“He did more than any other man,” Bill declared promptly. “Positively! Everybody ought to know that. He invented a device so that they could smell a German submarine half a mile away, and they could tell when a torpedo was fired. Another invention turned a ship about with her prow facing the torpedo, so that it would be most likely to go plowing and not hit her, as it would with broadside on. I guess that saved many a ship and it helped to destroy lots of submarines with depth bombs. It got the Germans leery when their old submersibles failed to get in any licks and went out never to come back; it was as big a reason as any why they were so ready to quit. Well, who was right?”
“I was!” announced Cora, gleefully. “Terry just can’t see any good in Edison at all. He says he hires people who really make his inventions and he gets the credit for them. He says—”
“I don’t suppose it makes much difference what he says; he simply doesn’t know what he’s talk—”
“You think you know, but do you? You’ve read a lot of gush that—” Terry began, but Gus interrupted him, almost a new thing for the quiet chap.
“Listen, Terry: get right on this. Don’t let a lot of foolish people influence you; people who can’t ever see any real good in success and who blame everything on luck and crookedness. And Bill does know.”
“Anybody who tries to make Edison out a small potato,” declared Bill, addressing the others, rather than the supercilious youth who had maligned his hero, “is simply ignorant of the facts. My father knew a man well who worked for Edison in his laboratory for years. He said that the stories about Edison making use of the inventions of others is all nonsense; it is Edison who has the ideas and who starts his assistants to experimenting, some at one thing, some at another, so as to find out whether the ideas are good.
“He said that the yarns they tell about Edison’s working straight ahead for hours and hours without food and sleep, then throwing himself on a couch for a short nap and getting up to go at it again are all exactly true, over and over again. He said that one of the boys in the shop tried to play a trick on the old man, as they call him, while he was napping on the couch. They rigged up a talking-machine on a stand and dressed it in some of Edison’s old clothes, put a lullaby record on it, lugged it in, set it up in front of the couch and set it going, to express the idea that he was singing himself to sleep. But while they were at this Mr. Edison, getting on to the joke, for he generally naps with one eye open, got up and put a lot of stuffing under the couch spread, stuck his old hat on it so as to make it look as though his face was covered; then peered through the crack of a door. When the music commenced he opened the door and said:
“‘Boys, it won’t work; music can’t affect dead matter.’ Then they pulled off the couch cover and all had a good laugh.