“He certainly has accomplished a great deal,” the usually reticent Gus offered.
“And yet he seems to be very modest about it,” was Cora’s contribution.
“Of course, he is; every man who does really big things is never conceited,” declared Bill.
“Oh, I don’t know. How about Napoleon?” queried Dot.
“Napoleon? All he ever did was to get up a big army and kill people and grab a government. He had brains, of course, but he didn’t put them to much real use, except for his own glory. You can’t put Napoleon in the same class with Edison.”
“Oh, Billy, you can’t say that, can you?”
“I have said it and I’ll back it up. Look how Edison has given billions of people pleasure and comfort and helped trade and commerce. Nobody could do more than that. War and fighting and being a king,—that’s nothing but selfishness! Some day people will build the largest monuments to folks who have done big things for humanity,—not to generals and kings. Just knowing how to scrap isn’t much good. I’ve got more respect for Professor Gray than I have for the champion prize fighter. You can’t-----”
“Maybe if you knew how to use your fists, you wouldn’t talk that way; eh, Gus?” queried Ted.
“Well, I don’t know but I think Bill is right. It’s nice to know how to scrap if scrapping has to be done, but it shouldn’t ever have to be done,—between nations, anyway.” This was a long speech for Gus, but evidently he meant it.
“Talking about Edison when he was a boy: he wasn’t afraid of work, either. He got up at about five, got back to supper at nine, or later, and maybe that wasn’t some day! But he made from $12 to $20 a day profits, for it was Civil War times and everything was high.”
“I think I’d work pretty hard for that much,” said Gus.
“I reckon,” remarked Ted, “that he had a pretty good reason to say that successful genius is one per cent. inspiration and ninety-nine per cent. perspiration.”
“But I guess that’s only partly right and partly modesty,” declared Bill. “There must have been a whole lot more than fifty per cent, inspiration at work to do what he has done. But he is too busy to go around blowing his own horn, even from a talking-machine record.”
“He doesn’t need to do any blowing when you’re around,” Ted offered.
Bill laughed outright at that and there seemed nothing further to be said. The girls decided to go on, Ted walked up the street with them, and Gus and his lame companion turned in the opposite direction toward the less opulent section of the town. There were chores to do at home and Gus often lent a hand to help his father who was the town carpenter. Bill, the only son of a widow whose small means were hardly adequate for the needs of herself and boy, did all he could to lessen the daily pinch.