THE BOYHOOD OF A GENIUS
The class had assembled again in Professor Gray’s study and all were eager to hear the second talk on Edison. There was a delay of many minutes past the hour stated, but the anticipation was such that the time was hardly noticed. During the interim, Professor Gray came to where Bill and Gus sat.
“I hear that you boys intend to go to work in the mills next week,” he said. “Well, now, I have some news and a proposition, so do not be disappointed if the beginning sounds discouraging. In the first place I saw Mr. Deering, superintendent of the mills, again and he told me that while he would make good his promise to take you on, there would hardly be more than a few weeks’ work. Orders are scarce and they expect to lay off men in August, though there is likely to be a resumption of business in the early fall when you are getting back into school work. So wouldn’t it be better to forego the mill work,—there goes the announcement! I’ll talk with you before you leave.”
“But we need the money; don’t we, Gus?”
“We do,” said Gus.
“I wonder if the Professor thinks we’re millionaires.” Bill was plainly disappointed.
“Oh, well, he didn’t finish what he was saying to us. Let’s listen to the weather report,” demanded Gus, ever optimistic and joyful.
The words came clearer than ever out of that wonderful horn. There was to be rain that afternoon—local thunderstorms, followed by clearing and cooler. On the morrow it would be cloudy and unsettled.
Bill felt as though that prediction suited his mental state! Gus was never the kind to worry; he sat smiling at the horn and he received with added pleasure the music of a band which followed. And then came the second talk on the boyhood of the master of invention.
“It has been said,” spouted the horn, “that high mental characteristics are accompanied by heroic traits. Whether true or not generally, it was demonstrated in young Edison and it governed his learning telegraphy and the manner thereof. The story is told by the telegraph operator at Mt. Clemens, where the red-headed conductor threw the train boy and his laboratory off the train.
“‘Young Edison,’ says the station agent, ’had endeared himself to the station agents, operators and their families all along the line. As the mixed train did the way-freight work and the switching at Mt. Clemens, it usually consumed not less than thirty minutes, during which time Al would play with my little two-and-a-half-year old son, Jimmy.
“’It was at 9:30 on a lovely summer morning. The train had arrived, leaving its passenger coach and baggage car standing on the main track at the north end of the station platform, the pin between the baggage and the first box car having been pulled out. There were about a dozen freight cars, which had pulled ahead and backed in upon the freight-house siding. The train men had taken out a box car and pushed it with force enough to reach the baggage car without a brakeman controlling it.