Bill seized his crutch, got it carefully under his arm and arose. He was not just a rattle-box, a mere word slinger, for he always had something to say worth listening to; talking to a crowd was no great task for him and he had a genius for verbal expression.
“I hope my partner in mechanical effort and now in misery will let me speak for him, too, for he couldn’t get up here and say a word if you’d promise him the moon for a watch charm. Our host, Mr. Hooper, would have given us enough credit if he had just stated that we were two persevering ginks, bent on making the best of a good chance and using, perhaps with some judgment, the directions of our superior, Professor Gray, along with some of our own ideas that fitted, in. But to compare us and our small job here, which was pretty well all mapped out for us, to the wonderful endeavors of Thomas Alva Edison is more than even our combined conceit can stand for. If we deserved such praise, even in the smallest way, you’d see us with our chests swelled out so far that we’d look like a couple of garden toads.
“Edison! Mr. Hooper, did you, even in your intended kindness in flattering Gus and myself, really stop to think what it could mean to compare us with that wonderful man? I know you could not mean to belittle him, but you certainly gave us an honor far beyond what any other man in the world, regarding electrical and mechanical things, could deserve. If we could hope to do a hundredth part of the great things Edison has done, it would, as Professor Gray says, indeed make life worth living.
“But we thank you, Mr. Hooper, for your kind words and for inviting all these good friends and our classmates, and we thank you and good Mrs. Hooper for this bully spread and everything!”
Bill started to sit down amidst a hearty hand-clapping, but Cora Siebold waved her hand for silence and demanded:
“Tell us more about Edison, Billy, as you did after the talk over the radio! You see, we missed the last of it and I’ll bet we’d all like to hear more—”
“Yes!” “Yes!” “Sure!” “Me, too!” “Go on, Billy!” came from Dot Myers, Skeets, Grace Hooper, Ted Bissell and Gus. In her enthusiastic efforts at showing an abundant appreciation, the fat girl wriggled too far out on the edge of her chair, which tilted and slid out from under her, causing sufficient hilarious diversion for Bill to take a sneak out of the room. When Cora and Grace captured and brought him back, the keen edge of the idea had worn off enough for him to dodge the issue.
“I’ll tell you what we’re going to do,” he said, and it will be better than anything we can think of just between us here. You all read, didn’t you, that the lectures were to be repeated by request in two months after the last talk? We didn’t hear it because Professor went away, and now three weeks of the time have gone by. But I’ll tell you what Gus and I are going to do: we’re going to build a radio receiver and get it done in time to get those talks on Edison all over again.”