CHAPTER I THE AUTO CRASH
"How about it, Joe?" asked Bob Layton of his chum, Joe Atwood, as they came out of school one afternoon, swinging their books by straps over their shoulders. "Going up to Dr. Dale's house to-night?"
"You bet I am," replied Joe enthusiastically. "I wouldn't miss it for a farm. I'm keen to know more about this wireless business, and I'm sure the doctor can tell us more about it than any one else."
"He sure does get a fellow interested," agreed Bob. "He isn't a bit preachy about it, either. Just talks to you in words you can understand. But all the time you know he's got a lot back of it and could tell you ten times as much about it if you asked him. Makes you feel safe when you listen to him. Not a bit of guesswork or anything like that."
"What are you fellows chinning about?" asked Jimmy Plummer, one of their schoolmates, who came up to them at that moment. "You seem all worked up about something."
"It's about that talk Dr. Dale is going to give us to-night on the wireless telephone," answered Bob, as he edged over a little to give Jimmy room to walk beside them. "You're going, aren't you? The doctor said he wanted all the boys to come who could."
"Do you suppose there'll be any eats?" asked Jimmy, who was round and fat, and who went by the nickname of "Doughnuts" among his mates because of his fondness for that special delicacy.
"Always thinking of that precious stomach of yours!" laughed Bob. "Jimmy, I'm ashamed of you. You're getting so fat now that pretty soon you won't have to walk to school. You can just roll there like a barrel."
"You string beans are only jealous because I get more fun out of eating than you do," declared Jimmy, with a grin. "But eats or no eats, I'm going to hear what the doctor has to say. I got a letter the other day from a cousin of mine out in Michigan, and he told me all about a set that he'd made and put up himself. Said he was just crazy about it. Wanted me to go into it so that he and I might talk together. Of course, though, I guess he was just kidding me about that. Michigan's a long way off, and it takes more than a day to get there on a train."
"Distance doesn't make much difference," declared Bob. "Already they've talked across the Atlantic Ocean."
"Not amateurs?" objected Joe incredulously.
"Yes, even amateurs," affirmed Bob. "My dad was reading in the papers the other night about a man in New Jersey who was talking to a friend near by and told him that he was going to play a phonograph record for him. A man over in Scotland, over three thousand miles away, heard every word he said and heard the music of the phonograph too. A ship two thousand miles out on the Atlantic heard the same record, and so did another ship in a harbor in Central America. Of course, the paper said, that was only a freak, and amateur sets couldn't do that once in a million times. But it did it that time, all right. I tell you, fellows, that wireless telephone is a wonder. Talk about the stories of the Arabian Nights! They aren't in it."
There was a loud guffaw behind the lads, accompanied by snickers, and the friends turned around to see three boys following them....