The Radio Boys' First Wireless
Part 2 out of 3
threatened Bob, holding a wedge of pie temptingly in Jimmy's
direction. "Am I an angel, Doughnuts, or not? Yes--pie. No--no pie."
"Of course you are, Bob, and you know I always loved you." Bob passed
him the pie, and Jimmy clutched it securely.
"Thanks, you big hobo," he grinned.
"There's gratitude for you," said Bob, appealing to the others. "He
knows the pie is all gone now, so he thinks he can insult me and get
away with it."
"So I can," said Jimmy complacently. "You know you could never get
along without my advice and help, Bob. You need somebody around you
with brains, to make up for Joe and Herb."
"That pie must have gone to your head," said Joe. "We'd better try
to get him home where they can take care of him, Herb. He'll probably
be telling us he's Napoleon, if we let him get a little crazier."
"I'm going right away, anyway," said Jimmy, hunting back of the door
for his cap. "I worked so hard making that tuning coil that I'm all
in. I'll need a good night's sleep to set me on my feet again.
So long, fellows," and he went away whistling.
The others followed soon after, after agreeing to meet the next
afternoon to mount the tuning coil.
As Bob and Joe were on their way home from school the following day
they caught sight of Miss Berwick sitting on the porch of the hotel,
enjoying the bright spring sunshine. She nodded to them brightly and
invited them to come up on the porch. They were quick to accept the
invitation, and as they dropped into seats beside her they were glad
to note that there was more color in her cheeks than when they had
seen her last.
"No need of asking whether you are feeling better," remarked Bob.
"One can tell that by just looking at you."
"Oh yes," replied Miss Berwick with a smile. "I'll soon be as well
as ever, thanks to the good doctoring and nursing I've had."
"It was too bad that the doctor came in just when he did the other
day," said Joe. "We were keen to hear the rest of your story about
that fellow Cassey. Has anything turned up to tell you where he is
and what he is doing?"
"Not a thing," replied the girl, with a tinge of sadness in her tone.
"From the moment I paid him that money, I've never laid eyes on him.
For some days after he was said to have left for Chicago, I haunted
his office, hoping that with every mail there might be a letter
either to me or his stenographer explaining the matter and setting
it right. I tried to get his Chicago address, but his stenographer
said she didn't know it, and I think it likely enough she was telling
the truth. I've looked through the records here to see if he had
transferred the mortgage, but it still stands in his name, as far as
the records go. I have clung to the hope that possibly he had written
to me and that the letter had gone astray. But I guess I'm just
fooling myself. I'm going to put the whole thing in the hands of a
lawyer and have Cassey brought to justice if I can. But I'm afraid
it'll be a case of locking the stable door after the horse is stolen."
"Don't get downhearted," urged Bob. "I have an idea that you'll get
your money or the mortgage. Slicker rascals than he have been caught,
no matter how carefully they covered their tracks. There's usually
one little thing they've forgotten that leads to their getting nabbed
"Let's hope so," replied Miss Berwick, but none too confidently.
"But now tell me something about yourselves. It isn't fair that
my troubles should take up all the conversation."
The boys told her of their radio experiments, and she listened with
the keenest interest.
"That reminds me," she said. "I noticed a radio telephone set in this
man Cassey's office. His stenographer told me that that was his one
"You find them everywhere," replied Bob. "They'll soon be a feature
in almost every home and business office. But we'll have to go now,"
he said, as he rose to his feet, while Joe followed his example.
"Good afternoon. And don't forget what I said. I feel you'll get
your money or you'll get your mortgage."
The radio boys were at Bob's house on the dot, all but Jimmy, who to
his great disgust had to do some work for his father, and so could not
"I suppose we'll have to try to get along someway without his valuable
assistance," said Herb. "When he told me he couldn't get here this
afternoon he certainly felt sore about it."
"I guess I know how he feels, all right," said Joe. "It would pretty
near break his heart not to be able to work on this radio stuff now.
I'm crazy for the time to come when we can pick our first message or
music out of the air."
"I guess you're no more anxious for that to happen than we are," said
Bob. "Let's go downstairs and see what we can do."
They all made their way to Bob's workroom in the basement, where they
found the core well dried and the wire as firmly set on it as the most
particular workman could desire.
"Good enough!" exclaimed Bob, examining the core with loving pride.
"We'll get this set up in a jiffy, and then we can make the
Working together, the boys soon had two square blocks sawn out as end
pieces, and they centered the core on these and screwed it fast. Then
they drilled holes in the two upper corners of the square end pieces
to fit two brass rods they had bought at the hardware store. These
rods carried each a small sliding spring, or contact, which rubbed
along the length of the tuning coil, one on each side. After they had
bolted the brass rods securely in place, the coil was ready for use,
except that the boys had first to scrape off the insulating enamel in
the path of the sliding contacts, so that they could reach the copper
coils. A sharp pen knife soon effected this, and the boys found
themselves possessed of a neat, substantial tuning coil, at a cost
of only a fraction of what it would have been if they had had to buy
a coil already made. And in addition they had the satisfaction that
comes of a good job well done, which more than compensated them for
the labor involved.
"That begins to look like business," exulted Joe. "We'll be putting
Mr. Edison out of business pretty soon."
"Yes, it's lucky he can't see that tuning coil," laughed Bob, "he'd
be looking up the want ads in the papers, sure."
"Oh, that coil won't be a patch on the condenser we're going to make,"
"I know we've got to have a condenser, but I'm blessed if I really
understand what it is for," said Joe. "I know the doctor told us
about it, but I guess I didn't get a very clear idea of what it was
"I'm not very clear on it either," admitted Bob. "But from what he
said and what I've read, it seems to be a sort of equalizer, for the
electric current, storing it up when it's strong and giving it out
when it's weak. It prevents the current getting too strong at times
and burning something out."
"That's the way I understood it, too," said Herb. "And Dr. Dale
said that in the larger sets they have what they call a variable
condenser, so that they can get more or less damping action according
to the strength of the incoming current waves."
"I guess I get the idea," said Joe. "But it's a pretty complicated
thing when you first tackle it, isn't it?"
"Yes, but it's just like almost anything else, probably--it's easy
when you know how," said Bob.
"It tells here how to make the condenser," said Herb, who had been
looking over an instruction book that the boys had bought. "But it
says the best thing to use for the plates is tinfoil. Now, where are
we going to get the tinfoil from, I'd like to know!"
"If you want to know real badly, I'll tell you," said Bob. "Right out
of that box over in the corner. Just wait a minute and I'll show you."
Bob stepped swiftly over to the box in question and produced a big
ball of tinfoil, composed of separate sheets tightly packed together.
"When I was a kid I used to collect this stuff and sell it to the
junkman," he said. "This ball never got big enough for that, and I
forgot all about it until a few days ago when I happened to come
across it and thought that it would be just the thing for us to use
now. We can easily peel off all the sheets we need, I guess. Some of
them are damaged, but there are enough whole ones to do our trick."
"Gee, that's fine!" said Joe. "Pry off some, Bob, and let's see if
it will serve."
With his knife Bob pried away at likely looking places, and soon had
several large sheets off. These, when smoothed out, looked good enough
for any purpose.
"How many does the book say we'll need, Herb?" asked Bob.
"It says eight or ten, each one about four inches square," answered
Herb. "And it says they have to be separated by paraffined paper.
How are we going to get hold of some of that?"
"Paraffine wax is what they use to seal fruit jars," said Joe.
"We ought to be able to get some of that easy enough."
"Mother had a big cake of it last summer!" cried Bob. "Maybe she has
some of it left. Wait here and I'll ask her," and he dashed up the
stairs three steps at a time.
In a few minutes he returned, having obtained not only the wax but
a small sauce pan in which to melt it.
"I thought I'd bring this along, so as to have it," he said; "but
it's so near supper time that I don't think we'll have a chance to
do much more--right now, anyway. What do you say if we knock off
now and do some more work this evening after supper?"
"Gee, I never thought it was that late," said Herb. "If Jimmy had
been here, I suppose he would have been talking about supper for
the last hour or so, and we'd have known what time it was."
"Well, I'll be here for one," said Joe, "and I'll stop at Jimmy's
house on the way home and tell him to get around, too."
"I'll come too," said Herb. "And, Joe, while you're about it, tell
Jimmy to be sure and bring another chunk of chocolate, only bigger
than the one he had last night."
"I'll be sure to mention that," grinned Joe. "But I don't think
he'll do it, just the same."
Bob went upstairs with them, and Herb and Joe went away together,
after promising to come back as soon after supper as possible. After
they had gone, Bob could not resist the temptation to go down and gaze
with an approving eye on the shiny new tuner they had made, and dream
of the many wonderful sounds that would soon come drifting in through
that gleaming bit of mechanism.
The Laytons had hardly finished supper that evening before Jimmy's
cheery whistle was heard outside, and Bob jumped up to let him in.
"Come in, old timer," Bob called to him. "Where's the rest of
"Oh, I guess they'll be along pretty soon," said Jimmy. "I guess I'm
a bit early, but I was so anxious to get around that I couldn't wait
to come at a respectable time. I suppose I should be boning down for
to-morrow's lessons, but I'd never be able to get my mind on them
until we get our outfit going."
"I feel the same way," said Bob. "But at the rate we're going now
it won't be very long."
"Joe told me you finished the tuning coil this afternoon," said
Jimmy. "I don't understand how you ever did it without my being here
to tell you how, though."
"Oh, we managed to patch it up some way," laughed Bob. "Come on down
and look at it, and see if it's good enough to suit you."
"Lead me to it," said Jimmy, and the two boys went downstairs.
"Say, that's a pippin," said Jimmy, as Bob switched on the light and
he caught sight of the finished tuner. "I couldn't have done it better
myself. You've certainly made a first class job of it."
"We thought it wasn't so bad," admitted Bob modestly. "Especially
when one stops to think that you weren't here to give us the benefit
of your advice."
"That's the most surprising thing about it," said Jimmy. "But now
that I'm here to-night, why, we can go right ahead and get a lot done.
Seems to me it must be about time for Joe and Herb to show up."
As though in answer to this thought, they heard a tuneful duet,
and a moment later came a vigorous ring on the doorbell.
"You go up and let them in, will you, Doughnuts?" said Bob. "I want
to melt this paraffine and get things started right away."
"Sure I will!" And Jimmy hastened off, returning a few minutes later
with the missing members of the quartette.
"It's about time you got here," said Jimmy. "Bob and I were wondering
if we'd have to do all the work by our lonesome, as usual."
"Gee, you don't know what work means," returned Joe scornfully.
"Last evening you pretty near wore a hole in that old couch resting
on it, and this afternoon you were enjoying yourself, helping your
father instead of coming here and doing a little honest work for a
"Oh, yes, I enjoyed myself a lot!" exclaimed Jimmy. "I sawed enough
one inch planks this afternoon to make either one of you loafers cry
for help! And then you talk about my having enjoyed myself!"
"Well, if you worked so hard, maybe your dad gave you enough money
for it to buy a respectable piece of chocolate with instead of that
measly little sample you brought around last night," said Herb.
"You're right he did, and here it is," said Jimmy. And from under his
coat he produced an immense slab of delicious looking chocolate that
must have weighed all of a pound.
The shout that went up from his three friends might well have startled
the family upstairs.
"Jimmy, we've got to hand it to you; you're a good sport," cried Bob,
laughing. "I never really thought you'd ever bring any more, after
the way we ate what you had last night."
"I'm glad that you admit that you ate more than your share," said
Jimmy, severely. "But I thought I'd bring enough around to-night,
hoping there might be a little piece left over for me."
"I think that since he's so generous we ought to let him have a real
big piece," said Joe.
"Yes," grinned Herb. "But remember that chocolate candy is about the
worst thing a fat person can eat. It might be better for Doughnuts,
after all, if we took this away from him right away. I'd rather get
sick myself eating it than see him get any fatter."
"Say, how do you get that way?" demanded Jimmy in an aggrieved tone.
"I've never been able yet to get hold of enough candy to make me too
fat, and if I should, I'm the one that ought to worry about it."
"It looks to me as though there's enough there for all of us for a
week," said Bob. "Let's break it up and put it in this box over here,
and then anybody who wants any can help himself."
"That's fair enough," said Jimmy. "But I'll bet anything it won't last
this bunch any week. If you were all like me it might, but I suppose
that's too much to ask."
"I don't think that's asking very much, do you, fellows?" said Joe,
with an exasperating grin.
"Wow!" exclaimed Herb, laughing. "That has all the appearance of a
dirty dig, Joe. If I were you I wouldn't let him have a scrap of that
"I suppose I shouldn't. I ought to let him chew on a piece of that
paraffine that Bob's melting. He's so foolish sometimes that I don't
think he'd ever know the difference."
"Well, we can't all of us be wise," said Joe. "But I've got a hunch
that I'd rather have the chocolate, so here goes," and he helped
himself to a generous piece. "When are you going to have that wax
cooked good and tender, Bob?"
"Suppose you leave the wax to me, and you get busy cutting out some
squares of tinfoil and paper," suggested Bob. "This wax will be done
a long time before you're ready for it."
"All right, I'll do it," said Joe. "I don't suppose there's anybody
in the world can beat me at cutting out squares of paper. There may
be some things I can't do, but I sure shine at that."
"Yes, I guess you can do that all right," admitted Bob. "But I can't
be real sure until you give us a demonstration."
"Here goes, then," replied Joe. "How big do they want to be?"
"Four inches square, the book says, and I suppose the man that wrote
it knew what he was talking about," said Bob. "That will do to start
Joe carefully measured a square of paper to the required dimensions,
and then used it as a pattern in cutting out the others. He soon had
a number of neat squares ready, which he handed to Bob, who immersed
them in the melted wax.
While the paper was soaking this up, Joe cut out a corresponding
number of tinfoil squares, leaving a projecting tongue on each one
to serve as a terminal.
"You're an expert at carpenter work, Doughnuts," said Bob. "If you
feel as ambitious as usual you can cut a couple of squares out of
that oak plank over in the corner. We'll need them for end pieces
to this condenser."
"Oh, that will be lots of fun," said Jimmy, who had been casting
longing glances toward the old sofa. "I'd a good deal rather saw
some more wood than take it easy. How big shall I make them?"
"About five inches each way, I should say," answered Bob,
reflectively. "That will give us room to drill holes in each corner
to put the clamping bolts through. In that drawer under the table
you'll find some drills. I think a three-sixteenth drill ought to be
all right. There are four brass bolts in that bag on the table, and
you can measure them and see what size drill you'll need. I bought
them for three-sixteenth, anyway."
"You go ahead and cut out the pieces, Jimmy," said Herb. "I'll do the
real hard work, like measuring the bolts and picking out the drill.
Then when you get the end pieces cut out, the drill will be all ready
for you to put the holes through."
Jimmy gave him a withering glance, but rolled up his sleeves and set
to work. Once started he made the sawdust fly, and before very long
had two stout looking pieces of solid oak cut out.
"Where's your drill, Herb?" he inquired then. "Don't tell me you
haven't got that ready yet!"
"All ready and waiting," was the reply, and Herb handed over the
required tool. "Go to it, and see that you make a first class job
Clamping both pieces of wood in the vise, Jimmy ran the sharp hand
drill through in a workmanlike manner, and then viewed his work with
"There you are," he said. "If this condenser doesn't condense, it
won't be because it hasn't got two good end pieces, anyway."
"It's funny that you should have to condense electricity," said Herb,
with a twinkle in his eye. "It's just the same as milk, isn't it?"
"Yes, it isn't," said Bob. "Another wise remark like that, and you'll
find yourself out in the wide, wide world, young fellow."
"I should say so," said Joe. "That was a fierce one, Herb."
"Well, I'll promise to be good," returned Herb. "But I still think
that was a pretty fine joke, only you fellows haven't got enough
sense of humor to appreciate it."
"We've got sense enough not to appreciate it, anyway," said Jimmy.
"It's weakened me so that I'll have to have another piece of chocolate
to brace me up," and he suited the action to the word.
"When you've all had all the candy you want, we can go ahead and make
this condenser," said Bob. "Don't let me hurry you, though."
"No chance of your hurrying me," replied Jimmy. "I'm so all in now
I can hardly move. But Herb and Joe will do anything you want them
to. They've been taking it easy, right along, so they shouldn't mind
working a little now."
"Jimmy has done more work to-night than I've seen him do altogether in
the last six months," said Joe. "So we'd better let him rest himself
awhile now. He's apt to get sick if we don't."
"Well, I guess this paper has soaked up all the wax it's going to, so
we can go ahead with the rest of it," said Bob, as he started fishing
squares of impregnated paper out of the saucepan.
He laid one sheet on one of the blocks that Jimmy had cut out, and
on top of that laid a sheet of tinfoil, then another sheet of paper
and one of tinfoil, alternating in this way until he had a number
of sheets lined up. The little tabs or projections on each sheet of
tinfoil he arranged in opposite directions, so that half of them could
be attached to a wire on one side of the condenser and half to a wire
on the other side. Then he placed the other wooden block on top of
the whole thing, passed the four screws through, one at each corner,
and tightened them up evenly. This squeezed all superfluous paraffine
from between the plates, and held the whole assembly very securely
"That looks fine so far," said Jimmy, critically. "But how do you
mean to connect up all those tabs on the plates?"
"I guess about the only way will be to solder them," replied Bob.
"I used to have a soldering iron around here somewhere." He rummaged
in the big drawer under the bench and soon produced the iron, which
he then proceeded to heat over a gas flame.
"While that iron's heating, I might as well follow Jimmy's example
and rest," said Bob, throwing himself down on the sofa. "I've been
thinking we haven't heard much lately of Buck Looker or any of his
gang. Has anybody heard what he's up to now?"
"I saw him only this afternoon," said Joe. "He had Lutz and Mooney
with him, of course, and they all looked at me as though they'd like
nothing better than to heave a brick at me when I wasn't looking.
Buck asked me how the wireless 'phone was coming along, and when I
told him that we had our aerial up and expected to be receiving stuff
within a few days, he seemed surprised."
"What did he say?" asked Herb.
"Oh, he just predicted that we'd never get it working, and as I didn't
feel like arguing with him, I started on. I hadn't gone far though
when that little sneak, Terry, yelled after me: 'Hey, Atwood, don't
forget that all that goes up must come down.' The others snickered,
and I had half a mind to go back and make him tell me what he meant.
But then I thought he wasn't worth bothering with, and I went on home.
What do you suppose he meant, anyway?"
Bob thought a moment before replying.
"You say you told him that we had our aerial up?" he asked,
"Yes, I did tell him that."
"Well, it would be just like them to try to pull down our wires, if
they thought they could get away with it. Maybe that's what Terry
meant about 'all that goes up must come down.' What do you think?"
"Say!" exclaimed Joe, leaping to his feet, "I'll bet that was just
what he meant, the little sneak. But he'd never have nerve enough
to try anything like that himself."
"Maybe not. But I think Buck Looker might," said Bob. "If he does,
I only hope I'll have the luck to catch him at it."
"Those fellows need a good licking, and it's up to us to give it to
them," said Herb indignantly. "I'm game to do my share any time."
"Oh, well, it may have been just some nonsense of Terry's. But
we'd better be on our guard, anyway," said Bob, rising to get the
soldering iron. "Whew! but this is hot now, all right. I'll let it
cool a bit, and get the condenser ready for soldering."
THRASHING A BULLY
Stripping a length of copper wire, Bob nipped off two short lengths
with his pliers and fastened them to opposite sides of the condenser
with small staples. Then he brought all the tinfoil plate terminals
on each side in contact with the wire on that side, and connected the
terminals with their respective wires with a small drop of solder on
each. Then he produced a roll of ordinary bicycle tire tape and wound
the whole thing neatly in this, leaving only the ends of the two
copper wires projecting a distance of perhaps a quarter of an inch.
"There!" he exclaimed, "we can solder our other wires up to them when
we come to connect up the set. It isn't very fancy, but it ought to
do the work."
"Gee, Bob, you must have been studying up on this," said Jimmy. "To
look at your work, any one would think you'd been doing this all your
"I did look it up after you fellows went home last night," admitted
Bob. "This condenser isn't made just the way they say, but the
principle is the same, and I guess that is the main thing."
"We won't worry about how it's made if it only works," said Joe,
"and I guess it will do that all right."
"We'll hope so, anyway," said Bob. "But there's only one way to find
out, and that's to hook our set up and see if we get signals through.
And if we do--oh boy!"
"I'll bet it will work like a charm," said Jimmy enthusiastically.
"We haven't got to make much more now, have we?"
"We've got to make a panel and mount all these inventions on it,"
"That won't take very long," said Bob. "Of course, we can't do it
to-night, but to-morrow's Saturday, and if we get started early we
may be able to fix things up so that we can hear something to-morrow
night. Saturday night is the time they usually send out the biggest
number of musical selections, and if we have luck we may be able to
listen in on them."
"Wow!" exclaimed Herb. "Won't that be the greatest thing that ever
happened? You can't start too early to suit me."
"Nine o'clock's early enough," said Bob. "Everybody come around here
then and we'll make things hum. There's still plenty to do, but we
ought to get it finished before that."
The boys were so excited at the prospect of actually operating their
set the following evening that they could hardly sit still two minutes
at a time. They laughed and joked and speculated on what would be the
first thing they would hear through the air, and finally Bob's guests
started home in an hilarious mood.
Bob himself cleaned up his bench a bit after the others had gone, and
then went upstairs to his bedroom, which had a window in the rear of
the house. He had just started to undress when he thought he heard a
peculiar noise outside. At once the thought of what Joe had said about
his encounter with Buck Looker and his companions leaped into his
mind, and he crossed swiftly to the window and looked out.
It had been cloudy all the evening, but now, the clouds were beginning
to break away, allowing bursts of moonlight to shine through at
intervals. When Bob first looked out of the window, the moon was
obscured by a ragged patch of cloud and he could barely make out the
dim outline of the barn. But as the cloud passed on and the moon began
to shine through the thinning fringe of vapor, Bob saw an indistinct
figure on the roof, and as the moon came out more strongly he could
see that the figure was tinkering with the end of the aerial that was
fastened to the barn.
Bob had no difficulty in recognizing Buck Looker, and without more ado
he made for the back stairs leading down to the kitchen. Hot rage was
in his heart and a resolve to have it out with the bully once and for
all. Noiselessly he unfastened the kitchen door and passed out into
the night, approaching the barn with as little noise as an Indian.
Buck Looker was entirely unconscious of his approach, and was still
fussing with the aerial when Bob's voice reached him, pleasant enough,
but with a steely note in it that almost made the bully lose his hold
on the roof.
"Hello, Buck!" said Bob. "What are you doing up there?"
For a few moments the shock of hearing Bob's voice so unexpectedly
unnerved Buck completely, and he could do nothing but peer down at
Bob with an expression of guilt and dismay on his coarse face.
"Why--why--" he gasped at last, making an effort to pull himself
together. "Why, you see, Bob, I--I just thought I'd like to see how
you fastened this thing up. Lutz and I were thinking of putting one
up ourselves, and we wanted to find out how to do it," he went on,
"Come on down off that roof and take your medicine," said Bob,
ignoring this flimsy excuse. "You've had a licking coming to you
for a long time, and now you're going to get it."
"Maybe you'll be sorry when I do come down," blustered Buck. "You
let me alone though, and I won't hurt you."
"Shut up and come down," said Bob grimly. "You've got to come down
sooner or later, and you can bet I'll be waiting here for you when
The bully hesitated for a time, but his position on the roof was
precarious, and he saw that Bob was in earnest and meant to wait for
him. He summoned up what little courage he could, therefore, and came
slowly down a ladder that he had reared against the side of the barn
furthest from the house.
Bob waited until Looker was fairly on the ground before making a
move. While descending the ladder Buck had made up his mind to run
for it as soon as he reached the ground, for he had little liking for
an encounter with Bob, although many times he had talked big about
what he was going to do to him some day. But Bob had no intention of
letting him escape so easily, and as Buck put his foot on the ground
and turned with the intention of running, Bob was on him with the fury
of a wildcat. Buck was prepared for this too, and when he saw that he
was fairly cornered started to fight back.
Looker was bigger and heavier than Bob, and for a time held his own,
but Bob had the memory of more than one wrong to avenge, and a gallant
spirit that took no heed of blows received so long as he could punish
For many minutes they fought back and forth, giving and taking in
fierce fashion. Buck landed one or two heavy blows, but Bob only shook
his head and bored in more fiercely than ever. He rained blows on the
retreating bully, who was soon getting enough and more than enough.
At length Bob saw an opening, and quick as a flash a fist shot up and
caught Looker square under the jaw. The bully's head rocked back, his
knees sagged under him, and he dropped limply to the ground. Panting,
Bob stood over him, waiting for Looker to get to his feet again, but
when after a few seconds the bully opened his eyes, there was no sign
of fight left in them.
"Get up, you big blowhard!" panted Bob. "I'm not through with
But Buck Looker was through, abjectly and entirely through.
"Have a heart, Bob," he whined. "I don't want to fight any more.
My jaw feels as though it was broken."
"I hope it is!" said Bob. "You big bully! What do you mean by climbing
up on my barn and trying to wreck my aerial?"
"I won't ever try to monkey with it again, honest I won't!"
"You'd better not," advised Bob grimly. "And when you see your
friends, tell them I'll do the same to them that I've done to you
if they come around here. They'd better keep off these premises
unless they're looking for trouble."
"I'll tell them to keep hands off," promised Buck, nursing his
injured jaw. "Will you promise not to hit me if I get up?"
"Yes, get up and get out of here," said Bob, disgustedly, and he
turned his back contemptuously on the bully and started for the house.
As he turned his back, Buck scrambled to his feet with a look of
malignant hatred on his face and looked about him, apparently in
search of some object he could use as a weapon. Fortunately there was
nothing handy that he could use as such, and after stealthily shaking
his fist at Bob he sneaked off toward town, one hand still holding
his injured jaw.
After washing his face in cold water, Bob saw that he had received
only a few minor scratches and bruises.
"I guess I taught that big bully a lesson that he won't forget in a
hurry," he reflected. "It will be a long time before he or any of his
sneaking friends will come tampering with our wireless again. He's had
that licking coming to him for a long time, and I'm glad I was lucky
enough to be the one to give it to him."
Tired out by the encounter, Bob turned in and slept soundly until
awakened by the morning sun streaming in through the open window.
ON THE VERGE
Bob felt sore and stiff as a result of the moonlight battle, but he
showed little visible sign of it, although there was enough to excite
questioning at the breakfast table. Bob narrated what had taken place,
and the family was very indignant over Buck's invasion of their
"If you hadn't given young Looker such a sound trouncing I would
make a complaint to his father," said Mr. Layton. "But under the
circumstances I guess there is no need to say anything further about
it. His misdeeds seem to have brought their own punishment somewhat
sooner than is usual," he added, with a twinkle in his eye.
"Yes, I don't think he'll come bothering around here in a hurry,
Dad," said Bob. "I always thought he had a streak of yellow in him,
and now I'm sure of it."
"Most bullies have," observed Mr. Layton, as he rose to go down to
the store. "I'm glad you caught him at it before he had a chance to
do any damage, because I'm getting interested in that radio business
myself. If you boys really get it going with the apparatus that
you've made yourselves you'll deserve a lot of credit."
"Well, we'll soon know whether it works or not," said Bob. "We hope
to have it in shape to test out to-night."
"So soon?" said Mr. Layton, surprised. "That will be fine! I hope you
won't be disappointed," and he went out on his way down to the store.
He had been gone hardly half an hour when Bob heard a cheerful chorus
of whistles outside, and knew that his friends had arrived bright and
early, as they had promised.
"Here we are, right on the job," said Jimmy, as Bob opened the door
for them. "But say, what's happened to you? You look as though you'd
been in a fight."
"There's nothing surprising about that, because I have been in
a fight," replied Bob, grinning.
"With whom?" they all asked at once.
"An old friend of ours--dear old Buck Looker," responded Bob.
"Well, what--what--when did you see him to fight with him?"
"It all happened last night after you fellows had gone home," said
Bob, and then gave them an account of how he had surprised the bully
and the fight that had followed.
"Well!" exclaimed Joe, drawing a long breath when Bob had finished,
"I'm glad you gave him a good licking, Bob. I envy you because you
had the chance first. I'd like to get a look at Buck now."
"I imagine he'll keep out of sight for a few days," returned Bob.
"I don't think I improved his beauty any."
"I wonder if he had time to damage the aerial any," said Herb. "Have
you taken a look at it yet, Bob?"
"No, I haven't been up," said Bob. "We might do that now, I suppose."
Accordingly the four boys climbed up on the barn, using the same
ladder that Buck Looker had used the night before. They found that
Buck, with his customary lack of brains, had failed to provide himself
with a pair of wire cutters, with which he could have easily clipped
the aerial, but instead had tried to unwind the wire from the
insulator eyelet with his fingers. He had succeeded in getting it
partially unfastened before Bob had interrupted him, but it took the
boys only a few moments with a pair of pliers to rewind it, leaving
everything as strong as before.
"That just shows how little brain power that fellow has," said Joe.
"What good would it have done him if he had got the aerial down?
It wouldn't have taken us long to put it up again."
"Just for the satisfaction of boasting about it, I suppose," said
Herb. "But I guess he won't say much, about this affair. He'll calm
down for some time to come, anyway."
"We'd never have heard the last of it from that bunch if they had
been able to put something over on us," said Bob. "But never mind
that crowd now. Let's get to work on our panel and see if we can't
get things hitched up in time for the Saturday evening concert.
I'm crazy to get the thing actually finished now."
"No more than I am," said Joe. "Let's go!" His three chums all felt
very much at home in Bob's workroom, and knew where to find the
various tools almost as well as Bob did himself. Jimmy was given the
job of sawing a panel board out of an oak plank, while the others
busied themselves with stripping the insulation from lengths of wire
and scraping the bared ends to be sure of a good, clean connection.
Bob also cleaned and tinned his soldering iron, in preparation for
the numerous soldered joints that it would be necessary to make.
"It seems to me you rest an awful lot in between strokes, Doughnuts,"
said Herbert to that perspiring individual. "Why don't you keep right
on sawing until you get through? It seems to me that would be a lot
better than the way you're doing it."
"If you don't like the way I'm doing this, just come and do it
yourself," was the indignant reply. "I'd like to see you saw through
twenty inches of seven-eighths oak without stopping. You always seem
to get all the soft jobs, anyhow. Whenever there's anything real hard
to do, like this job, for instance, it gets wished on me."
"That's because we know you like hard work," said Bob, laughing.
"Well, I get it whether I like it or not," complained Jimmy. "But
it's almost done now, so I'll finish it quickly and prevent any of
you fellows having to do some real work."
"Jimmy's certainly good at that, you have to admit it," said Joe.
"I could just stand here all day and admire the way he does it."
But for once the fat boy refused to rise to the bait, and kept
doggedly on until at last he had a neat twenty inch square cut
out of the big plank.
"There you are, Bob," said Jimmy, panting. "Now see if you can't
find some heavy job for these two Indians here."
"I'd like to, first rate," laughed Bob, "but I guess you've about
finished up the last of the hard jobs. Of course, we've still got to
drill a lot of holes in that piece of wood, but that's easy enough."
"If you give me your word it's easy, I'll tackle it," said Herb.
"Where do we want the holes, Bob?"
"I don't know yet," said Bob. "We've got to arrange the different
parts on the panel first, and find out just where we want them before
we drill a single hole. I don't want to have to change things around
after we put holes in the board and spoil the appearance of it."
He laid the board on the bench, and arranged the tuning coil, the
crystal detector, the condenser, and the terminals for the head phone
plugs in what he thought should be their proper positions, and then
called for advice on this layout.
"If anybody can think of a better way to set these things up, let him
speak now or forever hold his peace," said he.
"That looks all right to me," returned Joe, eyeing the outfit
critically. "But we'll have to raise the panel up an inch or two so
as to give room underneath for wires and connections, shan't we?"
"Right you are!" exclaimed Bob. "There's another job for you, Jimmy.
We'll have to have two cleats to go underneath and raise the whole
"I thought it was about time for something else to come along for me,"
grumbled Jimmy. "Just when I was thinking of lying down and resting,
"Oh, that's nothing," laughed Herb. "There never is a time when you're
not thinking of lying down and resting, so don't let that worry you."
"Of course there are other times," said Joe, while Jimmy was still
struggling to find a crushing answer to Herb's attack. "I'm surprised
at you, Herb! How about all the times he's thinking of getting up and
"Gosh, that was a bad mistake," said Herb, with mock seriousness.
"I did you an injustice, Doughnuts, and I apologize."
"You two will never get to be old," said Jimmy, picking up his trusty
saw. "You're altogether too smart to live, I'm afraid."
"Oh, I don't think there's any need to worry about that," said Bob,
casually, coming to Jimmy's aid. "I think myself they'll probably
live to be a hundred."
"Wow!" exclaimed Joe. "That was a wicked wallop, Bob."
"It's no more than you deserve," said Jimmy. "A good wallop with the
business end of a gas pipe would be about the best thing that could
happen to some people."
"I'm glad he doesn't mean us, Joe," said Herb, with a wink at his
"Never mind whom I mean," said Jimmy.
"Here are your cleats, so you can get busy and screw them on to the
back of that panel. I'll lie down on the couch and watch you to see
that you don't make any mistakes."
"No danger of that," said Herb. "I couldn't make a mistake if I tried.
Wait till I get hold of a screw driver and watch my speed."
"You'll probably make a mistake without trying," said Jimmy, "but I
suppose there's no use trying to give you good advice, so go ahead."
However, Herb justified his modest estimate of himself this time, for
he soon had the cleats strongly fastened to the back of the panel,
raising it two inches, which gave plenty of clearance for wires and
screw heads underneath.
"That will make a better job of it, anyway," said Bob. "I was figuring
on running the wires on the top side, but if we put them underneath
it will look neater, although it will take longer to do it."
"We might as well do it up brown now that we've got this far," said
Joe, and the others were of the same opinion.
The boys arranged the various pieces of apparatus to their
satisfaction, and then drilled holes through and bolted them securely
to the back. This also took a little more time than merely to screw
them to the face of the panel, but made a more secure and lasting
piece of work.
They were still drilling holes and clamping down nuts when Mrs. Layton
called down to tell them that lunch was ready.
"Gosh! is it lunch time already?" exclaimed Joe. "It seems as though
we had hardly got started yet."
"I guess it is, just the same," said Bob. "Let's wash our hands,
"This seems like rubbing it in, though," protested Herb. "We've almost
been living here at your house lately, Bob, and now we're putting your
mother to the trouble of getting lunch for us. I think we ought to go
home and come around later."
"Oh, nonsense," said Bob. "Mother's got everything all ready now, and
she'd feel bad if you didn't stay. Come on up," and he set the example
by making for the stairs.
"Oh, well, if you insist," said Herb. "But I bet when Mrs. Layton sees
what we do to the eats, she'll never ask us again."
"Oh, she's used to seeing them disappear pretty fast," said Bob, "and
I don't think anything will surprise her now."
Mrs. Layton made the outside boys welcome with a few cheery words,
and all sat down to a lunch in which fresh sliced ham, hot biscuits,
and honey played a conspicuous part. Mrs. Layton was famous as a good
cook, and it is certain that the present patrons of her art did not
lack in appreciation. Before they got through, the table was swept
almost clear of eatables, and even the insatiable Jimmy appeared
satisfied, so much so that he appeared to have difficulty in rising
with the others.
"I guess we don't have to tell you how much we enjoyed everything,
Mrs. Layton," said Herb. "Actions speak louder than words, you know."
"I'm glad you liked it," she said. "I guess you'll all be able to get
along till supper time now," she added, with a smile.
"Let's go out on the grass awhile," proposed Jimmy. "I've got to lie
down and rest a bit before I can do anything else. You slaves can work
if you want to, but not for little Jimmy."
It must be confessed that the others felt about the same way, so they
all went out and lay on the soft grass under a big apple tree that
grew near the kitchen door.
"Ah, this is the life!" sighed Jimmy, as he stretched out luxuriously
on his back and gazed up at the cloud-flecked sky.
"It isn't so bad," admitted Bob, biting on tender blades of young
grass. "But I'd enjoy it more if we had our outfit together and
"It won't take long to finish it now, do you think?" asked Joe.
"Not unless we strike a snag somewhere," said Bob. "After we get
everything assembled, we've still got to run our leading-in wire
down to my bedroom. But I don't think that will take us very long."
"By ginger, I just can't loaf around until we do get it working!"
exclaimed Joe, springing to his feet. "Come on, fellows, let's get
busy. We can take it easy after we have everything fixed up."
"I'm with you," said Bob. "I feel the same way myself."
Herb jumped up too, but the only sound from Jimmy was a raucous
snore ending in a gurgle.
"Poor old Jimmy!" said Bob. "We've had him working hard the last
few days, and I suppose he's tired out. Let him sleep awhile."
So Jimmy was left to blissful slumber, and the others returned
to their fascinating task.
THE FINISHING TOUCH
The three chums set to work with a will, cutting, stripping, and
soldering wires, and while the afternoon was still young they made
their last connection and found themselves possessed of a real
honest-to-goodness radio receiving outfit, not quite so beautifully
finished and polished off as a set bought readymade in a store,
perhaps, but still serviceable and practical.
"Hooray!" shouted all three together, so loudly that the sound
reached Jimmy, still lying on the grass, and roused him from his
"What's the matter here?" he asked a few moments later, coming
sleepily down the stairs. "Is the place on fire, or what?"
"No, but we've got the whole set together at last, and we thought
we were entitled to a yell or two," explained Bob.
"Gee, that's fine! I didn't mean to sleep so long. Why didn't you
wake me sooner?"
"You seemed to be enjoying that snooze so much that we hated to
disturb you," said Bob "There wasn't very much you could have done,
"Well, I certainly feel a lot better," said Jimmy, with a prodigious
yawn. "What's the next thing on the program?"
"All we've got to do now is to hook up our leading-in wire and ground
wire and we'll be all set," said Bob. "I've got a fine big table in my
bedroom, and I was thinking that that would be a fine place to mount
all our things and keep them together."
This was agreeable to all concerned, so they repaired forthwith to
Bob's room. This was situated on the top floor, and, as it happened,
almost under the scuttle leading onto the roof. This made it
comparatively easy to connect up with the antenna, as all they had
to do was to bring the leading-in wire through the frame of the
scuttle, drill a hole through the attic floor and the ceiling of
Bob's room, and drop the insulated leading-in wire through. To make
it perfectly safe, they surrounded the wire, where it passed through
the scuttle and ceiling, with a fire proof asbestos bushing or sleeve.
In this work they received some advice from Dr. Dale, who chanced
to drop in.
All this work took some time, and it was nearly dark when they had
made all their connections, including the ground connection to a
On one corner of Bob's big table they had inserted a small knife-blade
switch in the leading-in wire, so that the set could be disconnected
from the aerial when not in use, or during storms so as to guard
When all was finished the boys viewed the result of so many hours
of hard work and planning with mingled feelings of delight at its
business-like appearance and apprehension that, after all, it might
"Gee, I'm almost afraid to try it," said Bob. "But we've got to find
out what rotten radio constructors we are some time, so here goes,"
and he produced his set of head phones. So did Joe and Herb, but
Jimmy was struck with a sudden unpleasant thought.
"Great Scott!" he exclaimed. "I've gone and left my set home. I'll
get it and come back as soon as I can," and he dived precipitately
out of the room.
"He didn't need to be in such a hurry," laughed Bob. "We could have
taken turns with ours."
"Well, let's connect up, anyway, and see if we can hear anything,"
said Joe. "There's no use waiting until Jimmy gets back. It won't
take him a long while, and likely enough he'll be back before we
raise any signals, anyway."
"Well, pull up your chairs, and we'll plug in," said Bob, adjusting
the ear phones over his head.
"I saw in this morning's paper that the Newark broadcasting station
was going to send out an orchestra concert this afternoon, and if
our set is any good we ought to hear part of it."
They all adjusted their ear phones and then drew up chairs and
inserted the plugs in the spring sockets designed for their reception.
They had connected four pairs of these sockets in parallel, so that
all four head sets could be used at once.
Now was the crucial moment, and the boys waited breathlessly for
some sound to come out of the air to them.
SWEETS OF VICTORY
Bob set one of the sliders about at the middle of the tuning coil,
and set the other--the one connected to the leading-in wire--about
opposite. Then he adjusted the sharp pointed wire on the detector
until the point was just touching the crystal. Still there was no
sound in the ear phones, and the boys looked at one another in bitter
disappointment. Bob moved the antenna slider slowly along the tuning
coil, and suddenly, faint, but very clear, the boys heard the opening
chords of an overture played by a famous orchestra nearly a hundred
miles away! Sweet and resonant the distant music rose and fell,
growing in tone and volume as Bob manipulated the contacts along the
coil. The boys sat spellbound listening to this miracle, to this soul
stirring music that seemed as though it must surely be coming from
some other world. Hardly breathing, they listened until the last
blended chords whispered away into space, and then looked at each
other like people just awakened from a dream.
Bob was the first to speak.
"I think we can call our set a success, fellows," he said, with
a quiet smile.
"Bob, that was simply wonderful!" cried Joe, jumping up and pacing
about the room in his excitement. "Why, we can sit here and hear
that orchestra just as well as though we were in the same hall with
it. It seems like a fairy tale."
"So it is," said Bob. "Only this is a fairy tale that came true.
I wish Jimmy had been here to listen in with us."
"He's here now, anyway," said a familiar voice, and Jimmy burst
into the room, puffing and blowing. "Does it work, fellows? Tell
me about it."
"I should say it did work!" replied Joe. "We just heard a wonderful
selection played by a big orchestra. It must be the Newark
broadcasting station, as they had promised a concert for this
"I missed it, then, didn't I?" said Jimmy, with a downcast face.
"Yes, but they'll play something else pretty soon," said Herb. "Plug
in with your ear phones, and maybe you'll hear something to cheer
"It will take quite a good deal," said Jimmy, "after hoofing it all
the way to my house and back on the double quick. I'll bet that trip
took ten pounds off me, if it took an ounce."
"That won't hurt you any," said Joe, with a total lack of sympathy
for his friend's trials. "Hurry up and plug in here, so that we'll
be ready for the next number on the program."
"Oh, all right, all right," said Jimmy, adjusting his phones. "If
I'm not ready, just tell 'em to wait."
The absurdity of this idea raised a laugh, which was suddenly
cut short as the first notes of a rousing march came ringing into
the earphones. Every note was true and distinct as before, with
practically no interference, and when the last note had died away
the boys rose and as though actuated by one impulse, executed an
impromptu war dance.
When they had quieted down somewhat, Bob rushed downstairs and
brought his mother up to hear her first radio concert. She was
rather incredulous at first, but when the first notes of a violin
solo reached her ears, her expression suddenly changed, and when
the selection was over she was almost as enthusiastic as the boys
"That was simply wonderful!" she exclaimed. "I never imagined you
would be able to hear anything half as distinctly as that."
"I'll bet you never thought you'd hear anything over our home-made
set, now did you?" accused Bob.
Mrs. Layton looked a trifle guilty. "I never thought you'd get it
working so soon nor so perfectly," she confessed. "But now that you
have, I certainly congratulate you."
They all listened for some time for something else to come in over
the aerial, but apparently the concert was over, for they could hear
nothing but a confused murmur, with here and there some fragment of
a sentence coming out clear above the general confusion. This was
probably due to the sending being so distant as to be almost beyond
their range. Just before supper time they heard a message from a ship
at sea, and Joe, Herb, and Jimmy could hardly tear themselves away
to go home to supper. They finally got started, however, promising
to return as soon as they could after supper, so as to be in time
for the evening concert.
After they had gone, Bob called up Doctor Dale, and told him of the
successful outcome of their experiment. The minister was delighted.
"That's great work!" he exclaimed heartily. "So the set works well,
"Yes, sir, it certainly does," said Bob. "Of course it's not as good
as yours, and we can't tune out interference very well. But it does
all that I hoped it would, and more. I wish you could get around to
hear it when you get a chance."
"I tell you what I'll do," said the doctor. "I have an expert radio
man visiting me here this evening. How would it be if I dropped
around some time during the evening, and brought him with me?"
"Fine!" exclaimed Bob, delighted at the prospect of talking with
an experienced radio man. "We'll all be looking for you, sir."
Bob was delighted over the doctor's promise, and told his friends
about it as soon as they arrived that evening. They were all
"He can tell us just what we need to know," commented Joe. "You can
dig a lot of stuff out of books, but lots of times just the question
you want answered doesn't seem to be in them."
The boys had just raised the Newark station, end were listening to
the first number on the program, a soprano solo, when the minister
and his friend arrived. He introduced the stranger as Mr. Brandon,
and the latter immediately made himself at home.
"I hear you fellows got your set working first crack out of the box,"
he said, as they were going upstairs. "You're luckier than I was with
my first one, because I had a lot of trouble before I got my first
signal through. I fooled around a long time before I found out what
the trouble was, too."
"What was it?" asked Bob.
"I finally found that the water pipes were insulated from the street
pipes, as they are in some houses, so that I really didn't have any
ground at all, even though my ground wire was connected with a pipe
in the bathroom. I might have been looking for the trouble yet if a
friend of mine hadn't given me a tip what to look for."
By this time they had reached Bob's room, and Dr. Dale and Mr. Brandon
inspected the boys' outfit with great interest.
"Pretty good for beginners, isn't it, Brandon?" said the minister
at length, when they had gone over the thing at length and Bob had
explained the way they had made the different units.
"I should say so," acquiesced the expert. "They've made up one of
the neatest amateur jobs I've seen in a long time. Let's see how it
He and the doctor donned head phones, and Mr. Brandon manipulated the
tuning coil and the crystal detector with a deftness that spoke of
long experience. He showed the boys how they might get even clearer
and louder tones than any they had yet obtained by adjusting the
detector until the best possible contact was obtained with the
"You could hear better with a more elaborate set, of course," he said,
"but you get mighty good results with what you've got. Of course,
you're range is limited to less than two hundred miles with this set,
and your tuning range is limited, too. But you've made a fine start,
and with this as a foundation you can go on adding equipment, if you
like, until you have a first class receiving station."
"Yes, and after we get a little more experience, we want to try our
hand at sending, too," said Joe.
"Well, that's a more complicated undertaking," said Mr. Brandon.
"But there's no reason why you shouldn't, if you are willing to
go to the trouble to learn the international code and take an
examination. You have to be able to receive ten words a minute,
you know, to get a license."
"I suppose you're an expert both sending and receiving," said Bob.
"I ought to know something about it by this time," said Mr. Brandon.
"Uncle Sam has me working for him now as radio inspector, so I'm
supposed to know something about it."
"Mr. Brandon was with the aviation radio branch of the service during
the war," explained Dr. Dale, "and he has seen radio telephony develop
from almost nothing to what it is to-day."
"Yes, it was the war that speeded up the growth of radio," said Mr.
Brandon. "It revolutionized war in the air, and made it possible to
control the movements of airplanes in a way that had never, been
dreamed of before."
"You must have had some mighty interesting and exciting work,"
"All of that," admitted Dr. Dale's friend, with a smile. "Once our
whole station was wrecked by a bomb dropped on it from an enemy plane.
Luckily, we all had time to duck out before the bomb landed, but there
wasn't anything left of our fine station but a big hole in the ground
and bits of apparatus scattered around over the landscape. There were
very few dull moments in that life."
"It doesn't sound very dull," said Bob, laughing.
"I can assure you it wasn't," said the radio expert. "But in the case
I was telling you about, our airmen brought down the fellow who had
dropped the bomb, which made us feel a little better."
"There's some interesting stuff coming in now," said Dr. Dale, who
had been listening in at the receiving set. "They're sending out news
bulletins now, and I'd advise you to listen for a bit. It's away
ahead of reading a newspaper, I assure you."
"Besides being easier on the eyes," grinned Mr. Brandon. "Let's hear
what it's all about."
Sitting at ease, they heard many important news items of the day
recorded. There was a little interference from an amateur sender,
but they finally managed to eliminate this almost entirely by
manipulation of the tuning coil.
"I know that fellow," said Brandon. "I was inspecting his outfit
just a few days ago. He's got a pretty good amateur set, too. He's
located in Cooperstown, not twenty miles from here."
"My, you must know every station in this part of the country!"
exclaimed Joe, surprised.
"It's my business to know them all," said Brandon. "And if anybody
takes a chance and tries to send without a license, it's up to me
to locate him and tell him what's what."
"It must be hard to locate them, isn't it?" asked Jimmy.
"Sometimes it is," returned the radio inspector. "I'm tracing down
a couple now, and hope to land them within a few days."
The little company had some further interesting talk, and then, as
it was getting rather late, Dr. Dale and his friend rose to go.
"I'm glad to have met all you fellows," said the radio expert,
shaking hands all around. "If there's anything I can do to help
you along at any time, Dr. Dale can tell you where to find me,
and I'll be glad to be of service."
The boys thanked their visitor heartily, and promised to avail
themselves of his offer in case they found that they needed help.
Then Bob saw the visitors to the door, and returned to his friends.
"We're mighty lucky to have met a man like that, who knows this game
from start to finish," said Joe. "I'd give a lot to know what he does
"You never will know as much," said Jimmy. "Mr. Brandon is a smart
"Meaning that I'm not, I suppose?" said Joe. "Well, there's no need
of my being smart as long as you're around with your keen young mind."
"It's nice of you to say so," said Jimmy, choosing to ignore the
sarcasm in Joe's tone. "I never expected to hear you admit it,
"I'll have to get you two Indians a pair of boxing gloves, and let
you settle your arguments that way, pretty soon," came from Bob.
"Nothing doing," said Jimmy. "Boxing is too much like work, and it's
time to go home, anyway," and he rose to look for his hat. "Anybody
coming my way?"
"Well, if there were any more messages coming in, I'd ask Bob to let
me stay all night," said Joe. "But as it is, I suppose I might as well
go, too. Coming, Herb?"
"Yes, I suppose I'll have to."
"Not at all," put in Jimmy. "I'm sure Mrs. Layton would just love
to have you two fellows planted on her for a life time."
"Nothing doing!" declared Bob, laughing.
In a few moments three tuneful whistlers were making their way
homeward, with hearts elated at the success of their first venture
into the wide field of radio telephony.
THE FERBERTON PRIZE
For several days nothing of special interest happened in Clintonia.
Buck Looker made his appearance about the streets, one eye covered by
a black patch. This he explained to his cronies by telling them that
he wore the patch to keep out the sun, but even they had to take this
with a large grain of salt, as Bob's friends took pains to let the
real cause of Buck's trouble be known. Buck knew that he was not
'getting away' with his excuse, and the knowledge made him more surly
and unpleasant than before. In the course of a few days he was able
to discard the patch, but unfortunately he could not discard his mean
and revengeful nature so easily, and his mind was continually occupied
with plans to "get even."
"We'll put that crowd out of business some way, you see if we don't,"
said Buck to Carl Lutz.
"I'd like to do it, all right, but I don't see just how we're going
to manage it," replied Lutz. "If Bob Layton can lick you, he can lick
any of our bunch, so we don't want to get into trouble with them
until we've got a sure thing."
Buck agreed heartily with this unsportsmanlike attitude, but had more
confidence in fortune.
"Don't worry about that," he said. "We'll get our chance all right!
And then won't we rub it into Bob Layton and his crowd!" and his face
wore even a more ugly and sinister look than usual.
For the next few days the boys' radio set was in much demand. Of
course all their immediate relatives had to listen in, as it is
called, and they also invited many of their friends, both boys and
girls, to try it.
"Oh, it's too wonderful for anything," declared Joe's sister Rose.
"To think of getting all that music from such a distance!"
"Yes, and that splendid sermon Sunday afternoon!" exclaimed Mrs.
Plummer. "I declare, if Dr. Dale doesn't look out they'll make it
so nobody will have to go to meeting any more."
"I've certainly got to hand it to you boys," was Doctor Atwood's
comment. "I didn't think you could really do it. This radio business
is going to change everything. Why, a person living away off in the
country can listen in on the finest of concerts, lectures, sermons
and everything else. And pick up all the very latest news in the
One day Bob had to go out of town on an errand for his father and he
was allowed to take Joe along. At the out-of-town railroad station
they quite unexpectedly ran into Nellie Berwick. The girl had
recovered from the shock of the automobile accident but looked
"No, I haven't heard from Dan Cassey yet," she said, in reply to
a question from Bob.
"Then he didn't come back?" questioned Joe.
"No--or, if he did, he is keeping in hiding. I guess my money is
gone," and the girl heaved a deep sigh.
"The rascal, the dirty rascal!" was Bob's comment, after they had
left Miss Berwick. "Oh, how I would like to hand him over to the
"Yes, but give him a good licking first," added his chum.
While Buck Looker was still racking his brains for an appropriate form
of punishment for Bob and his chums, a most interesting thing happened
to the radio boys. The Representative in Congress of the district in
which Clintonia was located, Mr. Ferberton, came out with an offer of
a prize of one hundred dolllars for the best amateur wireless outfit
made by any boy in his district, and a second prize of fifty dollars.
It was stipulated that the entire set, outside of the head phones,
must be made by the boy himself, with out any assistance from
grown-ups. A time limit of three weeks was allowed, at the end of
which time each set submitted was to be tried out by a committee
composed of prominent business men and radio experts, and the prizes
awarded to those getting the best results and making the neatest
It may be imagined what effect this offer had on the four radio boys.
The announcement was made at the high school one day, and from that
time on the boys were engrossed with the idea of winning the coveted
"Just think of the honor it would be, let alone the hundred dollars,"
said Bob. "Whoever wins that prize will be known through the entire
"I wouldn't care much who got the honor, so long as I got first
prize," said Jimmy, avariciously. "What I couldn't do with all that
"Yes, or even fifty dollars wouldn't be anything to sneeze at," said
Joe. "I give you fellows notice right here that you'll have to step
mighty lively to beat yours truly to one of those fat plums."
"Gee, you'll never have a chance," said Jimmy. "Why, my set will be
so good that it will probably win both prizes. Nobody else will have
a look in."
"All you'll win will be the nickel plated necktie for trying," said
Herb. "If you really want to see the winner of the first prize, just
gaze steadily in my direction," and he grinned.
"I'm not saying anything, but that doesn't prove that I'm not
thinking a lot," said Bob. "Never leave little Bob Layton out of it
when there's a prize hanging around to be picked."
"It would be just like your beastly luck to win it," said Jimmy.
"There won't be much luck about this, I guess," said Joe. "By the
time the judges get through picking the winner, the chances are it
will take a pretty nifty set to pull down first prize--or second,
either, for that matter," he added. "There's a lot of fellows
trying for it, I hear."
"Well, as far as we four go, we all start even," continued Bob.
"All that we know about radio we learned together, so nobody has
a head start on the other."
"That doesn't help me much," said Herb. "What I need is a big head
start. I think I'll enjoy myself working the set we have already,
and let you fellows slave your heads off trying for prizes. I know
I'd never win one in a thousand years, anyway."
"Oh, you might--in a thousand years," put in Jimmy, wickedly;
"not any sooner than that, though."
"Oh, who asked you to put in your two cents' worth, you old croaker?"
said Herb, giving Jimmy a poke in his well padded ribs. "I'll win that
prize just as well by not working as you will by working. You know
you're too fat and lazy, to make up a set all by your lonesome."
"I'm not too lazy to try, anyway," returned the fat boy, "and that's
more than some people can say."
"He's got you there, Herb," laughed Bob. "Why don't you start in
and make a try for it, anyway?"
"Nothing doing," said Herb. "If I took the trouble to make a wireless
outfit good enough to cop that prize, I'd expect them to pay me a
thousand dollars for it instead of a measly little hundred."
"To hear you talk, anyone would think that hundred dollar bills grew
on trees," said Joe. "I'll bet any money you never saw a hundred
dollars all at one time, in your life."
"To tell you the truth," said Herb, "I don't really believe there's
that much money in the whole world. I must admit I've never seen it,
"You'll see it when I show it to you," said Jimmy, with more show
of confidence, it must be admitted, than he really felt.
"Well, remember we're all pals," said Herb. "If you win that prize,
Jimmy, I get half, don't I?"
"Yes, you don't. I might blow you to an ice cream soda, but outside
of that, my boy--nothing doing."
One day the hardware dealer of whom they had purchased their supplies
called Bob, Joe and Jimmy into his establishment.
"Got something to show you," he declared importantly. "New box set,
just from New York, and sells for only twenty-two fifty. Better than
any you can make. Want to try it? There's a concert coming in from
Springfield right now."
"Yes, sir, we'd like to try it, and it's good of you to let us,"
answered Bob. "But we believe in making our own sets. That's more
than half the fun."
"Yes, but just wait till you hear this box set," urged the dealer.
"Then maybe you'll want to own one. A professional set is always
better than an amateur one, you know."
The boys didn't know but they did not say so. They followed the man
to a back room of his establishment, where the box set rested on a
plain but heavy table.
"There are the ear phones, help yourselves," he said. "I've got to
wait on that customer that just came in."
The three radio boys proceeded to make themselves at home around the
table. They adjusted the ear phones and listened intently. There was
not a sound.
"Guess the concert is over," observed Doughnuts.
"Wait till I make a few adjustments," put in Bob, and proceeded to
tune up as best he could. He had been reading his book of instructions
carefully of late, so went to work with a good deal of intelligence.
"There it is!" cried Joe, as the music suddenly burst upon their ears.
"Listen, fellows! They are playing Dixie!"
"And it sounds mighty good," added Jimmy enthusiastically.
"But no better than it would on our set at home," put in Bob,
"Not a bit," added Joe, loyally.
The three lads listened to another selection and then the storekeeper
"Isn't that grand?" said he. "I'll bet you can't make a box as good
"Maybe we'll make something better," said Bob. "You come up to our
place some day and listen to what we have."
"Then you don't think you want a box?" And the shopkeeper's voice
indicated his disappointment.
"Not just yet anyway," answered Bob.
"We'd rather buy the parts from you and make our own," added Joe.
"Besides, we want to try for the Ferberton prizes."
"Oh, that's it. Well, when you want anything, come to me," concluded
The radio boys, Herb excepted, finally decided each to make his own
set without any consultation with any of the others, and submit it
to be judged strictly on its merits.
"Three weeks ought to give us plenty of time," said Bob. "I'm going
to do a lot of experimenting before I start in to make the real set.
Of course, the one we've already got belongs to all of us equally,
and you fellows know you can come and use it any time you feel like
"Your mother will be putting us out if we spend much more time at
your house," replied Joe. "It seems as though we have just about
been living there lately."
"Oh, don't let that worry you," said Bob. "You know you're welcome
at any time. Besides, we won't have to put all our time on the new
sets, either. We can have plenty of fun in the evening with our
The boys finally agreed to build their sets each by himself, and
to say nothing about any features or improvements that they might
incorporate in it. They were all enthusiastic over their chances,
although they knew that the winners would have to overcome a lot
of first-class opposition.
Herb felt sorry at times that he had not started a set of his own,
but his was an easy-going disposition that took things as they came,
and while the other boys were studying all the books they could find
on the subject and consulting Dr. Dale, Mr. Brandon having departed,
he was listening to music and talk over the original set, and
enjoying himself generally.
"You go ahead and have all the fun you want now," said Joe one time,
when Herb was teasing him about working so hard. "My fun will come
"Yes--if you win the prize," said Herb. "But if you don't, you won't
be any better off than I am, and you'll be out all your work besides."
"Not a bit of it," denied Joe. "Even if I don't win either prize, my
set will be returned to me after the judging is over, and I'll have
that to show for my trouble, anyway."
"Maybe you will, if they don't tear it all apart while they're looking
it over," said Herb.
"Aw, forget it," advised Joe. "If I don't get anything out of it but
the experience, I won't think that I've wasted my time."
"Well, that's the spirit, all right," said Herb. "Go to it. But you
ought to have heard the concert I heard last evening while you slaves
were working your heads off."
"Yes, but when I get this outfit of mine working, I'll be able to hear
everything a lot better than you can with the set we've got now," said
Joe. "I've got some good kinks out of a radio magazine that I'm going
to put in mine, and it's going to be a regular humdinger."
"Oh, all right, all right," said Herb, laughing. "That's the very
thing that Jimmy was telling me only this afternoon. He's putting
a lot of sure fire extras on his set, too. I don't think there will
be enough prizes to go around."
"I don't care whether there are or not, so long as I get one," said
Joe, with frank selfishness. "One is all I want."
"That's probably exactly one more than you'll get," grinned Herb.
"But you may astonish us all by working up something really decent.
Funny things like that do happen, sometimes."
"'It's easier to criticize than to create,'" quoted Joe. "Likewise,
'he who laughs last, irritates.' If those two wise old sayings don't
hold you for a while, I'll try to think up a few more for you."
"Oh, don't bother, that's plenty," laughed Herb. "It doesn't take
many of those to satisfy me."
"Well, I'll have to leave you to your troubles," said Joe. "Now that
I've got this idea in my noodle, I won't be able to rest until I get
it worked up.
"Say, wait a minute," said Herb. "I heard a swell joke to-day, and
I know you'll enjoy it. There was an Irishman and a Jew--" but at
this formidable opening Joe rushed out, slamming the door behind him.
"Well, it's his loss," thought Herb. "But it is a crackerjack story,
just the same. I'll have to go and find Bob and tell it to him."
He found Bob hard at work at his bench downstairs.
"Hey, Bob, want to hear a good joke?" he asked.
"Nope," said his friend, with discouraging brevity.
"Gee!" exclaimed Herb, "you're as bad as Joe. You neither of you
seem to appreciate high-class humor any more."
"Oh, we appreciate high-class humor all right," said Bob, with a
wicked grin. "It's only your kind that we can't stand for."
"Bang!" exclaimed Herbert. "That settles it. Any one of you knockers
who wants to hear that story now will have to come to me and ask for
"That's all right, Herb. Just you hold on to it until we do. Maybe
it will improve with a little aging."
"This story is so good that it can't be improved. But I'm going home
now, so if you want to give yourself the pleasure of hearing it,
you'd better say so right away."
"No, I'll get along somehow without it," answered Bob. "But maybe
Jimmy would like to hear it. Have you tried it on him?"
"No, and what's more, I'm not going to. I've lost my confidence in
that story now. I guess it can't be so good after all."
"Probably not," agreed Bob gravely.
"Oh, get out!" cried Herb. "I'm going home!" and he departed
indignantly, slamming the door behind him.
A SPLENDID INSPIRATION
"Say, fellows, I've been thinking about something," said Bob
seriously, so seriously, in fact, that the three boys who had been
lolling on the grass turned over and regarded him with interest.
"Gosh, did you hear what he said?" asked Herb, with a grin. "He's
got an idea, fellows. Hold your hats, I bet it's a bear."
"Spill it, Bob," came from Jimmy, lazily.
"Gee, he sure is a wonder, that boy," said Joe, regarding his friend
admiringly. "I've never known him to run out of ideas yet. Not but
what some of 'em are rotten," he added, grinning. The next minute
he dodged a clump of moist earth thrown his way by the good-natured
Bob, the result being that the missile landed square upon Jimmy's
The boys roared while poor Jimmy patiently brushed the dirt off,
inquiring in injured accents what the big idea was, anyway.
"Good work, fellows," crowed Herb joyfully. "That's bully slap-stick
work all right. You have a movie star beat a mile already."
"Say, cut out the comedy, will you, Herb?" asked Joe impatiently.
"I want to hear about this great idea of Bob's."
"I didn't say it was great, did I?" demanded Bob modestly. "It's
just an idea, that's all."
"Well, shoot," demanded Herb laconically.
Bob was silent for a moment, wondering just how he could best express
the thought that had suddenly come to him; just a little afraid that
the others might laugh at him. And where is the boy who does not dread
being laughed at more than anything else in the world?
The day had been unusually warm for the time of the year, and the
radio boys, turning their backs upon the town, had started out for
a long hike into the woods. The heat, together with a visit to the
doughnut jar just before meeting the boys, had wearied Jimmy, and
he had been the first to suggest a rest. And so, having come across
a talkative little brook, hidden deep in the heart of the woodland,
the boys had been content to follow Jimmy's suggestion.
Sprawled on the mossy ground in various ungraceful, though comfortable
positions, the boys lazily watched the hurrying little brook, throwing
a pebble into it now and then and talking of the thing that almost
always filled their minds these days--their radio outfits.
At last, urged on by the boys, Bob made public his idea.
"Why, I was just thinking--" he said slowly. "I was just thinking
how awfully slow things must be for the poor shut-ins--"
"What?" demanded Herb curiously.
Bob frowned. It bothered him to be interrupted, especially when it
was hard to express what he felt.
"Shut-ins," he repeated impatiently. "People who can't get out and
have fun like us fellows."
"Oh, you mean cripples like Joel Banks," said Herb with relief.
"Gee, did you just find that out?" murmured Jimmy, turning over on
his stomach and wondering if he really ought to have eaten that last
doughnut. "Some folks are awful stupid."
Herb showed a strong desire to avenge this insult, but Joe quelled
the threatened riot.
"Cut out the rough stuff, can't you, fellows?" he asked disgustedly.
"Give Bob a chance."
"Well," Bob continued during the temporary quiet that ensued, "I was
just thinking what a mighty fine thing it would be for these poor
folks who never have any fun if they could have a radio attachment
in their own houses so that no matter how crippled they were, they
could listen to a concert or the news, or any old thing they wanted
to, without going outside their houses."
"It sure would be fine," said Joe, a little puzzled as to what Bob
was driving at but loyally certain that, whatever the idea, his chum
was sure to be in the right.
"I don't get you at all," complained Jimmy, finally deciding that he
really should have left that last doughnut alone, there was beginning
to be a mighty uncomfortable sensation somewhere in the center of his
being. "Radio probably would be a fine thing for cripples but, gee,
we're not cripples--yet."
"Who said anything about us?" demanded Bob, disgruntled. "I never
said we were cripples, did I?"
"Well, spill the rest of it," groaned Jimmy as he shifted from one
side to the other in the hope of relieving the pain that gnawed at
his vitals. "What's the big idea?"
"I was wondering," said Bob, sitting up and growing excited as his
vague plan began to take shape, "if we couldn't get some of these
poor folks together and give 'em the time of their lives."
The boys stared at him and Herb shook his head sorrowfully.
"Gone plain loco," he explained to the other boys, with a significant
tap on his forehead. "They say life's pretty hard inside that asylum,
"Loco, nothing!" cried Joe, beginning to understand Bob's idea and
growing excited in his turn. "You're the one that's loco, you poor
fish, only you haven't sense enough to know it. Where would we give
this entertainment, Bob? At your house?" he asked, turning to his
chum while Herb grinned at the suffering Jimmy.
"Now, they've both got it," he said dolefully.
"Well, I wish 'em joy of it," grumbled Jimmy.
"Why, I thought of that at first," Bob said in reply to Joe's
question. "Only with our instruments we have to use the ear pieces
so that only a few could listen at a time."
"That would be pretty slow for the rest of them," Joe finished
Bob nodded eagerly.
"Sure thing," he said, sitting up and flinging the hair back out
of his eyes. "I knew you'd catch the idea, Joe."
"Say, I know what we'll do," broke in Herb excitedly. "How about
taking all these poor lame ducks to Doctor Dale's house. He has a
"And they could all hear the concert at once! Hooray!" cried Jimmy,
momentarily forgetting his pain in excitement. "You've got a pretty
good head piece after all, Bob."
"Yes, and a minute ago you were laughing at me," said Bob, aggrieved.
"Well, say," cried Joe, who was ever a boy of action, "what's the
matter with our getting busy on this right away? Let's go and see
"What's your big rush?" Jimmy protested feebly, appalled by the
prospect of immediate action. "There's a lot of things we don't know
about this business yet."
"Sure, sit down and talk it over," urged Herb placatingly. "No use
gettin' all worked up over this thing, you know. Say," he added,
with a sudden light in his, eye, "that reminds me of a joke I heard."
But a roar of protest from the other boys drowned his voice.
"Gag him, some one, can't you?" Joe's voice was heard above the
uproar. "The last joke he tried to work off on us was so old it
had false teeth."
"Gee," cried Herb, finally released and disgruntled. "It's plain
to be seen real humor is wasted on this gang."
The boys let it go at that and eagerly plunged into a discussion
of the proposed concert.
"Who do we know that we can invite?" Joe asked practically. "The only
'shut in' I know is poor old Joel Banks. He's a fine old boy--went
all through the Civil War with colors flying. He's awfully old now,
and so crippled with rheumatism he can't leave the house."
"Fine!" crowed Herb irrepressibly. "Here's the first of our lame
"Joel Banks isn't any lame duck! I'll have you know that right now,"
cried Joe hotly. "He's one of the finest old gentlemen you ever want
to see, and a hero at that. My dad says he would take his hat off
to him any day in the week."
"All right, all right," said Herb quickly. "Don't go off the handle.
I didn't know you were so strong for the old boy. Who's next on the
list?" he asked, turning to Bob.
"Why," said Bob uncertainly, "I know quite a few poor kids who were
crippled in that infantile paralysis epidemic--"
"Sure, so do I," broke in Jimmy, interested. "How about little Dick
Winters and his sister?"
"Fine!" cried Bob. "And I know a couple more I could pick up. Now
let's see! That makes--Gee, how many is it?"
"About five;" Joe figured for him. "That's enough, isn't it."
"Y-yes," said Bob doubtfully. "Only your friend, the old war veteran,
might not like to be squeezed in with a lot of kids, that way."
"I can fix that easily," said Jimmy, importantly. "What's the matter
with asking Aunty Bixby?"
"Who's she?" asked Bob, with interest.
"She's an old lady, a sort of spinster, I guess," Jimmy explained.
"She lives all by herself, and I guess she gets kind of lonesome
sometimes. She's kind of deaf, though," he added doubtfully.
"Deaf!" repeated Bob, with a frown. "How can she listen to radio
then, if she's deaf?"
"Oh, she has a trumpet," Jimmy hastened to explain. "She sticks it in
her ear like this," and he made a gesture with his hands at the same
time distorting his face into such a comical imitation of a deaf
person doing his best to listen that the other boys shouted with
laughter. "Oh, she can hear, all right," Jimmy finished confidently.
"Well, then, that makes six," said Bob briskly. "Now we've got to make
up our minds how we are going to get them to Doctor Dale's house."
"Maybe dad will let me take the big car," said Joe, his eyes shining
with the sheer daring of the thought. "He is so crazy about radio
himself these days that he will pretty nearly stand on his head to
help anybody who takes an interest in it."
"I guess all our dads are bricks about radio," declared Jimmy stoutly.
"Mine said the other night he was mighty glad to have a youngster that
had sense enough to pick out something really good to waste his time
"Waste, is right," said Herb and then stared upward through the trees
as Jimmy's indignant stare was fixed upon him.
"Stop scrapping, fellows," said Bob, jumping to his feet and shaking
off some of the twigs and damp earth that stuck to him. "Let's get
busy and find Doctor Dale. If he won't let us have his house then
this thing is all off."
"Swell chance, his not letting us have his house," said Jimmy, getting
painfully to his feet and shaking himself for all the world like a fat
puppy dog. "He's the greatest sport going."
"He sure is," Bob agreed as they swung off at a great pace through
the woods. "If it hadn't been for him we probably wouldn't have known
anything about radio."
For a while they were quiet, their minds busy with plans for
perfecting their own radio outfits, their imaginations athrill
with anticipation of the wonders they were yet to perform.
Then Herb suddenly broke into their dreams with a very practical
"Boys, I just happened to think--"
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