“You couldn’t be more mistaken, Mr. Hooper. I’ll admit there are a lot of young scamps in Fairview, but these boys, William Brown and Augustus Grier, belong to a more self-respecting bunch. I’ll answer for them in every way.”
“Of course, Dad, Professor Gray knows about them. Billy and Gus are in our class at school.” This from the girl who had joyfully greeted the Professor and the boys, yodeling a school yell from the hillside. Then she shot an aside at the slim youth: “You’re a regular, downright simpleton, Thad, and forever looking for trouble. Don’t listen to him, Dad.”
This appeared to settle the matter. Mr. Hooper squared his shoulders and grinned broadly, adding: “Well, I ain’t just satisfied ’bout them knowin’ how, but go to it your own way, Professor. I’m a goin’ to watch it, you know; not to interfere with your plans an’ ways, but it’s got to be done right. If it goes along free an’ fine, I ain’t goin’ to kick.”
The Professor explained that they had further work to do on the plans and must be going back. He took leave of Mr. Hooper and the daughter, and retreated with the boys as hurriedly as Bill could manage his handy crutch. They all proceeded silently in crossing the broad field, but when in the road Bill had to voice his thoughts:
“I expect that old fellow’ll make it too hot for us.”
“Not for a minute; you need not consider that at all. Of course it would be more satisfactory if Mr. Hooper could be assured at once of your real ability, but it will have to grow on him. Just let him see what you can do; that’s all.”
“I rather expect we can frame up something that will satisfy him and Bill can spring it,” said Gus.
“In just what way, can you imagine?” queried the Professor.
“Some geometrical stunt, maybe; triangulation, or—”
“Why, sure! That’s just it!” exploded Bill. “I know how we can get him: Parallax! Shucks, it’ll be easy! Just leave it to me.”
“Looks as though some kind of Napoleonic strategy were going to be pulled off,” asserted Professor Gray, laughing. “But, boys, keep in mind that Mr. Hooper, while a rough-and-ready old chap, with a big fortune made in cattle dealing, is really an uncut diamond; a fine old fellow at heart, as you will see.”
Two busy days followed during which Bill and Gus went to the city with Professor Gray to purchase materials in full for the power plant. They also had cement, reinforcing iron, lumber for forms and a small tool house hauled out to the power site and they drove the first stakes to show the position of wheel and pipe line. Mr. Hooper did not put in an appearance.
On the third morning the Professor bade the boys good-by, exacting the promise that they would write frequently of their progress. They had privately formed an engineering company with Professor Gray as president, Gus as vice-president, which was largely honorary, and Bill as general manager and secretary. Advance payments necessary for extra labor and their own liberal wages were deposited at the Fairview Bank by Professor Gray and the boys were given a drawing account thereon, with a simple expense book to keep.