The High Calling. Charles M. Sheldon

Читать онлайн.
Название The High Calling
Автор произведения Charles M. Sheldon
Жанр Словари
Издательство Словари
Год выпуска 0

Скачать книгу

if you had not come back. And I am the person you want for a friend. Am I worthy? Do you understand now?"

      A dull red spot began to creep up into the German student's face. He was still holding the locker door with one hand. His eye travelled from the diagram to Walter and then back again. Walter stood very erect, his head thrown back almost defiantly now that he had made his confession, and he was absolutely in the dark as to the effect of it on Bauer. He would and could not blame him for being angry. And he was angry for a moment. But only a moment. Then his great brown eyes softened and he said in a quiet, gentle way that moved Walter more than any burst of passion could have done:

      "I am not a judge for you. While on the way home I suddenly thought out the secret of the metal teeth. See! I have it here." He took out of his pocket a paper and opening it spread it out on Walter's desk. Walter saw in a second's glance that Bauer had discovered the working basis for the successful light. "And I was going to work on the plan when I came back. But all my trouble drove it away. I lost my ambition. And I understand what you did. I might have done the same. But still, Douglas, do you know, I don't care. I—I am hungry for a friend just like you. What you have said does not change anything. What difference does that make? That is not trouble, not for me."

      Walter looked at him a moment and then in the reaction which was really the taking off of the strain of weeks, he put his head between his hands and sobbed. Bauer did not venture to say anything. When Walter could control himself he reached out his hand. Bauer took it, and in that grasp the two young men understood each other for life. I think each gave as much as he took. The sacred compact they sealed in the big empty shop that night was made with few words, but it was never disturbed nor broken in after years. And each one of them realised something of the depth and joy of real friendship. Do you? Does anybody? Our human friendships, when they are real and permanent, are the finest and richest possessions of our lives. Pity we treat them so lightly and measure them so tamely.

      That same night Bauer in his simple manner told Walter something more of his home troubles, enough to give Walter a glimpse into the real sorrow of his heart. Walter in his turn told in part the story of his temptation and of his struggles and tortures to escape. To this Bauer listened with a faint smile and with perfect understanding.

      In the days that followed, they agreed to construct the lamp between them and share in the profits from it. And when they began work on the mechanism each found that the other had discovered little improvements which were necessary to the best construction, finally producing a lamp far more perfect and practical than Walter's first attempt.

      The day after that memorable scene with Bauer in the shop Walter wrote home a long and exuberant letter, a part of which we may read.

      "Mother, I can't begin to tell you what a relief I have experienced since I told Bauer all about it. I believe I had a little taste of hell for a while and I don't want to go through it again. Bauer and I are the best friends you ever saw. He is just the opposite of me. I'm impulsive and quick and get mad quick and all that. You know all about it, but he is slow and calm and talks only a little at a time. He is not what you would call handsome, but he has the most beautiful brown eyes I ever saw. If I was a girl I would think he was handsome because his eyes are. He has told me a good deal about his home life and I have told him something about ours, and he has asked some questions. And, oh yes, he is coming home with me for the holidays. At first he refused, but when I told him how much you wanted him to come and how lonesome it would be for him here he consented to come. I hope you will all like him. Helen will probably think he is odd and solemn, but I hope she will be kind and all of us can make him feel at home.

      "We are working on the lamp together and it is almost finished. We are keeping the construction of it a secret because we want to spring it on Anderson, the foreman. I haven't told you about him. He is all up on electricity, knows as much about it as Edison, at least he almost says so at times, and he really does know a lot, but he is the one teacher in the whole bunch I don't like. There is a manner about him that makes you feel he has on a dress suit and a stovepipe hat all the time. I heard the other day he is related to the Van Shaws, a cousin or something of the steel magnate at Pittsburgh. I have never had any trouble with Anderson, but I felt relieved the other day to hear that I was not the only fellow in the school that he ruffled. He is mighty unpopular. Bauer and I are going to make sure of our lamp first and then give Anderson a look at it. If the thing goes as well as we expect I don't know how much there will be in it for us. But if it is anything like what I expect, no more stewardship for me. I'm tired of waiting on the swells, and since the Van Shaw episode I've not had a very pleasant time with some of them. You see, mother, there is a crowd here that seems to think it is necessary to be coarse and fast in order to be men. The more money they can spend, the more beer they can drink, the more chorus girls' photographs they can get to paste up in their rooms, the more tobacco pipes they can display over and under their mantels, the more slang and indecency they can learn, the more college atmosphere they think they are creating. I wonder sometimes why the professors don't seem to care about the morals of us students. We never hear anything in the class room or the shop except the technical parts of our studies. I haven't a single teacher at Burrton that I would go to if I were in real trouble and I never would think of going to President Davis about anything. He is a great scholar and hustler for money, but I should hate to have to go to him for advice or sympathy.

      "Well, I have made the letter long enough. I'm getting a little homesick to see you all, and looking forward to the holidays. Expect me home with a trunk full of money from the sale of the lamp. If we get it patented we may either sell the thing outright, or Bauer thinks we can better make profitable terms with some good electrical manufacturing firm like Madison Brooks & Co., New York. Love to all. "Walter."

      Mrs. Douglas answered him at once and in the course of her letter expressed her delight at the happy outcome of Walter's experience with the lamp and with Bauer's friendship.

      "I don't know when you have given your mother more happiness, boy. I was so happy I cried all the forenoon while your father and Helen and Louis were out of the house. I am delighted that you have made a friend. Do you know what that means? If Bauer is what you think he is, you and he have something more than a trunkful of money. A man or a woman can live to be fifty years old without gaining more than two or three such friends as Bauer. So what has really happened to you is a splendid thing. And I hope you will feel very rich indeed. Of course we would all be pleased if the lamp turns out to be a success. But I suppose you will make up your mind to be ready for anything. There are many slips between models and patents, and it will be well for both of you not to buy expensive trips around the world on the strength of your discovery until the money is really in hand.

      "Louis is giving us some trouble lately. He is very slow in his studies, especially his English, Your father, I think, feels annoyed by it, because he wants Louis to be literary. But Louis's English teacher brought to your father the other day a composition Louis had written on the Tuberculosis Outdoor Hospital recently established at the Mansfield farm by the State Board of Health. Miss Barrows, the teacher, is a very practical person and she went out to this tuberculosis station with a section of her class in English, and told the members to keep their eyes open and on their return to the school to write one hundred words about what they had seen. And this is Louis's contribution to the symposium:

      "'Tuberculosis was started in 1884, by Dr. Trudeau, who had it in the Adirondacks. Although consumption is not inherited and does not belong in the climate it is getting very popular. The sleeping bags are very useful to the consumptive people because they can keep their heads out and put the rest of their bodies into them. I saw the germs. It is a big white ball with blue spots on it. I think it would be fine to sleep in one of those beds with the head inside and the lungs outside.'

      "Well, when your father read this, he simply choked. In fact we all choked, and Helen who happened to get hold of it somehow, just screamed. Poor Louis was mad at every one of us and especially at Miss Barrows when he heard she had taken his account to his father. At first your father thought Louis was trying to be funny at the expense of the English department in the high school. But he wasn't. He was in dead earnest, and doing his best. I tell your father that it isn't fair to ridicule Louis. Ridicule is a dangerous form of criticism and Louis is very sensitive. I don't blame him for saying that the teacher ought not to make fun of him when he is trying to get his lessons. He fairly hates some