Still, the Daily had so little faith in human nature that it could not believe that the Signal was not secretly encouraging its boys to be boys. It could not believe that the Signal, out of a sincere desire for fair play and for the highest welfare of the district, would willingly sacrifice nearly half its circulation and a portion of its advertisement revenue. And the hurt tone of Mr Myson’s leading articles seemed to indicate that in Mr Myson’s opinion his older rival ought to do everything in its power to ruin itself. The Signal never spoke of the fight. The Daily gave shocking details of it every day.
The struggle trailed on through the weeks.
Then Denry had one of his ideas. An advertisement was printed in the Daily for two hundred able-bodied men to earn two shillings for working six hours a day. An address different from the address of the Daily was given. By a ruse Denry procured the insertion of the advertisement in the Signal also.
“We must expend our capital on getting the paper on to the streets,” said Denry. “That’s evident. We’ll have it sold by men. We’ll soon see if the Signal ragamuffins will attack them. And we won’t pay ’em by results; we’ll pay ’em a fixed wage; that’ll fetch ’em. And a commission on sales into the bargain. Why! I wouldn’t mind engaging five hundred men. Swamp the streets! That’s it! Hang expense. And when we’ve done the trick, then we can go back to the boys; they’ll have learnt their lesson.”
And Mr Myson agreed and was pleased that Denry was living up to his reputation.
The state of the earthenware trade was supposed that summer to be worse than it had been since 1869, and the grumblings of the unemployed were prodigious, even seditious. Mr Myson therefore, as a measure of precaution, engaged a couple of policemen to ensure order at the address, and during the hours, named in the advertisement as a rendezvous for respectable men in search of a well-paid job. Having regard to the thousands of perishing families in the Five Towns, he foresaw a rush and a crush of eager breadwinners. Indeed, the arrangements were elaborate.
Forty minutes after the advertised time for the opening of the reception of respectable men in search of money, four men had arrived. Mr Myson, mystified, thought that there had been a mistake in the advertisement, but there was no mistake in the advertisement. A little later two more men came. Of the six, three were tipsy, and the other three absolutely declined to be seen selling papers in the streets. Two were abusive, one facetious. Mr Myson did not know his Five Towns; nor did Denry. A Five Towns’ man, when he can get neither bread nor beer, will keep himself and his family on pride and water. The policemen went off to more serious duties.