“The direction to your stake was 78 degrees from the base line at C. This degree scale will give us that.” Bill carefully centered the latter instrument, sharpened his pencil and marked the angle; then placing the straight edge on the point C and the degree mark he extended the line until it crossed the other outward line. At this crossing he marked a letter A and turned to his auditors.
“This is your stake out yonder. The rule shows it to be a little over 34-5/8 inches from the base line at B. That is, by the scale, a few inches over 277 feet and that is the distance from here to where Grace stuck it into the ground. Our hundred-foot steel tape line is at your service, Mr. Hooper.”
Mr. Hooper merely glanced at Bill. He took up the tape line and spoke to his nephew. “Git a holt o’ this thing, Thad, an’ let’s see if—”
Grace interrupted him. “No, Dad; never let Thad do it! He’d make some mistake accidentally on purpose. I’ll help you.”
There was utter silence from all while Grace carried out the end of the tape and placed her sticks, Mr. Hooper following after. Skeets borrowed a pencil and a bit of paper from Gus and went along with Grace to keep tally, but she dropped the pencil in the grass, stepped on and broke it, was suffused with embarrassment and before she could really become useful, the father and daughter had made the count mentally and they came back to the base line, still without saying a word, a glad smile on the girl’s face and something between wonder and surprise on the old man’s features.
Still without a word Mr. Hooper came straight to Bill, thrust out his big hand to grasp that of the smiling boy and in the other hand was held the bills of the wager, which he extended toward Gus.
“Yours, lad,” he said. “We made the distance two hundred and seventy-eight foot. I reckon you git the money.”
Thad stood for a moment, nonplussed, a scowl on his face. Suddenly he recovered.
“Hold on! That’s more than they said it was. The money’s mine.”
“Shucks, you dumb fool! Maybe a couple o’ inches. I reckon we made the mistake, fer we wasn’t careful. It gits me they was that near it. The cash is his’n.”
Gus took the bills, thrust his own into his pocket again and handed the two dollar note and the three ones to Skeets.
“Please give them to him for me,” indicating Thad, “I don’t want his money.”
“Not I,” said the fat girl; “it isn’t my funeral. Let him do the weeping and you take and give them to the poor.”
Gus offered them to Grace, who also refused, shaking her head. Bill took the bills, and, limping over to Thad, handed him his wager. “You mustn’t feel sore at us,” counseled the youthful engineer. “This was only along the lines of experiment and—and fun.”
But though Bill meant this in the kindliest spirit of comradeship, the boy sensed a feeling of extreme animosity that he was at a loss to account for. Bill backed off, further speech toward conciliation becoming as lame as his leg. The others witnessed this and Grace said, quite heatedly: