The days passed by, the boys becoming
more and more engrossed in the fascination of radio
all the time. They continued to work on their
sets, sometimes with the most gratifying results,
at others seeming to make little headway.
But in spite of occasional discouragements
they worked on, cheered by the knowledge that they
were making steady, if sometimes slow, progress.
There were so many really worth-while
improvements being perfected each day that they really
found it difficult to keep up with them all.
“Wish we could hear Cassey’s
voice again,” said Herb, one day when they had
tuned in on several more or less interesting personal
“I don’t know what good
it would do us,” grumbled Joe. “If
he speaks always in code he could keep us guessing
“He’s up to some sort
of mischief, anyway,” said Bob; “and I,
for one, would enjoy catching him at it again.”
“We would be more comfortable
to have Dan Cassey in jail, where he belongs,”
But just at present the trailing of
that stuttering voice seemed an impossible feat even
for the radio boys. If they could only get some
tangible clue to work on!
They saw nothing of Buck Looker or
his cronies about town, and concluded that they were
still at the lumber camp.
“Can’t stay away too long
to suit me,” Bob said cheerfully.
It was about that time that Bob found
out about Adam McNulty. Adam McNulty was the
blind father of the washerwoman who served the four
families of the boys.
Bob went to the McNulty cabin, buried
in the most squalid district of the town, bearing
a message from his mother. When he got there he
found that Mr. McNulty was the only one at home.
The old fellow, smoking a black pipe
in the bare kitchen of the house, seemed so pathetically
glad to see some one or, rather, to hear
some one that Bob yielded to his invitation
to sit down and talk to him.
And, someway, even after Bob reached
home, he could not shake off the memory of the lonesome
old blind man with nothing to do all day long but
sit in a chair smoking his pipe, waiting for some chance
word from a passer-by.
It did not seem fair that he, Bob,
should have all the good things of life while that
old man should have nothing nothing, at
He spoke to his chums about it, but,
though they were sympathetic, they did not see anything
they could do.
“We can’t give him back
his eyesight, you know,” said Joe absently,
already deep in a new scheme of improvement for the
“No,” said Bob. “But
we might give him something that would do nearly as
“What do you mean?” they asked, puzzled.
“Radio,” said Bob, and
laid his hand lovingly on the apparatus. “If
it means a lot to us, just think how much more it
would mean to some one who hasn’t a thing to
do all day but sit and think. Why, I don’t
suppose any of us who can see can begin to realize
what it would mean not to be able even to read the
The others stared at Bob, and slowly
his meaning sank home.
“I get you,” said Joe
slowly. “And say, let me tell you, it’s
a great idea, Bob. It wouldn’t be so bad
to be blind if you could have the daily news read
to you every day ”
“And listen to the latest on crops,” added
“To say nothing of the latest jazz,” finished
Herb, with a grin.
“Well, why doesn’t this
blind man get himself a set?” asked Jimmy practically.
“I should think every blind person in the country
would want to own one.”
“I suppose every one of them
does,” said Bob. “And Doctor Dale
said the other day that he thought the time would
come when charities for the blind would install radio
as a matter of humanity, and that prices of individual
sets would be so low that all the blind could afford
them. The blind are many of them old, you know,
and pretty poor.”
“You mean,” said Herb
slowly, “that most of the blind folks who really
need radio more than anybody else can’t afford
it? Say, that doesn’t seem fair, does it?”
“It isn’t fair!”
cried Bob, adding, eagerly: “I tell you
what I thought we could do. There’s that
old set of mine! It doesn’t seem much to
us now, beside our big one, but I bet that McNulty
would think it was a gold mine.”
“Hooray for Bob!” cried
Herb irrepressibly. “Once in a while he
really does get a good idea in his head. When
do we start installing this set in the McNulty mansion,
“As soon as you like,”
answered Bob. “Tomorrow’s Saturday,
so we could start early in the morning. It will
probably take us some time to rig up the antenna.”
The boys were enthusiastic about the
idea, and they wasted no time putting it into execution.
That very night they looked up the old set, examining
it to make sure it was in working order.
When they told their families what
they proposed to do, their parents were greatly pleased.
“It does my heart good,”
said Mr. Layton to his wife, after Bob had gone up
to bed, “to see that those boys are interested
in making some one besides themselves happy.”
“They’re going to make
fine men, some day,” answered Mrs. Layton softly.
The boys arrived at the McNulty cottage
so early the next morning that they met Maggie McNulty
on her way to collect the day’s wash.
When they told her what they were
going to do she was at first too astonished to speak
and then threatened to fall upon their necks in her
“Shure, if ye can bring some
sunshine into my poor old father’s dark life,”
she told them in her rich brogue, tears in her eyes,
“then ye’ll shure win the undyin’
gratitude uv Maggie McNulty.”
It was a whole day’s job, and
the boys worked steadily, only stopping long enough
to rush home for a bit of lunch.
They had tried to explain what they
were doing to Adam McNulty, but the old man seemed
almost childishly mystified. It was with a feeling
of dismay that the boys realized that, in all probability,
this was the first time the blind man had ever heard
the word radio. It seemed incredible to them
that there could be anybody in the world who did not
know about radio.
However, if Adam McNulty was mystified,
he was also delightedly, pitifully excited. He
followed the boys out to the cluttered back yard where
they were rigging up the aerial, listening eagerly
to their chatter and putting in a funny word now and
then that made them roar with laughter.
Bob brought him an empty soap box
for a seat and there the old man sat hour after hour,
despite the fact that there was a chill in the air,
blissfully happy in their companionship. He had
been made to understand that something pleasant was
being done for him, but it is doubtful if he could
have asked for any greater happiness than just to sit
there with somebody to talk to and crack his jokes
They were good jokes too, full of
real Irish wit, and long before the set was ready
for action the boys had become fond of the old fellow.
“He’s a dead game sport,”
Joe said to Bob, in that brief interval when they
had raced home for lunch. “I bet I’d
be a regular old crab, blind like that.”
Mrs. Layton put up an appetizing lunch
for the blind man, topping it off with a delicious
homemade lemon pie and a thermos bottle full of steaming
The way the old man ate that food
was amazing even to Jimmy. Maggie was too busy
earning enough to keep them alive to bother much with
dainties. At any rate, Adam ate the entire lemon
pie, not leaving so much as a crumb.
“I thought I was pretty good
on feeding,” whispered Joe, in a delighted aside,
“but I never could go that old bird. He’s
got me beat a mile.”
“Well,” said Jimmy complacently,
“I bet I’d tie with him.”
If the boys had wanted any reward
for that day of strenuous work, they would have had
it when, placing the earphones upon his white head,
they watched the expression of McNulty’s face
change from mystification to wonder, then to beatific
He listened motionless while the exquisite
music flooded his starved old soul. Toward the
end he closed his eyes and tears trickled from beneath
the lids down his wrinkled face. He brushed them
off impatiently and the boys noticed that his hand
It was a long, long time before he
seemed to be aware that there was any one in the room
with him. He seemed to have completely forgotten
the boys who had bestowed this rare gift upon him.
After a while, coming out of his dream,
the old man began fumbling with the headphones as
if he wanted to take them off, and Bob helped him.
The man tried to speak, but made hard work of it.
Emotion choked him.
“Shure, an’ I don’t
know what to make of it at all, at all,” he said
at last, in a quivering voice. “Shure an’
I thought the age of miracles was passed. I’m
only an ignorant old man, with no eyes at all; but
you lads have given me something that’s near
as good. Shure an’ it’s an old sinner
I am, for shure. Many’s the day I’ve
sat here, prayin’ the Lord would give me wan
more minute o’ sight before I died, an’
it was unanswered my prayers wuz, I thought.
It’s grateful I am to yez, lads. It’s
old Adam McNulty’s blessin’ ye’ll
always have. An’ now will yez put them
things in my ears? It’s heaven’s own
angels I’d like to be hearin’ agin.
That’s the lad ah!”
And while the beatific expression
stole once more over his blind old face the boys stole