On the day of the appearance of the first issue of the Five Towns Daily, the offices of the new paper at Hanbridge gave proof of their excellent organisation, working in all details with an admirable smoothness. In the basement a Marinoni machine thundered like a sucking dove to produce fifteen thousand copies an hour. On the ground floor ingenious arrangements had been made for publishing the paper; in particular, the iron railings to keep the boys in order in front of the publishing counter had been imitated from the Signal. On the first floor was the editor and founder with his staff, and above that the composing department. The number of stairs that separated the composing department from the machine-room was not a positive advantage, but bricks and mortar are inelastic, and one does what one can. The offices looked very well from the outside, and they compared passably with the offices of the Signal close by. The posters were duly in the ground-floor windows, and gold signs, one above another to the roof, produced an air of lucrative success.
Denry happened to be in the Daily offices that afternoon. He had had nothing to do with the details of organisation, for details of organisation were not his speciality. His speciality was large, leading ideas. He knew almost nothing of the agreements with correspondents and Press Association and Central News, and the racing services and the fiction syndicates, nor of the difficulties with the Compositors’ Union, nor of the struggle to lower the price of paper by the twentieth of a penny per pound, nor of the awful discounts allowed to certain advertisers, nor of the friction with the railway company, nor of the sickening adulation that had been lavished on quite unimportant newsagents, nor—worst of all—of the dearth of newsboys. These matters did not attract him. He could not stoop to them. But when Mr Myson, calm and proud, escorted him down to the machine-room, and the Marinoni threw a folded pink Daily almost into his hands, and it looked exactly like a real newspaper, and he saw one of his own descriptive articles in it, and he reflected that he was an owner of it—then Denry was attracted and delighted, and his heart beat. For this pink thing was the symbol and result of the whole affair, and had the effect of a miracle on him.
And he said to himself, never guessing how many thousands of men had said it before him, that a newspaper was the finest toy in the world.
About four o’clock the publisher, in shirt sleeves and an apron, came up to Mr Myson and respectfully asked him to step into the publishing office. Mr Myson stepped into the publishing office and Denry with him, and they there beheld a small ragged boy with a bleeding nose and a bundle of Dailys in his wounded hand.
“Yes,” the boy sobbed; “and they said they’d cut my eyes out and plee [play] marbles wi’ ’em, if they cotched me in Crown Square agen,” And he threw down the papers with a final yell.