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 Fervent as this wish was, it was several days before Ted saw Mr. Wharton again and in the meantime the boy began to adapt himself to his new mode of living with a will. His alarm clock got him up in the morning in time for a plunge in the river and after a brisk rub-down he was off to breakfast with the Stevens's, whose cottage was one of a tiny colony of bungalows where lived the chauffeurs, head gardener, electricians, and others who held important positions on the two estates.  
It did not take many days for Ted to become thoroughly at home in the pretty cement house where he discovered many slight services he could perform for Mrs. Stevens during the scraps of leisure left him after meals. His farm training had rendered him very handy with tools and he was quick to see little things which needed to be done. Moreover, the willingness to help, which from the moment of his advent to Aldercliffe and Pine Lea had made him a favorite with Mr. Wharton and the men, speedily won for him a place with the kindly farmer's wife.
Had Ted known it, she had been none too well pleased at the prospect of adopting into her home a ravenous young lad who might, nay, probably would be untidy and troublesome; but she did not dare oppose Mr. Wharton when the plan was suggested. Nevertheless, although she consented, she grumbled not a little to her husband about the inconvenience of the scheme. The money offered her by the manager had been the only redeeming factor in the case. Quite ignorant of these conditions, Ted had made his advent into the house and she soon found to her amazement that the daily coming of her cheery boarder became an event which she anticipated with motherly interest.
"He is such a well-spoken boy and so nice to have round," asserted she to Mr. Wharton. "Not a mite of trouble, either. In fact, he's a hundred times handier than my own man, who although he can make a garden thrive can't drive a nail straight to save his life. And there's never any fussing about his food. He eats everything and enjoys it. I believe Stevens and I were getting dreadful pokey all alone here by ourselves. The lad has brightened us up no end. We wouldn't part with him now for anything."
Thus it was that Ted Turner made his way. His password was usefulness. He never measured the hours he worked by the clock, never was too busy or too tired to fill in a gap; and although he was popular with everybody, and a favorite with those in authority, he never took advantage of his position to escape toil or obtain privileges. In fact, he worked harder if anything than did the other men, and as soon as his associates saw that the indulgence granted him did not transform him into a pig, they ceased any jealousy they cherished and accorded him their cordial goodwill. For Ted was always modestly respectful toward older persons; and if he knew more about farming and some other things than did a good many of the laborers on the place, he did not push himself forward or boast of his superiority.
Consequently when he ventured to say, "I wonder if somebody would help me with this harrow?" he would receive a dozen eager responses, the men never suspecting that Mr. Wharton had given this little chap authority to order them to aid with the harrowing of the field. Instead each workman thought his cooperation a free-will offering and enjoyed giving it.
Thus a fortnight passed and no one could have been happier than was Ted Turner on a certain clear June evening. He had finished his Saturday night supper of baked beans and brown bread and after it was over had lingered to feed the Stevens's hens, in order to let Mr. Stevens go early to Freeman's Falls to purchase the Sunday dinner. As a result, it was later than usual when he started out for his camp on the river's brink. The long, busy day was over; he was tired and the prospect of his comfortable bed was very alluring. It was some distance to the shack, and before he was halfway through the pine woods that separated Aldercliffe from Pine Lea darkness had fallen, and he was compelled to move cautiously along the narrow, curving trail. How black the night was! A storm must be brewing, thought he, as he glanced up into the starless heavens. Stumbling over the rough and slippery ground on he went. Then suddenly he rounded a turn in the path and stood arrested with terror.
Not more than a rod away, half concealed in the denseness of the sweeping branches rose his little shack, a blaze of light! A wave of consternation turned him cold and two solutions of the mystery immediately flashed into his mind—fire and marauders. Either something had ignited in the interior of the house; or, since it was isolated and had long been known to be vacant, strolling mischief-makers had broken in and were ransacking it. He remembered now that he had left a window open when he had gone off in the morning. Doubtless thieves were at this moment busy appropriating his possessions. Of course it could not be any of the Fernald workmen. They were too friendly and honorable to commit such a dastardly deed. No, it was some one from outside. Was it not possible men had come down the river in a boat from Melton, the village above, and spying the house had made a landing and encamped there for the night?
Well, live or die, he must know who his unwelcome guests were. It would be cowardly to leave them in possession of the place and make no attempt to discover their identity. For that invaders were inside the shack he was now certain. It was not a fire. There was neither smoke nor flame. Softly he crept nearer, the thick matting of pine needles muffling his footsteps. But how his heart beat! Suppose a twig should crack beneath his feet and warn the vandals of his approach? And suppose they rushed out, caught him, and—for a moment he halted with fear; then, summoning every particle of courage he possessed, he tiptoed on and contrived to reach one of the windows.
There he halted, staring, his knees weak from surging reaction.
Instead of the company of bandits his mind had pictured, there in the rocker sat Mr. Wharton and opposite him, in the great leather armchair, was Mr. Clarence Fernald. The latter fact would have been astounding enough. But the marvel did not cease there. The light suffusing the small room came from no flickering candles but glowed steadily from two strong, unblinking electric lights, one of which had been connected with a low lamp on his desk, and the other with a fixture in the ceiling.
Ted could scarcely believe his eyes. All day, during his absence, electricians must have been busy. How carefully they had guarded their secret. Why, he had talked with Tim Toyer that very morning on his way to work and Tim had breathed no word, although he was the head electrician and had charge of the dynamo which generated the current both for Aldercliffe and Pine Lea. The Fernalds had never depended on Freeman's Falls for their electricity; on the contrary, they maintained a small plant of their own and used the power for a score of purposes on the two estates.
Evidently either Mr. Wharton or Mr. Clarence Fernald himself must have given the order which had with such Aladdin-like magic been so promptly and mysteriously fulfilled. It certainly was kind of them to do this and Ted determined they should not find him wanting in gratitude. Pocketing his shyness, he opened the door and stepped into the room. "Well, youngster, I thought it was about time the host made his appearance," exclaimed Mr. Wharton. "We could not have waited much longer. Mr. Fernald, this is Ted Turner, the lad I have been telling you about."
Ted waited.
The mill-owner nodded, let his eye travel over the boy's flushed face, and then, as if satisfied by what he saw there, he put out his hand.
"I have been hearing very excellent reports of you, Turner," said he, "and I wished to investigate for myself the quarters they have given you to live in. You've made a mighty shipshape little den of this place."
"It didn't need very much done to it," protested Ted, blushing under the fixed gaze of the great man. "I just cleaned it up and arranged the furniture. Mr. Wharton was kind enough to give me most of it."
"I can't claim any thanks," laughed the manager. "The traps I gave you were all cast-offs and not in use. It is what you have done with them that is the marvel."
"You certainly have turned your donations to good purpose," Mr. Fernald observed. "I've been noticing your books in your absence and see that most of them are textbooks on electricity. I judge you are interested in that sort of thing."
"Yes, sir, I am."
The financier drummed reflectively on the arm of his chair.
"How did you happen to go into that?" he asked presently.
"I have been studying it at school. My father is letting me go through the high school—at least he hopes to let me finish my course there. I have been two years already. That is why I am working during the summer."
"I see. And so you have been taking up electricity at school, eh?"
"Yes, sir. I really am taking a business course. The science work in the laboratory is an extra that I just run in because I like it. My father wanted me to fit myself for business. He thought it would be better for me," explained Ted.
"But you prefer the science?"
"I am afraid I do, sir," smiled Ted, with ingratiating honesty. "But I don't mean to let it interfere with my regular work. I try to remember it is only a side issue."
Mr. Clarence Fernald did not answer and during his interval of silence Ted fell to speculating on what he was thinking. Probably the magnate was disapproving of his still going to school and was saying to himself how much better it would have been had he been put into the mill and trained up there instead of having his head stuffed with stenography and electrical knowledge.
"What did you do in electricity?" the elder man asked at length.
"Oh, I fussed around some with telephones, wireless, and telegraph instruments."
Mr. Fernald smiled.
"Did you get where you could take messages?" inquired he with real interest.
"By telegraph?"
The financier nodded.
"I did a little at it," replied Ted. "Of course I was slow."
"And what about wireless?"
"I got on better with that. I rigged up a small receiving station at home but when the war came I had to take it down."
"So that outfit was yours, was it?" commented Mr. Fernald. "I noticed it one day when I was in the village. What luck did you have with it?"
"Oh, I contrived to pick up messages within a short radius. My outfit wasn't very powerful."
"I suppose not. And the telephone?"
They saw an eager light leap into the lad's eyes.
"I've worked more at that than anything else," replied he. "You see one of the instruments at the school gave out and they set me to tinkering at it. In that way I got tremendously interested in it. Afterward some of us fellows did some experimenting and managed to concoct a crude one in the laboratory. It wasn't much of a telephone but we finally got it to work."
"They tell me you are a good farmer as well as an electrician," Mr. Fernald said.
"Oh, I was brought up on a farm, sir."
The great man rose.
"Well, mind you don't let your electricity make you forget your farming," cautioned he, not unkindly. "We need you right where you are. Still I will own electricity is a pleasant pastime. You will have a current to work with now whenever you want to play with it. Just be sure you don't get a short circuit and blow out my dynamo."
"Do—do—you really mean I may use the current for experiments?" demanded Ted.
Whether Mr. Fernald had made his remarks in jest or expected them to be taken seriously was not apparent; and if he were surprised at having the boy catch him up and hold him to account, he at least displayed not a trace of being taken unawares. For only an instant was he thoughtful, and that was while he paused and studied the countenance of the lad before him.
"Why, I don't know that I see any harm in your using the current for reasonable purposes," he answered slowly, after an interval of meditation. "You understand the dangers of running too many volts through your body and of crossing wires, don't you?"
"Oh, yes, sir," laughed Ted.
"I must confess I should not trust every boy with such a plaything," continued the magnate, "but you seem to have a good head on your shoulders and I guess we can take a chance on you." He moved silently across the room but on the threshold he turned and added with self-conscious hesitancy, "By the way my—my—son, Mr. Laurie, chances to be interested in electricity, too. Perhaps some day he might drop in here and have a talk about this sort of thing."
"I wish he would."
With a quiet glance the father seemed to thank the lad for his simple and natural reply. Both of them knew but too well that such an event could never be a casual happening, and that if poor Mr. Laurie ever dropped in at the shack it would be only when he was brought there, either in his wheel-chair or in the arms of some of the servants from Pine Lea. Nevertheless it was obvious that Mr. Fernald appreciated the manner in which Ted ignored these facts and suppressed his surprise at the unusual suggestion. Had Mr. Laurie's dropping in been an ordinary occurrence no one could have treated it with less ceremony than did Ted.
An echo of the gratitude the capitalist felt lingered in his voice when he said good night. It was both gentle and husky with emotion and the lad fell asleep marvelling that the men employed at the mills should assert that the Fernalds were frigid and snobby.

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