“See here, Brown. I think I get you and I believe you’ve got wit enough to get Uncle Hooper. Did he say anything to you as you came out about being shy on this radio business?”
“Say, he don’t believe it’s any more possible than a horse car can turn into a buzzard! Fact! He told me you fellows might fool him on a lot of things and that you were awful smart for kids, but he’d be hanged for a quarter of beef if you could make him swallow this bunk about talking through the air. You know the way he talks.”
“I think he can and will be convinced,” said Bill, “and you can’t blame him for his notion, for he has never chanced to inquire about radio and I expect he doesn’t read that department in the paper. If he meets a plain statement about radio broadcasting or receiving, it either makes no impression on him, or he regards it as a sort of joke. But, anyway, what of it?”
“Why, just this and you ought to catch on to it without being told: Unk’s a stubborn old rat and he hasn’t really a grain of sense, in spite of all the money he made. All you’ve got to do is to egg him on as if you thought it might be a little uncertain and then sort o’ dare to make a big bet with him. I’ll get busy and tell him that this radio business is the biggest kind of an expert job and that you fellows are blamed doubtful about it. Then, when you get your set working and let Unk listen in, he’ll pay up and we’ll divide the money. See? Easy as pie. Or we might work it another way: I’ll make the bet with him and you fellows let on to fall down. Or we might—”
“Well, I’ve listened to your schemes,” said Bill, “and I’m going to say this about them: I think you are the dirtiest, meanest skunk I ever ran across. You—”
“Say, now, what’s the matter?”
“You’re a guest under your uncle’s roof; eating his grub, accepting his hospitality, pretending to be his friend—”
“Aw, cut that out, now! You needn’t let on you’re so awful fine.”
“And then deliberately trying to hatch a scheme to rob him! Of all the rotten, contemptible—” Unable to voice his righteous indignation, Bill clenched his fist and struck Thad square in the eye.
Thad had risen and was standing in front of Bill, trembling with rage as impotent as though he were little and lame, leaning, like Bill, on the crutch a less valiant cripple would have used instead of his bare fist.
With a look of fiendish hatred, instead of returning blow for blow, Thad made a sudden grab and tore Bill’s crutch out of the hand which had felt no impulse to use it in defense against his able-bodied antagonist.
“Now, you blow to Uncle and I’ll break this crutch!”
Strange, isn’t it, how we often are reminded of funny things even in the midst of danger? Bill, a cripple and unable to move about with the agility needed to fend off a cowardly attack by this miserable piker, showed the stuff he was made of when he burst out laughing, for he was reminded by this threat of that old yarn about a softy’s threatening to break the umbrella of his rival found in the vestibule of his girl’s house, then going out and praying for rain!