The boys and girls filed out, after most of them had expressed appreciation of Professor Gray’s interest in their enjoyment, and on the street a lively discussion started. Terry Watkins was laughing derisively at some remark of Cora Siebold, who, arm in arm with her chum “Dot” Myers, had paused long enough to fire a broadside at him.
“Why don’t some of you smarties who talk so much about the wonderful things you can do make yourselves receiving sets! Too lazy? Baseball and swimming and loafing around are all you think about. But leave it to the girls; Dot and I are going to tackle one.”
“What? You two? Won’t it be a mess? Bet you can’t hear yourselves think on it. Girls building a radio! Ho, ho, ho!”
“Bet there’ll be a looking-glass in it somewhere,” laughed Ted Bissell.
“Well, we aren’t planning to ask advice from either of you,” Cora said.
“No, and it would be worth very little if you got any,” Bill Brown offered, as he and Gus, who had been detained a moment by Professor Gray, joined the loitering group.
“Thanks, Mr. Brown,” said Dot, half shyly.
“Who asked you for your two cents’ worth?” Terry demanded.
“I’m donating it, to your service. Go and do something yourself before you make fun of others,” Bill said.
“That’s right, too, Billy. Terry can’t drive a carpet tack, nor draw a straight line with a ruler.” Ted was always in a bantering mood and eager for a laugh at anybody. “I’ll bet Cora’s radio will radiate royally and right. You going to make one—you and Gus?”
“I guess we can’t afford it,” Bill replied quickly. “We’re both going to work in the mill next Monday. Long hours and steady, and not too much pay, either. But we need the money; eh, Gus?”
“We do,” agreed Gus, smiling.
Bill’s countenance was altogether rueful. Life had not been very kind to him and he very naturally longed for some opportunity to dodge continued hardship. He wished that he might, like the boy Edison, make opportunity, but that sounded more plausible in lectures than in real life. He was moodily silent now, while the others engaged in a spirited discussion started by Dot’s saying kindly:
“Well, lots of boys and girls have to work and they often are the better for it. Edison did—and was.”
“Oh, I guess he could have been just as great, or greater if he hadn’t worked,” remarked Terry sententiously. “It isn’t only poor boys that amount to——”
“Mostly,” said Bill.
“Oh, of course, you’d say that. We’ll charge your attitude up to envy.”
“When I size up some of the rich men’s sons I know, I’m rather glad I’m poor,” said Bill, “and I would rather make a thousand dollars all by my own efforts than inherit ten thousand.”
“I guess you’d take what you could get,” Terry offered, and Bill was quick to reply: