Poor White HTML version
One day in the month of October, four years after the time of his first motor ride
with Clara and Tom, Hugh went on a business trip to the city of Pittsburgh. He
left Bidwell in the morning and got to the steel city at noon. At three o'clock his
business was finished and he was ready to return.
Although he had not yet realized it, Hugh's career as a successful inventor had
received a sharp check. The trick of driving directly at the point, of becoming
utterly absorbed in the thing before him, had been lost. He went to Pittsburgh to
see about the casting of new parts for the hay-loading machine, but what he did
in Pittsburgh was of no importance to the men who would manufacture and sell
that worthy, labor-saving tool. Although he did not know it, a young man from
Cleveland, in the employ of Tom and Steve, had already done what Hugh was
striving half-heartedly to do. The machine had been finished and ready to market
in October three years before, and after repeated tests a lawyer had made formal
application for patent. Then it was discovered that an Iowa man had already
made application for and been granted a patent on a similar apparatus.
When Tom came to the shop and told him what had happened Hugh had been
ready to drop the whole matter, but that was not Tom's notion. "The devil!" he
said. "Do you think we're going to waste all this money and labor?"
Drawings of the Iowa man's machine were secured, and Tom set Hugh at the
task of doing what he called "getting round" the other fellow's patents. "Do the
best you can and we'll go ahead," he said. "You see we've got the money and
that means power. Make what changes you can and then we'll go on with our
manufacturing plans. We'll whipsaw this other fellow through the courts. We'll
fight him till he's sick of fight and then we'll buy him out cheap. I've had the fellow
looked up and he hasn't any money and is a boozer besides. You go ahead.
We'll get that fellow all right."
Hugh had tried valiantly to go along the road marked out for him by his father-in-
law and had put aside other plans to rebuild the machine he had thought of as
completed and out of the way. He made new parts, changed other parts, studied
the drawings of the Iowa man's machine, did what he could to accomplish his
Nothing happened. A conscientious determination not to infringe on the work of
the Iowa man stood in his way.
Then something did happen. At night as he sat alone in his shop after a long
study of the drawings of the other man's machine, he put them aside and sat
staring into the darkness beyond the circle of light cast by his lamp. He forgot the
machine and thought of the unknown inventor, the man far away over forests,
lakes and rivers, who for months had worked on the same problem that had
occupied his mind. Tom had said the man had no money and was a boozer. He
could be defeated, bought cheap. He was himself at work on the instrument of
the man's defeat.
Hugh left his shop and went for a walk, and the problem connected with the
twisting of the iron and steel parts of the hay-loading apparatus into new forms