Bill smiled and shook his head. “I guess you just haven’t given it any consideration. There are lots of easier and better ways. Triangulation. Now, for instance, suppose an army comes to a wide river and wants to get across. They can’t send anybody over to stretch a line; there may be enemy sharp-shooters that would get them and it is too wide, anyway. But they must know how many pontoon boats and how much flooring plank they must have to bridge it and so they sight a tree or a rock on the other shore and take the distance across by triangulation. Or suppose—”
“Never heard of it. Why wouldn’t surveyors git from here to yan that a-way, ‘stead o’ usin’ chains? Could you——?”
“Chaining it is a little more accurate, where they have a lot of curves and angles and the view is cut off by woods and hills. Yes, we can work triangulation; we could tell the distance from the hilltop to your house if we could see it and we had the time.”
“Bunk! Don’t let ’em bluff you that a-way, Uncle. Make ’em prove it.” Thad showed his open hostility thus.
Gus dropped his shovel and came from the creekside where he had begun to dig alongside of the stakes for the foundation. He was visibly and, for him, strangely excited as he walked up to Thad.
“See here, fellow, Bill can do it and if there is anything in it we will do it, too! You are pretty blamed ignorant!”
Mr. Hooper threw back his head and let out a roar of mirth. “Well, I reckon that hits me, too. An’ I reckon it might be true in a lot o’ things. But Thad an’ me, we kind o’ doubt this.”
“We sure do. I’d bet five dollars you couldn’t tell it within half a mile an’ it ain’t much more than that.”
“I’ll take your bet and dare you to hold to it,” said Gus.
“Bet ’em, Thad; bet ’em! I’ll stake you.”
“Oh, we don’t want your money; betting doesn’t get anywhere and it isn’t just square, anyway.” Bill was smilingly endeavoring to restore good feeling. “Now, Mr. Hooper, we’re not fixed to make a triangulation measurement to-day, but——”
“Not fixed? Of course not. Begins with excuses,” sneered Thad.
“But to-morrow we’ll bring out Professor Gray’s transit and show you the way it’s done.”
“Oh, yes, Uncle; they’ll show us—to-morrow, or next day, or next week. Bunk!” Thad was plainly trying to be offensive.
“You’ll grin on the other side of your hatchet face, fellow, when we do show you,” said Gus.
“Now, Gus, cut out the scrapping. You can’t blame him, nor Mr. Hooper, for doubting it if they’ve never looked into the matter. We can bring the transit out this afternoon for taking the levels. Be here after dinner, Mr. Hooper, if you can.”
“I’ll be here, lads,” said the ex-cattle-dealer. “An’ I reckon my nephew’ll come along, too.”
DISTANCE LENDS ENCHANTMENT