THE MOTHER OF INVENTION
William Frederick Marston read the telegram for the third time:
WALK HOME TIRED OF YOUR FOOLISHNESS NOT A CENT.
‘I suppose,’ said William Frederick aloud, ‘he thinks he’s funny.’ He threw his cigarette into the urn and lit another.
It was the Rue Royale, Paris.
‘I – Billy Marston – to lose three francs at roulette! It is horrible.’ But alas! It was true.
The three francs were gone, and William Frederick Marston began to think.
His father, Jonathan Marston, of New York, sent his son, William Frederick, on an educational tour of the Mediterranean during the summer vacation preceding his senior year at Harvard.
The tour of the Mediterranean had been stopped by the misfortune at Monte Carlo.
William Frederick had asked father for additional funds and on receiving them he had departed for Paris. Struck by the beauty of that city, he had immediately decided to buy it, but he had his last sou in the pocket and the fall term at Harvard was to begin in two weeks. He wrote to his father:
LEAVE FOR NEW YORK TOMORROW WIRE FUNDS.
That telegram brought the answer:
FIVE HUNDRED MORE YOU NEED A GUARDIAN.
Three days later he sent another telegram:
FUNDS DISAPPEARED WIRE QUICK SAIL TOMORROW.
In a few hours came the answer:
PASSAGE ON Alvonia SAILING CHERBOURG TENTH PAID HERE AM SENDING TWENTY DOLLARS FOR FARE TO CHERBOURG.
Three days later he sent the next telegram:
MISSED STEAMER WIRE FUNDS OR ARRANGE TRANSPORTATION.
And it was in answer to this that he had received the sarcastic advice from his father to walk home. William Frederick, knowing his own father, was sure that what Jonathan Marston said, he meant.
He was tired of Paris. He wanted to go home. His father must know that. And the fall term at the university would start in three days. He felt a sudden fierce desire for knowledge. Was his father so unfeeling as to deny him the advantages of a decent education?
Since his father had seen fit to refuse his reasonable request for money to come home, he would make no further appeal to him. Some other method must be found.
He had friends, dozens of them. But they, poor devils, could be of no use in a financial difficulty. And the others would talk.
That would serve his father right – to have it known all over New York that the son of Jonathan Marston had been forced to depend on the friends to get home. If his father showed no concern for the dignity of the Marston name, why should he?
The pride of youth is capable of supreme idiocies. It caused William Frederick to resolve grandly that he would make his way home without help and alone. Magnificent resolution!
He started immediately to the consideration of ways and means. He must use his wits.
He used them. A thousand schemes offered themselves to his mind. Earning the money for a passage was impossible. But there must be a way. His pride rose higher and higher, until finally he had the realm of pure artistic creation.
‘After all,’ he muttered, ‘I shall have to ask Tom to help, but not with money. The question is, will he do it? Well – he must. I’ll make it as strong as I can. And – let’s see – there’s the William Penn Tablet, and the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, and the Statue of Franklin, and the Old Tower – ‘ William Frederick Marston had achieved an immortal idea.
At this point this tale gets the importance of history, and we shall let the chroniclers speak for themselves.
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Rex stout – the mother of invention (pre-intermediate)