it can be safely
Livros Grátis
( )
Milhares de Livros para Download:
Baixar livros de Administração
Baixar livros de Agronomia
Baixar livros de Arquitetura
Baixar livros de Artes
Baixar livros de Astronomia
Baixar livros de Biologia Geral
Baixar livros de Ciência da Computação
Baixar livros de Ciência da Informação
Baixar livros de Ciência Política
Baixar livros de Ciências da Saúde
Baixar livros de Comunicação
Baixar livros do Conselho Nacional de Educação - CNE
Baixar livros de Defesa civil
Baixar livros de Direito
Baixar livros de Direitos humanos
Baixar livros de Economia
Baixar livros de Economia Doméstica
Baixar livros de Educação
Baixar livros de Educação - Trânsito
Baixar livros de Educação Física
Baixar livros de Engenharia Aeroespacial
Baixar livros de Farmácia
Baixar livros de Filosofia
Baixar livros de Física
Baixar livros de Geociências
Baixar livros de Geografia
Baixar livros de História
Baixar livros de Línguas
Baixar livros de Literatura
Baixar livros de Literatura de Cordel
Baixar livros de Literatura Infantil
Baixar livros de Matemática
Baixar livros de Medicina
Baixar livros de Medicina Veterinária
Baixar livros de Meio Ambiente
Baixar livros de Meteorologia
Baixar Monografias e TCC
Baixar livros Multidisciplinar
Baixar livros de Música
Baixar livros de Psicologia
Baixar livros de Química
Baixar livros de Saúde Coletiva
Baixar livros de Serviço Social
Baixar livros de Sociologia
Baixar livros de Teologia
Baixar livros de Trabalho
Baixar livros de Turismo