Part 1 out of 3
Produced by Stan Goodman, Earle Beach, Tonya Allen
and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.
[Illustration: "THERE IT IS!" CRIED JOE, AS THE MUSIC SUDDENLY
BURST UPON THEIR EARS]
THE RADIO BOYS' FIRST WIRELESS
OR WINNING THE FERBERTON PRIZE
BY ALLEN CHAPMAN
BY JACK BINNS
It is very appropriate at this moment when radio has taken the
country by storm, and aroused an enthusiasm never before equaled,
that the possibilities for boys in this art should be brought out
in the interesting and readable manner shown in the first book of
Radio is still a young science, and some of the most remarkable
advances in it have been contributed by amateurs--that is, by boy
experimenters. It is never too late to start in the fascinating game,
and the reward for the successful experimenter is rich both in honor
Just take the case of E. H. Armstrong, one of the most famous of
all the amateurs in this country. He started in as a boy at home,
in Yonkers, experimenting with home-made apparatus, and discovered
the circuit that has revolutionized radio transmission and reception.
His circuit has made it possible to broadcast music, and speech, and
it has brought him world-wide fame.
He had no elaborate laboratory in which to experiment, but he
persevered and won out. Like the Radio Boys in this story, he was
confronted with all kinds of odds, but with true American spirit
he stuck to his task and triumphed.
The attitude of the government toward the wireless amateur is well
illustrated by the expressions of Secretary of Commerce Herbert
Hoover, and is summed up in his declaration, "I am for the American
No other country in the world offers such opportunities to boy
experimenters in the radio field. The government realizes that there
is always a possibility of other important discoveries being made
by the boy experimenters, and that is the reason it encourages the
Don't be discouraged because Edison came before you. There is still
plenty of opportunity for you to become a new Edison, and no science
offers the possibilities in this respect as does radio communication.
March 30th 1922
I. THE AUTO CRASH
II. TAKING CHANCES
III. WONDERS OF WIRELESS
IV. MYSTERIOUS FORCES
V. CROOKED WORK
VI. A PRACTICAL OBJECT LESSON
VII. IN THE DARK
VIII. GETTING A START
IX. WORK AND FUN
X. A STEALTHY RASCAL
XI. CLEVER THINKING
XII. FORGING AHEAD
XIII. THRASHING A BULLY
XIV. ON THE VERGE
XV. THE FINISHING TOUCH
XVI. SWEETS OF VICTORY
XVII. THE FERBERTON PRIZE
XVIII. FRIENDLY RIVALS
XIX. A SPLENDID INSPIRATION
XX. THE TIME OF THEIR LIVES
XXI. THE VOICE THAT STUTTERED
XXII. THE STOLEN SET
XXIII. BATTERING IN THE DOOR
XXIV. ON THE TRAIL
XXV. THE PRIZE
THE RADIO BOYS' FIRST WIRELESS
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
"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
"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.
One of them, who was apparently the leader of the trio, was a big,
unwieldy boy of sixteen, a year older and considerably larger than
Bob and Joe. His eyes were close together, and he had a look of
coarseness and arrogance that denoted the bully. Buck Looker, as
he was called--his first name was Buckley--was generally unpopular
among the boys, but as he was the son of one of the richest men of
the town he usually had one or two cronies who hung about him for what
they could get. One of these, Carl Lutz, an unwholesome looking boy,
somewhat younger than Buck, was walking beside him, and on the side
nearer the curb was Terry Mooney, the youngest of the three, a boy
whose, furtive eyes carried in them a suggestion of treachery and
"What's the joke, Buck?" asked Bob coldly, as he looked from one
to the other of the sniggering faces.
"You're the joke," answered Buck insolently; "that is, if you believe
all that stuff I heard you pulling off just now. You must be easy if
you fall for that."
"I wasn't talking to you," replied Bob, restraining himself with some
difficulty. "But since you've butted in, perhaps you'll tell me just
what it is that's so funny about the wireless telephone."
"The whole thing is bunk, if you ask me," replied Buck with the
confidence that so often goes with ignorance. "Telephoning without
wires! You might as well talk of walking without legs."
This argument seemed to him so overpowering that he swelled out his
chest and looked triumphantly at his two companions, whose faces
instantly took on the same expression.
"You made a ten strike that time, Buck," declared Lutz, clapping him
on the shoulder.
"Hit the target right in the bull's-eye," chimed in Terry, with
Bob and Joe and Jimmy looked at each other, and, despite their
resentment, had all they could do to keep from breaking into laughter.
Buck noticed their amused expression, and his coarse face grew red
"Well," he demanded, "what have you got to say to that? Am I right
or ain't I?"
"You're wrong," replied Joe promptly. "Dead wrong. You're so far
from the truth that you couldn't see it with a telescope. You're
talking like a ham sandwich."
"Look out what you're saying, Joe Atwood, or I'll make you sorry
for it," threatened Buck, as he clinched his fist, an ugly look
coming into his eyes.
"I apologize," said Joe. "That is, I apologize to the ham
Bob laid a restraining hand on his friend's arm.
"Easy, Joe," he counseled. "Listen, Buck," he went on. "Did you ever
hear of Marconi?"
"Sure, I did," replied Buck. "He's the fellow that had the fight
with Julius Caesar. The one that Cleopatra was dippy about."
"No," said Bob patiently. "You're thinking of Mark Antony. He's been
dead for more than eighteen hundred years. The man I mean is a very
live one. He's the inventor of wireless telegraphy."
"Never heard of him," muttered Buck sullenly.
"Well, since you never heard of him, we'll mention some one else,"
continued Bob. "I was only going to say that he's a pretty brainy
fellow, and he believes in the wireless telephone. Then there's
Edison. Perhaps you've heard of him?"
"Of course I have," blurted Buck furiously. "Say, what are you trying
to do? Make a fool of me?"
"Nature's done that already," Joe put in, but Bob checked him.
"I'm simply trying to show," Bob explained, "that if we're 'easy,'
as you call it, in 'falling for that stuff,' there are a lot of able
men in the United States who are in the same boat with us. In fact
there isn't a man of brains and education in the country who doesn't
believe in it."
"Do you mean to say that I haven't any brains?" cried Buck in a fury.
"Not exactly that," replied Bob. "But perhaps you don't use what
brains you have. That happens sometimes, you know."
"I guess a fellow's got a right to his own opinions," blustered Carl
Lutz, coming to the rescue of his discomfited leader.
"Of course he has," retorted Joe. "But when it's that kind of opinion
he ought to put on the soft pedal. Any one has a right to have a club
foot or a hunched back or cross eyes, but he doesn't usually go round
boasting of them."
"You're a wise bunch, I'll tell the world," sneered Buck in lieu of
a more stinging retort.
"Not at all," replied Joe. "It's you that claim to be wiser than
Edison and the rest of them. But you mustn't think because you have
water on the brain that you're the whole ocean."
The air was full of electricity and matters were tense between the two
groups when a diversion came in the form of a halloo from the other
side of the street, and Herb Fennington, a special friend of Bob
and Joe, came running over to greet them. They stopped for a moment,
and Buck and his cronies passed on, favoring Bob, Joe and Jimmy with
malignant scowls as they did so.
"Hello, Herb!" called Bob, as the latter came up to them, a little
breathless from running.
"Hello, fellows!" returned Herb, as he looked after Buck and his
companions. "What's up with Buck and his gang? Looked as if there
was going to be a fight about something."
"Not so bad as that, I guess," replied Bob, with a laugh, "though
Buck did look as though he'd like to take a swing at us."
"I only wish he had," grunted Joe. "That fellow certainly gets me mad,
and I wouldn't mind at all having some excuse for pitching into him."
"What was it all about?" asked Herb, with lively curiosity.
"He heard us talking about the wireless telephone and butted in,"
explained Bob. "Practically told us we were fools for believing
that there is such a thing."
Herb laughed outright.
"Sounds like Buck," he commented. "What he doesn't know would fill
"A whole library you mean," corrected Joe.
"A library then," agreed Herb, as the boys resumed their walk, which
had now brought them close to the business part of the town. "But say,
fellows, forget about Buck and listen to this. It's a good one that
I heard yesterday. Why is--"
He was interrupted by a shout from Bob.
"Look," he cried, "look at that auto! It's running wild!"
Their startled eyes followed the direction of Bob's pointing finger.
An automobile was describing curious antics in the middle of the
street. It made short dashes here and there, hesitated, zigzagged.
Then it turned suddenly toward the curb, dashed on the sidewalk
and amid a crash of broken glass plunged through the plate glass
windows of a store.
There was a moment of stupefaction on the part of the boys at the
suddenness of what promised to be a tragedy. Then in a flash they
came to life.
"There was a girl in that auto!" cried Bob, as he dashed toward the
store, the others following close on his heels. "Hurry up, fellows.
She may be badly hurt."
"More likely killed," muttered Joe. "Don't see how any one could
live through that."
The store through whose windows the car had dashed was the largest
paint and hardware store in the town. The crash had resounded far
and near, and people were rushing toward it from all directions. The
boys reached the place first, however. They opened the door and raced
in, only to be greeted with a heavy volume of smoke, through which
flickered tongues of fire.
In the midst of a mass of debris was standing the wrecked auto.
The gasoline tank had been smashed by the impact, and the contents,
luckily a small amount, had been scattered over the place and come
in contact with a stove. The flames had spread to a large part of
the paints and oils and other inflammable materials that the store
contained. One of the clerks in the place had been hit and stunned
by the car, while two others, together with the proprietor and a
customer, were making desperate attempts to beat out the flames.
Bob's quick eye caught sight of a case of hand grenades standing near
the entrance, and his qualities of leadership came into play at once.
"Grab those grenades, you, Herb, and, you, Jimmy," he cried, "and
throw them where they're most needed. Come with me, Joe, and get
that girl out of the car. Quick!"
In a twinkling, Herb and Jimmy were hurling the grenades at the points
where the fire seemed to have gained most headway, while Bob and Joe
worked their way over the mass of boxes and wrecked fixtures to the
place where the runaway automobile had ended its mad rush.
The plate glass windows had reached almost to the ground, so that
the automobile with its great momentum had easily surmounted the
sills and reached nearly the middle of the store. One wheel had
been torn off, the windshield was shattered into fragments, and
the front of the machine had been crushed in.
In the driver's seat, still with her hand on the wheel, was the figure
of a girl. No sound came from her, and from the way her body drooped
forward, limp and motionless, it was evident that she was either
unconscious or dead. The boys feared the worst, especially when they
saw a stream of blood trickling down from a wound near her temple.
They worked at top speed, trying to reach her and draw her out from
the driver's seat. But the bent and tangled mass of wreckage held her
captive, and it was only after other willing hands had come to their
assistance that they were able to lift her from the car.
They bore her to a point just outside the door, and laid her on some
boxes that were hurriedly placed side by side. Her eyes were closed
and she was deadly pale, the whiteness of her face being accentuated
by the blood that dripped from her wound. She was a young girl,
apparently no more than twenty, and was quietly though tastefully
dressed. It was evident that she still breathed, and a slight
fluttering of the eyelids indicated that she was returning to
consciousness. Directly across the street was the Sterling House,
named after its proprietor, and Mrs. Sterling, a motherly looking
woman, who was among those who crowded around to look and help,
recognized the girl at once.
"Why, she's one of our guests!" she exclaimed. "Her name is Berwick--
Miss Nellie Berwick--and she's been staying with us for the last three
days. Some of you bring her across to her room, and some one else
hurry and get a doctor. Oh, there's Dr. Ellis now!" she exclaimed
with great relief, as she descried a tall figure in the crowd
hurrying to the side of the injured girl.
Under the doctor's directions, Bob and Joe, assisted by two others,
lifted the girl and carried her across to the hotel. And while they
are engaged in this work of helpfulness, it may be well for a better
understanding of our story to sketch briefly the careers of Bob and
Joe and their friends and the surroundings in which they had been
Bob Layton was the son of Henry Layton, the leading druggist and
chemist of the town. Bob had been born and brought up in Clintonia,
which was a thriving town of about ten thousand inhabitants in
an Eastern state, about seventy-five miles from New York City. It
was located on the Shagary river, a stream that afforded abundant
opportunities for boating, fishing, and swimming, and was a source
of endless pastime and recreation for the boys.
Bob, at the time this story opens, was fifteen years old, of rather
dark complexion, and was tall and well-developed for his age. He was
vigorous and athletic and a lover of outdoor sports. His magnetism and
vitality made him a "live wire," and he was the natural leader among
the boys with whom he associated. His nature was frank and friendly,
and he was extremely popular with all those who were worth while. With
that he had a quick temper, which he had learned, however, to keep
under control. He never looked for trouble, but at the same time he
never side-stepped it, and any one who tried to bulldoze and impose
on him speedily found that he had picked out the wrong person.
Joe Atwood, Bob's special chum, was a boy of about the same age and
was the son of Dr. Atwood, a prominent and respected physician of
the town. Between him and Bob a warm friendship existed, and where
one was found the other was certain to be not very far off. He had a
fair complexion with merry blue eyes, that, however, could flash fire
on occasion. As has already been seen in his interchanges with Buck
Looker, he had a "quick trigger" tongue, and was likely to say a thing
first and regret it afterward, because he had gone perhaps too far.
Bob, as the more self controlled of the chums, served as a sort of
check on the impulsiveness of his friend, and had many times kept him
out of trouble. Joe shared Bob's fondness for athletic sports, and,
like him, was a leading spirit in the baseball and football teams
of the town.
Another thing that drew the boys together was their keen interest in
anything pertaining to science. Each had marked mechanical ability,
and would at any time rather put a contrivance together by their
own efforts than to have it bought for them ready made. It was this
quality that had made them enthusiastic regarding the wonders of the
Herbert Fennington was a year younger than the others and the son
of one of the principal merchants of Clintonia. He was lively, full
of fun and jokes and an all-around "good fellow."
Jimmy Plummer was fourteen, round, fat, lazy, and good-natured, and
a great lover of the good things of life. His father was a carpenter,
thrifty, respected and a good citizen.
As the boys all lived on West Main Street, a pleasant, shaded street
about a quarter of a mile from the business center of the town,
and within a few doors of each other, they were naturally thrown
much together both in the daytime and when in the evenings they
foregathered at each other's homes to study together the lessons for
the next day or to indulge in a few hours of fun and recreation.
The boys reached the hotel with their helpless burden and carried
the girl upstairs to her room, where Mrs. Sterling had everything
in readiness for her reception. Then the doctor took her in hand and
the boys withdrew to the lobby of the hotel, where they planned to
wait for a few minutes until the results of the doctor's examination
could become known.
Now for the first time since the excitement began they had time to
think of themselves, and when they looked at each other they could
hardly forbear from laughing outright at the picture they presented.
They were begrimed with smoke and grease, their clothes were rumpled
and soiled, and Bob's sleeve had been split from shoulder to elbow,
where it had been caught by a jagged strip of the material of the
"You look like a stoker from the hold of an ocean steamer," gibed
Joe, as he looked at the unkempt figure of his friend.
"It's dollars to doughnuts that you look just as bad," responded Bob,
with a grin, as he made a break for the washroom, followed by his
chum. In the work of washing themselves, they found that it was not
only their clothes and appearance that had suffered. Each had a number
of scratches and blisters that they had not felt during the stirring
period of rescue but that now made their presence known. But these,
after all, were trifles, and they took them as simply a part of
the day's work.
They had only a few minutes to wait before the tall figure of the
doctor emerged from the sick room and descended the stairs. The
expression on his face reassured them, as they hurried forward to
hear his verdict.
"There's no danger," he declared, as soon as he came within speaking
distance, "though how she got off as easily as she did is almost a
miracle. The crushed front and top of the machine acted as a sort of
protection for her. The cut on the side of the face must have been
made by a splinter of flying glass from the windshield. What she is
suffering principally from is shock, and that's no wonder. Even one
of you rough and ready youngsters," he added with a smile, "would
find it a shock to go flying through a plate glass window."
"Sure thing," said Bob in reply. "I'm mighty glad to know that things
aren't any worse with her. I didn't think when we rushed in that we'd
find her alive at all."
"You boys deserve great credit for the quickness and decision with
which you acted," the doctor said gravely. "The fire might have
reached her in a few seconds more. I'm told that the auto caught
fire just after you got her out.
"By the way," he added, as he started to leave the hotel, "she has
been told of the way you rescued her, and she is very grateful. She
wanted me to let you come in so that she could thank you in person,
but in her present weakened state I didn't think it advisable. I told
her, though, that I would speak to you about it, and that if you so
desired you could call on her tomorrow."
"We'll be glad to," answered Bob, and Joe nodded his assent as the
doctor with a wave of the hand went down the steps.
The boys followed him a moment later and went across the street to
view the scene of the wreck. The fire had been put out, and the local
fire company, which had been summoned to the scene, was rolling up
the hose and getting ready to depart. The proprietor and clerks of
the store, with the aid of volunteers, had drawn the wreck of the
partly burned automobile from the store, and it stood in the street,
a melancholy ruin. It was clear that as an auto its day of usefulness
A large crowd still lingered about the spot, discussing the accident,
which by its unique features had thoroughly stirred up the town. It
was not often that an auto took a flying leap into a store and the
story of why and how it happened was sure to furnish a topic of
discussion for many days to come.
Bob and Joe, as two of the principal figures in the event, were
surrounded at once and besieged with questions. Many were the
commendations also that were showered upon them for their courage
and presence of mind.
"Oh, that wasn't much," protested Bob. "We just happened to be close
at hand when the auto went crazy. Anybody else would have done the
"Of course they would," broke in Buck Looker, who with his cronies
was standing close by. "People are making an awful fuss about a
little thing, it seems to me. How about the work we did in helping
to put out the fire?"
"Did you?" asked Jimmy Plummer. "That's news to me. Look at your
hands and clothes. They haven't got a mark on them. I saw you
standing around outside, and you didn't lift a finger."
"You keep your mouth shut or I'll shut it for you," cried Buck
angrily. "You're getting altogether too fresh."
Jimmy was about to retort, but just then there came an interruption.
WONDERS OF WIRELESS
"How are you, boys?" asked a pleasant voice, and the lads looked
up to see Dr. Amory Dale, the pastor of the "Old First Church" of
Clintonia, standing beside them.
Most of them responded cordially, for they liked and respected him.
There was no stiffness or professionalism about him to make them feel
that they were being held at a distance. He was comparatively young,
somewhere in the early thirties, and had the frame and bearing of
an athlete. There were rumors that he had been a star pitcher on his
college baseball nine and a quarterback on a football eleven whose
exploits were still cherished in the memory of his institution. He was
a lover of the out-of-doors and there was a breeziness and vitality
that radiated from him and made him welcome wherever he went. He kept
in touch with modern science, and it was said that he would have
embraced a scientific career if he had not felt it his duty to enter
"You boys seem to have had a strenuous time of it," he said, as he
looked with an amused smile at the torn and soiled clothes of Bob
and Joe as well as the scratches and blisters that marked them. "I
hear that you covered yourself with glory. Tell me more about it."
They went into all the details they knew, passing over as rapidly
as possible their own part in the affair, and Dr. Dale listened
"Good work," he commented. "The occasion came and you were equal to
it, and that's all that can be asked of anybody. I think I'll step
over to the Sterling House now and see if I can be of any help to
the poor girl who has had such a trying experience. By the way, boys,
I hope you won't forget about that wireless talk up at my house
to-night. I'm looking for you all to come if possible, and I'll do
my best to see that you have a good time."
"We're sure of that," replied Bob, with a smile. "And we haven't been
thinking of much else since you first asked us to come. In fact, we
were talking about it just before the accident."
"That's good," replied the doctor. "You coming too, Buckley?" he
asked, turning to Buck, who with his cronies was standing grouchily
a little apart from the others.
Buck stammered something which could be hardly understood, but which
was interpreted by the doctor as a negative. The minister did not
press the matter, but with a pleasant wave of the hand that included
them all he went across the street.
"He's a brick, isn't he?" remarked Bob, as he looked after him.
"You bet he is," agreed Joe emphatically.
"All wool and a yard wide," was Herb's tribute, as the boys, having
gathered up their books, which in the excitement had been thrown
wherever they happened to fall, resumed their walk toward their
homes, leaving Buck and his mates glowering after them.
There was no lack of animated conversation around their supper tables
that night. Bob's parents made no secret of the fact that they were
proud of their son's part in the day's work. Joe, too, found himself
made much of in the family circle, not only by his father and mother,
but by his sister Rose, who hovered about him forestalling his wants
and showing him a deference that would have been highly flattering
if it had not been also somewhat embarrassing. Rose, a year or so
younger than Joe, was all aflutter with the romantic possibilities
of the affair. A young girl in distress! Joe to the rescue! What
could be more interesting?
"Was she pretty, Joe?" she asked.
"Blest if I know," her brother answered briefly. "Pass me some more
of that roast veal, Sis. It goes right to the spot."
With a sigh, Rose complied. Joe was so practical!
Herb and Jimmy came in for a modified share of applause because of
the help they had rendered by their prompt and efficient handling
of the fire grenades, which had held the flames under control until
the fire department could get to the place and complete the job.
The minister's house adjoined the big stone church, which was on West
Main Street and divided the business from the residential part of
the street. It was a roomy, capacious structure, and at about eight
o'clock that night it became a place of pilgrimage for a large number
of the boys of the town. Buck Looker and his cronies were conspicuous
by their absence, but this was a relief rather than a privation.
Bob and his friends were among the first comers. They were warmly
greeted by Dr. Dale and ushered into the large living room of the
parsonage. The portieres had been drawn back between the front and
back rooms so that nearly the whole ground floor was thrown into
one big room. Extra chairs had been brought in so that there were
accommodations for a large number. There were no grown people in
the gathering, for the doctor had especially confined his invitation
to the boys, who, he knew, would feel more at ease in the absence
of their elders.
"There's Talley's wagon," remarked Jimmy, as he noted the presence
at the curb of a vehicle bearing the name of the leading caterer
of the town. "I'll bet we're going to have some eats."
"And you've just come from the supper table!" exclaimed Bob.
"He's like a trolley car," chaffed Joe. "You can always crowd more
"Don't you know the doctor's going to give you a feast of reason?"
asked Herb with mock gravity.
"Reason's all right," admitted Jimmy, "but there isn't much
nourishment in it."
"How about a flow of soul?" asked Bob.
"Nothing against it," Jimmy answered, "but a flow of lemonade has
its good points too."
From the time the boys entered the room their eyes were fixed on
a box-like contrivance that was placed on a table close up against
the wall of the further room. It had a number of polished knobs and
dials and several groups of wires that seemed to lead in or out of
the instrument. Connected with it was a horn such as was common enough
in the early days of the phonograph. There were also several pairs
of what looked like telephone ear pieces lying on the table.
They eyed it with intense curiosity, not unmixed with awe. They had
already heard and read enough of the wireless telephone to realize
that it was one of the greatest marvels of modern times. It seemed
almost like something magical, something which, like the lamp of
Aladdin, could summon genii who would be obedient to the call.
The rooms were comfortably filled when Dr. Dale, with a genial smile,
rose and took up his stand near the table.
"Now, boys," he said, "I've asked you to come here to-night so that we
can talk together and get a little better idea of some of the wonders
of the world we are living in. One of those wonders and perhaps the
most wonderful of all is the wireless telephone," and here he laid
his hand on the box beside him. "Most of you have heard of it and want
to learn more about it. I'm going to try to explain it to you just
as simply as I possibly can. And I'm not going to do all the talking
either, for I want you to feel free to ask any questions you like.
And before I do any talking worth mentioning, I'm going to give you
a little idea of what the wireless telephone can do."
The boys watched him breathlessly as he handled two of the knobs at
the side of the box. A moment later they heard the clear, vibrant
notes of a violin playing a beautiful selection from one of the
operas. The music rose and swelled in wonderful sweetness until it
filled the room, with the delicious melody and held all the hearers
entranced under its spell. It was evident that only the hand of
a master could draw such exquisite music from the instrument.
The doctor waited until the last notes had died away, and smiled with
gratification as he saw the rapt look on the faces of his visitors.
"Sounds as if it were in the next room, doesn't it?" he asked.
"But that music came from Newark, New Jersey."
"Gee," whispered Jimmy to Bob, alongside whom he was sitting,
"that's nearly a hundred miles from here."
"But there's no need of confining ourselves to any place as near
as that," continued the doctor. "What do you say to listening in
on Pittsburg? That's only a trifle of four hundred miles or so
"He calls four hundred miles a trifle!" breathed Jimmy. "Pinch me,
somebody. I must be dreaming."
Joe on his other side pinched him so sharply that Jimmy almost
jumped from his chair.
"Lay off there," he murmured indignantly.
"S-sh," cautioned Bob, for by this time the doctor had made another
Then into the room burst the stirring strains of the "Stars and
Stripes Forever" played by a band that had a national reputation.
The rhythm and dash and fire of the performance were such that
the boys had all they could do to keep their seats, and, as it was,
their feet half unconsciously beat time to the music.
"Hit you hard, did it?" smiled Dr. Dale, who, to tell the truth, had
been keeping time himself. "Well, I don't wonder. I'd hate to see
the time when music like that wouldn't shake you up. But now we'll
go a few hundred miles farther and see what Detroit has to give us."
Jimmy was past speech by this time and could only look at his comrades
in helpless wonder. Then the twang of a banjo sounded through the
rooms and to the thrumming of the strings came a voice in rich negro
"It rained all night the day I left,
The next day it was dry,
The sun so hot I froze to death
Susanna, don't you cry."
The boys broke out in roars of laughter in which the doctor joined
"You see how it is," he said, as the song came to an end. "There's
hardly anything you can think of that you can't hear over the wireless
telephone. It takes you anywhere you want to go in a fraction of a
second. In the last few minutes, we've covered quite a section of the
United States, and with a still stronger instrument we could go right
out to the Pacific coast and hear the barking of the sea lions at the
"Wonder if we could hear the barking of the hot dogs at Coney Island,"
whispered the irrepressible Herb, who would have his joke.
Bob nudged him sharply and Herb subsided.
"And you can pick out any kind of entertainment you want," the doctor
went on. "The great stations from which this music was sent out have
programs which are published every day, together with the exact time
that the selections will be given. At a given minute you can make your
adjustment and listen to a violin solo, a band concert, a political
speech, a sermon, or anything else that you want. If it doesn't please
you, you can shut it off at once, which is much easier and pleasanter
than getting up and going out from an audience.
"We'll have some more selections later on in the evening," he
continued, "but now I want to explain to you how this thing is done.
I can't hope to do much more than touch the surface of the subject
to-night, for I don't want to tire you out, and there'll be plenty of
other nights and days when I hope you boys will call upon me for any
information that you want and I can give.
"Of course the whole thing is based on electricity, the most wonderful
thing that perhaps there is in the whole physical world. Nobody knows
what electricity is--Mr. Edison himself doesn't know. We only know
that it is a wonderful fluid and that the ether is full of it. But
though we don't know what it is, scientific men have learned how to
develop and use its energy, and among other things they have harnessed
it in the service of the wireless telephone.
"Take for instance a quiet lake. It may seem absolutely still, but
if you throw a stone in it you start a number of ripples that keep
spreading further and further out until they break on the shore. So
if you hit a drum with a stick, sound waves are stirred up that keep
spreading out very much like the ripples on the lake.
"Now electricity is something like that. It doesn't begin to act until
you do something to it. The impulse to ripple is in the quiet lake all
the time, but it doesn't ripple until you throw the stone in it. The
sound quality is in the drum, but you don't hear it until you hit the
drum with a stick. So you've got to put into the ether something that
disturbs the electricity in it, something that stirs it up, and then
this disturbance makes waves that travel on, just as the waves on the
lake follow one another and just as the sound waves from the drum keep
pushing each other along.
"A man named Hertz discovered a way of stirring up this energy,
snapping it, you might say, as a man snaps a whip. It was found that
these waves could be made long enough and strong enough to go all
the way across the Atlantic Ocean, in fact to go around the world.
"Around the world!" murmured Jimmy, and again he was tempted to ask
somebody to pinch him, but remembered his previous experience and
stopped just in time.
"Now," continued the doctor, "you may ask what this has to do with
the voice, for it is with the voice that one talks over the 'phone.
The whole principle of the wireless telephone is based on the fact
that sound can be transformed into electricity and then can be
transformed back into sound again. I know," he said, with a smile,
"that that sounds very much like saying that you can make eggs into
an omelet and then get the omelet back into separate eggs again"
--here there was an audible snicker from the boys--"but that is very
much like what is done by the wireless, although it doesn't exactly
fit the case.
"Now see what a wonderful increase in power you get the moment the
sound waves are changed into electric waves. Sound goes at the rate
of one thousand and ninety feet a second. Electrical energy travels
at the rate of one hundred and eighty-six thousand miles a second.
In other words it could go around the world more than seven times
in a single second.
"When you speak into a telephone, unless you are greatly excited,
you don't use more than a fiftieth part of the power of your voice.
But by the time that sound has been caught up and churned, as it
were, into electrical energy it is more than a hundred thousand
times as loud and strong.
"Suppose now, just as an illustration, that you were going to
telephone to Europe. You'd pick up the 'phone and give your message.
That sound would go in the form of a tiny electrical impulse into one
of the great sending stations on the Atlantic Coast, we'll say, and
there it would be caught up by a powerful lot of electrical machines,
amplifiers, alternators, and others, that would keep making it
stronger and stronger until finally it was flung out into space from
the ends of the great wires or antennae. Out and out it would go until
it struck a lot of wires on the other side of the ocean. Then it would
go through another process that would gradually change the electrical
impulse back into sound again, and the man at the other end of the
telephone would hear your voice, just as one does now when you 'phone
to any one in this town."
He paused for a moment, and there was a long drawn breath on the part
of his auditors that testified to the rapt attention with which they
had followed him into this fairyland of science.
"So much for the theory and principle of the wireless," resumed the
doctor. "Of course I've only scratched the surface, and if I talked
to you all night there'd be still lots left to say. But we only need
to know a little about it to put it to practical use. And it is the
practical use of the wireless telephone that I'm especially interested
in for the sake of you boys. I'm satisfied that there's hardly
anything that could give you more pleasure or more benefit than for
each of you to have one of these contrivances in your own home. It's
a wonderful educator, it helps to develop your interest in science,
and what will perhaps appeal to you most of all, you can have more
fun with it than anything else I know of."
Here Bob put in a question that was in the minds of many of
"Does it cost very much, Doctor?" he asked.
"Not very much," the doctor replied. "Of course, some of the more
powerful ones with vacuum tubes and other high class improvements run
into the hundreds of dollars. But some very good receiving sets--and
that's all you could use at the start, for it takes considerable time
and you have to get a license before you are permitted to transmit--
can be bought for from twenty-five to seventy-five dollars."
There was a little gasp at this, some of which was due to a feeling of
disappointment. It seemed beyond the range of what they could save up
from their pocket money, and while the parents of some of them were
well to do, others came from simple and frugal homes where every
dollar had to be carefully counted.
The doctor was quick to note the expression on many faces, and took
pains at once to remove any feeling of discouragement.
"But don't let that bother you at all," he said, "for with a little
thought and planning any one of you will be able to build a telephone
receiving set for himself at hardly any cost at all. In fact, I'd much
rather have you build one than buy one, for in that way you'll get an
understanding of the whole thing that otherwise you might not get at
all. You'd be surprised perhaps if I told you that this set here was
built by me and I wouldn't exchange the experience I've had in putting
it together for a good deal of money."
"But you knew how to do it," put in Joe, "while we don't know the
first thing about it. We wouldn't know how to start, even, let alone
"I was coming to that," returned Dr. Dale, smiling. "As some of you
know, I've fitted up a workshop in the barn behind this house where
I do a good deal of tinkering in my spare hours. Now I'm going to ask
you boys to come out there next Saturday and see me build a wireless
receiving set from A to Z. You'll be surprised to see how much can be
done with a few things that cost very little money and with a lot of
things that don't cost any money at all. How about it, boys?"
It was almost with a whoop that the invitation was accepted by his
eager hearers, and the minister smiled with gratification at their
"Now that's all the talking I'm going to do tonight," he said. "And
as talking's rather dry work, I'm going to have a little refreshment.
Will you boys join me?"
Would they join him? They would and they did, and the havoc they
wrought on the sandwiches and cake and ice-cream that were brought in
and passed around was something to be remembered. Jimmy in particular
ate until his eyes bulged and fully sustained his previous reputation.
And while they ate, the doctor turned on one lively selection after
another, finishing with a selection from a jazz band that sent them
into a frenzy of laughter.
They were still tingling with it as they finally said good-night
to the doctor and started on their way home.
"Oh, you wireless telephone!" exclaimed Herb.
"Isn't it a wonder?" ejaculated Joe.
"Wonder!" repeated Bob. "It's a miracle!"
"We've got to get busy right away and rig up wireless telephones of
our own," continued Bob. "Of course they won't be anything like the
doctor's, but they ought to be good enough for us to get a lot of fun
out of them."
"You bet we will," agreed Joe. "Gee, I can't wait to get at it! If
it wasn't so late I believe I'd start in figuring on it to-night."
"Count me in on it too," chimed in Jimmy. "In a week or so we'll be
sending messages everywhere. I'll be talking maybe to that cousin of
mine in Michigan."
"Come out of your trance, Jimmy," laughed Bob, clapping him on the
shoulder. "Things don't move so fast as that. It'll be a good long
time before you'll be sending any messages. You'll have to learn all
about receiving them first; and believe me there's a good deal to
learn about that. Then before you can send any messages you have to
pass an examination and get a license. But for quite a time we'll have
our hands full and our ears full with attending to the receiving end
of the game. One step at a time is the rule in radio, as well as in
anything else that's worth while."
"I didn't know that," replied Jimmy, somewhat dashed by the
information. "I had an idea that we could send just as soon as
we got our sets made."
"How about you, Herb?" asked Bob. "You're in it with the rest of us
too, aren't you?"
"With both feet," replied Herb. "I think that the wireless is the
greatest thing that ever happened. But I don't know about making one
for myself. I'm all thumbs when it comes to doing any mechanical work.
You fellows are handy with tools, but I have all I can do to keep out
of my own way. I guess I'll ask my dad to buy me a set and let it go
"That's what you think now," replied Joe, "but I'll bet when you see
the rest of us getting busy, you'll pitch in too and make your own
machine. Besides, from what the doctor says, it doesn't take a genius
to put the thing together."
They separated for the night with their heads still full of the
wonders they had heard and seen, and the enthusiasm, was still
with them when they woke the next morning.
At the breakfast tables the conversation was divided between their
experience of the night before and the newspaper account of the auto
accident. A good deal of space was devoted to the latter, and it was
gratifying to learn that although the damage to the store had been
considerable the loss was covered by insurance and that the young
lady whose automobile had crashed into the store had not been
seriously injured and was expected to be around again in a few days.
The coolness and courage with which Bob and Joe had acted and the part
played by Herb and Jimmy in checking the spread of the flames were not
overlooked. The comment that went with it was warm and appreciative,
so much so in fact that, while the boys were not wholly displeased
with it, they felt, as Joe expressed it, that the reporter was
"spreading it on too thick" and feared that they would have to
undergo no end of "joshing" from their mates.
Their lessons in school that day did not receive all the attention
that was due them, for their minds were taken up pretty fully by the
events of the last twenty-four hours. But three o'clock came at last,
and with it came the reminder that they were to call on their way home
at the Sterling House, in order to see Miss Berwick, in accordance
with her request of the day before.
Bustling, motherly Mrs. Sterling greeted Bob and Joe with a smile,
as they made known their errand.
"So here are the young heroes that the paper has been making so much
fuss about," she said mischievously, and Bob and Joe blushed to their
ears. "Just wait a minute until I run up and see if Nellie is ready
to receive you."
"If it's too late, we can wait until another day," said Bob.
"Oh, no," replied Mrs. Sterling. "She's been looking forward to your
coming all day and has spoken about it a number of times. She is very
anxious to thank you both, and I'm sure it will do her good to see
you. The doctor was here this morning and said it would be all right.
Of course, it won't do to stay too long, for the poor lamb is still
rather nervous after her accident, and no wonder. Just wait here a
She disappeared, but a moment later was at the head of the stairs
motioning to them to come up.
They were ushered into a bright, sunny room, where they found Miss
Berwick resting in an easy chair, propped up with pillows.
She was a pretty girl with blue eyes and brown hair and regular
features. Her age appeared to be about twenty. Her face was pale,
as was natural under the circumstances, but it lighted up with a
friendly and grateful smile as the party, entered.
She extended her hand to the boys in turn, as Mrs. Sterling
"You must excuse my not rising," she said, "but I've had a rather
nerve-racking experience, as no one knows better than yourselves.
I want to thank you with all my heart for the way you came to my
help when I was unable to help myself."
"Oh, you make too much of it, Miss Berwick," Bob replied, and Joe
assented with a nod of his head. "We just had the good luck to be
close at hand, and if we hadn't done it, somebody else would."
"That doesn't change the fact that you did it," replied the girl.
"And you took a chance of losing your lives. The gasoline tank might
have exploded and killed us all."
"We're mighty glad that you came out of it as well as you did,"
said Bob warmly.
"It's almost a miracle that you weren't killed," added Joe.
"I suppose I deserve a severe scolding for having caused all this
excitement and damage," was the response. "I don't know what on earth
caused the accident. There seemed to be something the matter with
the steering gear. Then I got excited and dizzy and tried to stop
the machine. What I think happened was that I put my foot on the
accelerator when I meant to put it on the brake. Then when I saw
that the car was plunging toward the window, I either fainted or was
made unconscious later from the shock. After the first awful crash
I didn't know anything more until I woke in this room and found
the doctor bending over me."
"You're a stranger to this town, aren't you?" asked Bob, with an idea
of getting her mind off the subject, which he could see was beginning
to excite her. "Mrs. Sterling was telling us that you had only been
here for a few days."
"Yes," responded the girl. "I live in the town of Lisburn, about ten
miles from here. I'm all alone in the world"--here a shade of sadness
passed over her expressive face. "My father and mother are dead and
I live with an aunt of mine. I never had any brothers or sisters.
My father died some months ago and left me some property, and it was
in connection with that matter that I came to Clintonia. This is the
county seat, you know, and I wanted to consult the records in the
office of the County Clerk. There seems to be a terrible tangle about
the whole thing. Perhaps it was because I became so nervous over the
matter that things went wrong yesterday."
"I'm sorry, that you've had so much trouble," said Bob
sympathetically, "and I hope that it will all come out right
in a little while."
"If it were just a little confusion or mistake, it probably would,"
replied Miss Berwick, with a touch of despondency in her manner.
"But there's dishonesty involved. I know there is, but I don't see
how I'm going to prove it."
"Do you mean that somebody's trying to cheat you out of your
property?" asked Bob, with quickened interest.
"It must be the meanest kind of a rascal that would swindle an
orphan," put in Joe indignantly.
"I'm afraid there are only too many of that kind in the world,"
replied the girl, with a faint smile in which there was no trace
of mirth. "You see I've never had the least bit of business training
and I suppose I would be easy prey. But I'm afraid I'm boring you
with my troubles," she added, catching herself up suddenly.
"Not at all," replied Bob, as Joe also made a gesture of dissent.
"In fact I hope you'll go right ahead and tell us all about it. Of
course we don't know much about law, but our fathers have lived in
this town for years and know almost everybody in the county, and they
may be able to be of some service to you. Who is the rascal that you
think is trying to cheat you out of your property?"
"I don't suppose you know him," replied the girl, visibly cheered
by the sympathy and interest of the boys. "His name is Cassey--Dan
Cassey, and he lives in the town of Elwood, only a few miles from
Lisburn. He held a mortgage of four thousand dollars on my father's
house. When father was taken with his last illness he was very anxious
that the mortgage should be paid so that he could leave the house to
me free and clear. He had enough money in the bank to pay it and he
had me draw it out and keep it in the house. He intended to settle
the matter himself, but death came to him before he could attend
"I knew what his wishes were, and as soon as the funeral was over I
went to see Cassey and told him that I wanted to pay off the mortgage.
I saw his eyes glisten when I told him that I had the money at home
to do it with. Of course, I realize now that I ought to have had a
lawyer attend to the business for me, but, as I say, I have never
had any experience in business and I had a general idea that most men
were honest and that there'd be no trouble about it. Cassey made an
appointment for me to come to his office the next day with the money.
When I went there he was alone. He usually has a stenographer, but
I suppose he had sent her away so that there would be no witnesses.
I gave him the money in bills."
"Then of course you got a receipt for it," interrupted Bob.
"No, I didn't," replied the young girl, her face flushing. "Oh,
don't think that I didn't have sense enough to ask for one," she said,
as she saw the boys look at each other in surprise. "I did ask him
for one, but he said that the mortgage itself would be a sufficient
receipt and he would go over to the bank where he kept it in his
safety deposit box and get it for me. Then he looked at his watch,
and seemed surprised when he saw that it was past banking hours and
too late to get it that day. He said he was awfully sorry, but that
he would get it for me the next day and made an appointment for me to
call and get it at his office. He seemed so sorry that he wasn't able
to give it to me on the spot that I took it for granted that it would
be all right and agreed to come the next day and get it.
"I did go about noon the following day, but he wasn't there. His
stenographer said that he had been suddenly called away to Chicago by
a telegram. I asked her when he would be back, and she said that she
didn't know. Then I asked her if he had left any word or any papers
for me and she said he hadn't. I told her of my having been there the
previous day and of having paid him the money, and she looked at me
in surprise and said she didn't know a thing about it. Then--"
Just at that moment Mrs. Sterling came in, and behind her was the
tall form of Dr. Ellis.
"Time's up, boys," the physician said, with a genial smile. "This
young patient of mine can't have company very long at a time just
at present. It will be all right though to drop in some other time,
if Miss Berwick so desires."
"Indeed I do," said the young girl, as the boys, in compliance with
the doctor's suggestion, arose to go.
"And we surely will be glad to come," responded Bob for himself
and his friend. "We are keen to hear the rest of that story."
They said good-bye and went downstairs and out into the street.
"Why didn't the doctor wait just five minutes more?" grumbled Joe.
"He couldn't have picked out a worse minute to butt in. I'm just
crazy to know how the thing came out."
"So am I," agreed Bob. "But I've heard enough already to feel sure
that that fellow Cassey is a double-dyed crook. He simply saw that he
had an inexperienced girl to deal with and he made the most of it."
"I'd like to punch his nose for him," growled Joe savagely, making
a swing in the air at an imaginary opponent.
"Same here," agreed Bob, "but that wouldn't get back her four
thousand. To think of a man turning a trick like that at the expense
of a young girl who had just lost her father! It doesn't seem as
though there could be such a mean fellow in the world!"
"Well, however it may seem, there is evidently one who is mean
A PRACTICAL OBJECT LESSON
The chums were joined outside the hotel by Herb and Jimmy, who had
waited for them during their interview. To them they narrated what
they had learned of Miss Berwick's story. Their friends shared their
own indignation and were quite as keen as themselves to hear the end
of the story.
"What did you say the fellow's name was?" asked Herb, as the quartette
walked along Main Street.
"Cassey, she said it was--Dan Cassey," replied Bob. "Ever hear of
any one by that name?"
"It sounds rather familiar," replied Herb, knitting his brows as he
tried to remember.
"Wait!" he said suddenly. "I've almost got it--Cassey! Cassey! Does
the man stutter, do you know?"
"She didn't say anything about that," replied Joe. "Why do you ask
"Because," answered Herb, "I remember a man of that name a few weeks
ago calling at dad's store to get a bill of goods. The reason I
remember was the way he stuttered when dad was making out the bill.
He tried and tried to say something, and his eyes bulged out and his
cheeks got all puffed and red while he was trying to get it out. Then
he stopped and whistled, and that seemed to help him, for then he went
right on talking, only stopping once in a while to whistle again and
get a fresh start. I had to get out of the store to keep from bursting
out laughing. I remember I felt rather sorry for the fellow at the
time, but if he's the fellow who's trying to do Miss Berwick out of
her money, nothing's too bad for him."
"Suppose you ask your father what he knows about him," suggested Bob
eagerly. "He may know something that may prove of some help to the
girl, either in getting her money back or putting the fellow in jail."
"I'll do it," agreed Herb. "By the way, fellows, I dropped into Dave
Slocum's place yesterday afternoon and found out that he had a whole
stock of material for making wireless telephone sets. Said a salesman
from New York talked him into it, and he was wondering how he was
going to get rid of them. Thought he'd been stocked up with more than
he could sell, all through the salesman's slick tongue. I told him
not to worry, that the boys would be standing in line before long and
would clean him out of stock. He seemed to think I was kidding him,
but he brightened up just the same."
"Dave's got a pleasant surprise coming to him," grinned Joe. "Just
our bunch alone will make quite a hole in his stock."
"You bet," agreed Bob, as, having reached his gate, he said good-bye
to his mates and went in. "Don't forget to ask your dad about that
Cassey fellow," he called out after Herb.
That Herb did not forget was proved when he overtook his friends
the next morning on the way to school.
"I asked dad about Cassey," were his first words, after greetings had
been exchanged. "He said he thought very likely the man was the one
you had in mind, for this stuttering fellow came from Elwood and his
first name was Daniel. It's hardly likely there'd be two men of the
same name in that little town."
"Did your father know anything about what kind of fellow he was?"
"Dad said that he had the reputation of being tricky and hard-fisted,"
answered Herb. "But as far as he knew he hadn't been caught in
anything yet that could put him in jail. He went up in the air when
I told him about Miss Berwick, and said he'd like to get hold of the
fellow and break his neck. He thinks Miss Berwick ought to get a good
lawyer and bring the rascal into court. But at the same time he thinks
she may have a hard time proving her case, as she hasn't any receipt
or any witnesses. She could simply say she'd paid him and he could
say she hadn't. All he'd have to do would be to stand pat and put it
up to her to prove her case. And how is she going to do it?"
"Do you mean to say that he could get away with a thing as raw as
that?" asked Joe, in a white heat.
"He might," declared Bob. "Things just as rank have been pulled off
again and again. But at any rate she ought to get after him right
away. She's a dead loser as things stand, and if she can only get
the rascal in court she may have a chance. Perhaps he hasn't covered
his trail as well as he thinks he has, and when a good lawyer gets
to questioning him the truth may come out. In any case it's the only
way that will give her a ghost of a chance."
The days passed by swiftly until Saturday came and with it the
opportunity the boys had looked forward to of going to Dr. Dale's
workshop and getting a few practical points on the making of a
wireless telephone set.
They found the doctor at a bench that he had rigged up in his barn.
On the wall was arranged a large variety of tools and on the bench
were strewn several coils of wire and a number of objects the name
and use of which the boys did not know.
The doctor, who was in his shirt sleeves, extended a hearty welcome
to the boys, who ranged themselves about him, and whose numbers were
constantly augmented by newcomers until the barn was well filled.
"What I want to do to-day, boys," he said, "is to show you how easy
and simple it is to put up a wireless telephone receiving set without
having to spend very much money.
"Now the first thing you have to get and put up is the aerial," he
remarked, as he unwound a large coil of copper wire. "You want about
a hundred or a hundred and twenty feet of that. You can extend it
horizontally for about fifty feet, say, for instance, from the side
or back of your house to the barn or the garage, and then have it go
up as high as it can go. The upper end doesn't have to be in the outer
air, for the sound will come along it if it's in the attic. Still it's
better to have it outside if possible. The lower end of the wire has
to be connected with the ground in some way, and you can fix that
by attaching it to a water pipe or any other pipe that runs into the
ground. A good way is to let it down the side of the house and put
it through the cellar window and fasten it to a pipe.
"After you have your aerial you want to get the rest of the apparatus
together. The first thing to do is to get a baseboard which will serve
as the bottom of the receiving box. Something like this," and he put
his hand on a board about eighteen inches long, twelve inches wide,
and about an inch thick. "This is the platform, as it were, on which
the different parts of the apparatus are to rest.
"Now since your ear alone can't detect the waves that are coming to
and along your aerial, you have to have a sort of electrical ear that
will do this for you. Here it is," and he picked up a piece of crystal
and a wire of phosphor bronze. "When this wire comes in contact with
this bit of crystal the mysterious waves become audible vibrations.
"But this isn't enough. You've got to get in tune with the sending
station in order to understand the sounds you hear. When your
vibration frequency is the same as that from which the message is
sent, you can hear as clearly as though the voice or instrument were
in the next room. Now here's a piece of a curtain pole that's about
a foot and a half long. You see that I've wound around its entire
length, except for about a half inch at either end, a coil of wire.
This is called the inductance coil. You will notice that the wire is
covered with cotton except for this little strip of wire extending
lengthwise where I've scraped the cotton off with sandpaper so as to
accommodate the sliding contacts. These sliding contacts can be made
from curtain rings with holes punched in them, through which are
passed copper rivets. These rivets press against the bare path of
the coil and can be moved to and fro until you find the exact point
where your set is in tune with the sending station."
IN THE DARK
"Now," continued Dr. Dale, as he glanced round the circle of eager
faces, alight with interest in the subject, "we're getting pretty
close to the time when one picks up the receiver and begins to listen
"But as the electric vibrations, if left alone, would have a good deal
of trouble in passing through the telephone receiver, we must have a
condenser to help them out. This is very easily made by gluing a piece
of tinfoil about one and a half inches square to each side of a sheet
of mica. Then you must have two strips of tinfoil, one extending from
each side of the mica. If you haven't any mica, a sheet of ordinary
writing paper will do, though the mica is better.
"The telephone receiver you will have to buy, as a satisfactory one
can't very well be made by an amateur. The receiver ought to have a
high resistance to get the best results.
"There," he said, as he laid the telephone receiver on the bench,
"those are the essential things you have to have in order to make
a set of your own. With these things only, it will of course be a
simple set and have a limited range. There are a hundred improvements
of one kind or another that you'll learn about as you get more expert,
and these can be added from time to time. But the special thing I
wanted to prove to you to-day was that it would take only a very small
expenditure of money to get this material together. You see how many
things I've used that any one of you can find about the house, such
as tinfoil, curtain poles, curtain rings, wood for the box, and so on.
The wire needed for your tuning coil and your aerial can be obtained
for less than a dollar. The detector, including the crystal, can be
got for another dollar. An excellent receiver can be bought for two
dollars. A few minor things will be needed at perhaps five or ten
cents each. Altogether the cost of the set can be brought within
This was good news to the boys, many of whom began at once a mental
calculation as to the amount of their pocket money, while others began
to figure on odd jobs that might bring them in the required amount,
in the event that their parents would not supply the money.
With a few deft movements the doctor attached the various parts of
the apparatus to their proper places on the baseboard. There was
not time that day to put up the aerial, but he gave them practical
illustrations of how to use the detector by pressing the point of the
wire firmly against the crystal, how to slide the rings back and forth
until they found the point of greatest loudness and clearness, and all
other points essential to using the set successfully. Not all the boys
caught on to all that was involved, but to the majority it was made
reasonably clear. To Bob and Joe, who had followed every point of
the demonstration with the keenest attention, the operation of the
receiving set was made as clear as crystal, and they had no doubt
of their ability to construct a set for themselves. Herb's attention
had wandered somewhat, because in the back of his mind there still
lurked the idea of buying a set ready made. Jimmy had been somewhat
distracted by looking about in various parts of the barn to see if he
could detect the presence of any "eats," and his ideas were somewhat
hazy in consequence.
"Well, boys," at last said the doctor, with a smile, "I guess we'll
call it a day. But remember that if at any time you are puzzled and
want more information all you have to do is to come and ask me. I'll
gladly lay aside my work any time to help you youngsters out."
The boys thoroughly appreciated the doctor's cordiality and the
demonstration that he had given them, and most of them took occasion
to tell him so as they said good-bye to him and filed out of the
"He certainly does make things clear," said Bob enthusiastically,
as he and his friends made their way toward their homes.
"Not only that, but he makes you want to do them," said Joe. "After
seeing and hearing him this afternoon, I'd ten times rather make
a set than buy one."
Jimmy agreed with them, and even Herb seemed ready to reconsider the
idea of getting one ready made, though he was not yet quite prepared
"All of you come over to my house to-night," said Bob, as they neared
their homes. "We haven't got the materials yet, but we can go over
again what the doctor told us to-day and make sure that we've got it
all straight in our minds. What one forgets, the other may remember.
Then when we do get the stuff we can put a little snap and speed into
making the set."
"That will be bully," replied Joe, and the others agreed with him.
"For my part," Joe continued, "I count every day lost that we have
to go without it. I sure am becoming a radio fan."
It turned out that Herb was prevented from coming by unexpected
company but the others were there. Their talk that night was animated
and enthusiastic, so much so in fact that the time passed more quickly
than they imagined, and they were surprised when the clock struck
"By the way," said Jimmy, as he was preparing to leave with the rest,
"I had a run in with Buck Looker when I was coming here to-night,
and he said he was going to lay for me and do me up."
"He did, did he?" asked Bob. "What was he sore about?"
"Oh, he's had a grouch ever since the day of the fire," replied Jimmy.
"You remember that when he spoke of the work he'd been doing to help
put out the fire, I spoke up and said that he hadn't done a thing.
He's had it in for me ever since. He bumped against me on purpose
to-night just as I was coming in the gate, and when I called him down
for it he said he was going to lay for me and change my face."
"The big bully!" exclaimed Bob. "Just wait here a minute while I go
into the next room."
The adjoining room was dark and commanded a view of the street in
front, while Bob himself could look out of the window without being
seen. Some large shade trees were on the other side of the street,
and as Bob's eyes became accustomed to the darkness, he could dimly
descry three forms lurking in the shadows. One of them he felt sure
was Buck, and he felt reasonably certain that the others were Carl
Lutz and Terrence Mooney, Buck's boon companions.
"I guess Buck and his gang are hanging around all right," he
announced, as he returned to the other room and reported his
discovery. "But he's going to get a little surprise party. I tell you
what we'll do. You go out of the front door alone, Jimmy. Joe and I
will stand there in the light from the hall lamp and say good-night.
Then we'll close the door, and you stand on the stoop a minute,
buttoning your coat, and then go slowly down the walk. That will give
Joe and me a chance to slip around through the back in the darkness
and get behind the bushes near the gate. Leave the rest to us."
"And what we'll do will be a plenty," added Joe.
Jimmy thought well of this plan, and agreed to do his part.
They followed out this program to the letter. As Jimmy came down the
walk, the lurking figures across the street came out from the shadow
of the trees and over toward him.
"I've got you now, Jimmy Plummer," snarled the voice of Buck Looker.
"I told you I was going to take some of the freshness out of you,
and now I'm going to tan your hide."
"Does it take three of you to do it?" asked Jimmy.
"None of your lip now," growled Buck, as he clenched his fist.
"I'm going to have the fun of doing it myself."
With one spring Bob vaulted over the low fence.
"You've got another guess coming, Buck Looker," he said coolly.
The bully started back in surprise and consternation, which was not
diminished when Joe followed his friend's example and stood at his
"What are you butting in for?" Buck snapped, as soon as he recovered
"Because I choose to," answered Bob. "Because I won't stand by and see
you hit a fellow half your size. If it's fighting you're looking for,
I'll give you all the fighting you want right here and now. If your
gang want to mix in, Joe will take care of Lutz and Jimmy can look
after Mooney. But I'll take you on myself. How about it? Is it a go?"
He advanced on Buck, and before his flashing eyes those of the bully
wavered and fell.
"I--I'll settle with you some other time," he stammered, retreating
toward the middle of the street.
"No time like the present," challenged Bob, but as Buck, muttering
threats, still continued to retreat, while his cronies slunk away
with him, Bob gave a little laugh and came back to his friends.
"All right, Jimmy," he chuckled. "I guess your face won't be changed
to-night. Buck seems to have changed his mind."
GETTING A START
The idea of having their own radio outfit and being able to hear all
the wonderful things going on in the air about them so fascinated the
boys that they could talk or think of little else. Even Jimmy Plummer
became so excited that his mother declared he was actually forgetting
to eat, a statement that his father flatly refused to believe at
first, until he escorted his rotund son to the nearest scale and
discovered the astonishing fact that he had really lost two pounds.
"You see how it is, Dad," said Jimmy, mournfully. "If you don't give
me the money to get some wireless stuff I'll just pine away and die."
"It wouldn't hurt you to pine away about twenty pounds, anyway," said
his father, with a twinkle in his eye. "But I suppose if you've set
your heart on it I might as well come across now as later and save
myself from being pestered to death. How much do you suppose you'll
need to get started?"
"The other fellows are figuring that about five dollars apiece will
buy most of the things we'll need--at first, anyway," he added, with
a careful eye to the future.
"All right, here it is," said Mr. Plummer. "And I suppose the next
thing we know you'll be breaking your neck falling off the roof
while you're trying to put up aerials, or whatever it is they call
"Leave that to me," said Jimmy. "And I'll bet you'll get lots of fun
out of this too, Dad, when we get it going."
"Well, maybe so," said his father. "But I don't take much stock in
the whole business. Some wonderful things happen these days, though,
and you may be able to change my mind."
"I'm sure I will," said Jimmy, with conviction. "And if you had heard
what I did at Doctor Dale's house, I'll bet you'd want a radio outfit
as much as I do."
"Well, go ahead and see what you can do, Son. If you can really get
the thing working, so much the better."
The next day Jimmy lost no time in hunting up his friends and telling
them of his good fortune. He found that the others had not been far
behind him in procuring the necessary cash. That afternoon they all
descended on the hardware store, whose proprietor had laid in a stock
of the materials that would be likely to be needed in the construction
of simple radio outfits. The hardware merchant was glad to see them,
but somewhat surprised also.
"Gosh!" he exclaimed, when he learned what the boys had come for.
"When that salesman from New York talked me into stocking up with
all that stuff, I never thought I'd get a sale for it in the next
ten years. And now here's all you youngsters coming in here after
it with money in your fists."
"Yes, and you'd better lay in a whole lot more of it, Dave," said
Bob Layton. "It won't be long before everybody in this town will be
wanting a wireless radio outfit."
"Well, I guess I've got enough in the store now to start you fellows
on your way," said Dave Slocum, the proprietor. "Now, what all do you
There followed a time of much consultation and anxious questioning
before all the enthusiastic young experimenters were satisfied that
they were getting the most useful things their limited amount of
capital would buy. Dave Slocum sold more feet of copper wire in that
one afternoon than he had in the previous five years, not to mention
insulators, resistance wire, detectors, head sets, and all the other
paraphernalia necessary to the beginner. At last all the various
purchases were tied into neat bundles, and the excited boys swarmed
out into the street.
"Let's go to my house and get started right away," proposed Bob.
"It will be quite a job to get the aerial strung, and the sooner
we do it the better it will suit me."
The others were of the same mind, and they made the distance to the
Layton home "on the jump" with Jimmy puffing valiantly in the rear
in a desperate endeavor to keep up with his more active comrades.
"Gee!" he exclaimed, staggering up the steps to the cool veranda,
"you fellows must think I'm a candidate for Marathon runner at the
next Olympic games, the way you hit it up coming here."
"I don't know about the Marathon race," said Joe, "but I do think
we could enter you in the long distance pie-eating contest, without
having any doubts of your winning away out in front of the field."
"Well, I don't want to boast, but I think I could do myself proud,"
admitted Jimmy. "I don't think I ever really got enough pie to satisfy
"Never mind about pies now," said Herb. "The question before the house
is to get an aerial strung from Bob's house to the barn. What's the
best way to get up on the roof, Bob?"
"There's a trap door in the roof not far from the chimney," replied
Bob. "I was thinking that we could make a mast and lash it to the
chimney. That would give us one secure anchorage for the aerial,
and the other we can fasten to the roof of the barn easily enough."
"What are we going to make the mast out of?" inquired Joe.
"There's a nice piece of four by four lumber out in the barn," replied
Bob. "I was thinking that we could leave it square at the bottom and
plane it off round at the top, so as to look better. I don't see why
that won't fill the bill all right."
"Sounds all right," said Herb, and, with Bob leading, all four
boys piled out to the big barn back of the house. Bob produced his
scantling and hunted up a big plane. Then the boys set to with a
will, and in a short time had the rough timber nicely smoothed off,
with a slight taper toward the top. Then they screwed in a large
hook, bought for the purpose, and after providing themselves with
a generous length of rope, repaired to the roof of the house.
As Bob had told them, there was a large scuttle leading from the
attic onto the roof, and one after another they clambered out through
this. The roof sloped gently at this point, and while they found
it necessary to be careful, they had little difficulty in reaching
the chimney. Before erecting the mast they fastened one end of
the aerial over the hook in it. The aerial consisted of a single,
number fourteen, hard drawn copper wire, insulated at each end by an
earthenware insulator having two hooks embedded in it. One of these
hooks went over the hook in the mast, while the other had the end of
the wire attached to it. A similar insulator was provided at the other
end of the wire, thus preventing its becoming grounded to the house
Having hooked up one end of their aerial, the boys erected the mast
against the chimney, and lashed it firmly in position with the rope
they had brought up.
"There!" exclaimed Bob, when everything was fixed to his liking, "that
mast looks as though it might stay put a while. Now let's rig up one
on the barn, and we'll have the first part of our job done, anyway."
Clambering back to the scuttle, the boys dropped through to the attic
floor and hurried downstairs. It was beginning to get dark, and as
they wanted to get the aerial up while daylight lasted, everything
went with a rush. Poor Jimmy thought more than once of his father's
prophecy that he would lose weight in such strenuous activities, but
he was as anxious to receive the first radio signals as any of the
others, so he followed the headlong pace the others set without
Of course there was no convenient chimney on the barn to act as a
support for the mast, but they finally rigged up a mast at one end of
the barn, nailing it securely to the siding boards. Then they drew the
copper wire through the hook in the insulator until there was just a
little slack, cut off the wire, and wound it securely. Then they all
gazed with pride at their handiwork, and had the comfortable feeling
that comes of work well done.
"Hooray!" shouted Jimmy. "That's what I call a good job, and it
didn't take us such a long time, either."
"Yes, but that's only the beginning," said Joe. "I only wish we had
more time to-night. I feel as though I'd like to keep right on now
and not stop until we're actually receiving."
"You'd be pretty hungry if you tried to do it," remarked Jimmy. "To
hear you talk, you'd think making a receiving set was about as hard
as taking a run around the block."
"It isn't much harder than for you to take a run around the block,"
laughed Herb. "You were puffing like a steam engine while we were
coming up from the store this afternoon. If you don't cut down on
the eats, Doughnuts, you'll have to get around in a wheel chair.
You won't even be able to walk, let alone run."
"There you go," complained Jimmy, in an aggrieved tone. "Just because
I'm not as skinny as you fellows, you think that I eat more than you
do. Nobody could eat more than you do, Herb, and live to tell the
"I don't have to tell any stories along that line," retorted Herb,
with a laugh. "My friends do that for me."
"I'll bet they do," grumbled Jimmy. "I get some result out of what
I eat, anyway, and that's more than you can say."
"Oh, I can say it, all right, but probably nobody would believe me,"
"Right you are, Herb, old boy!"
"When you two fellows are all through arguing, maybe we can go up and
hook on our leading-in wire to the aerial," said Joe, impatiently.
"We ought to get that much done before dark, anyway."
"I don't know about that, Joe," objected Bob. "It's almost dark now,
and we could do it better and easier in the daylight. What do you
say if you all come around after supper and we'll dope out a wiring
diagram and maybe make a start on building the tuning coil."
Joe reluctantly consented to this, and the four companions separated
for the time being, after promising to return to Bob's house that
evening. And true to their promise, the boys had all returned to
the Layton home by eight o'clock that evening, full of enthusiasm
for the task that lay before them. Mr. Layton was mildly interested
in the radiophone project, but after a few questions he retired to
the library with the evening paper, leaving the boys to their own
WORK AND FUN
"Well, fellows," said Bob, "here we are, all set for a busy evening.
What shall we do first?"
"What I'd suggest," said Jimmy, "would be for everybody to have a
little milk chocolate, just to start things off right," and he
produced a huge bar of that toothsome confection and passed it
around, with an earnest invitation to everybody to "help himself."
"It isn't such a bad idea, at that," admitted Bob, breaking off a
chunk that made Jimmy gasp. The others imitated his example, and by
the time the bar of chocolate got back to Jimmy it had shrunken so
greatly that the last named individual gazed at it mournfully.
"Gee whillikins!" he exclaimed, "you fellows certainly do like
chocolate, though, don't you?"
"I do, anyway," said Herb, laughing at the rueful expression on his
friend's face. "Have you got any more when that's gone, Doughnuts?"
"No, I haven't. But if I had you can bet I'd hold on to it," said
Jimmy. "How do you expect me to work if I don't have anything to
keep my strength up?"
"Who said we expected you to work?" demanded Joe. "I'm sure we
wouldn't be so foolish, would we, fellows?"
"Oh, I don't know," retorted Jimmy. "You're foolish enough for
anything else, so why not that?"
"Well, if you say so, I suppose that settles it," said Joe. "But,
anyway, as long as Jimmy was so careless as not to bring more candy
along, I suppose we'd better get to work."
"Shall we get the tuning coil started?" suggested Bob. "It will
take us quite some time to do that, but we might get the core wound
As there was no objection to this, they all went down to the cellar,
where Bob had rigged up a work bench and had a pretty complete stock
of tools. Jimmy's father had made them a wooden form on which to wind
the wire. This core was nothing but a plain cylinder of wood, about
three inches in diameter and ten inches long. For Christmas, the year
before, Mr. Layton had given Bob a small but accurately made bench
lathe, operated by a foot pedal, and Bob mounted the roller between
the lathe centers, holding one end in the chuck jaws. Then he produced
a narrow roll of stout wrapping paper, such as is used for winding
around automobile tires, and a bottle of shellac, together with a
small, fine-haired brush.
"First thing," he said, "we want to wind a few layers of shellacked
paper on this core. Suppose I turn the core, you let the paper unwind
onto it, Joe, and you can shellac the paper as it unrolls, Herb."
"That leaves me with nothing to do but boss the job," said Jimmy,
"and I don't see why I can't do that as well lying down as standing
up, so here goes," and he stretched out luxuriously on an old sofa.
"This must have been put here just for me, I guess," he continued,
with a sigh of perfect contentment. "Get busy, you laborers, and
flash a little speed."
"We haven't got time to come and throw you off that sofa just now,"
said Bob. "But as soon as we get through with this job you'll vacate
pretty quick. Are you fellows ready to start now?"
"I've been ready for the last half hour," said Joe. "Start that jigger
of yours going, and let's see what happens."
Bob put a dab of shellac on one end of the paper to get it started,
stuck the end on the wooden core, and then started winding the paper
onto it at a slow speed. Joe moved the roll of paper back and forth
to wind it smoothly and evenly, while Herb shellacked for all he was
worth, giving himself almost as liberal a dose of the sticky gum as
he gave the paper. It was not long before the core was neatly wrapped,
and Bob stopped his lathe.
"That looks fine," he said, eyeing the job critically. "Now, while
that shellac is drying out a bit, let's see if we can't coax Doughnuts
to get up off that couch."
All three boys made a dive for their luckless companion, but he was up
and off before they could reach him, with a nimbleness that would not
have disgraced a jack rabbit.
"No, you don't!" he exclaimed. "I beat you to it. I suppose it makes
you feel jealous to see me resting once in a while, instead of slaving
my head off as usual. If you Indians had your way I'd be worn to a
shadow in no time."
"It's easy to see we don't have our way much, then," laughed Herb.
"You've got a long way to go before you get in the shadow class, Jim."
"It can't be too far to suit me," responded that youth. "But what I
want to know is, is that tuning coil wound yet? Seems to me you take
a lot of time to do a simple thing like that."
"You'd better sing small, or first thing you know you'll find yourself
in the coal bin," threatened Joe. "How about throwing him in just for
"You've got a funny idea of what luck is," said Jimmy. "I never did
care much for coal bins. Thank you just the same."
"You're welcome," retorted Joe. Then to Bob: "Do you think we can
wind the wire on now, Bob?"
"Why, I guess so," said Bob, testing the shellac with his finger.
"It's getting pretty tacky now; so if we wind the wire on right away
the shellac will help to hold it in place when it dries."
"Well, start up the old coffee mill, then," said Herb. "If we can get
the wire on as slick as we did the paper, it won't be half bad."
But the wire was a more difficult thing to work, as they soon found.
It required the greatest care to get the wire to lie smooth and close
without any space between coils. More than once they had to unwind
several coils and rewind them before they finally got the whole core
wound in a satisfactory manner. But at last it was finished, all coils
wound smooth and close, and the boys gazed at it with pardonable
"That doesn't look as bad as it might, does it?" said Bob.
"I should say not!" exclaimed Joe. "The last time I was in New York
I saw a coil like that in an electrical store window. I didn't know
then what it was for, but as far as I can remember, it didn't look
much better than this one."
"We probably couldn't have made as good a job of it if Bob hadn't
had that lathe," said Herb.
"Well, I don't know," said Bob. "It would have taken us longer, but
I think we could have done it about as well in the end. Now that
we've got the core wound, we'll have to mount it with a couple of
sliding contacts, but I guess we'd better not try to do anything more
to-night. It's getting pretty late. And, besides, mother said she'd
leave an apple pie and some milk in the ice box, and I'm beginning
to feel as though that would taste pretty good."
A STEALTHY RASCAL
"Did you really say pie, Bob?" asked Jimmy in a rapturous voice.
"And apple pie at that? Or was it all only a beautiful dream?"
"There's only one way to find out, and that's to go and see," said
Bob. "Last man up gets the smallest piece," and he made a dash for
the stairs, closely followed by the others. Poor Jimmy, in spite of
a surprising burst of speed on his part, was the last one up, and
arrived out of breath, but ready to argue against Bob's dictum.
"Don't you know that if there's a small piece it's up to the host to
take it?" he asked Bob, who by that time had secured the pie and was
cutting it. "If you were really polite you wouldn't eat any of that
pie at all. You'd give all your time to seeing that we had plenty."
"Yes, but I'm not that polite," said Bob. "I think I deserve credit
for not waiting till you had all gone home and then eating the whole
thing myself. That's probably what you'd do, Doughnuts, if you were
in my place."
"I wouldn't either," disclaimed Jimmy indignantly.
"Of course he wouldn't eat it after we'd gone," grinned Herb.
"And if you coax me real hard, I'll tell you why."
"All right, I'll bite," said Joe. "Why wouldn't Doughnuts eat the pie
after we'd gone home?"
"Because he would have eaten it all before we even got here," replied
Herb, with a shout of laughter. "Ask me a harder one next time."
"I suppose you think that's real smart, don't you?" remarked Jimmy
sarcastically. "But I don't care what you say, as long as there is
pie like this in the world," and he bit off a huge mouthful with an
expression of perfect ecstasy on his round countenance.
"It is pretty easy to take," admitted Herb, as he proceeded to dispose
of his share in a workmanlike manner. "This is regular angel's food,
"Yes, it was made especially for me," said Bob, trying to look like
an angel, but falling considerably short of the mark. It is hard for
any one to look very angelic with a big piece of apple pie in one
hand and a glass of milk in the other.
"Suppose you cut out the angel business and hand me over another piece
of that pie," suggested Jimmy. "If you're an angel, Bob, I hope to die
a horrible death from slow starvation, and I can't say any more than
that, can I?"
"You'd better speak nicely to me, or you won't get another piece,"