“Do you think you can do it?”
“If Billy says he can, why, the—”
“Oh, you Edison’s son!” This from the irrepressible Ted.
“Go to it, Bill!”
“Can we all listen in?”
“Why, of course,” said Bill, replying to the last question. “Everybody’ll be invited and there will be a horn. But don’t forget this: We’ve only got a little over four weeks to do it and it’s some job! So, if you’re disappointed—”
“We won’t be.”
“No; Bill’ll get there.”
“Hurrah for old Bill!”
“Say, people, enough of this. I’m no candidate for President of the United States, and remember that Gus is in this, too, as much as I am.”
“Hurrah for Gus!” This was a general shout.
Gus turned and ran.
The party was on the point of breaking up, with much laughter over the embarrassment of poor Gus, when Skeets unexpectedly furnished further entertainment. She had paused to lean comfortably against a center table, but its easy rolling casters objected to her weight, rolled away hastily and deposited her without warning on the floor. Ted, who gallantly helped her to her feet, remarked, with a grunt due to extreme effort, that she really might as well stand up or enlist the entire four legs of a chair to support her.
Bill, about to take leave of the host and hostess, felt a slight jerk at his sleeve and looking round was surprised to find Thad at his elbow. The youth said in a low voice:
“Want to see you out yonder among the trees. Give the rest the slip. Got a pipe of an idea.”
Bill nodded, wondering much. A moment later Mr. Hooper was repeating that he was proud of the work done by the boys and glad that he had trusted them. Then he added:
“But say, young feller, much as I believe in you and Gus, seein’ your smartness, I got to doubt all that there bunk you give them young people ‘bout that there what you call radier. I been borned a long time—goin’ on to seventy year now,—an’ I seen all sorts of contraptions like reapers an’ binders, ridin’ plows, typewritin’-machines, telephones, phonygraphs, flyin’-machines, submarines an’ all such, but b’jinks, I ain’t a-believin’ that nobody kin hear jes’ common talk through the air without no wires. An’ hundreds o’ miles! ‘Tain’t natch’all an’ ’taint possible now, is it?”
“Why, yes, Mr. Hooper; it’s both poss—”
“Come on, Billy! Good-night, Mr. Hooper and Mrs. Hooper. We all had a dandy time.” And Bill was led away. But he was able, by hanging back a little, to whisper to Gus that he was on the track of something from Thad,—for Bill could only think that the young man would make a confession or commit himself in some way.
“See you in the morning,” he added and turned back.
Thad was waiting and called to Bill from his seat on a bench beneath the shade of a big maple. The fellow plunged at once into his subject, evidently holding the notion that youth in general possesses a shady sense of honor.