“I reckon you fellers is right,” said Mr. Hooper, “but I don’t know anything about it. I quit school when I was eleven, but that ain’t sayin’ I don’t miss it. If I had an eddication now, like you lads is goin’ to git, er like the Perfesser has, I’d give more’n half what I own. Boys that think they’re smart to quit school an’ go to work is natchal fools. A feller may git along an’ make money, but he’d make a heap more an’ be a heap happier, ’long of everything else, if he’d got a schoolin’. An’ any boy that’s got real sand in his gizzard can buckle down to books an’ get a schoolin’, even if he don’t like it. What I’m a learnin’ nowadays makes me know that a feller can make any old study int’restin’ if he jes’ sets down an’ looks at it the right way.”
“That’s what Gus and I think. There are studies we don’t like very much, but we can make ourselves like them for we’ve got to know a lot about them.”
“Grammar, for instance,” said Gus.
“Sure. It is tiresome stuff, learning a lot of rules that work only half. But if a fellow is going to be anybody and wants to stand in with people, he’s got to know how to talk correctly and write, too.” Bill’s logic was sound.
“Daddy should have had a drilling in grammar,” commented Grace, laughing.
“Oh, you!” blurted Skeets. “Mr. Hooper can talk so that people understand him—and when you do talk,” she turned to the old gentleman, “I notice folks are glad to listen, and so is Grace.”
“But, my dear,” protested the subject of criticism, “they’d listen better an’ grin less if I didn’t sling words about like one o’ these here Eye-talians shovelin’ dirt.”
“You just keep a-shovelin’, Mr. Hooper, your own way,” said Bill, “and if we catch anybody even daring to grin at you, why, I’ll have Gus land on them with his famous grapple!”
Mr. Hooper threw back his coat, thrust his thumbs into the armholes of his big, white vest and swelled out his chest.
“Now, listen to that! An’ this from a lad who ain’t got a thing to expect from me an’ ain’t had as much as he’s a-givin’ me, either—an’ knows it. But that’s nothin’ else but Simon pure frien’ship, I take it. An’ Gus, here, him an’ Bill, they think about alike; eh, Gus?” Gus nodded and the old gentleman continued, addressing his remarks to his daughter and Skeets:
“Now, if I know anything at all about anything at all I know what I’m goin’ to do. I ain’t got no eddication, but that ain’t goin’ to keep me from seein’ some others git it. You Gracie, fer one, an’ you, too, Skeeter, if your old daddy’ll let you come an’ go to school with Gracie. But that ain’t all; if you lads kin git ol’ Eddy’s son out o’ the air on this contraption you’re makin’ an’ hear him talk fer sure, I’m goin’ to see to it that you kin git all the tec—tec—what you call it?—eddication there is goin’ an’ I’m goin’ to put Perfesser Gray wise on that, too, soon’s he comes back. No—don’t you say a word now. I know what I’m a-doin’.” With that the old gentleman turned and marched out of the shop. But at the bottom of the garage steps he called back: