“After the vote recorder, he invented a stock ticker, and started a ticker service in Boston which had thirty or forty subscribers, and operated from a room over the Gold Exchange.
* * * * *
“The third talk on Mr. Edison and his inventions will be given from this broadcasting station WUK next Monday at the same hour.”
As the young people rose to depart, Professor Gray beckoned Bill and Gus to remain. He turned to a large table desk, took from it a roll of papers, untied and laid before the boys a number of neatly executed plans and sections—all drawn to scale. In an upper corner was pen-printed the words:
Water Power Electric Plant to be erected for and on the estate of Mr. James Hooper, Fairview. Engineer and Contractor, J. R. Gray.
“Boys, you see here,” began the Professor, “the layout of a job to be done on the Hooper property. You know I do this sort of thing in a small way between school terms and I am told to go ahead with this at once. The amount I am to receive, on my own estimate, is ample, but naturally not very great; it covers all material, labor and a fair profit.
“But now,” he went on, “comes the hitch. I am compelled, by another matter which is far more important,—having been appointed one of the consulting engineers on the Great Laurel Valley Power Plant,—to desert this job almost entirely, and yet, I am bound, on the strength of my word, to see that it is completed. If I hand it over to another engineer, or a construction firm, it will cost me more than I get out of it. And naturally, while I don’t expect to gain a thing, I would prefer also not to lose anything. Now, what would you fellows advise in this matter?”
Bill looked at Gus and Gus looked at Bill; there was a world of meaning, of hope and hesitation, in both glances. The Professor saw this, and he spoke again:
“Out with it, boys! I asked you to stay, in order to hear what you might say about it. There seems to be only one logical solution. I cannot afford to spend a lot of my own money and yet I will gladly give all of my own profits, for I must complete Mr. Hooper’s job and look after my bigger task at once.”
“I don’t suppose,” said Gus, with the natural diffidence he often experienced in expressing his mind, “that we could help you.”
“Why, of course we can, and we will, too,” said Bill, the idea breaking on him suddenly. “We can carry on the work perfectly under your occasional direction. Is that what you wanted us to say, Professor?”
“I did. I hoped you would see it that way and I wanted you to acknowledge the incentive to yourselves. I am sure you can carry on the work, as you say. We have had enough of practical experimentation together, and then, what made me think of you, was that fish dam you put in for old Mr. McIlvain last summer.”