As Joe had said, everything was cleared up. Bill Carfax was at the bottom of most of the personal troubles of the young circus man, and his acts were actuated by a desire for vengeance. As to the ticket trick, Bill was only a sort of agent in that. Jed Lewis, alias Inky Jed, was an expert counterfeiter. He had already served time in prison for trying to make counterfeit money, and when he fell in with Bill, and heard the latter tell of some of his circus experiences, the more skillful scoundrel became impressed with the chance of making money by selling spurious tickets.
They had some printed and worked the scheme among crowds of men coming from factories, just as they were doing when they were caught.
As Ham told Joe, the old fire-eater had overheard the plots and saw his chance to do Joe a favor. Carfax, it was surmised, hoped to get Ham Logan under his influence through drink, so that he might use him in order to injure Joe, after having failed with Harry Loper.
It developed, afterward, that the paper mills had, innocently enough, furnished the swindlers with the paper for the counterfeit tickets. The material was secured through a trick, and Inky Jed knew an unscrupulous printer who did the work for him.
It was Bill Carfax who had sent the man who so nearly exposed Joe’s box trick. But fortune was with the young circus man.
The music played, the horses trotted about, clowns made laughter, and Helen performed graceful feats on Rosebud. Joe did some magical tricks, walked the wire, slid down on his head, and then prepared for the blazing banquet.
In order to show what he could do, Ted Brown had introduced some novelties. After Joe and the guests had devoured the blazing food there was a pause, and then, suddenly, from the center of the table spouts of red fire burst out, so that the banquet ended in a blaze of glory. Joe’s new helper had used some fireworks effectively.
In due time Bill and his crony were tried, convicted, and sent away to prison for long terms. Harry Loper changed his rather loose and weak ways and became one of Joe’s best friends. Ted Brown was continued as an “assistant assistant,” for in a few weeks Ham Logan was able to rejoin the show, and he again became Joe’s chief helper.
“Well, what are you going to spring next on the unsuspecting public as a sensation?” asked Helen, when the show had reached a city where two days were to be spent. “Have you other acts as good a the fire-eating?”
“Well, perhaps I can think up some,” was the answer.
And so, with Joe Strong thinking what the future might hold for him and the circus, we will take our leave for a time.