It would be futile longer to conceal that the delegate of the Signal in the bowels of the car of Jupiter was not honestly a delegate of the Signal at all. He was, indeed, Denry Machin, and none other. From this single fact it will be seen to what extent the representatives of great organs had forgotten what was due to their dignity and to public decency. Ensconced in his lair Denry directed the main portion of the Signal’s advertising procession by all manner of discreet lanes round the skirts of Hanbridge and so into the town from the hilly side. And ultimately the ten vehicles halted in Crapper Street, to the joy of the simple inhabitants.
Denry emerged and wandered innocently towards the offices of his paper, which were close by. It was getting late. The first yelling of the imprisoned Daily boys was just beginning to rise on the autumn air.
Suddenly Denry was accosted by a young man.
“Hello, Machin!” cried the young man. “What have you shaved your beard off, for? I scarcely knew you.”
“I just thought I would, Swetnam,” said Denry, who was obviously discomposed.
It was the youngest of the Swetnam boys; he and Denry had taken a sort of curt fancy to one another.
“I say,” said Swetnam, confidentially, as if obeying a swift impulse, “I did hear that the Signal people meant to collar all your chaps this afternoon, and I believe they have done. Hear that now?” (Swetnam’s father was intimate with the Signal people.)
“I know,” Denry replied.
“But I mean—papers and all.”
“I know,” said Denry.
“Oh!” murmured Swetnam.
“But I’ll tell you a secret,” Denry added. “They aren’t to-day’s papers. They’re yesterday’s, and last week’s and last month’s. We’ve been collecting them specially and keeping them nice and new-looking.”
“Well, you’re a caution!” murmured Swetnam.
“I am,” Denry agreed.
A number of men rushed at that instant with bundles of the genuine football edition from the offices of the Daily.
“Come on!” Denry cried to them. “Come on! This way! By-by, Swetnam.”
And the whole file vanished round a corner. The yelling of imprisoned cheese-fed boys grew louder.
In the meantime at the Signal office (which was not three hundred yards away, but on the other side of Crown Square) apprehension had deepened into anxiety as the minutes passed and the Snape Circus procession persisted in not appearing on the horizon of the Oldcastle Road. The Signal would have telephoned to Snape’s, but for the fact that a circus is never on the telephone. It then telephoned to its Oldcastle agent, who, after a long delay, was able to reply that the cavalcade had left Oldcastle at the appointed hour, with every sign of health and energy. Then the Signal sent